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357 MSC Cruises MSC Orchestra Cruise Reviews

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
Sail Date January 2006
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
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
Sail Date June 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 September 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 November 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
Sail Date December 2007
The trip was a TOTAL 100% disappointment to everyone. Following are the troubles we encountered: 1. arrived at port 1:45 P.....got checked in and onboard ship at 545P. No organization /crowd control . No-one from MSC came out to ... Read More
The trip was a TOTAL 100% disappointment to everyone. Following are the troubles we encountered: 1. arrived at port 1:45 P.....got checked in and onboard ship at 545P. No organization /crowd control . No-one from MSC came out to explain what was going on until 5P. MSC never offered a drink or restroom to the crowd. Forklift drivers threatened to run over guests. Broward County Sheriff Dept officers were rude and pushy. 2. went to pool bar at 6P for a cocktail....bartenders ignored everyone....we had to beg to get a drink. The bar was not busy....maybe 7 people were there.....we were 5 of them. 3. went to buffet on pool deck at 615P for a snack....food was over cooked and very little of it. Decided to drink instead. 4. went back to table by pool...was approached by a waitress for drink orders. She did not understand a word of english...and didn't really try. She took our drink orders and came back with drinks. When one of the party tasted her drink it was not what she ordered. She ordered a crown and 7....it came to her as a crown and sour. When she told the waitress it was wrong ...she told the guest that if she didn't like...she needed to go to the bar herself and have it fixed. 5. same waitress came back later and I ordered a glass of water....she brought it back and proceeded to sit it on the other side of the table...out of my reach. Another waitress came over and picked up the glass and gave it to me. She was the ONLY wait staff that was nice the entire 3 days. 6. we went to late dinner....our table ordered iced tea and got it....our other party of 6 had another waiter ...when they asked for tea...they were told he was to busy...couldn't get any tea. Food was delivered and was not good...noone at our table was satisfied with anything except for the bread and butter. One guest sent her food back and asked for the "every night" steak and was told by the waiter they didn't have a steak....another guest at the table was just served one. She left the table with NO dinner served to her. 7. After dinner we visited many of the bars onboard. Never received the same type of glass 1 time for a margarita. Many times we were told that they did not have the beer we ordered...when the guest beside us got one. No of the bars had any limes. Never once was a wait staff happy and smiling. Never did the wait staff ask us if we would like something....we always had to beg for a drink. 8. Went to try and find a snack at midnight....no such thing . No restaurants open. Found a bar offering sandwiches...which were not good at all....mostly bread and a think slice of meat. 9. Have yet to see our room steward. 10. ordered room service at 2am...we were starving. 1 1/2hrs later they delivered ...once again....a bad sandwich. 11. ordered breakfast room service....nothing hot available. Bread again....man can not live on bread alone. People at receptionist desk that answered phone were not pleasant either. 12. Agent at receptionist desk told a guest to "Shut up". 13. disembarked at Nassau and asked the MSC agent that let us off what we needed to board and she replied "I Don't Know" we asked did we only need boarding pass from MSC...or did we also need ID...she replied" I Don't know" we asked if she could find out and she replied" NO"....and to ask someone that was outside the ship !!! Unbelievable ....she was not interested finding out for us. At breakfast before disembarkment one of our group had to drink her orange juice from a bowl because there were no cups. 14. NASSAU WAS WONDERFUL....WENT TO BREEZES AND GOT THE TREATMENT WE EXPECTED FROM THE CRUISE STAFF.....STAFF AT BREEZES WERE SO FRIENDLY AND HELPFUL...AND ALWAYS MADE US FEEL LIKE WE WERE THE GUESTS !!!! 15. AARRGGHH...had to reboard the Orchestra for the remainder of the trip from hell. Yes we needed an ID besides the MSC boarding pass to get to the cruise ships off the island. Good thing we had them. 16. Went to cabin to change clothes....still haven't seen a room steward. Finally figured out how to turn on lights...since there was never a room steward to explain....after trying to call 99 for 1 hour for service we finally decided to use the light from the bathroom for the 1st day. 17. back to the dining room for the last nights dinner. No better than the 1st. Could not get coffee served because our waiter was too busy. Food once again over cooked....never offered a second serving of bread...which was the best thing to eat. Forget dessert....we didn't have all night to wait....and besides heard from others it was not worth it. This if the 1st cruise every that everyone actually lost weight. We looked for food later...but never found any. Called room service but was told it was too late ...we would have to wait for breakfast. 18. My roommate and me both had our c/c scanned at the port in FLL and signed for them. On the first night we both had our charges show up on the TV correct...then next night everything had been transferred to one credit card....when I called for help...they told me that I did not have my credit card scanned at that I would have to go to the Shaker lounge at 6a to have it fixed. I still have a copy of the receipt from check in where I signed to have everything charged to. 19. Disembarkment was just like the trying to board. Unorganized Chaos....2000 people just trying to get off this miserable ship. They turned to air either off or up to 80....people were butting in front of others just to try and leave. 19. Finally make it to the door ...my roommate gives the MSC staff his boarding pass for disembarkment and was told he had to go to the shaker lounge and have his c/c scanned.....we had both done this in FLL and signed a receipt ...(see #18)...seriously can anything else go WRONG !!! He goes to the shaker lounge as instructed to have his c/c scanned AGAIN....waits in line for 30 min...they charge him 2 times...so yes I guess something can go wrong again. Another 10 minutes to figure out how to reverse a charge he waits. Finally has to make his way through the crowd to the exit again. 20. Customs agents and FLL pier employees were very friendly and could not believe that "everyone" that got off the Orchestra had the same complaints. One pier employee said he had worked there for 11 years and had never heard of such a bad experience. The ship itself was beautiful....too bad the staff made the cruise such a terrible experience. 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 January 2008
I have never felt so mistreated and confined in my entire life. First off, the computers malfunctioned. I arrived at the port at 11:00 AM and did not board the ship until 5:30 PM. The ship did not leave the port until 8:00 PM. I had ... Read More
I have never felt so mistreated and confined in my entire life. First off, the computers malfunctioned. I arrived at the port at 11:00 AM and did not board the ship until 5:30 PM. The ship did not leave the port until 8:00 PM. I had not eaten since 7:00 AM. So I head straight for the buffet. The food was terrible quality, I consider Chef Boyardee top notch compared to this mess. Complaining was all I heard such as "I can already tell I'm going to lose weight on this cruise!". After wards I tried to move my dinner from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM. One problem. NO ONE SPOKE ENGLISH. All they could say is "Upstairs" and "Downstairs". I ran in circles for 30 minutes. The few people who could speak some English (very broken) were horrid and full of attitude. Hospitality does not exist on this cruise. The Staff are all the same. No one is distinguished from one another. So I had no one to go to for any guidance. When I tried to ask for a supervisor all I got were blank faces. All I wanted to do was change my dinner time. Later that night (10:00 PM) I was starving. As everyone else was. There is no food after 9:00 PM on the cruise. Nor water. I tried calling room service but it was busy for hours. At 12:00 AM I got through and put in a order. It should have arrived an hour later. It never arrived. I stood up until 6:00 AM waiting. To try and kill time I went to the arcade. The machines do not take American money. The toilet in my room broke twice. The sheets were dirty. The bed was two twins put together so it was very uncomfortable. There was dust everywhere so my allergies were acting up which is unusual for me. The sit down dinner the following night was unpleasant. The waiter could not speak English. He did not ask how my should be steak was cooked. He gave me the wrong order. The food I got... I wouldn't feed it to my dogs. Undercooked meat, clear soup which could be mistaken for water and some rice... Later on he gave water with no ice and when I asked for more water and ice, guess what I got, nothing. I walked out early. The entertainment? Non-existent. There was one show which my high school theater class could have out shined with little effort. I walked out early. I don't mind spending the extra money but on every other cruise ice cream, juice, and soda was included. In all honesty I found this extra effort to be the only enjoyable aspects of the cruise. My boyfriend took a bite of undercooked pizza that night and was throwing up all night. It was a horrible experience... Isn't this supposed to be an Italian cruise? I'd at least expect the pizza to be cooked properly! Is there any pride on this cruise? Culture? Friendliness? It's absolutely unheard of! Shame on the staff! The worst part was trying to leave the cruise. There was no organization. It was a free for all for everyone. The air was turned off and every one of us was packed like sardines for hours. The sweating, the BO, the RUDE UNACCOMMODATING STAFF, was atrocious! People began fighting one another. At one point all I heard was swearing and screaming. The handicapped were not given first priority, so they were being stepped all over and I was being run over! I was being pushed and shoved for three hours, just to get off of the ship. It began to feel as if we were all forgotten about. No one tried to help and organize us. They allowed all of us to panic. It was a nightmare. No food, no water, no cleanliness, no help, no English, no service, no entertainment... Please, do not ever cruise this line. I would not wish this experience on my worst enemy. This is out of the kindness of my heart, please avoid yourself this monstrosity. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
