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Sail Date: December 2008
We are not novices to cruising as this was our 39th cruise. We are gold card members of the MSC line. Until this sailing, MSC has been our favorite cruise line. Unfortunately the service made us feel like unwanted relatives on the ... Read More
We are not novices to cruising as this was our 39th cruise. We are gold card members of the MSC line. Until this sailing, MSC has been our favorite cruise line. Unfortunately the service made us feel like unwanted relatives on the Orchestra. We have had better and worse embarkations thus nothing worth writing about. It was upon entering the ship our problems began. Our adult son came with us since this was a Christmas and New year's vacation. Upon boarding he went to the Receptionist Desk to give them cash so he could open up his onboard account. When he tried to tell the receptionist what he wanted to do she told him "if he would shut up and listen." I was standing by him or I might not have believed a customer relations person would talk that way to a passenger. We are loyal past passengers and get treated this way. Strike one within ten minutes of boarding. Other cruise lines show you to your cabin and some even offer a glass of champagne. None of that here. You are on your own to find your cabin. Being hungry we went up to deck 13 for something to eat. Another disappointment. The food was tasteless and all the salads looked and tasted the same. There were only two variety of cakes for dessert. Little did we know this was to be the case for the entire cruise. Our first dinner foretold what was ahead for the next 17 days. We never saw a steak the entire trip. Fish served every meal but over cooked and quite dry. Chicken every meal and again over cooked. We ordered pasta the first night (remembering how wonderful the pasta was on the Opera.) To our surprise it was tasteless except for a rancid, metallic taste. No one at our table could eat it. In 17 days we had truly good pasta only two times. Service in the dining room was bad to pitiful. We were at a table for 6 and one person would get their dish while the rest would wait 10 to 15 minutes. Sometimes we were served the wrong orders. Other times we never got what we ordered. Sometimes we would get our food but have no silverware to eat it with. Dinner always took around two hours. Everyday except for three we went to the "formal" dining room for lunch. Imagine our surprise to have to go through a cafeteria line (buffet) at lunch in the formal dining room. No menu service. Again the food was tasteless. In all our cruises this was a first. Christmas Eve we could have "prime rib" or lobster. Everyone at our table and next to us agreed the "prime rib" was merely a small piece of over cooked roast beef. The lobster was soooo large we took three bites and it was gone. Also, I was told fourteen passengers ended up in the infirmary ill after eating the lobster. Unfortunately the food never improved the entire cruise. I had occasion to speak with Marcello, the Guest Relations manager. He told me he was a "chef" and that Italians do not cook with spices. I wondered if he thought I had dropped here from another planet. Especially since my husband is 1/2 Italian. Day two we slept in and did not leave our cabin until 10:10 am. Imagine our surprise to find it was not possible to find anything to eat on the ship until noon. The restaurant closed at 9:30 am everyday of the trip. The deck 13 cafeteria (buffet) closed at 10:00 am. No rolls, croissants, nothing. Our cabin was always very clean and our room steward had a handicap as our adult son would stay out quite late and thus get up very late. Our steward never complained and graciously worked around our night owl. We were quite happy with our service in this area. The productions shows were good and the costumes were beautiful. The were four African men who were acrobats. They were truly wonderful. The magician and illusionist were acceptable. One night there was no show at all and three nights the show consisted entirely of groups which played every night in the atrium lounge. These three nights were poorly attended since we saw them every night anyway when passing by the atrium. The Entertainment (Animation) Team on MSC really work hard and extremely long hours. These young people were no exception. They danced with passengers every single evening until 1 or 2 am. They had Italian lessons, trivia games, crazy games, dance lessons, etc. From nine in the morning until two am they were very visible and working hard. They truly made this voyage bearable. The cruise director on the other hand was very aloof and seldom said anything to the passengers. The ships lounge performers were generally good. We especially liked the Popcorn Band and their singer, Romanica. She has a truly lovely voice and is very friendly and outgoing. On the Opera you could not get on the ship or go into an eating facility without a crew member squirting you with hand sanitizer. Imagine our surprise when we cannot even find the sanitizer on deck 13 four four days. It was behind a door. Quite often when getting back on the ship or entering the dining