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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
MSC Orchestra – Baltic Cruise Review August 2018 11 Nights – Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark We arrived at the terminal in Copenhagen at approximately 12:45pm, we were the only people ... Read More
MSC Orchestra – Baltic Cruise Review August 2018 11 Nights – Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark We arrived at the terminal in Copenhagen at approximately 12:45pm, we were the only people in the priority embarkation queue and were on board within a couple of minutes. I had completed the on-line check in, complete with pictures but we still had new ones taken. We were advised that our cabin was ready, Aurea Suite 15013, we headed straight to our cabin. Very impressed with the cabin, very spacious and a lot of storage space. We did experience some early morning noise from the Top 16 above, normally we would sleep through but were always up early for excursions. If you are a light sleeper this may impact on you. After dropping off our cabin bags we set off to explore the ship. We had not previously sailed on this class of ship and liked the more intimate feel of some of the areas. All of the ship was very well presented and immaculately clean, as we have found MSC ships to be. We headed to explore the buffet for lunch, a great selection of food, a good variety and delicious pizza as always. It was quite quiet, and we had no issues with seating, later in the cruise we did experience the usual crowds and difficulty obtaining a table a couple of times during the peak lunchtime rush. The weather was warm and pleasant, so we headed to the Top 16 solarium. A very nice space which felt larger than others we’ve used. Although there are no whirlpools on this one. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to use the area as much as we’d hoped due to experiencing some quite windy conditions. Prior to our cruise I’d read a few reviews which were not very positive about the food on board so we headed off to dinner with a degree of trepidation. We had MyChoice dining in L’Ibiscus. I’m pleased to say we were delighted with the food for the duration of the cruise. All of our dishes were well cooked, well presented and most importantly hot. One of the main complaints previously experienced. Food isn’t ever, just out of the oven piping hot but it wasn’t luke warm, and I do personally have an issue with food not being hot enough. The staff were wonderful, very attentive and the service we received was excellent. It did feel the busiest MyChoice dining area we’ve experienced as on 2 evenings we did have to wait outside in the bar (not a great hardship) but there was at least a 15 minute wait, which we’ve never experienced previously. We had the classic drinks package and only had the 2 red wines offered, a Merlot and a Cabernet Sauvignon. Palatable but not exceptional. We went to the MDR for lunch on only one occasion, we found it odd sharing a table with another group and all ordering at different times. My least favourite meal and the slowest service of the cruise. We always had breakfast in the cabin, the earliest time for delivery is 7.30am but as we had many early starts on this cruise we added a note to ask for an earlier delivery and were very happy to find that our requested was met. I’ll caveat my views on the On- Board entertainment, we aren’t people who need to be entertained and anything interactive and we run for the hills. We know from experience the Aft lounge, the Shaker Lounge on Orchestra, is a livelier more interactive experience and we therefore didn’t venture in. The other lounges had a combination of singers and an instrumental group in the lobby. All of which were pretty good, we decided we liked Pepe in the La Cantinella wine bar best and usually headed there post dinner. The bar staff in there were delightful and added to our experience greatly. We didn’t make it to any of the shows on this trip, we either weren’t ready for the early show or were still at dinner for the late show. From speaking to fellow passengers they sounded pretty standard MSC shows. We had booked our included massages for our last but one day, we were in Stockholm, we’ve visited on land based holiday and decided not to visit on this trip but have a relaxation day. It was a port intensive cruise and thought we’d need time to relax. We had a couples Bali massage, which was nice but not as enjoyable as others I’ve had. Immediately after it was complete the masseuse did try to sell us another massage. Now, I expect this but they do usually wait until after you leave the treatment room and this did detract slightly from the experience. We spent the next few hours in the spa using the steam room, whirlpools and relaxation area. It’s probably the most we’ve used the Spa area, we were the only people in there and it was a very nice environment. We had the misfortune of needing to use the Medical Centre, DH was bitten by something on our first day in St Petersburg, on the second day his hands and arms started to swell badly, turn a very funny colour and were unbearably itchy. It was very unpleasant and quite scary. You could see the poison spreading I’ll spare you the photo’s but it was very bad. In Russia you can’t go anywhere alone so we waited until after our excursion ended and visited the ship Dr. Obviously you’d rather avoid needing the Medical Centre but they were excellent. Sadly, the time came we had to disembark, we were assigned the first disembarkation time of 8.30am, we were a few minutes late arriving and everyone had already left. We just proceeded to the exit, our luggage was waiting and unfortunately our cruise had ended. The itinerary was fantastic, we packed a lot in with excursions and trips so it was a very intensive experience but one we enjoyed. The ship and all of the staff were fabulous, we are looking forward to sailing on her again next year. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
We just returned from a Baltic cruise on MSC Orchestra sailing from Kiel, Germany. The cruise surpassed our expectations. We have been on over 70 cruises and found the cabin to be spacious, well decorated and had the most storage of any I ... Read More
We just returned from a Baltic cruise on MSC Orchestra sailing from Kiel, Germany. The cruise surpassed our expectations. We have been on over 70 cruises and found the cabin to be spacious, well decorated and had the most storage of any I can remember. The passengers were mostly German, French, Italian and Russian so the show introductions and announcements were in five languages but no problem with that. The food was excellent, well prepared and more imaginative preparations than we normally see. The entertainment was nothing short of spectacular-full production shows every night with extremely talented singers and dancers,with the most gorgeous and expensive costumes we have ever seen.Service everywhere was personable and friendly. The ship was immaculate and elegantly furnished. All in all it was an extremely enjoyable cruise and we would not hesitate to sail with MSC again. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
Went on a 1 week cruise from Kiel in the baltic sea. Our second with MSC – we tried the Poesia 2 years ago. Booked this 2 weeks in advance as MSC lowered their price to fill up the ship. Got a fantastica Baclony cabin for EUR 700,- Per ... Read More