I sailed on the January 17th - 7 days eastern Caribbean. I had a balcony stateroom 9131 on deck 9 midship. I am French Canadian so sorry for the spelling mistakes. I heard alot of people complaining during this sailing but I think ... Read More
I sailed on the January 17th - 7 days eastern Caribbean. I had a balcony stateroom 9131 on deck 9 midship. I am French Canadian so sorry for the spelling mistakes. I heard alot of people complaining during this sailing but I think maybe they were not well informed about this cruise line and expected to much of an North American Style ship and service which is not. It is truly an European ship but are making adjustments for the North American market. Ship: Absolutely clean and spotless. You never feel crowded in the public areas. It is truly a beautiful vessel from the Atrium to the pool area and the spa. Cabin: Our cabin was spotless!! Service from my room steward was great. If I needed something I would call and it would be there in minutes. Alot of space for our clothes etc. Even had cabinets in the bathroom....nice touch. Food: Here is where most of the complaints came from. Yes, they did not have the 24 hours buffet. It would close 45 minutes after breakfast, 45 minutes after lunch and would close at 7:30pm because it becomes an a la carte restaurant where you pay $25. Around 4:30 for about an hour it is tea time at the buffet and you can grab nice little sandwiches and pastries. Yes, they did not have a grill by the pool. Now depending what you are looking for...I enjoyed this because I did not have lines by the pool or the smoke from the grill with the smell of the food around us when we were at the pool. You can simply go to the buffet and get your food and take it outside with you. At the buffet they has burgers, hot dogs, fries, pizza, pasta station, salad bar, desert bar, meats, fish chicken etc.They had pineapple juice, ice tea, coffee and tea that was free. The dining room menu was not great but good. You had a section that had the same thing every night and the special menu that changes every day. They had risotto, pasta, fish, chicken, one night filet mignon and the an other night lobster tails. You have to remember that it is a European ship, therefore they cook their food differently. If you been to Europe before you will find good things to eat all the time. Breakfast and lunch were assume. The service was o.k. I had a discussion with the Maitre D and I told him that the Table Captains should at least take orders because they do not do anything just chat. There fore it leaves 1 waiter and 1 bus boy for 4 tables that are from 4 to 8. That is why the service can be a bit slow. However every night we would start at 8:15 and be out of there by 10:15 which is the average time for dinner with all cruise ships. Shanghai Restaurant: $$ Loves it! Loved it! Loved it! Sweet & Sour soup, garlic chicken & bokchoy, shanghai stirfry....Amazing. Total bill for 2, no drinks $36 with green tea. Room service for breakfast: Typical European.....breads, croissants, pain au chocolate, yogurt, coffee, tea, juices and cereal. Room service menu: Free with sandwiches, cheese platters, fruit platters, salads. Very fast most we waited was 10 minutes. Complaints about ice cream......Yes you have to pay for it $2. However, it is not the typical ice cream fountain you find at a buffet with Carnival....it is an Italian home made ice cream that is called Gelato which is awesome!! They had 10 different flavors. I pay more at home for a Gelato then I did on the ship. Entertainment: Very nice and very cultured entertainment. From opera, a renowned pianist, magic show, circus show, celtic show. One of the best I have seen. However if you want a vegas style show, stay with carnival or RCL. I was there with a group and they all enjoyed it because they were not surprised. They were well informed about the type of cruise it is. Also it is a very relax cruise line with 1 message on the speakers in the morning. Nice touch. The average age is about 60 yrs old. If you want some R&R, good food and not have anything jump at you at every corner of the ship...this could be the ship for you. Like I told my clients before leaving, do not compare it to other ships, pretend you in Europe and just enjoy. Don't let the small things stress you. It is amazing how people would get rattle about the pay for ice cream or the buffet not being 24 hours. When you travel, you must be able to adapt and make the trip your own. The other thing, you must remind yourself that with the hard economics time...we are lucky to be travelling when other people are losing their homes and savings. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN SEA WITH MSC ORCHESTRA First of all I must agree with many grievances read in other reviews: Italians can be very difficult to stand. I know it, I'm with them everyday ... I'm Italian, from North of ... Read More
WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN SEA WITH MSC ORCHESTRA First of all I must agree with many grievances read in other reviews: Italians can be very difficult to stand. I know it, I'm with them everyday ... I'm Italian, from North of Italy. Apart from the fact that Germans too (and Americans too, and many others too) seem to share the same complaints about pushing & towel-marking chairs & "besetz-ing" tables, I try to be different - and I try to avoid these risk occasions. That's why I cruise on Italian ships in Winter. Then, I can't help to note that some low-rating reviews don't actually concern the ship, or the crew, but other passengers. I don't think that people at MSC deserve this, and neither do other Cruise Lines people. A member also criticized the effort to speak in six languages, pointing on the advantage given to the first listeners (of course, Italian guests) ... oh, please. On my cruise announcements were just a few and never spoken in the same order; and sincerely I don't remember any happening that needed to be the first in line. However, this is my review. Along with our sons (14- and 16-years old) we have cruised from 2008 February, 21 until march, 3 the Western Mediterranean Sea with MSC ORCHESTRA (Genoa, Barcelona, Casablanca, Tenerife, Madeira, Malaga, Rome, Genoa). This was our second cruise with MSC, and everything seems confirm our opinion: although the international MSC's motto is "Beautiful, Passionate, Italian" should be added "efficient and well organized". We reached Genoa with our car and had a little tour of the town. A couple of hours before check-in ended we entered a MSC reserved place in the port, where a crew of genoese porters welcomed us. They took just a while to carry away all our baggage and drive our car to a guarded garage (12 days, 120 euros, payment in advance). Soon we entered the Sea Station and started check-in operations: ninety per cent of passengers were already onboard, and so did we in a few minutes. As we passed the MSC security controls, we've been escorted in our stateroom by a steward and invited to take part to the welcome-on-board-cocktail. The cabin is not that wide but even the last and slightest detail has been planned to make it so roomy: there's everything you need and many solutions are really smart. The bathroom is a concentrate of functionality, the furniture is carefully executed and made of pleasantly matched materials and colors. It's fully supplied with towels, beach towels and cushions, as well as with telephone, hairdryer, interactive LCD television set, laptop connection and wi-fi sensor, minibar and electronic safe ... and a fresh fruit tray on the table. The stateroom attendant and his assistant tidy it up twice a day. Every public space on the ship - beginning from corridors and stairs - have been projected and executed with a special regard and attention to functionality and aesthetic quality. Elevators themselves - spacious, fast and silent - are beautiful, fully mirror-finished including the doors which seem to be mirror-coated until you realize they're made of incredibly polished metal. There are aboard many places (mainly on deck 5, 6 and 7) where to meet, talk, read, listen to the music and dance, and there are obviously many restaurants and bars too. You can have breakfast and lunch wherever you like to; we had a great time choosing at deck 13 "Four Seasons Restaurant" or "La Piazzetta Cafeteria", which has tables outside nearby the swimming pools, because of the astonishing view from their panoramic glass wall. At evening, instead, we had at "L'Ibiscus" restaurant a reserved table which Vasileva - a Bulgarian thoughtful waitress - and her friendly assistant were assigned to. Each restaurant has a large choice of excellent food and especially at the buffet ones there's such a wide assortment that any demand can be satisfied both at breakfast and at lunch. At dinner is provided a complete wine list and, apart from all other courses, an every evening different Italian regional menu. As you ask, waiters help you a glass of free iced water (and when you have got two thirsty boys in your family this means less water bottles billed on your credit card ... ). The service is always quick and careful and the buffet restaurant tables are all the time kept cleared off and clean. Sometimes even too quickly. Entertainment is provided by a team of cool young people and many bands and musical ensembles. "LOS PARAGUAYOS", a mariachi band from South America (three guitars and a accordion; the same name of the band we met on MSC MUSICA in 2007 but different players), and "ANGELS QUARTET" (a female set of two violins, cello, piano) from East Europe, are really good and interesting and play "unplugged" here and there near bars and halls. The bands playing at the "SHAKER LOUNGE" and/or "SAVANNAH LOUNGE" are successful too, although they use computerized instrumentation; and so are the single artists performing in the bars. The said lounges are places with as well a stunning stylish decoration as a special attention to acoustic, so that music never seems too loud. About every night are booked variety shows at the "COVENT GARDEN" theater, an hall unbelievably nice equipped with leading audio- and light- systems and surely better than many dry land theaters. Inside the theater is strictly forbidden eating or carrying food and drinks, as well as smoking. As MSC MUSICA was actually completely smoke-free (apart from the cigar room, of course), MSC ORCHESTRA is slightly different: they allow smoking