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My family and I (son, his wife and my twin grandsons, aged 11) sailed on MSC Orchestra from Dubai around the United Arab Emirates on 14th February. I have travelled many times before with MSC but this was the first ever cruise for my son and his family, who are based in Dubai. I had joined a Roll Call for this cruise and the group met up on the afternoon we boarded and it was so nice to put faces to the names on the Roll Call. Many at the gathering were staying on the ship and then sailing on to Australia reaching Freemantle 33 days later! We all got on so well and met up several times around the ship during the week. We did not sail until 11 pm (although it was stated in all paperwork that it would be 10 pm). The compulsory lifeboat drill was held at 11.30 pm. As you can imagine those who had had long haul flights or even overnight flights arriving early in Dubai that day were very tired. A lot of the children were half asleep anyway at that time but ours managed to get through it and thought it great fun! We had two balcony cabins on Deck 11 and these were very spacious, even with the family's cabin having a drop down bunk bed and single sofa bed. There was plenty of wardrobe space and lots of drawers, the bathroom was fine although as on a lot of ships the shower was quite tiny. Our cabin steward, Jean-Patrice was very efficient, friendly and most helpful. He kept the cabins spotless throughout the cruise. Orchestra is a lovely ship and it was kept very clean. There was always something to do in the many bars and lounges. All the staff were friendly and helpful and would always acknowledge you if you met them around the ship. The entertainment staff worked tirelessly throughout the week to ensure everyone had a good time. The nightly shows were excellent and the cruise director was very talented with his command of so many languages. It did not bother us having to listen to all announcements in so many different languages. We purchased the All Inclusive 24hrs Drinks Package and the packages for the boys. These were excellent value for money. We certainly enjoyed sampling the various cocktails of the day and the twins thought it great to have their own cocktails along with unlimited milkshakes and ice creams! We opted for first sitting for dinner and our waiters were very efficient and certainly made a fuss of the boys. The food was varied and every meal well presented, nicely cooked and very tasty. The gala nights were very good and the family enjoyed the traditional parade of the Baked Alaska and the staff being introduced to the diners. We tended to alternate between the main dining room and the buffet for breakfasts. It was nice to have a leisurely start to the day in the main dining room as the buffet could be hectic at times. Lunchtime in the buffet was very busy with so many people queuing up and it was difficult sometimes to find a seat easily. We did not go to the speciality restaurant (extra charge there) but heard good reports from some people who did. The pool areas were kept clean and spotless but the sunbeds were packed so close together and on the day at sea, especially, it was difficult to find somewhere with space to move about. The pools were, in my opinion, not very suitable for someone like myself with mobility problems. There was only one step ladder in and out of the pools which were all one depth (6ft) - steps gradually leading into the pools at one end would have been helpful. A lot of people were complaining about the pool water and several were experiencing sore eye problems even though some did wear goggles in the water. The shops on board had some interesting items - some very expensive but there were bargains to be had. The Pandora stand was certainly excellent value with a lot of the items almost half price - needless to say I took advantage of that, as did daughter in law!! The ports of call were interesting. As I had already done the same itinerary on Lirica last year and because living in Dubai the family had already toured ABU DHABI, we spent a relaxing day on board at this port. We were able to enjoy the pool area, played putting and shuffleboard and were able to explore the ship whilst it was quiet. I would recommend that anyone visiting Abu Dhabi for the first time should visit the mosque and the Emirates Palace Hotel - sights not to be missed. Members of the Roll Call who visited these places agreed with my recommendation. KHOR AL FAKKAN - There was not a lot of choice for ship's excursions at this port so we opted to take the ship's shuttle bus to the port gate and there we boarded the free shuttle bus provided by the Oceanic Hotel We were able to enjoy all the hotel facilities - the pool area, where towels and sunbeds were provided, the lovely sandy beach and a fantastic buffet lunch in the hotel's restaurant. This worked out at 120 Dirhams per adult (about £20) and half price for the children. Excellent