1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. MSC Cruises
  4. MSC Cruises Cruise Reviews
Sail Date: December 2017
we wanted to try this new ship, which seemed very new and impressive. First of all the embarkation was very long at Barcelona, especially with two small kids. First evening we had a safety drill, we were told to go to the Casino with ... Read More
we wanted to try this new ship, which seemed very new and impressive. First of all the embarkation was very long at Barcelona, especially with two small kids. First evening we had a safety drill, we were told to go to the Casino with our MSC cards, where we were checked in, shown a storeroom filled with life-jackets, and shown how to put it on, in about 6 languages. In case of a real emergency, I would not like to think what would happen. Cabin was nice, with a small balcony, very little storage space, wouldn't be enough for a two week cruise. Cabin staff was extremely helpful and did his job really well. Otherwise it was very noisy especially late in the evening when we could hear people stamping about upstairs, or running around the corridors. One night I got up at 2h30 am to see what was going on, and found a group of 8-10 year old Italian kids running around shouting in the corridors. My grandson had a wonderful week at the mini-club and the staff were great there. The main lobby is enormous and it is a luxury mall, with expensive shops (I saw a wooden painted Russian box, for 10,000 euros) paying restaurants, and anything they can wangle money out of you, including a chocolate shop and ice-cream shop. The bars and lounges don't have enough space for a family of 8 who want an apèritif while waiting to go to eat. The Panorama restaurant was very good, with very nice and helpful staff. The food was good, and anyone who says the portions are small don't understand that you can ask for second or third helpings of anything you particularly liked. The Waves restaurant in the morning, was over-staffed, with waiters standing around talking in groups, while the customers waited for someone to come around with croissants, bread or coffee....I prefer Costa's buffet in the dining room where you can get what you want, and also get extras from the waiters. The Buffet upstairs, was difficult to get seating for our group, the staff were not very motivated, the food was ok, but not very warm. The pizza was great...real Italian pizza without tons of tinned stuff stuck on top of it. There was an Ethnic section which was quite good. I think a few micro-wave ovens would be a good idea. Most of the entertainment such as 'Cirque du Soleil', bowling, etc. has to be paid extra. We got plenty of information in the cabin for excursions etc. but not the necessary information about disembarking on the last evening, before we left the ship. The internet which we paid for was very slow, and we hardly ever managed to telephone each other with our mobile phones. We had to stay two days in Civitaveccia near Rome because of bad weather, and missed out on our visit to Malta and were taken to Mallorca instead. We arrived at 4p.m. It took an hour to get off the ship, and when we got out it was nearly dark.....a real waste of time. Getting back on board after an excursion was also very long. Long waits for the lifts when everyone was on board, or at meal times. The reception desk was extremely busy unless you went very early in the morning or late in the evening, and you could have a very long wait, sometimes over an hour. There were indoor pools and jacuzzis, gyms, and other indoor activities. A big melting-pot of nationalities, with people arriving and leaving every day, so it was not possible to get to know anyone else,.Lots of very loud tannoy announcements for the safety procedures for new arrivals, when the bars would close up. ...Lots of lovely staff from all over the world.... All in all an interesting experience, but I would never take such a big ship again, it was impressive, but I didn't think it was well organised.....teething troubles perhaps? I will go back to taking a more human sized ship, where you don't get the feeling you are being seen as a cash-cow. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
From embarking to disembarking, the cabin and meals, entertainment and staff...an absolute experience, pleasure and value for money. 19 Floors of absolute luxury makes you think you're somewhere in a 5 star hotel. Everything was well ... Read More
From embarking to disembarking, the cabin and meals, entertainment and staff...an absolute experience, pleasure and value for money. 19 Floors of absolute luxury makes you think you're somewhere in a 5 star hotel. Everything was well organized and the friendly and helpful staff assisted if there were any confusion about anything. Although the breakfast and lunch menus didn't change dinner was always a treat and special experience. A busy entertainment program and so many other activities didn't allow for a single dull moment. Maybe we chose the wrong time of the year as there were some really cold days off the ship, but on board it was really pleasant and we even enjoyed a day or two at the Aqua Park and on the Himalayan bridge. I will recommend this cruise for anyone...from the elderly to families with babies. My family and I will definitely choose another MSC holiday in the near future. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We booked this cruise last year because was very cheap. You only get what you pay for. Embarkation was smooth. Our ticket said 16.15 pm, we arrived at 10.30 am. Didn't matter were given a number slot in order of boarding. On board ... Read More