in the Casino and in some parts of the lounges and of the sundeck (usually you can find "Here smokers are welcome" displayed on the left side). Everyday many publishing (program of the day, description and history of the ports of call) are available in Italian, French, English, Spanish, German and Japanese; communication during the shows and the games, and some of the ship's speaker announcements are not provided in Japanese (for oriental guests there was however a Japanese hostess at the reception desk). The guests were German and Austrian (probably the largest group), French, Italian, Spanish and Japanese. There was also a lot of Americans (a Worldventures group); I met people from Texas, Arizona and Nevada. The ones I talked to said they were positively impressed, that there was "an european flair: not better, not worse but ... different" from their previous cruises and that they should surely re-book a MSC cruise. Most of them had a pre-cruise Europe or Italy trip. The crew is English-speaking, as well as two or three more languages. Everyone at MSC ORCHESTRA is always really gentle, careful and efficient. All day- and all night- long there are people cleaning, painting and polishing and doing routine maintenance. The gym - at deck 13 - is equipped with TECHNOGYM machines; it's located at the bow and its glass wall allows to train with a terrific view. On board you can connect to the internet and e-mail, it's not too expensive but it's rather slow. During the cruise a group of Italian actors - and a huge crew ... - were shooting a new episode of a commercial series for an Italian coffee brand from Naples. It was really funny, we took a lot of unusual pictures. In the ports of Tenerife, Madeira and Malaga we were in a row with another nice Italian ship, "COSTA SERENA": another occasion for special photographs. We took about 900 pictures with our digital cameras; but we had been shot too, alone or in group (formal dinner, excursions ashore, entertainment) by the "PHOTO GALLERY" crew. At their store you can get also three custom DVD (the ship, the ports of call, the-cruise-you're-taking-part-of: this last one is of course available just the last day). It's far better to buy the pictures you like during the cruise, as soon as them are displayed on the panels: the last day it's pretty hard to find out your photos trying to choose them among thousands of pictures all filed together in boxes ... Excursions are supplied by external operators: buses and guides are both good. During the excursion you're not under pressure and you've got some free time. We've often taken a ride on a taxi for a personal tour, and we were always satisfied. In Casablanca we took it in the afternoon after having joined the official excursion in the morning, and as we were back onboard we felt ashamed because we paid the driver only twenty euros (that's what we dealt after a long discussion). We're still thinking how to send him another € 20,00. Sadly, twelve days go by so fast and Sunday night we had to line up outside the stateroom door our luggage, marked with an MSC green ribbon. Monday at 7 a.m. we came out of our cabin and went to the upper deck to have breakfast and then we waited for our color to be called. As MSC ORCHESTRA entered the port of Genoa we saw another MSC ship (MSC RHAPSODY) docked near the Sea Station, with a lot of people working on her (technicians, sailors, electricians and so on). How she's small compared to the ORCHESTRA ... We crossed for the last time the gates, we said hello to the security crew and we smoothly got out of the ship. A little later we collected the bags and the car and, as "our" MSC ORCHESTRA got smaller and smaller down in the port of Genoa, we went back to the dry land home. As we say in Italy, "there's no two without three": so we're looking forward to our next winter MSC cruise ... onboard the third sister, the new MSC POESIA who's leaving Dover in April for her first trip. In between we wouldn't mind a cruise in the Caribbean with an American ship ... Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
We wanted a 2-week vacation in Europe, particularly the Eastern Mediterranean, but with airfares so high, and the dollar falling against the Euro, we thought we couldn't afford it -- until our online travel agent told us about the MSC ... Read More
We wanted a 2-week vacation in Europe, particularly the Eastern Mediterranean, but with airfares so high, and the dollar falling against the Euro, we thought we couldn't afford it -- until our online travel agent told us about the MSC Orchestra. We booked an 11 night Eastern Mediterranean cruise, March 3-14, 2008, for what we would have spent just on average hotel rooms for a week in Europe. What follows is my review of the ship as well as our excursions and sightseeing at the ports of call. The entire 14-day trip, including airfare from Washington DC and all sightseeing, meals and drinks ashore, wine on board, and taxis to and from the Genoa airport, cost us less than $2,500 per person. I challenge anyone to fly to Europe and stay for a week for what we spent for a luxurious two week vacation. The Ship: The pictures on the MSC website don't do the ship justice. Last year we cruised the Holland America Noordam, which was built in the same shipyards. The ships are almost identical, like boutique hotels, very modern and stylish decor with lots of marble and granite -- first rate. We booked the least expensive inside cabin, which turned out to be very attractive. Inside cabins measure 150 square feet, outside cabins are 183 square feet, while balcony cabins range in size from 164 square feet to 191 square feet. Suites are 269 square feet. I recommend a suite for a family of three or four, or even for just a couple if you are crossing the ocean (which the Orchestra does on repositioning cruises) and spending more time in the cabin than we spent on this cruise (which had port calls eight of the ten days). Food: Dinners exceeded expectations, given the comments posted by others on Cruise Critic. There was a wide variety of traditional Italian food, each night featuring one region. Presentation and quality compared favorably with trattorias in Italy. The cuisine is typical rustic Italian. The pasta and risotto courses are huge; the meat and fish courses not so large. Typical fish fillet or meat serving is about 6 ounces. Desserts are not the huge portions served in chain restaurants in the US but you can order two if you want, as I did the night I couldn't choose between the panna cotta and the coffee gelato (both of which were excellent). There is more than enough to eat, sized appropriately so that you can enjoy 6 or more courses if you want. If you don't like European food, or your idea of Italian cuisine is Olive Garden, you should pick a different cruise line. If you enjoy slow paced typical European dining, you should be very happy with the Orchestra. One night I had a puff pastry appetizer, pesto pasta, 3 nice lamb chops as a main course, Opera cake for dessert. As good as any food I've had on any ship. Breakfast in the dining room was identical to Holland America, except the smoked salmon portion on the Orchestra was immense. Buffet breakfast included all the usual breakfast items plus mushrooms, broiled tomatoes, and beans to suit European and British appetites. We did not experience pushing/shoving at the buffet, and we always found a table. There is no charge for food in the dining room or the buffets at breakfast, lunch, or midnight. The Shanghai (Chinese) restaurant charges approximately 3.5 euro for soup, and 6 to 8 euro for main dishes. The Four Seasons restaurant also charges extra. The night we looked at the menu, the charge was 18 euro per person for the entire dinner. There were some upscale choices on that menu but we didn't eat there or at the Shanghai so I can't say whether it's worth the extra charge. There is also a charge for gelato (ice cream) other than in the dining room. On the first "sea day" we sampled the 4:00 p.m. tea, which consisted of small sandwiches and pastries. The Orchestra does not serve dinner on a buffet, which may disappoint passengers who lack the patience for a two-hour seated dinner or who want to dine at different times each night. However, you can get pizza or kebabs for about 7 euro until 10 p.m. Room service menu: soup of the day 2.25 euro. Club sandwich 3.1 euro. Smoked salmon sandwich 3.2 euro. Mozzarella, tomatoes + basil, 3.1 euro. Mediterranean salad with tuna and hard boiled eggs 3 euro. Mixed cheese platter 2.8 euro. Fresh fruit platter 2.6 euro. Dessert of the day 3.1 euro. Entertainment: The evening shows are mostly revues with energetic dancers, acrobats/tumblers, jugglers, contortionists, gymnasts, magician, etc. Very high energy. Lots of fun and only 45 minutes so you have plenty of time for dancing or just listening to music after. There were classical music shows and some midnight topless shows that we did not attend. There is also a staff of about eight "animation" activity leaders for the daytime activities such as a minigolf tournament, yoga, stretching/relaxation exercises, aerobics, Italian lessons, trivia contests, bingo, Latin dancing lessons, and talks by the sommelier on Italian wines. The magician demonstrated "micro magic" in two one-hour sessions where you could see his moves close up and still be tricked. The animation team also dance with passengers at night. Every evening, there are six or seven musical groups on board playing live music all over the ship. Internet and phone: The ship has an internet cafe. You put your room card in the slot and you are charged 4 euro for the first 10 minutes, then .40 euro per minute. No discount packages. If you have a laptop or wifi enabled PDA you can buy 30 minutes of wifi for 12 euro, 60 minutes for 24 euro, 120 minutes for 40 euro or 250 minutes for 80 euro. You go to the registration desk, give them your room card, and they give you an envelope with instructions and your logon id and password. The ship has various wifi hotspots. If you want wifi in your cabin, apparently you can get a network cable. I don't know the price of that. The wifi was fast enough for email, but when I used it for Skype VOIP calls, a lot of words got dropped. Still, it's a relatively cheap way to check your home or office voice mail, or to check on the family at home. The information booklet in the cabin said that satellite phone calls from the cabin are 3.99 euro per minute. Someone calling you from the states might have to pay a high per minute rate to reach the ship; best to ask the long distance carrier in advance. I saw some people using their cell phones. MSC doesn't charge for that, but your cell phone company may charge you for roaming at sea. Mine quoted $5.00 per minute. Tennis: There is