Went on a 1 week cruise from Kiel in the baltic sea. Our second with MSC – we tried the Poesia 2 years ago. Booked this 2 weeks in advance as MSC lowered their price to fill up the ship. Got a fantastica Baclony cabin for EUR 700,- Per person Which is a fair price in the peak season. 80% of Passengers were German or Italian. Rest was from different European countries. Only very few Americans were onboard. We knew about the announcement in 6 different languages, but they still got a bit boring after a few days. Overall we were pleased with the cruise – We cant expect more for the price we paid. Had we paid full price I think we would have been a bit disappointed. But we would certainly go with MSC again. Ship: Is clean, and in good condition. Only the carpeting in the staircases seemed to be a little tired. Otherwise the ship was spotless at all times, and well maintained. But she is schedueled to be refurbushed in november so maybe that carpet will change. Food/restaurants The Buffet was a chaos at peak hours during breakfast and to some degree also lunch and dinner. As 2500 people go in to a food frenzy in a 500 seat resturant. In the mornings we often found ourselves eating in our cabin or the MDR. To ease up the problem MSC has shut down the adjacent 4 seasons restaurant and permanently made it a part of the buffet. Atleast we never saw it opened as a separate restaurant. Food is pretty good and several items is rotated every 2-3 days so the buffet never got as plain as you could fear when you eat there 1-3 times a day. In the MDR. Food was ok – Nothing was bas but only few things was great. Tried the Asian restaurant once. ( paid extra) food was ok, but nothing fantastic. Especially the sushi selection was very limited. Juice in the buffet tasted horrible. I recommend buying real juice from the waiters. Staff/Waiters Now I have read that several people feel that Italian customers got better service than others. I never felt that was the case. I found waiters to be attentive and polite. Only at the morning chaos we found ourselves waiting for a waiter to order drinks. We also never encountered any major language barriers. Most staff are from asia or eastern Europe. But all spoke some degree of English. Waiters in the MDR were fantastic. Pool deck. As the ship was full the pool deck got crowed real fast. Tables and sun loungers were hard to come by only on port days you has a chance of finding a spot. The saltwater pools were advertised as being 26 degrees (Celsius) but my watch thermometer never got above 17. The water pumped in from Poland and St. Petersburg was not very pleasant to look at. And not many people ventured in the pools at all. Shows Overall they were pretty good. combining singers/dancing and acrobatics With the exception of 1 shows consisting of Italian folk music. Guess you have to be Italian to appreciate that. By far the best show was the Gotham/batman inspired show. Dresscode. This was a bit odd as there were 3 theme nights 1 Casual , 1 informal and 2 formal nights. The 3 theme nights( 70´s night/ white night/ Red, white green night - all ended in casual nights as no one seemed prepared for them. We certainly weren’t. So in reality it ended up in being 5 casual and 2 formal night. On formal nights about half the ship dressed up. For the Russian family seated at the table next to us in the MDR, every day was sneaker and tank top day. SPA/ Shops The Spa always had 10-50% off depending on if it was a sea day or a port day. Booked a bali massage on the 50% off day and it was very good. The photo shop has incredibly expensive rates. But you could haggle about prices to some degree. But that was the case in most the shops. We didn’t buy anything. As prices were still much higher than on shore. Bars We found the live music in the bars to be quite loud. And sometimes struggled to make a conversation. Some of the loudest bars were empty.But at no time did any bars feel crowded at night. We always found a spot and never waited long to get a drink.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2011
We have taken a lot of cruises. One was on a sailing yacht, and the others were larger ships. MSC is not a good choice for Americans. You will feel less welcome and the food is nnot to our taste. This ship was like a cattle car, very ... Read More
We have taken a lot of cruises. One was on a sailing yacht, and the others were larger ships. MSC is not a good choice for Americans. You will feel less welcome and the food is nnot to our taste. This ship was like a cattle car, very overcrowded. It was difficult disembarking for excursions because of the crowd which was largely European. In general, we often felt that we were being shoved a lot more than on other ships (not because of being American, but because that is evidently how they interact on elevators and other tight spaces.) Because of my ethnicity, I was typically mistaken for being either Norwegian or German. The cabin was not much different than the others that we have experienced. When we attempted to sleep in at the port where our excursion was cancelled, we were bombarded with constant loud announcements of various excusions needing to gather. The common areas of the ship were disappointing. There was nowhere to enjoy dancing, unlike our favorites of the larger ships-Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Fitness areas were restricted to people who got some kind of medical clearance. We did not bother to try to get that, not wanting to fill out lots of personal information without even being able to see the fitness room. The pool was outdoors, and the weather was quite chilly. No one used it. We only found one place to take a cutesy photo of the interior-the lounge which had a leopard or ocelot theme. Otherwise it was quite a plain ship. The casino was too smoky to enjoy. Many smokers were sitting on the seats by machines, smoking and not gambling. About half of the computers actually worked. We only had dinner twice in the formal dining room because the offerings were so limited. As it is, we were not assigned a table even though we had given our preferences months earlier. We had to see the wait staff to be assigned a table. It was only for 2 people, and it was off in a far end. Our formal dining photos were not purchased because the photographers could only take individual photos of us at the table. We are not much into seafood, especially sushi or octopus. Steak was only on the menu once. We paid a lot to end up in the cafeteria, eating their limited fare of cold burgers or cold pizza. And sometimes we did not eat because the cafeteria had very limited hours. And no midnight buffets on this ship! Water was an extra charge at meal time! Coffee was not available at lunch. The towels in the cabin were folded in the shape of an animal only one time. There were no chocolates on the pillows, and no welcome aboard drink. (There was no pampering.)The main performances were hard to find on the daily newsletter, causing us to miss 2 performances because they were not listed under "entertainment." They were stuck somewhere in the advertisement area. We saw contortionists, opera, and a Michael Jackson impersonator. (The Europeans were quite thrilled with him and their incessant loud clapping throughout the performance was hard on the ears.)Embarkation was too easy because it was insufficient. We were not given our excursion tickets which had been prepaid. The shops were not what I expected. There was no Loreal shop despite what I had read. And the gift shops were featuring Russian goods from a cruise prior to ours. The ship was using well-stabilized but on the 2 days where it got a bit rough, there were barf bags everywhere (as if they were decorative.) Any photo of the interior on those evenings would have been hilarious. This cruise line charges a set amount for tips, and they will NOT alter it upon request. This was a huge gyp since we hardly ate in the dining room; never ordered an alcoholic beverage; & the customer relations staff were most unhelpful. (The cabin steward was ok.) Kiel, Germany- Why would a cruise stop there on a Sunday? Everything was closed of course. We walked around but it was pretty boring. MSC had some excursions which would take cruisers to other nearby locations, BUT they cancelled ours because there were not enough English speaking cruisers!! AND they didn't care that I can also speak German & French. I was given no alternative options for my choice. Also, no refund yet. Geiranger, Norway- We had fun because we had arranged to meet friends there. We did not take an organized excursion. It has nice shops and a lovely setting. We toured the area by private car. Stavanger, Norway - We took a motor coach tour of the area & went to some shops. The dessert turned out to be pancakes which was disappointing since it mimicked my breakfast. Nice scenery. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
We chose our trip based on 2 back-to back 7 day cruises; travelling from Australia is not cheap and is arduous. The web sites gave MSC a pretty good rating and the extra charges were obvious in all the blurb. Everything was in English and ... Read More
