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35 MSC Cruises MSC Orchestra Senior Cruise Reviews

We chose our trip based on 2 back-to back 7 day cruises; travelling from Australia is not cheap and is arduous. The web sites gave MSC a pretty good rating and the extra charges were obvious in all the blurb. Everything was in English and ... Read More
We chose our trip based on 2 back-to back 7 day cruises; travelling from Australia is not cheap and is arduous. The web sites gave MSC a pretty good rating and the extra charges were obvious in all the blurb. Everything was in English and the itinerary was our dream, the price was good so 5 months ahead we planned and paid for our trip. The good things; #The ship was well equipped but not perfect. # The ship sailed safely and comfortably and met times prescribed. Then the pain of 1+ days hit us when trying to embark. We are 63+ and looking for comfort and smooth sailing. The economic, english speaking, caring service , non-smoking , fine dining cruise turned into; penny-pinching, multi-lingual, non-caring, smoke as you like and reasonable-food-but-served-cold. ECONOMICS; No complaint over the cabin price, but when everything is hit with a 15% "service cahrge" and then the daily "service charge". Double dipping? Cruises were sold Copenhagen - baltic/Norway - retuen but were multiple pick-up cruises - much like a hop=hop=off. ENGLISH: This was the minority language use don board and the announcements(which did not get to cabins) began in english bit bu the time our door was opened they had switched to Italian/German etc.. In 14 days we met only 20 'english speaking cruisers" - fortunately the cabin attendants and wait-staff had a reasonable grasp of english. Manners were definitely sub-european. CARING: I cared about safety - no response. I cared about comfort on in-port dining - no response, not billed as an ITALIAN cruise but an Italian night on both legs? See attach. SMOKE & FOOD> Both were opposite to expectation from internet advertising. The poll forms are far too limiting and give MSC very limited feedback + client is cheated. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Having subscribed to MSC newsletters for some time, we were keen to try one of their cruises. When this great deal of 3 b2b cruises came up, we were eager to sign up and with CC reviews in hand, went with an open mind to experience the ... Read More
Having subscribed to MSC newsletters for some time, we were keen to try one of their cruises. When this great deal of 3 b2b cruises came up, we were eager to sign up and with CC reviews in hand, went with an open mind to experience the good and bad. After the first 7 days, I was still keeping an open mind and focussing on the good. By the second 7 days, some things had begun to be quite irritating and when entering the last leg of 11 days, we now saying, "never again MSC"! EMBARKATION - quick, once it all started but waiting for a few hours in an unlit temporary terminal on a thuddery day was not much fun. We did have drinks available! This was our first encounter with MSC's unusual admin ways. Although we were booked on 3 cruises our cards showed the dates for only 2 cruises. When questioned about this the answer was so absurd that I knew we would experience some unusual ways! THE SHIP: Really lovely - quality, relaxing decor and furnishings in public rooms,easy to navigate, good pool deck. Cabins were clean, a little smaller than other cruise lines with less drawers but bathroom ok. The things that annoyed us were that every bar had loud music playing constantly, so that it was difficult to find a quiet area to sit and read when blustery conditions prevented sitting on the balcony. Smoking was alowed inside certain bars and therefore again restricted our presence. THE STAFF - Our cabin steward was delightful,speaking good English and always attentive to any needs. The restaurant staff were fine but not outstanding. Fortunately we drank little. With only adequate bar staff, it sometimes took a while to order a drink. We had no real administration problems but those who did had a dreadful time at Reception. Some staff spoke good English but others were very poor in their communication skills and we heard some appalling tales that other passengers encountered. THE FOOD - OMG where do you start - maybe with the water that you had to purchase for 2 euro each time, whether in the restaurant or buffet. The food was continuously inconsistent! We dined in the L'Isbiscus restaurant every night and found the food boring and overcooked. On many occasions certain ingredients described in the menu were either in the Chefs dreams or so disguised that were unrecognisable. We discovered after the first 7 days that the menu was recycled every 7 days and even thouh the last sector of the cruise was advertised daily as a food and wine cruise, there were only 3 days of a new menu. By the last night, i was ready to throw the Darn of Salmon at the waiter!It was yet again dry and if you are thinking why didnt I order something different, well on several occasions, i rejected my first order for something else, only to find it was also either overcooked or salty. Then, every now and again a dish would surprise us, The rack of lamb, which was actually only 2 cutlets, was beautifully cooked and tasty!! At least the L'Isbiscus restaurant had a reasonable amount of space - even though we were squashed in a corner and never saw the sea at nights- the Borghese restaurant was ridiculously sqashy for lunch, hence we went to the buffet for lunch. Again, the food was consistly bad - inedible bad- and good -great indian curries and roasts on some days. Breakfast was GOOD - great German style rye breads, great tasting bacon, good eggs, yoghurt, heavenly waffles and despite the fact that they