one tennis court that appears to be full size. Miniature golf: There is a typical miniature golf course. Spa: The spa on the ship is run by a Balinese company and has sauna and steam rooms, which I think are shared by men and women. Various massages and treatments are available at fairly high prices. There also are thermal baths, which may be individual. There are fees (15 euro per hour, with occasional discounts) for those spa facilities. There are hot tubs on the pool deck that are free. Gym: The gym is adequate. There are treadmills, ellipticals, stair climbers, and one circuit of weight machines. Limit of 25 minutes on the cardio machines. Stretching classes were free, some other classes for a fee. No water fountain. Fabulous panoramic view in the front of the ship. The gym got fairly hot with the sun shining on all of the glass. Service on Board: Embarkation -- out taxi knew where to drop us off so that a porter took our bar code labelled suitcases and we didn't have to carry them. Check in was well organized and took an hour. We were shown right to our cabin. Our bags showed up 10 minutes later. Noise issues: Overall we found our cabin to be very quiet. We did hear children running in the hallway, but we didn't hear any voices. Several times we did hear loud music/bass on the other side of our cabin wall. The third time, we called the desk. Within 5 minutes a ship officer came to our cabin to hear the music, and within about 2 minutes after that it was quiet. Our table mates had a similar problem with noise from neighbors, which the staff resolved promptly. Disembarkation: Mid-cruise, a form is put in your cabin for you to complete, indicating your travel plans at the end of the cruise. Near the end of the cruise, the assistant cruise directors conducted language-specific briefings on disembarkation. On the last night of the cruise, they put color coded labels in your cabin for you to put on your luggage. You need to leave your large suitcases outside your cabin door by midnight, keeping your hand luggage. Early in the morning, the ship delivers two copies of your final bill for onboard charges (including excursions, wine, bar drinks, the standard 6-euro per day per passenger tip/gratuity for the waiters, cabin stewards, et al.). If you are satisfied with the bill, you sign one copy and bring it to the registration/information desk or the accounting desk, keeping the copy. If there is an error or you want to delete the standard tip and give tips directly, you go to the accounting desk. On the morning of disembarkation, all passengers have to vacate their cabins by 7:30 a.m. Breakfast is available and the lounges are open. The daily program indicates which lounge you should wait in, based on the color of your baggage tags. After the ship docks and is cleared by the authorities, you claim your passports at the accounting desk (around 9:15 in our case, although no announcement was made). You disembark when they call your color code, with first priority to those with early flights. We had an early flight out of Genoa, so we were in the first group off the ship, around 9:30. All passengers, even those with prepaid transfers to an airport, must claim their own suitcases in the terminal. Luggage carts are provided. Taxi to the Genoa airport is about 32 euro. MSC has a nice private lounge at the Genoa airport. The cafeteria there is also very good and reasonably priced. Clientele: On our cruise, there were about 2500 passengers, only 300 of whom were English speaking (American, Canadian and Australian). Most of the passengers were German. A fair number were Italian. Announcements are made in five languages. Breakfast and lunch in the dining room are open seating. The maitre d' will try to seat you with people who speak your language. Most Europeans speak some English so it's interesting to sit with them. You really feel like you are in Europe when you are sailing the Mediterranean on MSC. Ports of Call: Genoa: We spent the night before the cruise at the Hotel Bellevue in Genoa, which is right across from the main Genoa train station with hourly bus service to/from the airport (Volabus #100). We had a lot of luggage so we took a taxi. The meter read 18 euro but the driver said there were extra charges for airport pickup, second passenger, baggage, entering the old port area, etc., and he insisted on 30 euro. The hotel was only $105 for the night, including breakfast, which was Continental plus yogurt, thin sliced ham and processed cheese. The room was large, about 15' x 15', with a nice bathroom. We had a corner room with huge windows overlooking the harbor. Given the price and location, I highly recommend the hotel. With the windows closed, the trains didn't bother us. Sightseeing -- Monday morning we did some sightseeing in Genoa. In retrospect we should have allowed an additional day in Genoa, either before or after the cruise. Still, we had time to visit the Staglione cemetery, which is not to be missed. We bought bus tickets from a tabac (tobacco shop) for 1.2 euro. The #42 bus left from the front of the Principe train station and took 25 minutes to get to the cemetery. Don't bother with a taxi; the roads are too narrow for any taxi to pass the bus! The cemetery is fabulous, sculpture, monuments, landscaping. On our return, we got off the bus near the middle of town, a five minute walk to the Genoa aquarium, which costs 18 euro per person but was well worth it. The hummingbird forest was not worth another 2 euros per person. Then we walked through the old port city, caught a taxi, picked up our suitcases which were being held at the desk, and headed to the cruise terminal. As described above, embarkation was smooth. Katakolon (Olympia): Katakolon is a small tourist town that is used as an access point for Olympia. Rather than taking a bus tour, we took the train to and from Olympia. The train is only a couple of euro roundtrip. Our ship docked on schedule at 9:00, which was too late for the 8:36 train. We took the 10:13 train which ended in Pirog. We walked through that town until the 11:26 train to Olympia, which turned out to be the same train that leaves Katakolon at 11:06 and gets to Olympia at 11:52 a.m. After walking 10 minutes to the archeological site, we gave ourselves a walking tour for about an hour and a half, then walked back to the train depot for the 1:46 p.m. train that arrived in Katakolon at 2:32 p.m. The next return train, which leaves Olympia at 3:42 p.m., does not get back to Katakolon until 4:30 p.m., would have missed our ship. So we settled for the short visit to Olympia. Fee for the archeological site or the museum is 6 euro; combined ticket for both is 9 euro. There also are taxis in Katakolon but if you take the train you get some contact with the locals, like the old woman we saw waiting at the Pirog train station with the three kids (baby goats) that she had bought in town. We enjoyed a late lunch (pork, not goat) at a seaside cafe in Katakolon. Piraeus/Athens: Having made some friends on the cruise, six of us decided to visit the Acropolis on our own. From the ship terminal, we walked about 45 minutes, mostly along the harbor road, to the metro/train station. That is the end of the line for the #1 train, which costs 1.4 euro roundtrip to Monastirakiou (the 7th stop). The train took about 20 minutes, then it was about a 20 minute pleasant walk to the Acropolis, which you can see from the train station. Admission to the Acropolis was free the day we visited in honor or memory of a government official or his wife, so we don't know the usual admission price. We paid an official guide 85 euro for a private tour (about 75 minutes) that combined history, sociology and politics. Then we walked through the parking lot and up the adjacent hill, about a 10 minute climb via the stairs (it would take about 20 minutes if you take the sloping pathway). The view looking over to the Acropolis was fantastic. We reversed our course and got back to the ship around 3:00. The Orchestra obligingly served buffet lunch until 3:30 including lamb stew and pork stew with prunes, both of which were excellent. Rhodes: We walked through the Medieval old city (including interesting side streets that are free of souvenir shops), and we toured the Palace of the Knights (6 euro). We then enjoyed lunch on the square (9.5 euro for a Greek sampler platter that two of us shared; drinks 4 to 6 euro). Alexandria (Cairo, etc.) Egypt: We assembled in one of the ship's lounges at 8:00 a.m to get our identifying stickers for our 12 hour bus tour to Sakkara, Memphis and Giza. By 8:30 we were on a new, air conditioned bus with a tiny bathroom (toilet and sink), with an excellent English speaking guide, driver, and armed guard. Our bus and about 40 others drove in a convoy with police/security escort on the desert road, a fairly uninteresting 3 hour drive to the outskirts of Cairo. The buses then went different directions depending on the tour. There were tours of the Egyptian museum and Giza; Egyptian museum and Roman amphitheater; Cairo and Giza with lunch on a cruise boat on the Nile. Each of these tours was between 106 and 118 euro. As you will see as you read below, the price is a good value and it would be difficult, if not impossible, to sightsee in Cairo safely on your own, and be sure of returning in time for the ship to sail). Our bus continued to Sakkara, arriving about 12:20 p.m. We had a 40 minute visit to the ancient stepped pyramid (the oldest pyramid in Egypt), followed by a 20 minute drive to Memphis. There we had a 20 minute stop to visit the alabaster sphinx and a large statue of Ramses II. At both of these stops, peddlers swarmed the tourists trying to sell souvenirs and inviting picture taking (one of them taking your picture with one of them and a statute, etc.). The scam is they then expect money, especially to give you back your own camera. This happened to us in Memphis and it was the Tourist Police themselves who tried to shake us down. At Sakkara one of our group ignored the guide's advice to stay away from the camel drivers. Once they were on the camel there was a disagreement about the price to get down. Anyone sightseeing in Egypt should avoid eye contact, much less conversation, with anyone selling or offering anything, including people offering to have their pictures taken for free (it's just not true). After our stop in Memphis, we went to lunch at a hotel in Giza. Although the buffet was included in the tour, we had heard from friends who had traveled to Egypt that North Americans often get sick from Egyptian food, so we ate only what we had brought from home (pasta/tuna salad in poptop cans, nutrition bars, cheese/peanut butter crackers). We also brought our own bottled water because we had been warned that Egyptian bottled water