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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: March 2009
Everyday we were on this ship the crew and services provided pushed us to know we would rather cruise on any other cruise line. English: The language barrier was very problematic. Crew members yell on the phone when they don't ... Read More
Everyday we were on this ship the crew and services provided pushed us to know we would rather cruise on any other cruise line. English: The language barrier was very problematic. Crew members yell on the phone when they don't understand you. Dining room staff act like they understand what you are ordering, only to not bring what you requested at all or bring something else. We had several issues we needed to figure out with the crew, but eventually we just gave up asking questions because we couldn't get anywhere in the conversation. Food: My family lost weight on this cruise! The food was the worst I've ever tasted - my 13 year old said that school lunch is better. Costa Cruise Line had a real Italian dining experience. Celebrity's Century had amazing food also. If eating is one of the pleasures you are looking for on a cruise vacation DO NOT cruise on this ship. The pizzeria closes at 9:00 pm. Room service is your only option until breakfast and only has two horrible cold sandwiches, salad, soup, fruit, dessert of the day and coffee available (not even milk is available). You can only order breakfast room service items at breakfast time. The buffets had many choices, but they were not appetizing. Also, on one day the crew handled chicken, hamburgers and hotdogs without gloves while they were preparing the food on the grill. There is no omelet bar for breakfast. Eat in the dining room if you do go! Ports: Book excursions! We did not book any excursions and that was a mistake. The ports were ghetto. Cayo Levantado has a good beach - but nothing else. Antigua had even less - the streets were dirty, shopping VERY limited and expensive, port buildings were deserted and locals pressure for taxi rides. St. Maarten & Nassau were okay, but we were only in Nassau for 4 hours. Recreation: The fitness area has good equipment - crowded at various times. The tennis and basketball courts are one and the same so finding it available was nearly impossible. Table tennis - unbelievable the ship only had one ball and three tables. We gave up trying to play. Teens: Disco was very dangerous. The 13-18 year olds are allowed to socialize with adults and crew members. Alcohol was flowing and several youth were drunk. Other cruise lines have structured teen activities and protection from inappropriate behavior. Cabin: We had an immediate issue with our cabin. We agree that the ship is for the most part very clean, but smoking in cabins is discouraged, but allowed. Our cabin had such an smell that we refused to stay in it. (We traveled with an infant.) After complaining to 5 different people and saying that we would rather get off the ship than stay in the room for 7 days and pay good money for it, they moved us to another cabin. As far as cabin stewards, ours was okay, but my teenage girls (18 & 13) had a steward who entered the room several times while they were sleeping and after they had said they did not need anything - also they went through their clothes items re-folded and moved them. Embarkation: The quickest I've ever seen! Disembarkation: We requested an earlier time and they honored our request...it only took about 20 minutes. (I have been on 6 cruises - Costa, Celebrity, Carnival & MSC - this is the first review I've ever written and I only write it as a warning for anyone reading this (like I did) to try and protect you from the disappointment and feeling of money not well spent that my family has now.) Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
I am going to give you both the good and bad the bad on the boat. We traveled with a 5 year old and had a suite / balcony. GOOD - Our suite was great, clean and large (we had the largest rooms on the boat. We tipped our room steward at ... Read More
I am going to give you both the good and bad the bad on the boat. We traveled with a 5 year old and had a suite / balcony. GOOD - Our suite was great, clean and large (we had the largest rooms on the boat. We tipped our room steward at the beginning of the trip and always had fresh towels, fruit and ice in our room. It was also cleaned 3-4 times a day. Some of the shows were good - the opening show was fantastic The soft-serve ice cream (but you have to pay $2 for it). The head server and the our maitre d'(sorry about the spelling)Villa Borghese. After we complained they were very attentive and did the best they could to ease the pain of waiting for food. The chinese food - got to try it. It was great! My son seemed to enjoy the kids club and it seemed clean! The BAD - Every announcement is made in 3-5 languages (Italian, English, French and sometimes Spanish) and are very fast Some of the shows including the magic act were 2nd rate. The food was not good (pasta and lamb were okay) steaks were tough and thin kinda like at the Sizzler or Golden Coral. The lobster was the worst thing served, maybe the sushi, but the lobster was terrible. They cut the lobster from head to tail in half and then bake it. you cant get it out of the shell and that should have been a warning to me. Dinner takes for ever to eat. Plan on a minimum of 2 hours with a table of 8-9. 3 hours the first night. Luggage delivery is slow the first night. Unfortunately for one women we met luggage delivery was nonexistent. Her luggage went on a 10 day cruise on a different boat without her (lucky luggage). According to her, the ship and its management did nothing to help her an even charged her $80 for two shirt out of their on-board store. She spent $500 of her own money buying underwear, tennis shoes, pants, a slip to sleep in, and other necessities. The boat and the chief bursar did nothing. Shame on them! She was also in her mid-to late 60's. I received a survey in my room in reference to service. No pen to write with though. Seems each employee is issued one pen and they must never let anyone take it from them. I had to go to two places and finally asked for a supervisor before someone would give me their $0.05 MSC supplied pen. You would have thought i was asking for blood! If you buy alcohol / spirits on board be prepared to pick them up yourself from the shop the last day of the cruise. its a mad house down there too! The lines at the accounting desk went on and on especially the last day of the cruise. Everyone was complaining of errors. I did not have errors but i did lower my tip amount which upset them. The first night at dinner I complained about the slow service (40 minutes to get a piece of cheese cake without syrup. I was told by the head (over all of them) maitre d that slow service is not a complaint. I told him that if I the customer felt it was a complaint, then it was a complaint. Very few excursions in some ports. If you travel with kids know that the shows start at 7 and the kids club general does not open till 7:15. Its also at the other end of the boat so you miss 10-15 minutes of the show. They will also feed your child pizza about 7 times during the cruise. I hope this helped. In general the staff is rude and does not speak very much english. They can tell you how to get to the bathroom though. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
In summary, the crew is limited in English speaking members and at times are quite rude. I understand this creates communication barriers. Therefore the MSC cruise line needs to provide more English speaking crew members when sailing out ... Read More
In summary, the crew is limited in English speaking members and at times are quite rude. I understand this creates communication barriers. Therefore the MSC cruise line needs to provide more English speaking crew members when sailing out of the the US and don't have to repeat every message in four languages which most times you can't understand. The MSC Orchestra ship is new, very nice and clean {so clean that you will get "brass polish" on your hands at least once on a seven day cruise. Our Cabin {a balcony on the Chitarra Deck 14} rather small but well appointed. Our Cabin Steward never introduced himself. We waited on our luggage which we finally went to get ourselves. In the Dining Room {table 624} we meet Luigi {best thing} in the dinning room, and probably on the ship as far as the crew goes. Normally we would dine at the buffet {on most other ships we found the buffet has the same food as the dinning room and is less informal} DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME IN THIS AREA, GET DRESSED AND GO TO THE DINING ROOM, WHICH IS BEST OF THE TWO AREAS. And don't even think about 24 hour food service, for it doesn't exist on this ship. Quality of the food on a scale of 1 to 10 I give it a minus 1. For an Italian Cruise Line TERRIBLE would have to describe the food and I'm Italian. On the 5th day I went to the accounting office and removed the $12 per day tips for my wife and myself knowing I would take care of my waiter and cabin steward only with CASH, and by the way MSC doesn't like this policy. Tuff, I took care of the crew who at least tried to take care of us. I stopped a young lady crew member and asked her if she spoke or understood English, and in a perfect English accent her response was "No I don't" and she keep on walking. That's when the tips were removed. Our time in the ports was short, shorter than most other ships we have sailed in the Caribbean. The first port is a beach party on Cayo Levantado, you get nothing, no water, no food, just a towel and a tender boat ride. Unless you enjoy the beach, Well judge for yourself when you get there. The other three ports St Maarten, Antigua and Nassau were shorter than our itinerary had listed and we fully understand that the ship and captain have the right to alter itineraries. Don't fall for the "self assist" luggage program, it's organized confusion at best with no one and I mean no one from the crew will tell you whats going on. In short the MSC line is a massive entity in Europe {Italy and Spain} if they want to service the US they will have to make some changes in crew, food service, quality of food, or they will win with "first time cruisers only". I would not sail again on this line and I wish them all the best. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
To start, my party was a group of 9 with 4 adults and 5 teenagers. The cruise was a 7 day eastern Caribbean cruise. Before the cruise I spent hours on line reading all of the cruise reviews and as the cruise approached I began to get ... Read More
To start, my party was a group of 9 with 4 adults and 5 teenagers. The cruise was a 7 day eastern Caribbean cruise. Before the cruise I spent hours on line reading all of the cruise reviews and as the cruise approached I began to get worried. The good: There were only 4 good things about the cruise: One was the cabin service. I never once ran into my steward and the room was cleaned 3 times a day. It would have been nice though if they put pieces of chocolate on the pillows a night or folded extra towels on the bed in animal shapes like on other major cruises. The rooms were well decorated and had a pleasant feel. The pillows were not as bad as people made it seem on this web page. The second good thing about the cruise was its cleanliness. There were people shining all of the brass non stop. There are a million hand sanitizers throughout the ship that are almost always full, maybe because only we used them. The public bathrooms are also clean and abundant. The ones towards the front of the ship on deck 13 have an amazing view of the water. There are also hundreds of mirrors on the cruise so if you don't like to way you look, don't go on the boat. The third good thing was the desert (minus the flan). The vanilla ice cream was fantastic and I ordered that every night with the other dessert. Even the sugar free deserts were spectacular. The final good thing about the boat was embarkation, it took us an hour to get on the boat, we arrived at 10, and were on the boat by 11. The people were a little rude though while boarding. The Bad: Food: Everything else about the cruise was horrible. The food was never hot, dinner took to long, and we were always served last. We tried to eat every meal in the restaurant and the most disappointing of them all was breakfast. They had the same menu everyday for the whole cruise. I tried to get the Eggs Benedict but found that nobody on the cruise knows how to cook and egg. Everyday my eggs were hard and the yolk did not run, the hollandaise sauce was too light and had no flavor. I also ordered a bagel one morning and it came out, no joke, as burnt as you can imagine. I bit into it just to show everyone how hard it was and I couldn't break through it. I asked the waiter for one a little less cooked and he said that that was how they all were. The breakfast also took on average an hour. Lunch in the restaurant also took way to long and the menu was horrible. DO NOT EAT THE MEXICAN FOOD. At dinner the food was slow and the meals were cold. I would suggest getting a sirloin every night on the side in case your meal is as bad as they were for me. The buffet upstairs was always crowded with nowhere to sit and the cleaning people were slow and unhelpful. We never got to order room service because there was no menu in the room and the would not bring us one. The entertainment: The first show was the only one worth seeing. The magic was terrible, as bad as it can get. If you have to see it, I would suggest to sit on the main level and not the balcony because you can see the people running from prop to prop totally running the show. The sports on the ship were also horrific. We tried to get the basketball but someone had signed it out in the morning on the of the first day, and never brought it back. So the cruise had only one basketball left, that had hole sin it, and it eventually went over board. And they had no more basketballs for the last few days of the cruise. This was the first cruise I have been on that does not have any sports equipment by the sports. You have to walk halfway across the ship to rent anything and chances are they wont have it or they wont be there to give it to you. The people who organize all of the sports activities don't speak English and have never played a single sport themselves. They couldn't write the name Josh down right, they wrote ukofs instead. They were unhelpful and stupid. None of them ever smiled and everyone of them had a bad attitude, they were never wrong about anything, it was always the guest that was wrong. We tried to participate in the tournaments but they always ended up with no clear rules, no actual tournament and sometimes the person who organized the tournaments just left and no one knew where they went. One of the teens in our group was playing ping pong and 2 people who work on the shipped told him to leave and they took the table from him, it was outrageous. We complained and nothing was done about it. The table tennis equipment was old and decrepit. They had only one ball for the 2 tables through the cruise. They do manage to save 2 extra balls for the kids group that disappear when they leave. The Foosball table is old with mold and it doesn't stand up right. Since no one on the cruise has a brain, they put the Table Tennis and Foosball on the smoking side of the ship right next to a bathroom so you cant breath while you are playing and there are always a million people waiting by the equipment. Shuffle board was impossible to play because the court is either to slippery or two hard. We tried for an hour to get at least a point but be were never able to get it on the board. There are also people sunbathing right next to the shuffle board so if you want to play, you will get some nasty looks. The schedule for each day consists of maybe, maybe 10 activities while at see. THAT'S IT. You go on the cruise to participate in activities and they have almost nothing going on. Oh, those ten might include a morning walk or a trivia game about the boat that is a waste of time. I need to say this again, the entertainment team is the worst part of the cruise. The Ports: I don't think it was possible to have worse port times. I think we were in Antigua for 4 hours or something. It was a nasty and hideous place. The only good port was St. Maarten, the beach there was amazing. Kids Group: The kids in our group went to one, seriously only one teen activity the whole cruise. They had one activity the whole day for teens and it was never organized well, we went up to see if the kids were there sometimes and just saw a bunch of teens running in circles like chickens with their heads cut off. Disembarkation: We really wanted to get off of the ship early so we could be on our way. They have an early disembarkation that starts at 6:45 AM. We got there at 6:15, we were in the from of the line, and the pole who swipe your ID card to let us off the boat decided to sleep in and we got of of the boat at 7:30 instead. All in all, nothing but the cabin was acceptable on the cruise, the staff were horrible, unintelligent, and rude. I would recommend this cruise to nobody, even if it is free, all you will have is stress and unhappiness. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2009