did not replace my cereal when it ran out, good variety of cereals. However, if you wanted fresh orange juice that had to be paid for! We tried the Oriental specialty restaurant for lunch- I think the only ones to do so as we saw no other people there day or night. The quality was acceptable but I could not label it good. We did not go to the 4 Seasons restaurant as it had no extra decor than the buffet and those who did use it said that the food was not much different to the usual. We do not know why they have specialty restaurants - they were a BIG dissapontment SHORE EXCURSIONS - good, very happy with the content and value of the excursions. Getting your bus number was typically chaotic as was much of the administration. ENTERTAINMENT - hmmm interesting! The night time entertainment in the theatre was excellent - just as well, as it recycled every 7 days also. We therefore saw all the shows 3 times and 1 for the fourth time. MSC's 'production shows' are different from all others. While only 30 mins, the shows had the usual dancers and singers and in addition, incorportaed contortionists and acrobats of very high quality. The theatre was beautiful but each night the CD introduced each show in 5 different languages which took 10 mins. During the first 7 days, I laughed at his amazing abikity to go so fluidly from 1 language to the other. By the second week, it began to be irritating and by the third week, it was more than annoying!! The ships activities - those things you participate or watch on sea days or in between times were carried out by 6 or 8 young enthusiastic guys and gals who again were fluent in several languages. In addition to ball games, we had cooking demonstrations, napkin folding and flower arranging. Needless to say, sea days were ultra boring - I am so glad I took my e-reader, otherwise there was not much to do - a complaint by many!! DISEMBARKATION - Hmmm again - words cannot adequately describe the chaos. Since our passports had to be handed in from Portugal onwards, we were told to retrieve them at 9 am onwards on day of embarkation. While that sounded strange, it was nothing compared to the debarcle that occured. Humongous lines- I am not exagerating - of 3000 passengers all trying to retieve their passports caused some passengers to resort to barging and near fisticuffs. I wish I had taken photos!! Having had to be out of our cabins at 7 am, we had to wait till nearly 10 am to get off and we were some of the early ones. This was far from MSC's finest hour!! In summary It seems to us that MSC supplies cheap cruise by undercutting all else - staff, food, entertainment and whatever else they can. Maybe if you only want a 7 day port intensive cruise and can put up with the announcement in 5 languages continuously and the lack of manners by some passengers, then by all means try MSC but for us, we would rather pay a little more and know that we will dine well, not have to sit in tobacco scented public areas and be entertained with slightly more sophistication. Not much to ask for in old age!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Let me start with my conclusion. If you understand that Baltic Cruises on MSC will be largely Europeans and are comfortable with that, you can enjoy an excellent trip and a good value. Embarkation. ... Read More
Let me start with my conclusion. If you understand that Baltic Cruises on MSC will be largely Europeans and are comfortable with that, you can enjoy an excellent trip and a good value. Embarkation. We embarked at the port of Copenhagen. One of the unusual aspects of this cruise is that the Orchestra takes on passengers (and discharges them) at several ports, not just one. The number getting on in Copenhagen was smaller than at Kiel. The port at Copenhagen has no facilities so all paperwork is handled either in a tent alongside the ship or on board. We were in our cabin (12041, balcony cabin, port) within ten minutes of arrival. The only down side was that when our luggage had not arrived at our cabin 6 hours later we had to make numerous trips to the main desk and finally, by chance, I actually saw one of our pieces of luggage sitting in locked area behind the main desk! It had no cabin identification on it so it was not surprising it had not been delivered. After more haggling and my wife's insistence, a staff member led her to the luggage area and my wife was able to identify the missing luggage within seconds. So, make sure you see the crew place the tag on the bag if you do not do it yourself. Leave nothing to chance. No doubt always good advise when traveling Cabin. Our cabin was typical. Small (166 sq feet) and comfortable. The ship is quite new and has both 110 and 220 volt electricity available. You will not need a converter. The balcony is quite small and, in the Baltic, a bit too cold most of the time to be really useful but the sunlight is a pleasure. Ship Design. The Orchestra features large open decks. Its fine when the weather is good, but be prepared for the usual stress of finding deck chairs. If the weather is poor, passengers tend to congregate (i.e., sit) in the buffet area. It's the only indoor area of the ship with clear, open views. Below the ship is tastefully decorated and features an assortment of lounges, two main restaurants and two specialty (i.e., extra cost) restaurants. The theater, forward, is quite comfortable, and unlike American based ships, they don't push drinks at all. Dining. We prefer the dining room to the buffet. It's the same food, but you can enjoy the services of a wait staff and always find a seat. If you don't know about MSC's drinking water system by now its time to learn. In Europe, MSC does NOT serve any free beverage in the dining room at lunch or dinner. That is correct. Nothing. You want water you buy a