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Sail Date: January 2006
MSC Cruise from Hell Well what can I say other than DON’T GO ON AN MSC CRUISE. Kids running everywhere all day and most of the night, shouting, yelling and totally out of control. Running around the restaurant whilst the waiters were ... Read More
MSC Cruise from Hell Well what can I say other than DON’T GO ON AN MSC CRUISE. Kids running everywhere all day and most of the night, shouting, yelling and totally out of control. Running around the restaurant whilst the waiters were trying to serve food. Buggies and prams cluttering up the aisles when trying to get food in the buffet. One child even rode his bike into a crowded lift!!! We were woken up at 4am one morning with children running and shouting in the corridor outside our cabin. The passengers were extremely rude and pushed and shoved the whole time and whilst waiting for the lifts which were erratic to say the least, the passengers (mostly Italian) barged to the front and would not let people get out of the lift before they got in. The lifts – the kids pressed every button on every floor so it took us half an hour to get from Deck 5 (Restaurant for dinner) to Deck 12 ( our cabin) every evening. These lifts dominated our cruise experience because this was not a small boat and you had to use them. In most situations you would say that this was a major design fault in this boat but this (perhaps) may not be the case if they were not constantly abused. This was the most stressful holiday my husband and I have ever had. The food was not good either, there was far too much salt used in the cooking and the food was very poorly presented, it reminded us both of school dinners. The food was also nearly always cold by the time it was served. My husband bent his metal fork whilst trying to cut a piece of stale bread when eating Eggs Benedict for breakfast. There was no toast supplied at breakfast and the rolls and bread were stale by the end of the week. The juice drinks machines more often that not where out of order or not switched on. Not good when you want a cold drink. Also the juice when you could get it was watered down and had sugar added to it. Also there were no glasses at the juice machines and we had to use warm teacups to get a drink when the machines were working. There was no fruit that was fresh in the buffet either and mmost of the fruit supplied at breakfast was tinned. The departure from the boat at Majorca and Villefranche was totally disorganised to say the least with the usual pushing and shoving from the Italian families. But the worst situation by far was on the Wednesday 10th July. My husband and I went to the pool on the 13th deck, got our towels and found two sun beds. This was at 9.20, we sat down for a while and put on sun cream, at 9.40 my husband said “I think I’ll go for a swim now” so I said “OK I’ll join you”. We went down to the pool and were only gone for 20 minutes, when we decided to go back I went up the steps first whilst my husband had a shower near the pool, when I got to our sun beds there were other people there arranging their towels and belongings and all our belongings had gone. We went down to the attendants who had given the towels out to find all our property including phones, watches, cameras, shoes and our towels had been thrown into a plastic sack. The attendant started being very rude and aggressive and shouting at us and quoting that in the contract you are only allowed to leave the sun bed for 30 minutes, we had been gone for 20 minutes. I spoke to a Security Guard who was standing nearby but he could not help me, the attendant who I originally spoke to stood there watching me and smirking at the fact that I could not get anywhere with any of them. There were other people leaving their beds for 2 hours and more, also children who had beds who were never on them. We could not get anywhere with this rude and aggressive man so we had to go inside down seven decks to the desk, barefoot and dripping water, me in my bikini and my husband in his trunks because everthing had been taken, we did not even have a towel to dry ourselves with. We spoke to someone at the desk who again, was not very helpful but we demanded a meeting with the manager and this was eventually arranged after two “put offs” for the evening. We finally met Shameem (sp) who I must say, did handle the situation very well as we were both furious at this unfriendly and discourtesious way of being treated. Shemeem said she would report it back to the management, as they did not want passengers to be unhappy. The trouble was the damage had been done and we had to spend the rest of the day in our cabin as there was nothing else to do and all the sun beds had gone by this time. I am sure that we were targeted because we were English, it would not have been done to an Italian family. There were very few English people on this trip – Im not surprised!! We did however go to some lovely places such as Rome, Majorca, Monaco and Palermo and we also met some very nice Australian people who sat on our table at dinner each evening and who incidentally did not like the cruise either and had said they would never travel with MSC again. They were horrified when they heard what had happened to us at the pool on Wednesday and thought it was a disgusting way to treat people. If they are going to take one set of people’s belongings because they have been away from their bed for a short while then they must treat everyone else the same and not target individuals. We will never go on another MSC cruise again and shall make sure that everyone we know hears about this.