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3 MSC Cruises MSC Orchestra Cruise Reviews for Romantic Cruises to Caribbean - Western from Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)

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
We just returned from the 2/21 Western Caribbean ORCHESTRA cruise. We had a great time! This is my review and my opinion. We are a married couple 38 and 41 years old. We have been on 40 cruises. We have been on every cruise major ... Read More
We just returned from the 2/21 Western Caribbean ORCHESTRA cruise. We had a great time! This is my review and my opinion. We are a married couple 38 and 41 years old. We have been on 40 cruises. We have been on every cruise major cruise line with the majority being Celebrity. The majority of the cruises have been to the Caribbean and Europe. I am also a travel agent and the main reason we tried MSC is to be more knowledgeable on the brand. We love Europe and Italy and their culture. Here is what is important to us: Warm weather, good pool area, good drinks, good entertainment, good service, a clean ship with modern amenities. We enjoy good food but we feel getting a tan and enjoying the outside deck is more important than gorging at a buffet, we could all use to lose a few pounds. We also like to disconnect from the real world, no emails, no blackberry, and no phone. We don't sweat the small stuff and we don't let little things or other's attitude ruin the fun of our cruise. We are also NON-smokers and cigarette smoke bothers me. To be honest, I failed above and I let the prior reviews get to me and was insecure about our upcoming vacation. I was VERY nervous. We enjoy talking to the staff and getting to know them. While onboard I brought up the bad reviews and the management knew exactly what I was talking about. They said they printed out all of the emails and made copies for the staff to read. The first 4 cruises were "misses", they understand that and it was EXTREMELY unfortunate. It was a domino effect of many problems. I am happy to say that we had no issues and had a great cruise. My review may be long but I wanted to answer as many questions up front as possible. Here is the review of ship and day to day account of our cruise..... Weather - SUNNY and 80 Degrees each day. 2/21 - Embarkation We arrived at FLL airport at 11 am. We had nothing to do so we went to the ship hoping to get on prior to the 4pm boarding time. We arrived at the Terminal 4 at 11:45 and were on board and in our room by 12:30pm. 2/22 - Key West We arrived at 7 am and left at 2 pm. We had been to Key West 5 times so we decided to sleep in and hang by the pool. It was great; we had the ship all to ourselves. 2/23- Cozumel We arrived at 9 am in DOWNTOWN. The pier is VERY long but they now have "rickshaw" (sp?) for $3 they will take you from the gangway to the pier exit. We have been to Cozumel 12 times so we slept in then went to town for an authentic lunch at PANCHOS BACKYARD 2/24 - Grand Cayman We arrived at 10 am. We had to get tender tickets at 8:30. We were ticket number 2 and were on land by 10:15. We wanted a lazy day at 7 Mile Beach so we found a shuttle for $5 person to the Royal Palms Beach. Great Beach! Clean and cute beachside cafe. AWESOME Grilled Mahi Mahi Sandwiches and believe it or not, the best pepperoni pizza in the Caribbean. We came back to the ship at 3 pm. 2/25 - At sea 2/26 - Cayo Levantado We arrived at 8 am and they changed departure to 2 pm. We don't know why but we didn't care either. We had to get up at 6:30 am to get tender tickets. We were ashore at 8:30 and a tropical storm came and washed the island away. We sat at a bar and drank Pina Coladas and by 11 am the storm was gone and it was a perfect beach day. Everything is extra at Cayo. Beach Chairs are $3, Drinks are $5 - Lobster Lunch is $20. The Scenery is gorgeous but you share the beach with NCL and PRINCESS and it was very crowded. 