I was very anxious to take an "Italian" cruise since I love Italy. This was not what I expected. I have been on 4 other cruise lines, so I believe that I know what I like. MSC has a great price for families - kids under 17 are ... Read More
I was very anxious to take an "Italian" cruise since I love Italy. This was not what I expected. I have been on 4 other cruise lines, so I believe that I know what I like. MSC has a great price for families - kids under 17 are free - so I was checking out the line to see if it would be good for a family reunion next year. I am not sure we will be taking a cruise on MSC after all. The good: beautiful ship; good entertainment; excellent cabin staff; and there were enough deck chairs for everyone during a day at sea. The ship was supposed to have been full so this is a good thing to be able to accommodate everyone for sunning. The bad: shore excursions were very poorly handled, especially if ship is not docked; no information is ever given to passengers to explain the long delays; the staff, especially the Italian staff, are rude and brusque with passengers; food is only fair and not always available before/after shore excursions. We paid for an advertised 4 hour excursion but were only off of the ship for 2 1/2 hours. The other 1 1/2 hours was spent waiting to leave the ship. I complained, for the first time ever on a cruise, and tried to find out what had gone so terribly wrong with our shore excursion. First I was lied to by the shore excursion person, which really infuriated me. I then took my complaint to the manager, who was very pleasant, but since I have read of these problems in other messages on this board I am pretty sure that nothing will be done to re-train his personnel. I will say that the information desk personnel are very good. They tried to make up for the rudeness of the shore excursion staff. If MSC wants the American market in the Caribbean, they will have to be able to meet the standards of the American market. I never felt this frustrated dealing with people in Italy during my trips there. I believe the training of the staff should be improved in some departments. The bottom line is that if you are willing to put up with a lot of mediocrity, love the price, and/or have children this might be your cruise. I would have to be really persuaded, and possibly bribed, to try MSC again. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
We arrived to the Port of Fort Lauderdale at 1 PM, the time they told us we could board the ship. When we got the the terminal there were already approx. 500 people in line waiting to get in. When they finally opened the doors at 2:30 PM ... Read More
We arrived to the Port of Fort Lauderdale at 1 PM, the time they told us we could board the ship. When we got the the terminal there were already approx. 500 people in line waiting to get in. When they finally opened the doors at 2:30 PM there were approx. 1,000 people in the check-in line. All of this time no announcement were made advising passengers as to what the delay was. Another hour wait once inside the terminal building to get to the check-in desk. It was a good thing that it was not too hot or raining. We finally got on board the ship at 4:50 PM. The scheduled 7:00 PM sailing time was delayed until 8:35 PM since it took extra time to process people checking in. People were still checking in at 7:00 PM. They did make up the time lost and arrived in Nassau at the scheduled time. The lifeboat drill was also delayed until 8:30 AM the next morning. Some people managed to escape that since they got off the ship and went shopping. We had the 8:30 PM, Late Seating, for dinner. We arrived at the dining room at 8:50 PM only to find ourselves waiting in another line to get into the dining room. They had not opened it yet for the late seating. First seating passengers were still in the dining room. The second night was not as bad. They opened the dining room doors at 8:45 PM. By the time we finished dinner, with the slow service, it was 10:50 PM. We arrived at the 10:30 PM Late Show at 11:00 PM only to see the remaining 20 minutes of the show when it ended. We were not happy about missing the show. The show was the only thing that actually started on time. We had an Oceanview Cabin with Balcony. It was a spacious cabin with a king size bed and quite nice. A larger bathroom as compared to other ships we have been on. The entire ship was quite elegant with a lot of marble, paintings, sculptures, mirrors, etc. The layout of the ship was very good. It was easy to navigate from one part of the ship to another without getting lost. Not confusing as all. The food was average. No fancy presentations either. Service was slow. No midnight buffet on the first night and when they did have the midnight buffet on the pool deck it was just ordinary items on trays. No fancy displays or ice carvings. The disembarkation procedure was another disaster. We elected for Priority Boarding by taking our own luggage ashore. Passengers were told to gatherer in the lounges at 7:00 AM. They announced for the first Priority Group to disembark around 8:30 AM. They had moved no more than 10 feet when they announced for the second group to disembark and then the 3rd group 10 minutes later. Another 1 hour wait in a hot corridor to disembark. We finally got ashore at 10:00 AM. During the cruise there were no announcement made as to what was going on. No meetings about Customs Regulations, etc. The only good thing about that is you did not have to hear announcement regarding Bingo Games every 15 minutes. The crew was unfamiliar with the layout of the ship. If you asked one of them where the nearest restroom was located, they either did not understand English or did not know. Passengers making complaints at the Reception Desk were just smiled at and told that they did not understand. No compensation was offered for all of this inconvenience. A letter was slipped under our cabin door just stating that they were sorry for any inconveniences. The ship's bulletin said that we were going to be given Comments Cards to fill out, but none were slipped under the cabin doors nor were any to be found on the ship. I guess they did not want comments about this cruise. I do not think any of the passengers will be recommending MSC Cruises to their friends. MSC really has to get their act together. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
My wife and I cruised MSC Orchestra on 1/24/2009 bound for the western caribbean. We have been on over 15 cruises. We went on this cruise at the request of a friend who has been on over 100 cruises. Our friend indicated that MSC was new to ... Read More
My wife and I cruised MSC Orchestra on 1/24/2009 bound for the western caribbean. We have been on over 15 cruises. We went on this cruise at the request of a friend who has been on over 100 cruises. Our friend indicated that MSC was new to north america and was making an effort to appeal to the American market. He also indicated the line president was the previous president of Celebrity cruises. Celebrity is one of our favorite cruiselines. I had read the reviews on CruiseCritic.com about MSC Orchestra. Turns out they were "right on" for the most part. Embarkation- Previous reviews indicated a BIG problem with embarkation. Apparently, MSC has "fixed" the embarkation "issues." We arrived after spending a few days in Fort Lauderdale at approx. 1pm. Baggage staff took our bags, and directed us to check-in. I had previously registered online to save time. Bottom line, embarkation went smoothly. The only complaint was we were not directed to our cabin. The staff did not speak English, so we were pretty much on our own. Cabin- We had an outside cabin with a balcony. The cabin itself was nice in appearance, but small compared to other ships we had been on. The bathroom; however was larger than most, but I was not happy with the shower. I am not a small guy, but have been on other ships where the shower was large enough to accommodate my size. This one was just too small. On a positive note; the water pressure was the best I have experienced. Dining- We had requested late seating for dinner both online during registration, AND through our travel agent. None the less, they had us in early seating. We were with a group of friends we cruise with every January; thus we all wanted to be seated together. Out travel agent corrected the problem, and we were all in late seating; however it was obvious that MSC had added tables so that they could accommodate our request. Normally I would applaud MSC for going to such great lengths to accommodate us; however the additional tables reduced space, made it difficult for our server, and made us physically very uncomfortable. As for the food itself, hands down, it was the WORST food I have EVER tasted on a cruise! The quality of the food was just terrible! Our server did his very best to make us happy, and did an outstanding job of taking orders and serving us; however he was just overwhelmed. He did not have a busboy to speak of. He seemingly had to do it all. If you didn't place a complete order first time around, forget about ordering anything else. He simply did not have the time. Entertainment- The entertainment in the theater on this ship was simply the best I have seen at sea! The performers were truly professional. The vocalist were top notch, and the instrumentalist were incredible! The seats in the theater were uncomfortable, and MSC did not have a place for drinks as I have seen on other ships. In fact, no drinks were served in the theater, INCLUDING the captains toast! Only the crew on stage had a drink to toast! If you decide to try MSC Orchestra and attend a show, sit on the bottom level. Do not sit in the balcony unless you sit on the front row seats! Every other balcony seat has an obstructed view. Tendering- We had to tender at two ports. It was an abso;ute NIGHTMARE! I have NEVER! The lines extended endlessly into the hallways! You go and get a tender ticket, go when your number is called to the assigned tender, and WAIT. We later figured out that not only did MSC not check tickets, if you went to the forward tender, you could get right on. There was always a long line for the rear tender. Pool area- The pool area was crowded as it is on all ships during the days at sea; however MSC was the worst I have seen. You could only get about 4 adults in each of the jacuzzi's at one time. None the less, folks would try to stuff themselves anywhere from 6 to 8 people. You would literally sit with your legs together trying to not touch anyone else! The chairs were the most uncomfortable I have ever seen on a ship. They were reserved by passengers as early as 6am on the sea days. So, if you want a seat, get up and put something on it EARLY. It seemed MSC jammed the seats onto the two decks. There was little or no room to walk around on deck when the seats were in place. Lastly, the nice large screen TV that's advertised? It was NEVER used for anything other than MSC commercials. There were no movies under the stars, nothing. Kids were all over the place. They ignored the signs that say no diving, occupied the jacuzzi constantly, and splashed water everywhere. They needed a kids/teenagers pool area. MSC could have, and should have used the promenade for seating. It would have been an excellent place for reading; however there was not a chair to be found. Disembarkation was easy. Many passenger utilized the take your own luggage off; however I would not recommend that. It was simple to locate your luggage after being called. Overall, a passenger stated, "you get what you pay for." Until she made that statement, I had nothing good to say about my experience. I still will not cruise MSC again, but if you are looking for an inexpensive cruise where kids up to age 17 cruise free, this is your cruise, otherwise for those who cruise often STAY AWAY! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
Well, here goes.  I traveled on MSC Orchestra for a Rock and Roll Cruise.  If it weren't for the included concerts and activities provided for this special curise, i would have been sleeping all of the time.  1.  The food was the ... Read More
Well, here goes.  I traveled on MSC Orchestra for a Rock and Roll Cruise.  If it weren't for the included concerts and activities provided for this special curise, i would have been sleeping all of the time.  1.  The food was the worst.  I could not imagine it.  I lost 2 pounds.  Many others complained about the food.2.  The room was ok but I never knew who my room steward was.  3.  The staff was only 3 weeks old.  They did not have any experienced staff to help.  It seemed like everytime you asked a question, they could not answer you,  They acted like they were totally confused.  4.  For the side trips, there were totally unorganized.  Always running late and loosing information that was sent to them from the travel agency for our side trips.5.  You never knew who the cruise director was or the cruise directors staff was.  6.  Never saw the ships Captain.7.  There was a musty smell on the decks where the rooms were.  I felt sleepy all of the time.I heard nothing but complaints from almost everyone.  The travel agency was going to use MSC for another Rock and Roll Cruise in 2010 but decided against it.  The best was the waiter staff.  Always on the ball, courteous and very helpful.  Could not have asked for better. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
In reading the following please keep in mind that some of what I report is subjective, simply my opinion. If I say something tastes good, that doesn't mean that you would find the item equally tasty. If I report that something is ... Read More
