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MSC Orchestra Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
381 Reviews

Genoa to Durban - great itinerary, very poor quality cruise

MSC Orchestra Cruise Review by rasamin

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Oct 2019
  • Destination: the Mediterranean
  • Cabin Type: Oceanview Stateroom

We had a great trip but the time on the ship was a total disappointment . The itinerary was what enticed us to book this cruise. It was our first with MSC and we are very unlikely to cruise with them again. If this had been our first cruise it is possible we would have never returned to cruising.

First impression - beautiful ship but don’t be taken in by this. It is a beautiful facade to raise your expectations. Don’t be fooled by this. Embarkation sets the standard and tone for the cruise. Embarkation is a mess. You get shunted from one waiting area to another. No information, no one to ask but each time have to produce same documents etc. Took 3 hours from when we were told to arrive to when we set foot on the ship. You wait and wait and wait. Service on board - you wait and wait and wait. I know it is a European line but I was told that English was an official language on board. The staff’s English either poor or non existent.

We thought initially that we might be on a staff training ship as no one seemed to know what to do or what was happening. However as things didn’t improve over the 29 days we must have been wrong. They were just not trained at all. It was very noticeable that there was no official cruise director. After the captain was unexpectedly changed one guy was a ‘nominal’ cruise director but all he did was make a show of greeting everyone in many languages at the theatre at night

They really pushed the drink packages. If you didn’t have a drink package you couldn‘t even get water with your meals or tea or coffee. Water is essential to life but on this cruise line you have to buy water if you want to drink it with your meal. Tea and coffee were also not available with meals eaten in the restaurant at lunchtime or at dinner. You also had to buy water anywhere else on the ship unless you filled up a bottle in your bathroom or got water from the bistro.

Our cabin steward was very good but there was no way all her cabins could be done every morning until well into lunchtime as she had 20 cabins to look after. So very frequently we would come back to a cabin that had not been made up. This is the first time that has happened to us on a cruise. They were also not available to be on call.

Guest Services was a mixed bag. They appeared to want to help but if you went to query something, question something or had a complaint they were totally on the defensive and it was never the ship’s fault. I had a question regarding why there were no seats on the promenade deck as I have always enjoyed sitting and reading on this deck. I was told it was OH&S issue and only available for walking. Nobody seemed to know what was going on and never got the same answer twice.

The service at breakfast was appalling. We would ask to be seated at a table with others so we would be seated at a table for 6 or 8 on our own. Waiting times for orders to be taken were all over the place. Sometimes it was efficient but more often it was not and you could wait up to 20 minutes to place an order. Then after the order was taken we had to wait up to 25 minutes at times to receive the food whilst those at tables around us who had arrived and ordered after us had nearly finished eating similiar to what we had ordered by the time our food arrived. If you ordered a small starter for breakfast followed by a hot dish it all arrived at the same time. They were also not capable of taking an order correctly. You ask for an omelette with everything but mushrooms so you get a mushroom omelette with nothing else. It was never their fault if there was a problem.

The food was very ordinary, servings were small in the restaurants. As an Australian of European background I found the menu’s boring and bland. Whilst each night had a different theme for the menu they really didn’t vary that much. As someone with a food allergy that can be easily managed, that I had notified the company about, I would order what I could eat and the ‘chef’ would decide that I couldn’t have it and substitute something totally not to my taste and mostly very dry and bland. Hardly any vegetables were served with the main meals. Steamed vegetables were available but they did not vary for the 29 days. The meals were usually lukewarm. The deserts were very repetitive and very rarely was a hot desert served. If you enjoy your food lower your expectations on MSC. If you ate at the bistro the food was more like barely lukewarm and the deserts at lunch and dinner were nearly the same for 29 days. They just changed whether they filled the pastry with cream, chocolate cream or custard.

We had only MSC channels on the TV after several days as we had no news channels or any other channels available. Internet was extremely slow.

The program on sea days was repetitive and hardly anyone participated. It catered only for those that wanted to dance all day in front of the pool and besides the port lecture there was nothing else. As the weather was hot everyone wanted to be on deck but unless you got there very early you had no chance to get a lounge and nothing was done to address this. The evening shows were also repetitive with one group performing at least 5 times. Some of the ship’s dancing shows were good.

This ship does not have good ventilation. Most of the passengers got some sort of virus and nothing was done to contain it. There were also various strong chemicals smells coming from multiple areas of the ship and sometimes from your own shower stall. When you drew the crews attention to this they will not listen to you and will treat you as if you are a nuisance.

They allow open smoking in several areas inside the ship which permeates other areas. There is also a very large smoking are on pool deck limiting access to lounges for non smokers. On top of this relaxing on the pool deck or in the various bars was often spoilt by sales staff setting up tables along side the seating, to sell ‘cheap’ stuff, it was like sitting in a Market Place. On the pool deck they always set up on the non smoking side as did the occasional outside buffet. So where are the non smokers supposed to go if they wanted to sit out of the sun?

The overall impression is that it is a corner cutting line, poor customer service and inadequate activities to keep passengers engaged..

Overall very disappointing and will not recommend this line or this ship.

rasamin's Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Oceanview Stateroom

Cabin was comfortable and adequate

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

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