We were on the 12 day MSC Orchestra over Christmas. MSC is now marketing itself as a family-friendly line, however, they do not have the ship or the experience to do this well yet. All of the kid venues seemed literally smushed into the boat in odd places (during the last referbishment), and overall the boat felt very cramped and crowded, despite not being booked to capacity. Perhaps the newer class ships are better for this.
The kids club is offered almost all day long, though there is a lot of TV watching (the MSC tv show) and other screen activities as they do not have a lot of kids, so they often combine all ages together and I suppose that's an easy way to entertain them? This was disappointing for us, as my daughter loves the organized, structured activities on other lines. So she opted to go for only an hour a day, and many days, she opted to not go at all.
The food is really good, although it is European in both style and portion size. Be sure to order multiple dishes. We enjoyed the MDR, though the seating is odd and staff is friendly, but not personable. I loved the food, though it is a bit rich. I did miss the variety of eateries that are offered on other ships. Also, the buffet is really packed during peak times, and during non-peak times, there is limited food available. There is no free ice cream on the ship.
The entertainment offered in the daily program is for adults only. My 11 year old was not allowed to particpate with me in the Christmas Crafts activities- even if she used my supplies and sat on my lap! The worker in charge was incredibly rude about it, and it was quite a turn off. Most of the entertainment offered are dance classes. While fun, doing more than 1-2 a day is just overkill. I missed the typical cruise programing on other lines. The evening shows were okay, we went to several, though they were all basically the same thing set to different music (singing, dancing, acrobatics). There is nothing "fresh" about the entertainment.
Embarkation and disembarkation is simple, though there is very little information given for each. However, I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it was to get on and off the ship.
They add a "unicef" charge per day- you can get this taken off the night before you disembark.
The ports are the best thing MSC offers- they are port intensive and have a wide range, which was ultimately why we booked them. That being said, it basically felt like we were on a floating hotel and not a cruise. This was our 5th cruise, our first with MSC. Both my daughter and I prefer the other lines and will stick to them. We will not book MSC again.
There was nothing "horrible" about the cruise, just nothing "special" about it either. Everything was average or just below average. However, given the huge number of horrible reviews, we were happy as it wasn't as bad as we were expecting. Unfortunately, MSC did not win us over as customers.
The cabin was a standard balcony room, though it felt smaller than on other lines. It was fine overall.
The aquarium is tiny... there are much better around the world, we walked through the whole place in about 30 minutes. We spent most of the time shopping at the mall next door.
Our excursion was cancelled at the last minute. We opted out of rescheduling with a different excursion.View All 10 Aquarium Reviews