In reading the following please keep in mind that some of what I report is subjective, simply my opinion. If I say something tastes good, that doesn't mean that you would find the item equally tasty. If I report that something is entertaining, you may or may not agree. That said, here's my opinion of our cruise on the MSC Orchestra and her crew. Embarkation: A breeze. We parked in the garage across from the ship and we were aboard 15 minutes after we entered the terminal. Once aboard we went up to the "Welcome Aboard" buffet on deck 13. No surprises here. The offerings were about what we have experienced on other cruises. Public rooms: Since we got aboard early, I was able to roam about the ship's public rooms while they were almost empty. They were very attractive and inviting. The ship's theater was large and well designed. The dining rooms were on the small side (by modern standards), but very comfortable. Cabin: Our smallish cabin had a balcony and was on deck 12. It was directly beneath the buffet area, which really proved to be a problem. The floor in the dining area above us was not carpeted and so, starting as soon as the buffet opened each morning, we were awoken to the constant sound of chairs being moved across the floor of the deck above our cabin. Needless to say, sleep was impossible. If anyone books this ship, I strongly suggest staying away from a cabin on deck 12. Entertainment: Very European and well, very entertaining. The entertainers were talented and energetic. I never had seen a shipboard show receive a standing ovation, but I saw it twice on this cruise. The lounge entertainment was also very good. There was a good variety of dance music played throughout most of the evening. Here's the exception to that statement - for some reason, the live entertainment in each of the lounges was not available from 9 - 9:30 PM. This meant that those who enjoy dancing had to take a break during this 1/2 hour slot. To me, it would make more sense to stagger the breaks that the lounge entertainers take so that there is always live entertainment throughout the evening. Not a major problem, but just one of the many items that could use tweaking on this ship. Events: The time of Captain's cocktail reception, a tradition on cruise ships, was also an oddity. On every other cruise that we have taken this reception was held before dinner. Complementary drinks and canapEs are usually served. It's a very nice affair where you get to dress up and have your picture taken with the Captain of the ship. Interestingly, on the Orchestra, the event is held AFTER dinner. Serving finger food and whiskey sours after dinner certainly cuts down on consumption, but the timing felt out of whack. Baseball program: This cruise had several former major league baseball players aboard. They were: Stan Bahnson, Cookie Rojas, Rick Burlingson, Gary Peters, and Andre Dawson. Each day these players would present a program of one sort or another - question and answers, autograph sessions, storytelling by the players, etc. These sessions were highlights of the cruise. The players were very approachable. They were more than willing to informally chat with anyone who approached them. MSC is to be congratulated for this excellent program. Food: Sadly, disappointing. Being of 100% Italian heritage, I had high expectations for the food, but overall, the food was not good. A key exception - the evening pizzeria (8 to 11PM) was outstanding. Don't confuse this pizza with that which is served on the daily buffet. This is vastly superior. I've made one of my life's missions one to find the world's best pizza. This pizza rates in the top 3 or 4 of any that I have had anywhere. Yes, you have to pay for it ($4 for a personal-sized pie), but I found it outstanding. The gentleman who runs this operation is from Naples (can't remember his name), and he is truly one of the nicest men that you will meet anywhere. Just watch him interact with the passengers - especially the children. He loves his job, and his pizza reflects his passion. Once you get past the pizzeria, the food is, unfortunately, not up to par. I'm not trying to compare the meals to a top-flight restaurant, but to meals I've had on similarly priced cruise ships. The buffets on deck 13 was inconsistent. The daily pasta station was generally good, as were some of the other offerings. Other items, however were cold and tasteless. Breakfast items such as pancakes and waffles in particular were cold. Here's a question for MSC: How do you run out of bananas on the 4th day of a 7 day cruise? Again, not major, but another item that needs attention. The meals in the dining room were the poorest of the 10 ships that I have been on. Meats were tough and/or fatty. Presentation was non-existent. I know, no one eats the sprig of parsley on the plate, but when a plate of plain risotto is served on a white plate with nothing else on the plate, it doesn't have much color to it. The first night's meal stands out as particularly bad. Both my wife and I selected the dish with spinach, mushrooms, and ricotta cheese. What came out of the kitchen looked like two green charcoal briquettes. They were almost inedible. The lobster dinner was also disappointing. We each received 1/2 a lobster tail (yes, we could have requested more). The lobster was dry and tough. not tasty at all. How this dish even made it onto the menu is a puzzlement. The midnight "Grand Buffet" contained many fancy fruit carvings and was attractively arranged. The buffet consisted mostly of salads, cold cuts, fruit and desserts. It was a good opportunity to take some food photos. Service: Again, inconsistent. The service in the dining room was fine. In fact, it was better than fine. Our waiter and busboy (both named Budi) were pleasant, attentive and accommodating. Every request was taken care of. Drinks were quickly refilled. They rate top marks. Our cabin steward was pretty good. It took three days at sea for us to convince him that we needed the daily program in English, not Italian. We also had to request wash cloths several times. Except for those small slip-ups, however, he was fine. Excursions and the Excursion Desk Staff: I'm going to concentrate on one particular excursion, the Whale Watching excursion on Cayo Levantado. We looked forward to this excursion since we booked the cruise last spring. On the day of the excursion, the weather was clear, but very windy. As we waited in the lounge for the excursion to depart, one of the staff announce that the waters would be "a bit choppy", and she advised people to take sea sickness pills. She said to go to the main information desk to pick up these pills. As she was making this announcement for the third time, several people who had gone in search of these pills spoke up and told her that the main desk said that they would not give out sea sickness pills. Several minutes later an announcement was made to go to the pharmacy for the pills. Shortly after that, someone showed up with a supply of these pills for anyone who wanted them. Our Whale Watching tour finally departed at 12:30 (more on that later). The winds were easily 35 - 50 knots. The trip quickly became a nightmare. I estimate the seas to have been at least 10 - 12 feet). I owned my own small boat for many years, and these were the roughest seas that I ever encountered in a small boat. If you didn't hold on for dear life you would be thrown out of your seat. Despite the pills, most of the people quickly become sick. There were no whales to be seen, but that was immaterial to the many people who were sick. The one crew member who spoke some English told me that he had never been sent out on this trip is such rough seas. Before I continue I'd like to say that I make it a point to address anyone I deal with courteously. These people who work on cruise ships have a tough job, and they deserve to be treated courteously. The next day I went to the Excursion desk on the ship to explain to them how dangerous our trip had been. The girl to whom I spoke just gave me a blank stare. I don't know if she didn't understand me, or if she just didn't care. When she made no effort to take a written report, I nicely asked her to take my name and cabin number, and to please have someone in charge contact me. She did write it down, but as she did so she said something in Italian to the girl next to her, and they both broke out laughing. I've never been treated like this by anyone on any cruise ship. I'm still waiting to be contacted by someone in charge about the dangerous conditions on that whale excursions. Here's another Orchestra oddity. As I mentioned earlier, our tour left at 12:30. On all of the other cruises that I have been on, the excursions were normally scheduled to depart early in the morning. Not on the Orchestra. Although we arrive in Cay Levantado at 0730, the first excursion was not schedule to depart until after 10 AM. That means that if you book an excursion, it bars you from doing anything else in that port. Our excursion was for 2 1/2 hours, and our ship was scheduled to depart Cayo Levantado at 3:30 PM. If our tour left at 0800 we would have been back by 11 AM, plenty of time to go over to the small private island and beach. Leaving on our excursion at 12:30, however, made this impossible. Disembarkation: Uneventful. I did find it strange that no accommodations were made for those who had early flights out of Ft. Lauderdale or Miami. Normally there is an announcement made a day or two before the end of the cruise allowing anyone who had an early flight scheduled to request priority disembarkation. Not so on the Orchestra. Summation: Although there were some positives on this cruise (the baseball program, the entertainers, the pizza and pizza guy), there were too many negatives. The cruise business is very competitive, and if the MSC Orchestra is to become a successful entrant in the American cruise market, many things have to be tweaked or completely rethought. I personally will not consider another MSC cruise, nor will I recommend them to others. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
My wife and I were very disappointed in the MSC Orchestra's Eastern Caribbean cruise. We were among approximately 1,300 people from the Cleveland, Ohio area that book a cruise every year over Super Bowl weekend. We found the ... Read More
My wife and I were very disappointed in the MSC Orchestra's Eastern Caribbean cruise. We were among approximately 1,300 people from the Cleveland, Ohio area that book a cruise every year over Super Bowl weekend. We found the MSC's organization to be highly disorganized compared to the way other cruise lines handled our group. Our biggest disappointment was in the food. On several occasions, because of conflicts between the times the main dinning rooms were open and the times of the shore excursions, we ate at the ships buffet. We found the buffet line in the Cafeteria La Piazzetta to be narrow and hard to navigate. People walking back to their table had to move around the people in line picking up their food. The buffet's food was of the quality but not the selection found at a local Golden Corral. For instance, on two occasions the only dessert was white sheet cake; no cookies, pies, puddings or brownies. On one occasion, besides the sheet cake there were a few pieces of a pumpkin tart. However, on the day before, pumpkin tarts were served in the main dining rooms. The selection of meats at the buffets in the evenings, as well as lunch time, were usually hot dogs, hamburgers, cheese pizza, chicken, fish or luncheon meats. The food in the main dining rooms was better. Our assigned table was in the Villa Borghese. One night, when I had an excellent lamb dish, my wife had a beef filet. Her filet was tough and tasted like hamburger. She did not finish her steak nor did several people at our table. Our table was excited that they may get a good meal on the night they found lobster on the menu. Several of the people were planning to order two lobsters. When the lobster finally came, it had tasteless brown not pink meat that stuck to the shell. No one ordered seconds. A man from another table said that the lobsters were South Pacific tiger lobsters not the typical New England lobsters. The food service at our table was good but the cocktail service was horrible. The waiters could only take wine orders. The cocktail waitress would arrive at our table about the time we were being served our entree even when we requested cocktail service as we sat down. By the end of the cruise, when the people at our table would want a cocktail they would get up, leave the dining room, go to one of the bars to get their cocktail and bring it back to the table. Shore excursions and disembarkation were basically hurry up and wait. For the whale watching tour we had to assemble at 8:45 in the theater located in the ship's bow only to be lead at 10:00 through hallways crowded with people to a gangplank located near the ship's stern. There was no explanation for the delay. We were originally scheduled to arrive in Nassau at noon but were informed the night before that we would arrive at 2:30. We were not allowed off the ship until 3:00. Again with no explanation for the delays. For disembarkation, we had to leave our cabins and assemble in various lounges at 7:00. Disembarkation started at approximately 8:30. And again there was no explanation for the delay. Breakfast was served in the Villa Boughese between 6:30 and 8:30 but since we were not informed of the delay we sat for over a hour in the lounge when we could have enjoyed a breakfast. Our cabin was very comparable to the cabins we had on other cruise lines. The room steward was excellent. When we first arrived we found that the cabin windows were dirty. We told the room steward and for the rest of our trip the windows sparkled no matter how much sea water was splashed on them. During most of the trip we had a rough noisy ride. Our cabin was in midship on the eleventh floor and the balcony and windows would occasionally get wet from the sea mist from the bow of the ship. All throughout the night our cabin would squeak and groan as the ship bounced through the waves. The entertainment aboard the ship was excellent. We attended an opera and two musical reviews in the Covent Garden Theatre. We enjoyed all the lounge entertainment. The drink menu was extensive and included many creative cocktails, martinis and coffees. My only complaint in the entertainment area was that the casino was small and over crowded. If you plan to use the casino, bring a lot of cash. There are no ATM machines on the ship and there is a 3 percent fee to cash travelers checks. My wife and I will not go on a MSC cruise again and absolutely will not recommend it to our friends. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
We booked this cruise because of the Concerts at Sea concerts on board. Last year it was on Costa. My review on that one is already posted. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale and stayed at the Atlantic Resort - an upscale resort we found through ... Read More