can be contaminated. After the 45-minute lunch stop, we left the hotel around 3:15 and drove to Giza for a quick tour of the pyramids and sphinx (very impressive). Those attractions close at 4:30. Then we went to a papyrus "factory" to see how the plant is turned into paper, followed by 15 minutes to browse the artwork (ink and paints on papyrus rolls). We bought a small one for $11, which they rolled into an attractive carrying tube. Then we had 20 minutes at a gift shop where the prices were supposed to be non-negotiable, but we got 15% off two gold charms. We think our guide got a percentage of what we bought at both places. Back on the bus we fought our way through Cairo traffic, which includes foolhardy pedestrians, beasts of burden, and reckless drivers. Back on the desert road, we arrived at the ship at 8:30 p.m. The ship obligingly had an open seating for dinner for all who had been on tours. Our overall reaction to the day in Egypt was that the sights were worth the 12-hour bus trip but we would not want to return to Egypt. Limmasol, Cyprus: The ship docks in the new port which is about three miles from the old port/town center. The ship offered a bus shuttle for 5 euro per person, but four of us shared a cab for a (negotiated in advance) rate of 10 euro. Then we walked the streets. It was Greek Orthodox festival (the day before Greek Orthodox Lent) so the Castle and the cathedral, etc. were closed, but we enjoyed the small zoo and then we stood on the parade route for the town parade which was great fun. Marmaris: The ship offered a shuttle to and from the town for 5 euro (roundtrip). However, you can walk to the town center in about 20 minutes on a well marked path through the yacht club. From the town center, it's a five minute uphill walk to the castle which has fabulous views. I sent Cruise Critic a photo of the MSC Orchestra that I took from, and framed by, the castle battlements. Warning: If you aren't on a prepaid excursion, you have to pay 2 Turkish Lira (about 1.10 euro or about $1.70) for admission to the castle, and unlike the shops, the castle does not accept euros or dollars. The change bureaus won't change euro coins. So you may want to buy a half liter bottle of water from a shop, pay with a 2-euro coin, and accept 2 Turkish Lira as your change. Marmaris' seaside promenade is about a 45 minute roundtrip walk from the town center. So if you walked from the ship to the end of the promenade and back to the ship, with a visit to the castle, it would take about two hours. You might want to stop for Turkish coffee, lunch or dinner at one of the dozens of waterfront restaurants or cafes in town. Because the port call is a full 12 hours, you may want to take one the tours like the trip to the hillside cave tombs in Dalyon, as you still will have plenty of time to explore Marmaris. Caution: Whatever the official exchange rate, the restaurants and shops are likely to give you much less for your euro or dollar. They also declined to accept my credit card, probably so they could profit from the exchange on currency. But if you change money into Turkish Lira at a bank or money exchange, you can't exchange what you have left over back to euros or dollars. Heraklion (Crete): We walked from the port to the street, turned right and walked about 20 minutes, past the first major intersection. In the next block on the left is the main bus station. In the back of the bus station we found the ticket kiosk for the bus to the Palace of Knossos (the highlight of Heraklion). Bus tickets cost 2.30 euro roundtrip. The bus leaves every 10 minutes and takes about 25 minutes. When you get off, look across the street to your left and you will see a sign pointing to the palace entrance. Admission is 6 euro. There are excellent information signs in English throughout the palace, so we did not hire a guide (which would have cost 120 euro). We spent about 90 minutes at the palace. There also is a museum which we did not visit. Returning to the town, we followed a walking tour from a guidebook. We visited the cathedral and two churches. We walked around the 1628 Morosini fountain on Plateia Venizelou. We got lunch at an excellent taverna, and we liked the local wine so well that we bought two bottles to share with our table mates at dinner on the ship. MSC allows small quantities of wine or beer to be brought aboard. In the dining room they charge a corkage fee of 2.50 euro per passenger who drinks the wine that you bring onboard. After lunch we continued our walking tour and picked up pastries at a pastry shop. Apparently Heraklion is well known for its pastries and the sidewalk cafes that serve them with Greek coffee. On our way back to the ship, we passed by the Venetian Loggia and the 16th century Venetian fortress at the end of the old harbor's jetty. We didn't have time to see if we could tour inside. Naples: The Orchestra arrives in Naples at 8:00 a.m., and "all aboard" is 2:30 p.m., so you have to choose among touring Naples, Sorrento, Capri, or Pompei [their spelling]. We chose the ship's 4 hour excursion to Pompei, which cost about 45 euro. We decided to take the tour rather than public transportation because of the time constraint, as well as the reassurance that the ship would not leave without us if we were on one of "their" tours. The drive from the Naples port is about 30 minutes, followed by a 30 minute visit to a coral/shell cameo "factory" (shop) that is also the bathroom stop. Then our excellent guide gave us a two hour tour of Pompei. I can't possibly describe Pompei in this post except to say that it should not be missed and I plan to return when I have more time. Now let me tell you about a passenger who got left behind. At the end of the tour, the guide showed us the meeting place and gave us 15 minutes to buy souvenirs before walking to the bus, which had been moved to a parking lot. At the appointed time, our group walked with the guide to the bus. One woman ("Mary") was missing. Her traveling companion on the cruise ("Sheila") had not brought this to the attention of the tour guide either at the meeting point, nor during our walk to the bus. The guide and Sheila returned to the meeting point and looked for Mary for about ten minutes. Then they returned to the bus and we drove back to the ship. Enroute, the guide called the drivers of the other buses conducting Pompei tours from the ship, but Mary was not on their buses. The guide left word with the Pompei ticket office to have Mary take a taxi back to the ship. Mary, it turns out, had heard our guide gathering our group, but didn't see him. Rather than calling out to him, or to Sheila, Mary stayed behind and was with another group from our ship, but she did not ride with them. After waiting the better part of an hour, Mary took a (56 euro) taxi to the ship. Mary's and Sheila's point of view is that the guide should have continued looking for Mary even though she was not at the meeting point. Sheila took no responsibility for having left the meeting point without Mary, and without telling the guide until we got to the bus. Mary took no responsibility for leaving the meeting point when she heard but did not see the guide. The ship took no responsibility for anything related to the tour, and would have left without Sheila. Who was at fault? You be the judge. Conclusion: If you have stayed in First Class hotels in Europe, and you have been satisfied with neighborhood trattorias in Italy, you should be very happy with an MSC cruise, and particularly with the MSC Orchestra. Questions?  Contact carron2@msn.com  Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
Background Information: We have cruised once prior to this, a 12 day NCL Baltic Capitols Cruise. We chose MSC for the dates (fit kids spring break) and that we got two kids "free" (taxes/port fees only) in our cabin. Travel To ... Read More
Background Information: We have cruised once prior to this, a 12 day NCL Baltic Capitols Cruise. We chose MSC for the dates (fit kids spring break) and that we got two kids "free" (taxes/port fees only) in our cabin. Travel To Port of Embarkation: We flew from Belgium to the Barcelona airport, landing near 11AM. Taxi to the cruise terminal was smooth and easy. The cab driver did add a port supplement (I have no idea if it is valid) and the tab was about 28 Euro. Embarkation: This ran quick and smooth. We had pre-registered through the internet, so they shot web-cam photos of us, got a credit card signature, and presented our cards. (Oops... first pass they handed me someone else's credit card and receipt to sign!) We were at our cabin within 15 minutes, and our luggage arrived by the time we finished a buffet lunch. Ship Info: The ship was beautiful and very well maintained. The reception area is quite large and open. The theater was very good. The ship was quiet and smooth. One fact I didn't like is the lack of a real promenade deck. While it had the area for life-boat loading, the deck did not continue around the bow and stern, so was not used for walking or running. On the Norwegian Dream this was heavily used. The pools were cold salt-water. The hot-tubs were only luke warm. The recessed nature of the pool deck one deck below the upper sun deck made the pool area much warmer and less windy which was nice for an April cruise. They had a good supply of towels, but only 1 distribution and collection point... for the ship size four should have been provided. They called the upper sun deck the jogging track... no way. The sun chairs blocked the path too much to run on it. They have a big screen TV outside above one pool. It was neat, but several portions of the screen stayed black all the time. Stateroom: I expected a little more room for the second highest category. The balcony was also much less than I expected. We were quite crowded having 4 people in the room, but since two were cheap it is hard to complain. There was a queen bed (two twins combined), a pullout love seat, and one fold down bed. The bathroom was small but nice. The shower curtain was well planned, with the curtain attaching down the whole length on one side, and then having about a 4 inch overlap with a glass edge, so leakage past it was not a problem. Storage space was at a premium. In a couple places corner shelves could have been placed above items like the TV and a corner night stand, without taking space away. The light were not well planned. First, you need to insert the room key into a slot near the door to turn on the lights (common in European hotels). Then, you could not turn on and off most lights individually.... and two were high power spots directly over the fold out bed, shining right on the face of the person in that bed. This plan did not allow me to stay up late and read, as everyone would be subject to the