We chose our trip based on 2 back-to back 7 day cruises; travelling from Australia is not cheap and is arduous. The web sites gave MSC a pretty good rating and the extra charges were obvious in all the blurb. Everything was in English and the itinerary was our dream, the price was good so 5 months ahead we planned and paid for our trip. The good things; #The ship was well equipped but not perfect. # The ship sailed safely and comfortably and met times prescribed. Then the pain of 1+ days hit us when trying to embark. We are 63+ and looking for comfort and smooth sailing. The economic, english speaking, caring service , non-smoking , fine dining cruise turned into; penny-pinching, multi-lingual, non-caring, smoke as you like and reasonable-food-but-served-cold. ECONOMICS; No complaint over the cabin price, but when everything is hit with a 15% "service cahrge" and then the daily "service charge". Double dipping? Cruises were sold Copenhagen - baltic/Norway - retuen but were multiple pick-up cruises - much like a hop=hop=off. ENGLISH: This was the minority language use don board and the announcements(which did not get to cabins) began in english bit bu the time our door was opened they had switched to Italian/German etc.. In 14 days we met only 20 'english speaking cruisers" - fortunately the cabin attendants and wait-staff had a reasonable grasp of english. Manners were definitely sub-european. CARING: I cared about safety - no response. I cared about comfort on in-port dining - no response, not billed as an ITALIAN cruise but an Italian night on both legs? See attach. SMOKE & FOOD> Both were opposite to expectation from internet advertising. The poll forms are far too limiting and give MSC very limited feedback + client is cheated. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
Let me start with my conclusion. If you understand that Baltic Cruises on MSC will be largely Europeans and are comfortable with that, you can enjoy an excellent trip and a good value. Embarkation. ... Read More
Let me start with my conclusion. If you understand that Baltic Cruises on MSC will be largely Europeans and are comfortable with that, you can enjoy an excellent trip and a good value. Embarkation. We embarked at the port of Copenhagen. One of the unusual aspects of this cruise is that the Orchestra takes on passengers (and discharges them) at several ports, not just one. The number getting on in Copenhagen was smaller than at Kiel. The port at Copenhagen has no facilities so all paperwork is handled either in a tent alongside the ship or on board. We were in our cabin (12041, balcony cabin, port) within ten minutes of arrival. The only down side was that when our luggage had not arrived at our cabin 6 hours later we had to make numerous trips to the main desk and finally, by chance, I actually saw one of our pieces of luggage sitting in locked area behind the main desk! It had no cabin identification on it so it was not surprising it had not been delivered. After more haggling and my wife's insistence, a staff member led her to the luggage area and my wife was able to identify the missing luggage within seconds. So, make sure you see the crew place the tag on the bag if you do not do it yourself. Leave nothing to chance. No doubt always good advise when traveling Cabin. Our cabin was typical. Small (166 sq feet) and comfortable. The ship is quite new and has both 110 and 220 volt electricity available. You will not need a converter. The balcony is quite small and, in the Baltic, a bit too cold most of the time to be really useful but the sunlight is a pleasure. Ship Design. The Orchestra features large open decks. Its fine when the weather is good, but be prepared for the usual stress of finding deck chairs. If the weather is poor, passengers tend to congregate (i.e., sit) in the buffet area. It's the only indoor area of the ship with clear, open views. Below the ship is tastefully decorated and features an assortment of lounges, two main restaurants and two specialty (i.e., extra cost) restaurants. The theater, forward, is quite comfortable, and unlike American based ships, they don't push drinks at all. Dining. We prefer the dining room to the buffet. It's the same food, but you can enjoy the services of a wait staff and always find a seat. If you don't know about MSC's drinking water system by now its time to learn. In Europe, MSC does NOT serve any free beverage in the dining room at lunch or dinner. That is correct. Nothing. You want water you buy a bottle. Water is available at the buffet on the upper deck. Coffee and juices are served at breakfast but beware, the orange juice is more like kool aid then juice. If you want real orange juice you should be prepared to pay for it. As of spring 2011, MSC made an exception to this policy. Americans and Canadians receive vouchers for 7 bottles of water at no charge. We found all the meals to be satisfactory and nicely presented. The pasta and the baked goods were the best choices. Service can be a bit slow at time but the wait staff is determined to please and tipping is automatically added to your bill. My waiter bought me a beer on the last night! That's a first. Entertainment. On sea days the basic entertainment is the endless, mindless games played pool-side. If you enjoy this type of thing, you will be fine. Otherwise bring a book or an ipad. In the evening, we found the main shows to be excellent. Since so many languages are in use and every announcement is in five or six languages, the shows are primarily dance, and musically themed. We found each night to be like a performance of the Cirque de Sole. Ports. Kiel, Germany. The main reason MSC calls here is to board or discharge German passengers. We arrived on a Sunday and thankfully there was a flea market within a short walk from the pier. The main attraction in Kiel is the eastern end of the very busy Kiel Canal and the submarine monument and museum. Both were easily visible from the ship as we left port. We did not participate in any ship excursions. Stockholm. We spent the day on the Hop On- Hop Off boat that calls at the pier and arrives in downtown about 15 minutes later. Tickets were available as soon as we got off the ship. Tallinn, Estonia. Tallinn's old city is a charm. We opted to walk on our own and arrived within twenty minutes. St. Petersburg. In Russia, we opted for the ship's excursion to the Peterhoff Castle and the Hermitage. If you do not use the ship's excursion a visa is required and frankly, you are better off with the ship in this port. The lines at both places in August were enormous and without the benefits of a guide, you probably would not even get into the museums. Currency. Each country on the cruise has its own currency. We opted to stick with Euros and had no real problems since credit cards are widely accepted. At the tourist shopping in Russia they take anything! Americans. If you need the company of other Americans you will not be happy on MSC. We were only a handful, but soon we became "The American couple," and fielded questions on "Obamacare" and the stock market. The Danes, the Dutch, the Germans all spoke English and we enjoyed this aspect of the cruise. Disembarkation. Since the Copenhagen group was smaller then the Kiel group, we were off the ship in less than an hour. We stayed in Copenhagen overnight so had only to grab a cab and head back to our hotel. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
After reading the poor reviews of the MSC cruise line ships, we embarked with a considerable amount of trepidation on the MSC Orchestra for a combined 3 cruise, 25 day trip around Northen Europe, the Baltic and down to Italy. Boarding ... Read More