room the hand sanitizer was empty. There was never any crew in sight the entire trip checking on this. Something we have never seen before was that none of the ships shops were open until the fourth day of our cruise. Christmas decorations (such as they were) did not appear until day four and five of our cruise. We heard several passengers complain because the ship never put up a Menorah even though we were cruising during Hanukah. There were never any Christmas Carols, no egg nog, no special Christmas show Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. A passenger chorus sang prior to midnight mass which was held at 11:00. Other than Santa for the children Christmas Day might as well have been any other day of the year. Get this the Orchestra had a Friends of Bill W. meeting in the Savannah "Bar." Our past passenger party was not until December 28 which is when we got our "welcome cocktail." It took three phone calls to get the invitation which we finally received 10 minutes prior to the party. Only ONE cocktail is permitted per passenger. No canapes. Since Saint Thomas is the first U.S. port this is where the immigration procedures were done. What a mess. We got a paper which I am quoting "instructions for passengers NON USA and Canada." We get a knock on our door and were chastised for not going through customs. I showed the person our form and he said we did not know how to read and must go right away. We stood in line for one hour to have a ship officer glance at our passport and put a sticker on it so we could get off the ship and go into town. The last week of the cruise many of the passengers and some of the crew got a hacking cough, sore throat and fever. My son and spouse both had to go to the infirmary for medicine. They were told there was not an outbreak of illness. However, the ship sounded like a T.B. ward. A couple of passengers said they had contacted the Center for Disease Control because of the ships denial and the lack of sanitization. We have cruised so many times, we know there are always a few disgruntled passengers but we have never talked to so many people who were so angry. People from nearly every country we spoke with expressed their displeasure with the Orchestra. We only met three people who seemed happy with the cruise. We found out they were on their first cruise. Disembarkation was truly a nightmare. Everyone had to be out of their cabin by 7:00 am. Breakfast was closed at 8:30 am. Nobody was allowed off the ship until after 10:30 am. There was an announcement about 9:00 am blaming the Immigration Department for the hold up. Since we had a 12:30 train home we were getting quite nervous. I went to the Receptionist and she said she could not give me a different colored tag. (Ours was over half way down the list to be called.) She then said they could not "force" anyone to stay on the ship. We spoke with some people sitting near us and they had 7:00 to 8:00 evening flights and had the first colored tags to be called. We slipped in line when the first tags were called and upon reaching the baggage area off the ship found our luggage had not even been taken off the ship yet. We spoke to someone in Immigration and were told they were ready by 9:00 am to clear the Orchestra's passengers but the ship is under staffed and that was why it was taking so long. Many a time I have gone on Cruise Critic to defend MSC, telling the detractors how wonderful MSC is. I now feel a need to apologize to my fellow Cruise Critic's for misleading them. What has happened to my beloved MSC??? Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2008
The MSC Cruise line is for the birds. If you plan a cruise DO NOT CHOOSE MSC CRUISE LINES. It is a very boring place to be. The food was terrible-horrible-everything was either undercooked or overcooked....they even screwed up corn ... Read More
The MSC Cruise line is for the birds. If you plan a cruise DO NOT CHOOSE MSC CRUISE LINES. It is a very boring place to be. The food was terrible-horrible-everything was either undercooked or overcooked....they even screwed up corn flakes (I lived on French fries and tomatoes for 17 days)...... there were no trained crew members everybody was new and spoke very little English if any at all....there were 16 decks on this ship and 2...yes 2...Christmas trees..no decorations.........no Christmas music......they had no planned organized fun things to do except stretching exercises and bingo and that was ill organized........Bingo cards cost $10 for one card......I paid extra for a smoking balcony and they did not allow smoking on balconies.......they charge 3% for cashing travelers checks.......the only deck party they had was New Year's Eve....no ice carvings and grand buffet on the last night as ships usually do...the nightly shows (except 2) were all operatic and classical.....no religious Christmas services except for Catholics.....the first and second days they had no night time buffet so you had to eat in the dining room whether you wanted to or not, then they had so many complaints that they had to open a buffet at night.....you had to pay for pizza...you had to pay for ice cream...one man had to pay $3.50 for a glass of