We booked this cruise last year because was very cheap. You only get what you pay for. Embarkation was smooth. Our ticket said 16.15 pm, we arrived at 10.30 am. Didn't matter were given a number slot in order of boarding. On board by13.00. Ship is very big you walk a long way for venues. We had a balcony cabin on deck 10. Smallest balcony room ever, not enough storage space for clothes. The bed is close to balcony door, get out bed quick you will hit the door. Room not designed very good you can't lie in bed and watch TV, you have to sit on settee, which was disgusting dirty and not comfy (basic). For a new ship the carpets are dirty , needs a wash. Dining is basic food never hot tepid at best. Portions are small and veg free. Don't think they know what veggies are. Buffet restaraunt no better, no variety same food all week. I had breakfast as soon as it opened one morning bacon, sausages & eggs were all cold. Even the hot water for tea was tepid. Entertainment was not good Theatre shows in Italian except one. One show Magic Friends couldn't understand what they were trying to achieve. No free films on TV unless you pay for them. That's the theme on this ship you want anything better be prepared to pay. They have a sea screen but only ever showed Blue Planet Service in bars were mostly very qiuck, sometimes it was quicker to get them yourself. Ports we have done them before so did our own thing. The ships excursions are very expensive for what they are. They were charging E16's for a shuttle bus into Marseille walk for 10 mins and there is a freeshuttle bus into town. We have tried this line but will never use them again ( have cancelled next years cruise with them. Should have stayed home would have enjoyed ourselves better Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
Arrived at Barcelona embarkation point at about 11am. We offloaded our bags at the desk outside and were given a number but on stating we were Black card members the number was taken back and we were given another card with a symbol on it. ... Read More
Arrived at Barcelona embarkation point at about 11am. We offloaded our bags at the desk outside and were given a number but on stating we were Black card members the number was taken back and we were given another card with a symbol on it. We went inside and it was chaos. There were people crowding around this poor woman who was shouting “step back, step back”. She ushered us through and we went straight to the check in desk. After checking in we were told to keep our card in our hands till we boarded the ship. We had been pre-warned about the scam whereby they take your photo on embarkation and then the photos appear in your cabin and 19.99 added to your bill the day before disembarkation. A woman swiped our card but we said we didn’t want our photo taken. She tried to say it was security but we knew it was not. We boarded, our real security photos were taken and we were good to go. Even though they did not take our photos the 19.99 appeared on our bill on the penultimate day so don’t let them swipe your card as you’ll still be charged even though you’ve had no photos taken. Very shoddy. That means you have to drag yourself down to the photo desk to get the charge taken off - which is usually 5 deep with people doing the very same thing. Shocking MSC. We had pre-purchased the £20 a day drinks package which was outstanding value - this included cocktails, prosecco, 2 red, 2 white, 1 rose wine, fancy coffees, water, ice cream. The ice cream on the promenade you have to pay for but there is free ice cream at the Atmosphere bar however it is the whippy type ice cream which I don’t like. We found the Polar bar which had 5/6 flavours of the Italian ice cream including coconut (my favourite) included in the package. There were no children using the flumes during this trip but this elderly man was having a great time to himself with a rubber tube. It was chilly but not too cold. Our cabin was an inside on deck 12 and as stated previously there is not a lot of storage space. We ended up leaving stuff in our cases under the bed. The bathroom was fine although I had to step out to get dried. The bed and pillows were comfy. The TV had only news in English on Sky but there were a few recent movies to rent. We did have a problem with fumes coming into the cabin and when we complained were told it was the design of the ship. They said if the wind was blowing in a certain direction the fumes were sucked back into the air conditioning system. All I know is I had a thumping headache and felt nauseous when in the cabin so tried to spend as little time as possible in there. We had early dining at 6.30pm on a table for 8. The food was fine. There was always something we could find to eat and considering my husband doesn’t eat cheese, pasta or pizza he was quite happy with the menu choices. One night I was a bit peckish so had the mini fish & chips in the English Pub. It was okay but the batter was soggy and not crispy like it should be. We did go to Butchers Cut twice as my husband enjoys a steak. Some people tried to order a drink in Butchers Cut