We booked this cruise because of the Concerts at Sea concerts on board. Last year it was on Costa. My review on that one is already posted. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale and stayed at the Atlantic Resort - an upscale resort we found through the internet. We were very pleased. Saturday, the 17th, we left for the port hoping for a good week, in spite of the bad reviews of the Orchestra. We arrived around 12:10 and had a line to wait in, but it went fairly fast. We went to our room and checked it out. Not much space, but of course we knew that already. Lunch was to be served in the buffet from 12:00 to 3:00. We were still waiting for the lines to open up at 1:30, when they finally did. We had a very large crowd by then wanting to eat. Seats were very hard to find by that time. They changed our dinner seating to 5:30 but kept the late seating at 8:30. Don't know the reason for this, but it caused many inconveniences with port calls being AFTER 5PM. The dinner was not very hot and the waiters mixed up things a lot. We objected to the couches we were told to sit in, and were told to "Get here earlier tomorrow". Did not appreciate that attitude as we hadn't been rude when we objected. The couches are rounded and hard to get into. The first night's entertainment was Midnight in Paris. It was a line of ladies in skimpy outfits walking around (not dancing) the stage. At the end they did a can can dance with "canned" music. No orchestra, and no singing. A man dressed in drag took the stage while the ladies pranced around and had body parts that sprouted out from his "body". It seemed in poor taste to me, but then I like dancing and singing. Our concert at sea group had a welcome aboard and singing by the Chancellor's & Stacy Wayne (Elvis) who did a wonderful job. We went to bed early tonight, because we were tired. Sunday was a sea day. We We ate in the buffet, but again, the food was cold and had been sitting on a hot plate for a while, which made it hard in spots, especially the waffles and breads. We had a concert at 1:30 for Paul Revere and the Raiders. They were even more wonderful than last year and the "baby raider" Darren was great. A few of the entertainers had brought family and it was fun to meet up with them around the ship. Tonight was gala night with the Captain. We had a few drinks and went to dinner. Not much to brag about again. Most of the wait staff were from Indonesia and did not speak much English. The theater had Circusland tonight. If you have seen Circusolay (?) before, you know what it was. I left before it was over. Again, went to bed early. Monday was Cayo Levantado. We went to the beach and had a nice day. The food was overly priced. A hot dog, hamburger and 2 soda pops was $15.00. The buffet was $15 pp and did not seem worth it. They had drinks in coconuts and pineapples for $8 each. We tendered into the island. We were #1 but it took us about an hour to get off the ship as Nos. up to 5 & 6 were crowding into the hallways and no one was doing anything about it. No organization. Dinner was again nothing special. I must however comment that we had ideal tablemates who took turns taking the couch seats. Very delightful people to converse with as well. The entertainment tonight from MSC was Concerto - again all Italian. We went to Bobby Vee and the Vee's. Wonderful entertainment from C@S. Then dance lessons at 9PM. An early night once again. Tuesday we arrived at St. Maarten. 1-8PM. We met up with a group of friends we made aboard with C@S and went to Orient Beach. Had a relaxing day until around 3:30 when we returned to the ship. We did not get there until 1PM though, so we did not get as much sun as we would have liked. C@S had a cocktail party tonight. Nice party! Lots of drinks! FREE! Then we had a Dance Party which we did not leave until Midnight. MSC had a magic act, but we did not attend. I should tell you that two nights MSC had a midnight buffet of different items. Tonight they had Mexican buffet. We all would eat and sit around talking until very early in the morning after dancing all night. Wednesday was Antigua, St. John. Wasn't much shopping there and we only walked into town and back to the ship. A 2-hour tour was running for $100. We had from 7AM till 2PM on this island. Dean Torrence from Jan & Dean fame was on tonight at 7:30 and I waited through Dinner to get a good seat for this one. Loved Jan & Dean. The band was wonderful as well. MSC had opera tonight. Maybe I am just not worldly enough, but there sure was a lot of Italian going on. Most cruise ships try to do a variety. We danced again till Midnight and had a super sandwich buffet. Thursday was a Sea day. We had an early concert with the Guess Who - great again! Although they are a little more 70's than 60's for me. Just lazed the day away and got to dinner tonight. I was ordering off the "always available" menu a lot this week. The spaghetti was great and HOT! The MSC show tonight was Celtic Spirit, so at 8PM we went to an autograph session with all the groups and had a great time talking with them and their bands and family. It did not end until 11PM, so I went to bed tonight. Friday, we had a C@S concert with Bill Haley's original Comets. They were terrific. We arrived in Nassau around 3PM and were finally off the ship around 3:20. Since dinner was 5:15, we skipped it on the ship and had dinner at Atlantis, where we showed our new friends all the sights. Of course the casino took their interests mostly. I must say that the hamburger at Atlantis was the best meal all week. The MSC entertainment for tonight was Singing under the Moon, but no one really sang, they just panomined. We went to the dance again where we had our final dance and said our sad good-byes to all the friends we made this week. If it hadn't been for Concerts at Sea, we would not have anything really good to say about this cruise. On the last night they locked up the mini bar at 6PM but we hadn't used it anyway. The next morning when we got our bill, there was a $19.20 charge for mini bar. The room stewart had neglected to refill it from last cruise. It was a lot a little things like this that messed with your good nature. There are real attitudes among the staff, seemingly against Americans. Don't know why, but there it is. Not trying to discourage anyone, but I would not go back for a while, if ever. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
This was my first time on MSC and we had read good reviews about one of their newest ships. Some things were disappointing. A review told of the three story waterfall in the atrium, but it was dry while we were on board. Our stateroom with ... Read More
This was my first time on MSC and we had read good reviews about one of their newest ships. Some things were disappointing. A review told of the three story waterfall in the atrium, but it was dry while we were on board. Our stateroom with balcony was fine and our steward did a good job, We did find the traffic pattern in the room a bit cramped and the fact that all the lights in the cabin operate on one switch was surprising (except for over the desk and out on the balcony). We soon discovered that you had to leave you door key card in a special slot if you wanted to keep them on. No instructions provided. Dining room experience was also good for us, but others had problems. The wait staff was as attentive as possible considering the waiter had 5 tables nd about 24 people to tend to at each seating. I always found something on the menu I liked, but the lobster tail was minuscule and dry, no drawn butter came with it, but was served after I had finished. We tried the buffet for breakfast and it was fine and plentiful. The lunch buffet was virtually always the same, the food barely warm and very limited on dessert choices. Ice cream was available on the pool deck at extra cost. Coke, etc also available at extra cost. We had read reviews stating that coffee with meals was only available at extra cost, but this was not found to be true. On board activities were few and seem to be mostly concentrated on the pool deck creating more congestion and noise for the sun worshipers and readers. The common areas are well appointed but I found the bench seats uncomfortable as compared to the individual chairs. Same was true in the dining rooms. The auditorium/theatre was spacious, a bit overdone decoratively, with comfortable seats. The balcony was good except for the railings between rows. An average height person view line to the stage was somewhat impeded by the rail and if it had been about 6 inches lower would have functioned well and not obscured peoples view. The most actively used elevators were frustrating as they would frequently go right bye you without stopping and two of them were broken (surprising for a new ship). On our second week of cruising on a back to back, the menus and entertainment was identical to the first week (not unexpected), but there was a baseball theme for the week which I enjoyed. Five former major league players were on board to meet and greet, share stories and sign autographs. Andre Dawson, Rick Burleson, Cookie Rojas, Stan Bahnsen and Gary Peters were featured. This was the best activity the cruise featured in my opinion. They do the same thing once every month during the winter if anyone is interested. All during the cruise we experienced a strange vibration throughout the ship, more pronounced on the upper level for some reason. Another passenger said he was told that it was caused by the diesel generators they use on board, but most of us who had cruised before had never felt this on any other ship. Prior to my cruise I had attempted to book an excursion by using the method described in my MSC literature. They said to go to their web site in the USA and we could see what was offered and book. I attempted to do so for about two weeks and was constantly kicked off the Internet as the site was trying to load. I called them in FL and asked them about excursions and was again referred to the Internet. I explained that I had been trying to do that but the site kept kicking me off. I was told "Oh yes, we've been having trouble with that". Why keep referring people to it? I then asked if they could e-mail them to me. I was told no, I was told that once I had the number of the tour and the date, I could book it. I had to go through my travel agent to get the information, which I did. After receiving the material, I pick out what I wanted and again called the MSC office, I was told I could not book and had to go through my travel agent. I again went to my travel agent and she attempted to book it, but was unable to do so. When we got on board, we again attempted to book it but were refused because we wanted to do it on our second week and they were only booking for this week. We had also been informed in December that we would receive a refund of our fuel surcharge in the form of an shipboard credit. Our travel agent had also given us a $50 shipboard credit each when we paid our final payment (in October). When we inquired at the accounting dept. where was our fuel supplement credit, they claimed it was the $50 already on our account. As we should have received a total of about $168 and knew the credit on our account was from our travel agent, I was not pleased. I showed them the letter I had from the President of MSC, USA and was told that "it meant nothing, he has no authority". I went to the accounting manager the next day and showed him all my documents and restated my case and the time frame of everything. He said I should receive the credit, but they would have to get authorization from the home office. It took ten days. I would have to say that there seemed to be no attitude that the customer is always right nor that they were in the customer satisfaction business. While many spoke some English, at least enough so I understood what they were telling me, I got the sense that they did not fully comprehend what I was saying (and did not care) Typical communication problem was the lady who asked for lox and bagels and received a bowl full of bagels (lots of bagels). Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
On January 2, 2009 the MSC Orchestra made her first mini-cruise in the western hemisphere. I can only say, from my standpoint that this cruise was the biggest disaster that I have ever participated in. Yes, there were some challenges for ... Read More
On January 2, 2009 the MSC Orchestra made her first mini-cruise in the western hemisphere. I can only say, from my standpoint that this cruise was the biggest disaster that I have ever participated in. Yes, there were some challenges for the company and the crew, but the disaster continued far beyond the first day. Day 1 - The ship was late getting into port. Then customs did not release the ship for disembarkation for over 3 hours. This was followed by the computers going down in the terminal which prevented the processing of the oncoming passengers. This caused a long line of people waiting to board the ship. As people had to wait for hours with no explanation or any kind of refreshment or ability to use the bathroom things started to get problematic. Any kind of explanation would have helped. Even families with small children had to stand in the line outside. Fortunately it was a fairly mild day. (Not in the 90s as it can be in Ft. Lauderdale.) After finally getting aboard, those with early seating for dinner had to immediately go to the restaurant for dinner. Since it was more than 15 minutes after the start of seating there was discussion as to whether we could be seated. Fortunately we were allowed to be seated for dinner. Dinner was wonderful. When we went back to our stateroom, my girlfriend and I discovered that our bed had been turned down. Instead of two twin beds we had one kingsize bed. I had to track down our room steward to get the beds separated. The first reaction was that it was "too late". After discussion with his boss, the beds got separated. Due to the very late departure, the mandatory boat drill was postponed until 0830 the next morning. Day 2 - 0745 Big wake up call so every one could be dressed and ready for the mandatory safety (boat) drill. All restaurant services (restaurants) are shut down for the boat drill and then only the buffet, and only one side of the buffet were reopened. Almost the entire compliment of passengers are now trying to get breakfast from the buffet. Many of the passengers, including my girlfriend and I went into Nassau for breakfast. On top of everything else, there was no coffee except at the coffee bar, and that was only espresso or cappuccino. You also had to buy the espresso. When complaints were made and questions asked crew members appeared not to care. Much of the time the crew seemed not to care about the problems. When a waiter was asked for iced tea at dinner on the first night the answer was we don't have it and are too busy. State rooms did not have enough towels or wash cloths. When stewards were asked for extras it took more than 5 hours to get them. Used towel and face cloths were not removed during room cleaning. Again, complaints appeared to be met with indifference. Explanations, food, coffee, attentive service, willingness do try to make things better all would have gone a long way towards making this cruise experience much better. Day 3 - Back in Ft. Lauderdale. disembarkation. Chaos all over again. Everyone wanted to do self check out. No matter how much luggage or how many kids. The reason everyone gave? "I want to get off this ship as fast as possible." I have never before heard as many negative comments about a ship or cruise line in all my years of cruising. When crew members were asked why there was no orderly line, The same answer, "I'm too busy now," was given. Two bright spots in the short cruise were the ship itself, (It is beautiful) and the food. Almost everything I had was wonderful. The only exception was the poorly cooked bacon and pancakes with ice cold syrup for breakfast on Sunday morning before departure. This could simply be poor understanding of American tastes. I don't believe that the food and the ship itself, are enough for me to every sail with this company again. MSC appears to be trying to become a player in the American market. Unfortunately, this is a market that already has many other cruise lines with established records of service. If MSC wants to make it in this market there will need to be a big change in the level of service, and understanding. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2008