crushed ice.....there were two big fights on the ship....no movie theater or free movies....the first few days they had 10 free movies but so many people were so bored they were staying in the cabins watching them so they took them off.....one couple got off in Casablanca and flew themselves home and another two couples got off in San Juan....... We had to beg for bananas...beg for doughnuts...they kept these things under the counter...... they did not ever have any milk although people were asking for it....until about 5 days into the cruise after thousands of complaints we didn't even get coffee except at mealtimes and on every cruise I have been on there are coffee and juices 24 hours a day.... One more thing...there were no hand sanitizers until we got to American territory and inspection time. They were hidden under the counters too. A lot of people caught colds and were in bed for a period of time....Clarence was one of them for 4 days. There were about 3K + travelers on this cruise and 2900 of them swear they will never go on another MSC Cruise Line. Everybody was complaining from all countries. If you sat down at a table or somewhere with a complete stranger, all that was talked about was how bad the ships crew, the service, and the organization was....especially the food. Everybody was teed off because the only vegetables were cauliflower, broccoli, and shredded carrots. We finally got some potatoes. They were also upset because all the deserts were the same with just different colored icing. The food was horrible in all restaurants because we tried them all trying to find something fit to eat. This is the only cruise line we have ever been on that we LOST weight. The productions shows were good and the costumes were beautiful. The were four African men who were acrobats. They were truly wonderful. The magician and illusionist were acceptable. One night there was no show at all and three nights the show consisted entirely of groups which played every night in the atrium lounge. These three nights were poorly attended since we saw them every night anyway when passing by the atrium. The Entertainment (Animation) Team on MSC really work hard and extremely long hours. These young people were no exception. They danced with passengers every single evening until 1 or 2 am. They had Italian lessons, trivia games, crazy games, dance lessons, etc. From nine in the morning until two am they were very visible and working hard. They truly made this voyage bearable. The cruise director on the other hand was very aloof and seldom said anything to the passengers. The ships lounge performers were generally good. We especially liked the Popcorn Band and their singer, Romanica. She has a truly lovely voice and is very friendly and outgoing. On our other cruises you could not get on the ship or go into an eating facility without a crew member squirting you with hand sanitizer. Imagine our surprise when we cannot even find the sanitizer on deck 13 four four days. It was behind a door. Quite often when getting back on the ship or entering the dining room the hand sanitizer was empty. There was never any crew in sight the entire trip checking on this. At one point I asked a crew member for the hand sanitizer, he sent me to the toilet. It took about three hours to get onto the ship and nearly six hours to get off. They ran us out of our rooms at 7AM (which was a first for us) and gathered all 3K+ into two small bars and then the Captain did not have some type of paperwork that America requires and we waited nearly six hours to get off. That is with no water, food or anything else and no place for all of us to sit. We were sitting on the stairs, laying in the floor, sitting on the bar and nearly hanging from the rafters. Children were irritable, crying...it was a fiasco. and I could go on and on but I bet you are tired of reading by now. However, the itinerary was great and off the ship we saw a lot of good stuff. We made several good friends and they helped to make the trip from becoming a complete disaster. So if you want to punish your friends and get even with your enemies..send them on an MSC CRUISE LINE FOR A FEW DAYS. Not us though, we will never cruise MSC again. The nicest people on the ship were both working on Deck 13. There names are Arie from Bali and Miriam from Peru. This was our first MSC Cruise and although we cruise at least twice yearly and sometimes more. This will be our last MSC Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
After entering through one of the more efficient boarding processes into the beautiful atrium, we were keyed up for a really fabulous cruise - our fifth. After checking out our cabin which was of the usual style and standard we were still ... Read More