using their prepaid drinks vouchers but were told they were not accepted. The ladies just got up and went to another bar and brought back 2 bottled of wine. We used our drinks package okay so what’s the difference MSC? In the main restaurant the service was crisp and our glasses refilled no problem. The waiters do seem rushed but were trying their best to cope. The tables are very close together and I don’t know how some of the waiters squeezed through but they did. We only went to one show and was shown how to book it on the interactive screen then our card was scanned on entering. It didn’t seem to be working that well though as most people entered in the last 5 mins without prebooking. Maybe teething troubles. We didn’t encounter any queues getting off the ship but getting back on in Palermo was a nightmare. There were 2 queues with only one scanning machine for each. On this cruise most of the scanning was done shoreside in Genoa, Palermo & Valletta. We don’t know about Marseille as we didn’t get off. In Valletta, Malta there is a very good duty free shop with cheap tobacco etc. We had pre-paid our gratuities and on checking with Reception found they had no record of receiving any monies (even after they checked ashore). This resulted in us having to tip crew who served us directly. We have taken this up with Cruise Nation as we want to know where our £98 has gone – they have replied it could take them 28 days to respond! Not good enough Cruise Nation. There seemed to be a distinct lack of seating on the ship and what seating there was - was not comfy. The chairs in the Champagne bar were too high at the sides. Half of the Champagne bar seemed to be solely for the use of people knitting or doing crafts. I asked for a glass of prosecco but was told I had to have one of their cocktails containing prosecco not just a straight prosecco. Also in the Sky Lounge (again with the most uncomfortable seats) I asked for a Baileys Alexander but was told to go to the Horizon Bar and get one there. The Horizon Bar was a sheltered bar outside which seemed to be favoured by smokers and my elegant cocktail was served in a plastic glass. We met lots of friendly people on this cruise and we like the various nationalities onboard. We would definitely go with MSC again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
We had a wonderful time on our cruise, we chose to take breakfast in bed, oh so relaxing looking at the view through our balcony doors. The ship is stunning and beautifully decorated for Christmas and for such a large ship we had no ... Read More
We had a wonderful time on our cruise, we chose to take breakfast in bed, oh so relaxing looking at the view through our balcony doors. The ship is stunning and beautifully decorated for Christmas and for such a large ship we had no trouble finding seats in bars and lounges or the theatre. We ate in the Waves restaurant and our waiters were so attentive and friendly, the food was fine for us, wine very palatable,and water on the table. We had the all inclusive drinks package, such good value. The theatre entertainment was really good the team work so hard and we thoroughly enjoyed every show. Ports of call we did our own thing so can’t comment on ship trips. Embarkation and disembarkation went very well, no waiting. All the staff and Officers we met were so friendly and smiley, made some lovely memories and would cruise with MSC again. We have been on many cruises all different lines and this was our first MSC cruise, we were very satisfied. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
Having sailed with MSC before, my wife and I thought a cruise on the new MSC Seaside would be great. How wrong we were. This was our 14th cruise with various cruise lines so we know what to expect on a cruise. This ship was not ready to ... Read More
Having sailed with MSC before, my wife and I thought a cruise on the new MSC Seaside would be great. How wrong we were. This was our 14th cruise with various cruise lines so we know what to expect on a cruise. This ship was not ready to sail anywhere. The toilets overflowed or did not flush; also taps in the restrooms were not always working. Some of the staircases were taped off, one of the sports bar door frames was held in place by sticky tape one day to stop it falling down, our cabin 12198 had no power for 5 and a half hours on day 3 until after two calls to reception and a personal visit a fuse was changed outside our cabin, (which took one minute).We were told by other passengers of wardrobe doors falling off and compensation being paid. The Bridge of Sighs glass walkway glass was cracked and had to be replaced. Workmen with their little tool trolleys were all over the ship doing repairs. I could go on but you get the idea. The ship itself is poorly designed, the theatre is too small, and so instead of two 40/45 min shows there are three 25/30 min shows, a pity because the shows were very good. Same issue in the main dining rooms there has to be three sittings 5.30/7.45/9.15. Pool deck 16 not enough space, sunbeds crammed in too close together. The main lounge for entertainment, called Haven Lounge too small with very heavy seats which were very hard to move, (even by the waiters).The Atrium (decks 5, 6, 7, 8) virtually no tables or chairs to sit and listen to the entertainment. 5,000 + passengers in my opinion is too many. Disembarking in Miami took far too long. After three hours we could no longer wait for our colour to be called and just joined the queue and left the ship. (There were hundreds more still waiting). In our opinion a very disappointing cruise. Poor food, service and poor entertainment in the bars and not enough draw space in the cabin for a two week cruise. On top of that questionable hygiene, many of the passenger were coughing, in fact we both came home with a sore throat, cough and eye infections. We are not complainers; in fact this is the first time we have had to give a negative opinion about a cruise. One positive, the beds and bedding were great. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2017
