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91 Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) MSC Cruises MSC Orchestra Cruise Reviews

Critique of MSC POESIA 1/16/2010 Sailing traveler1019 Having viewed the virtual tour of the MSC POESIA prior to our sailing, my wife and I anticipated an enjoyable journey to the western Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale. In truth, the ship ... Read More
Critique of MSC POESIA 1/16/2010 Sailing traveler1019 Having viewed the virtual tour of the MSC POESIA prior to our sailing, my wife and I anticipated an enjoyable journey to the western Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale. In truth, the ship itself was magnificently appointed. The theater was high tech in all respects and we were really impressed. However, as it has been said, "Beauty is skin-deep", and that, unfortunately is where it ended. We had been to all of the ports before, so there wasn't too much to comment on there. What we can comment on is the service on the ship, or lack thereof, starting with the extended wait in line to embark. The ship was berthed in a fairly shabby section of the Fort Lauderdale terminal as compared to other areas of the port we had embarked from on previous occasions. After entering the ship we dropped our carry-ons in our rather small, but nicely appointed, clean, and neat balcony stateroom. Incidentally, and to our surprise, smoking was permitted in the room,,,,and not on the balcony. Went up to the buffet and had lunch which was satisfactory. On deck there were many service personnel to be seen, but service was almost non-existent to say the least. You actually had to almost grab one of them by the arm to get them to remove dishes, etc. They mostly ignored everyone, except the girl that had charge of the ash trays. She was a consummate professional in the execution of her duties, attempting to dis-allow more than one ashtray per table. Dinner was another story. Our waiter seemed to speak very little English and his helper even less. This is surprising for a line that is catering to English speaking passengers, although there were many guests from France, Germany, Latin America, etc. Announcements were made in five languages ALL THE TIME. The dinner menu was limited to three choices with a few items that were always available. I had expected that, being an Italian line, the food would be outstanding. This was certainly not the case and we were very disappointed. with the food selections and food quality. After dinner we visited the casino for a while, made our donations, and went to the theater for the show, and later to the buffet on the upper deck, which was non-existent. There was nothing to eat anywhere, just coffee. Very disappointing to say the least. So ended the first day. Not a good omen. The above was repeated for the remainder of the cruise. The final insult was their "Grand Gala Buffet", which was a complete disaster, to the point where several of our group acquired a touch of food poisoning. I, and several others, spent the final day sick in bed. The shows were all about the same every night, with few exceptions, but the lounge dancers were multi-talented and performed in the lounges after the shows and seemed to work harder than anyone else on the ship. Their tribute to Michael Jackson was excellent. Toward the end of the cruise a large group of guests decided to have the service charges removed from their bills in order to reward the people that had truly given them good service, the cabin attendants and the waiters. The headwaiters were inattentive and occasionally argumentative and rude to the guests. The accounting department people were rude and uncooperative, but finally gave in, but not without giving everyone a hard time. All-in-all, this was an experience I will never repeat. MSC, take a good look as I leave because I am never coming back. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We arrived(2 passengers) at the embarkation point at 1pm on the day of the cruise,May 2nd 2009. We boarded the ship promptly just after 1 pm and found our way to our cabin without the help or support of the staff standing idle in the ... Read More
We arrived(2 passengers) at the embarkation point at 1pm on the day of the cruise,May 2nd 2009. We boarded the ship promptly just after 1 pm and found our way to our cabin without the help or support of the staff standing idle in the hallways.Being past passengers of MSC we were supposed to be personally escorted to our cabin by the staff. This is part of the deal of being a past passenger.Needless to say this was not done for us by the MSC staff. We did then enjoy our lunch that afternoon before the ship sailed. Notwithstanding the fact that we boarded the ship very early afternoon, our luggage did not arrive at our cabin until just before 6 pm.Bear in mind that dinner for the first sitting for which we had booked is at 6pm. We then went to dinner and was shown to a table of 8, despite the fact that we had on our booking form requested a table of not more than 2 or 4.The Maitre D and his assistant were not helpful at all, and suggested that my travel agent had not sent in a request for my table preference.I then had to point out to him, that I had made the booking direct with the Sydney, Australia office of MSC, and that I cannot understand the miscommunication on their part. Several other passengers complained of being in a similar situation, and they were simply fobbed off by the Maitre D .I found the waiters very helpful, but that help did not extend to the Supervisors in the Restaurant.The exception being Filipe Lobato, one of the supervisors in the Restaurant who went out of his way to attend to our needs. Whilst the Dinners was of average standard, we found the selection of lunches served in the Buffet of below average standard.Why not serve freshly made Sandwiches and Foccacios for lunch in additions to cooked meals.We had just come off the Emerald Princess cruise and found all their meals superior to meals on the Orchestra. The cruise entertainment staff in the lounges of the Orchestra was simply a joke. They were in fact pathetic with absolutely no personality at all.They became the laughing stock of some the passengers. On their billboard in the lounges. they classed and described themselves as "Your Excellent Cruise Staff". What a hide. Self praise is no recommendation.That assessment should be made by the passengers. For the first 10 days of the cruise,the Captain was no where to be seen and it seems he thinks HE is the most important person on the ship. Forget that.The fare paying passengers are the ones who should receive applause, not the Captain.Eventually the Captain turned up one evening in the Theatre and the passengers was asked to give him a standing ovation.He should change his name to Captain Conceit. We had a few issues with some of the rude and arrogant European passengers, but in fairness , that is not the fault of MSC.Neither is the annoying habit of making announcements is so many languages. Some of the shows in the theatre was good, but there was some that were actually horrible, and tested the patience of the audience.One Act particularly insulted the intelligence of the audience. We were advised by the Sydney office of MSC that they had appointed Customers Relations Managers on their Cruise ships, but they made themselves difficult to find.You had to go through some many channels to find them.It seems they simply did not want to engage with the passengers. Several American couples who we had befriended made known the fact that they will never cruise with MSC again. What do I say?? MSC pull up your socks. We want to cruise with you again. Remember the Customer is King.One good thing that did happen, we made so many lasting friends on the cruise.We had sailed on previous MSC cruises, but this one, was of a standard, below expectations Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Booked in August 2008 after seeing the MSC Orchestra Transatlantic/Repositioning Balcony Cruise advertised in Saturdays' Daily Mail.  Their advertisement stated that a transatlantic flight and one night's accommodation in ... Read More
Booked in August 2008 after seeing the MSC Orchestra Transatlantic/Repositioning Balcony Cruise advertised in Saturdays' Daily Mail.  Their advertisement stated that a transatlantic flight and one night's accommodation in Miami/Fort Lauderdale was included.  The latter turned out to be misleading and we paid over £80.00 extra for "3 star accommodation", which turned out to be the awful River Park Hotel & Suites in Miami, although well located for the free transit system and Bayside etc.  However, as a result we did upgrade us from deck 8 to deck 12 (the highest for standard balcony accommodation) as compensation, when I complained about their misleading advertisement. Remembering that we had booked this cruise 9 months before travelling and with just 2 weeks to go there was no sign of our tickets so I called, who after putting me on hold for about 5 minutes stated that they were calling for our tickets from MSC's head office in Italy that day, which should take a couple of days to reach them, and they would then be sent out to us first class post.  We were still without tickets 1 week from departure, so I rang again, and also rang the MSC Club member's hotline number, as we were  already members, having travelled with them twice before on the "Opera".  The outcome was we travelled with e-mailed/inkjet printed documents, which caused some issues with the transfer coach operators in the US, and we never received the "before you cruise" booklet we were supposed to have.  All in all this was very stressful, and subsequently I have written to express my dissatisfaction, particularly when we saw what the official MSC travel pack should have looked like, which all other UK passengers had received. I have say that after this disappointing start the MSC Orchestra and the transatlantic cruise visiting New York (2 days/overnight), The Azores, Portugal, Spain and finally back to Dover was absolutely superb.  The Orchestra is a beautiful ship and as reported is kept spotless, at all times.  I don't understand some of the earlier critisms, as we found hot (tea, coffee, decaff and infusions) and cold drinks (iced water & fruit juices) available free of charge for most of the day and even at the midnight buffet.  Yes, the bottled water in the cabin is expensive at $4.50 per bottle, and compared to "our local" back home, so were the alcoholic drinks/cocktails, but given the presentation of them and the fact that in the La Cantinella wine bar you always received a plate of "Palma Ham" and cheese and elsewhere generous dishes of both crisps and Japanese rice crackers in beautiful surroundings and served by immaculately dressed & extremely courteous bar staff.  It truly is a 5 star ship and in our case represented very good value for money. DINING: My wife and I found the food of a very high standard, in both the deck 13 buffet restaurant and in the mornings and also the evenings when we had our very own table for 2 in the second sitting of the Villa Borghese Ristorante on deck 5.  We had an Indonesian head waiter from Bali, who was excellent, except when we arrived a few minutes late and a nearby table of 8 Germans caused total chaos by confusing him with their desire to order copious bottles of wine each evening!! THE SHOWS: The theatre on the Orchestra is very large and a truly beautiful facility, with excellent sound and lighting, which puts many London theatres to shame.  As with the MSC Opera we found the shows to be of a very high standard, the costumes beautiful, and the performers actually received a standing ovation for final show of our cruise. THE ENTERTAINERS: Unfortunately, the Orchestra's animation team did not impress us at all and we found them flat and somewhat embarrassing to watch, whereas there were some real characters on the Opera, who regularly had us in stitches, so much so that we used to make a point of finding out which bar they were in each evening.  On this cruise we made a point of avoiding them if we could. EXCURSIONS: The excursions were expensive, and the tour we took was billed as lasting 4 hours only lasted 3 hours and we did feel cheated at $53.00 each.  This was the cheapest excursion on offer, some being double that, but it enabled us to get our bearings and spend the remaining day and a half finding our own way using the "subway", Staten Island Ferry, World trade Centre/Ground Zero, Central Park, "Top of the Rock", etc.  As their main focus and intention is to sell you as many excursions as possible, what is annoying is that they do not provide port information or maps until the evening before or to tell you there was a local tram for Euro 1.60 (100yds from the port entrance) when due the distance from the port to the city centre of Lisbon (Portugal) they were doing us a favour by arranging a shuttle bus for Euro 12.00 each.  Furthermore, on occasions we were not told in advance that there would be free shuttle bus provided from the ship to the city/town centre in the hope that you would book an excursion rather than doing your own thing. TIPPING: I do not agree with the MSC policy of adding a daily amount to your account to cover tipping.  For a 17 day cruise this would have added $232.00 to our joint account, but what is really annoying is that many passengers are unaware of it, as it hidden in the booking small print, but we already knew as we had experienced it on the Opera previously.  All you need to do is contact the Accounts desk at any time during the cruise and ask for an "opt-out form" to allow you to either personally tip those that had served you, or adjust the amount deducted to suit you. Finally, despite the somewhat negative as well as positive comments above we are still rating the MSC orchestra Cruise Very Good to Excellent, and would have no hesitation travelling with the company again next year or indeed recommending the MSC Italian cruising experience to friends.                                      Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
The daytime/evening cruise entertainment crew on Orchestra was the best I've ever experienced! Richard, Fernando, Akeetaka and the rest of the entertainment crew kept us laughing and dancing the whole cruise. Fun games and Caribbean ... Read More
The daytime/evening cruise entertainment crew on Orchestra was the best I've ever experienced! Richard, Fernando, Akeetaka and the rest of the entertainment crew kept us laughing and dancing the whole cruise. Fun games and Caribbean dancing poolside by day and salsa dance lessons, silly, side-splitting contests and games in the evening. Of course, sometimes the other passengers provide some of the best impromptu, situational humor on board!My cabin was on 10th floor forward/portside. It was a perfect location on this ship for quietness. The people in cabin next to me were very noisy in early AM- One could easily hear banging of doors and drawers in the closets. Wish they could find a way to buffer this noise from drawers and doors. The closet provide adequate storage for hanging items, luggage and drawers for me alone. It would be cramped for 2 people. I loved the dresser with built-in hair dryer/mirror and stool- made getting ready easy for females! Cabin is very spacious, clean and well appointed. I was very comfortable. The bathroom also very clean and easy to maneuver in. Could have used a picture with some directions for how to work the shower- a bit confusing. The balcony was spacious with 2 chairs and a small table. The balcony floor was always wet and glass railing/sliding glass doors covered with salt water/mist all the time. I wish there was a way to keep it clear- probably a challenge on the forward part of the ship! The nightly entertainment in the theater was spectacular! A real european flare with cirque de soleil feel to some of the shows. The opera and classical performances were top notch. I was pleasantly surprised by the trapeze artist, acrobatics team and ballet in the onboard entertainment. The food was a bit of a disappointment over all. However, I did NOT go hungry ever and I'm sure I put on a few pounds while onboard. The Italian inspired dishes were quite bland and did not have the zing of flavor I would expect from even an average quality italian restaurant. I was very impressed with the variety of offerings for lunch and dinner in the dining rooms. I especially enjoyed the veal cordon bleu, lamb (twice), indian curry dishes and filet mignon. The cream of fruit, chilled soups were amazingly tasty as well. My favorite desert served in the dining room was the panna cotta. The gelato poolside was yummy too. The complimentary fresh fruit in one's cabin each day was a real plus. I liked being able to order room service with no additional charges. Foods that could use some improvement are: salads at dinner, need more vegetables on side of main entrees, offer more shrimp dishes for dinner, appetizer offerings in the lounges for "midnight buffets". I liked the concept of having a limited offering for the midnight snacks in the lounges rather than providing a huge buffet. However, the offerings were greasy and rather tasteless. Poolside. I was concerned about general safety in the pool areas. They need to have someone monitoring safety more and not leaving this responsibility to the parents and passengers. We saw lots of young children unattended- hopping into the hot tubs and pools. I was very concerned about drunk adults diving into the pool with glass bear bottles in their mouths- very unsafe and stupid. The chair "saving" situation is problematic- but really it is the responsibility of passengers to act appropriately. I do not see any practical way for orchestra staff to make this situation better. Passengers need an attitude adjustment and need not feel entitled to own a chair for the day. Photography. I enjoyed sitting for photo portraits during evenings. Photographers did a nice job of posing me. Not thrilled about posing with the silly clowns or pirates during dinner. I wish one could order different size photo packages with the portraits. Only 8 x 10 offered. Would be nice to get 5 x 7 or wallet size packages. Overall my experience on MSC Orchestra was fantastic! I would cruise with MSC again and recommend them to my friends- that is the number one sign of success. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