The MSC Cruise line is for the birds. If you plan a cruise DO NOT CHOOSE MSC CRUISE LINES. It is a very boring place to be. The food was terrible-horrible-everything was either undercooked or overcooked....they even screwed up corn ... Read More
The MSC Cruise line is for the birds. If you plan a cruise DO NOT CHOOSE MSC CRUISE LINES. It is a very boring place to be. The food was terrible-horrible-everything was either undercooked or overcooked....they even screwed up corn flakes (I lived on French fries and tomatoes for 17 days)...... there were no trained crew members everybody was new and spoke very little English if any at all....there were 16 decks on this ship and 2...yes 2...Christmas trees..no decorations.........no Christmas music......they had no planned organized fun things to do except stretching exercises and bingo and that was ill organized........Bingo cards cost $10 for one card......I paid extra for a smoking balcony and they did not allow smoking on balconies.......they charge 3% for cashing travelers checks.......the only deck party they had was New Year's Eve....no ice carvings and grand buffet on the last night as ships usually do...the nightly shows (except 2) were all operatic and classical.....no religious Christmas services except for Catholics.....the first and second days they had no night time buffet so you had to eat in the dining room whether you wanted to or not, then they had so many complaints that they had to open a buffet at night.....you had to pay for pizza...you had to pay for ice cream...one man had to pay $3.50 for a glass of crushed ice.....there were two big fights on the ship....no movie theater or free movies....the first few days they had 10 free movies but so many people were so bored they were staying in the cabins watching them so they took them off.....one couple got off in Casablanca and flew themselves home and another two couples got off in San Juan....... We had to beg for bananas...beg for doughnuts...they kept these things under the counter...... they did not ever have any milk although people were asking for it....until about 5 days into the cruise after thousands of complaints we didn't even get coffee except at mealtimes and on every cruise I have been on there are coffee and juices 24 hours a day.... One more thing...there were no hand sanitizers until we got to American territory and inspection time. They were hidden under the counters too. A lot of people caught colds and were in bed for a period of time....Clarence was one of them for 4 days. There were about 3K + travelers on this cruise and 2900 of them swear they will never go on another MSC Cruise Line. Everybody was complaining from all countries. If you sat down at a table or somewhere with a complete stranger, all that was talked about was how bad the ships crew, the service, and the organization was....especially the food. Everybody was teed off because the only vegetables were cauliflower, broccoli, and shredded carrots. We finally got some potatoes. They were also upset because all the deserts were the same with just different colored icing. The food was horrible in all restaurants because we tried them all trying to find something fit to eat. This is the only cruise line we have ever been on that we LOST weight. The productions shows were good and the costumes were beautiful. The were four African men who were acrobats. They were truly wonderful. The magician and illusionist were acceptable. One night there was no show at all and three nights the show consisted entirely of groups which played every night in the atrium lounge. These three nights were poorly attended since we saw them every night anyway when passing by the atrium. The Entertainment (Animation) Team on MSC really work hard and extremely long hours. These young people were no exception. They danced with passengers every single evening until 1 or 2 am. They had Italian lessons, trivia games, crazy games, dance lessons, etc. From nine in the morning until two am they were very visible and working hard. They truly made this voyage bearable. The cruise director on the other hand was very aloof and seldom said anything to the passengers. The ships lounge performers were generally good. We especially liked the Popcorn Band and their singer, Romanica. She has a truly lovely voice and is very friendly and outgoing. On our other cruises you could not get on the ship or go into an eating facility without a crew member squirting you with hand sanitizer. Imagine our surprise when we cannot even find the sanitizer on deck 13 four four days. It was behind a door. Quite often when getting back on the ship or entering the dining room the hand sanitizer was empty. There was never any crew in sight the entire trip checking on this. At one point I asked a crew member for the hand sanitizer, he sent me to the toilet. It took about three hours to get onto the ship and nearly six hours to get off. They ran us out of our rooms at 7AM (which was a first for us) and gathered all 3K+ into two small bars and then the Captain did not have some type of paperwork that America requires and we waited nearly six hours to get off. That is with no water, food or anything else and no place for all of us to sit. We were sitting on the stairs, laying in the floor, sitting on the bar and nearly hanging from the rafters. Children were irritable, crying...it was a fiasco. and I could go on and on but I bet you are tired of reading by now. However, the itinerary was great and off the ship we saw a lot of good stuff. We made several good friends and they helped to make the trip from becoming a complete disaster. So if you want to punish your friends and get even with your enemies..send them on an MSC CRUISE LINE FOR A FEW DAYS. Not us though, we will never cruise MSC again. The nicest people on the ship were both working on Deck 13. There names are Arie from Bali and Miriam from Peru. This was our first MSC Cruise and although we cruise at least twice yearly and sometimes more. This will be our last MSC Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
I was on the Horrific transatlantic sailing. I agree with my co-cruisers...this cruise was the worse. And not getting any better might I add. We have been back 3 weeks and they are still not responding to issues that were present on this ... Read More
I was on the Horrific transatlantic sailing. I agree with my co-cruisers...this cruise was the worse. And not getting any better might I add. We have been back 3 weeks and they are still not responding to issues that were present on this cruise. Example being we had damage to luggage that they agreed was their fault. They gave us a loss and damage report from the Chief Officer. Took 2 weeks for MSC to respond and they claimed there was a disclaimer on the form....I've looked the form up and down...not a single disclaimer. Now I get, oops, it must be in all that paperwork with your tickets. So why give a loss and damage report? In any case, everything everyone said was true. From embarking to disembarking....it was s nightmare. Enjoyed the ports. Being off the boat was always a treat. We ate in every port we could as the food was terrible. (For those that wrote the food was good...where do eat????) I can't imagine that the Chef has "suddenly" learned how to cook. For an Italian cruiseline we expected more but would have settled for edible. I think the lack of concern for safety was my biggest complaint. No crew showed up at all for our muster drill and you could not hear the PA system out on deck 7. No hand sanitizers until the first American port. We had to bus our own tables everyday in the buffet area while the waiters just stood and watched you (I can tell you every cabinet to find rags, salt, sugar..just ask me). Well, they did start bussing the last three days...just in time for tips. Speaking of which I have never seen so many people remove the tips from their bill. They gave out pink papers for it at the Accounting Desk and the line was all the way to the bar...guests with their pink slips in hand. Our cabin was of good size but very noisy. We were on deck 12, just below the pool and you kid hear the kids running around and the chairs being dragged across the floor. We could also hear one of the cabins next to us very clearly, not so much the one on the other side. What made this trip enjoyable were the people that we met. Out of 2800 passengers we only met 3 couples that were enjoying themselves. Topic of conversation was usually the disasters each passenger overcame that day. We made lemonade out of lemons and managed to have our own fun...no thanks to MSC. One more joke..."I don't know." To anyone that sailed with us, they'll know what I mean. This was the famous line given by the crew...including the Information Desk. It got to the point anytime anyone said these three words you'd hear a group of nearby passengers bust out laughing. I hope they got their act together. Other disappointed passengers had been on some of their other ships and enjoyed but were appalled by the service on this one. It is a beautiful ship so all I can say is, if you consider this one...Good Luck! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
The ship is new, very nice appointed and well designed. The rooms were very adequate. We enjoyed many hours sitting on the balcony reading and basking in the warm sun. We would have normally spent more time in open common areas but that ... Read More
The ship is new, very nice appointed and well designed. The rooms were very adequate. We enjoyed many hours sitting on the balcony reading and basking in the warm sun. We would have normally spent more time in open common areas but that was a challenge. The ship tonnage is 93,400 and she is designed to carry 3,000+ passengers. Compare this to the Celebrity Solstice at 122,000 tons carrying only 2,850 passengers, the Grand Princess at 109,000 tons carrying only 2,600 passengers, or HAL's Zuiderdam at 85,000 tons carrying only 1,918 passengers and you get a clue why we stayed on our balcony. Even RCCL's Brilliance of the Seas at 90,090 only carries 2,500 passengers. The food was could be described as "diner food." The captain's cocktail party was a joke and the dinner afterwards would bring tears to the eyes of any foodie. It was pretty awful. Our table mates resorted to drinking Nescafe instant after tasting the brew the first night. My wife joined them the next day and I switched to tea. It became a joke when anyone ordered a salad. Regardless of what was on the menu - Caesar, garden, mixed etc - it was all made of iceberg lettuce. Our waiter was a gem. He had been an assistant waiter (busboy) for two years and this was his big chance. Some people have inferred that I am hard to please but Luigi was as hard working as they come, so anxious to do everything right. He took his job to heart. Not contrived, not artificial, not looking for a tip, just a person that wanted to do a good job. It was refreshing. His job was especially hard because we had a round table for 8 with chairs on part of the perimeter and a banquette for four people. The problem was that the radius of the table was too large to fit into the arc of the banquette. The two people in the center of the seat could not easily reach the table while the two people at the ends of the banquette were squeezed against the table. Another problem with the oversized table was insufficient room for people to negotiate the aisle behind the chairs. It was a nightmare. The Italian food at the lunch buffet was one of the better places to eat. The pasta stations were manned by cooks making the day's special as needed. Also on the carving table and other hot stations were some serious southern Italian soul food and, for me, it was the food highlight of the day. We did the Chinese restaurant one night. The place is beautifully appointed and you are served on Rosenthal China. The food, however, does not measure up to any good restaurant in Chinatown. Read other people's review for the entertainment. I enjoyed the music in the central atrium - four ladies doing semi classical and also enjoyed the Hispanic men's group. One of the biggest issues we had with the administration on the ship is their people control. Embarkation was a long drawn out process. Clearing immigration was a fiasco and debarkation was a disaster. We stayed in our room despite their 7AM curfew. Our room steward, another hard working soul, told us to stay. We kept to the balcony and watched the passengers of the Grand Princess disembark, get their luggage and leave the port. We had a wonderful view of a couple of long shore crews unloading a never ending flow of bags from the Orchestra. It went on and on for hours. We finally got off around noon. It was curious that they never questioned whether we had a flight or travel arrangements. Every other ship I have ever been on would give priority to people with early flights. Apparently, that is not important to the administration at MSC. I do not even want to mention the nonexistent library, a truly beautiful room If only they had some books. I have a suggestion for the administrators at MSC Cruises and those on the Orchestra in particular. Take a few cruises anonymously on Princess, Celebrity and HAL. See how the pros do it if you want to please the American market. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
After entering through one of the more efficient boarding processes into the beautiful atrium, we were keyed up for a really fabulous cruise - our fifth. After checking out our cabin which was of the usual style and standard we were still ... Read More