I had the opportunity to sail on the Seaside on her crossing over, and by and large I was quite impressed. The balcony staterooms felt roomy, although storage was a bit of an issue. The shows on board were very good, and I really enjoyed ... Read More
I had the opportunity to sail on the Seaside on her crossing over, and by and large I was quite impressed. The balcony staterooms felt roomy, although storage was a bit of an issue. The shows on board were very good, and I really enjoyed the specialty dining on board. Loved that most of the restaurants were in one area of the ship with a shared bar, it felt very deluxe - although the bar service there needed some work. Service was very good in Butcher's Cut, and really enjoyed the Sushi menu in the Asian Market Kitchen. Loved the French bistro in the atrium as well. The cheese board was awesome, and served from the tray tableside which was a nice plus. Buffets and dining room were average, but passable for me. Downsides for me included the fact that there seemed to be a lot more extras this time around. The bar in the bistro didn't offer any drinks that matched with my beverage package, even though the prices did. Although I managed to take a tour of the spa, I thought dayspa pricing was a little high at $60 per person. I enjoyed the gym, and took the yoga class which was good - although I would have preferred a more traditional yoga class. I've sailed the Divina before and this is a big leap forward, and I would definitely sail again, especially once the ship has had more runs in the caribbean and the crew gets its sea legs. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
A brand new MSC ship straight out of Monfalcone shipyard - the same shipyard that buiilds Carnival and most other modern cruise line ships. Finally a cruise ship with an truly innovative design. The external areas are amazing, there's ... Read More
A brand new MSC ship straight out of Monfalcone shipyard - the same shipyard that buiilds Carnival and most other modern cruise line ships. Finally a cruise ship with an truly innovative design. The external areas are amazing, there's nothing like that on any other ship, period. Huge sundecks, much wider than usual, an amazing acquapark, longest ever zipline at sea, and my very favorite spot on this ship - an aft lower deck pool with 2 shaded areas and 2 bars. I relaxed there for most of the time and did some office email when I absolutely had to - working there looking at the ocean felt *slighlty* better than in my office :-). Not to mention the buffet restaurant, where else on a modern cruise ship you can have lunch outside on deck 8, some 50 feet from the sea ? My cabin was also good, obviously with all modern gadgetry like UBS ports etc and slightly larger than similarly priced cabins on otehr ships. The staff was experienced and friendly but they had to learn about working on the ship so occasionally service was slower than what I had wished - but they did improve visibly during my time on the ship. Looking forward to cruise ahain on her ! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
Our cruise was a 12 night round trip from Barcelona. Stops were Funchal, Malaga, Tenerife, Casablanca, Rome, Genoa, Marsielle. We travelled from November 27th - December 9th. As an avid cruiser I have been on many lines including ... Read More
Our cruise was a 12 night round trip from Barcelona. Stops were Funchal, Malaga, Tenerife, Casablanca, Rome, Genoa, Marsielle. We travelled from November 27th - December 9th. As an avid cruiser I have been on many lines including Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Holland America etc. I was very much looking forward to our MSC Orchestra cruise as the itinerary was very good and much better than other lines. Unfortunately, MSC did not live up to our expectations at all. Below are a few reasons why I would not recommend cruising with MSC, especially if you have experience cruising with other lines. Please note that I am an American cruiser and thus have certain expectations with regard to customer service and overall professionalism of staff. Below may not be important for other travelers (many of our European counterparts did not seem to be frustrated by this cruise experience), but for myself and many American and Canadian passengers I met on board my cruise these were problematic areas. So important to note that there may be some cultural differences and expectations that are important to consider. Embarkation in Barcelona: We were told that we would boarding the ship at 3:00. The ship was late to port and we did not board until around 4:30/5:00. The staff were very disorganized at check in. Most