Sour Notes from the Orchestra: MSC Orchestra Cruise Review by John820

MSC Orchestra 2
Member Since 2008

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Sour Notes from the Orchestra

Sail Date: December 2008
Destination: Transatlantic
Embarkation: Genoa
The ship is new, very nice appointed and well designed. The rooms were very adequate. We enjoyed many hours sitting on the balcony reading and basking in the warm sun. We would have normally spent more time in open common areas but that was a challenge. The ship tonnage is 93,400 and she is designed to carry 3,000+ passengers. Compare this to the Celebrity Solstice at 122,000 tons carrying only 2,850 passengers, the Grand Princess at 109,000 tons carrying only 2,600 passengers, or HAL's Zuiderdam at 85,000 tons carrying only 1,918 passengers and you get a clue why we stayed on our balcony. Even RCCL's Brilliance of the Seas at 90,090 only carries 2,500 passengers.

The food was could be described as "diner food." The captain's cocktail party was a joke and the dinner afterwards would bring tears to the eyes of any foodie. It was pretty awful. Our table mates resorted to drinking Nescafe instant after tasting the brew the first night. My wife joined them the next day and I More switched to tea. It became a joke when anyone ordered a salad. Regardless of what was on the menu - Caesar, garden, mixed etc - it was all made of iceberg lettuce.

Our waiter was a gem. He had been an assistant waiter (busboy) for two years and this was his big chance. Some people have inferred that I am hard to please but Luigi was as hard working as they come, so anxious to do everything right. He took his job to heart. Not contrived, not artificial, not looking for a tip, just a person that wanted to do a good job. It was refreshing.

His job was especially hard because we had a round table for 8 with chairs on part of the perimeter and a banquette for four people. The problem was that the radius of the table was too large to fit into the arc of the banquette. The two people in the center of the seat could not easily reach the table while the two people at the ends of the banquette were squeezed against the table. Another problem with the oversized table was insufficient room for people to negotiate the aisle behind the chairs. It was a nightmare.

The Italian food at the lunch buffet was one of the better places to eat. The pasta stations were manned by cooks making the day's special as needed. Also on the carving table and other hot stations were some serious southern Italian soul food and, for me, it was the food highlight of the day.

We did the Chinese restaurant one night. The place is beautifully appointed and you are served on Rosenthal China. The food, however, does not measure up to any good restaurant in Chinatown.

Read other people's review for the entertainment. I enjoyed the music in the central atrium - four ladies doing semi classical and also enjoyed the Hispanic men's group.

One of the biggest issues we had with the administration on the ship is their people control. Embarkation was a long drawn out process. Clearing immigration was a fiasco and debarkation was a disaster. We stayed in our room despite their 7AM curfew. Our room steward, another hard working soul, told us to stay. We kept to the balcony and watched the passengers of the Grand Princess disembark, get their luggage and leave the port. We had a wonderful view of a couple of long shore crews unloading a never ending flow of bags from the Orchestra.

It went on and on for hours. We finally got off around noon. It was curious that they never questioned whether we had a flight or travel arrangements. Every other ship I have ever been on would give priority to people with early flights. Apparently, that is not important to the administration at MSC.

I do not even want to mention the nonexistent library, a truly beautiful room If only they had some books.

I have a suggestion for the administrators at MSC Cruises and those on the Orchestra in particular. Take a few cruises anonymously on Princess, Celebrity and HAL. See how the pros do it if you want to please the American market. Less

Published 01/22/09

Cabin review: Bal11145

Great room, Quiet well appointed, Bed was confortable. The bathroom was fine, shower was very nice and lighting and mirror were great. The TV programming needs work. The price of the bottled water was high. I would go for a lower deck. On transatlantic, you feel the roll of the ship more on these very high decks

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