After entering through one of the more efficient boarding processes into the beautiful atrium, we were keyed up for a really fabulous cruise - our fifth. After checking out our cabin which was of the usual style and standard we were still feeling great about the experience before us. On reading the information provided we discovered there were a few issues of concern regarding the ship and cabin facilities. These were: No laundromat nor passenger ironing facility; No tea/ coffee making facility in cabin. These amongst some other issues would detract from what could have been a great cruise. The following are areas that I consider were extremely poor aspects of the MSC Orchestra and would have to be addressed before cruising with or recommending MSC to any other person or travel agent: Lack of Drinking Water The only available water, for drinking, provided was in the buffet, at meal times, or afternoon tea. In the dining room, or at any other time drinking water was only available as bottled water @ 2.60 Euro for 750ml. After much discussions with the various levels of the dining room hierarchy I eventually managed to get three glasses of iced water served at dinner each night. I contacted the reception of the ship to find out if the water in the cabin taps was suitable to drink and they said that it wasn't. After discussions with the ship's purser he advised that the water in the cabin was drinkable? I am still unsure. Tea/ Coffee As there was no tea or coffee facility in room, one could reasonably expect that instant coffee or tea would be readily available, free of charge, at various stations around the ship. Not only wasn't this the case but the only time tea/coffee was served was at breakfast or afternoon tea. At lunch, dinner or at other times passengers were expected to purchase from a bar at inflated cost. After raising this as part of an overall lack of available water/ fluids available we were given coupons to address the issue - under strict secrecy requirements. As an average a person requires two litres of water per day which works out at 10 Euro per passenger at MSC rates. Smoking Whilst I acknowledge that smoking in Italy is allowed in far more places than Australia, I found it incomprehensible that you had to walk through a smoking lounge to get to another bar or the theatre and that all the major entertainment activities were held in a smoking bar. As a non smoker this precluded me from many activities and by the time I left the cruise, having had walked through smoking areas, with clothing that reeked of cigarette and cigar smoke. Laundry/ Ironing As this was part of a longer trip with the constraints of luggage allowances, we had anticipated, like others we met, that we would have access to laundry/ironing facilities on board as had been our previous experiences cruising, or the option of sending out laundry and ironing. It came as a shock when the only facilities were send out at extortionate rates and we are supposed to look presentable to enter the dining facility. Dining Hygiene Being conscious of the rapid way in which infection can travel through passengers on board ships, I was appalled at the lack of basic facilities at the entry to the dining areas. Whilst the buffet had hand wash machines at the entrance, these were not always working, and the dining rooms had no such facilities at all. When I asked about the dining room facilities I was told to go to the nearby toilet to wash my hands by the Assistant Maitre D'. Other Facilities Internet Cafe- 25 euros an hour and then it would drop out when you sent a message. There was never a problem finding a computer because passengers refused to use it. Gymnasium - the size of the gym and equipment in relation to passenger numbers was totally inadequate. Coupled with this was the exercise classes which had to be conducted in public areas and so my wife did feel comfortable to attend. Incorrect Information - Reception As mentioned previously I received information from reception which was then contradicted by the Purser. This one of several occasions that reception provided misleading or incorrect information including refund information for day trips as well as questions relating to various aspects about the ships processes- room service, accounts etc. It was very difficult to trust any information provided. What I found extremely disappointing, apart from the issues raised above was the attitude of the ship's "management team" - who when asked to address an issue would respond with - "It's company policy". Whilst it may seem from the above list that we didn't enjoy or value any aspects of the MSC Orchestra. This is not true. MSC does the big things really well - the onboard environment is fabulous- with the exception of the smoking issues, and the entertainment was first rate, especially as it was designed for such a diverse audience. The cabin staff, wait staff in the dining facilities, the bar staff and the ship's medical officers provided outstanding service throughout the cruise. They were always extremely helpful, professional and willing to go out of their way. I have since raised these issues with MSC and the response was basically like it or lump it. I guess it is one company who I am reluctant to recommend. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
This was our 16th cruise, 3rd this year. we have been on ships for 40 days in 2008 We liked: our balcony room The classical concerts Night at the opera concert (and we're not opera fans) The energy of the entertainment team ... Read More
This was our 16th cruise, 3rd this year. we have been on ships for 40 days in 2008 We liked: our balcony room The classical concerts Night at the opera concert (and we're not opera fans) The energy of the entertainment team The mime game Ice cream and sorbet for dessert The Nativity the activity team made carnival game night with prizes the string/piano quartet The african acrobatic boys- wow My daughter and cousin love teen clubs. Beware, this it a "teen meeting place" it is in a fully functional bar where kids were allowed to drink and smoke. My daughter made some friends but they were the younger kids. One game they played was a scavenger hunt, they had to get in groups and find things in their cabins. One item was a girls pair of panties (which we saw a boy wearing over his clothes) and they had to gather all the bras they could and hook them together. The Americans refused to play, we made a formal complaint. Most days the club teens 13-17 age kids met at 11 pm and my kids stayed till midnight. Nothing happened on some sea days. Some times the counselor wouldn't show up. they advertised a foosball game and I went to get the counselor to tell her my kids were there for the competition. My daughter met some great kids from England and Australia they hung out with and played games (we brought) with them. The younger kids club was extremely small and unlike the 16 other cruises we went on, not good, it was a play like McDonalds area where parents came and watched their kids play. You will be with your kids all the time. The big screen TV at the pool showed NOTHING but advertisements for the ship. NOTHING. They said it wasn't working. Hummm. On our Disney cruise they played constant movies. We started our first free movie, it was mis advertised as a G and was an R! We only got 1.5 movies watched before they pulled the free movies. The rest of the movies were a pay for view at $10.90 EACH, with redbox we won't do that! I filled a wide mouth water bottle and carried it to dinner with me, no refills even when we asked. We brought a computer with extra speakers and our own movies. Bring games to play and books to read. The ship was a smokers paradise, every lounge and bar has one small area for non smokers. We were in the lounge on disembarkation for 3 hours in a smokers lounge. Forced to be there! I complained but to no avail. My daughter said finally; please don't write our cabin number on the comment sheets. Americans will not put up with bad food and smoking! We took a game to the dinner table with us and rolled dice for 2-3 hours waiting for our meal. I had to put my reading glasses on one night to find my meat in my rolled pork. the gym was 1/3 the size of a normal gym. THe so called jogging track had deck chairs on it from 7AM on and it was a danger to walk. It was not marked as a jogging track so people were annoyed when we were walking round and around. Deck 7 doesn't go all the way around but that is a better track to walk on We had a great time because that is what we do, some people let it ruin their trip. We will never go on an MSC cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
We are not novices to cruising as this was our 39th cruise. We are gold card members of the MSC line. Until this sailing, MSC has been our favorite cruise line. Unfortunately the service made us feel like unwanted relatives on the ... Read More
We are not novices to cruising as this was our 39th cruise. We are gold card members of the MSC line. Until this sailing, MSC has been our favorite cruise line. Unfortunately the service made us feel like unwanted relatives on the Orchestra. We have had better and worse embarkations thus nothing worth writing about. It was upon entering the ship our problems began. Our adult son came with us since this was a Christmas and New year's vacation. Upon boarding he went to the Receptionist Desk to give them cash so he could open up his onboard account. When he tried to tell the receptionist what he wanted to do she told him "if he would shut up and listen." I was standing by him or I might not have believed a customer relations person would talk that way to a passenger. We are loyal past passengers and get treated this way. Strike one within ten minutes of boarding. Other cruise lines show you to your cabin and some even offer a glass of champagne. None of that here. You are on your own to find your cabin. Being hungry we went up to deck 13 for something to eat. Another disappointment. The food was tasteless and all the salads looked and tasted the same. There were only two variety of cakes for dessert. Little did we know this was to be the case for the entire cruise. Our first dinner foretold what was ahead for the next 17 days. We never saw a steak the entire trip. Fish served every meal but over cooked and quite dry. Chicken every meal and again over cooked. We ordered pasta the first night (remembering how wonderful the pasta was on the Opera.) To our surprise it was tasteless except for a rancid, metallic taste. No one at our table could eat it. In 17 days we had truly good pasta only two times. Service in the dining room was bad to pitiful. We were at a table for 6 and one person would get their dish while the rest would wait 10 to 15 minutes. Sometimes we were served the wrong orders. Other times we never got what we ordered. Sometimes we would get our food but have no silverware to eat it with. Dinner always took around two hours. Everyday except for three we went to the "formal" dining room for lunch. Imagine our surprise to have to go through a cafeteria line (buffet) at lunch in the formal dining room. No menu service. Again the food was tasteless. In all our cruises this was a first. Christmas Eve we could have "prime rib" or lobster. Everyone at our table and next to us agreed the "prime rib" was merely a small piece of over cooked roast beef. The lobster was soooo large we took three bites and it was gone. Also, I was told fourteen passengers ended up in the infirmary ill after eating the lobster. Unfortunately the food never improved the entire cruise. I had occasion to speak with Marcello, the Guest Relations manager. He told me he was a "chef" and that Italians do not cook with spices. I wondered if he thought I had dropped here from another planet. Especially since my husband is 1/2 Italian. Day two we slept in and did not leave our cabin until 10:10 am. Imagine our surprise to find it was not possible to find anything to eat on the ship until noon. The restaurant closed at 9:30 am everyday of the trip. The deck 13 cafeteria (buffet) closed at 10:00 am. No rolls, croissants, nothing. Our cabin was always very clean and our room steward had a handicap as our adult son would stay out quite late and thus get up very late. Our steward never complained and graciously worked around our night owl. We were quite happy with our service in this area. The productions shows were good and the costumes were beautiful. The were four African men who were acrobats. They were truly wonderful. The magician and illusionist were acceptable. One night there was no show at all and three nights the show consisted entirely of groups which played every night in the atrium lounge. These three nights were poorly attended since we saw them every night anyway when passing by the atrium. The Entertainment (Animation) Team on MSC really work hard and extremely long hours. These young people were no exception. They danced with passengers every single evening until 1 or 2 am. They had Italian lessons, trivia games, crazy games, dance lessons, etc. From nine in the morning until two am they were very visible and working hard. They truly made this voyage bearable. The cruise director on the other hand was very aloof and seldom said anything to the passengers. The ships lounge performers were generally good. We especially liked the Popcorn Band and their singer, Romanica. She has a truly lovely voice and is very friendly and outgoing. On the Opera you could not get on the ship or go into an eating facility without a crew member squirting you with hand sanitizer. Imagine our surprise when we cannot even find the sanitizer on deck 13 four four days. It was behind a door. Quite often when getting back on the ship or entering the dining room the hand sanitizer was empty. There was never any crew in sight the entire trip checking on this. Something we have never seen before was that none of the ships shops were open until the fourth day of our cruise. Christmas decorations (such as they were) did not appear until day four and five of our cruise. We heard several passengers complain because the ship never put up a Menorah even though we were cruising during Hanukah. There were never any Christmas Carols, no egg nog, no special Christmas show Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. A passenger chorus sang prior to midnight mass which was held at 11:00. Other than Santa for the children Christmas Day might as well have been any other day of the year. Get this the Orchestra had a Friends of Bill W. meeting in the Savannah "Bar." Our past passenger party was not until December 28 which is when we got our "welcome cocktail." It took three phone calls to get the invitation which we finally received 10 minutes prior to the party. Only ONE cocktail is permitted per passenger. No canapes. Since Saint Thomas is the first U.S. port this is where the immigration procedures were done. What a mess. We got a paper which I am quoting "instructions for passengers NON USA and Canada." We get a knock on our door and were chastised for not going through customs. I showed the person our form and he said we did not know how to read and must go right away. We stood in line for one hour to have a ship officer glance at our passport and put a sticker on it so we could get off the ship and go into town. The last week of the cruise many of the passengers and some of the crew got a hacking cough, sore throat and fever. My son and spouse both had to go to the infirmary for medicine. They were told there was not an outbreak of illness. However, the ship sounded like a T.B. ward. A couple of passengers said they had contacted the Center for Disease Control because of the ships denial and the lack of sanitization. We have cruised so many times, we know there are always a few disgruntled passengers but we have never talked to so many people who were so angry. People from nearly every country we spoke with expressed their displeasure with the Orchestra. We only met three people who seemed happy with the cruise. We found out they were on their first cruise. Disembarkation was truly a nightmare. Everyone had to be out of their cabin by 7:00 am. Breakfast was closed at 8:30 am. Nobody was allowed off the ship until after 10:30 am. There was an announcement about 9:00 am blaming the Immigration Department for the hold up. Since we had a 12:30 train home we were getting quite nervous. I went to the Receptionist and she said she could not give me a different colored tag. (Ours was over half way down the list to be called.) She then said they could not "force" anyone to stay on the ship. We spoke with some people sitting near us and they had 7:00 to 8:00 evening flights and had the first colored tags to be called. We slipped in line when the first tags were called and upon reaching the baggage area off the ship found our luggage had not even been taken off the ship yet. We spoke to someone in Immigration and were told they were ready by 9:00 am to clear the Orchestra's passengers but the ship is under staffed and that was why it was taking so long. Many a time I have gone on Cruise Critic to defend MSC, telling the detractors how wonderful MSC is. I now feel a need to apologize to my fellow Cruise Critic's for misleading them. What has happened to my beloved MSC??? Read Less
Sail Date: October 2008
This was my first cruise. I booked 3 days before sailing and got a good price; even though there was a 80% single person supplement. I still feel the £700 I paid for an outside cabin with balcony good value for money. I was not at ... Read More