other cruises that I have been on check in provides you with your cabin keys and provides you with an overview of what to expect when checking in, not MSC. We "checked in" with the front desk people at the port and then walked to the ship. Upon entering the ship from the gangway our pictures were taken (which is standard) for disembarkation and embarkation at ports. We then walked through designated areas in the ship and were bombarded by staff trying to sell us alcohol packages, drink packages, shore excursions. Please keep in mind that we have not even seen our room yet or even had a chance to wine down. Really unprofessional and tacky to put guests through this within the first 2 minutes of coming on board. We then finally were out of that zoo and realized we did not have our room keys. We were not told at check in where to get the room keys so we assumed the keys would be at the concierge on floor 5. We go to floor 5 and wait in line just to be told that the keys are in the rooms and the rooms are unlocked. A bit ridiculous to not tell guests at check in before entering the ship that the keys are located in the rooms. We finally get to our rooms and were happy with our cabins. We were located on the 12th floor with balcony rooms. The rooms were well appointed and clean and were as spacious as a cruise ship room could be. Cabin Overview: As mentioned above, the cabins we had were good and we were happy with them. I think MSC did a good job with the layout given that the rooms are only about 180 square feet. The mirrors in front of the bed really help to make the room feel more spacious. Basic amenities, nothing to write home about, but were fine. Good hair dryer, much better than Norwegians. Formal Dining: Perhaps the most disappointing part of the cruise was the formal dining. The formal dining food was truly awful. We were assigned to L Hibiscus and I have no idea how the chef is still employed. Service was great and staff were attentive, but the quality of the food was very poor. Portions were incredibly small and should not be labelled as entrees and are appetizer sized. Please note that I am a petite 5'2 105 pound female and found that the portions were tiny. I also am in now way a monstrous eater. I felt that the portions were too small for an average person. The food was also just bland and had no creativity. I have cruised with Norwegian Spirit and their food was absolutely incredible. I still think about a rack of lamb that I had in that cruise and how wonderful it was. I also generally prefer to do sit down dining in cruises. On MSC Orchestra I did not look forward to the formal dining at all and at times opted for the buffet instead (will speak about buffet in moment). Perhaps the only exception were the desserts. I enjoyed 90% of the desserts that I tried in the formal dining restaurant. Again nothing special, but perhaps because the food was so bad it made the desserts seem great...who knows. Another thing that was incredibly tacky and again perhaps this is cultural was that we had to PAY for our bottled water at the formal dining table. Absolutely ridiculous by American standards, especially since tap water was free in the buffet. I did not understand why they could not just serve tap water in a pitcher in the formal dining (this is what Norwegian does). Finally, another disappointing thing was that in the formal dining, tea and coffee were not served with dessert. This is usually standard on any cruise I have been on. Again you have to PAY for coffee and tea at the formal dining even though it is free in the buffet....again its just an inconsistency that speaks volumes about their priorities and management. I usually take pictures of all of my formal dining meals on cruises. Was so unimpressed that I didn't even bother taking one. Buffet Dining: Saving grace for the dining was the buffet. I was surprised that their lunch buffet was actually quite good, much better than their dinner buffet. Their salad bar was excellent. There were many kinds of lettuce to choose from and toppings. Please note that if you do not eat pork there are not non-pork meat options as salad toppings. Since MSC is Italian owned this is not at all surprising, but that I would include in this review in case some are wondering. Generally, if you are a vegetarian or a vegan it would be difficult to find good items to eat on this ship. They also had a decent fruit station, not much variety usually cantelope, apples, and grapes. Sometimes they had kiwis and other tropical fruit. They also always had whole fruit like apples, kiwis, tangerines (sometimes) which was nice if you wanted to take ashore as a snack. Would have been nice if they had some bananas or berries, but seeing that we were there in the winter these may have been out of season in Europe. Overall, the buffet had a pretty good range of food. Lots of hot dishes (fish, meatballs, chicken, etc). They always usually had burgers, hot dogs, and french fries for the unadventurous types. What was also pretty awesome is they also always had a cheese and cured meat station so you could make your own charcuterie board if you wanted to. The desserts were also generally pretty good, they were my favorite part of the dining experience in general. They are a bit redundant in that they basically do the same kind of dessert over and over again (usually a sponge cake with some