We were four of a group of 13. Port was a nightmare when we arrived and staff ranged from bothered to outright rude. This includes talking about passengers behind their backs like they were idiots. Nothing about boarding was well marked, ... Read More
We were four of a group of 13. Port was a nightmare when we arrived and staff ranged from bothered to outright rude. This includes talking about passengers behind their backs like they were idiots. Nothing about boarding was well marked, efficient, or pleasant. Even when I beamed a smile and thanked them and wished them a wonderful day. Our dining group got split into different times and dining rooms.We boarded. Staff talked among themselves...no welcome or anything. At the end of the cruise we found out the individuals can not accept cash tips, and can result in termination. When we inquired about it we found. All tips go into a pool and are divided equally. So a waiter who does excellent, like ours, will not see the tip as you'd give it. They can accept gifts. Which my account for lack of attention of some, explain, Not excuse.We went to rooms. They were ready. Small but do-able. Shower was tiny and curtain even stick to my size "0" DD. Room attendant was not great. No fruit. daily letters always late.Saw about dinner reservations. They told me who ever booked it only booked for 9. Funny...I made the booking for the group and handled everything. Ended up with a table for 9 and a table for 4, Late seating in the Ibiscus. Waiter and Assistant waiter were AWESOME! Found little to no language barrier. Food in dinning room lacked flavor. Cocktail staff were SLOW! Buffet food was good. Juices were VERY watered down. Lines awful and sorry to say my fellow americans were rude, wasteful, gluttons. my roomy is a gym junkie and spent 2 hours a day there. Clean. Location pleasant. Equipment was current, easy to use and adequate enough to get through her usual weekly rituals.Kids program was a soar spot with me. Loved getting to spend time with kids and enjoyed ourselves in spite of the lack of a kids program. The time block they called a Jr. program was when there were really no adult activities to speak of. As a parent I was looking forward to a little child free time with other adults. That did not happen. It is also a BIG mistake for MSC. If the kids are safe and entertained...parents will spend $$ on Spa treatments, go to activities in lounges and drink more, hit casino and any number of other areas where the line makes $.I found entertainment staff on pool deck amusing. Shows in theater...Not what I expected. I've seen better shows on other lines. Found the magic act lacking, and chair dance number between sets vulgar. NOT KID FRIENDLY. Everything in theater was classical or Circe de sole-ish. Fine for a night or two. Would have like more entertainment options. As kids sail free a rating or description of shows would have helped. Or make the shows kid friendly. Even a few pranks by staff on pool deck had me cringing when the kids were there. Seating my the pool was always available. Although at least  2 days I found it too windy to stay there long.Ports we did our own thing so can not comment on excursions.Disembarking was as bad if not worse then embarking. Had to get luggage and drag it with you lines started as 2 split into 6. people pushing, cutting each other off, running your toes over, etc. only to get to 1 agent handling 2 lines. Overall we had a great time because we kept an open mind, great attitude, a fun group and an awesome dining staff. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Pre-Cruise: Flew into FLL with free shuttle to Comfort Inn Airport Cruise Port. Also had free shuttle to port at 12:45. Asked about late check-out, but told we had to be out on time because it was a busy weekend for them. Shuttle left on ... Read More
Pre-Cruise: Flew into FLL with free shuttle to Comfort Inn Airport Cruise Port. Also had free shuttle to port at 12:45. Asked about late check-out, but told we had to be out on time because it was a busy weekend for them. Shuttle left on time and we were at the port by 1:00. Embarkation was very quick and painless, perhaps 30 minutes from getting off the shuttle to dropping off our carry-on bags in our cabin. On Board: We had connecting balcony cabins. I had asked to have my son and myself in one cabin and my 2 daughters in another. Instead, I was assigned to a room with one of my daughters and my 2nd daughter and my son were placed together. It took several minutes and several attempts at new cards to finally get it right. Our cabins: Adjoining balcony cabins. Had to call and request the balcony divider be opened up so we could share our balconies. Small section of divider is opened, leaving about 2/3 of the divider in place, but allows easy access between balconies. Two comfortable chairs and one table are on each balcony. Cabin is standard cabin. Less drawer space than I had expected, but suitcases did fit under beds. All buttons on the in-room safe did not appear to work, so we quickly found ourselves locked out of it. Didn't use the safe this trip. Typical tiny bathroom. Clingy shower curtain. Dining Room: Arrived first night to find that we are assigned to 2 separate tables. We were on board with 2 other families. They were each assigned a table with 6 seats and 2 of us at each table. When I mention this to the Maitre' D, he tells me we are free to sit as we like amongst the two tables, but it never works out quite right, and most nights I don't get to sit with all 3 of my children. Food was OK. Appetizers and desserts seemed to be the best. Shrimp cocktail and most soups were good. Risotto was generally too starchy for me, but I enjoyed trying the different varieties. Lobster, as others have noted was not good. There was always a small pitcher of water on the table which was just enough for everyone to have one glass of water. Each night I waited to see if they would bring more water, but I always had to ask. Once requested, it came promptly. Service was very good otherwise, and dinner was usually complete in 90 minutes or less. If we had an assistant waiter (and I don't think we did), he never introduced himself and was very unobtrusive. Entertainment: Loved the shows, particularly the classical music. The string quartet was very good, and was often found playing in the main atrium lobby as well. There was a classical pianist and a tenor who were both very impressive and would compare well to anyone anywhere. The magician was entertaining, if also a bit dated. The ships singers and dancers were attractive and talented (and perhaps a bit risque for some). The acrobats seen in a couple of the shows were a lot of fun. Room Service: Used them for Breakfast most mornings. Menu cards are in rooms and can be filled out and placed on your door for morning deliveries. Earliest choice on card was 7:30 and I usually choose this. I ordered a pot of coffee, orange juice, brioches and croissants and would spend an hour or so on my balcony enjoying the view. A couple of mornings I went out earlier and got coffee elsewhere. Perhaps I could have called directly and requested earlier service, but I didn't try. My son ordered room service one evening and it came quickly. I honestly don't recall what he ordered, but I know the menu was very limited. Ports of Call: Key West - My first time there and a bit of a disappointment. Not nearly as quaint as I had pictured, but I guess with 5,000-10,000 cruise passengers descending on it each day, that is to be expected. We docked at the navy pier and had to be shuttled into town, dropped off in the middle of what seemed like hundreds of souvenir shops with an occasional bar or restaurant. We decide to see who has the best Key Lime Pie - Kermit's Key West Key Lime shop gets style points, but the pie there is more tart and is served with a whipped topping while the pie at the Blonde Giraffe is sweeter with Meringue topping and is declared our winner. Cozumel - We dock at the Punta Langosta Pier. This was my 3rd time here, and for the 2nd time I went diving and had no time left over to do anything else. I truly wish we could have longer times in port, so I could at least have a meal there. But the diving is so good there, it's the one thing I won't give up, so maybe next time. Grand Cayman - Third time here as well. Prior to our arrival we hear an announcement that the ship will be leaving an hour earlier than posted due to expected windy conditions with resulting rougher water for tendering later in the afternoon. I'm not sure if they made an effort to get people off the boat earlier or not, but we had tender tickets #9 and the 1st numbers I heard called were for 13, 14, and 15. When we go down to the tender stations the line is long and does not move for the 1st 30 minutes, while announcements continue for higher tender ticket numbers. We are in line for 50 minutes and it's 11:30 by the time we reach shore. We had planned a couple of dives here as well, but only had time for one before having to tender back to the ship. Fortunately there is good diving at Eden Rock dive shop which is a 5 minute walk from the port, or we couldn't have gone diving at all. Cayo Levantado - Very Nice! The island has a resort which occupies about half of the property with the other half open to the public. There are shops between the tender port and the beach and my kids spend the first hour there trying to get the most for there souvenir allowances. I letthem do there on bargaining and the have a great time. I get 3 pounds of coffee for $17 (I've read where some people have gotten it for $4/lb on the mainland, but I don't mind paying a bit extra here). My daughters find a nice shady hilltop overlooking the bay and my son and I do some snorkeling. I've heard the snorkeling here is poor, but there is some coral 100 ft or so off shore and we see several different types of starfish, some as large as 18 inches or so across, so I'm glad we brought our gear. Later, to the left of the beach (looking out towards the water), we explore some rocky coves and find some nice shells and a few more starfish. Be careful if you go here though, as there are lots of sea urchins. Misc: Cleanest ship I've been on. You couldn't walk 50 ft without seeing someone cleaning or polishing something. I never used the pools (they are salt water), but they looked inviting. I did find it odd that they closed them and the hot tubs so early each evening. Gelato is as good as advertised and well worth the money ($2 for sugar cone, $1.50 for small cup). No difficulty getting a drink when I wanted one, but the waiters/waitresses weren't constantly pushing the alcohol. Prices a bit lower than what I've seen on other cruises. There is pizza on the buffet and then at night (in the same place) they turn it into a pizzeria and make fresh pizza, which is much better. The regular dinner buffet closes at 7:00 each night, so if you don't eat in the dining room, you're pretty much stuck with the Pizza. Tried to get reservations for Shanghai for the last night, but it was booked. The gym is by far the smallest I've seen on a ship this size. I might have used it had it opened before 7 AM, but there was a line waiting at 7, so I didn't bother. Biggest complaint: Lack of activities for the kids. This is the only reason I would be hesitant to sail MSC again. If they're going to market to families with their "kids sail free" promotion, wouldn't it make sense to try to provide more entertainment for the children. My two youngest children (10 and 11) were assigned to what looked like a preschool playground and didn't want to stay and my 13 year old was told to show up at the disco at 11:00 at night for the teen club. I followed my kids to the disco the first night (am I supposed to let my 13 year old daughter go up there alone?). My kids and a couple of friends hung out for maybe half and hour while some other parents and I watched from the deck outside. Eventually they got bored and left. They didn't bother going back the rest of the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
We just returned from an Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard the MSC Orchestra and had a fantastic time. The ship is absolutely beautiful and we found the service to be courteous and friendly without being overbearing. This was our first ... Read More
We just returned from an Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard the MSC Orchestra and had a fantastic time. The ship is absolutely beautiful and we found the service to be courteous and friendly without being overbearing. This was our first cruise with MSC and we read many of the negative reviews prior to our cruise. We went with open minds and we had a wonderful time during our cruise. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at Port Everglades at about 12:30 and walked aboard the Orchestra at 1:00 pm where we were directed to our room. After dropping off our carry-on bags, we headed for the buffet on deck 13 and enjoyed a delicious lunch. The ship is lovely and modern. From the dining areas to the lounges and shops, the layout is beautiful and easy to navigate. Our stateroom was not large, but plenty big enough for 2 people for a week. The shower is a bit small, but the water temperature and pressure were always excellent. Perhaps most noticeable is now CLEAN this boat is. Throughout the ship, the brass is gleaming, the floors and windows are clean, dining tables are cleared and cleaned as soon as they are vacated. Our cabin attendant was great as our room was always cleaned and restocked with fresh towels, etc when we returned at the end of the day. The service by the international crew was fantastic. Everyone was friendly and helpful (we especially enjoyed the Cigar Bar each evening where Jimmy always greeted us with a warm smile and wonderful service). The food was quite good, especially, as you would expect, the pastas . The buffets are plentiful and offer a nice variety of foods. The breakfast buffet each morning was outstanding. Don't miss the evening Pizza buffet from 5pm - 9 pm on deck 13, the pizza is wonderful and the singing waiter is delightful. The gelato bar by the pool is a MUST! We enjoyed the best gelato we have ever had and it is a great value for the price. The shows were very good and quite diverse featuring great and beautiful dancers, a talented magician, a gifted tenor and the wonderful MSC Orchestra (which also performed daily by the central staircase). Overall, this cruise was a fantastic value and we cannot wait until our next cruise. We highly recommend MSC. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
OK... first of all I booked this cruise because of the price, I got a great deal. it was like 1k for 2 of us for 7 days. I booked the interior room because it was the cheapest. I also booked this cruise because my husband is from Italy and ... Read More