After reading the poor reviews of the MSC cruise line ships, we embarked with a considerable amount of trepidation on the MSC Orchestra for a combined 3 cruise, 25 day trip around Northen Europe, the Baltic and down to Italy. Boarding The ship itself was magnificent and when we (my wife and I) first saw it in Copenhagen we were impressed. Despite all the previous criticism we were dropped off by our taxi, had our luggage taken and tagged, showed the path to take to registration, received our information pack and cruise cards and on the ship within 15 - 20 minutes. Cabin We had a balcony cabin on deck 11 and it was very nice indeed - we actually had room to move in the bathroom!! Throughout the cruise we were looked after by 2 great cabin attendants and nothing was too much for them. I think the secret is common good manners, a good morning and good evening and a thank you - goes a long way. Yes they were not particularly good at English but it is amazing how patience, manners and a smile goes a long way. They spoke 3 languages - I only spoke English. I wonder who was the one who was really disadvantaged. Food and Food Service The food was one of my main concerns after reading the very poor comments. Perhaps we were on a different cruise line witha similar name because both my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the food and generally the food service particularly from our 2 dinner waitesr who made our dinner time such enjoyable occcassions. Yes it was 3 back to back cruises so the menu was repeated on a number of occassions but regardless it was good with a good selection. We took the second 8.30 pm sitting and the menus were well presented and the food was good quality servewd by very nice staff. The maite'd came over to our table (and others) almost every evening to see how we were were going. We know for a fact that he replaced the waiter at the table next to us as they had concerns with him. The food in the buffet on the 13th floor was also very acceptable with a wide choice including Regional and a buffet of salads. One of the most memorable aspects of the buffet was the magnificent midnight buffets with bautifully presented ice carvings, butter carvings and well presented food and deserts. It was delicious. Land Tours We went on at least one land tour in each port and were mainly impressed with the quality of the guides and the locations. The Norway stops were absolutely breathtaking and there was so much to take in. ST Petersburg was memorable as was many of the other land tours. Cant fault MSC on these. The Ship We simply enjoyed coming back onto the ship and sitting for a while over one of their great cocktails in on of the numerous bars. We attended a variety of activities including cooking demonstrations, quizzes, wine tasting and a fashion parade. The ship was spotless and I was generally satisfied with the prices on the ship. Most of the crew were very pleasant and efficient but we did have run ins with some very rude security staff who thought it was their job to grunt as you went through with your cruise card. Fellow Passengers Generally we had no problems with the passengers and met some lovely people on the cruise. We only had real problems with one very large group of about 1,000 people from a particular country which borders the southern Baltic near Denmark. Talk about a complete lack of manners and so rude - we weren't the only ones who had problems with them. Improvement One area with we we really had problems was with the Accounting Dept and the main desk. They were unbelievable. You would get one answer from one person, then go back later to check and get a different answer. Incompetence seemed to be the rule of the day with them. We only found 1 person from each area that really knew what they were talking about. They didn't have movies during the day and they need to sort out their smoking policy. Having one side of a bar smoking and the other non-smoking does not work out. Overall We enjoyed our time on the cruse and actually I said to my wife I would be quite happy to stay on board and continue to cruise. Yes, you can find fault in even the best place but we did not take a cruise to find fault - we came to enjoy the cruise which we did. And by the way we have nothing with MSC other than being satisfied cruisers. Yes, we would do another MSC cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
Having subscribed to MSC newsletters for some time, we were keen to try one of their cruises. When this great deal of 3 b2b cruises came up, we were eager to sign up and with CC reviews in hand, went with an open mind to experience the ... Read More
Having subscribed to MSC newsletters for some time, we were keen to try one of their cruises. When this great deal of 3 b2b cruises came up, we were eager to sign up and with CC reviews in hand, went with an open mind to experience the good and bad. After the first 7 days, I was still keeping an open mind and focussing on the good. By the second 7 days, some things had begun to be quite irritating and when entering the last leg of 11 days, we now saying, "never again MSC"! EMBARKATION - quick, once it all started but waiting for a few hours in an unlit temporary terminal on a thuddery day was not much fun. We did have drinks available! This was our first encounter with MSC's unusual admin ways. Although we were booked on 3 cruises our cards showed the dates for only 2 cruises. When questioned about this the answer was so absurd that I knew we would experience some unusual ways! THE SHIP: Really lovely - quality, relaxing decor and furnishings in public rooms,easy to navigate, good pool deck. Cabins were clean, a little smaller than other cruise lines with less drawers but bathroom ok. The things that annoyed us were that every bar had loud music playing constantly, so that it was difficult to find a quiet area to sit and read when blustery conditions prevented sitting on the balcony. Smoking was alowed inside certain bars and therefore again restricted our presence. THE STAFF - Our cabin steward was delightful,speaking good English and always attentive to any needs. The restaurant staff were fine but not outstanding. Fortunately we drank little. With only adequate bar staff, it sometimes took a while to order a drink. We had no real administration problems but those who did had a dreadful time at Reception. Some staff spoke good English but others were very poor in their communication skills and we heard some appalling tales that other passengers encountered. THE FOOD - OMG where do you start - maybe with the water that you had to purchase for 2 euro each time, whether in the restaurant or buffet. The food was continuously inconsistent! We dined in the L'Isbiscus restaurant every night and found the food boring and overcooked. On many occasions certain ingredients described in the menu were either in the Chefs dreams or so disguised that were unrecognisable. We discovered after the first 7 days that the menu was recycled every 7 days and even thouh the last sector of the cruise was advertised daily as a food and wine cruise, there were only 3 days of a new menu. By the last night, i was ready to throw the Darn of Salmon at the waiter!It was yet again dry and if you are thinking why didnt I order something different, well on several occasions, i rejected my first order for something else, only to find it was also either overcooked or salty. Then, every now and again a dish would surprise us, The rack of lamb, which was actually only 2 cutlets, was beautifully cooked and tasty!! At least the L'Isbiscus restaurant had a reasonable amount of space - even though we were squashed in a corner and never saw the sea at nights- the Borghese restaurant was ridiculously sqashy for lunch, hence we went to the buffet for lunch. Again, the food was consistly bad - inedible bad- and good -great indian curries and roasts on some days. Breakfast was GOOD - great German style rye breads, great tasting bacon, good eggs, yoghurt, heavenly waffles and despite the fact that they did not replace my cereal when it ran out, good variety of cereals. However, if you wanted fresh orange juice that had to be paid for! We tried the Oriental specialty restaurant for lunch- I think the only ones to do so as we saw no other people there day or night. The quality was acceptable but I could not label it good. We did not go to the 4 Seasons restaurant as it had no extra decor than the buffet and those who did use it said that the food was not much different to the usual. We do not know why they have specialty restaurants - they were a BIG dissapontment SHORE EXCURSIONS - good, very happy with the content and value of the excursions. Getting your bus number was typically chaotic as was much of the administration. ENTERTAINMENT - hmmm interesting! The night time entertainment in the theatre was excellent - just as well, as it recycled every 7 days also. We therefore saw all the shows 3 times and 1 for the fourth time. MSC's 'production shows' are different from all others. While only 30 