kind of filling) but still good. They did have great panna cotta and also had a wonderful coconut dessert when I was on board. Entertainment and Activities: To be honest I usually do not partake on cruise ship activities so I cannot speak to the quality of those or the shows. My mother, however, did attend most of the shows and she said most were excellent. I spent most of my time in the gym and the spa. Gym: Very very small for a ship this size with close to 3,000 passengers. Our cruise was not even at capacity and for those wanting to use machines it was pretty difficult to snag a spot. Not a problem for me as I generally use the aerobics floor and do not utilize machines but if you are hoping to work out everyday at 4:00 be warned that you will need to wait some time for a treadmill. If i recall there were maybe 8 treadmills, 3 elliptical machines, and 2 stationary bikes. They also had some weight machines and free weights (for american travelers please remember they are in Kilos!). The staff the the gym were friendly and I enjoyed seeing them everyday. Best times to work out will either be very early morning or later at night (when dinner and shows are going on). On Orchestra the gym was open from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM. Also no water cooler in gym....kind of ridiculous. You needed to go to the buffet up one floor and across the ship...not customer friendly (and frankly a bit unsafe). Spa: Please note that in order to utilize the sauna and steam room on this ship you must have purchased the Aurea Spa Pass. it is about $70 for a two week cruise. The spa was OK, again amenities were nothing to rave about, but if you were to come at off times (which I usually did) you could basically have the place to yourself. There are three whirlpools, 2 saunas, and 2 steam rooms. One of the steam rooms was bigger than the other. The saunas were the same, only difference was one was usually much warmer than the other. Please note that it is all Coed. We were told that it was separated by gender, but the travel agent was incorrect about this. Not a very big deal to me, but may be important for others. In the area where the whirlpools are there was a very small sitting area with maybe 4 or 5 chairs where you could lie down and see the ocean. Not very pleasant when it is busy as it was very loud and not relaxing. However, again if you were to come at an off time you could basically have it to yourself. The spa is technically open from 9:00 - 9:00 PM, however, you could come in between 7:00 - 9:00 and use the sauna and steam room so long as you were not wearing a bathing suite (towels only or as they put it highly recommended). Basically you could not utilize the 3 whirlpools from 7:00 - 9:00. Overall the spa was also very very small for the volume of passengers. The women's "locker room" had only one bathroom and two sinks. As a comparison when I cruised with Norwegian they had an entire area dedicated to showers and hairdryers etc. No hairdryers etc. on this MSC ship in the spa. Spas are generally my favorite part of a vacation so I was a bit disappointed that the spa was not a bit more robust, but I did the best with what I could and chose hours where it was not packed. Service: Truly was a mixed bag. There were some staff who were very attentive and very customer service oriented and others who were not. A note to fellow American passengers customer service will not be on par with what you expect and experience in the states or on american operated cruise lines. I am very well traveled and Europe in general is not known for its excellence customer service. For example, my brother had gone to the bar to ask for some water and ice (pretty standard in american bars and actually I think required by law that they serve you water if you ask - I actually thought this was standard in other places too). The bartender put ice and water in the glass and then said to him "oh actually you need to go and get water from the buffet" she then proceed to dump out the ice and water that was already in the glass....she had already done 99% of the work, all that was left was to hand my brother the glass. Things like this would happen often. It is just not something that we are accustomed to. The staff generally don't really go above and beyond (unlike Norwegian) and they basically just do what they need to do. Also the levels of professionalism really varied among the staff, something that I did not experience at all on Norwegian. The staff were also disorganized. For example Day 1 dinner we asked three people what time our second seating for dinner was and we got three different answers....this should not be happening. It became clear that they do not spend a good amount of time on training their staff. Also generally, on Norwegian most of the staff seemed very happy while on MSC the staff were not very engaged. I am not sure if perhaps the pay and benefits are better on Norwegian, but it was a noticeable difference. Some of this may also be due to language barriers. There are many languages spoken on the ship so understandably it may be hard for staff to keep up with all the languages. The primary languages spoken are Italian and Spanish - as an fyi. Very few English speakers on board. If you are looking to travel with fellow English speaking travelers do not cruise with MSC as you will be disappointed. This was