OK... first of all I booked this cruise because of the price, I got a great deal. it was like 1k for 2 of us for 7 days. I booked the interior room because it was the cheapest. I also booked this cruise because my husband is from Italy and he didn't really want to go on a cruise so i thought this would make it a little more comfortable for him. The embarkation was actually pretty smooth except I think we showed up when everyone else did so there was a huge line! We were surprised to find out that we were upgraded for free to a balcony room, which was great! Yes the rooms are small, but what do you expect on a ship that's supposed to have enough rooms and space for all their passengers? We didn't have fresh fruit like promised when we arrived but it was there when we returned from dinner. But honestly we could care less, we didn't even eat it. Our room attendant introduced himself when we got there, but after that we never saw him again. He did keep our room clean ALL the time though! You have a card you have to put in a slot that lets them know you are in your room or not. Food- Im kind of picky, but not too bad, and I personally thought that the sit down food was great! the buffet food was OK -some good- some weird- some bad haha. We never got to try the pizzeria, but the pizza at the buffet was awful. The gelato, for $2 was amazing! You must try it!! Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner you could do either sit down, or buffet. We mostly did sit down. You have so many different choices that are better that way. You could always get juice, coffee, tea or water free with every meal. Soda and alcohol cost extra. Alcohol was about 7$ a drink. i dont remember how much beer was. The Pool Deck- we only laid out 1 time, mostly because of the people. Which had NOTHING to do with the cruise. People on this trip for some reason were SO RUDE!!! Not the employees, THE GUESTS! If you want a spot anywhere, with a chair you better be out there at 8am! what really pissed me off was people come and "claim" a chair then leave and dont come back for hours, so the people looking for chairs cant sit down! We never got in the pools they were always too crowded.. They always had some kind of skit or game or srt project going on outside. Theres ping pong as well. The Ports- They were always ON TIME and were there as long as they claimed they would be. The only place that was kind of bad on time was Antigua- 7am to 1pm. CAYO LAVENTADO- basically all it is, is a beach. You have to try the pina coladas and lobster tho, they were AMAZING!!! The beach was pretty, water clear, but really small. St. JOHN- we went snorkeling on the catamaran which was booked by MSC. It was ok, we didn't see anything, the only good thing about it was all the free alcohol!! So i cant tell you much about the island itself. ANTIGUA- we did a taxi tour which was interesting..the water there is absolutely gorgeous! NASSAU- this is where we did all of our shopping, you must get the rum cake from tortuga, it is so good. All in all the ports were good, we only were on the beach once and that was in cayo. I wish we would have laid out more. NIGHTLY SHOWS- THey were great! some didn't make sense, haha but they were entertaining. They had magic, singers, ballet, dancing, circus acts, all in all it was fun. My opinion on the whole trip (summed up) I think the people on here that complain about everything should shut the hell up!! Sorry for the language, but unless they do something seriously wrong like loose your luggage, or dont have a room for you, or i dont know, spit on you or something, then you dont have a reason to be mad! Not just because you didn't like the food and they didn't leave towel animals on your bed! SO WHAT!!! You get what you pay for. Obviously you get all that stuff on other cruises which are 3x more expensive! If you care that much about all that stuff then book a different cruise!! You get pretty decent food, shows, nightlife, ocean, sun, shopping, sightseeing, and VACATION! I do agree it probably is geared more for older people, but i saw plenty of kids running around. They are free after all. They do all the announcements in like 4 different languages which does get old but also they have so many different cultures on the boat i think its pretty polite of them. Not to assume everyone understands English. I thought the staff was super nice! They were always helpful and attentive. And they worked their butts off too. They work 9 months back to back, give them a break! I think if you cant really afford the top dog cruises, definitely take this cruise! It was well worth the money. Hopefully it goes as smooth as mine did, and hopefully you have an open mind, unlike others. AND PLEASE DONT BE RUDE TO OTHER PEOPLE ON THE BOAT!!!!! I hope it helps. If you have any questions I would be more then happy to answer them. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
My wife, Mom and Sis-in-Law and I were on the 4/4/09 sailing of the MSC Orchestra. Connecting cabins 12105/12107. This was wife and my 10th cruise to include RCCL, HAL, CCL, NCL and Regent Rainbow [early 90s]. We have not had a bad ... Read More
My wife, Mom and Sis-in-Law and I were on the 4/4/09 sailing of the MSC Orchestra. Connecting cabins 12105/12107. This was wife and my 10th cruise to include RCCL, HAL, CCL, NCL and Regent Rainbow [early 90s]. We have not had a bad cruise yet and that includes this one on the Orchestra. A beautiful ship with the best show theater we've seen on 10 ships, and with awesome shows. In my opinion everything on this ship to include the food was right on par with our other cruises! One thing we really liked on this ship was the European flair which included practically no 'hawking' of drinks, bingo, gold chains and such. They had all that, you just didn't hear about it all the time. The raise of a hand would quickly bring a bartender or a quick glance at the daily paper would let you know when and where stuff was. We enjoyed not being constantly asked if we needed a drink. Also enjoyed the occasional tad bit more risque shows and pool deck games that you don't normally see on an American catered line. I even found the announcements in 4-5 languages interesting. I'm a foodie and enjoy eating and was a bit concerned before the cruise re the food. Not a problem, plenty to eat and just as good as other cruise lines. In fact we often laughed and said do we have to eat again already. Of course we did. Room service was always on time and fast. Dry cleaning came back as it said. I also liked how the large lounges were laid out, running one right after another in an open fashion, yet still separated and separate and no noise or music bleeding. Much different than the little boxed in room lounges you can find on some other lines. Mom actually preferred the buffet for breakfast over the dining room. I liked both. We had dinner always in the dining room with a great waiter [Edy] and assistant. Lunch and snacks we had at the buffet also. Good hamburgers and fries were at the first buffet on the right, pizza on the first buffet on the left, back two buffets had the same as others but without the burgers and pizza AND crowds sometimes. Always carving stations and pasta stations. Our connecting cabins were very nice with more than usual storage, comfortable beds and a tad bit larger bathroom than usual. Actual cabinets under the sink. Very nice room steward also. Everyone we encountered were very friendly and polite. We would do MSC Orchestra again if the price and itinerary were to our liking. I cannot think of a reason not to try this ship nor cruise line! Oh, easy embarking and debarking. And the Gelato was great and worth the $1.50 to $2.50. My Mom and I had 2 a day, maybe 3, it's addicting. No problems with accounting either. Fruit bowl in the cabin that we didn't use, tho sis-in-law did, and she used the gym too with no complaints. We did use the hot tubs in the spa area one day along with the sauna and steam rooms, very nice. It was an enjoyable cruise... Oh, we enjoyed the Excellent ENTERTAINMENT TEAM. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
The dining room staff (mostly Italian and Indonesian) was WONDERFUL! Always smiling and eager to satisfy all our needs, even those of an 8-year-old which sometimes can be rather unique! The food was delicious, plentiful and varied. One ... Read More
The dining room staff (mostly Italian and Indonesian) was WONDERFUL! Always smiling and eager to satisfy all our needs, even those of an 8-year-old which sometimes can be rather unique! The food was delicious, plentiful and varied. One warning about the buffet on the 13th floor - it is very chaotic!!! Avoid it if you can. The food is fine, but you must line up and hunt a table. You may have breakfast and lunch in the Villa Borghese if you put a shirt on! The nightly shows were GREAT! We enjoyed them all very much. There were acrobats, magician, opera singers, classical concerts, dancers, etc. Very refined selection. A lot of silly contests during the days and evenings at the pool and in the lounges. There were also the mandatory bingo games, art auctions and more. As mentioned above, more kids amenities would have been nice for us. The stateroom we had was small, but the housekeeping staff is great and very friendly! Embarking (from parking lot to room) was about an hour and debarking (from leaving the ship to parking lot) took about 30 minutes - always assisted by nice, smiling people! We were always on time at the ports, and sometimes we even arrived early. Overall we truly enjoyed this cruise. It does have an European flavor to it and it feels lovely! Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
First let me say that as a family having cruised many times on Royal Caribbean we may have set our expectations too high for this particular cruiseline. We had read numerous reviews prior to departing and decided not to cancel and go with ... Read More
First let me say that as a family having cruised many times on Royal Caribbean we may have set our expectations too high for this particular cruiseline. We had read numerous reviews prior to departing and decided not to cancel and go with an open mind. I'm still not convinced that was a great idea. There were four in our party, my wife and I, and our sixteen year old daughter and thirteen year old son. We arrived the day before and stayed at the Hyatt Pier 66, which is nicely located one mile from the port and has beautiful grounds and marina. I highly recommend this hotel. The staff was courteous and the rooms nicely appointed and clean. The night before the cruise we had a room in the tower, where from our balcony when we awoke the next morning we could see the Orchestra at the pier. The night the cruise ended we stayed in a lanai room directly on the waterway with two beautiful yachts docked right outside our window. The water taxi stops right at the hotel pier and brings you to some great spots in Ft. Lauderdale and also affords a spectacular view of the homes and yachts along the waterway. We arrived at the cruise terminal at about 11:45 and were greeted by long lines. I had completed the express check-in on the MSC website a few weeks prior with all of our passport information, etc. and as the instruction said printed the form to be presented at the express check-in window. There is no express check-in window and after waiting in line for an hour we finally made it to the check-in desk and the guy didn't even look at the express check-in form. The process once we were at the desk was quick and we were on board by 1:15. Not as speedy as expected but not too bad. When we stepped onto the ship there were crew members standing there but they were talking amongst themselves and not paying any attention to passengers boarding. No welcome or directions were given, so we assumed our stateroom was ready and went directly there. It was ready. For four people it was a little tight, but manageable, as we don't spend a large amount of time in the room. There were two twins made into one queen a pullout love seat and a bunk that pulled out of the wall. The room was clean with the exception of the slider to the balcony had finger prints all over it and obviously hadn't been cleaned. Bathroom was small with a tiny shower with a curtain that stuck to you when you showered. After checking out the cabin we headed up to the pool deck (13) for the buffet. This was extremely unorganized and usually total chaos with people entering the line at any point they felt like, rather than going to the end and waiting their turn. This is obviously not so much the fault of the cruiseline as of the rude people who have no regard for others in line. The food choices were somewhat limited compared to those on other cruises and for the most part was either bland or tasted awful. They did have roast lamb one day that was great, but the accompanying side-dishes were horrendous. The standard burgers and dogs were only offered on one side of the buffet and usually had the longest line. They do have a salad bar and we usually stuck with that for lunch. It would be nice if they added onions to the salad bar. Seating was usually easy to get if you go all the way back to what is know as the Four Seasons Dining Room. The pool area was crowded but seats are always available. We liked sitting on the lounges on the deck above the pool and watching the activities or reading and relaxing. Beverage service was always available and the servers were extremely polite and not constantly pushing drinks. Small finger sandwiches and pastries were available around four o'clock and pizza was available at five o'clock. Not being a huge pizza fan I thought it was horrible but my wife who loves pizza said it was "ok". We had the second seating in the Ibiscus Dining Room and had requested a private table of which there were plenty. We were seated at a table for eight and after speaking with a Maitre d' with an attitude, it was quite evident he couldn't care less what our request was and had no intentions of honoring our request. It turned out fine as we were seated with a very nice group and had a lot of laughs. On the first night I ordered Caesar salad and Chicken Marsala for dinner. The salad had perhaps five or six pieces of lettuce and hardly any dressing. When my entrEe was served, I told the waiter I didn't order an appetizer and he informed me that appetizer size drumstick and the accompanying bite size piece of thigh (?) was in fact my dinner! First time I lost weight on a cruise! We also like to enjoy a martini before dinner and discuss the day's events and plan tomorrow's events with the kids, while we review the menu selections. We were told that the dining room staff does not serve cocktails, but that they would get a cocktail server, who showed up as we were finishing dinner. Cocktail service did improve as the week went on, as I tipped one of the servers the second night. He was very attentive going forward. As for the food for the rest of the week...horrible. Absolutely the worst tasting and smallest portions of any cruise we have been on. I have seen better presentation and tasted better food in a hospital. What was advertised as rack of lamb turned out to be two paper thin lamb chops. What was advertised as filet mignon was a not even recognizable piece of rubber boot. Escargot served in a dried up baked potato with no snails, just mushrooms and a brown sauce. The language barrier was also a major stumbling block, as our waiter was from Indonesia and spoke very limited English except when taking our order he would point with his pen and say "what you want" and when changing silverware or serving food he would give everything to me to pass down the table to the intended recipient. Not exactly fine dining!! Entertainment in the lounges was terrible. What was built up to be this fantastic Beatles Review turned out to be the ship's cruise director and four other staff singing (or attempting to) Beatles' songs. They should stick to their day jobs! Karaoke and talent show were ok. Usually any show with the cruise activity staff in it was corny and sometimes almost homo erotic. We only attended the Magic show in the theatre, so I can't really comment on this venue. Poolside activities were minimal and rather foolish. The ports were great. We booked only one excursion through the ship in Antigua and it was excellent. The rest of the ports we did our own thing with shopping and dining, etc. A few points of concern that I noticed: Pool rules not enforced. There was a large family that basically took over one of the pools and had an infant in a diaper in the pool with them. That did it for me using the pool for the rest of the week. One afternoon while we were sitting having a gelato we were inundated with young children perhaps age five or six who we assume were part of the day care, running wild around the pool deck on a scavenger hunt. These kids were not under the direction or watch of any staff and were let to run all over the pool deck and upper decks above the pool. Not only were these kids at risk of being hurt, etc., I would bet that the parents had no clue their children were running around unattended. The teens group also had very little supervision and age limits not enforced. It is beyond me why a twenty-four year old guy was allowed to hang at the teen club. Trouble just waiting to happen. Thankfully our two were not interested in hanging there and made friends that also chose not to hang there. In summary, I think MSC has a long way to go before it could even come close to comparing with cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean. While I recognize that MSC is a European company and promote themselves as such, I saw many disgruntled Europeans on the cruise as well. I feel badly for the staff, as I truly believe that given the proper training and a quality product to deliver they could do so. I observed simple frustrations of passengers being elevated to levels of anger because of either a language barrier, or in some cases a "who cares" attitude. I was also dismayed at the way the wait-staff and bar staff was treated by management and in some cases patrons. The bar manager in the Savannah Lounge treated the staff like they were slaves and looked down his nose at everyone including patrons. This guy truly needs to get over himself. Additionally, there were a number of elderly passengers that were extremely rude and degrading to staff with an attitude of superiority and entitlement. It is beyond me why people feel they have the right to be nasty to other people. A little kindness can go a long way in trying to resolve a situation. In a conversation we had with a member of the staff, when asked how much longer he would be serving on this ship, he responded "hopefully not long, nobody likes working here." Mr. Sasso, it shows. While one might argue that because of the kids sail free incentive we "got what we paid for", to the contrary, we paid about the same price for the owner's suite on the Royal Caribbean Empress two years ago and have unbelievable memories that will last a lifetime and we were fed and treated like royalty. Shop around, there are some great deals to be found. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
We arrived in Fort Lauderdale the day prior to the cruise.Stayed at the Hampton Inn - Plantation.The hotel was great, very clean, good breakfast in the mornings and offers shuttle service to and from both the airport and cruise ... Read More