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2007
I have just come back from the MSC Orchestra departing 23th June and arriving back in Venice on 30th June! It was the most unbelievable experience you could ever imagine! It was my parents 50th birthdays and we had the whole family of 32 ... Read More
I have just come back from the MSC Orchestra departing 23th June and arriving back in Venice on 30th June! It was the most unbelievable experience you could ever imagine! It was my parents 50th birthdays and we had the whole family of 32 people. The service is unforgettable, as it is extremely organized and very fast. The staff are exceptionally friendly and do there upmost best! . The entertainment is amazing especially the R32 Disco! It is lively and has 67 plasma screens 35 of which you are dancing on! They have also huge carnivals on the top open deck with live music and amazing buffets with huge statues made out of different types of fruit, vegetables and bread etc. There is a miniclub for all the children and the ship is great and outstanding fun for all ages. The ship is very classy for all the adults as it has stunning wine bars, a casino, and modern and traditional lounges! It is a mega-huge ship you may think 90,000 gross tons is not that large! But just wait till you enter! as the reception hall even has its own waterfall within it! The restaurants are really well designed. The food is to a good presentational skill and a good tasting standard. As i am a male teenager myself, the Italian girls were stunning especially the girl that was sitting opposite me for dinner every night on table 655 in the restaurant hibiscus, and the stunning one in room 11178!, as i was in room 11172! The outside cabin with balcony are very well designed but however do not contain to much space but then again you can always upgrade to the ships 18 suites. The Price is magnificent for what you get out of the tour! The embarkation trips and excursions are very well organized with refreshments etc. I spent most of my time in the R32 disco until 3 am. Sometimes even 5:30 am. It was a fantastic experience with the whole family from Denmark. The ship is well organized to the upmost best and keeps its grand reputation. A definite cruise to try! You will want to go back time and time again! I have been on many cruises with my parents including Disney and Royal Caribbean, but this makes what i call a 'Difference'. And that difference is worth every penny and should definitely be an one experience within your life time! Long live MSC ORCHESTRA SIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2007
We just returned from a one-week cruise on the Orchestra. Let me start by saying we had a FANTASTIC time and were very impressed. Background - This was the 7th cruise for my husband and me and the 4th cruise that our 12yr old son has ... Read More
We just returned from a one-week cruise on the Orchestra. Let me start by saying we had a FANTASTIC time and were very impressed. Background - This was the 7th cruise for my husband and me and the 4th cruise that our 12yr old son has been on. We were also on the Costa Fortuna last year. Although, we have considerable cruising experience; we have intentionally never been on a cruise with any of the top companies (aka Carnival, RC, Norwegian, etc) nor do we intend to. Let me clarify; we take one to two major vacations each year and expect value for our money. We have never stayed at a "Sandals" resort because we know that by doing so we would set the bar too high and would expect that level for all further trips. Instead, we select a 4+ or 5 star hotel when booking Caribbean vacations. The price we pay is considerably less than we would pay at Sandals (or similar). We can, thus, afford several holidays for the price of one superior one. I feel this is the same with cruising. We paid $1,400 each Cdn including airfare for our MSC cruise. My travel agent was quoting us over $3,500 each for a similar cruise on Royal Caribbean. In my opinion, I would not get $2,100 extra value so we booked MSC. The WOW - The Orchestra is a beautiful ship and especially impressive because of its "newness". The staff were ALL friendly and helpful. All crew members could speak English (this was better than we found last year on Costa). The crew did everything they could to make your holiday enjoyable (our cabin stewart figured out after the first night that we wanted ice in our cabin at 4pm and it was there without asking from that point onward). The food was outstanding - lots of variety and none of use was served a single dish that we didn't enjoy. I HATE buffets but the breakfast and lunch buffets were very well done and served great choices. The Chinese restaurant (extra charge) was fantastic. The pools were warm and well designed (bigger than we have seen on previous cruises). The shows were excellent. Even our 12 year old wanted to go to every show. We have normally gone to the first one or two shows and then decided not to bother and to catch up on our lost sleep. Not so on the Orchestra - our son would go 1/2 hr early to make sure we got the "best" seats. Also, the shows were short (45 minutes) which suited us well. We had the "cheapest" inside cabin (again, I don't spend extra $$$ on cabins but prefer to use the savings on excursions). The cabin was well set up and the beds were very comfortable. The embarkation was smooth. We have never had such an easy time getting on and off a ship each day to explore. The Ports: Venice - we looked around on our own when we arrived. Took the free shuttle from the port to Venice as you have a few hours before sailing time. We added an extra night on to the end of our trip to spend in Venice so this "preview" was very worthwhile. Bari - You MUST take the Sassi excursion. This was one of the highlights of our vacation. It was the most interesting and beautiful site. As it is quite a distance (1.25 hrs) it isn't something you could arrange on your own as you have only 4.5 hrs in port. Our guide was excellent and I would love to return some day to see more. Katakolon - We did the Olympia excursion and enjoyed it. If you are interested in history; this is certainly a good trip. Shopping in Olympia at the end of the tour was also great. Our guide was good but a little "long-winded". Izmir - We didn't do a tour here. We got a taxi to take us to the Bazaar and had a blast. The locals are helpful and very friendly. We had shop keepers serve us tea and a merchant go off to exchange one 20 Euro bill for two $10's. Bought a huge bag of saffron for 2 Euro. This was a fantastic cultural experience for our 12 year old. Istanbul - Again we ventured off on our own after doing a lot of research on the internet before our vacation. We felt the tour was too expensive and thought we could manage well on our own. We took a taxi to the Hagia Sophia (10 Euro) and walked to the other sites from there. Hagia was amazing as was the Blue Mosque. Sea day - fine but we are not big on sea-days. The decks on the ship were quite crowded but it was nice to relax for a few hours. Dubrovnik - WOW, what a place. The ship offered a shuttle (8 Euro) to the main part of town where we walked the ancient wall). Fantastic views and very interesting. If you do your research ahead of time and know what to look for; a tour here isn't really required. Be sure to take comfortable shoes as there are a lot of stairs to climb but a must-see town. Venice - we booked an additional night in Venice and stayed at the Hotel Gabrielle Sandwirth right on the canal. This worked out very well as we had a chance to really explore Venice and, other than the hotel charge, didn't cost extra. As I sit here preparing this review, I feel readers will be looking for negative aspects as all of the above are positives. This is extremely hard to do as we were very happy with the Orchestra. The only thing I can come up with is a warning about the other passengers on-board. On our trip there were only 300 English speaking guests. Most of the others were Italian with a few French and German speaking passengers. We learned last year that the Italians have a much different perspective on personal space and line-ups than we do in North America. So, be prepared for butting in line and pushing; it isn't meant in an offensive way at all. This is just how the culture (seems) to work. You will likely not hear an "excuse me" or a "thank you" but will learn quickly that you just have to lightly push back or hold your place in line. We saw the same thing last year on our Costa cruise and just accepted that this is how things are and as the saying goes, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" I hope this provides a general overview of our trip and experience with MSC. We could not have been happier with our cruise and would recommend the Orchestra to friends and family. We would not hesitate to take another MSC cruise in the future. We heard other passengers complain because they "didn't get a chocolate on their pillow each night which they got on their last RC cruise" and that "you don't have to book a dinner time on the Norwegian ships and can eat at any restaurant free". Remember, you likely saved thousands of dollars so take your own chocolates for your pillow and enjoy a great meal where you get to know your waiter and see him for dinner each night. Bon voyage!!!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2007