not an issue for me, but may be an issue for others. An additional side note - for those with nut allergies/special needs when it comes to food. When I cruised with Norwegian I was incredibly impressed by their dining team. Every night before dinner, my waiter would come to my table and would walk through each menu item with me to ensure that I was not allergic to any items. On MSC, the level of service is absolutely not the same. I was never confident in their ability to keep me from having an allergic reaction. There were 2 or 3 times that I had to send food back because there were nuts in it even through the waiter/ maître d specifically told me that there were not nuts on the menu that day. Again, I do not necessarily think this is the fault of the staff, but rather poor training on the part of upper management. Ports of Call and Excursions: We picked this cruise because of the ports of call and thought that MSC had the best variety as compared to other lines. Malaga was beautiful as was Funchal. We did one shore excursion through MSC in Morocco and were very happy with it. We thought that overall they did a good job of showing us the sights in the limited time that we had. We also had a wonderful lunch at Hotel Farah in Casablanca that was included in the excursion cost. In all honesty, the food we had at Hotel Farah was better than any food that was served on the ship. The guide was very friendly and made us feel welcomed. One major problem however was that again MSC was not good at being organized for disembarkation. Specifically at Malaga they were already late by 1 hour getting to the port and we only had a 6 hour stop. So now it was cut down to 5 hours. On top of that it took them over an hour to disembark us...so now we only had 4 hours. Malaga was very rushed and this made the experience unfortunate. Overall: Overall my biggest issue with MSC was that they are not customer oriented. It is obvious that they are just in it to make money from passengers. This was evident in embarkation where we were being sold packages and even at formal breakfast and dinners the staff would walk around trying to sell you hand squeezed orange juice or shots. just really tacky and unprofessional. These types of behaviors cheapen the experience for passengers and MSC should really discontinue this practice. They are also very disorganized. One prominent example of this was disembarkation and embarkation. which I discussed in detail above. Another example was trying to get coffee or tea in the buffet. It was absolutely ridiculous. The hot water would always be empty, there were never enough mugs, sometimes there was no milk. In short, it was always a crapshoot. As my brother comically put it, everything with MSC is like a scavenger hunt. I once spent 25 minutes just trying to find the hot water, tea, and milk for a glass of tea. These are obvious upper management problems that need to be addressed and they effect the overall operation of the ship. Again, the customer service was mixed, however, one thing that I am glad they did not mess up was that I ordered a cake for my mother's birthday for our last dinner. They did deliver that as promised and it made the trip extra special for her which was nice. While I really wanted to love my experience with MSC, because they do have a wide range of itineraries, unfortunately the general consensus of our 6 person family was that we would not cruise with MSC again. We would opt to cruise again with Norwegian (and wish we did this time) or with a more expensive line (Celebrity, Holland America, Viking). Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2017
MSC Orchestra November 27 to December 9 2017, Mediterranean Cruise Included Morocco and Funchal Stateroom 12102 Aurea Balcony This was our first cruise with MSC Cruise Lines, we have previously sailed with Holland America ... Read More
MSC Orchestra November 27 to December 9 2017, Mediterranean Cruise Included Morocco and Funchal Stateroom 12102 Aurea Balcony This was our first cruise with MSC Cruise Lines, we have previously sailed with Holland America Line seven times. We didn’t have a good last cruise with HAL so decided to take a break from cruising until we saw this deal from MSC. Firstly they offered a loyalty points matching program so we were able to have our HAL three star mariner level gives us Gold level on MSC, so we are comparing our HAL experience with MSC. We took the Aurea level of cruise experience in a balcony stateroom, mainly because it included a drinks package and some massage treatments all for substantially less than Holland America. Bottom line if you don’t want to read a long review we really enjoyed this cruise, the ports of call were great and we didn’t feel that we were on an inferior ship. The value we received was far beyond our HAL experience. We boarded in Barcelona and the ship was late, we arrived at the cruise terminal in time for an early boarding but there was no sign of the Orchestra. There were no MSC staff to tell us what was happening and no emails from MSC. The ship did arrive and we did get priority boarding because of the Aurea level of tickets we bought. Boarding was quicker and easier than HAL way more casual and enjoyable. Our gold room key cards were on our bed in the stateroom which was unlocked the door on the latch. Everything was laid out on the bed all information we needed. The