bottle. Water is available at the buffet on the upper deck. Coffee and juices are served at breakfast but beware, the orange juice is more like kool aid then juice. If you want real orange juice you should be prepared to pay for it. As of spring 2011, MSC made an exception to this policy. Americans and Canadians receive vouchers for 7 bottles of water at no charge. We found all the meals to be satisfactory and nicely presented. The pasta and the baked goods were the best choices. Service can be a bit slow at time but the wait staff is determined to please and tipping is automatically added to your bill. My waiter bought me a beer on the last night! That's a first. Entertainment. On sea days the basic entertainment is the endless, mindless games played pool-side. If you enjoy this type of thing, you will be fine. Otherwise bring a book or an ipad. In the evening, we found the main shows to be excellent. Since so many languages are in use and every announcement is in five or six languages, the shows are primarily dance, and musically themed. We found each night to be like a performance of the Cirque de Sole. Ports. Kiel, Germany. The main reason MSC calls here is to board or discharge German passengers. We arrived on a Sunday and thankfully there was a flea market within a short walk from the pier. The main attraction in Kiel is the eastern end of the very busy Kiel Canal and the submarine monument and museum. Both were easily visible from the ship as we left port. We did not participate in any ship excursions. Stockholm. We spent the day on the Hop On- Hop Off boat that calls at the pier and arrives in downtown about 15 minutes later. Tickets were available as soon as we got off the ship. Tallinn, Estonia. Tallinn's old city is a charm. We opted to walk on our own and arrived within twenty minutes. St. Petersburg. In Russia, we opted for the ship's excursion to the Peterhoff Castle and the Hermitage. If you do not use the ship's excursion a visa is required and frankly, you are better off with the ship in this port. The lines at both places in August were enormous and without the benefits of a guide, you probably would not even get into the museums. Currency. Each country on the cruise has its own currency. We opted to stick with Euros and had no real problems since credit cards are widely accepted. At the tourist shopping in Russia they take anything! Americans. If you need the company of other Americans you will not be happy on MSC. We were only a handful, but soon we became "The American couple," and fielded questions on "Obamacare" and the stock market. The Danes, the Dutch, the Germans all spoke English and we enjoyed this aspect of the cruise. Disembarkation. Since the Copenhagen group was smaller then the Kiel group, we were off the ship in less than an hour. We stayed in Copenhagen overnight so had only to grab a cab and head back to our hotel. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Irish Naval Association Dublin 7th May to 15th May 2011 Our group of 49 travelled to Copenhagen on board SAS Airlines. The coach was waiting on our arrival and took us straight to the Cruise Line MSC Orchestra, ... Read More
Irish Naval Association Dublin 7th May to 15th May 2011 Our group of 49 travelled to Copenhagen on board SAS Airlines. The coach was waiting on our arrival and took us straight to the Cruise Line MSC Orchestra, There was no delay and the check-in was very efficient. They take your credit card details and issue you with their own credit card which is your the key to your cabin, boarding and disembarking identity card and the card you use for purchase of drinks and items from duty free and onboard shops. When booking they tell you there is a €7 per person per day gratuity which at your discretion will be added to your bill. This is the first negative comment as it is added daily. We asked that it not be added until the end of the Cruise but they insisted they were adding it and we would have to discuss its removal at the end of the cruise, but to be honest we were very satisfied with the service of all their staff. It would be better they added the gratuity to the overall cost and forget about adding it to the bill. The ship was stunning and top of the range in luxury. We sat for our first evening meal and of course not been used to Italian food we ordered starter, main course and sweet, which when served was very small portions so we actually left the table still Hungry. This was our first mistake. The Menu was a 5 to 6 course menu and we should have ordered all 6 items on the menu Appetizer, Soup, Starter, Main Course, Sweet and finally Cheese Board . (ask for more if you like any of the items) Wine for the table is approx €20 per bottle, however, for €8 you can order a carafe of house wine which is approx 6 glasses, and very good wine. On Deck 13 there is the Buffet Bar opened basically all day until 9pm. Tea and Coffee and drinking water are all free 24 hours. You can help yourself to perhaps every conceivable dish you would want . The usual Fry-Up, Burgers, chips, salads, fish, sweet, cakes, fruit etc.etc. So there is no reason to go hungry on the cruise, and there is plenty of places to sit and eat. You are charged for bottle water at your dinner table which is very silly and at €3 is a stupid addition and takes greatly from the overall impression of the cruise and ship. HOWEVER!!! Your can get drinking water free on Deck 13 24 hours a day so although from a health point they do not allow you fill a bottle. You can of course take as many glasses of the water to you table and fill your water bottle at your table. The shows were short approx 30 minutes, but small is wonderful, and you will really enjoy the wonderful variety of the shows. This leaves you plenty of time to sit in the many bars each with their own evening