value when you consider that one of the ship's excursions to a beach resort for just about 5hours cost more than twice the price and did not include lunch. MUSCAT - We decided to take the Hop On Hop Off Bus tour. The ship's excursions were overpriced and we did not fancy being herded on and off coaches with lots of other people. On my previous visit to Muscat I did the Mystical Muscat tour which was enjoyable but it was much more relaxing on the tour bus. The commentary was excellent and we were able to see all the various sights at our leisure, getting off and on the bus at places of particular interest to us. We visited the Duty Free Shop at this port and got some real bargains. However, our drinks purchases were swiftly taken away from us as we re-boarded the ship but we did get them back on the last night of the cruise! KHASAB - I had pre-booked with Dolphin Khasab Tours for their half day Dhow Cruise. At Euros 30 each it was excellent value for money (the ship's own tour was Euros 75). By booking independently we were only a small group of 15 as opposed to the ship's tour where there must have been around 40 people crowded on to the dhow. Once out of the port area the dhow gathered speed and within minutes we saw lots of dolphins and they followed the dhow, jumping in and out of the water, as if they were trying to beat us along. It was magical. The dhow anchored at Telegraph Bay where we were able to swim and snorkel (all equipment and towels provided by the tour operator). The sights beneath the water were break-taking - so many fish and lovely coral reefs. Back on board the boatmen provided refreshments for everyone - various choices of fruit, canned drinks and tea and coffee. The scenery during the cruise was spectacular - a bit like cruising along the Norwegian fjords, I thought, but much warmer! It was a most relaxing excursion and seeing so many dolphins was the icing on the cake. When we docked back in Dubai we remained on the ship whilst most passengers went out sightseeing. I took the opportunity to visit the Spa - tempted by the 50% off promotion. I had a wonderful massage for one hour and felt so relaxed afterwards. There was no hard sell of the products afterwards for which I was very grateful. However I feel I must complain about services in the Hair Salon situated within the Spa area. My daughter in law wanted her hair cut and on the day we boarded they were advertising a " special offer, not to be repeated. Hair Cut for Euros 25". She made an appointment for that afternoon. When she got the bill she saw she was being charged Euros 64 and when she queried it was told the extra charges were for the special shampoo, the conditioner and the wash and blow dry. None of these extras were mentioned to her in advance so make sure just what the special offer gives you beforehand. The annoying thing was that throughout the week the daily programme sheet was advertising haircuts at 25% off! I must say that we were somewhat disappointed with the lack of some of the Children's Club Activities. Having booked the Fantastica package the boys were keen to attend the Chef's Cookery Course (and get a certificate to say they had attended) and the language classes. Although advertised in the Kids Programme these did not materialise and the boys were most disappointed. We complained to Guest Services but they tried to tell us that not enough children had registered on the days in question. We know full well that quite a few children had turned up only to find the room locked and the sessions not taking place. If one is paying for the package to include such activities then they should be provided for the children regardless. The sessions the boys did attend were great fun and it was nice for them to mix with children of all nationalities. On the morning we disembarked there was the most dreadful sandstorm (my son said it was one of the worst he had seen in the 3 years he has been in Dubai). I felt so sorry for those people hoping to do sightseeing in Dubai as the city was covered in a blanket of sand and the wind was so strong. In fact, when we arrived back at my son's villa the wind had blown over the patio chairs which ended up at the far end of the garden (the furniture is very heavy too). Overall we had a wonderful time on Orchestra and we have in fact pre-registered for a future cruise - the voucher has to be used within 18 months. My son and his family really enjoyed their first cruise and it will certainly not be their last. Thank you to all the staff for such a memorable family holiday.

GREAT CRUISE ON MSC ORCHESTRA 14TH FEB 2015

MSC Orchestra Cruise Review by suron

7 people found this helpful
Trip Details
My family and I (son, his wife and my twin grandsons, aged 11) sailed on MSC Orchestra from Dubai around the United Arab Emirates on 14th February. I have travelled many times before with MSC but this was the first ever cruise for my son and his family, who are based in Dubai.