We arrived in Fort Lauderdale the day prior to the cruise.Stayed at the Hampton Inn - Plantation.The hotel was great, very clean, good breakfast in the mornings and offers shuttle service to and from both the airport and cruise terminals.We were part of a fairly large group of Cruise Critic members on this sailing, and the roll call on the forum board was amazing.  It gave everyone a chance to get to know a bit about each other before the sailing.Embarkation - the smoothest, fastest embarkation I have seen.  MSC really seems to have this under control.   We arrived at the terminal around 11:15 and were on the ship about 45 minutes after we arrived.We headed up to the buffet and grabbed a burger. The burgers were cooked well that day but seemed a bit undercooked when we tried them later in the week.After a bite we headed down to the pursers counter to inquire about a beer package that MSC had told us just 3 days earlier would be available for purchase once we boarded.We asked the person at the desk about the beer package and with out even blinking an eye she replied "beer is at bar".   Well we know that.   What we are asking about is the discount package that  MSC customer service had told us we could purchase at this desk on embarkation day.  She repeats "beer is at bar".      Not getting anywhere with her, lets cross the floor to the bar.   The fellow manning the bar was a whole lot more help, and did confirm that such a package exists but that they no longer sell them on board and it is only available by advance purchase.   Another member of the bar staff came up and started to tell him that he was wrong and that the package we are looking for is available.  They talked back and forth between themselves and then both came to the decision that it wasn't available after all.    Oh well - definitely not the end of the world.   On shore customer service provides different info than the ship staff.  I'm sure that is true for most cruise lines.The bar prices are quite good compared to other cruises even with out a package deal.Two 16 oz aluminum Bud's were setting us back $11.40 or so on Carnival, the same beers on MSC were only $7.40 and you could get 4 for 12 bucks in a ice bucket.   The Cabin - we had originally booked an inside guarantee but got a nice surprise a week or so before sailing when we were assigned a balcony cabin.It was very nice, very clean.   The cabin had ample storage for 2 people, and the bed is high enough to stash your luggage under.   The only fault I could find with the cabin was the shower, actually the shower curtain. The curtain would just attack you while showering, it would keep coming in and sticking and wrapping itself around you.   Here are couple of little tricks I came up with that really helped. First - there is a round vent in the ceiling of the shower.   It can be closed a bit by turning it.  That cuts back some of the airflow and seemed to reduce the amount that the curtain sucked in on you.   Just remember to spin it open again when done to ventilate the steam out of the washroom.   Second - I took one of the hangers in the closet that had clips on the bottom. Just clip one at the bottom of the curtain to weigh it down a bit.   No more grabby shower curtain.   Our luggage showed up around 2 pm .  We had all of our unpacking done around 2:30 or so.  That was nice to get out of the way.      After unpacking we stuck our Cruise Critic door sign on our cabin door and  headed up on deck to grab a couple of those reasonably priced beers.  We wandered around and took a good look at the ship. It was amazingly clean and well kept.   We headed to the Shaker Lounge for 4 o'clock to meet up with some of our fellow Cruise Critic members.       The lifeboat drill was at 4:30 and our station was in one of the lounges.  That was nice,  not having to stand around in the sun wearing the vest. Some guests were still boarding while the drill was being done, and if you miss the 4:30 drill they have one the next day for you.     Food - For the most part the food was very good.  Usually hot enough and some pretty interesting items to choose from.   The room service choices were quite limited though.   The buffet lines were very busy and sometimes it was hard to find a seat. The aft buffet areas seemed to be the fastest to get through, and for breakfast they offered the same items as the forward stations.   The biggest complaint I heard from fellow guests was about the hours that the buffets would operate.     I noticed that most on one of the port days that required the use of a tender.   We ended up going ashore that day with out a bite. We left the cabin too late to catch the breakfast buffet as it closed down at 10:30. The lunch buffet didn't open until 12 noon. On that day the last tender to shore left the ship at 1pm, and the last tender back to the ship was at 2:30. If we waited until the lunch buffet not only would we have very little time ashore, but we risked not getting ashore at all.   We didn't want to miss the port or have only an hour ashore so we left the ship around 10:45.   We were pretty hungry (never been hungry on a cruise before) by the time we caught the tender back to the ship at 2:30.   What a scene at he buffet -  as mentioned the last tender back was at 2:30  and they shut the lunch buffet at 3:30.   There were many folks grumbling about the evening buffet times as well. Most days it shut down at 7:30: leaving only the pizza counter running until 9 pm.   The evening pizza is really, really good.   It is definitely some of the best pizza I have ever had anywhere.   It is nothing like what is served during the lunch period.    If you cruise on this ship you have to try the evening pizza at least once.   After the pizza line closes at 9pm there is nothing else available until the wait staff serve finger foods in the lounges from 11 to 11:30.   Things like pastries and "fried surprises" (MSC's description not mine).            Shows and activities. - The shows in the main theatre were quite elaborate for a ship.             We saw a magician who was entertaining and had an act like I had never seen before. Most of the other shows were musical in nature.   One thing that surprised us was that they do not allow guests to enter the theatre with any kind of beverage or food.   We were chased after and hauled out one night as we walked in with a drink.   We were lectured that it is not permitted to have any food or drink in the theater. We could not go in until we either surrendered our beverage or finished consuming outside of the theatre.   That is not to say that drinks didn't make it into the theatre by several other people who managed to get by the sentries posted outside.   We even saw folks walking in with the bucket of beer that they sold on ship.     The entertainment in the lounges was hit and miss.   It seemed most nights had an audience participation game  that had the guests running up to sit in a chair and answer the title of a song that was played.   The most interesting part of this was watching people plowing into each other for the chance to win a MSC hat or something.   The bands in the lounges had a schedule that seemed to have them play for half and hour and then take a half hour off.   This was not staggered by acts or location so every half hour there was no music being played in the lounges.   On the first night we went to watch "Ocean Band".   They started playing on time, and were not bad, but after one song the guitarist started to retune his instrument.   This went on for over 5 minutes when the keyboardist came over and took over the tuning task. Five or so more minutes go by and the drummer leaves the stage and has a seat in the corner.   Then the guitarist takes back his instrument, gives it a few strums and then joins the other 2 members sitting at a table in the corner.    It was now break time and they never got back on stage while we were there.    Clap, Clap, Clap - great set fellows.   One of the nice things I saw on MSC was how the entertainment staff would mingle with the guests during the evening. These are the same staff who do the deck games and help with the children's activities all day.  They would go about the lounges during the evening and ask guests up to dance.   You could tell that many of the guests really enjoyed that.     We did catch a few of the movies under the stars. On the last night they had 2 films scheduled that had been shown earlier in the week,   Fools Gold and Express. We had seen Fools Gold earlier in the week, but had missed the other movie. On the last night we went up and got seats as Fools Gold was ending to wait for the other movie.   After waiting about 20 minutes were once again shown Fools Gold - the same film that they just finished showing.   It was while on deck waiting for on of the movies that I witnessed an exchange between a young guest and one of the bar staff.   The young fellow looked to be about 15 years old, but it did appear that he had been drinking.  He may have raided the mini bar in the cabin, who knows. He approached the bar and ordered a Pina Colada.   The bar keeper took his MSC card and rang the drink in and then served it to the young fellow.   The youth took one sip and asked loudly if there was rum in it.  The bar keeper said that no, there was no alcohol in the drink.   The youth told him that he wanted rum in the drink. The bar keeper then explained that the card he had would not allow him to serve or charge alcohol.  He showed on the receipt that he did not charge for alcohol. The young fellow then reached into his pockets and pulled out a few bills.  He then tossed them on the bar and told the staff member to "do what you got to do to get some rum in it".    The bar keeper just pushed the money back towards the kid, said sorry, and walked away.    The youth took his rum free drink and walked off shaking his head.         On the last night there was a guest talent show held in the Shaker Lounge. This involved adults, teens, pre-teens and young children. The only problem with this event was the location. It was held in one of the smoking lounges.  This lounge did not even have a non smoking section.  We asked about that and were told that there were other lounges available to us that were non smoking.   We were aware that there were non-smoking lounges, but they still chose to hold an event for all ages and including all ages in the smoking lounge.   This event should have been held in the Savanah room which had very little happening in it at that time.      Debarkation - Getting off the ship on the last morning was not really too bad at all. The only negative is that they want you out of your cabin at 7 am.   This is a trade off for being able to get into it so early on your first day.    The staff need time to do a complete change over for the next sailing guests.     Most people I talked to would rather not have their cabin ready until 3:00 or 3:30 on embarkation day if it meant that they could have a couple more hours on the last day.   On the day of embarkation guests are arriving over several hours.  Not every cabin has to be ready at 1:30.  On the last day they still make you leave your cabin by 7.   Would I sail MSC again ? - Sure I would.   The staff is very friendly, especially the Entertainment Team. MSC is not always trying to sell you something. The photographers are not always pestering people. The bar service staff are not interrupting you every minute to push a drink. The food (when available) was pretty good. The ship is immaculate. You are not constantly being subjected to announcements for bingo, inches of gold and art auctions. The bar prices are reasonable. Fresh fruit supplied in your cabin daily.     What would I like to see changed ?   Do not have an all ages activity a smoking lounge. Allow guests to have a drink while watching shows in the theatre. Extend the buffet hours. A bit more variety in lounge music. Don't kick us out of the cabin so early on the last day. Move the time it is available on the first day back. If you haven't tried MSC you should.  The experience was different than other cruise we have done, but some of the difference is very nice.        Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Let me begin by telling all the people that are worried about the negative comments............you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Just got back from a great family vacation aboard the beautiful Orchestra and had a wonderful ... Read More
Let me begin by telling all the people that are worried about the negative comments............you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Just got back from a great family vacation aboard the beautiful Orchestra and had a wonderful time and have nothing to complaint about.........maybe a couple of suggestions but nothing more. Embarkation ...not a problem they must have 20 or so people checking you did a web check in, I am not kidding you it takes like 5 to 10 minutes to go in. As soon as you board there are different booths with info on excursion, clubs, etc A delicious buffet awaits for you on deck 13 great food. I cannot understand when people say that the food is nasty. we all thought the food was great and plenty I mean plenty there is breakfast in the buffet or dinning room whatever you prefer from 7 - 9:30 am. Lunch in the buffet or restaurant from 12:00 to 3:30 they have a pasta of the day everyday, they serve chicken, turkey, beef, pork, fish, veggies, rice (different kinds everyday)salad bar, trust me lots and lots of food, the rolls are yummy, they serve pineapple and iced tea for free all time along with coffee and tea (like 20 different kinds) I also had conversations with other passengers and I would say 98% of the people I talked to were very happy with everything about the cruise. Entertainment team is wonderful language barrier???? how about being able to speak 5 languages fluently and back to back they are amazingly entertainers and I have a lot of respect for what they do to try and please all the different nationalities aboard, never a dull moment with them. Rude staff??? never encounter that on the contrary every body is very nice and always say hi to you and smile. Language barrier???? everyone speaks the language and are very very nice people we had great conversations with many of them and they all understand English perfectly well. Shows in the theater are great like everybody says on their reviews I don't think people are complaining there. One of the things we can say we didn't like was the fact that everything happens early on the day or very late at night I am referring to like the daily activities, it seems like nothing happens in the afternoon. The other thing I didn't like was the teenager's club, well there isn't really one as there are zero activities for them other than the 11 pm meeting on the disco everynight to which my 16 year old daughter did not go at all, actually me and her hang out together at the disco a couple of time, the point is she rather hang out with me than with the kids and I find that kind of odd at 16 they really need to have more activities, games, tournaments or something like that. The islands were all beautiful, we did the waterfalls in Samana and worth every penny we paid for it, we booked thru the cruise and this is the only way to do it. It is gorgeous. We did ATV's in St Maarten and they took us thru the town and the beach and went all the way to Orient Beach which was our favorite waters. Antigua too short but we still manage to go to Dickenson's Bay for $6.00 round trip PP and you pay when they pick you up. Bahamas is very pretty, waters were rough but still enjoyable we went to Cabbage Beach right next to Atlantis by water taxi for $6.oo PP round trip but it's better if you take a land taxi for 8.00 PP round trip because it leaves you right on the beach and we had a long walk to get to beach. The best shopping place is St Maarten they have basically the same stuff everywhere and there it's the cheapest. I bought rum, coffee, vanilla, honey and cigars in Dominican Republic. Disembarkation was okay it just depends on the color ticket you get but we were the last color and still were out by 9 or 9:30 not too bad at all. We will definitely sail MSC again. Feel free to ask if you need info, prices, etc. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
About a week before the April 4th sailing of the MSC Orchestra, I called MSC  Cruises to ask if they had an available balcony cabin foe that date. They sadi they did and I booked it. We just fely like getting away and we had never ... Read More
About a week before the April 4th sailing of the MSC Orchestra, I called MSC  Cruises to ask if they had an available balcony cabin foe that date. They sadi they did and I booked it. We just fely like getting away and we had never cruised the Western Carib. We are cruisers having sailed Europe and Asia numeropus times. It is always interesting to me how two (2) reviews about the same cruise can be polar opposites.  That phenominan exists on reviews fro this cruise. That said, here is my take on the MSC Orchestra.Arrival at the port and boarding was easy. We dropped our luggage curbside and when we wnet thru check-in (two hours later) the luggage was in our cabin. The cabin was OK. Not overly large but sufficient for a week cruise. We toured the ship and did not find it difficult to find our way around. By chance we came across the Maite D' who was taking dinner reservations. They had placed us at a table for 8. We had requested a table for 2. He was able to find us a table for 4 with a very nice couple from Canada. I'm not a fan of Traditional dining (more on that late), the four of us got along great and it made for pleadsant dining.We never went to the pools (too many kids). We did not do the buffet so we're unaware of closing problems as mentioned in other reviews.All in all, the cruise was ok. We enjoyed the ports - private excursions - cost less than the ships and are better. Cruise critic folks know that. That was the good.The Bad - We always go on cruises  with little, if any, expectations. In that way, it is difficult to be dissapointed. However, there were some annoyances on this ship. MSC must know that Caribbean Cruises have mostly English speaking customers. Why do they insist on every announcement be in 5 different languages. It was, to me, annoying. And Marco, the cruise director was annoying - like he wished he was somewhere else..  The staff was a cut below most other cruise lines. The show stopper for me was the dining. As mentioned, I do not like Traditional Dining - 5:45PM is too early and 8:15PM is too late. Also, by having half the ship early, and the other half late, dinner takes too long. We didn't finish dinner till 10:15 to 10:30PM. Most other cruise lines ahve adopted Anytime Dining along with Traditional. It works.MSC has to adapt to an English speaking customer some of whom want English as the language on board and the ability to have dinner at 7:00PM in 1.5 hours. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