entertainment and always plenty of room to sit, so no need to rush out after the show to grab a seat. The groups and musicians in the various bars are great. Another nice gesture from the ship was that at approx 11pm every evening waiters came around with trays of sandwiches as much as you wanted. One evening they rolled in the chefs and trolleys and prepared pancakes for anyone that wanted them. On our last night on the Ship they opened the Buffet Restaurant at 10pm and stayed open until 1am for the last night Banquet. Again every type of food you copuld think of was there for you to eat and of course no extra charge. I cannot express the absolute class and quality of MSC Orchestra, but next was the scenery, never in my lifetime and having covered many countries over the years had I been prepared for the stunning scenery up the Norwegian Fjords. It was also a great surprise to find the Ship docked almost in the Town at all places we visited. Only once did we anchor and the Ship used its own Landing craft to take us ashore and back to the ship. There was possibly 20 to 30 of the Ships motor boats holding enough to get everyone ashore and back without any need to queue. The cost of the excursions were expensive which is normal on Cruise Ships, However if you get to know enough people on the Ship you can go the local tourist office ashore and get 15% discount for 10 or more. The 15% is also off a much cheaper price at the Tourist Office than on the ship. This applies to the Hop-on Hop-off services in most cities. So get 10 together when going ashore and save money. Our over-all impressions. The Ship was terrific, Scenery was amazing, Food was great, Shows were great, Thanks to all who helped make this a memorable Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
I am a retired Civil Servant, Civil Aviation Authority, and am fairly well travelled. My wife and I live on the Costa Blanca in Playa Flamenca around 60kms South of Alicante. So when a cruise became available that suited our preference for ... Read More
I am a retired Civil Servant, Civil Aviation Authority, and am fairly well travelled. My wife and I live on the Costa Blanca in Playa Flamenca around 60kms South of Alicante. So when a cruise became available that suited our preference for the Med was departing from Alicante we went for it. We persuaded a neighbour to take us to the port and point of embarkation very easy. Then we checked in our cases, no probs, but then an interminable walk, which I do have problems with, to passport control, then up two flights of stairs to a walkway, about 200m to the gangway and not covered. So got very hot as it was a sunny day. There was a lift that arrived at the entrance but it was not being used. I have noticed that MSC are not alone in this. Most cruise passengers are getting on a bit and yet are expected to walk long distances from the ships to disembarkation points. In most cases this is avoidable and is just thoughtless. Only at Jerez could you step off the ship and straight onto the tours and transport services. After some form filling we were shown to our cabin arriving in a very hot state. The Cabin was an inside one and had all the usual ammenities so o.k.. It was thouroughly cleaned and maintained throughout. There was a very comprehensive book of shipboard information to study and the usual brochures on the ships attractions and trips ashore. The trips were quite expensive but we decided to go on a couple. Ship's information was by the usual letter to your cabin and very clear as to what was happening. The ship duly sailed and we went to our assigned dining room and table. La Ibiscus Restaurant, the tables were very crowded together and waiters had great trouble getting between us all. Not at all comfortable and it was compounded by the fact that the food was very ordinary. One of the main reasons we go cruising is the quality of the food and this was plainly nowhere near what it should have been, little choice, overcooked and too salty was a common complaint.. I can get a better Menu del Dias in my local Bar/Restaurant for around 10€. so this was a major disappointment. In addition anything outside the menus, water and wine we had to buy at very expensive prices plus a 15 per cent surcharge. Breakfasts could be had in the restaurant, excellen, or in the buffet. Lunch was the same but the Restaurant charged for water whereas it was actually free in the buffet bar. Quality of the food, apart from breakfast, was pretty average to poor. We are fairly lazy cruisers and like to sit on deck and either play cards or read. Most of the passengers were Italian and they proved very noisy and territorial, made the Germans look like amateurs. So quiet it was not but we did enjoy ourselves. We could not fault the Staff and the service they supplied. However there was much discontent about the price policy on board. Basic prices were very high. E.G. 2.50€ for a can of Diet Coke then a 15 per cent surcharge bringing this up to 3.70€. Totally rip off and most were aware of this and complaining. Thus when it came to the usual tipping, 7€ a day, most passengers cancelled out the end of cruise tips. I did not feel this was fair to the staff as we felt that MSC were just being greedy with a captive clientel and in spite of claiming it replaced the tipping option they still tried to charge this. Evening entertainment was to a pretty good standard and played in a very comfortable and well equipped theatre. During the day it was more of a Hi-De-Hi type scene and very active. Shore excursions were the usual mixture. We went ashore on our own in Jerez and used a local Taxi with a very friendly and informative guide. In Lisbon we used a ship's excursion, it was expensive for what it was, mainly a bus ride round a small part of the City and lasted about 3 hours. In Gibralter we went onto the Dolphin trip and it was excellent mainly because we encountered around 200 dolphins so it had to be good. Disembarkation was efficient but again a walk of over 250m was involved. I asked for, and was given the use of a wheelchair so well done MSC but it would be better to eliminate the need for it. On the whole I would not recommend MSC, the headline price is reasonable but the on-board costs make it an expensive experience. The Ship and the staff are great but that 15per cent surcharge on everything and the quality of the food left a bad taste. Never again with this firm. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
