MSC Orchestra Cruise Review by landboater
We have taken a lot of cruises. One was on a sailing yacht, and the others were larger ships. MSC is not a good choice for Americans. You will feel less welcome and the food is nnot to our taste. This ship was like a cattle car, very overcrowded. It was difficult disembarking for excursions because of the crowd which was largely European. In general, we often felt that we were being shoved a lot more than on other ships (not because of being American, but because that is evidently how they interact on elevators and other tight spaces.) Because of my ethnicity, I was typically mistaken for being either Norwegian or German. The cabin was not much different than the others that we have experienced. When we attempted to sleep in at the port where our excursion was cancelled, we were bombarded with constant loud announcements of various excusions needing to gather. The common areas of the ship were disappointing. There was nowhere to enjoy dancing, unlike our favorites of the larger ships-Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Fitness areas were restricted to people who got some kind of medical clearance. We did not bother to try to get that, not wanting to fill out lots of personal information without even being able to see the fitness room. The pool was outdoors, and the weather was quite chilly. No one used it. We only found one place to take a cutesy photo of the interior-the lounge which had a leopard or ocelot theme. Otherwise it was quite a plain ship. The casino was too smoky to enjoy. Many smokers were sitting on the seats by machines, smoking and not gambling. About half of the computers actually worked. We only had dinner twice in the formal dining room because the offerings were so limited. As it is, we were not assigned a table even though we had given our preferences months earlier. We had to see the wait staff to be assigned a table. It was only for 2 people, and it was off in a far end. Our formal dining photos were not purchased because the photographers could only take individual photos of us at the table. We are not much into seafood, especially sushi or octopus. Steak was only on the menu once. We paid a lot to end up in the cafeteria, eating their limited fare of cold burgers or cold pizza. And sometimes we did not eat because the cafeteria had very limited hours. And no midnight buffets on this ship! Water was an extra charge at meal time! Coffee was not available at lunch. The towels in the cabin were folded in the shape of an animal only one time. There were no chocolates on the pillows, and no welcome aboard drink. (There was no pampering.)The main performances were hard to find on the daily newsletter, causing us to miss 2 performances because they were not listed under "entertainment." They were stuck somewhere in the advertisement area. We saw contortionists, opera, and a Michael Jackson impersonator. (The Europeans were quite thrilled with him and their incessant loud clapping throughout the performance was hard on the ears.)Embarkation was too easy because it was insufficient. We were not given our excursion tickets which had been prepaid. The shops were not what I expected. There was no Loreal shop despite what I had read. And the gift shops were featuring Russian goods from a cruise prior to ours. The ship was using well-stabilized but on the 2 days where it got a bit rough, there were barf bags everywhere (as if they were decorative.) Any photo of the interior on those evenings would have been hilarious. This cruise line charges a set amount for tips, and they will NOT alter it upon request. This was a huge gyp since we hardly ate in the dining room; never ordered an alcoholic beverage; & the customer relations staff were most unhelpful. (The cabin steward was ok.) Kiel, Germany- Why would a cruise stop there on a Sunday? Everything was closed of course. We walked around but it was pretty boring. MSC had some excursions which would take cruisers to other nearby locations, BUT they cancelled ours because there were not enough English speaking cruisers!! AND they didn't care that I can also speak German & French. I was given no alternative options for my choice. Also, no refund yet. Geiranger, Norway- We had fun because we had arranged to meet friends there. We did not take an organized excursion. It has nice shops and a lovely setting. We toured the area by private car. Stavanger, Norway - We took a motor coach tour of the area & went to some shops. The dessert turned out to be pancakes which was disappointing since it mimicked my breakfast. Nice scenery.
landboater’s Full Rating Summary
No need for a balcony when going to the Norwegian fjords-it was too cold (and rainy) to enjoy. This is a huge ship and requires a lot of walking to get anywhere, often through smoking areas (lounges and the casino).
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
We took the railway excursion. It was nice but the English speaking car was the caboose, and whenever the train stopped to show a waterfall, etc, we could not see it from our car! We were still in the tunnel! Hmmm
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We actually left the cruise here, one night early, and toured on our own. There's a lot to see such as Vigiland Park, the Norsk Folkmuseum, the Vikingship Museum, the Kulturhistorisk Museum, and the National Gallery. We had no difficulty communicating with Norwegians when needing directions, etc. However, when leaving the ship, MSC was very unhelpful. They would not assist us in getting a taxi, and there were no taxis near the port. We walked a long way on cobblestones, in pouring rain, to the hotel (about 11 blocks) dragging our considerable luggage. That was not fun.
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