mins, the shows had the usual dancers and singers and in addition, incorportaed contortionists and acrobats of very high quality. The theatre was beautiful but each night the CD introduced each show in 5 different languages which took 10 mins. During the first 7 days, I laughed at his amazing abikity to go so fluidly from 1 language to the other. By the second week, it began to be irritating and by the third week, it was more than annoying!! The ships activities - those things you participate or watch on sea days or in between times were carried out by 6 or 8 young enthusiastic guys and gals who again were fluent in several languages. In addition to ball games, we had cooking demonstrations, napkin folding and flower arranging. Needless to say, sea days were ultra boring - I am so glad I took my e-reader, otherwise there was not much to do - a complaint by many!! DISEMBARKATION - Hmmm again - words cannot adequately describe the chaos. Since our passports had to be handed in from Portugal onwards, we were told to retrieve them at 9 am onwards on day of embarkation. While that sounded strange, it was nothing compared to the debarcle that occured. Humongous lines- I am not exagerating - of 3000 passengers all trying to retieve their passports caused some passengers to resort to barging and near fisticuffs. I wish I had taken photos!! Having had to be out of our cabins at 7 am, we had to wait till nearly 10 am to get off and we were some of the early ones. This was far from MSC's finest hour!! In summary It seems to us that MSC supplies cheap cruise by undercutting all else - staff, food, entertainment and whatever else they can. Maybe if you only want a 7 day port intensive cruise and can put up with the announcement in 5 languages continuously and the lack of manners by some passengers, then by all means try MSC but for us, we would rather pay a little more and know that we will dine well, not have to sit in tobacco scented public areas and be entertained with slightly more sophistication. Not much to ask for in old age!! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
Irish Naval Association Dublin 7th May to 15th May 2011 Our group of 49 travelled to Copenhagen on board SAS Airlines. The coach was waiting on our arrival and took us straight to the Cruise Line MSC Orchestra, ... Read More
Irish Naval Association Dublin 7th May to 15th May 2011 Our group of 49 travelled to Copenhagen on board SAS Airlines. The coach was waiting on our arrival and took us straight to the Cruise Line MSC Orchestra, There was no delay and the check-in was very efficient. They take your credit card details and issue you with their own credit card which is your the key to your cabin, boarding and disembarking identity card and the card you use for purchase of drinks and items from duty free and onboard shops. When booking they tell you there is a €7 per person per day gratuity which at your discretion will be added to your bill. This is the first negative comment as it is added daily. We asked that it not be added until the end of the Cruise but they insisted they were adding it and we would have to discuss its removal at the end of the cruise, but to be honest we were very satisfied with the service of all their staff. It would be better they added the gratuity to the overall cost and forget about adding it to the bill. The ship was stunning and top of the range in luxury. We sat for our first evening meal and of course not been used to Italian food we ordered starter, main course and sweet, which when served was very small portions so we actually left the table still Hungry. This was our first mistake. The Menu was a 5 to 6 course menu and we should have ordered all 6 items on the menu Appetizer, Soup, Starter, Main Course, Sweet and finally Cheese Board . (ask for more if you like any of the items) Wine for the table is approx €20 per bottle, however, for €8 you can order a carafe of house wine which is approx 6 glasses, and very good wine. On Deck 13 there is the Buffet Bar opened basically all day until 9pm. Tea and Coffee and drinking water are all free 24 hours. You can help yourself to perhaps every conceivable dish you would want . The usual Fry-Up, Burgers, chips, salads, fish, sweet, cakes, fruit etc.etc. So there is no reason to go hungry on the cruise, and there is plenty of places to sit and eat. You are charged for bottle water at your dinner table which is very silly and at €3 is a stupid addition and takes greatly from the overall impression of the cruise and ship. HOWEVER!!! Your can get drinking water free on Deck 13 24 hours a day so although from a health point they do not allow you fill a bottle. You can of course take as many glasses of the water to you table and fill your water bottle at your table. The shows were short approx 30 minutes, but small is wonderful, and you will really enjoy the wonderful variety of the shows. This leaves you plenty of time to sit in the many bars each with their own evening entertainment and always plenty of room to sit, so no need to rush out after the show to grab a seat. The groups and musicians in the various bars are great. Another nice gesture from the ship was that at approx 11pm every evening waiters came around with trays of sandwiches as much as you wanted. One evening they rolled in the chefs and trolleys and prepared pancakes for anyone that wanted them. On our last night on the Ship they opened the Buffet Restaurant at 10pm and stayed open until 1am for the last night Banquet. Again every type of food you copuld think of was there for you to eat and of course no extra charge. I cannot express the absolute class and quality of MSC Orchestra, but next was the scenery, never in my lifetime and having covered many countries over the years had I been prepared for the stunning scenery up the Norwegian Fjords. It was also a great surprise to find the Ship docked almost in the Town at all places we visited. Only once did we anchor and the Ship used its own Landing craft to take us ashore and back to the ship. There was possibly 20 to 30 of the Ships motor boats holding enough to get everyone ashore and back without any need to queue. The cost of the excursions were expensive which is normal on Cruise Ships, However if you get to know enough people on the Ship you can go the local tourist office ashore and get 15% discount for 10 or more. The 15% is also off a much cheaper price at the Tourist Office than on the ship. This applies to the Hop-on Hop-off services in most cities. So get 10 together when going ashore and save money. Our over-all impressions. The Ship was terrific, Scenery was amazing, Food was great, Shows were great, Thanks to all who helped make this a memorable Cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2010
Review of MSC Orchestra June 26 2010, Scandinavia and Russia. We travelled from Dublin to Copenhagen on the day before the cruise and overnighted in that lovely city. It was the day the College student finished and the whole town was ... Read More
Review of MSC Orchestra June 26 2010, Scandinavia and Russia. We travelled from Dublin to Copenhagen on the day before the cruise and overnighted in that lovely city. It was the day the College student finished and the whole town was buzzing, up to the not so early hours of the morning. As there were 20 of us in the group, staying in two hotels, we arrived by taxi at Langelinie just after midday. The 'Orchestra' was sharing the dock with the beautiful 'Jewel of the Seas', which is my favourite ship and during the cruise I found myself frequently comparing the two. MSC check in is a fairly painless procedure, albeit split into two. Initially your tickets and passport are quite extensivly examined on the Quayside, before you are directed to a lounge on deck 5 where the actual check in takes place. The process finishes here if paying your bill by Credit card, but continues in the Pursers Office if paying cash, as the check in staff cannot accept it. There was no reference made to how you wished to pay the gratuities and it seems that unless you say otherwise, then €7 per day is added to your account. Whether this sum is justified or not, I will deal with later. ITINERARY. We were on the Copenhagen-Kiel-Stockholm-Talinn-St Petersburg-Copenhagen sailng. It seems that Kiel is included primarily to drop off/pick up around 