My husband and I have been on about 15+ cruises with various cruise lines. We have gone with many couples, by ourselves and with family. Our cruise on the MSC Orchestra was with another couple which are very good friends. I always read ... Read More
My husband and I have been on about 15+ cruises with various cruise lines. We have gone with many couples, by ourselves and with family. Our cruise on the MSC Orchestra was with another couple which are very good friends. I always read reviews before traveling and feel very strong that if they help me....then maybe I can return the favor. We are in our mid-50's, physically fit and enjoy traveling. We like the senior discounts but hate being called senior citizens just quite yet. We all have children who are grown now and a couple grandkids. I mention this for I have found that couples with children tend to appreciate more when they themselves have a chance to be waited on, meals cooked and rooms straighten twice a day. Those that have never had the chance to be second to a child tend to demand more from the staff and complain more.....just my observation after taking many cruises and listening to those that complain about anything and everything. Let me first say that I read the reviews on the MSC Orchestra and had some reservation on some of the comments before taking this cruise. But then again, many said very positive things about this ship so I was anxious to see what it was really like and how we would like it. Having taken 15+ cruises over the years, I have found that many people go on cruises and complain from when their feet hit the deck to when they leave the ship so I always take that into account when I read reviews. And now my review: We arrived about 11:30 handed our bags over and got in line with our friends for our 1st day of cruising. The lines went pretty quickly (15 minutes) and we were up on the ship. We first headed to our rooms to check the location and condition. What we found was a spick and span room, no smoke smell, a little smaller than some ships I have been on, nice balcony but a tad smaller as well, bath about standard, closet space about standard. There was a refrigerator, blow dryer, desk area, small table and chair. The colors were tans and blues and very eye appealing. Off to the buffet or as I refer to it "the feeding frenzy". Once again everything was very clean with a nice selection of food items from fresh fruit, salad bar, roast beef, hot sides, dessert, soup, veggies, breads, hot fresh pizza. If there isn't something you can find to eat in this array of items then you are a very picky eater or not hungry. I made myself a large salad added a piece of fresh hot pizza and I was set. I found everything to be cook correctly and very tasty. The other couple that came with us also found the food to be good for a buffet. Throughout the cruise we visited the buffet just a few times for breakfast or snack and felt it very good. The buffet staff was superb. My husband did enjoy the pizza throughout the cruise!! Off to the spa and gym area to check it out. The spa area was very clean and oh does it smell good!! The gym was used by my husband during our cruise and he said it was very adequate. They have a very nice area available for free that has two dry hot saunas and two large moist saunas with nice changing facilities. Both couples used this area and enjoyed it very much. Later on in the cruise the girls both had a hot stone massage which was wonderful and got a special of $99 for an hour!! I don't normally get massages at home so they are a treat on a cruise. Worth every penny! We snuck down to the dining room to check our table out. We were in the Ibisquis Dining room which is one of two formal dining rooms and they are identical. Our table was for 4 (perfect) and we had ocean view windows. The dining room is decorated with a formal dEcor and is very eye appealing. Seats were comfortable and the area and table never seemed crowded. Our waiter, assistant and head waiter were wonderful. They were always there to greet with a smile and gave us very efficient fast friendly service. There has been some negative discussion of the food in the dining room on the past reviews. I am not sure where these people that write negative reviews eat out, but I am guessing that since they are not going on one of the top expensive cruise lines, they eat at normal for the most part inexpensive average restaurants like most average Americans. With that being said - the food was great and better than most moderately to upper priced restaurants!! There are almost always 3 choices for appetizers, soup, salad, and about 7 choices for the main course and 4 choices for dessert. Now if you can't find something you like with those choices - stay home!! This is not to mention the items always on the menu like steak, chicken, pasta, Caesar salad and ice cream. I love the appetizers! My husband's favorite is chilled fruit soups and this ship did not disappoint!! He said he had the best soups and such a variety from any ship we have been on in the past. We also had some of the best salads we had had on a cruise ship. Some