As this was a charter cruise we paid above market price for this cruise and knew it. But even so we were expecting a 5 star ship and cruise because of the way MSC Orchestra had been sold to us. Also because of Orchestras own advertising - the ship looks much prettier in photos, boasts wonderful food and friendly staff.
First - the ship itself was immaculate, it was so clean at times it actually inconvenienced passengers. There were days we couldn't use our balconies when they were being cleaned. This is this first ship we have been on that has no chairs on the promenade deck which was really odd and they were constantly washing it!! This was were the smokers also could linger, not a bad thing as they couldn't congregate, no chairs.
Inside was as clean, but most ships are now maintained at this level. First time we were made to feel like we as passengers interfered with the schedules though.
Our cabin was adequate, a balcony on the deck 9. This ship has just been away for a refurbishment so I had expected a bit more. Though very clean and beautifully maintained by a wonderful cabin attendant, the bedcover was very old and had tears in it, the curtains had holes and tears in them and the carpet had seen better days. Looking through open doors most cabins looked in a similar condition. The mattress on the bed reminded us of a caravan bed - that 12" foam that has nearly no give, so not the most comfortable and then the pillows! One of the easiest items a Company could buy or replace and MSC supplies the thinnest, lumpiest most uncomfortable pillows in the cruise business!!! Seriously, these pillows could send this cruise line to the wall - they are that bad!!! When our ship docked at Albany our passengers bought out the local K Mart and other stores of pillows. Can you believe commencing a cruise and having to buy your own pillows? Shame MSC shame!!!!
Wow - how beautiful is this little island? Off the ship onto a little 'Seabus' taxi to the old port and then walk those amazing old streets, the beautiful shops, coffee, food and people. This is a must do if you don't want to be crammed into a bus with the same old passengers off the ship!!
Again, no excursion. Off the ship and into a HOHO ( hop on hop off ) bus just outside the port. Early morning so the streets were still quiet and what a clean and beautiful city. Amazing and when we arrived the tulips were flowering so the streets were blazing with colour. We went to Egyptian markets as the Grand markets were closed, but we're not disappointed, they were wonderful. Markets not to be missed in Istanbul.