We returned yesterday from a wonderful 7 day cruise on the MSC Orchestra. This was my 8th cruise- I have been on Holland America, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Costa- this was the first time on MSC. We flew Iberia air from ... Read More
We returned yesterday from a wonderful 7 day cruise on the MSC Orchestra. This was my 8th cruise- I have been on Holland America, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Costa- this was the first time on MSC. We flew Iberia air from Washington to Venice with a stopover in Madrid. Iberia air allows you to stop in Madrid for a $25 charge and then continue the flight to Venice a few days later- we spent a day and a night in Madrid then flew on to Venice. We booked the MSC airport shuttle service ($18 from airport to ship)- when we got off the flight in Venice, we gathered our luggage and saw the MSC representative outside of the security area. This was the easiest way to get to the ship but be advised that no one explains anything once you get to the ship port. It turns out that when you get off the airport shuttle bus at the ship port, you have to get an electronic tag for your luggage from one of the MSC reps. Then they take away your luggage and you don't need to handle it again until it arrives in your cabin. Check in went smoothly- the lines were short since we were there early (around 10 am). We were assigned a boarding number and told that boarding would begin around 12:30 noon- it actually began at 12:00 noon. We waited outside the ship until 12:00 watching the busy water taxis next to the ship. There is a duty free shop inside the registration area where you can buy wine and bring it right on board into your cabin. They also sell hard liquor at the shop and I think you are also allowed to bring that into your cabin but we only bought wine. Buy your wine at this shop- we bought Italian wines for around $8 per bottle. We were told it was okay to empty out the mini bar on the ship- the steward just placed all the items on the top of the fridge and then we were able to load the fridge in the room with our own wine. You can sign up for the ship's excursions in the registration area. We booked an outside balcony room. It was a decent size and the bathroom was larger than expected. There were 2 plastic wicker type chairs and a small table on the balcony. There are outlets for both American appliances as well as European appliances in the room so adaptors are not needed. We asked for extra towels the first day and from then on the steward always put extra towels in our room. Our steward also brought us fresh wine glasses and left them in the room each day. As others have mentioned, there were no towel animals or chocolates on the beds each night but for the money saved on MSC, we did not need these little touches. The meals were better than expected. We only ate breakfast once in the dining room- it is the same menu as the buffet. The breakfast buffet did not vary much - each day there were french toast, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, bacon , sausage, baked tomatoes, hash browns, fresh fruit, excellent yogurt and lots of cereals and a variety of breads including focaccia, muffins, pastries and toast. Lunch was good with plenty of variety each day. We liked the pizza , there were also hot dogs, hamburgers and many types of hot main dishes, salads etc... We had the late dinner seating at 9:15. Our wait staff was very efficient and friendly. The dinners were better than expected with many entrees to pick each night.There is always a pasta and a risotto- the pumpkin risotto was wonderful! They also had a lobster night- although the lobster was a bit over cooked, it was a good size and tasted great! Lobster night was one of the formal nights and they did a parade of baked alaska the same night. We ate one night in the Chinese restaurant and thought it was excellent- two of our friends went back to the Chinese restaurant for a second night. The Chinese restaurant is very reasonable- all kinds of dim sum for 1 euro apiece or entrees for around $9. I did not expect to like the food on the ship based on past reviews , but it was much better than expected (I recently cruised on Holland America and was surprised that I liked the food on MSC almost as much as the food on Holland America) We thought there was a lack of activities on the ship. On other cruises there have been kitchen tours, food/cooking demonstrations, movie nights etc.. but MSC did not offer any of these. They did offer various exercise classes and some craft classes. We went to a few of the shows- really enjoyed all the acrobats and the magician. We did not make all the shows since we had such a late dining