1,000 German passengers per sailing. Germany is closed on a Sunday and we were lucky that the annual Kiel regatta was on when we were there, with its colourful ships and a few of us headed of to Laboe, near Kiel to see U995, the last surviving Uboat. It was a lovely, warm Sunday and the locals were getting in the mood for the World Cup match with England. Needless to say, the 4-1 win for Germany went down very well with the German passengers on board, many of whom were watching on the huge screen over the pool deck. Monday was a sea day, and we arrived in Stockholm early on Tuesday. The 'Hop on Hop off water taxi is close to the Cruise port and we made good use of it. Stockholm is a wonderful city, with beautiful buildings and well worth a longer visit in its own right. The highlight was a visit to the Vasa Museum, where the wonderfully preserved warship that sank on its maiden voyage in 1628 is on view in all its glory. Remarkable. Talinn was next and this a lovely, quaint old town, with a mixture of Russian and western influences. We used the Hop on Hop off bus for €10 per day, and it leaves from beside the cruise port. Talinn is really compact and easily negotiated on foot, but watch out for the cobblestones and wear strong footwear. A short hop across the bay had us in St Petersburg at about 6am on Thursday. This is rightly the highlght of the cruise for many and it is a shame that the Orchestra only stays about 12 hours. Note to MSC, overnight in St Petersburg like many other cruise lines. One day is not nearly long enough to do this wonderful city justice. Our group prebooked a day long Tour with Red October, and it was really excellent. Despite MSC's unsuccessful attempts to keep us from disembarking until all their own Tours had got away , we were passing through the newly built Cruise Terminal at St Petersburg within minutes of the ship being cleared by the local authorities. Our guide. Helen, was waiting for us and we had a full 50 seater coach for the 20 in the group. After a short drive around the city centre , we took off fo Peterhof, which is about an hour outside the city. This is a really stunning Summer Palace, and the famous Fountain Park, which starts at 11 each morning is a real spectacle. There are 150 different fountains , and all are naturall y powered, no electricity used at all. I've been to Pushkin on a previous visit, but preferred Peterhof. We took the hydofoil back to the city,this takes 30 minutes and is really enjoyable. The boat docked right outside our next port of call, the amazing Hermitage Museum. Do not miss the Hermitage when in St P. But try and arrive, like we did, between 12 and 1. The morning tours have ended and the afternoon ones haven't arrived. we spent 2 hours there and when we were finished there were literally thousands of people waiting to get in. It was very hot and uncomfortable for those waiting to get in. After the Hermitage, we went to the Spilled Blood cathedral, with its 7000 sq mtrs of mosaic work. This is a lovely church, which like most attractions, can get very crowded. After this we went to the Peter and Paul Fortress, where the Czars and their families are buried. As time was pressing, we had time for some shopping and then it was back to the ship by 6p.m. I really can't praise Red October enough. They organised the itinerary as we requested it, and ensured that we were never caught up in the crowds that builld up at the main attractions. The guide, Helen, had perfect English, and was so knowledgeable. The tour cost about €20 per person more than the bi-lingual MSC Tours, but for the first class service we received, it was well worth it. Friday was another sea day before arriving back in Copenhagen early Saturday morning. ENTERTAINMENT. Unfortunately, this is where the comparisons with RCL etc kick in. I have done about a dozen cruises, mostly RCL and Celebrity. The heads at MSC should take a long hard look at what they class as entertainment. One word describes it. Poor. What is the point of having a 1300 seat theatre, only to put on second rate cabaret shows ?. That is what we were offered every night by a Cruise Director who was as prominent as the Invisible Man. The only music of any quality on a ship called the Orchestra was an all girl string quartet who were easy on both the eye and the ear.Other than that there was a dreadful 'pop band' who seemed to be straight out of Eurovision and a band specifically for the large German contingent who were even worse. All the entertainment was focussed on the German/Italian market. As they formed the majority on board, thats fair enough, but NONE of the above would have made it past an RCL audition. The daily activities were very limited and bland, carried out by a staff who were collectively tired and uninspired. The Casino was busy in spots and features the usual slots, poker, blackjack and roulette. All the slots were 25cent machines and it seems the biggest win of the week was €175 !!! FOOD/SERVICE RESTAURANT I had read with concern some earlier reviews about this aspect of the Orchestra. Unfortunately, they proved to be remarkably accurate. Now, again its probably not fair to compare the Orchestra, with say The Jewel of the Seas or indeed any other RCL/Celebrity ship, but I'm going to, because when you pay a lot of money for a cruise you are I believe, entitled to a certain level of food and service. It started rather badly for our group. We had requested the main sitting and when I rang MSC prior to the Cruise, I was assured this was indeed the case, despite it stating Second sitting on our tickets. When we checked in, our room card confirmed second seating and when I approached the rather surly MD, was met with a shrug of the shoulders and only when I persisted did he relent and switched us to the Main sitting, but not until the second day. We had two tables for 8, and one for 4, adjacent which was fine. The two 8's had a really great waiter but we had the server from hell. He didn't speak, he was surly and literally banged the plates down in front of us.In all my previous cruises, I have always build up a rapport wih the waiters. Not this guy. The food. I found it bland, unimaginative, poorly presented and with extremely small portions. This was greasy spoon stuff compared to RCL, and I can totally agree with some American comments about it. If MSC want to break into the US market, they require a radical review of all matters relating to their food service. It is just not good enough in all repects. BUFFET, This was even worse. Poorly designed food stations which leave you lining up for too long. Very limited choice of food and at breakfast, its nearly impossible to get a table. This is due mainly to people seemingly not prepared to share a table. MSC treat coffee like its the next item to become extinct.No self service here, you wait in line to be served. And after breakfast, you have to pay for your coffee. They would be better putting the staff to use cooking eggs you can eat. Every day, without fail the fried eggs could be best described by one word...mush, broken and overcooked. Unlike RCL etc, the buffet does NOT open in the evenings, another big mistake. ome of our group went to the Shanghai Chinese Restaurant and were not impressed. Bland food and poor service. The best experience we had was the seated lunch in Villa Borghese. It was very pleasant. BARS. Bar prices are rather high, although the service was generally good STATEROOMS. From what I saw, pretty good. We had an ocean view on Deck 5. It was adequate, but I have to say that our attendant did not do his job to an acceptable level. Apart from making the beds. INTERNET. €4 for 10 minutes. If you stay on for 1 minute, its still €4. I went 2 seconds over the 10 minutes and was charged €4.50. Speed was o/k, but the Internet cafe is one of the least used parts of the ship. It shouldn't take a genius in MSC to work out why. They need incentive packages here and quick.. RECEPTION. Our group had a minor problem that took two days to sort out. Four different staff were involved and all gave conflicting information. These people have a difficult job to do, but I felt they just fobbed me off, hoping would go away. THE SHIP The Orchestra is in pretty good shape. The pool area gets very crowded and there is little or no poolside entertainment. Didn't try the spa. THE