I had joined a Roll Call for this cruise and the group met up on the afternoon we boarded and it was so nice to put faces to the names on the Roll Call. Many at the gathering were staying on the ship and then sailing on to Australia reaching Freemantle 33 days later! We all got on so well and met up several times around the ship during the week.
We did not sail until 11 pm (although it was stated in all paperwork that it would be 10 pm). The compulsory lifeboat drill was held at 11.30 pm. As you can imagine those who had had long haul flights or even overnight flights arriving early in Dubai that day were very tired. A lot of the children were half asleep anyway at that time but ours managed to get through it and thought it great fun!
We had two balcony cabins on Deck 11 and these were very spacious, even with the family's cabin having a drop down bunk bed and single sofa bed. There was plenty of wardrobe space and lots of drawers, the bathroom was fine although as on a lot of ships the shower was quite tiny. Our cabin steward, Jean-Patrice was very efficient, friendly and most helpful. He kept the cabins spotless throughout the cruise.
Orchestra is a lovely ship and it was kept very clean. There was always something to do in the many bars and lounges. All the staff were friendly and helpful and would always acknowledge you if you met them around the ship. The entertainment staff worked tirelessly throughout the week to ensure everyone had a good time. The nightly shows were excellent and the cruise director was very talented with his command of so many languages. It did not bother us having to listen to all announcements in so many different languages.
We purchased the All Inclusive 24hrs Drinks Package and the packages for the boys. These were excellent value for money. We certainly enjoyed sampling the various cocktails of the day and the twins thought it great to have their own cocktails along with unlimited milkshakes and ice creams!
We opted for first sitting for dinner and our waiters were very efficient and certainly made a fuss of the boys. The food was varied and every meal well presented, nicely cooked and very tasty. The gala nights were very good and the family enjoyed the traditional parade of the Baked Alaska and the staff being introduced to the diners. We tended to alternate between the main dining room and the buffet for breakfasts. It was nice to have a leisurely start to the day in the main dining room as the buffet could be hectic at times. Lunchtime in the buffet was very busy with so many people queuing up and it was difficult sometimes to find a seat easily. We did not go to the speciality restaurant (extra charge there) but heard good reports from some people who did.
The pool areas were kept clean and spotless but the sunbeds were packed so close together and on the day at sea, especially, it was difficult to find somewhere with space to move about. The pools were, in my opinion, not very suitable for someone like myself with mobility problems. There was only one step ladder in and out of the pools which were all one depth (6ft) - steps gradually leading into the pools at one end would have been helpful. A lot of people were complaining about the pool water and several were experiencing sore eye problems even though some did wear goggles in the water.
The shops on board had some interesting items - some very expensive but there were bargains to be had. The Pandora stand was certainly excellent value with a lot of the items almost half price - needless to say I took advantage of that, as did daughter in law!!
The ports of call were interesting. As I had already done the same itinerary on Lirica last year and because living in Dubai the family had already toured ABU DHABI, we spent a relaxing day on board at this port. We were able to enjoy the pool area, played putting and shuffleboard and were able to explore the ship whilst it was quiet. I would recommend that anyone visiting Abu Dhabi for the first time should visit the mosque and the Emirates Palace Hotel - sights not to be missed. Members of the Roll Call who visited these places agreed with my recommendation.
KHOR AL FAKKAN - There was not a lot of choice for ship's excursions at this port so we opted to take the ship's shuttle bus to the port gate and there we boarded the free shuttle bus provided by the Oceanic Hotel
We were able to enjoy all the hotel facilities - the pool area, where towels and sunbeds were provided, the lovely sandy beach and a fantastic buffet lunch in the hotel's restaurant. This worked out at 120 Dirhams per adult (about £20) and half price for the children. Excellent value when you consider that one of the ship's excursions to a beach resort for just about 5hours cost more than twice the price and did not include lunch.