time and the late shows did not start until 11:15-11:30. Some people mentioned that there is a man in charge of the pool area who yells if you move a pool chair, we did not find that on our cruise. No one seemed to care where you put your chairs. You can not get towels at the pool, you have to use the pool towel that is put in your room. There were several days when we did not get a pool towel and we had to search for our steward to find it. We signed up for the ship's tour to the Sassi in Bari but the English speaking tour was cancelled since they did not have enough sign up- they did run an Italian and Spanish tour to the Sassi but we passed on that and walked around Bari on our own. We took a cab to the city center and then walked the town and walked back along the water to the ship (we easily could have walked to the town center from the ship) We enjoyed watching the fishermen catching fresh squid on our way back to the ship.We felt that Bari was a port that we would skip in the future. MSC stops there since it takes on new passengers and lets off other passengers in Bari. We did a private tour in Katakolon- our taxi driver took us to Olympia to see the ruins and then we stopped to shop a bit in the town of Olympia. After Olympia, we went and toured a winery near the ship and then stopped at the shops in Katakolon. We used katakolontaxi@gmail.com and would recommend him again- although he could not give us a tour at the Olympic site since he is not licensed to give tours, he was very flexible with where we wanted to go and stopped whenever we wanted to see something. We paid 180 euro for the 4 hour tour-this did not include admission to the Olympic site. We also had a private tour in Izmir. We toured Izmir and the Virgin Mary's house- we used www.kusadasi-taxi.com- paid $300 for the 5 of us- this included admission to the sites. We toured Istanbul on own- hired a taxi driver for a 45 minute tour around the city and then he dropped us off at the Blue Mosque. Everything is walking distance- the mosque, Hagia Sofia, Topkapi palace, the grand bazaar and the Spice market. We also were able to walk back to the ship. We did not do a tour in Dubrovnik. The ship offers a transfer to and from Dubrovnik for 8 euro (I think), since we were a group of 5, we took a private taxi for 10 euro each way -this was better than waiting in line for the ship's shuttle in to town. There are plenty of taxis waiting when you get off the ship to take you into town. Our biggest complaint about this cruise was the rudeness of the European passengers. There were very few Americans aboard and as others mentioned, the Europeans are very pushy, cut in line, bump into you and don't say "excuse me" and the men have no chivalry! Our other complaint is that you can not get drinking water after 4 pm unless you buy bottled water on the ship. All other cruise lines offer free water in the buffet area most of the night. We also felt the stops in the ports were too brief. Overall it was a great cruise with perfect weather. We would all cruise MSC again! 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
Sail Date: September 2007
The Good : Terrific shore excursions, ports, cabin/balcony great, Balinese spa, massages great, good new workout facilities next to spa, and loved the coffee bar for lattes and espressos. Buy your wine package from your agent before you go ... Read More
The Good : Terrific shore excursions, ports, cabin/balcony great, Balinese spa, massages great, good new workout facilities next to spa, and loved the coffee bar for lattes and espressos. Buy your wine package from your agent before you go -- I got 6 bottles of red and 7 of San Pelligrino water in my red wine package from travel agent for $157 pre-purchase and that was much less than the 149 Euros they were charging on board (about a $50 savings). You could also BYO wine and pay 3-9 euro corkage but we did not do this. Cabin and dining room service was excellent. Pasta, desserts, salads and sorbets were good. Our English speaking table mates were great -- a British couple, Canadian couple, and couple from New Yawk. The shows were among the best I have seen on any cruise line. We particularly liked the Leopard Lounge for after dinner drinks (that was the motif although it was really called the Savanna Bar). Frozen drinks poor (mostly ice) but the Frozen Lemoncello and Liquor drinks were good albeit pricey at $7-10 each. The Sassi, Olympia and Ephesus/Mary's house tours were great. We did Istanbul and Venice on out own using taxis, vaporettos, trams/buses no problemo. We took the ship shuttle for a few euros in Dubrovnik and walked the wall ($20 US for two people for wall access plus 6 or 7 euro per person for shuttle). The Bad : The food, particularly the cooked meat was mostly bad as pork and beef were fried well done in olive oil. The risotto was OK but same thing each night with a different added ingredient. The filet was good on gala dinner