2/27 - At sea 2/28 - Disembarkation We decided to try self assist exit. WOW! That is fast! We were off the ship by 7 am and in cab for a 9 am flight. So convenient! They DO NOT HELP WITH LUGGAGE so be prepared to carry your own bags. Room - Category 7 - AFT BALCONY CABIN - FLAUTO DECK The room is VERY small. In Europe the hotel rooms are even smaller so we knew what to expect. The room was very tastefully decorated, modern and clean. We had 4 pillows on our bed and we always had wash cloths and towels. It was an AFT balcony. YES the back of the ship VIBRATES! WOW! Once again, I am on a ship and I did not design it, I chose to travel this way and I wasn't going to complain about it. If you are a light sleeper, try to change your cabin prior as our ship was 100% full. The TV has 3 English channels, TNT, CNN and a pay movie station. That's it. I didn't come on the ship to watch TV so I could care less. Yes, we could access our onboard account and it was always correct. Another nice feature is that you can book your Shore Excursions via the television as well. But, I would recommend that you book them prior to the cruise because the good ones sell out very quickly. Yes, there was Room Service; the menu is in the Blue Guestbook in desk drawer. The Room Service extension is 2871 and someone always answered and our food was delivered in 10 minutes or less and for free. Limited menu. When you walk into the room on the wall is slot for your key, it works the electricity and air-conditioning in the room. It also activates a light for your steward to know if you are in the room. It is wonderful, our steward was a mystery to us, she was so cute when we met her on the first day and we saw her on the last day. She was great and elusive. They also delivered a fresh fruit basket each day. We were off to explore the rest of the ship. WOW! It is gorgeous, by far the most beautifully decorated ship. It was also SPOTLESS. It was the cleanest ship we have ever been on. They take pride in their ship and it shows. We are still talking about how clean it was. Yes, there are hand sanitizers everywhere. One side of the ship is smoking but we were shocked by how little we noticed. We even laughed about always sitting in the smoking section and not noticing the smoke, great ventilation. Public Rooms: All of the bars are huge and have plenty of seating. Each day we found a new bar to explore and people watch. The Savannah Bar was our favorite with great flow and lighting. The disco is so futuristic but it was never used until 12 am each night. The disco hosts the teen group prior to midnight. Spa: The Body and Mind Spa is huge! We did use the gym daily and you did not have to make a reservation. You do have to sign a waiver to use the equipment. The spa prices are VERY expensive with limited specials. A 60 minute massage is $140. The indoor Jacuzzis are peaceful and quiet and the steam is like a Turkish bath. The staff is from BALI. The Pool. The pool area is gorgeous but tight. It is more appropriate for a ship of 2000. At sea days it can be VERY crowed and cramped but at 10 am, we always found 2 chairs in a prime location. I love the sun chairs, each has a mini-awning to block the sun from your head if needed. For a very special place to relax and break from the crowds, find the disco and go out the back door there is a secluded deck that nobody goes to and you sleep and relax like never before under the warm sun. The Dining Room We were assigned to a table for 2, late seating (8pm) in Villa Borgese. It was very loud, but in Europe, dining is a social hour. Every table was laughing and having a good time. L'Ibiscus is a much more gorgeous dining room. Most of the tables are booths and very tight. The Atrium is beautiful and stands 3 floors. It has a gorgeous lighted wall, spiral staircases and center stage for rotating entertainment.The shops are great with great selection of goods. Their prices were pretty competitive and very reasonable. There are 7 shops. The internet cafe has 16 computers and I never saw anyone use it. It was $5 per 10 minutes. The Gelato Bar - it was like a cute sidewalk cafe in Italy. They had special menus and the quality of gelato was fabulous. It was only $2. Some people think this should be included, but I disagree. This is homemade gelato, not frozen powdered soft serve. It is hand crafted with unusual flavors. Worth every penny of the $2! The Buffet area - The area is beautiful with gorgeous floor to ceiling glass windows the views of the ocean are breathtaking. The sunsets are unreal from this area. It is VERY confusing in design. There 6 different buffets / Salad Bars and each have different food. 4 buffets are very European and the food selections resemble a sidewalk deli in Italy or Croatia. The other buffets are more American with standard American fare. Keep walking around, I bet you find things you can eat. For good seating, go ALL the way in the back, as far as you can go, there was always a table for us. The Entertainment / Theater - The MSC Orchestra has by far the BEST shows at sea. Each night was dazzling and sometimes sexy. Don't miss...A Night in Paris, Circusland, and Singing under the Moon. The