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MSC Orchestra Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
381 Reviews

Vacation Frustrations

MSC Orchestra Cruise Review by SeasSailor

1 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Apr 2008
  • Destination: the Eastern Mediterranean

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.

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