night as were all the other items that night, so they could do it well every night if they wanted but were saving money in the food area. Their pizza was worse than any I have ever had in my life, even worse than the tasteless '60s drive-in pizza that we used to toss around like frisbees. We did the Chinese restaurant one night at about $11 euro extra per person. It was a nice change mid week. The balinese chefs gave the food an unusual twist, but at least the meat was tender. All that said there was still plenty to eat and I gained two pounds. I saw no winners in the Casino, and they never got a quorum for the Texas Hold Em table (6 players with 5/10 Euro blinds and 100 Euro maximum bet). Smoke was bad in Casino and some bars but plenty of smoke free bars too. The Ugly: The Italians don't queue (as our British friends said) and stampeded the cafeteria, buffet, buses, etc. Even the Italian crew butted in for their free coffees at the coffee bar and were also rude, but perhaps this is just the Italian culture. The other foreign crew displayed better manners but spoke little English and often gave out wrong info or knew nothing. There was one English speaking cruise hostess gal that provided good info and was available a couple of hours each day. We heard a rumor that most of the Italian passengers delete their 6 euro daily per person tips added to your bill and stiff the cabin/dining service people. Most of the junior cabin/dining staff were from Madagascar and Bali. We gave ours a bit more directly as we received very good service and feared that most of the tips they did get might be siphoned off by the Italian managers. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2007
Cruise Mid of November, East Mediterranean Sea Ship in general The ship is very beautiful. There were many passengers (thereof 2400 German), but one does not notice that there are so many persons. The MSC Orchestra has place enough for ... Read More
Cruise Mid of November, East Mediterranean Sea Ship in general The ship is very beautiful. There were many passengers (thereof 2400 German), but one does not notice that there are so many persons. The MSC Orchestra has place enough for all and many rooms to stay there. However, they had sometimes accumulations: for example at breakfast or at dinner when trips where planned. The cabin The room of the cabin was sufficient and appropriately equipped. We had a cabin outside with balcony on the 10th floor (Lira-Deck), on the port side, very calm. We had nearly every day new towels. Eating. They had a great choice with breakfast and lunch. Those who could find anything should blame themselves. The dinner was also okay. We got always what we ordered. Service Service of cabin and of the reception: They were kind, conscientious. Athletics, entertainment Performances in the theatre "Covent Garden" were absolutely professional. They don't need the comparison with others in the world. The spectators like the performances of the dancing ensemble, the magician, artistic group (the theatre consists of 1000 persons) very much and were enthusiastic. The "Angels Quartet (4 young ladies) played excellent classic music (5 points) "Los Paraguayos" in top form when there were many spectators (4,5 points) In the "Savannah Bar" they played every evening the same boring songs. (2 points) The same the "Shaker-Lounge", which was full of smoke (2 points). Unfortunately nowhere attractive music, we missed international disco music, for example during the pauses in life music they could have played them. The entertainers were foolish, without ideas Of all entertainers we did not like Felice Visone, disc jockey "R32 Dicso, Deck 14": This discotheque was opened about 23 o'clock. When one comes about this time or later to the rooms which were most of times without any people, he played techno music very loudly. When we wished other music, for example discofox, he answered: this is not my music. Even if one evening they announced "Evergreens", they played only stupid techno music. When we said, that they had "evergreen evening", Mr. Visone went to his cabin and played very old twist and rockn'roll. In spite of this many guest arrived and danced. Mr. Visone played the music louder and louder, but the guests remained there. Ten minutes later he played again his techno music and the guests left. It is really a pity that in this beautiful discotheque which is technically well-equipped only techno music is played, though they have all the repertoire of music between twist and techno in the computers. We asked Mr. Visone to play music from our MP3-Player, and we got it back with many viruses, also the Trojaner.  This is a very dangerous thing on a modern ship, which has many computers. Trips on land Very expensive. Many times the visits were included with advertising, sometimes already in the bus. The advertising comprised a half- or one hour. But we had only paid for visits and did not want to loose time and money for this advertising trip. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