My husband and I have been on about 15+ cruises with various cruise lines. We have gone with many couples, by ourselves and with family. Our cruise on the MSC Orchestra was with another couple which are very good friends. I always read ... Read More
My husband and I have been on about 15+ cruises with various cruise lines. We have gone with many couples, by ourselves and with family. Our cruise on the MSC Orchestra was with another couple which are very good friends. I always read reviews before traveling and feel very strong that if they help me....then maybe I can return the favor. We are in our mid-50's, physically fit and enjoy traveling. We like the senior discounts but hate being called senior citizens just quite yet. We all have children who are grown now and a couple grandkids. I mention this for I have found that couples with children tend to appreciate more when they themselves have a chance to be waited on, meals cooked and rooms straighten twice a day. Those that have never had the chance to be second to a child tend to demand more from the staff and complain more.....just my observation after taking many cruises and listening to those that complain about anything and everything. Let me first say that I read the reviews on the MSC Orchestra and had some reservation on some of the comments before taking this cruise. But then again, many said very positive things about this ship so I was anxious to see what it was really like and how we would like it. Having taken 15+ cruises over the years, I have found that many people go on cruises and complain from when their feet hit the deck to when they leave the ship so I always take that into account when I read reviews. And now my review: We arrived about 11:30 handed our bags over and got in line with our friends for our 1st day of cruising. The lines went pretty quickly (15 minutes) and we were up on the ship. We first headed to our rooms to check the location and condition. What we found was a spick and span room, no smoke smell, a little smaller than some ships I have been on, nice balcony but a tad smaller as well, bath about standard, closet space about standard. There was a refrigerator, blow dryer, desk area, small table and chair. The colors were tans and blues and very eye appealing. Off to the buffet or as I refer to it "the feeding frenzy". Once again everything was very clean with a nice selection of food items from fresh fruit, salad bar, roast beef, hot sides, dessert, soup, veggies, breads, hot fresh pizza. If there isn't something you can find to eat in this array of items then you are a very picky eater or not hungry. I made myself a large salad added a piece of fresh hot pizza and I was set. I found everything to be cook correctly and very tasty. The other couple that came with us also found the food to be good for a buffet. Throughout the cruise we visited the buffet just a few times for breakfast or snack and felt it very good. The buffet staff was superb. My husband did enjoy the pizza throughout the cruise!! Off to the spa and gym area to check it out. The spa area was very clean and oh does it smell good!! The gym was used by my husband during our cruise and he said it was very adequate. They have a very nice area available for free that has two dry hot saunas and two large moist saunas with nice changing facilities. Both couples used this area and enjoyed it very much. Later on in the cruise the girls both had a hot stone massage which was wonderful and got a special of $99 for an hour!! I don't normally get massages at home so they are a treat on a cruise. Worth every penny! We snuck down to the dining room to check our table out. We were in the Ibisquis Dining room which is one of two formal dining rooms and they are identical. Our table was for 4 (perfect) and we had ocean view windows. The dining room is decorated with a formal dEcor and is very eye appealing. Seats were comfortable and the area and table never seemed crowded. Our waiter, assistant and head waiter were wonderful. They were always there to greet with a smile and gave us very efficient fast friendly service. There has been some negative discussion of the food in the dining room on the past reviews. I am not sure where these people that write negative reviews eat out, but I am guessing that since they are not going on one of the top expensive cruise lines, they eat at normal for the most part inexpensive average restaurants like most average Americans. With that being said - the food was great and better than most moderately to upper priced restaurants!! There are almost always 3 choices for appetizers, soup, salad, and about 7 choices for the main course and 4 choices for dessert. Now if you can't find something you like with those choices - stay home!! This is not to mention the items always on the menu like steak, chicken, pasta, Caesar salad and ice cream. I love the appetizers! My husband's favorite is chilled fruit soups and this ship did not disappoint!! He said he had the best soups and such a variety from any ship we have been on in the past. We also had some of the best salads we had had on a cruise ship. Some of my favorite main dishes were - rack of lamb, prime rib, veal dishes, penne pasta, mahi mahi. We did try the lobster which hasn't gotten great reviews but we thought it very good. Now we are from Florida so I am sure Maine Lobster can't compare. We ate every meal for dinner in the dining room and most lunches and about half breakfast. Desserts were fabulous with my favorite being panna cotta. Many times at dinner we just ask for one of each and then our table of 4 friends would put in the middle and share. This way we tried everything and never once left hungry!! I LOVE the portions that they give you on this ship. Just enough and not overwhelming and you never leave hungry. I say if you want to not see the edges of your plate....go to the buffet and pile high and often!! At lunch and breakfast you are sat with many people you don't know....my rule at the table I sat at is "this is a no complaining table". The last thing I want to do is sit down to a nice meal and have someone complaining about the ship, food, waiters, spouse, kids, or anything really. Save those times for your husband in private or close friends that are use to you complaining and don't mind the constant whining. Public complaining is in poor taste and rude to those around you!! On a side note: What happens to people as they age.......their world many times turns inward and they concentrate so much on themselves and their wants and demands they forget about those around them. They forget about the people that work to make their life and trip enjoyable, they are so stuck on their wants that they forget to appreciate those around them; they are so busy complaining that they miss the small things in life that make you smile, they concentrate so much on the negative that they can't see the positive......I don't want to be one of them!!!! Unfortunately since cruises are made up of many senior citizens......you find many of the ME people on board. I am 58 and my goal is NOT to be one of them!! Life is way too short to not smell the roses.... So thank your waiter, thank you room staff, thank those that are trying to make your stay with them nice. Will they be perfect....probably not but then again.....life is not perfect and neither are you. You have a choice - you can live with a smile or frown.........people can enjoy being around you or avoid you at all cost. Is your choice to leave this world with a smile or leave it miserable? That is an easy one for me! I want my grandchildren to remember me smiling and with a kind word to say about life and people when I am gone. How will yours remember you?? Our actions speak our life! Now on with the review but I comment about people on board for they are a part of the overall ship review. It will help put into perspective your outlook and others outlook of the ship and staff. Don't be sucked into that dark unhappy hole!! Our room.....we had room 9029 which is a balcony. We loved our room and our room steward was great along with his assistant. How do they know just when to clean it and when you are gone?? It always amazes me and is for sure a talent. The room was a little smaller than some ships but large enough for the two of us. I don't think I would want anymore than two in the room though. We loved our balcony and so did our friends. We were right next to each other so the room steward opened up the partition so we could enjoy each other's company. The views.....I miss them already!! There is more than adequate storage for the two of us. The room also has a small refrigerator. We took the items out of the frig so we could put things we brought in.( By the way...they don't give you the 3rd degree or make you feel like a criminal when entering the ship with liquids like Norwegian did the last cruise we took.) There is a built in blow dryer by the desk which makes it convenient. The lights are tricky. You need to put your room key in the slot to keep them on for an extended period of time. I guess this way energy is not wasted when you are gone. I would say that I have had more comfortable beds before so if they were to improve.....I would say make a softer bed or mattress and pillow. Our room steward kept our room clean and our ice chest full.....what more can I ask for?? He was there when we needed him and gone when we didn't!! The shows........I loved those that we attended. Most cruises have the Vegas style shows but MSC was upscale from that!! They had a small version of Cirques Oley which we enjoyed. The "glow in the dark outfits" was really spectacular along with the aerobatics. But my favorite was the concerts. We attended two of these and loved every minute. The pianist got standing ovations for both performances and the classical music he played along with his history of the musicians were great. The string ensemble was spectacular as well. This group of women also played in the center of the ship many nights!! The four of us are not smokers so we stayed far away from the casino and any lounges that allowed smoke. But our days were pretty full so after dinner we played cards or headed back to the room if we didn't attend a show. There is a jogging track on 7 that we tried to walk daily. Also the stairs seems to be abandon by most so getting up and down floors for the 4 of us was a breeze. We avoid the elevators and choose to get exercise on the stairs working off all those great meals. The extra eats and drinks....We got the wine package online for 7 days. Very reasonable and we had a bottle each night. I did mention to the head waiter that I was hoping for some Italian choices with our wine package since it was an Italian cruise liner but there were just California wines which we found some we liked. We drink red and our friends enjoy white so 14 bottles was more than sufficient!! Drink specials were $5.50 each day and they actually put high quality liquor in the drinks and are very tasty. They also had some tasty coffee drink specials too. I had one of the best Cosmo's on the ship that I have ever ordered anywhere!! Gelatos are very tasty and one of my husbands favorite. They cost $2.00 at the Gelato bar but are well worth it!! Normally we go to the additional pay restaurants when on a cruise but my husband is not a Chinese dinner fan so we passed it this time. But to be honest, the food in the dining room was so tasty we didn't feel we missed out at all!! Normally unless there is an excursion that we can't resist we go on our own when visiting an island. We LOVE Bermuda and have been there 4 times before so no tour needed. We always rent those scooters they tell you to stay away from, and have a great time riding the island from one end to the other. This trip was unique for it left out of Ft. Lauderdale to Bermuda which is very rare. Living in Florida we booked this quickly for most of the time you have to go the NE (Boston, NYC) to cruise to Bermuda. The weather was fabulous when we were there - not to hot....not to cold. Perfect for scootering!! We visited the beaches, shops, and historic sites and loved every minute of it. Our friends had never been to Bermuda and said they would love to go back. The trip there and back was smooth sailing. You arrive when taking a big ship to the Dockyard versus Hamilton which is fine with us for scooters can be rented throughout the island. This is a Very inexpensive way to sightsee for they cost $50 a day.....but I always get the extra cruise insurance "just incase" of a mishap. I don't advise renting scooters in the Caribbean islands though for they drive crazy there and you do put your life in their hands. Tried it but will not do it again We did stop in Nassau for a day. We played golf on our own at Cable Beach Golf Course which is $130 a person. Cab fare there is $20 and about 25 minutes away. I am not a fan of Nassau so golf was perfect for us for the day was beautiful!! The course there is average but who could ask for better weather and more fun with friends!! We did bring a travel bag of clubs and chose to play in Nassau instead of Bermuda just because we had so many other things to do in Bermuda. But the courses are great in Bermuda too!! If we would have had an extra day in Bermuda we would have played both places.Now a few miscellaneous items......The sun deck never seemed crowded to me on the MSC but we always look for an out of the way spot to catch some rays. Front upper is normally my favorite. I loved the deck lounge chairs. They were very comfortable and have a flip top flap that you can put over your face which my husband liked. We were NEVER bothered by "do you want a drink". I hate to be approached continually about drinks so this was perfect. They have a big screen TV outside and night viewing of shows. The pools and spa's were emptied and cleaned nightly which may shorten the swimming time but I would much prefer cleanliness!! The crew was constantly cleaning, polishing, painting and vacuuming this ship. It was spotless in everyway!!! I loved the layout and our room location. The ship was very easy to navigate. I never felt crowded and could always find a spot to enjoy the view if not on our balcony. They do all announcements in many languages - this is an Italian ship that sails mostly ports overseas where people speak many languages. If this bothers you - pick one of the other more American ships like Carnival or the familiar ones you see all the time. I found it fascinating that they could sound so fluent in so many languages. We actually arrived early to all our ports which was great. We were fortunate to have wonderful weather all 7 days. So many times you hear people give reviews of ships based on the bad weather they have and the rocky ride they endured.....reality check - bad weather equals larger waves and usually a rocky ride. The ship and crew have absolutely nothing to do with your weather!! I loved the location of our room but before I book any cruise I check out the location in relationship to other space on the ship. I will gladly pay a little extra to get the room number I want instead of selecting a category and they pick my room. Everyone normally has that same option. Room temp was perfect....safe didn't work but I try not to bring expensive jewelry when I travel. If it was that important I would have called and had it fixed. Smoking is not allowed on the balconies and discouraged in the rooms - Yeah!!!! Announcements seem to be a lot less frequent on this ship so read and keep your daily newsletter. I have a smart phone with Verizon and called and changed my service so that I could get emails when in Bermuda. Only cost me $20 more a month and they prorate it.....great deal in my book!! Something to check on if you are traveling overseas and have Verizon.....just a tip! Would I travel again with MSC cruises.....YOU BET!! From the crew, view, ship, food, entertainment and destination I loved it all!! Feel free to email me with questions or comments at Shopinful2@yahoo.com. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Really would have liked to write a positive review of this ship so I will start with the good stuff.  We were upgraded to a suite (Category 14 from a booked Category 13).  This may have been due to the fact that prior to the cruise I ... Read More