light. Also, I had a run-in between my head and the fold down bed when getting up one morning.... it is right where you sit up on the side of the bed. Activities: With port calls everyday, we did not use many ship activities. The gym was good, with a nice view out the bow. Equipment included 6 treadmills, elliptical, bikes, a few weight machines, etc. Dining: This was the weakest area. Here's the by-meal breakout: - Breakfast. There is the buffet or in the restaurant. We used the restaurant day 1. The scrambled eggs were runny (yuck!), the bacon was to an American way under cooked (yuck!), the sausage and breads were good. The other days we used the buffet on Deck 13... at least we could see it before taking it. The menu sign said omelets to order. I tried to order one and was pointed to the pre-cooked ones with nothing in them. The bacon again was under-cooked, although the menu sign boasted of crispy bacon. There was a good selection of fruits, yogurt, meats, sausage, sunny side up, hard-boiled and scrambled eggs, plus breads. The only drinks included were tea, coffee, milks, water and so-called fruit juice (tastes like Tang). The buffet was crowded, and sometimes hard to find a seat, specially if the port call schedule drove people to eat at a certain time. - Lunch. Although they advertise the buffet, pizzeria, grill, and Villa as all available for lunch, the first three are all the same place....I went looking for them, and finally called to ask where they are! The food was OK, and only OK. No drink except water is included. - Dinner. The selection was decent. Most nights had 3 appetizer choices, a salad, 2 soups, 2 pasta/risotto dishes, 3 main choices, and dessert choices. They also had always available a beef, chicken, fish, and spaghetti meal plus a mixed salad. The quality was generally good, but not excellent.... clearly below our experience on NCL last summer. Beef was often overcooked. A real shortfall was NO DRINKS ARE INCLUDED. Not even water. A 75cc bottle of water was 2.60 euro. The service was not well organized. I expect everyone to receive the same course at the same time. This did not happen. Half the table might get a course, while the others sat with nothing for 5-10 minutes. We had the early 7PM) seating, and it normally lasted 90 - 110 minutes. We always were out in time for the evening show. Children's Clubs: Not used with a port every day. Service: OK. No ice in room first 36 hours until I asked (although the in-room material said it would automatically be provided). The room steward did a good job. The waiters/waitresses were not pushy. Entertainment: Decent, at least most of it. We watched the show every night. Four African acrobats were the stars many nights. Not only did they have incredible strength/coordination, they put on a good show with their talents. There was an alright magician, who stared one night and was a short act two others. One guy threw knives into the floor.... could have done without that. Another spun balls on strings and hit them on the floor to make a tap dance type noise.... much of the audience loved it when he swung them so they brushed his long hair, but we found it dull. They had two excellent singers (male tenor and female soprano) who were very talented. The Cossack dancers could not compare to the real ones we saw in Russia! The introduction in 5 languages was painful! Shore Excursions: We used the ship transfer to Marseilles, a fair deal at 7 euro each. We also used the cultural and historic Tunis tour. We were mostly pleased with the tour. It went to Sidi Bou Said (this is pushy sales people starting negotiation on a cheap dress at 160 euro, being insulted when we offer 10, then counter 80, 60, 40, 20 then being mad we didn't go for 20), and could be skipped. Also in this city they gave a carpet sales pitch.... I paid for a tour not a sales pitch. Positives were Carthage & the museum, plus unscheduled Roman amphitheater ruin and swing by the American Military Cemetery. The guide was knowledgeable, but really wanted everyone in a group and paying attention to him.... sometime we want to look around! The tour ran 5 hours vs. the 4 advertised (a positive). This itinerary goes to some of the dirtiest large cities in Europe. Marseilles, Genoa, Naples and Palermo just are not that nice, and do not provide a safe feeling. Also, the ship sold port maps for 50 euro cents, and provided a top ten list for each port. Helpful for those who do not research/plan in advance. Disembarkation: Our bags had to be out by midnight the night before, which is fine. I didn't like that we had to clear the room by 0730, 2 hours before our meeting time for disembarkation, and had to haul our small bags until then. They did not offer a place to hold your bags at the Barcelona port if you had time to explore the city. We took a taxi to Estacio Saints Barcelona Central and put our bags into storage lockers. We fit 4 medium to large suitcases, and two carry-ons into two large lockers @ 4.50 euro each. Summary: Good but not great. The food was the biggest let-down. The ship was super. Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
My wife and I have taken four cruises before the one on MSC Orchestra. We disagree on many things, but on this we agree: Our cruise on the Orchestra was our worst. Here are the reasons. From our first night we had a clogged shower drain. ... Read More
My wife and I have taken four cruises before the one on MSC Orchestra. We disagree on many things, but on this we agree: Our cruise on the Orchestra was our worst. Here are the reasons. From our first night we had a clogged shower drain. We were told we had to be present in our room for someone to fix it and someone would come within five minutes of our call and it shouldn't take very long to fix. The next day after lunch we had some time so we called for a plumber to fix the shower drain. Fifteen minutes after our call the room steward showed up with a standard vacuum cleaner to fix it! He did some vacuuming of the dry shower stall and declared the problem was fixed! He then promptly left so we turned on the shower and the water did not drain. We called the information desk again for a plumber. They said one would be right up. Fifteen minutes later someone showed up at our room with a wheelchair they said that we had ordered. We explained that we ordered a plumber and not a wheelchair! Twenty minutes later a plumber finally showed up and in fifteen minutes fixed the problem. Not correcting this problem for us in a timely manner cost us the opportunity to catch the last shuttle into the city for a visit. Our experience with the tour desk also was problematic. First, we were told that the excursion we had most wanted to take from Marseilles, France, the eight and one-half hour Avignon & Marseilles, was canceled. The reason they gave was a lack of participants, but the real reason we think is that the ships time in port would not allow the longer excursions! They should not show these excursions as being offered (on the internet or at the tour desk) if they cannot or will not let you take them. We purchased three other excursions at the tour desk for different ports and were told that the excursions tickets would be delivered to our room the night before the excursion at the same time the steward deliveries the next days ships pamphlet of activities, which was usually by 9 P.M. It happened this way for the first excursion, but on the night before our other two excursions our tickets were not delivered to our room. We went to the information desk and inquired. We were told the tickets were being delivered to our room. We went back to our room. No tickets! We went back to the information desk and they sent us to the tour desk. The tour desk said the tickets would be delivered to our room. When we went back to our room later, there were no tickets. We went back to the tour desk. They told us they would personally deliver the tickets. The tickets never came! The next morning we went to the excursion meeting lounge and with great difficulty were able to get a tour leaders attention about our problem. They checked their list and verified we had paid for the tour and issued us hand written tickets for that days excursion. That night was the same thing all over again with our tickets for the next days excursion. We called the tour desk and complained. Mariam from the tour desk promised to personally hand deliver the tickets to our room. She never did! We went to the excursion meeting lounge the next morning and again after some difficulty were able to extract hand written tickets for the excursion. So, it seems neither the information desk nor the tour desk knows what customer service is. Nor do they know how to apologize. They do know how to tell you what they think you want to hear to get rid of you, but their promises are worthless! They try to pass it off as "you misunderstood me", but my wife and I were both present and we both heard the same thing. They lie! The life jacket demonstration was a joke. The person demonstrating how to put on the life jacket did not speak very good English and she was not familiar with how to explain the process. She had to keep reading and it made for a disjointed demonstration. Also, the music and talking in the adjacent lounge was so loud it was difficult to hear and concentrate on what she was attempting to explain. Thank goodness that putting on a life jacket is much easier than she made it look! The tour desk requested many passengers passports, ours included, two days before we were to disembark with the reason being the Spanish authorities needed to examine them prior to our disembarkation. After the ship left the Spanish island, Palma De Mallorca, we went to the information desk and requested our passports. They said we had to pick them up in the morning prior to disembarking. The next morning we went to get our passports and the information desk said we had to disembark first and the authorities would give them to us once we had left the ship! Fortunately, we saw one our dinner group with his passport which he said he had just picked up from the information desk. We went back to the information desk and demanded our passports and they were finally given to us. What a disservice to us to "misinform" us about when and where we would get our passports back. I hate to think of the problems we would have had if we had left the ship without our passports and went to customs. We would have missed our flight home to the U.S.A. Also, at the end of the cruise, when we went to the information desk to verify and authorize the charges we had made while on board, we discovered many charges that were not ours. We disputed those charges but the person at the information desk insisted that the charges were ours and demanded