There was no proper assistance to the boat, all passengers had to haul their cases a long way to board. No information or welcome was given, nor were the general staff helpful - some were downright rude when asked simple questions.The ... Read More
There was no proper assistance to the boat, all passengers had to haul their cases a long way to board. No information or welcome was given, nor were the general staff helpful - some were downright rude when asked simple questions.The cabin was fine, cabin staff and restaurant waiter really pleasant and helpful. However the ship smelt of sewage during the whole voyage, many passengers had blocked basins and loos. The company caters mainly for German passengers, who made up about 70%.A shore excursion paid for at time of booking was not honoured or provided,as they stated they had no English speaking guide.It took weeks for the travel agent to get reimbursement.All the food was bland,and often very badly cooked - we at least expected some decent pasta on an Italian ship! Orange juice machine was permanently out of order at breakfast time and you were forced to pay for juice from the bar. All drinks both in the restaurants and bars were overpriced, as were coffees. Very limited amount or choice of food in any of the buffets half an hour after breakfast or lunch started.Entertainment was half an hour each evening, very substandard - comics repeating each joke in 3 languages, out of tune quartet etc. The best entertainment was the passengers carol service.There was nothing to do on board, even the library had no more than 6 books in English.The spa was a joke, £90 for a brief massage by a Thai girl with a dreadful cold, who passed it on.The coach from Genoa to Nice refused to stop for a toilet break despite several passengers needing one, some were reduced nearly to tears.Rooms on one deck were soaked when the sprinkler system went off in error, the occupants were not happy, and no apology was forthcoming. Italian passengers were embarrassed for the other nationalities on board, and made their feelings clearly known.Complaints from many passengers were refuted by the company on the basis that no one else had complained! No refund was offered in respect of the many valid complaints. Eventually we were offered a 10% discount on the next cruise with them, which we declined.I suggest you avoid MSC. This review is late because 1) I was not aware of this website, and 2) acquaintances travelling recently with similar bad experiences asked why we did not warn them off! Had I known they were going with MSC I would have done. The ship visited Malaga, Civitavecchia, Barcelona, Madeira, Tenerife, and Casablanca. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
We (DD age 12 & I) returned from the 11 night New Years Cruise on the MSC Orchestra and as it was a great trip and a great ship I decided to write a review. We booked the cruise with an European internet agent and reserved flights on ... Read More
We (DD age 12 & I) returned from the 11 night New Years Cruise on the MSC Orchestra and as it was a great trip and a great ship I decided to write a review. We booked the cruise with an European internet agent and reserved flights on our own. Unfortunately as we reserved the flights without their assistance they did not want to assist us with transfers from Milan to the ship, they & MSC said this was not available. With the info from previous CC travels we were well informed on how to make our way and had no problem doing so. When we arrived in Milan there was a MSC Rep collecting other passengers and luckily as they still had free places on the bus they were more then willing to take us with (price 28 Euros per head, compared with 21 Euros on the bus to Genoa + taxi fare from the station to the port). The bus took about 2 ½ hours and got us straight to the terminal with no hassles of luggage as this was taken care of. Embarkation was quick and easy even though at first it looked like there was quite a line it went rapidly and by the time we got upstairs, picked up cruise cards, took security pictures and gave credit card details we were able to proceed straight onto the ship. We were escorted to our cabin (Deck 11, Aft balcony - # 11247) - the cabin was a bit smaller then we were used to but clean and had all the necessities required. As we were settling in, the cabin steward came by and introduced himself and asked for any special wishes (we requested extra pillows, towels for the balcony chairs, ice to be refilled twice daily and two copies of the daily programme in English - to keep one for the scrapbook). He was great at keeping to the request & kept the cabin spotless throughout the entire cruise. We went upstairs to the buffet as this was the only thing open at this time to get a snack for lunch. The selection was OK but we noted that the selection or