of my favorite main dishes were - rack of lamb, prime rib, veal dishes, penne pasta, mahi mahi. We did try the lobster which hasn't gotten great reviews but we thought it very good. Now we are from Florida so I am sure Maine Lobster can't compare. We ate every meal for dinner in the dining room and most lunches and about half breakfast. Desserts were fabulous with my favorite being panna cotta. Many times at dinner we just ask for one of each and then our table of 4 friends would put in the middle and share. This way we tried everything and never once left hungry!! I LOVE the portions that they give you on this ship. Just enough and not overwhelming and you never leave hungry. I say if you want to not see the edges of your plate....go to the buffet and pile high and often!! At lunch and breakfast you are sat with many people you don't know....my rule at the table I sat at is "this is a no complaining table". The last thing I want to do is sit down to a nice meal and have someone complaining about the ship, food, waiters, spouse, kids, or anything really. Save those times for your husband in private or close friends that are use to you complaining and don't mind the constant whining. Public complaining is in poor taste and rude to those around you!! On a side note: What happens to people as they age.......their world many times turns inward and they concentrate so much on themselves and their wants and demands they forget about those around them. They forget about the people that work to make their life and trip enjoyable, they are so stuck on their wants that they forget to appreciate those around them; they are so busy complaining that they miss the small things in life that make you smile, they concentrate so much on the negative that they can't see the positive......I don't want to be one of them!!!! Unfortunately since cruises are made up of many senior citizens......you find many of the ME people on board. I am 58 and my goal is NOT to be one of them!! Life is way too short to not smell the roses.... So thank your waiter, thank you room staff, thank those that are trying to make your stay with them nice. Will they be perfect....probably not but then again.....life is not perfect and neither are you. You have a choice - you can live with a smile or frown.........people can enjoy being around you or avoid you at all cost. Is your choice to leave this world with a smile or leave it miserable? That is an easy one for me! I want my grandchildren to remember me smiling and with a kind word to say about life and people when I am gone. How will yours remember you?? Our actions speak our life! Now on with the review but I comment about people on board for they are a part of the overall ship review. It will help put into perspective your outlook and others outlook of the ship and staff. Don't be sucked into that dark unhappy hole!! Our room.....we had room 9029 which is a balcony. We loved our room and our room steward was great along with his assistant. How do they know just when to clean it and when you are gone?? It always amazes me and is for sure a talent. The room was a little smaller than some ships but large enough for the two of us. I don't think I would want anymore than two in the room though. We loved our balcony and so did our friends. We were right next to each other so the room steward opened up the partition so we could enjoy each other's company. The views.....I miss them already!! There is more than adequate storage for the two of us. The room also has a small refrigerator. We took the items out of the frig so we could put things we brought in.( By the way...they don't give you the 3rd degree or make you feel like a criminal when entering the ship with liquids like Norwegian did the last cruise we took.) There is a built in blow dryer by the desk which makes it convenient. The lights are tricky. You need to put your room key in the slot to keep them on for an extended period of time. I guess this way energy is not wasted when you are gone. I would say that I have had more comfortable beds before so if they were to improve.....I would say make a softer bed or mattress and pillow. Our room steward kept our room clean and our ice chest full.....what more can I ask for?? He was there when we needed him and gone when we didn't!! The shows........I loved those that we attended. Most cruises have the Vegas style shows but MSC was upscale from that!! They had a small version of Cirques Oley which we enjoyed. The "glow in the dark outfits" was really spectacular along with the aerobatics. But my favorite was the concerts. We attended two of these and loved every minute. The pianist got standing ovations for both performances and the classical music he played along with his history of the musicians were great. The string ensemble was spectacular as well. This group of women also played in the center of the ship many nights!! The four of us are not smokers so we stayed far away from the casino and any lounges that allowed smoke. But our days were pretty full so after dinner we played cards or headed back to the room if we didn't attend a show. There is a jogging track on 7 that we tried to walk daily. Also the stairs seems to be abandon by most so getting up and down floors for the 4 of us was a breeze. We avoid the elevators and choose to get exercise on the stairs working off all those great meals. The extra eats and drinks....We got the wine package online for 7 days. Very reasonable and we had a bottle each night. I did mention to the head waiter that I was hoping for some Italian choices with our wine package since it was an Italian cruise liner but there were just California wines which we found some we liked. We drink red and our friends enjoy white so 14 bottles was more than sufficient!! Drink specials were $5.50 