MSC Orchestra Cruise Review by pjb1947
- Sail Date: February 2015
- Destination: Australia & New Zealand
REPORT ON CRUISE ON THE ‘MSC ORCHESTRA’
21/02/2015 – 26/03/2015
*CAPTAIN - noticeable by his absence from the passengers. He was not seen mixing with any passengers until the 32nd night. Even the noonday reports were read out by the Cruise Director.
*ENTERTAINMENT – whilst not doubting the quality of the artists, the amount of opera and classical music was too much. We only saw about half a dozen shows at the most, some nights there was no show on at all. There was a lack of choice of entertainment if one did not go to the show, in fact there was none at all! During the entire 33 nights of the cruise there was not one single country and western night for example, when two might have been expected.
*FOOD – the main dining room was not to bad even though there seemed to be a large contingent of European styled food as well as to many dishes with rice as the side, the buffet restaurant was at best second rate. If one did not go at the beginning of the serving, the food was frequently cold or barely warm. At the height of some of the busy periods half the buffet was closed! If one arrived later in the meal period as well as it being cold much of the meat was tough and hard to cut and chew. Due to the buffet being half closed, there was often a shortage of seating and it seemed that no one thought to open the other part of the buffet when the numbers were up. Choice of food was very limited at lunch time.
*SERVICE – faultless in virtually all respects, the staff were beyond fault in their efforts to please. Our cabin boy was a typical example and could not do enough for us.
*CLEANLINESS – also cannot fault the ship as when there was nothing for some of the crew to do all they did was clean the ship. It was a credit to them all.
*AMMENITIES – one of the public toilets was out of commission for four (4) days! Even after we had left the pirate zone, deck 7 was closed to the public to often. When it was open there was no seating to relax with.
CYCLONE – We went through a cyclone (Nathan) and were unable to get into Cairns, this was a safety issue as we were going to tender there. The handling of the ship was very smooth in this period and was a credit to the Australian Pilot on board at the time.
*EXTRAS – we have never had to pay for water or coffee during or after dinner before, this we found alien.
*SHUT DOWN – why the ship had to shut down between the hours of 12:30 pm and 3:30 every afternoon is highly questionable. This is even more strange as the shops stayed open till 11:00 pm every night. The only exceptions to this rule were the Casino (at sea) and some of the bars.
*LANGUAGES – after four days or so, the announcements in five languages started to wear a bit thin. This was especially so when the announcements took up to 15 or 20 minutes. In one example the Cruise Director said he had a short announcement to make prior to the show commencing. The English version went on for about 4 or 5 mins, the four other languages went on and on. There were cries from the audience to ‘get on with it’, but to no avail, the show started at nearly 9:20 pm! In another instance there was an Italian comedian on and he was telling his jokes (including the punch line) in five languages.
As a further example there was an announcement in English during dinner and everybody quietened down to listen during the English version. As soon as it had finished the general level of conversation went up and the other languages were barely audible.
*EXCURSIONS - many of the excursions were grossly overpriced, e.g. $40 each to get into Brisbane and return was too much especially as the ship had to park 25 klms from the city centre. As an ex-bus driver I am aware of cost of bus rides and this was an extremely expensive price. Many of the excursions departure times were not known until late the night before; this has never been experienced on other cruise lines.
*DUTY FREE – we found this very expensive and were able to obtain alcohol at similar or cheaper prices at ‘Dan Murphy’s’. Many of the passengers waited until we reached Langkawi and paid a lot less than the prices on the ship.
*MANAGEMENT – we voiced some of our concerns to the Guest Relations Manager, Miriam Richter, and she was not interested in our point of view. All she did was trot out the company policy that it was what they did in Europe and it was therefore the same here. Senior management appear to be grossly out of touch with modern day staff management skills. The staff are told to say ‘good morning/afternoon/evening, hello’ etc anymore than that and if seen by a supervisor are ‘chatted’ over the matter.
*BIG SCREEN – this (on deck 13) could be used for showing movies but instead all it gives out is MSC propaganda. This is a waste of a good asset.
*TV – for the early part of the cruise all that we could get was Italian programmes, none in English except for a continuous roll of MSC propaganda.
*CASINO – very expensive up to 6:00 pm minimum bet was 3 Euros (about $4:50) but after 6:00 pm it went up to 5 Euros ($7:50) certainly the most expensive cruise line I have known.
*OVERNIGHT STAYS – Singapore; arrived at 9:00 pm on day one and left at 6:00 pm on day 2, which was not bad. However in Sydney we arrived at 7:00 am on day one and left at 01:00 am on day 2, some 17 hrs after arrival.
*GOLD CARDS – after queuing for over an hour, a passenger walked to the front displayed a gold card and was allowed on a tender straight away. When this was queried with the reception on the boat we were told this should not have been allowed. It seems someone forgot to tell the security people.
*DRINKS PACKAGE – This was a good deal but we were not informed of the 15% service charge at the time of purchase. We only found out several days into the cruise.
*GENERAL – MSC really needs to lift their game if they wish to operate from Australian waters in the near future. Notice of customer concerns needs to be taken onboard as there are a number of similar complaints throughout various outlets of social media. The cruise that followed ours is a charter cruise where only English is spoken and different entertainment occurs it will be interesting to see how full the theatre is instead of the half empty ones of our cruise. The mixing of the guests on this cruise was the best we have ever known but unfortunately for all the wrong reasons; we simply had nothing else to do. Even the Scrabble games were in German, but we managed until we were able to pick one up ourselves in Adelaide.
Too often the management of the ship stands behind company policy almost as though they are afraid to use any initiative. What might be alright for Europe is not alright for Australia.
Although passengers paid a low price for their tickets, certain standards have to be met. Other cruise lines can do it for a similar price, why can’t MSC? After all this was a relocation cruise for the later charter to Gallipoli and beyond and it was only a question of ‘bums on seats’. My wife and I would be reluctant to recommend MSC to any of our friends now or in the future.
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