This is a longish review as I had read some very negative MSC reviews prior to leaving Australia for this cruise on MSC Orchestra. However, we still went with open minds and open hearts.
Travelling is also an often emotive topic- as people may not have much precious vacation time, may have had better experiences on other holidays and so it becomes quite comparative at times.
We have cruised from Australia previously - so this was our first European Cruise. We had been to Europe previously but always driven cars and caught planes.
We chose this cruise because it represented great value for money.
The opportunity to visit France, Spain, Malta and Italy from the cruise ship, seemed too good to be true and our Cabin 8199 cost us just $2800 AUD.
Our cabin was right at the end of the ship, with a balcony. We also pre purchased 2 x 2 Excursions, in Florence and Rome. So with the excursions, the service charges and drinks that we paid for (as we went) and some MSC organised buses into towns on top we added around an extra $800 AUD, giving us an all up a spend of $3,600 AUD for us both!
The very best part of cabin 8199 was being on the balcony - the view leaving ports like Genoa, Valletta where the views where just stunning, the balcony was also very spacious and quite wide. We did have a little bit of muffled doof, doof but not too bad and not too late, as we were over one of the discos, but nothing that kept us awake.
Actually, the cabin itself was absolutely wonderful, with plenty of space, lots of hanging in wardrobes, drawers, safe and coat hangers etc. The bathroom was quite large and even though we did have a couple of issues with the toilet flush mechanism - they were responded too and fixed very, very quickly. The cleaning of the cabin we only wanted 2nd daily and we where happy with that.
The meals in the Restaurant were mostly very good, we had a few outstanding meals and a couple of not so good, but overall similar to a wedding reception menu/style.
We quite enjoyed the buffet for breakfast and sometimes dinner, as the choices were greater, you could go when you were ready, go back for seconds if you found something you really enjoyed, plus there was cold water, tea and coffee and always nice pastries to enjoy. People formed queues and we didn't see any pushing or shoving, as others have suggested.
The embarkation procedure was great, we also had no issues for any excursion times and each time left port without any delays.
The entertainment - which we went to 3 nights, was good to excellent! the young performers were energetic and the shows were fun. A couple of opera singers in one of the lounges were fabulous.
We are not big drinkers so didn't stay out late, plus we were so tired from the early starts and all the walking in the cities.
The Itinerary was excellent, the 3 stops in Spain were outstanding and Valletta was just amazing. We also loved Genoa as well. The amount of time to get into Rome and Florence via the buses, means that the actual time spent in those cities very rushed.
The beds are just blissful, OMGoodness did we sleep well, such excellent beds!! We wish we could have brought them home with us.
A majority of the people on the cruise were from Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Spain. English speaking people are a minority, but we loved trying to guess who was from what country! Despite my planning to use some learnt Italiano most staff and people took one look at me and just said English? haha and most guessed we where from England, I was even asked was I Danish? So, the language issue wasn't problematic. Many couples with limited English made attempts to be friendly over meals. The passengers like us, were mostly older, with a third of the boat probably under 50. Families with little ones as well.
My only improvements which I have also suggested in feedback to MSC
1. was it would be nice to have an English speaking TV show or two on, as we didn't have anything in English apart from CNN NEWS channel.
2. we hadn't realised that we would be charged 16Euro each for the buses into quite a few cities, not a big issue, but good to know, budget wise
3. the amount of times you are asked if you want a photo, became quite annoying
4. people on our dining table went on different excursions and we were puzzled as to why they paid a considerable cost to not even have the option to go into main attractions, such as the Cathedral in Mallorca. The excursions were only 4 hours long, giving them another 4 hours on the boat. Sure this is good for some very old people, but not giving folks the option seems a little underwhelming.
Overall, we loved the cruise the boat was quiet, smooth and we would certainly go again with MSC.
As a Footnote - Since arriving back home, I had an email regarding a Viking Cruise, Barcelona to Copenhagen - it sounds amazing! No children under 18 (but we like kids), no charges for internet, drinks, one excursion in every port etc etc.............
BUT the price for this 15 days cruise is just on $7,000AUD per person.
It is true you get what you pay for and many people will think that to be easily affordable, but to us it is not.
Our 21 day holiday (we stayed in Italy and went to Venice and Lake Como - Varenna was the best for 5 days to unwind) all up costs - so including, air fares, trains, food, etc - was just on $11,000AUD, so we would recommend MSC highly, to people who want to make their options, money and the amount of times they travel stretch!!
too many hawkers and beggars, how many Selfies can anyone want? too much hassling. Rome needs longer visit that is for sureView All 171 Rome on Your Own Reviews