Really would have liked to write a positive review of this ship so I will start with the good stuff.  We were upgraded to a suite (Category 14 from a booked Category 13).  This may have been due to the fact that prior to the cruise I complained vehemently to MSC about the price we paid compared what was being advertised online in early Spring.  We booked in January.  Here are the facts:The ship is indeed a beautiful ship in pristine condition.  Brass etc. being polished constantly, smell of paint everywhere-I personally do not like the smell of paint. Guess they have to do it sometime. Majority of Crew really makes a big effort to be accommodating and provide good service.  Some were downright rude. I asked a female directions to the restrooms and she replied "There's a bathroom in your cabin"."Go There" This is not  a good thing.   I should have noted her name and reported her.  This gal should not be in the service industry.   We love having breakfast in our cabin on a cruise but MSC provides only a continental breakfast-not a good thing. The cocktails are reasonable at only $4.00 each.  Tip is included in each drink.  So that's a good thing.There is no wine steward in the dining room.  I love wine with my dinner so quickly realized I had better tell the waiter right away that I wanted wine.  That way I might get it by the time I get my entree. Not a good thing!  No point in ordering cocktails in the dining room-get them before you go to dinner.  They have only bar person-my husband likes a martini while looking over the menu so I guess you can figure this is not a good thing.Now I have to tell you a really bad thing, especially if you are a foodie.  The food is bad.  I lost two pounds so thats a good thing.   My neighbor who is Italian found it hard to believe that an Italian ship could screw up the food but indeed they managed to do a good job of it.  Had veal one night that I think was frozen since 1986.   Had a filet mignon only a dog could enjoy.  NOT A GOOD THING!The ports were both good things.  We loved Bermuda and have been to Nassau many times but it is still an interesting place.  We have fond memories because we honeymooned there.  Please do not take the Atlantis tour.  If you want to see Atlantis just get a taxi for $4.00 outside the ship.  You have to walk miles on the tour to a boat and then more miles to the hotel.  I haven't figured this one out yet.  I cost $50.00 each.  Big waste of time and $$$.  Definitely not a good thing.The entertainment was great.  Innovative shows, great singers and dancers and some influence of cirque de soleil.  This is a very good thing.  Would I take a cruise on MSC again.  I think you know the answer by now and it's not a good thing!NRL Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
MSC Orchestra Easter Cruise April 11-18, 2009 I am a fairly experienced cruiser, and have been on several lines, including HAL, RCI, Carnival. NCL..most of the big ships, and a few smaller ones too. I'm a senior, who enjoys ... Read More
MSC Orchestra Easter Cruise April 11-18, 2009 I am a fairly experienced cruiser, and have been on several lines, including HAL, RCI, Carnival. NCL..most of the big ships, and a few smaller ones too. I'm a senior, who enjoys traveling solo. I drove from Tampa to the Port Everglades area, and parked at the Continental Airport Parking lot. I was a little apprehensive about leaving my keys, but the transaction went fine. The free shuttle to the port immediately took me to the port. The only downside was that they had to leave me, and my luggage about 100' from the door. Luckily, my luggage could be stacked, and has wheels, so not a big issue. I gave the porter $2, and my luggage, and walked into the port building. Embarkation: I got to the pier about 11:30. Embarkation was fairly quick. It took about 20 minutes from the front door to the Ship. It was very organized. The agents, and crew, were all smiling, and welcoming. A good way to start. The Ship: The Orchestra is a beautiful vessel. Everything was clean, and sparkling, Brass shining everywhere. I was ushered into an elevator, that was all mirrors, and brass, and taken to the 13th deck for the lunch buffet. It wasn't crowded yet. There are no trays to carry your food on....just big oval plates. It was the typical buffet, nothing to crow, or complain, about yet. I found a table, and went to get a drink. If the food had been hot, it was cool by the time I sat down to eat. After eating, I wandered down to deck 8, to find my cabin. The hallways were spotless, again everything was gleaming. The Cabin: 8189, balcony. The last cabin on the port side, before the aft cabins. Beside the full wall to the rear was a small deck, and staircase up, and down, that wasn't visited too often by passengers. OK, I've been in bigger. Cabins. It was very clean. I like the idea of putting your key-card in the electronic holder on the wall inside the cabin door, to let your attendant know if you're "home". It also helps to know where you left your key. The balcony....not too big..but typical for a newer ship. The glass panels below the rail were pretty dirty/salt sprayed. I thought they would be cleaned during the cruise.....I was wrong. By the end of the cruise there was food, or maybe a big bird "present", along most of the outside glass. The railing was in dire need of sanding, and re-finishing. The balcony deck was also pretty nasty. I spend a lot of time on my balcony, and the plastic wicker chairs have a fairly low back....not overly comfy. There was some rumble from the pods, but that was to be expected, given the location. I quickly got used to it, and slept very well. The only time it was really noisy, and super vibratory was when the side thrusters were being used.. The bed, and bedding was great, the comforter was starting to show some age. The towels were super big, and thick, but a couple of them did have some tears. Plenty of wash cloths. Just got shampoo, and bar soap. The shower is super small, and the curtain did insist on being intimate. The shower had really good volume, and pressure...plenty hot at all times. No foreign odors in the bath. The mini bar stayed at about 65 F, which was enough to keep the diet soda I brought on board [14 cans, no problem bringing them on board at all] fairly cool. I'm not sure if the storage space is enough for 2 people...I barely had room for my stuff. My cabin steward, Dani, was very efficient. There was one day the cabin didn't get made up till after 1:00 p.m., maybe it was his day off? I left my key out of the slot, and sat on the balcony. Someone did make up the room while I was out there. In the evening it was cleaned without fail while I was at dinner. The only thing was that there was no next day activities "daily", until later in the evening, which wasn't his fault. Food: Hmmm. It appears all the lines are really cutting back on the quality. I was seated at 1st seating Ibiscus dining room, I had 7 table mates at table 752. There was a beef, chicken, fish, alternative meat, and vegetarian entree choice each evening. I enjoyed all the soups. The salad was somewhat wilted, the two times I ordered it. The entrees were always hot, and for the most part ok, not really good, just ok. They had the bread already on a plate, and was usually a roll, small pencil size crunchy bread stick, and a thin slice of the bread of the day. I supposed you could ask for more, but it was never freely offered. There was little to no shrimp...shrimp cocktail only one evening. Unfortunately, I don't remember the waiter's/busboy's names. They were very cordial, and always smiling. It usually took 2 hrs for dinner...once it was 1:45. Water was regularly refilled without prompting. I can't complain about the service at all.....it just took awhile. There were a few back-to-back passengers at the table. They did try to guide us in the food choices. On the first nite I was warned about the "Lobster"......with a BIG thumbs down! [ I had already read that on Cruise Critic] When the head waiter made his visit that nite, I asked if they had a problem with the lobster. He became somewhat offensive, and asked where I had heard that. I told him Cruise Critic. He said that it was fine, and they didn't know what they were talking about. Well they did KNOW ! On "Lobster nite", once again I was warned not to get the lobster, by one who knew, but being a lobster lover , I did. I don't know how to describe what I got. It was a split lengthwise crayfish(?), Caribbean lobster. I was unable to free it from the shell, so I had to pick at it with my fork. The only pieces I could get were shredded, little pieces. One table mate refused /couldn't eat it, and sent it back, another asked the waiter to remove it from it's half shell. When she got her plate back it looked like a couple of spoonfuls of shredded tuna fish. They didn't give you drawn butter, but drizzled it over the crustacean for you. I labored with mine as long as possible, but it was not worth it. The waiter asked if I desired another....I replied it was too much like work, and I was retired, no thanks! Later in the week the tablemate who had refused to eat the "lobster" talked to the Maitre'D who informed her that the lobster was fine, and the problem was with the supplier in Miami. Hmmm, Carnival, et al, seem to do ok with the Miami supplier. STAY AWAY from the lobster, or request the night before maybe, to have it prepared differently!!! There was a lot of veal served, and lamb, which I enjoyed. The serving size was small, but you could always ask for more, without a problem. The desserts left a bit to be desired. I love chocolate....not too much to be found. I usually had ice cream with chocolate sauce. The buffet lunches, and breakfasts were typical, however, again cold by the time you got your food, found a table, and then got a coffee/drink. On sea days...good luck finding a spot to sit and eat. The rolls/breads were very good. They had hot doughnuts sometimes...yummy, but needed a sprinkle of sugar. The pizza in the evening buffet was pretty good, right out of the oven. Again buffet desserts were lacking. I guess they don't like chocolate. I would have liked to have seen Italian pastries, like canoli, or such. I didn't stay up late enough for the "midnight snacks", but heard I was better off sleeping. There was a Gala Buffet one night out on deck, but mostly cold cuts, from what I heard. Room service was good, as far as service. The first night I filled out the door hanger, and it was there on time. I decided the next morning to call when I got up, and order a pot of coffee. It was there within 10 minutes. I traveled alone, but when I asked for service for 1, it wasn't enough coffee, so I ordered for two, and got a big pot. The coffee was strong...the way I like it. I usually tipped $2. The room service menu is VERY limited. I found it in the beginning of the cabin info book. I've heard it said that you're never hungry on a cruise.....well there were times I would have liked a slice of pizza, or an ice cream, but there's nothing available after 9pm. If you miss the breakfast buffet that closed promptly at 10:30, there's nothing till noon. The gelato stand is at the bar midship deck 13. It was good, but $2 for a cone, and not always available. The Crew: Some people complained that the crew was rude. I found that the Italian officers were very aloof, and passed me by, more often than not, without a smile, or "hello", even after I initiated a "Bon giorno" . Some of the crew in the buffet area would just walk in front of you, whether or not they were carrying, or pushing anything...... in my opinion a no-no. The help should always yield to the guests/customers! The Guests: Some of the rudest I have encountered on a ship! I don't know what happened to common courtesy, it was lacking on this cruise for the most part. The pool lounges were always "taken" by towels, or other inanimate object. The showroom seats were always "saved". One lady was saving 20 seats till 10 minutes before showtime, then just walked out. Of course there were notices that there was no reserving seats in both places. There were signs on the Balcony doors stating smoking was forbidden on the balconies, and strongly discouraged in the cabins. I know my balcony neighbor understood English, since they yelled at their kids a few times, but yet had no qualms about smoking. Yes, I'm one of "those " that can't physically tolerate smoke, and have a reaction to it. I had to use a rescue inhaler the first time I encountered my ignorant neighbor. After that when somebody opened their balcony door, I had to be on alert for the smoker, and leave my balcony, so they could opt to feed their death wish, and have no disregard for the rules. Good example for their kids. I didn't mind if the kids yelled, or cried, which was very seldom, but that's what kid's do. The other balcony notice stated to keep the door closed, but another smoker down the hall decided to smoke in their cabin, but share the stench with the entire hallway since they had the balcony door open, and the smoke would get blown, forcefully, under the door. I didn't complain to the cabin stewards....they were aware of it, and were spraying the hallway often. People would cut in line, or just wedge themselves into where they wanted to be. I suppose that's everywhere though. I wish I could get away with carrying a paint gun, and mark all the morons out there...although I'm sure I'd run out of paint quickly! Entertainment: Mostly EXCELLENT ! The shows were varied. Singing, dancing, acrobats, juggler, magician, etc. No comedians...I missed that. The "Entertainers" groups of cruise directors assistant "kids" roaming the 13th deck, and other places on the ship, were funny, usually at the guests expense, but funny, none the less. The tenor was really exceptional. The blonde woman soprano was too loud, and I noticed some people wincing, like I was, at the high notes. She needs more microphone placement control. I would rather have had a "live" band, but I guess they have to cut costs where they can. The piano virtuoso was very good, and the Moonlight quartet, especially the lead violinist were superb. All in all the entertainment was 1st class, and upscale. There were many well deserved, standing ovations. I do wish they didn't shine the lights into the audience though, it was very distracting. All the lounge musicians were very good as well. The showroom was nice, with stadium seating, and comfortable seats. Disembarkation: Fairly organized using the color-coded system. I really didn't like having to be out of the cabin by 7AM YES SEVEN A.M. I left my carry-on in the room while I went up to have breakfast. Of course seats were at a premium. For whatever the reason, the food was even more cold by the time I got to sit down. I settled for a cup of coffee (by the way the cups are super small, so you may want to bring your own insulated cup, I know I'm glad I did). I went to the cabin, got my carry-on, and proceeded to the show room....my designated waiting area. When my color was called I proceeded to debark. There were MSC people to point you in the right direction. I found my luggage, and went through customs, fairly quickly. The big bottle neck was outside, where people blocked the way to get by. I called Continental Airport Parking, and they were there within ten minutes,to pick me up where they dropped me off. My vehicle was waiting for me when I got back to the lot....everything intact! Epilogue: All in all, considering the price paid, I was satisfied with the cruise. I expected a few cut corners. Again, I was mostly put off by the passengers, not MSC. I did notice that sometimes the help would just walk by a spill, or dishes in the halls, but I've seen that on other ships too. There were a lot of kids on this cruise (Kids cruise free!), but they were behaved, and not too intrusive. I would cruise MSC again, if the price was right. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Ok, we just came back from the MSC Orchestra Caribbean cruise and I must say it was fantastic! What a great time and what a great ship! All those who have complained about the food, service, friendliness, etc. of the ship, I am not sure if ... Read More