variety rarely changed for the duration of the cruise thus we simply ate in the restaurants when we could. The other reason was that the crowds were incredible, OK it was a New Years cruise & the ship was at full capacity but I came on vacation to relax and not be shoved or sit in an overcrowded loud cafeteria style setting. The breakfast selection in both the restaurant and the buffet was the same daily - I admit I miss the eggs Benedict which is one of the luxuries I enjoy on cruises and unfortunately I was told that it sometime is available for lunch. Thus for breakfasts, as my DD tends to want to sleep in as late as she can, I ordered the hot drinks and yogurt through room service and went to the buffet and took a selection of stuff to eat breakfast either in bed or on the balcony (only twice as it was not as warm as we hoped). The food in the restaurants for both lunch and dinners was good, a nice choice of starters, soups, pasta/rice and then main course and deserts with different sorbet and ice cream flavors daily. Time wise it of course took longer but it was a nice opportunity to meet new people and to sit and relax. We had fun having a chocolate fondue at the chocolate bar for a change of taste...even though it was fresh fruit that we dipped in chocolate over a flame it was ever so sinful & it was an amazing way to enjoy the afternoon. As this was an 11 day cruise they had 4 formal/gala nights. The first following a welcome reception by the captain; the second New Years eve and the fourth third again after farewell drink with the captain. There was also a special captain get-together for those celebrating anniversaries, passengers on their honeymoon or repeat cruisers which was also a gala evening. The last gala night they did serve lobster and had the traditional baked Alaska being brought in by the waiters and introductions of the main chiefs and Maitre'd. The Gala buffet during the last gala evening was simply amazing, they put on an incredible spread of very artistic decorations and food arrangements - it's really a shame that some passengers could not respect the 15 minutes viewing time to allow for taking pictures and had to push to get food and destroy the marvellous work the crew put together. I'm always amazed that European cruises are not as formal as American based ships - but to each his own. The ship itself is gorgeous, shinnying with lots of brass and being only a few months old they do a very good job keeping it spotless and very new looking both inside and out. The public areas are spacious with nice touches and variety throughout the ship. For our taste there were not enough organized activities on board, even on the 3 days at sea, when we expected more to be organized - we had to keep ourselves busy and find things to do. The things that were organized were lead by a young and very dynamic team & they did their utmost to keep things fun and active. The shows were good but if you sailed previously with MSC ships many were repeats of both theme/content and costumes - so no exciting surprises for past cruisers. We were very happy with the service all around. The cabin steward was great and even took the extra effort to run to open the door when I was carrying breakfast to the room, he kept us well equipped with ice and our entire extra wishes. The hosts on board both the German (Ulrike) and the English (Maurice) were both fantastic and down to earth with always a smile and good advice; both spoke perfect English and were available if/when questions arose. Restaurant staff was polite and service oriented, for example, our dinner waiter was quick at knowing our likes and was there with ice water before we even had to ask for it and my DD's favorite soft drink was waiting for her. In the lounges and bars it was pleasant to note that we were not constantly asked if we wanted another drink, it didn't feel like if you are not drinking you are not welcome; and when you wanted a drink, the service was prompt. We did not take any of the ship organized excursions as we like to organize our own thing and most of the ports of call were repeats for us we knew what we wanted to do. We met some lovely people on board and truly hope that some turn into e-mail friendships and perhaps even future cruising mates. Disembarkation was a bit of a drag as we don't have EU passports. Even though by the color of our luggage tags we could have been off the ship at 8.30 am as the immigration formalities took longer all those with American, Canadian, non-EU passports waited around the reception until the passports were finally brought in. When they finally came everyone jumped to the reception & it was a herd trying to get their documents to get off the ship. We finally managed to get off after 10.00. Less time to spend in Milan, but just enough to grab one last good Italian Pizza. 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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