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I read horrible reviews prior to my trip, but I still signed on because the ports were enticing and the price was right. To begin, getting any sort of help online prior to travel was impossible. No one responded to emails or chat requests. Luckily some members of our group were able to take the time to call the MSC help desk. I prefer to do everything online and MSC is not set up to handle that type of business. The transfer from Milan was excellent. Great staff, no issues there! Embarkation was a bit messier. There were multiple stations to hit, but there was no welcome feeling and we didn't really know what was happening from desk to desk. As someone else mentioned, the lifeboat drill was not on time and not organized. I honestly wish I had just signed in and walked away, but my conscience wouldn’t allow me to do that. It was a waste of a good hour of ship time. The first night of dinner, in the myChoiceDining area, our server was so horrible, half our group didn't come back to dinner. When our friends inquired about their drink order, he said, "give me a minute!" He handed us our plates instead of setting them down. He told us to "Make Room" for additional plates on the table. He gave us grief for wanting to order additional entrees to share with the table and then delivered them all at once when we clearly didn’t have the space for them. And finally, he wanted us to order our dessert with our entrees, which was very unusual. The second night we requested a new server and told the hostess that our previous waiter was terrible and she just said ok. Our new server was wonderful and we went back to him every night! As someone else mentioned, breakfast in the dining room was buffet or a la carte. Our server didn’t seem to want to take our order or serve anything. As it turns out, we shouldn’t have ordered. The waffles looked to be frozen waffles and the fruit was definitely thawed out. We never went back to breakfast in the dining room. The buffet breakfast wasn’t very enticing either, so we stuck to yogurts, fruit and breads. Others in our party complained about the lines and chaos in the buffet, but I’ve seen that on other large ships as well. Our dinner server would actually help us find our family or find a table if the others hadn’t arrived yet. To me, that’s good service! The ports were all amazing, but I will say, there should be more organization as there was a tremendous line in Barcelona to re-board the ship. With such short port times, it should be assumed everyone will come back at once and staffing should be there to cover the busy times. On Saturday, upon arrival in Cherbourg, there was a line of people waiting to get off the ship, an hour after we were entitled to disembark... when suddenly the staff started moving props to another deck. Had I not asked, I would not have been told that there was a problem with the gangway and we needed to go to another deck. The lack of communication for that was disappointing, along with the loss of an hour in port, with no apology that I’m aware of. On approximately deck 10 rear, we ran into worker smoking in a very small area that isn't a smoking area. Completely inappropriate. Speaking of smoking, half of the pool deck as well as another half of the walking track are smoking areas. I had to do laps on only one side of deck 7 (the walking track). The casino is also a smoking area and completely infected the entrance to the theater. We were told there were 50 nationalities onboard, so yes, the announcements were made in 6 languages, which can be long, but who’s to decide which ones to cut? Not me. In the reception line, one poor employee was unable to help so many guests, so it’s clear not all guests speak English and multiple announcements are needed. I do feel investing in translators for staff would be helpful, at least at the reception desk. In general the service was inconsistent. Some days, you got the nicest bartenders. Other days, they were downright nasty. The cruise staff was awesome! Great group of people in that crew!

Not as bad as the reviews but could be better

MSC Orchestra Cruise Review by mapgirl34

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: April 2018
  • Destination: Baltic Sea
  • Cabin Type: Interior Stateroom – Bella
I read horrible reviews prior to my trip, but I still signed on because the ports were enticing and the price was right.

To begin, getting any sort of help online prior to travel was impossible. No one responded to emails or chat requests. Luckily some members of our group were able to take the time to call the MSC help desk. I prefer to do everything online and MSC is not set up to handle that type of business.

The transfer from Milan was excellent. Great staff, no issues there!

Embarkation was a bit messier. There were multiple stations to hit, but there was no welcome feeling and we didn't really know what was happening from desk to desk.

As someone else mentioned, the lifeboat drill was not on time and not organized. I honestly wish I had just signed in and walked away, but my conscience wouldn’t allow me to do that. It was a waste of a good hour of ship time.

The first night of dinner, in the myChoiceDining area, our server was so horrible, half our group didn't come back to dinner. When our friends inquired about their drink order, he said, "give me a minute!" He handed us our plates instead of setting them down. He told us to "Make Room" for additional plates on the table. He gave us grief for wanting to order additional entrees to share with the table and then delivered them all at once when we clearly didn’t have the space for them. And finally, he wanted us to order our dessert with our entrees, which was very unusual. The second night we requested a new server and told the hostess that our previous waiter was terrible and she just said ok. Our new server was wonderful and we went back to him every night!

As someone else mentioned, breakfast in the dining room was buffet or a la carte. Our server didn’t seem to want to take our order or serve anything. As it turns out, we shouldn’t have ordered. The waffles looked to be frozen waffles and the fruit was definitely thawed out. We never went back to breakfast in the dining room. The buffet breakfast wasn’t very enticing either, so we stuck to yogurts, fruit and breads. Others in our party complained about the lines and chaos in the buffet, but I’ve seen that on other large ships as well. Our dinner server would actually help us find our family or find a table if the others hadn’t arrived yet. To me, that’s good service!