STAFF. Having become used to the maybe overbearing cheerfulness of RCL/Celebrity staff, it was rather surprising that MSC staff, with a few exceptions that we came across, were rather unfriendly. No one says 'hello' when you meet in the corridors, and it looked to me as if the Staff manager has a rather demotivated team here. There was something about the body language of many of the crew that wasn't quite right. GETTING OFF AT THE END. No better or worse than any other ship. Our group had 3 or 4 different coloured tags and when I insisted we all be allowed leave at the same time, this seemed to beyond the comprehension of the staff member. Eventually, he realised what I was saying and let us go.. There are very few taxis available at Copenhagen Port by the way. OVERALL. Disappointing. MSC have a lot of work to do before they can even claim to be on the same level as RCL/Celebrity. Maybe they are trying to grow too quickly, I don't know what the underlying reason for their shortcomings are. Despite what you might think, I am not hard to please. MSC did not reach an acceptable level on several counts. Would I cruise with them again ? I have no choice. My wife and I (she wasn't on this trip) are booked on the new Magnifica from Venice in September. This trip was work, the next one is a holiday, so hopefully I will be able to report great improvements then. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2009
We cruised the Baltic on MSC Orchestra Aug 8 ~ 15 2009. The ports of call were Kiel, Stockholm, Tallinn, Saint Petersburg. This is our third cruise. Previsouly we cruised in Alaska with RCI and Carribean with Carnival. We flew into ... Read More
We cruised the Baltic on MSC Orchestra Aug 8 ~ 15 2009. The ports of call were Kiel, Stockholm, Tallinn, Saint Petersburg. This is our third cruise. Previsouly we cruised in Alaska with RCI and Carribean with Carnival. We flew into Copenhegen on Aug 7 and spent a day looking around the lovely city. On Aug 8 around 3:30pm, we embarked the ship. The embarkation process was very easy. Once we are on the sip we found the ship was absolutely beatiful! Everything was well maintained. The cleanness of the ship was better than RCI or Carnival. We really liked the food on the ship. While we also liked the food on RCI and Carnival, those food are more Americanized in terms of flavor and taste. They taste more like the food you would eat in a local American resteraunt. The food on Orchestra is more Europeanized. It is lighter in taste, lighter in salt content, and healthier. They also have some selections that you would be able to find on Carnival or RCI. What we do not like about the dining, is the crowdeness of the dining area during breakfst and lunch buffet. You can take your plate and wonder for 10 minutes w/o finding a seat. I think the ship under designed the buffet capacity. The dinner seating was fine. The bottle water costs 3.5 Euro. We asked for ice water which was free. All the tables around us have wine and bottle water. We were probably viewed as the cheapy Americans. I cound not jusity spending $5 for a bottle of water. Regarding the Port of Call, the ship makes a stop in Kiel, primarily to pick up German cruisers. Over half of the passengers on the ship are German. I wish they can make the stop in Helsinki instead of Kiel. The ship crew understands and speaks English. Keep in mind this is an Italian ship and the Italians may have a different way of expressing certain things, which may not be the same as the Americans. Some people may think this is rude, but I think this is more of a culture difference. You can tell that the crew tried very hard to please the passengers. The entertainment was pretty good. Since the population was very mixed on the ship, there were no comedy shows! The dancers were very professional. The Irish dance was fantastic! The shows were 30~45 minutes, a little shorter than RCI or Carnival. I enjoyed all of the singers, except an older female lady. I did not know why they hired her: no good voice, no good looking, no good figure. We had a great time! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2009
My 90 year old mother and I decided to visit Norway by cruise line. We were happy with a balcony cabin, which makes a fijord cruise a wonderful experience. I have cruised on dozens of different lines but never with MSC, which is a very ... Read More
My 90 year old mother and I decided to visit Norway by cruise line. We were happy with a balcony cabin, which makes a fijord cruise a wonderful experience. I have cruised on dozens of different lines but never with MSC, which is a very European based cruise line. I have no complaints about the cabin and dinning room staff, who were largely from Indonesia and very helpful. The european staff would probably irritate most Americans, as would some of the company policies regarding charges. No freebies here. Other than continental breakfast, room service had hefty prices, as did costs for sodas, water, etc. Even ice cream on the deck is charged. But the meals were good and varied, and if one isn't interested in the entertainment or amenities it is a good value. If you are mobility challenged this is not the cruise for you. Europeans do not do ADA or disabilty well. We arrived after a 20 hour journey that included a hospital stay in Paris for an accident we were involved in, and were told to march down a long flight of stairs to register. The Italian officer registering us treated us like we were trying to sneak across Check Point Charlie...full of suspicion and hostility. That was not a good start, but things improved. There were only a handful of Americans among 2500 european passengers, and if anyone has every experienced German tourists they will understand how inconsiderate they can be. An example is that you would be on a full elevator, with everyone going to the same floor, and the Germans would push ahead and step on your toes to get out first. Or if you were serving yourself at the breakfast buffet, they would grab the serving spoon from your hand to dish themselves up first. Or cut in front of you in line. Thankfully, my few words of high school German helped to vent my frustrations. I don't think I will every cruise with MSC again, but I did enjoy the Fijords and think that this agenda is a good one. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
Embarquation in Copenhagen at Sundkaj. We came by train via Hamburg and took a taxi from the Osterport train station. I was very excited and so impressed by the sheer archaic dimension of this Arche Noah (90'000). But I know, that ... Read More
Embarquation in Copenhagen at Sundkaj. We came by train via Hamburg and took a taxi from the Osterport train station. I was very excited and so impressed by the sheer archaic dimension of this Arche Noah (90'000). But I know, that there are even bigger vessels. The procedure was very well organised in a tent on the quay. It took us appr. 40 min. (with having pre-checked via MSC homepage weeks before). So we left the ship again for a quick shopping tour in Copenhagen before sailing off to Kiel in Germany. Routing: Copenhagen-Kiel-Oslo-Stavanger-Fjord of Flam-Fjord of Geiranger-Copenhagen. Cabin: Very modern, spotless. This was the best category just before the suites. It is quite long, so the sofa between bed an balcony door could be used to sleep 2 more (env. 1.4 metres large). Interactive TV with accurate information about daily program, land excursions, special deals etc. and booking tool. Restaurants: We changed our seating as we were only 2 in the party, so wie tried the Villa Borghese and the Ibiscus. Traditional 2 seatings. Quite noisy and stressy, Fellow passengers: Big groups with kids and grandmas from Italy, Turkey, Bulgaria, then couples from Germany, France etc.. A very nice European mix. Entertainment: Every evening 2 representations in the big theater. We actually attended only one which was very glamorous. But there was a terrible soprano, almost a parody. But we spend most evenings after late dinner in a bar or even with a stroll on deck. Sports: Good jogging possibilities on deck an also in the promenade deck below, which is not continuous but covered. It was a big pleasure for me with the nice cool northern sea temperatures in the morning. Gym is located in front with a superb view adjacent to the spa. Spa: Very chique, expensive, we took a special which is usually announced on the interactive TV in you cabin. Count $100.