MUSCAT - We decided to take the Hop On Hop Off Bus tour. The ship's excursions were overpriced and we did not fancy being herded on and off coaches with lots of other people. On my previous visit to Muscat I did the Mystical Muscat tour which was enjoyable but it was much more relaxing on the tour bus. The commentary was excellent and we were able to see all the various sights at our leisure, getting off and on the bus at places of particular interest to us. We visited the Duty Free Shop at this port and got some real bargains. However, our drinks purchases were swiftly taken away from us as we re-boarded the ship but we did get them back on the last night of the cruise!
KHASAB - I had pre-booked with Dolphin Khasab Tours for their half day Dhow Cruise. At Euros 30 each it was excellent value for money (the ship's own tour was Euros 75). By booking independently we were only a small group of 15 as opposed to the ship's tour where there must have been around 40 people crowded on to the dhow. Once out of the port area the dhow gathered speed and within minutes we saw lots of dolphins and they followed the dhow, jumping in and out of the water, as if they were trying to beat us along. It was magical. The dhow anchored at Telegraph Bay where we were able to swim and snorkel (all equipment and towels provided by the tour operator). The sights beneath the water were break-taking - so many fish and lovely coral reefs. Back on board the boatmen provided refreshments for everyone - various choices of fruit, canned drinks and tea and coffee. The scenery during the cruise was spectacular - a bit like cruising along the Norwegian fjords, I thought, but much warmer! It was a most relaxing excursion and seeing so many dolphins was the icing on the cake.
When we docked back in Dubai we remained on the ship whilst most passengers went out sightseeing.
I took the opportunity to visit the Spa - tempted by the 50% off promotion. I had a wonderful massage for one hour and felt so relaxed afterwards. There was no hard sell of the products afterwards for which I was very grateful.
However I feel I must complain about services in the Hair Salon situated within the Spa area. My daughter in law wanted her hair cut and on the day we boarded they were advertising a " special offer, not to be repeated. Hair Cut for Euros 25". She made an appointment for that afternoon. When she got the bill she saw she was being charged Euros 64 and when she queried it was told the extra charges were for the special shampoo, the conditioner and the wash and blow dry. None of these extras were mentioned to her in advance so make sure just what the special offer gives you beforehand. The annoying thing was that throughout the week the daily programme sheet was advertising haircuts at 25% off!
I must say that we were somewhat disappointed with the lack of some of the Children's Club Activities. Having booked the Fantastica package the boys were keen to attend the Chef's Cookery Course (and get a certificate to say they had attended) and the language classes. Although advertised in the Kids Programme these did not materialise and the boys were most disappointed. We complained to Guest Services but they tried to tell us that not enough children had registered on the days in question. We know full well that quite a few children had turned up only to find the room locked and the sessions not taking place. If one is paying for the package to include such activities then they should be provided for the children regardless. The sessions the boys did attend were great fun and it was nice for them to mix with children of all nationalities.
On the morning we disembarked there was the most dreadful sandstorm (my son said it was one of the worst he had seen in the 3 years he has been in Dubai). I felt so sorry for those people hoping to do sightseeing in Dubai as the city was covered in a blanket of sand and the wind was so strong. In fact, when we arrived back at my son's villa the wind had blown over the patio chairs which ended up at the far end of the garden (the furniture is very heavy too).
Overall we had a wonderful time on Orchestra and we have in fact pre-registered for a future cruise - the voucher has to be used within 18 months. My son and his family really enjoyed their first cruise and it will certainly not be their last.
Thank you to all the staff for such a memorable family holiday.
suron’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin
Very spacious with plenty of wardrobe and drawer space. Sofa comfy and nice glass coffee table. Quite a spacious balcony table and two chairs. Bathroom fine but shower small. Everything kept spotlessly clean by the cabin steward Family had identical cabin with balcony(11171) which had a single sofa bed and drop down bunk bed - still plenty of room to move around.
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