Ok, we just came back from the MSC Orchestra Caribbean cruise and I must say it was fantastic! What a great time and what a great ship! All those who have complained about the food, service, friendliness, etc. of the ship, I am not sure if you were sailing on the same boat as the rest of us. I would tend to agree with a few of the other critics here that the rudest people I encountered were the guests (all nationalities I must say). For some reason people seem to think the crew are their personal servants, yelling at them for utensils at the buffet line when they are clearly directly in front of them, yelling at the staff cleaning tables to get the manager because they were not being served self serve drinks and most appalling hearing one guest actually tell a staff member to go back to China because he couldn't meet the guests ridiculous demands. Though these were only a few minor observances, unfortunately you get these stupid people no matter where you go. Let's get to the good stuff! This was our 12th cruise and 1st with MSC. I always sail with my wife and two boys (now 8 years and 17 years). Though the kids clubs are a bit less involved than other cruises our kids don't use them anyway, so I can't really comment on that. Other than the teens took over the Disco each night which seemed to be one of the nicest clubs on the boat with a great bar you couldn't access. It was to be adults only after 9pm, however this was never enforced. We also decided to take a group of 28 other friends with us this time around; the majority were first time cruisers. What a great ship and itinerary to break them into cruising! They all have been raving about how much fun this was and how beautiful the ship was. SHIP: Clean, clean, clean. MSC Orchestra really has a beautiful setup, a bit different than other ships we have sailed with. The floor plan winds you around each deck allowing you to meander in a relaxing stroll through the shop, lounge and dinning areas. One major difference on this ship was that there are no main atrium elevators mid-ship. They have a beautiful 4 deck waterfall in which nightly music was played by live acoustic bands on a small stage within the waterfall pond. Unfortunately the ship never had the waterfall working. One unique thing, though it may sound strange, is that the restrooms all had a 'For Children Only' stall. It was a little larger with a smaller sink within the stall for the kids. I found this to be very unique and a nice touch for those traveling with family. SMOKING: As for smoking MSC has tried to cut down on the smoking areas within the ship. It was most noticeable in the Shaker Lounge, Casino and of course the Cigar Bar (which if you like cigars this was a fun and unique addition to the ship. Say hello the Beni for me!). Up on the pool decks the smokers seems to stay near the window seats and the pool areas were relatively smoke free. It would be nice to see a few less areas indoors that allow smoking, hopefully in time. FOOD: Having been on 12 cruises now I have not found one cruise to be fantastic when it comes to mass dinning food. I would say that MSC was comparable to food I have had on Disney, Carnival or Royal Caribbean. One thing to keep in mind if you want your steak done medium, order it medium rare. Medium seems to be Well Done on this ship. With any ship a few featured plates stand out as very good. The lamb was excellent! Leg of lamb as well as the lamb chops were my favorite. If you really want a bit more elegant and made to order dinning the Shanghais Chinese restaurant was wonderful! Prices were by dish and at a price point similar to a standard restaurant of an average of $8.00 per dish. The food was very flavorful and one of the best reserved dinning on a cruise ship I have experienced. The buffets were laid out nicely with lunch service being served on both sides of the ships restaurant. One side of the ship with more hot dishes such as carved roast beef (was awesome!), carved pork, ham and veal, fish dishes, Italian specialties, pasta, etc. The other side more traditional American fair such as burgers and dogs, fries, etc. The burgers were by far the best cruise ship burgers I have had. The salad bar was also one of the largest I have seen on a ship, very nice. All the food was well presented and labeled nicely as to what was in each dish and the country of its origin. There are two main buffet stations, one forward of the restaurant and the other towards the back, both serving the same food. The crowds were all at the front buffet and many guests did not seem to realize that if they walked a little further no one was in the back of the restaurant. We did this each morning and at lunch and never had to wait in a line of more than 5 people for food. Pizza bar was great and the pizza was very tasty. The Gelato Bar was molto bene! The coffee gelato especially. Being from New England we like our coffee milk, coffee ice cream, coffee shakes and this coffee gelato was great! CABINS: No complaints. We had an outside window and it was comparable to other ships, other than Disney that has the largest I have ever seen. The porthole style window was large enough for me to sit in (5'11", 210 lbs), very nice! SERVICE: In general I can say everyone was a pleasure to speak to and all were very helpful. No one was ever rude. At times some crew members may take a minute to register what you are saying, but this is a typical language barrier thing and as long as you understand that cruise ships are full of a wide variety of nationalities it all works out fine. I too was impressed with the multilingual experience of the crew. Our waiter and assistant waiter were phenomenal! They were a bit stiff on the first night (think they were nervous), but once we got to talking with them they really opened up and we had a great time joking and learning about each others cultures. Dinning each night was a typical 2-hours, but never longer than this. Room Steward was great. Very courteous and always had a smile. He was great with our kids and always made sure we had fresh ice and towels. Anytime we left the room he was in cleaning. He must have cleaned our room 5 times a day!! POOL: We did spend a great deal of time at the pools and hot tubes as a group. Yes, chairs were hard to come by, but again, having been on 12 cruises this is the same on any ship, especially with the days at sea. Everyone goes to the people and you always have discourteous people who block off chairs for the day. This is unfortunate, but you need to make the best of difficult situations. We just put our towels at the benches pool side and jumped in and sat in the great wading areas around the pool. It was truly very nice, relaxing and helped keep you cool during the hot days. I did not notice the pools themselves to be crowed to the point you couldn't go in for a dip and I did not find anyone in the pool areas to be discourteous, rude or unsafe as one critic stated. Yes, people were sitting around the pool with drinks and beer, but everyone we saw and talked to were polite, being cautious and enjoying themselves. I did not see anyone who was drunk or disorderly at the pool. There was none of the rowdy party crowd you see on other cruise lines either; i.e. Carnival. Even the kids seemed to be well mannered for the most part. As for the one person who stated more management of the pool areas should have been done, I am not sure I agree and if it was so bad why did this person not tell the staff when she was on the ship? ENTERTAINMENT: The shows each night were terrific! Some of the best entertainment I have seen on a cruise. Very talented entertainers and well choreographed shows. For those complaining about 'thongs' and your poor children's eyes, get them out of the closet, take the blinders off and get them cultured! This was nothing different than if you went to a Rockets at Radio City Music Hall in NYC or any other Broadway or Vegas style show. Their was more skin on the pool deck that in the nightly entertainment. As for deck side entertainment this was much less than other cruises, but was there if you wanted something to do. Typical trivia contests, putting contests, Bingo, etc. Otherwise this was more a relax and kick your feet up cruise. First ship I have seen with a full tennis court. It was funny to eat breakfast in the back of the ship and occasionally see a tennis ball fall down to the back dinning deck. PORTS of CALL: Great stops and great weather! The only complaint is I wish we had more time in places like Nassau, Antigua, and St. Martin etc. Only 5-hours (4 for getting on and off the ship) is not much time .maybe MSC can cut one stop out to give more time to the other ports of call? We had a great time in each port and only one stop in the D.R. was tendered and this went extremely smooth. Very well managed by the crew, two thumbs up!! Shopping in Nassau is always a good time and the Straw Market proved to be the best stop as always. 3 designer bags for $30 - $35 each was fun to barter for for the lady's and the people are so friendly. If you have never experienced the Nassau Straw Market you need to check it out. EMBARKATION and DEBARKATION: Both were very quick, easy and run smoothly. MSC does need to put a little money into their cruise terminal as it is currently run through a warehouse, but it was done very well. We were on and off the ship very quickly and this was one of the easiest of any cruise line we have done. Taxis are not that easy to get from the terminal when leaving. I would suggest arranging transportation before you get on the boat for when you return, either through your hotel, a bus transfer through MSC or a call ahead taxi or car service. OVERALL: A great experience and we would sail MSC again. This is certainly a different kind of cruising with a more relaxed European feel. Be prepared to do nothing and enjoy every minute of it!! Great job MSC and with a few more tweaks I think you will be able to carve a unique niche in the U.S. cruise market!! P.S. MSC = Folded towel animals and a chocolate on the pillow are little cruise extras that can help you go that extra mile! hint, hint Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Having sailed on the MSC Poesia out of Venice in October 2008, we were so impressed by the ship and her crew that only a week after we got home, we booked her sister ship, MSC Orchestra, out of Fort Lauderdale for April 4th, 2009. ... Read More
Having sailed on the MSC Poesia out of Venice in October 2008, we were so impressed by the ship and her crew that only a week after we got home, we booked her sister ship, MSC Orchestra, out of Fort Lauderdale for April 4th, 2009. Arriving to Port Everglades at 11:45 am, we embarked almost immediately and were enjoying the buffet at 12:30 pm. Talk about efficient! Our cabin was ready at 1:30 pm, our luggage arrived at 3:30 pm and we unpacked into our well appointed home for the next week. Lots of storage in these rooms and our mid-ship location on deck 10 was super - you gotta love that balcony view. Every day we had fresh towels, a bucket of ice, a bowl of fruit and a nicely cleaned cabin (twice a day). Our cabin steward Andre and his assistant took great care of us. Anyone who complains about the quantity and quality of the food on this ship needs to give their head a shake. The buffet was fabulous any time of day, lot of choices for adults and children. In the L'Ibiscus dining room we were treated like royalty by the trio of Suda, Hamid and of course Filipe! The wine list was extensive with very reasonable prices. The menu and presentation of the food was that of a five star restaurant. We loved every minute of the evening dining experience. As repeat MSC cruisers, we also enjoyed extra amenities such as priority tender designation, discounted purchases on board, a bottle of champagne in our room, an MSC souvenir and other little niceties. Other reviews have criticized the European flavor of MSC Cruises, but we found it very refreshing. It must be difficult for the crew, most of whom are Italian or Indonesian, to deal with the "how much more can I pile on my plate and NOT eat" or "give me another %#@$ beer, I've only had ten tonight" or "I can smoke wherever I want to" mentality that we witnessed on several occasions. But they do deal with it - and a lot more politely than I would. The loud and rude behavior of some of the guests was down right embarrassing but the crew just took it in stride. We echo the positive comments of others regarding the beauty of Orchestra's lounges, bars, staircases, restaurants, etc. She, like her sister the Poesia, is truly a work of art. The crew work round the clock to keep her shiny and clean and we know that most people noticed and appreciated that. We enjoyed all of the shore excursions, two of which required tendering and were handled very well by the crew. Chankanaab Park in Cozumel, Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman, and the beach at Cayo Levantado are all available without booking an excursion. One word of advice - go ashore early to secure the best seating locations. The disembarkation also went smoothly and the welcoming committee at the port was one of the friendliest bunch of people we've seen in a while. If we could have stayed on for another week, we would have, but the ship was fully booked - no doubt because of the ridiculously low rates MSC has been offering. We are already planning our Northern Europe MSC cruise for the end of the year. We can't wait! We are 'hooked' on MSC Crociere! Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Embarkation- Went great. We arrived about 1PM & were on the ship in 20 minutes. We were given a notice that said our room was ready so we went to check it out. Our room steward came & introduced herself & said to let her know ... Read More
Embarkation- Went great. We arrived about 1PM & were on the ship in 20 minutes. We were given a notice that said our room was ready so we went to check it out. Our room steward came & introduced herself & said to let her know if we needed anything. Cabin- 9054- We knew how big it would be when we booked it & it was fine. Our balcony had a partially obstructed view & was bigger as a result of the location. The room was immaculate & was kept that way. As far as we could tell it was serviced 3 times a day. We unpacked, had plenty of room for everything & stored our luggage under the bed. I immediately tried the safe & couldn't get it open but a quick stop at the information desk to request help solved the problem. Somebody was there within 10 minutes. The entire ship was immaculate but they weren't obnoxious about keeping it that way. We loved the lounges. All were beautifully decorated with the Savannah Bar being our favorite. We enjoyed the entertainment in all of them. The shows were great. They were better than some of the shows we have seen in Vegas. Most nights the theatre was full. We even got to go to a classical piano concert one day.  The entertainment team did a great job & was very friendly. We saw them throughout the day & enjoyed then dancing in the Savannah Bar at night. The casino & I had issues but we did see somebody win $2500. So she had good issues. We did wish for a non smoking area at the slot machines but it wasn't bad enough to make me put my money in my pocket & leave. Food- We thought it was delicious. We learned from some previous cruisers to go to the back of the buffet for breakfast & lunch. There was a wonderful variety & some unusual things to try. We were seated in the Ibisquis dining room for dinner. We were lucky enough to have Agoud for waiter & Novri for our assistant. We never saw the head waiter or maitre'd but I can't say we missed them. Everything we were served was exactly as described on the menu. They loved showing off the pasta & many times brought my husband a plate to "try" in addition to what he had ordered. Thanks to a CC tip I ordered a drink on my way to the dining room every night. Our water glasses were filled as soon as we sat down. Bermuda was fantastic & we can't wait to go back but would like to be there a little longer next time. Nassau is not our favorite but if we wanted to go to Bermuda we didn't have a choice! Debarkation- Seemed kind of hectic but we haven't figured out what they could have done to improve it. The luggage was stacked according to color but maybe a little more of a delay in calling the next color would have made it less confusing. Somebody in line told us that other lines just put it all in a pile & you have to find it. What a mess. Our disappointments were the obnoxious cruisers; just because you have grey hair doesn't mean you can be unkind & demanding, it is a vacation not a punishment. Most people lacked elevator etiquette, we were taught to move to the back upon entering, not this bunch. If we had been large we wouldn't have been able to get in.  We never saw an officer who looked at people or smiled. It seemed like the epaulets took away the people skills.  As has been discussed before there is a definite lack of programs for kids but improvements are expected. Were any of these enough to ruin our trip, absolutely not. Were we happy yes. Would we cruise on this line again yes. There were 38 in our group & everyone had a wonderful time. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
This was one of the worst cruises I have ever been on!!! For a company that claims on their website "On the ships of MSC you will discover a perfect blend of European charm and modern Italian elegance....When you vacation with MSC ... Read More
This was one of the worst cruises I have ever been on!!! For a company that claims on their website "On the ships of MSC you will discover a perfect blend of European charm and modern Italian elegance....When you vacation with MSC Cruises, you'll travel in unparalleled style with the world's fastest growing cruise line" this ship sure did not meet up to my expectations of this charm and style! The ship for being only 2 years old was not in the best of shape. The couch in our stateroom had tears and the balcony railing was rough and unpolished. The wait staff in the dining room (Ibicus) was exceptionally slow. It took forever to get each course. My husband finished a glass of iced tea and not one of the wait staff offered to refill it. The seats were dirty looking. The food was mediocre at best. Most all of the crew never had smiles on their faces and all looked as if they really did not want to be there. Even if that was the case they could at least have plastered a smile on their faces. I noticed too, that a high percentage of the officers were Italian and seemed to look down on crew members who were not Italian. A couple of times they were even belittling them in front of the passengers. The stops at the ports were too short from what was originally shown on the itinerary. The disembarkation process was nice though. I personally will never take another MSC Cruise again! Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
We had a fabulous time!This line is really for people who enjoy an Italian style vacation or would like to experience it. We paid $500 per person  for inside cabins and were upgraded to balconies on the 11th floor for free.  We loved ... Read More