The ports were all amazing, but I will say, there should be more organization as there was a tremendous line in Barcelona to re-board the ship. With such short port times, it should be assumed everyone will come back at once and staffing should be there to cover the busy times.

On Saturday, upon arrival in Cherbourg, there was a line of people waiting to get off the ship, an hour after we were entitled to disembark... when suddenly the staff started moving props to another deck. Had I not asked, I would not have been told that there was a problem with the gangway and we needed to go to another deck. The lack of communication for that was disappointing, along with the loss of an hour in port, with no apology that I’m aware of.

On approximately deck 10 rear, we ran into worker smoking in a very small area that isn't a smoking area. Completely inappropriate. Speaking of smoking, half of the pool deck as well as another half of the walking track are smoking areas. I had to do laps on only one side of deck 7 (the walking track). The casino is also a smoking area and completely infected the entrance to the theater.

We were told there were 50 nationalities onboard, so yes, the announcements were made in 6 languages, which can be long, but who’s to decide which ones to cut? Not me. In the reception line, one poor employee was unable to help so many guests, so it’s clear not all guests speak English and multiple announcements are needed. I do feel investing in translators for staff would be helpful, at least at the reception desk.

In general the service was inconsistent. Some days, you got the nicest bartenders. Other days, they were downright nasty. The cruise staff was awesome! Great group of people in that crew!
mapgirl34’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Interior Stateroom – Bella
Cabin I1 9052
The cabin. There was a peanut left on our floor, from the previous guests, that didn't get cleaned up for days. A shampoo packet was left behind from the previous guest as well. However, when we asked for washcloths and extra hangers, we did receive them... I'm not sure why washcloths weren't included from the start. In addition, other cruise lines have provided basic amenities such as lotion and conditioner, which MSC did not.

On our first night, we learned that if you put your keycard in the holder next to the door, a little light will go on letting the room steward know that you’re in your room. This didn’t work for our room. Our steward walked in on us. We quickly found the “do not disturb” placard that was tucked deep in a nightstand drawer.
Lira Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Barcelona
    Don't be fooled by the ship's bus. I think they were charging 8.90 Euro for a bus to the Columbus monument. Right behind the ships bus, was the blue bus, where we paid 4 Euro per person!
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  • Cherbourg
    Again, the ship will try to bill you for a shuttle to town. It was less than 20 minutes walking! We rented a car from France Cars, as they allow after hours drop off, and drove to Mont St. Michel. Our port time was 7-4, but there were problems with the gangway so we didn't disembark until 8... of all days to be late! Mont St. Michel took us about 2 hours and 15 minutes of driving. We didn't have enough time to see the abbey, but we were able to shuttle up to the island and walk along the narrow cobblestone streets. We made it back with an hour to spare. Ships will try to sell you the excursion and maybe they had 30 minutes more time than us. Your call.
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  • Copenhagen
    We loved Copenhagen! There is a public bus down the street from the pier. Walk time less than 10 minutes. Don't try to walk to town, it's 3 miles in an industrial area. The bus is not supposed to take Euros and they don't take credit cards, but the driver was doing his best to accommodate the Euros. There is an ATM right at the information center on the corner, just before you get to the bus stop.
    There are also bikes across the street from the Info Center. We wish we'd ridden into town. 30 DKK per hour seems very reasonable and we could have covered a lot of ground, but with a lot of stops to figure out the maps.
    We enjoyed the Torvehallerne Market and the Botanical Gardens. Nyhavn is not to be missed!
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  • Genoa
    Genoa is a bit dirty. Too many areas of urine smell. However, once you get near the aquarium, it's touristy and nice to explore for a short time.
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  • Lisbon
    We walked into town right from the pier, to the Rossio train station (not to be confused with the Rossio metro station, which was underground) and took the train to Sintra. It was 5 Euros per person round trip.
    We had a bit of time upon our return to walk through Lisbon and it was nice. We felt safe and comfortable.
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  • Rostock (Warnemunde)
    This is where our cruise ended. We rented a car from Europcar and they had a pop up shop parking lot directly across from the ship. Very easy to get to, but you must reserve in advance, as they bring all the cars that are reserved for the day, from a different location. However, if needed, which we did, they got us in contact with Hertz for the rest of our family to get an extra car. We drove to Schwerin Castle and then on to Berlin.
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  • Vigo
    We walked straight up to the fort in Vigo and then wound around through the streets and parks. We found an indoor market, but only a few vendors were still open. The port time of 1-6 put us there during siesta, which was a bit disappointing. The other market we'd read about was completely closed. Plenty of restaurants with outdoor, smoky, seating. The port area is commercialized with a mall right on the pier. Go beyond that for a bit more culture.
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