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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.

Floating Mediocrity

MSC Orchestra Cruise Review by Tom Chicago

Trip Details
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.
Tom Chicago’s Full Rating Summary
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Shore Excursions
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