room decor is modern and stylish better than what we were used to, our bathroom was shower only no tub. The balcony was cleaner and freshly painted, no visible rust, handrails were clean, something HAL is not always doing. Our first visit to the buffet was good and what we expected, nice to flash your key card for free drinks. The buffet food for lunch is good but for dinner is terrible in fact nothing like HAL, you could not have a pleasurable dinner by using the dinner buffet all through your cruise. Lunchtime was good and had ethnic choices as well as everything else you would expect. North Americans get free bottled water at lunch and dinner even without a drinks package. Aurea package also includes My Style Dining, this gives a reserved area in the main dining room just for Aurea passengers. This means you can show up at anytime during dinner service. Our experience was that the person assigning tables for Aurea turned our My Style into assigned seating, which after a few nights led to us being rushed out of the restaurant because another couple wanted our table. They brought our first and main course together, dining on a cruise ship in the evening is our entertainment and the restaurant manager ruined this for us. Instead of telling the other couple that My Style is a different concept he caved to their pressure and we suffered because of that. I will admit to having a meltdown and getting angry and making my point. This did sour our main dining room experience. Food choices are not as good as HAL, the main dining room sells the lobsters or T-Bone steaks for 22 euros each, gala nights do not get surf and turf. The food choices they do have is good cooked well and enjoyable. We are vegetarians and MSC went out of their way to please us and cook items that were not on the menu. This was far better than HAL who did not seem to have the special cooks who were skillful and able to cook the vegetarian menu, this led us to stop sailing with HAL. The MSC Orchestra has only one speciality restaurant an Asian restaurant, offering sushi and some Thai options. If you buy a dining package before boarding you get a discount and are tied to a set menu. They did make all our options vegetarian instead of chicken and fish. The Pad Thai is not Pad Thai, they do what Holland America does use vermicelli noodles and no peanut sauce. Do yourself a favour and save your money by not using this restaurant. Our fellow passengers were Italians, Spanish, French and Germans. The Italian neighbours to our balcony were smokers and ignored the do not smoke on balconies signs. We did complain as the cigarette smoke was overwhelming, the first complaint I believe MSC did nothing because of customer relations, so I complained a second time which was three days into our cruise and this time it worked, having said that there were balcony smokers in three or four other cabins around us that didn’t impact us as much. Rules didn’t seem respected as on HAL. For the money we paid and the services we received MSC delivered well beyond what we were used to from Holland America and I could see us sailing with MSC more in the future. If you are a native English speaker you will be in the minority on MSC European cruises, if you can cope with this then we would recommend MSC as an option to consider, especially if you have loyalty points from another cruise line. Stateroom 12102 is under the outdoor bar in the mid ships area, it’s balcony and a very spacious room having an inter connecting door we worried about noise from the adjoining cabin but heard nothing, the room is very quite apart from 3.00 to 3.30 am the staff line up the table and chairs dragging them on the deck which is very noisy, but there must be a different shift at 6.00 am as they start rearranging the furniture again. Seems a shame they do this as these are premium cabins. We didn’t get our spa in room scented diffuser as they were out of them, these are part of the Aurea experience, after asking where it was we were given an MSC branded backpack and two insulated coffee travel mugs. We had the choice of two rooms as we booked late, both were mid ships ours had the adjoining door but the other had a drop down extra bed mounted above the sofa and the while being a head bashing hazard when getting up from sitting on the sofa, it also makes the room seem smaller. On this itinerary leaving Barcelona and doing a circuit of the Mediterranean this 12102 on the right hand side of the ship was great as you get the sunrise and sun most of the day which makes the room warmer and brighter. Most ports we entered we had great views, so recommend this side of the ship. We read negative reviews of this ship and cruise line and to be honest they are not warranted, yes the difference between nationalities and culture can seem unfriendly but why do you travel abroad if not to encounter different peoples. Lastly buying the Aurea package gives you the standard drinks package but because you bought it before boarding as part of your ticket there are no service fees added to you bar bills, so you save 15% service fee on every order. I would do another MSC cruise I think they are giving greater value for your dollar than Holland America Line and seem keen to serve North American passengers. Four out of five stars from us. Read Less
Already Booked?

Get to know who you’ll be sailing with

Find a Cruise