This was my first cruise. I booked 3 days before sailing and got a good price; even though there was a 80% single person supplement. I still feel the £700 I paid for an outside cabin with balcony good value for money. I was not at all impressed with MSC, although I have to say the ship was magnificent and was constantly being cleaned. The itinerary was very good, and I enjoyed travelling to the nice places in the med. Good points - Only a few. The overall price I paid. The ship itself - magnificent. The itinerary. The marvelous midnight buffet extravaganza. Complimentary continental breakfast in your room. The bad points - A lot This is an Italian cruise line and the passengers were mainly Italian, German and Spanish, with a few others thrown in. There were some British but they just made up the numbers; and were treated as such. FOOD The buffet food was nearly always the same, and that included being warm at most, but generally cold. The only place you could have an evening meal was in the dining room you were assigned. I have been told that on other ships, if you did not want this you could eat dinner at other places on the ship (buffet or snack bar). You could have a chinese meal (at cost) or a 'better' meal at an exclusive restaurant (at cost), or a pizza (at cost). The only time there was a tea/coffee option with the meal was breakfast and afternoon cookies (4 - 5 pm). all other times you had to pay; something that annoyed most brits i spoke to. There was no coffee or tea after dinner; again you had to buy it in the bar. DRINKS Drinks were very expensive in my opinion. Coffee around £2.50 for an egg cup, Can of coke around £2.50, bottle of water around £2.50, pint of beer around £5. Apparently other cruise ships offer an upgrade to include all drinks. On this ship there was a sort of option where you could buy a small beer package for 35 euros - this equated to a 14 X 20cl glass's, again I find expensive. However on enquiring at reception i was directed to a bar as they didn't know. On enquiring at a bar i was directed to reception cos they didn't know either !!! Get the picture? I think a family travelling with a family would have spent a fortune on drinks, as i could well have done had i not curbed myself. I didn't really want to do this on holiday. ENTERTAINMENT The entertainment in the theatre was mainly cultural; opera singers and the like, or third rate variety acts that would have got boo'd off 'Britains got talent'!! There is nothing wrong with this entertainment if you like it; I and most brits didn't. Veteran cruisers said the theatre entertainment on most other cruise ship was very good, and this was very poor. The entertainment on deck was like 1950's hi de hi....a joke, but not a funny one. it was an extremely noisy one; not good when all the sunbeds are there for relaxing on. EXCURSIONS I didn't go on any as I couldn't afford too, as I felt they were expensive. I generally made my own way on public transport. Discussing this with those who went on the trips, I had the best deal. STAFF The working staff (barman, waiter, cabin staff etc) were generally OK. The reception staff need a lesson in manners and PR and i would not have employed any of the ones I spoke too. The staff who checked you on and off the ship in posts need a lesson on politeness and how to smile. TIPS I understand it is normal to add the tip to your end of cruise bill at a set price per day; this was the same on this ship - 6 euros a day. I understand the reason behind this so all cruise staff get tips not just the ones who come into contact with the passengers. One of the passengers made extensive enquiries with the staff and was told that THE STAFF DO NOT GET THE TIPS. MSC KEEP THEM AND WILL USE THEM IF ONE OF THE STAFF NEED EMERGENCY HELP , LIKE FLYING HME TO VISIT SICK RELATIVE. THE REMAINDER WILL BOOST THE FUND TO BUILD THE NEXT SHIP. You will not be surprised to hear that I and most others i spoke to cancelled this on their bill, and tipped individuals who deserved it.....that was not many. OVERALL I generally enjoyed my first cruise. This was because I knew no better. Discussing cruising on other cruise lines with veteran cruisers, I feel i picked a bad company for my first cruise. Other cruise lines offer much better in areas like food, drinks, entertainment and staff. In conclusion I would NEVER travel with this MSC again. I am looking forward to cruising again, but with a different and certainly better cruise line. PS - Oh I forget the GREED thing. I could not believe how greedy some people can be at these 'help yourself' buffets. The plates were large oval ones. I saw people staggering back to a table struggling with a plate laden with 10 rashers of bacon, 6 or 7 eggs, beans, 10 slices of toast, 5 chocolate muffins, pancakes topped with maple syrup, a pile of tinned sliced peaches in sauce, 5 croissants..............and that was just the greedy 10 yr old kids. I was disgusted at the eating behavior of some people, and more so for parents letting their kids do this. And because of all this waste and greed the brits don't get a cuppa when they want one!!!! Happy cruising, but not with MSC. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
The itinerary was fabulous, but of course that is a reflection of the geography and not the ship: Barcelona, Marseille, Genoa, Naples, Tunisia, Mallorca, and return to Barcelona. All staff members were pleasant, but none really went out ... Read More
The itinerary was fabulous, but of course that is a reflection of the geography and not the ship: Barcelona, Marseille, Genoa, Naples, Tunisia, Mallorca, and return to Barcelona. All staff members were pleasant, but none really went out of their way to be helpful unless specifically asked for service. Unlike other lines I have been on (Royal Caribbean, Princess, Celebrity), the MSC Orchestra does not offer any food service (other than paid room service) beyond the set dining times. And as unbelievable as it sounds, there is NO COFFEE OR TEA available other than at breakfast -- the machines are shut off promptly at 10:00 AM. No coffee after an evening meal. No afternoon tea by the pool. Ridiculous! Espresso is available for purchase at cost of about one Euro; that's it. All other lines I've sailed have 24-hour beverage-and-snack bar service, and I sorely missed it. It was particularly disappointing after a long overseas flight and hour-long taxi ride from the Barcelona airport to board the ship and have to wait several hours for the dining room to open. Other than purchasing cocktails or soft drinks at the bar, there were no refreshments of any kind available. This is downright chintzy and insulting, considering the amount of the fare we paid. The formal dining room food was mediocre, and rose to that level only because after the first night of being served a cold, unappetizing, nearly inedible mess, I raised heck with the Maitre D' about it. And I say "raised heck" because although I tried to register a complaint politely, he gave me an argument until I "pulled rank" and argued him down. The buffet meals (both lunch and dinner) were considerably better than the formal dining service, with a large and pleasant array of entrEes, sides and desserts. Breakfasts were fine all around, both sit-down and buffet. Of course the problem with ALL food service aboard ALL cruise ships is that hot dishes are never truly hot (warm at best), and this ship was no exception. The accommodations were comfortable and clean, and space was adequate in our cabin; however, I have now learned not to book a cabin at the aft (rear) of the ship. The motion is much more pronounced, and the noise from the engines and propeller were ever-present -- all the more so, thanks to the balcony. The ship was fairly new at the time of our April '08 sailing (launched 2007) and the facilities were attractive and well-maintained; however, I would say in terms of decor the Orchestra is merely "competitive" with other ships, nothing particularly outstanding. Last and not least, they say Americans tend to be rude and pushy when traveling? Ho ho..... I got news for ya. I was shocked at how many of our European shipmates routinely butted in line, scrambled past you to be first in or out of the elevator, didn't bother holding a door, no "pardon me," no "thank you," no "after you," no simple courtesies whatsoever. It often felt more like a cattle car than a cruise ship (but this, of course, cannot be blamed on the staff). The $1,300 fare for a seven-day sailing was about $400 more than I've paid for Caribbean cruises of the same length with balcony cabin. Part of the problem was the value of the dollar against the Euro, but even allowing for that, it was over-priced for what they delivered. Most attractive feature: The shore excursions were first-rate. Well organized, expertly guided, and of generous length. Summed up: "Grade C+" -- passing; nothing to rave about. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
We booked our cruise through a German cruise internet site. This turned out to be about 30% cheaper, for exactly the same category of cabin, as the MSC Australia site (Super Duper 2 for 1 never to be repeated special!!)... can anyone tell ... Read More
We booked our cruise through a German cruise internet site. This turned out to be about 30% cheaper, for exactly the same category of cabin, as the MSC Australia site (Super Duper 2 for 1 never to be repeated special!!)... can anyone tell me why? If you arrive at Genoa by train, do not get ripped off by the taxis. We did .. paid 15 Euros to go about 300 meters. Just get out of the station, walk around to the right, down the road and you will see the cruise terminal. Before I get started, the cruise was ok. It was, however, largely a matter of some ok things, and some really annoying things. I will try and focus on some of the things to be wary of. Check in, despite all the other reviews you have read on this site, was a nightmare. BIG TIP!! Just hand over all your luggage to the guys at the dock (they will take it up to your cabin for free), consider waiting the 30 minutes in the check in line to register and get your cabin card and then go off and see the beautiful city of Genoa and come back about half an hour before the last admittance on board. We didn't and we SUFFERED sitting from around 1 pm until around 4pm in an overcrowded departure hall, with nothing to do, until they called up our boarding number. Then, after all this time, the various Croatians, Germans and Italians whose number hadn't even been called up, just pushed by us anyway. Do you think the MSC staff cared? The ships is new and well appointed, however, really, it just seemed a bit artificial. Not quite Las Vegas and not quite Bali resort. I agree with some of the other comments made on previous reviews. It is ridiculous that you cannot get a drink of water after actually 5pm (not 4pm as someone else wrote). [*One big tip - order iced water with your dinner. This is fresh, cool and free, rather than the silly bottled stuff that the Germans keep ordering]. Why is there no water in the Gym??... wait till the first person falls over from dehydration and see what MSC have to say. The buffet is pretty bland after day 2, with the choice of food not changing, however the restaurant fare is largely very good. I have to disagree with other comments however. There is nowhere really to escape. We had the same thing as others. Our cruise was overrun with elderly Germans (probably about 90% of the people on board). They went around in packs. If the buffet (only one... why??? Why do you pay extra for the pizza restaurant on an Italian ship???) opens, they swarm in as if they haven't eaten for months. It becomes an absolutely unbearable gaggle of German, very uncomfortable, people constantly bumping you as they have placed the seating to close together [tip - try and go to the aft outside... open air dents the noise]. They then swarm to the pool area and outside decks and take up all available deckchairs (which they then hog all day with their towels)... again impossible to find a quiet, nice area. Then they congregate in the lounges in the evening, so a spare table on your own is a rarity. The shows are generally good. The dancers are very professional. The magician is, however a joke. The tricks were predictable, especially after he has tried to explain them in very broken and way too quick German, Italian, French and Spanish. Just a brief pause here... this is incredibly frustrating. Imagine, every time they do an announcement of anything... or introduce a new act at a show, or whatever, you have to go through Italian (just about always first, so that they can go off and get first in line for whatever happens to be happening), German, English and French. Right, back to the "entertainment". Once again, the shows are very good. The rest of the "entertainment" sucks. The "Entertainment Team" are a bunch of young kids, probably straight out of school or uni, who obviously just use this as a jaunt around Europe for a year or so, until they go on to something else. Their language skills (other than Italian) is poor. The "activities" are a joke. On the first day, I went along to the first activity listed... "Learn the Entertainment Team song". I thought, sounds stupid, but surely it can't be that bad. It was. Firstly delays, then after they tried to cajole a few people to join in and failed, they started doing some silly gyrations and came up with some mindless babble. I left after attempting to make some sense of this for 15 minutes. The "activities", few and far between as they were, considering we had 4 (four) days at sea, were equally silly. If you spoke Italian, they gave you some consideration and tried to assist. If you didn't, you were roundly ignored, as these kids just went off and did their own thing. We joined in the "Quiz". It went over our four days at sea. Around 10 questions per day in one hour (they had to translate, badly, the questions into four languages)! They even got some of the answers to the questions wrong (and would not accept their error)!! In the end, after winning the quiz, our prize... a $5 ill-fitting T-shirt. Whoop-dy Doo!! I went to the "Karaoke" once. The selection was abysmal (if you like slow, crooning ballads, fine... otherwise forget it). They also only had it once, in the middle of the day!!! Why not in a lounge in the evenings. Although 90% of the passengers were German, not a single song in German. Plenty in Italian, though. I also agree with an earlier review about the Disco. Another significant disappointment. One of the best areas of the ship (the aft most upper deck) is taken up with a lounge/disco, which is only ever used after 11 pm! Go figure... a beautiful view, wasted at night. The DJ is shocking. Think about it guys... you have a ship full of largely older Germans, and this jerk is playing his favorite techno all night long. There apparently was one theme night, that we learnt about, where they did play some 70s or something, which was not announced in the magazine and we only found out about when some lovely people that we met on board told us the next day. We regularly went to the gym. The macho young Italian guys there couldn't have cared less. Happy to answer questions.. other than that they just sat around and chatted to one another at the counter. No attempt to fix things (e.g.: disinfectant dispenser) or organize events. Why only one yoga session on the cruising days?? Why not do it multiple times a day... your Italian gym staff are just standing around doing jack anyway. No other events. We went once to the "free" stretch session in the morning and were simply told that there were not enough people and it was cancelled, after which they simply just turned to one another and kept chatting!! I don't know what the other paid sessions were like... why do they need to be paid??? You have the staff on board anyway... just open the sessions up to everyone for free! Now there is a novel concept for them.. provide a service for the "service charge" which they lop onto your bill without