costumes, sound and lighting were incredible. The Theater is gorgeous too. We also LOVED the " EXCELLENT ENTERTAINMENT" TEAM. They always scream that! There were 8 of them and they were in charge of all the daily activities. They were always funny, always on time and always a riot. They are very funny so make sure you see them in action by the pool or in the lounges. We miss them already. We love them hiding in the trees or behind lamps and scaring passengers as they walk by. I laughed so hard I was crying! The ship had great energy and each bar had different entertainment. Each bar had a different vibe. There was ALWAYS something going on. Service - We read stories that the staff was rude or "stared". We found them very unobtrusive. We found them always happy and willing to do whatever. They don't push drinks in your face, they don't stand around and do nothing. They are always cleaning or organizing. The staff is 60% Indonesian and 30% Bulgarian and 10% Italian. The Indonesians are cute and sweet. They always asked how we were and if we were having a good day. I find Bulgarians to be very formal. They don't speak unless spoken to and very robotic. I think it is a cultural thing, but when I smiled and asked how they were doing they were very nice and shocked that I cared. I loved the Italian staff and their style. They are very professional, and look good doing it. Most staff can speak more than one language. I never encountered any staff member that did not know what I was talking about. MSC does not do things in excess. If you don't see something or need something, ASK. They always got what we needed with pleasure. The Food - We were never hungry! It appears people that complained are ones that don't like try new things or are stuck in their ways. We saw one passenger complaining they had no chicken fingers. Embarrassing! MSC is Italian so order what they are known for..Pastas, Rissottos. We were always satisfied. For Example...you don't order a Hot Dog in a Sushi restaurant. Breakfast - Food was always hot, we loved the sliced ham. Breakfast in the dining room was super fast and always hot. Hours 7 am - 11 am. Lunch - Great salad bar with fresh items, Great hamburgers, skip the pizza (advice for later) 12 pm - 3 pm Iced Tea - It was fabulous and FREE. It was available from 7 am - 9 pm. The glasses are also huge at 10 oz. LOVED IT! Yes, they had Sweet n' Low, Equal and Splenda. PIZZERIA - 5 pm to 9pm each night - this is not the same pizza at lunch time. There is an older Italian male making pizza pies from scratch and singing opera music. We loved it so much we skipped dinner in the restaurant 2 nights. What other ship can you eat amazing pizza from scratch with views of Cuba out the window while the chef is singing opera music. It was awesome and there was NO CHARGE Dinner - Service was a little slow. Our food was always hot and salads were always crisp but our poor waiter had 6 tables. Dinners took 90 -120 minutes. We enjoyed each others company and were not in a rush to go anywhere so we could care less. The Wine Bar - this bar is beautiful and they serve you Italian antipasto appetizers while sipping wine. Coffee - the coffee was great in all bars, cappuccinos and espressos were fabulous as well. Shanghai - We ate here 2 times. The food was amazing. Service was very formal and the vibe of the room is very quiet. We did Stir Fry dishes one night and we did Dim Sum with 8 different items another day. Our bill was $35 for both of us, both times. In the end, we were sad to leave the Orchestra. We had a great time! We feel that the passengers that complain should direct it to their Travel Agent and not MSC. Travel Agents should educate their customers on the product. MSC should not change. Some passengers who book online with no agent advice and have no clue what type of ship they are going on and do no research. We already have a Carnival, and a Princess and Celebrity, etc. I appreciated almost every aspect of our cruise and I enjoyed the customer base. The passengers were 50 % Italian, 20 % French, 10% German, 10% Spanish and 10% American. We enjoyed meeting people from around the world, seeing their fashion style, hearing their languages and embracing their culture if it was only for a week but would have loved it forever. UGGH..my hand is asleep. Did I miss anything? LOL! Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
We arrived at the Port about 10:45 AM on the 10th. We were sent upstairs with the number 6 boarding number. We waited maybe 15 minutes before boarding the ship. We were shown the way to our cabin(we were not escorted there by someone ... Read More