each day and they actually put high quality liquor in the drinks and are very tasty. They also had some tasty coffee drink specials too. I had one of the best Cosmo's on the ship that I have ever ordered anywhere!! Gelatos are very tasty and one of my husbands favorite. They cost $2.00 at the Gelato bar but are well worth it!! Normally we go to the additional pay restaurants when on a cruise but my husband is not a Chinese dinner fan so we passed it this time. But to be honest, the food in the dining room was so tasty we didn't feel we missed out at all!! Normally unless there is an excursion that we can't resist we go on our own when visiting an island. We LOVE Bermuda and have been there 4 times before so no tour needed. We always rent those scooters they tell you to stay away from, and have a great time riding the island from one end to the other. This trip was unique for it left out of Ft. Lauderdale to Bermuda which is very rare. Living in Florida we booked this quickly for most of the time you have to go the NE (Boston, NYC) to cruise to Bermuda. The weather was fabulous when we were there - not to hot....not to cold. Perfect for scootering!! We visited the beaches, shops, and historic sites and loved every minute of it. Our friends had never been to Bermuda and said they would love to go back. The trip there and back was smooth sailing. You arrive when taking a big ship to the Dockyard versus Hamilton which is fine with us for scooters can be rented throughout the island. This is a Very inexpensive way to sightsee for they cost $50 a day.....but I always get the extra cruise insurance "just incase" of a mishap. I don't advise renting scooters in the Caribbean islands though for they drive crazy there and you do put your life in their hands. Tried it but will not do it again We did stop in Nassau for a day. We played golf on our own at Cable Beach Golf Course which is $130 a person. Cab fare there is $20 and about 25 minutes away. I am not a fan of Nassau so golf was perfect for us for the day was beautiful!! The course there is average but who could ask for better weather and more fun with friends!! We did bring a travel bag of clubs and chose to play in Nassau instead of Bermuda just because we had so many other things to do in Bermuda. But the courses are great in Bermuda too!! If we would have had an extra day in Bermuda we would have played both places.Now a few miscellaneous items......The sun deck never seemed crowded to me on the MSC but we always look for an out of the way spot to catch some rays. Front upper is normally my favorite. I loved the deck lounge chairs. They were very comfortable and have a flip top flap that you can put over your face which my husband liked. We were NEVER bothered by "do you want a drink". I hate to be approached continually about drinks so this was perfect. They have a big screen TV outside and night viewing of shows. The pools and spa's were emptied and cleaned nightly which may shorten the swimming time but I would much prefer cleanliness!! The crew was constantly cleaning, polishing, painting and vacuuming this ship. It was spotless in everyway!!! I loved the layout and our room location. The ship was very easy to navigate. I never felt crowded and could always find a spot to enjoy the view if not on our balcony. They do all announcements in many languages - this is an Italian ship that sails mostly ports overseas where people speak many languages. If this bothers you - pick one of the other more American ships like Carnival or the familiar ones you see all the time. I found it fascinating that they could sound so fluent in so many languages. We actually arrived early to all our ports which was great. We were fortunate to have wonderful weather all 7 days. So many times you hear people give reviews of ships based on the bad weather they have and the rocky ride they endured.....reality check - bad weather equals larger waves and usually a rocky ride. The ship and crew have absolutely nothing to do with your weather!! I loved the location of our room but before I book any cruise I check out the location in relationship to other space on the ship. I will gladly pay a little extra to get the room number I want instead of selecting a category and they pick my room. Everyone normally has that same option. Room temp was perfect....safe didn't work but I try not to bring expensive jewelry when I travel. If it was that important I would have called and had it fixed. Smoking is not allowed on the balconies and discouraged in the rooms - Yeah!!!! Announcements seem to be a lot less frequent on this ship so read and keep your daily newsletter. I have a smart phone with Verizon and called and changed my service so that I could get emails when in Bermuda. Only cost me $20 more a month and they prorate it.....great deal in my book!! Something to check on if you are traveling overseas and have Verizon.....just a tip! Would I travel again with MSC cruises.....YOU BET!! From the crew, view, ship, food, entertainment and destination I loved it all!! Feel free to email me with questions or comments at Shopinful2@yahoo.com. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
MSC Orchestra Easter Cruise April 11-18, 2009 I am a fairly experienced cruiser, and have been on several lines, including HAL, RCI, Carnival. NCL..most of the big ships, and a few smaller ones too. I'm a senior, who enjoys ... Read More