After entering through one of the more efficient boarding processes into the beautiful atrium, we were keyed up for a really fabulous cruise - our fifth. After checking out our cabin which was of the usual style and standard we were still feeling great about the experience before us. On reading the information provided we discovered there were a few issues of concern regarding the ship and cabin facilities. These were: No laundromat nor passenger ironing facility; No tea/ coffee making facility in cabin. These amongst some other issues would detract from what could have been a great cruise. The following are areas that I consider were extremely poor aspects of the MSC Orchestra and would have to be addressed before cruising with or recommending MSC to any other person or travel agent: Lack of Drinking Water The only available water, for drinking, provided was in the buffet, at meal times, or afternoon tea. In the dining room, or at any other time drinking water was only available as bottled water @ 2.60 Euro for 750ml. After much discussions with the various levels of the dining room hierarchy I eventually managed to get three glasses of iced water served at dinner each night. I contacted the reception of the ship to find out if the water in the cabin taps was suitable to drink and they said that it wasn't. After discussions with the ship's purser he advised that the water in the cabin was drinkable? I am still unsure. Tea/ Coffee As there was no tea or coffee facility in room, one could reasonably expect that instant coffee or tea would be readily available, free of charge, at various stations around the ship. Not only wasn't this the case but the only time tea/coffee was served was at breakfast or afternoon tea. At lunch, dinner or at other times passengers were expected to purchase from a bar at inflated cost. After raising this as part of an overall lack of available water/ fluids available we were given coupons to address the issue - under strict secrecy requirements. As an average a person requires two litres of water per day which works out at 10 Euro per passenger at MSC rates. Smoking Whilst I acknowledge that smoking in Italy is allowed in far more places than Australia, I found it incomprehensible that you had to walk through a smoking lounge to get to another bar or the theatre and that all the major entertainment activities were held in a smoking bar. As a non smoker this precluded me from many activities and by the time I left the cruise, having had walked through smoking areas, with clothing that reeked of cigarette and cigar smoke. Laundry/ Ironing As this was part of a longer trip with the constraints of luggage allowances, we had anticipated, like others we met, that we would have access to laundry/ironing facilities on board as had been our previous experiences cruising, or the option of sending out laundry and ironing. It came as a shock when the only facilities were send out at extortionate rates and we are supposed to look presentable to enter the dining facility. Dining Hygiene Being conscious of the rapid way in which infection can travel through passengers on board ships, I was appalled at the lack of basic facilities at the entry to the dining areas. Whilst the buffet had hand wash machines at the entrance, these were not always working, and the dining rooms had no such facilities at all. When I asked about the dining room facilities I was told to go to the nearby toilet to wash my hands by the Assistant Maitre D'. Other Facilities Internet Cafe- 25 euros an hour and then it would drop out when you sent a message. There was never a problem finding a computer because passengers refused to use it. Gymnasium - the size of the gym and equipment in relation to passenger numbers was totally inadequate. Coupled with this was the exercise classes which had to be conducted in public areas and so my wife did feel comfortable to attend. Incorrect Information - Reception As mentioned previously I received information from reception which was then contradicted by the Purser. This one of several occasions that reception provided misleading or incorrect information including refund information for day trips as well as questions relating to various aspects about the ships processes- room service, accounts etc. It was very difficult to trust any information provided. What I found extremely disappointing, apart from the issues raised above was the attitude of the ship's "management team" - who when asked to address an issue would respond with - "It's company policy". Whilst it may seem from the above list that we didn't enjoy or value any aspects of the MSC Orchestra. This is not true. MSC does the big things really well - the onboard environment is fabulous- with the exception of the smoking issues, and the entertainment was first rate, especially as it was designed for such a diverse audience. The cabin staff, wait staff in the dining facilities, the bar staff and the ship's medical officers provided outstanding service throughout the cruise. They were always extremely helpful, professional and willing to go out of their way. I have since raised these issues with MSC and the response was basically like it or lump it. I guess it is one company who I am reluctant to recommend. Read Less
MSC Orchestra Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 4.0 3.0
Entertainment 3.0 3.4
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.3
Family 3.0 3.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.1
Enrichment 2.0 2.8
Service 3.0 3.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.3
Rates 4.0 3.9

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