We had a fabulous time!This line is really for people who enjoy an Italian style vacation or would like to experience it. We paid $500 per person  for inside cabins and were upgraded to balconies on the 11th floor for free.  We loved every minute of this vacation.  It was worth every penny and felt very sophisticated.   My husband and I have traveled throughout Europe and really enjoy getting to know people from other places, if that doesn't interest you, you might not enjoy this cruise.  If you don't like gourmet Italian, you might also want to reconsider.  Things you need to know:1. The staff takes a great deal of pride in their ship and their work.  Spotless!2.  This is an Italian/European style vacation.  The best dishes are Italian stylenot American style.  Amazing sauces, the lobster is a Mediterranean Lobster (tastes more like a giant prawn).  3. In typical European style, they stick to the rules, and if you educate yourself prior to traveling you will have an easier time knowing what is going on where. (Ex. our first night we saw a guy yelling at the staff because he wanted to swim after they closed down the poolit was already empty and he wanted them to bring him a drink to the empty pool...)4. Get to know the staff, they were absolutely excellent and very appreciative of compliments.5. Go to the showsthey are really good.6. Staff is gracious and efficient and busy.  My only complaint is that negativity is contagious and when I saw Americans complaining about stupid mundane things I found it embarrassing.  I wanted to say please get over yourself, you are in the Caribbean on a spotlessly clean beautiful ship, drinking an inexpensive but delicious Mai Tai, and eating gourmet Italian cuisine.  Have fun.  Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
We had such a wonderful cruise, I just had to share it with Cruise Critic. We joined the roll call on this cruise and found that it really added to the enjoyment of the cruise. We felt at home because we had been corresponding with the ... Read More
We had such a wonderful cruise, I just had to share it with Cruise Critic. We joined the roll call on this cruise and found that it really added to the enjoyment of the cruise. We felt at home because we had been corresponding with the other members of the roll call for over 3 months. The thread was started almost a year ago and I am sure our group must have broken some kind of record for having the most posts over 2600 and it is still growing. Our group decided to wear Mardi Gras beads so we would recognize each other on day one of the cruise. We met our first Cruise Critic member wearing the beads in line during embarkation (Debbie). I can not tell you how much it added to the cruising experience already feeling like you had a friend before boarding the ship. The next person we met wearing the beads was on the gangway. I called out to her "Cruise Critic?" holding my beads. She responded "no Red Lobster." I couldn't stop laughing. Here she had never heard of the roll call and had been given the beads the night before while dining at Red Lobster and decided they looked very festive and kept them on for the cruise. Well we educated her about Cruise Critic and told her to keep the beads on and she probably would make about 50 friends by wearing them. Well back to the cruise. Embarkation went smoothly. We thought the port employees were so friendly and the process was very organized. We made our way to our cabin immediately to drop off our carry-on luggage. There we met Jimmy, our cabin steward. He said it was perfectly fine to leave the luggage in the room. We had a balcony cabin which we found delightful. The bed was comfortable. We had enough storage space for everything. We found the bathroom also had a lot of storage space. The terry bathrobes they provided were very nice. Their towels were soft and thick. We had a welcoming bowl of fruit to greet us. This was around 11:30 am. Jimmy always kept the room clean and well supplied. We then made our way to lunch on deck 13. We had heard through cruise critic that the buffet towards the rear of the ship was the least crowded, but we were disappointed because it was closed. This was one of the few complaints we had about this cruise that the buffets all close too early. (7pm). They should keep at least one buffet line open until 11 pm. We had requested first seating for dinner but were given second. It was very difficult to find the room where it could be changed. There was no sign to tell you and when you asked the staff they did not understand English well enough to direct you. The food on board was excellent. The first formal night was the best. They had escargot, French onion soup, sirloin steak, baked potato, and Crème Brule. The only dish we found less than excellent was the lobster. It was mushy on mine and over cooked and dry on my husbands. Our waiter was Dewa. He was excellent. He served us quickly and was very attentive to our needs. Every night he had our ice tea on the table and kept it refilled. When we asked for fresh garlic he made sure there was a plate of chopped garlic waiting for us. One night I asked for chives and he had a plate of chopped chives ready in no time. He was a dream. On deck 13 after 5 pm they have Pizza and one of the waiter's sings opera while you eat it. The gelato on deck 13 is excellent. The pool was a little cool but the hot tubs were perfect. Temperature was perfect and had a strong massage. The pool chairs were very comfortable. They had a little roof on them to shade your eyes. There were indoor Jacuzzi's as well near the gym. The gym was small but adequate. They had a nice view of the ocean. No TV. Unfortunately they also close down the gym and the pools at 7 pm. They should stay open until 11 pm. The entertainment was very good. The best was on the first night. Don't miss this show! They had the best acrobats from Africa perform. They were amazing. The cruise director is Marco. He was a disappointment. He was not very outgoing and friendly as previous cruise directors have been. Very dry, always on the phone. The entertainment team were a lively bunch. They were a lot of fun and we always enjoyed seeing them. The trivia contest was a lot of fun, especially since my group won the grand prize and I won the drawing after one weeks worth of trivia. They also had an Italian Language class which I did not attend but many did. There was a talent show the last night that was entertaining. The ports of call were nice. The only one I had never been on before was Semana. We found it very clean and relaxing. We had fun bargaining with the natives for souvenirs. We were sorry to see this cruise end, but it did. Disembarkation was easy and the people working the port were very welcoming and friendly as they had been on our departure. Oh I forgot to mention one thing. Rick Sasso, the CEO of MSC, upon our request arranged for a Seder to be held while we were on board the ship. This meant a lot to all the Jewish cruisers on board as well of those from other faiths who were interested in seeing this religious ceremony. Thanks again Mr. Sasso. GREAT CRUISE!!!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
I planned this cruise to celebrate my husbands 65th birthday. We have been on several cruises over the years and were looking forward to this cruise. We have never been so completely and totally disappointed before.  The food was ... Read More
I planned this cruise to celebrate my husbands 65th birthday. We have been on several cruises over the years and were looking forward to this cruise. We have never been so completely and totally disappointed before.  The food was bad, there is no other way to explain it.  The staff was rude.  The waiter brought something I hadn't ordered.  When I told him, I had ordered what he served, he looked at me and said "yes, you did" and walked away.  One morning I asked for a cup of coffee and was offered instant because the coffee pot had already been cleaned and put away!  The menu said lobster, but I was served crawfish.  The desserts seemed to be left over and not at all fresh.  The food was usually very bland. We were told that my husband's birthday would be acknowledged in some way.  I had no idea what they had planned, but whatever it was, we never got it. The staff in general was very rude and difficult to deal with.  The made very little effort to help you or answer your questions.  We tried to book an excursion and the girl at the desk seemed very annoyed.  The excursion was supposed to be a cruise tour of the island.  The girl just gave us stickers for our shirts and basically threw two towels at me.  I didn't want to bother her anymore, so I didn't ask about the towels, even though we should not have needed them.  It turns out she booked us on the wrong excursion.  She booked us on some snorkel tour.  Hence the towel. Unfortunately, we hadn't planned to go swimming, and didn't have suits with us.  So we spent the afternoon, sweltering on this little boat.  The entertainment was bad.  The only good part was the night when they had a talent contest.  Some of the passengers and very talented and others, not so much. The only positive thing I have to mention is our room steward.  He said he was Indonesian.  He was very helpful and friendly. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
On April 4, 2009, me and my family, a total of 14 people, boarded the MSC Orchestra not knowing what we were going to experience since it was our first time booking with MSC. We head heard from other sources that it was a newer ship and ... Read More
On April 4, 2009, me and my family, a total of 14 people, boarded the MSC Orchestra not knowing what we were going to experience since it was our first time booking with MSC. We head heard from other sources that it was a newer ship and was supposed to be nice-looking as well. Well those 2 comments were correct, but wait until you here our story. EMBARKATION DAY: We found getting to the ship terminal station was a breeze and dropping of our luggage was easier than I thought. One negative comment was that we had to share parking spaces with a Princess cruise, which was fine since we found a spot not to far away. We made it through showing our passports and travel documents and went to get our id cards, which is used as a room key and charge card. We gave our credit card information, took our pictures, and received our cards. Note: These are VERY IMPORTANT. Try not to lose them. Go up the elevator one level and get your minors  life jackets and wristbands. The line moved steadily, and we checked off 4 life jackets and wristbands. From there you board the ship and find yourself into the beautiful lobby. This process was VERY simple and there was absolutely no line watsoever.  From there we went to our cabins, since it was around 2 o'clock and drooped off our carry-on bags and headed for the pool deck. Had some gelato, which was $1.50 for a sugar cone, $2 for small cup, and $2.50 for large cup. We went to the buffet on that same deck, which was packed, and found ourselves 2 empty booths and a table right in the entrance. Grabbed some pizza and drinks, and enjoyed. There were other options here as well, like salad, chicken fingers, burgers, hot dogs, fries, and some other dishes and fruits.DINING: There are 2 things that everyone can agree on. One - the waitstaff at Villa Borghese on Deck 5, (we had Parka and Giri from Indonesia as our main waiters, divided among the 14 of us) was very helpful and caring. Two - most of the food was EXTREMELY DISGUSTING!! I understand that it's not supposed to be the best food in the whole world, but this food was very very very very very very very bad. It was disappointing, especially since it was an Italian cruise line. The pasta was cold and tasted liked it was not fully cooked. The soup tasted like tap water, and the chocolate gelato there was very untasting, I guess is how you would describe it. If you want something good, especially on of the formal nights, get the spinach and cheese crepes. They were probably the best item on the menu for dinner. The bread, of course, was good as well as the vanilla gelato. There was one pasta that was a special one night and I can't think of the name, but it did not have any sauce and had some spices. Very good indeed (about the pasta with spices). Bar waiters and waitresses were usually available whenever you needed them. We would spilt up occasionally for breakfast and lunch onboard and days at sea. Breakfast was good as well as lunch. The cheeseburgers are good. BARS: At 10 o'clock all of them claimed to be "closed". The bar attendants would say things like "The Savannah Bar is open now." when you were at the neighboring Amber Bar, and the Savannah Bar would say the same thing vice-versa. All of this would get annoying at times, especially if you just wanted a bottle of water. There was one man at La Cantinella bar that was always helpful, so stay get your drinks there when it's past 10 o'clock. CABINS: Tiny room. Open bathroom door and hit cabinets in front of you and front door. Shower very small, very difficult if you have to bathe young children like some of my family members did. Limited storage for luggage. Lots of drawers. The safe doesn't work properly. Hangers provided. Sheets not changed/cleaned. Bed comfort is ok. Not enough space for max. capacity - 4 adults - to walk in. Ladders for bunk beds have limited space to crawl up. My cousin found a movie when we first opened out bunk beds and another surprise, a dirty pair of wet underwear!!! We informed the cabin steward and he quickly removed it from our hands and apologized, but I would expect more from that terror! The lights or the tv don't turn on unless you leave a room key in the light holder next to the door. We were not informed of this and there are no signs indicating to do so. We saw a housekeeping maid putting her card in and flipping the lights, and that's how we got power the 2nd day.Positive remarks: It was quiet a lot of the times, rooms were cleaned twice daily, and the room was close to the elevators. Our room always had fresh towels. PORTS: The ports were fun and exotic. At Key West we got there an hour earlier, leaving an hour earlier. We were not informed that we needed id's such as passport and drivers license on top of our room key to get back on the ship since we were docked at the Navy base, so some members had to get BACK ON THE SHIP AFTER THEY WAITED IN LINE TO LEAVE THE SHIP!! This caused chaos as we had a wedding to attend to (that was the point of the 14 member family vacation, as well as to enjoy ourselves). It was nice there, and we were informed when to get the last trolley to get back on the ship by the trolley driver. In Mexico we docked, Grand Cayman Islands we had to use a tender boat as well as the Dominican Republic. More info on ports below.POOLS: Were usually crowded, espcecially on the at sea days. We found the pool next to the buffet to be more crowded than the other, and having a higher capacity of kids. The pool in front of the stage with the kiddie pool was a bit less crowded. The water was salt water from the ocean which was good and bad. Good because the salt water is good for you and bad because most people don't know this and jump in or go under water with there eyes open and end up with red eyes. The pool was 6 foot deep all around and there was one ladder if any. Smaller than Royal or Carnival. The hot tubs were not always crowded, and we found these to be relaxing, even though 4 adults were squished in there. There is a kiddie pool about ankle deep between the 2 hot tubs, having glass surrounding it by the bar area. They would close the pools at 6pm no matter what. They say they clean them at night but dont do that till the break of dawn. They just leave the nets over the pool and let the water stay there till the next day at 4am. They had 2 tv's always playing commercials. At night there would be chairs set up to watch either movies or sports (the Final Four was going on during our cruise). You can find this listings in the daily events booklet. SERVICE: This is the category that MSC needs the most improvement on, well at least the Orchestra. It was very difficult to communicate with employees on the ship. A lady at the front desk didn't understand what we wanted when all we were asking for was a baby crib. Service was a disgrace. The room steward never introduced himself to us, the employees on the ship were always angry and didn't bother to have a smile (except waitstaff, maids, and photoshop employees). One thing that made people angry was that the photoshop never informed anybody that they were having a sale of 15 pictures for $90 plus a cd of the ship until the LAST DAY!! Luckily for my family me and my cousin saved pictures in our families folder. This area really needs to improve.Thanks to Parka and Giri at Villa Borghese and Lillian and Amy at the Photoshop for their great service. The marachi band and the orchestra with the women were also very good (in the lobby).ENTERTAINMENT: Only shows worth seeing are the circus show, magic show, and the passsenger talent show. The pool side entertainment was dull and unexciting.MISC: The announcments on the ship took about 15 mins because they repeated it in 5 languages. English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German or Dutch. Cayo Levantado, Samana, Dominican Republic was the best. Had to to tender there but it was fine. The beach was the best and the water was perfect and not to salty. The street shops had some good stuff, but bargain your prices with them. Ate at an outdoor buffett that was not crowded right by the bar. The food was good and yummy. You can take a picture with a pirate and parrots and get a copy for $5 or 3 for $10 or $12. Can't remember. Had the best time here. Overall Grade:     D- Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
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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