that we sign for them. We refused and upon further examination of the bill discovered that the disputed charges, which amounted to more that 400 Euros, belonged to passengers staying in the room next door. The person at the information desk then corrected our bill, but did not offer any sort of an apology. We also wish to make it known that the internet information we were given about what dinner attire would be was not entirely accurate. There was supposed to be three classifications: Formal, Semi-casual (no jeans), and casual. It turned out that there was never any dinner occasion that called for semi formal attire so we had packed far more clothes than needed. So the dinner attire is either formal or casual. No in between! Another issue is that on the Tunis, Africa early morning excursion, that leaves at 7:15A.M., they do not serve breakfast any earlier than normal. Breakfast, as usual, 7:00 A.M. so there is no time to eat prior to the excursion! And be careful of the lunch hamburgers from the cafeteria. They are cooked on the outside but are raw inside! Be careful at dinner if you order a glass of wine. You may get a carafe instead! The entertainment was repetitious. Each night's so called "different " entertainment had many elements of the same type in them. And if was laborious to listen to the pre entertainment introduction in four languages. Just start the show! Forget the introduction. The name tags the employees wear have the names in such small print you must ask for their names. So, in summary, we would not recommend this cruise ship to anyone. We all make mistakes, but according to them, they never did. The prevailing arrogant attitude and unapologetic nature of the information and tour desks made for much unnecessary unpleasantness. This vacation cruise was not the fun get away we had hoped it would be. I hate to be so negative but this cruise line deserves it. 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 April 2008
After reading the posted reviews on the Orchestra, I am compelled to post one of my own. I always find it amazing that people have unrealistic expectations about travel. Rule of Thumb, Do Your Homework. The higher the price, the more the ... Read More
After reading the posted reviews on the Orchestra, I am compelled to post one of my own. I always find it amazing that people have unrealistic expectations about travel. Rule of Thumb, Do Your Homework. The higher the price, the more the amenities, better the food, more professional level of service. For the 3300.00 USD I paid for 2 adults and 2 children for free, I will gladly give up 17 dining options for dinner and over and above children's programs, and nightly entertainment. This trip cost almost 1/2 of what other cruise lines were charging for a Mediterranean cruise, and it delivered in high marks in most cases. Known fact, European ships have smaller staterooms in all categories, Europeans have different social habits than Americans do. I've been on 7 cruises and after you realize that Europeans don't pay attention to waiting in line, you'll get over it. If I took the same cruise on Royal Caribbean or Carnival, we could not have gone. The children's program was good, not nearly what a Carnival ship would have, but, THE KIDS LOVED IT and we were able to go on a fabulous 7 city Mediterranean and North African cruise. The food was southern italian, happens to be our family's typical food at home, so, that was great. If you want more options (HOW MUCH CAN U EAT ANYWAY) than a U.S. line is where you should be. But, even when we paid up for the optional restaurants, we still came nowhere near what that same trip would be on the U.S. lines. It's not for everyone, Caveat Emptor always. The embarkations for the excursions were smooth as silk, the help pleasant, ship was SPOTLESS. I will say that the a/c in the room could have been cooler.Our only complaint. It was our second non-U.S. cruise, and I would definitely take one again. Especially at those prices. The entertainment was cheesy to ok. But, let's figure out what three meals a day, hotel resort daily fees, entertainment, all come to. In NYC-NJ where I live, I could not even think of spending 571.00 a day, it would be much more. So, for my money, a state of the art brand new ship, good food, international flair, living for 7 days with other cultures and seeing a boatload of new and exciting ports of call for 571.00 per day for 4 people, was an amazing bargain. For those who don't need to have 25 choices for dinner, (does anyone eat like that at home?) MSC is an amazing choice. BTW, most nights had a great Midnight buffet. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Just returned from a fantastic cruise. Check-in was a breeze and friendly. I was a bit apprehensive after booking this cruise mainly because of the number of passengers and the reviews that have been posted and also that the cruise was ... Read More
Just returned from a fantastic cruise. Check-in was a breeze and friendly. I was a bit apprehensive after booking this cruise mainly because of the number of passengers and the reviews that have been posted and also that the cruise was fully booked. However all I can say is it was far better than expected. Cabin was fabulous; hairdryer, soaps shampoo, dressing gown, flat screen TV where you could check your account and also do shopping if you wanted. The only thing I would've liked is some English speaking TV programs, but you don't spend that much time in your cabin anyway so it wasn't a big problem. Food was great, we did buffet for breakfast which was really fresh and plenty to eat. Only thing was when you lined up for your coffee or tea the older ladies on the cruise pushed in (there was no organization eg a line). We had no trouble getting a table on deck or inside to have our breakfast. Lunch was the same, buffet. We had every intention to use the dining room, however never got around to it because the food at the buffet was exceptional. Dinner we dined in the dining room each evening. One night we missed our sitting because we got back from on shore too late, but they accommodated us in the next sitting. We booked one shore excursion in Tunis, however it was cancelled due to Ramadan, so the four of us hired a taxi and we saw the sights anyway. Once the excursion was cancelled it was immediately taken off our account. I did take a few evening clothes which I did not wear as most nights were casual - I only dressed up for the Captain's cocktail party. I would recommend MSC Orchestra and I would definitely travel on this ship again and hopefully it is in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
This was booked with a budget in mind - and we got a balcony for the same price as an outside cabin! The flights were good and the transfer from the airport very good - although as Genoa is one of the smallest airports I have been to in a ... Read More
This was booked with a budget in mind - and we got a balcony for the same price as an outside cabin! The flights were good and the transfer from the airport very good - although as Genoa is one of the smallest airports I have been to in a long time I don't think it would be difficult to have a smooth transfer. Genoa was not a great looking place but as we were only passing through we were not overly worried. Our room was clean and a standard size - with a small balcony - but it had a table and chairs and we sat out with our friends from the next room. This is a new ship (one year old)but the standard of cleanliness is superb. Dining options were harsh - early sitting was 7pm and late was 9:30 - very continental - so the show after meant a late night - not great if you want to get off every day and this ship had port days every day. We found that if you missed your evening meal there was no buffet option - but you could pay for pizza or kebabs? There was also no coffee or water unless the buffet was open - and then there was only coffee at breakfast - you had to pay any other time - again I was informed that they had removed the after dinner coffee to enable the restaurant to reset for meals. I could not even get my herbal tea - and a cocktail from the bar completely threw them - they would bring wine and beer and you had to pay for water on the table at dinner. Found the level of noise high - very talkative people - the entertainment was very holiday camp style and all introductions were done in about 4-5 different languages, so we always knew what to expect. The food in general I found good - and as it is Italian it was a six course evening meal rather than the usual five (pasta/risotto course). The pasta and desserts were superb!Fresh italian ice cream daily! There were a few sticky moments with waiting staff not understanding us as there second language was Italian (for asian crew) but pointing at the menu is always a good option. Excellent service in the bar - but then we seemed to be the only people drinking - lots of people around but no drinking taking place. Bar prices were higher than US ships - gratuities were about the same. Onboard shops/spa and casino run by different company than used on US ships - so different type of merchandise, clothing and jewelry. They still had the usual inch of gold and venetian glass/swarovski stuff. Excursions were expensive - but then we do not have a good exchange rate! They did not seem to offer lots of alternatives - which can be good - as some ships seem to offer trips just for the sake of it (well a shopping excursion anyway) We did one trip - to Pompeii and we had a 25 minute wait (shop excuse) before we went in and the same joy when we came out - This was only a 4 hour trip - I would have preferred longer in Pompeii and headphones and a map - we were the only group going around with a guide talking to a large group. Read Less
Sail Date September 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 October 2008
EMBARKATION: Embarkation was fairly quick for us. If you pre-register your passport information online and have your printout available at check-in, you will be able to go to the express check-in line. The earlier that you get to the ... Read More