We arrived at the Port about 10:45 AM on the 10th. We were sent upstairs with the number 6 boarding number. We waited maybe 15 minutes before boarding the ship. We were shown the way to our cabin(we were not escorted there by someone wearing white gloves like we were on the Lirica 2 years before). The trip to the cabin was all the way thru the ship,which we enjoyed as it is a beautiful ship and it help those of us like me that are directionally challenged and can get lost in a paper bag as my husband always says. Our cabin was on the 15th deck #15024. The room was cleaned and ready for us to enter. Shortly after we entered our Steward knocked on the door and asked if we needed ice or anything and we said that ice would be nice. Which he kept full everyday of the cruise. We then proceeded to the Buffet for lunch. There was no line at the buffet so we got right in and out. The food was very good and there was a large selection of cold cuts and 3 different cheeses with many hot items. The salad bar was scarce to our standards but I am a big salad and veggie eater so I noticed that more. My husband liked the hot foods that were there more. Dinner was at 5:45 and we were in the Villa Borghese for dinner. The food was excellent but the service was very slow. We had 2 table mates that were totally horrible tho. Everytime the gentlemen would speak he would yell at the top of his lungs and was very rude (downright mean) to his wife and very disrespectful to women in general. So much so that the 3 tables around us kept looking over and shooting him a dirty look. We stayed at that table 2 nights and on the second night my husband talked to the head Maitre'd and we were given a different table, #583, with Buda and his backup as our waitstaff. The service from then on was absolutely excellent at night. We did eat breakfast and lunch in the dining room most of the time but service was pretty much hit and miss on those meals, but the food was absolutely excellent at all times. The night they offered Filet Mignon I was very surprised. I ordered it very rare and they asked if I wanted it tar-tar and I said no only cooked for a couple of min. on each side. It came to me perfect. Mind you we had other people at our table with well done steaks and all of the food came at the same time and all was hot and perfectly cooked.. The filet didn't even need to be chewed it MELTED in your mouth it was so good. Their cheesecakes are as the saying goes "To die for" they are so decadent and delicious. Our dealings with the reception center and the accounting center were simple questions and were answered with a smile and very courteous. The only problem we had with getting off the ship was the day we were tendered into Cozumel. We had tender ticket #1 and we were at breakfast when they called #1 so we missed our tender time. We thought we would just go off with the rest of the people when we could so we got stuck in a long line but were off the ship within 20 min. There was a lot of complaining by several people and 1 man in particular who had 4 kids with him. He was ramming people with his stroller and trying to get everyone out of his way and yelling the whole time. But in all honesty when we say him in Cozumel he was acting the same way, so maybe that is just how he is. The disembarkment at Grand Cayman was very easy as there was no line and we went right off the ship. Our favorite port was Cayo Laventado as the beach was absolutely beautiful and very easy access from the dock to the beach. We didn't use any of the excursions offered by the ship as we like to explore on our own a lot. The 3 night shows that we attended were fabulous. The pianist was absolutely the best i have ever seen. We are not smokers so we did notice that in the public areas there was no smoke smell except in the casino and a couple of areas on the pool deck. Our disembarkment from the ship was a breeze, we had Lilac #2 tags and we waited in the Amber lounge till they called us. We pretty much just walked right off, got our luggage and went thru customs. From the time they called our tag color to the time we were at the curb waiting on the car rental bus was about 15 min. Our longest wait was for the car rental bus. When it comes to our cruise we totally enjoyed it and would recommend it highly to others and already have and yes we will cruise with MSC again. Read Less
Sail Date January 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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