asking you. The Shore excursions.. thank God we did not take any. Those that did were not impressed. An example... the excursion to the Alhambra on our day in Malaga. It cost 110 Euros per person!!! They apparently were delayed leaving, got to the site and were made to stand around in the cold (because the "organizers" couldn't get their act together to get tickets) were shunted in and out way too quickly and then forced, on the way back, to travel miles off the freeway to some mate's restaurant to waste more time eating. My wife and I, however, organized our tickets over the internet (12 Euros) and hired a car and saw a heck of a lot more in much more comfort and freedom for a third of the cost. Needless to say, the people who went on that excursion wanted their money back. Other places were apparently better organized, but where you really saw just as much, if not more, doing it privately... examples: Casablanca & Rabat (my wife and I on our own saw both cities very comfortably and only paid around 5 Euros or so for the train ticket to Rabat, which goes every half hour... very easy) and Rome (just take the free port shuttle bus to the train station and there are very regular trains to the center of Rome for around 3 Euros or so). Don't get ripped off by the excursions!! Oh yes!!! THE BIG POINT!!! I don't know what MSC are trying to achieve, but our cruise was almost ruined by the CONSTANT vibration of the obviously overworked and underpowered engines. We had an aft balcony cabin. It was beautiful. The balconies at the rear on the 10th level are the biggest, which was lovely... while in port. As soon as the ship really powered out, most of the ship vibrated uncontrollably. Imagine trying to be on a relaxing cruise and having the feeling of being on a vibrating table all night, rumbling away. Unfortunately, there was not much relaxation. I would have thought this was normal, and to be expected when one has a cabin over the propellers, until the last night from Rome to Genoa, where, clearly, they had a much shorter distance to cover and so they were not trashing the engines as badly... the rumbling, for that one night, mysteriously stopped and it was a very pleasant night. What were they doing on the other 10 days and nights??? Quite obviously, they have built this boat way too big. It is generally overcrowded and underpowered to move this mass. I would also like to agree with another earlier review about there not being enough time in the destinations. Six or so hours, after travelling all that way, is really a bit ordinary... especially as it was even less for somewhere like Barcelona. All in all, I really have to say, after a wonderful cruise experience with another company the previous year, I would not go on an MSC cruise in a hurry again... unfortunately. It was not all bad... the ship is nice, the cabins are comfortable, the destinations are interesting.but there are too many frustrating silly things that they do which really just spoils it. They seem to be pitching to the German over 70 crowd, which is fine, but then cater to it and try not to be all things to everyone, and don't waste other demographic's time and money. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
We are a mature couple who have cruised many times on different cruise lines. We chose this particular cruise because it left from Venice, a city we have always wanted to visit, and because of the interesting ports of call. This is our ... Read More
We are a mature couple who have cruised many times on different cruise lines. We chose this particular cruise because it left from Venice, a city we have always wanted to visit, and because of the interesting ports of call. This is our second MSC cruise, so, we were familiar with its "European" style of cruising. We took the free shuttle from Piazza Roma to the dock in early afternoon, and the embarkation process was quick and easy, possibly because not all passengers get on in Venice .( This cruise takes on, and lets off, passengers at every port.) We had a balcony cabin. Comparatively speaking, it was a little smaller than we're used to and the bathroom was a little larger than expected, but, it was clean and comfortable, and our cabin steward was helpful and accommodating. The ship is very large with nicely decorated public areas. The main restaurant is on two levels mid ship. The low ceilings made the rooms ordinary in appearance and were probably the cause of the high noise level. We always choose a late sitting, but both were very crowded and noisy. Other than the specialty restaurants, the main dining room is the only place for everyone to eat dinner. (The upper deck buffet restaurant is closed after 4:00 PM.) If you are hungry, between 4:00PM and dinner, you can order room service - but it is not free. (We have never encountered this on other cruise lines.) You will also have to buy ice cream, unless you order it for dessert after lunch or dinner in the main dining room. If you want espresso or cappuccino after meals you will have to pay extra for it. Their regular coffee is almost like espresso and decaf is instant, not brewed. The food was adequate, but not memorable, and the service was good. We did not eat at the upper deck buffet for breakfast or lunch, mostly because during the particular week we sailed, it was too crowded. Nor did we eat at the two specialty restaurants because they didn't seem that special. We did not take part in any of the on board entertainment activities since the poolside entertainment catered mostly to the Italian clients. The first evening show included a guest Italian tenor who was very good. There was a 4 piece female classical ensemble that played in the main foyer every evening and sometimes in the shows. They were excellent. Most of the shows were amateurish and seemed to be geared for the children on board. The casino wasn't very popular. The slot machines were too expensive. I usually like to spend a few hours on the pool deck, especially on days at sea, but this was impossible due to the large number of people using that deck. The crew allowed them to literally cover the whole deck with lounge chairs so that you couldn't walk from one end to the other, safely. The crew did not seem to have much control over this. The ports of call were all very interesting and we enjoyed our excursions. We would have liked a little more time in each port as the tours left very little personal time to explore some of the areas on our own. Disembarkation went smoothly, but taking the free shuttle back to We did not take part in any of the on board entertainment activities since the poolside entertainment catered mostly to the Italian clients. The first evening show included a guest Italian tenor who was very good. There was a 4 piece female classical ensemble that played in the main foyer every evening and sometimes in the shows. They were excellent. Most of the shows were amateurish and seemed to be geared for the children on board. The casino wasn't very popular. The slot machines were too expensive. I usually like to spend a few hours on the pool deck, especially on days at sea, but this was impossible due to the large number of people using that deck. The crew allowed them to literally cover the whole deck with lounge chairs so that you couldn't walk from one end to the other, safely. The crew did not seem to have much control over this. The ports of call were all very interesting and we enjoyed our excursions. We would have liked a little more time in each port as the tours left very little personal time to explore some of the areas on our own. Disembarkation went smoothly, but taking the free shuttle back to Piazza Roma was a chaotic pushing and shoving match just to get on the bus. Beware, and be ready, for overly pushy Italians who don't believe in waiting their turn in line. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
Background We are a couple aged 39 and 41; our children are now old enough to holiday with their friends. This was our 3rd cruise having previously sailed the Caribbean with Carnival and Mexico with Princess. Like the reviewer before we ... Read More
Background We are a couple aged 39 and 41; our children are now old enough to holiday with their friends. This was our 3rd cruise having previously sailed the Caribbean with Carnival and Mexico with Princess. Like the reviewer before we like a bargain, as we take between 3 and 4 holidays a year, usually hotels or apartments in Europe or the USA booked through the internet. We thoroughly enjoyed our last 2 cruises and were really looking forward to this one. We had 3 days in Venice pre-cruise and stayed in the Hotel Mary in Campalto. This was a lovely hotel about 15 minutes bus journey from the centre of Venice, and much cheaper than hotels in Venice. The staff were very friendly and helpful and breakfast was plentiful. Venice is beautiful. We had been there before for a day trip from Croatia, so it was great to return and explore for 3 days, it is however a very expensive trip but well worthwhile. At the Hotel Mary, we bumped into 3 other couples who were going on the cruise and arranged to share a taxi; this was great for a trouble-free transfer to the ship. We arrived at the port around 11.30 and we were in our cabin for about 12.30, check-in was smooth and organized. Ship Info We had paid for a guaranteed inside cabin, but we ended up with an outside with large porthole blocked by a lifeboat, which was nice to get some natural light, the cabin was well set out and always kept spotless by our cabin steward. The ship itself is absolutely beautiful and clean. The lounges were great and there is plenty of comfortable seating everywhere. There is plenty of choice between the sports bar, ice cream parlour on deck and they even have a chocolate bar. The shops on board were very small and don't stock a great range of goods. The buffet was extensive and food was very good, but it was difficult to get a seat and we ended up waiting to eat lunch at 3.30 as it was the only time you could be guaranteed a seat. Some other people online mentioned the milk, but as far as we could tell the milk was fine, definitely not goats. Dinner was great with a choice of 6 courses there was something for everyone. We had bought a wine package which included 7 bottles of water, but you would be as cheap to buy wine separately and pick the ones you like and opt for a jug of iced water with your meal. We opted for the 9pm sitting which was jam-packed and very,very noisy, we struggled at times to converse with others at the table because you had to constantly shout to be heard. Activities We had the usual activities on board, bingo, quizzes, it's a knockout etc. The entertainment team worked extremely hard around the clock to keep the adults and millions of children happy, as well as being able to speak 4 or 5 different languages. Entertainment We didn't think the entertainment was great. The music in the lounges at night were good, we went to the theatre most nights but found the entertainment to be amateur. That said however, the magician was very good, the Italian Tenor was great and the Celtic night was good. There was however an older Italian man who I think was supposed to be a comedian; we just thought he was creepy! Shore Excursions Bari Didn't take a tour here, just walked from the ship along the sea front, watched the locals fishing for squid and got an ice cream. Wanted a relaxing day after 3 exhausting days in Venice. Katakolon Very small town, not much to do if you don't take the Olympia tour, plenty of souvenir shops. We enjoyed getting off the ship, going for a coffee and watching the world go by. Izmir We did the tour to Ephesus with the ship, which I would thoroughly recommend. The trip cost €44 each, the journey by bus was about an hour each way, and we had 2 hours for the tour around the ruins of Ephesus. The guide gives you a great talk on the history of Turkey while you are on the bus, and also great stories of what must have been a very affluent town on the tour. Istanbul Got taxi (10 Euros) to Topkapi Palace. Topkapi Palace, The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia are all right next to each other so you don't need a tour to take you there. It is then about a mile to get to the Grand Bazaar which has over 4000 stalls. The Blue Mosque is amazing but beware of the friendly shopkeepers who will do anything to get you to their carpet shop! The Grand Bazaar was great, even if you don't buy anything, soak up the atmosphere. Move away from the gold shops and explore the textiles where everyday Turks are shopping for their family. On our way back to the ship we tried to get a taxi from the bridge, which is much closer to the ship than Topkapi Palace and the taxi drivers wanted €35. We refused to pay and walked back instead which took about 30mins. Sea Day Stressful due to the numbers on board. Unable to get from one side of the ship to the other due to the amount of sunbeds. Dubrovnik Paradise on earth. Everyone should visit Dubrovnik at least once! We tried to book the shuttle bus the night before, but were told the only shuttle left was now 11.30 and we were docking at 09.30! Got a taxi instead! We shared a taxi with two friends and it would have cost €10 to the old town, our taxi driver offered to take us a tour round Dubrovnik for an hour for €50 for four of us. This was well worth the money and he gave us a great insight to the area. He took us to the highest point above Dubrovnik which was so peaceful and had breathtaking views over the town. We still had enough time after this to walk round the walls and go for lunch. Disembarkation This was relatively easy, we had to wait for a few hours as we were one of the last groups off, but we were in no hurry. Once off we tried to get the free shuttle service to Piazza Roma, but after putting our cases on the bus twice and having to remove them again after being pushed out of the queue by Italians, we eventually got a taxi which cost €15. Summary Good Points This cruise was a bargain, we got to see places we had always wanted to see. The ship was clean, the service great, the food plentiful. Bad Points There was never enough time ashore, 5 hours to explore places like Istanbul is just not enough! The ship seemed very overcrowded, at times it was hard to move and if you wanted a sunbed you had to be up very early. Italians are very pushy and don't like to queue, we found it hard to push back and were at the end of the line for everything. At times it was difficult to even get out the lifts! Children! We have children of our own who we love dearly, but we felt the children & teenagers had the run of the ship. Even the adults only pool and the disco was over-run by children of all ages. We felt this cruise was like an all inclusive hotel in Spain! When I read other reviews I always try and take the good points and ignore the bad as I feel we are easy to please, the dates we were on the Orchestra took in the last week of the Italian school holidays, I think sailing after this will be a much more enjoyable experience. Tips Drink iced water at dinner instead of buying bottles. Bottled water in your cabin is €2.50 per liter bottle, take some with you. You can also buy 6x2litre bottles at Katalolon for about €3. Take your own wine. In the restaurant corkage ranges from €2.50 to €9.50 so it's probably cheaper to take your own. Take taxi tour in Dubrovnik. Read Less
MSC Orchestra Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 3.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 3.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 2.0 0.0
Service 3.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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