- for a half your treatment. Land excursions: We took only one: The mountain tour in Geiranger. Compared to individual tours always too expensive (2 to 3 times more). And getting off the ship is normally easier without being attributed to a group and kept in the herd in the theater before getting out to the gangway. Conclusion: Ideal for a real European Experience which starts and prevails on board as well. Geiranger: This is the village at the end of the fjord with the same name. The cruise through this fjord was the most spectacular part of our trip. We reached Geiranger-Village by tender. We had to wait about 1 h for our turn. Once on land you could get easily back and forth, because there were many tender boats in use. Geiranger is also absolutely touristy, but already bigger and not only for cruise tourist. There are some hotels and other accommodation facilities and comparing to Flam you see also people other than fellow passengers. We took the tour to Dalsnibba mountain. The coach stopped on the way above the village of Geiranger where you have the most famous view of the fjord, the village, the mountains and your beautiful cruise ship. The higher you get, the colder it becomes. We are in Norway, close to the Nordic circle. So teak a jumper and an anorak with you. Stavanger: This is a town with two faces: Old Stavanger with the white wooden houses (MSC Orchestra moored just in front) and the more modern city with shops, modern housing etc.. Visited the Petrol Museum, very interactive, very interesting. I learned a lot about Oil industry and Norway Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
MSC Orchestra, great vacation at reasonable priceThis was my second cruise and my first time on the MSC Orchestra. I have cruised with Royal Caribbean before. Before the cruise I read the reviews here on the MSC Orchestra and was therefore ... Read More
MSC Orchestra, great vacation at reasonable priceThis was my second cruise and my first time on the MSC Orchestra. I have cruised with Royal Caribbean before. Before the cruise I read the reviews here on the MSC Orchestra and was therefore a bit worried. Ship: (A) MS MSC Orchestra is a cruise ship that was built in 2007. She is the second ship of the Musica class. She can accommodate 2,550 passengers in 1,275 cabins. Her crew complement is approximately 990. The ship was really beautiful and was kept in perfect shape during the cruise. The ship was very quiet. From our cabin on the front side it sometimes almost felt like sailing. On the negative side I missed the open "shopping street" in the middle of the ship that I experienced during the Royal Caribbean cruise before. My girlfriend also missed better shops and shopping possibilities other than watches at double price etc. Service: (B) English speakers should bear in mind that MSC is an Italian cruise line and that some of the staff isn't that fluent in English. No problem really, but I noticed that this was a surprise for some of the passengers. They found it difficult to communicate with employees on the ship (I did not). The announcements on the ship took a while because they repeated it in 5 languages English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German. Some of the staff could be more smiling. Room: (A+) The outside room with balcony on 11th floor was very nice. Some might find it a bit small, but remember you are on a cruise ship with almost 2.600 passengers. The room was kept very clean with two times a day towel shifts etc. The bed was comfortable and we were not bothered by any outside noise. Food: (C) The food at dinner time didn't meet expectations. Otherwise the buffet food was great. I want to give a big plus for the salad buffet at lunch time. Swimming pools and Hot Tubs: (C) The swimming pools were too small and seemed to be for the children on board. However, I always found room in the group of hot tubs they offered. Entertainment: (B) The dancers and singers were professional and incredible! Italian opera combined with classic pop music made the shows memorable (A+). I sometimes missed better entertainment during daytime. There was then no outside entertainment provided, except for deck games. Boarding: (A+) Embarking and disembarking was very quick and easy. Our luggage was at the room 20 minutes after embarking. Drinks: (C) There was a charge for non-alcoholic drinks, including bottle water. There were free water, juice and coffee machines during the buffet meals. A drink cost 6, 90 Euro, A large beer 4, 90. Ports: (A) Copenhagen, Kiel, Stockholm, Tallinn and St. Petersburg. The stop in Kiel was on a Sunday with all shops closed. You need a whole week in St. Petersburg to really discover the city, but MSC can't be blamed for that. Fitness centre: (B) The fitness centre had too low capacity during peek ours. It was well equipped, but too small. The cruise companies should really do something about this because exercise is essential after all the food consumption on a cruise. Casino: (B) Offered traditional slut machines, black jack, roulette and different poker games. I missed Texas Holdem tournament and Texas holdem table. Tipping: (B) Standard service charge automatically charged (6 Euros per day per adult). If you want to tip otherwise you have to sign a form. It was explained that the tip was divided among all the employees, also those who work behind the scenes. Misc: Keep in mind that on board expenses are paid in Euros. Language and cultural differences can be miss understood as lack of service. Once again, this is an Italian cruise line and the staff also serves passengers from other parts of the world where English is not the main language. OVERALL (B): All in all, considering the price we paid, we were satisfied with the cruise. This is certainly a different kind of cruising with a more relaxed European feel. Be prepared to do nothing and enjoy almost every minute of it!! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
We have never met such bad manners and ignorance in any service sector in the world.  The staff would bump into you and certainly not stand aside, where appropriate (except cabin staff).  Any queries or requests for assistance were met ... Read More
We have never met such bad manners and ignorance in any service sector in the world.  The staff would bump into you and certainly not stand aside, where appropriate (except cabin staff).  Any queries or requests for assistance were met with discontent and dissent.  Their attitude was appaling and argumentative. They were dismissive to us and fellow passengers, who were equally dismayed with their totally unprofessional approach.  Entertainment staff were friendly and well mannered.  Our waiters (2) were nice, but very inefficient and untrained.The food was varied and tasty, but invariable pre-plated and overheated or overcooked.  In the buffet, the staff were snappy and short tempered.  Drinks dispensers and issue of plates/cutlery were sometimes manned and the staff were snapping at everyone.There was no outside entertainmet provided, except for deck games.Cleaning left a lot to be desired.I dropped sunglasses (Ray Bans) going through security boarding at Tallin.  A fellow passenger told us she saw a passenger hand them to security at the check-in.  They denied it and gave us abuse calling the informant a liar.  This involved senior staff.We were some of many who went to the cashier asking for deletion of the standard service charge.  They refused to do so until you signed a form and were quite ignorant with my wife until she did so.  We prefer to tip separately for good service.  Our water and cabin crew were so tipped. There is no excuse for passengers being abused by staff.  Their approach is that the customer is always wrong and certainly not of any importance.  We would never sail with this line again. Verco Read Less
MSC Orchestra Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 4.0 3.0
Entertainment 3.0 3.4
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.3
Family 3.0 3.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.1
Enrichment 2.0 2.8
Service 3.0 3.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.3
Rates 4.0 3.9

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