EMBARKATION: Embarkation was fairly quick for us. If you pre-register your passport information online and have your printout available at check-in, you will be able to go to the express check-in line. The earlier that you get to the port, the earlier you get on board. MSC issues numbered tickets once you have gone to the terminal registration counter where you provide your credit card and receive your room cards. On our particular cruise, we arrived early enough (around 1100) that we were numbers 160-165. These numbers are called in sequential order when it's time to board. We were then ushered to the waiting room where several tables had been set up to purchase drink or spa packages prior to boarding. Now, by the time that we boarded there were nearly 2,000 people (mostly Italian & German) pushing and shoving to the front of the lines. Having lived in Europe for five years, this wasn't new to me. However, for those Americans that will be boarding in Genoa, be forewarned. Most Europeans do not share our views on personal space nor do they believe in waiting patiently in lines. It is, simply, a survival-of-the-fittest mentality here. The MSC crew and Port Authorities did a terrific job of managing the mob scene and in the blink of an eye, our numbers were being called to board. THE ROOMS: We had a balcony cabin on the 12th deck. It was quite adequate for our family of four (2 adults & 2 children, ages 5 & 10). There were not any free movies offered nor much in the way of English television shows. They offer a single news channel, a few international channels and a pay-per-view movie channel that is definitely overpriced. We had brought our portable DVD player(and movies)from home which we connected to the TV in the room. FYI, the TV's have easy access RCA plugs to connect your DVD player to but the power outlet is located a good 7 feet away from the TV. I suggest bringing a small extension cord for this purpose. The bed was extremely comfortable and the room attendants did a WONDERFUL job of keeping everything clean & tidy. Our towels, toiletries & fruit were replaced practically every time that we left the room. The attendants even folded our clothes for us and left them on our bed. The sofa bed and murphy bed were turned down every night during dinner and every extra request that we made for ice or extra pillows was met immediately. THE KIDS CLUB: More than half of the kids in our group (ages 5-13) truly enjoyed the kids club. It is a free service even on port days and the kids participate in many different activities. They took the children to the shows in the theatre every night and had a different themed party (ie..pizza, hot dog, Disney, Carnivale, etc...)every night. The older kids participated in scavenger hunts, arts & crafts and dance lessons while the younger kids colored, played on the play ground & occasionally watched movies. The only downside was that most of the Kids Club Attendants did not speak English and the children that participated in the club were diverse in age and language spoken. THE FOOD: Now having never cruised before, we really have nothing to compare MSC food to. The buffet was standard, not spectacular but not offensive. They had something for just about every nationality. I would suggest that, when possible, eat at Villa Borghese(on deck 5, I believe) for breakfast and lunch rather than try to find a table in the crowded cafeteria. Villa Borghese and L'Ibiscus are no-charge and the food quality always proved much better than the buffet. Drinks are NOT free on MSC. Be prepared to spend 2 Euro a bottle for water or single can of soda. Although, they state that you cannot bring your own water or soda on board, we had no problems bringing back either water or soda from the grocery stores in Barcelona or Malaga. Dinner was outstanding, in my opinion. We had first seating and the same waiter for our entire 12 day cruise. There were very few dishes that got the "thumbs down" from our table. Our waiter, Utama, was always quick to change out any dish that we didn't like. With the several options available every night, if we chose wrong the first time, we always ended up full and happy at the end of the evening. The afternoon tea in La Piazzetta from 1600 to 1700 was perfect on port days when we would arrive back on board exhausted and starving. THE ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment team onboard was highly energetic and a lot of fun. Most, if not all, of them were Italian. They were all multi-lingual and it was really awe-inspiring to see them switch languages during Bingo or Trivia. The nightly shows that we went to were good and the theatre itself is spectacular. PORT CALLS & DISEMBARKATION: Access on and off of the ship during port visits was ALWAYS quick and painless. I found the process to be very well organized and amazingly fast. This was very important as MSC tends to have very short port times compared to most other cruise lines. We simply loved that we could order our shore excursions or room service on our TV with the remote control. Once we decided on a shore excursion, we simply clicked to order and our tickets would be waiting on our bed after dinner the night before that port visit. Disembarking back in Genoa was SO fast. Our disembarkation color was called at 0845 and by 0910 our entire group of 20 had their luggage and their persons on board our chartered bus and we were headed for the freeway. IN SUMMARY: MSC is a GREAT value for families. Kids under 17 always sail for free which is a tremendous savings. I can say that we paid 50 percent less for our 12-day cruise on the MSC Orchestra then we have for our next 13-day cruise on NCL and that is with NCL's 15 percent military discount! MSC is not perfect but every vacation is what you make of it. We had an amazing time on the Orchestra and will definitely sail with MSC again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
My cruise was from Genoa, Italy to Barcelona, Spain to Casablanca, Morocco to Grand Canary, Canary Islands to Funchal, Madeira to Malaga, Spain to Civitavecchia, Italy and back to Genoa. On our cruise, we were accompanied by four other ... Read More
My cruise was from Genoa, Italy to Barcelona, Spain to Casablanca, Morocco to Grand Canary, Canary Islands to Funchal, Madeira to Malaga, Spain to Civitavecchia, Italy and back to Genoa. On our cruise, we were accompanied by four other couples with children. This is the first time any of us have gone on a cruise. We are all active duty military and departed by bus from a base in Naples, It. The drive up to Genoa took 7.5 hours. Prior to our departure, we all filled out and printed our preboarding passes on line through the MSC website. The bus pulled up right in front of the terminal and the stewards were pulling our luggage out of the bottom of the bus before we could even get off. After ensuring our luggage was handled we proceeded into the terminal. There was a little bit of a line as we moved through the security/passport stand and up to registration. Registration could have been much smoother, as a few of the families got shuffled into the pre-registered line and a few went into the regular lines. Those of us that went into the regular lines actually made it through much faster. After registering, we moved forward to a section of the terminal set up for passengers to start purchasing packages. Boarding started at 1300, and we were onboard by 1400. There was some small buffet items available for those who were hungry. Our cabins were ready and we got rid of our carry on luggage and went to explore the ship. Our regular luggage started arriving about an hour after we got into the cabin and filtered in for about two hours. We were on the 12th floor with outside balcony amidship. The balcony had 2 chairs and a small table, and was comfortable for about 3 people but one of the other families traveling with us was right next door and we were able to open the balconies to create an even larger space. The rooms seemed adequately sized for our family (two adults/two children - 13 and 5). There was just enough storage space for all the clothes and the suitcases and shoes went under the bed. Our room steward did a great job of keeping the room clean and tidy. Entertainment: The entertainment team worked hard to provide decent entertainment to all onboard. I was impressed with the fact that most spoke 4-5 languages proficiently. The singers were marginal at best, but they did seem to know their limitations and played to their strength. The shows in the large theater seemed a little cheesy, but I do not know how nice they are elsewhere. Customer Service: Our group had what I believe was pretty good service. In general, we went to a lot of the same places on the ship (cigar bar, savanah bar, etc..) and we got the same servers who would come seek us out and did a great job of taking care of us. Food and Service: We generally had breakfast and lunch in the buffet dining room. The menu was generally the same everyday (specifically breakfast) but wasn't bad. Dinner was at our assigned seats and was better than what I had expected. Our waiter was always prompt and did an outstanding job keeping up with our mix and match tables (two tables with adults and children bouncing between the two). Most of the food was prepared and presented nicely, with only a few exceptions. The pasta was not as good as I would have expected from an Italian Cruise line, but still not bad. There are plenty of complaints about what and how much is being served onboard MSC. That said, I never found that I was hungry. You can order from every section of the menu (App. / Soup / Salad / First Course-pasta or risotto / Second Course-meat or fish with sides / crackers and cheese / dessert). We did eat at the Chinese restaurant one night, and the food was very good, but you do have to pay for that. children: All of our families had children and other than a few instances, they seemed to have a great time. Kid Club opens at 0800 and closes for 2 hours at lunch and 2 hours at dinner. Final pick up time is 2300. The kids seemed to have fun, coloring and doing arts and crafts, as well as age appropriate scavenger hunts. They also went to some of the shows in the theater. There was a different theme each night (pizza party, PJ Disco party, etc etc..) and the kids would generally run up there as soon as they were done eating their dinner. Of note: when the ship is going to be in port for longer periods (9-12 hours) and there are tours that go all day, Kids club will open and stay open all day long so you can go see something without having to take the kids along. VERY USEFUL. Overall, I was very satisfied with this cruise. So much so that we are already planning our next one. To note: Cruises here in Europe are going to have Europeans onboard (newsflash I know). Italians/Germans/Spanish are very pushy and will appear rude if you are not prepared for it. If you are able to work through that, the cost of what you get with MSC is outstanding. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
MSC Orchestra Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 4.0 3.0
Entertainment 3.0 3.4
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.3
Family 3.0 3.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.1
Enrichment 2.0 2.8
Service 3.0 3.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.3
Rates 4.0 3.9

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