MSC Orchestra Easter Cruise April 11-18, 2009 I am a fairly experienced cruiser, and have been on several lines, including HAL, RCI, Carnival. NCL..most of the big ships, and a few smaller ones too. I'm a senior, who enjoys traveling solo. I drove from Tampa to the Port Everglades area, and parked at the Continental Airport Parking lot. I was a little apprehensive about leaving my keys, but the transaction went fine. The free shuttle to the port immediately took me to the port. The only downside was that they had to leave me, and my luggage about 100' from the door. Luckily, my luggage could be stacked, and has wheels, so not a big issue. I gave the porter $2, and my luggage, and walked into the port building. Embarkation: I got to the pier about 11:30. Embarkation was fairly quick. It took about 20 minutes from the front door to the Ship. It was very organized. The agents, and crew, were all smiling, and welcoming. A good way to start. The Ship: The Orchestra is a beautiful vessel. Everything was clean, and sparkling, Brass shining everywhere. I was ushered into an elevator, that was all mirrors, and brass, and taken to the 13th deck for the lunch buffet. It wasn't crowded yet. There are no trays to carry your food on....just big oval plates. It was the typical buffet, nothing to crow, or complain, about yet. I found a table, and went to get a drink. If the food had been hot, it was cool by the time I sat down to eat. After eating, I wandered down to deck 8, to find my cabin. The hallways were spotless, again everything was gleaming. The Cabin: 8189, balcony. The last cabin on the port side, before the aft cabins. Beside the full wall to the rear was a small deck, and staircase up, and down, that wasn't visited too often by passengers. OK, I've been in bigger. Cabins. It was very clean. I like the idea of putting your key-card in the electronic holder on the wall inside the cabin door, to let your attendant know if you're "home". It also helps to know where you left your key. The balcony....not too big..but typical for a newer ship. The glass panels below the rail were pretty dirty/salt sprayed. I thought they would be cleaned during the cruise.....I was wrong. By the end of the cruise there was food, or maybe a big bird "present", along most of the outside glass. The railing was in dire need of sanding, and re-finishing. The balcony deck was also pretty nasty. I spend a lot of time on my balcony, and the plastic wicker chairs have a fairly low back....not overly comfy. There was some rumble from the pods, but that was to be expected, given the location. I quickly got used to it, and slept very well. The only time it was really noisy, and super vibratory was when the side thrusters were being used.. The bed, and bedding was great, the comforter was starting to show some age. The towels were super big, and thick, but a couple of them did have some tears. Plenty of wash cloths. Just got shampoo, and bar soap. The shower is super small, and the curtain did insist on being intimate. The shower had really good volume, and pressure...plenty hot at all times. No foreign odors in the bath. The mini bar stayed at about 65 F, which was enough to keep the diet soda I brought on board [14 cans, no problem bringing them on board at all] fairly cool. I'm not sure if the storage space is enough for 2 people...I barely had room for my stuff. My cabin steward, Dani, was very efficient. There was one day the cabin didn't get made up till after 1:00 p.m., maybe it was his day off? I left my key out of the slot, and sat on the balcony. Someone did make up the room while I was out there. In the evening it was cleaned without fail while I was at dinner. The only thing was that there was no next day activities "daily", until later in the evening, which wasn't his fault. Food: Hmmm. It appears all the lines are really cutting back on the quality. I was seated at 1st seating Ibiscus dining room, I had 7 table mates at table 752. There was a beef, chicken, fish, alternative meat, and vegetarian entree choice each evening. I enjoyed all the soups. The salad was somewhat wilted, the two times I ordered it. The entrees were always hot, and for the most part ok, not really good, just ok. They had the bread already on a plate, and was usually a roll, small pencil size crunchy bread stick, and a thin slice of the bread of the day. I supposed you could ask for more, but it was never freely offered. There was little to no shrimp...shrimp cocktail only one evening. Unfortunately, I don't remember the waiter's/busboy's names. They were very cordial, and always smiling. It usually took 2 hrs for dinner...once it was 1:45. Water was regularly refilled without prompting. I can't complain about the service at all.....it just took awhile. There were a few back-to-back passengers at the table. They did try to guide us in the food choices. On the first nite I was warned about the "Lobster"......with a BIG thumbs down! [ I had already read that on Cruise Critic] When the head waiter made his visit that nite, I asked if they had a problem with the lobster. He became somewhat offensive, and asked where I had heard that. I told him Cruise Critic. He said that it was fine, and they didn't know what they were talking about. Well they did KNOW ! On "Lobster nite", once again I was warned not to get the lobster, by one who knew, but being a lobster lover , I did. I don't know how to describe what I got. It was a split lengthwise crayfish(?), Caribbean lobster. I was unable to free it from the shell, so I had to pick at it with my fork. The only pieces I could get were shredded, little pieces. One table mate refused /couldn't eat it, and sent it back, another asked the waiter to remove it from it's half shell. When she got her plate back it looked like a couple of spoonfuls of shredded tuna fish. They didn't give you drawn butter, but drizzled it over the crustacean for you. I labored with mine as long as possible, but it was not worth it. The waiter asked if I desired another....I replied it was too much like work, and I was retired, no thanks! Later in the week the tablemate who had refused to eat the "lobster" talked to the Maitre'D who informed her that the lobster was fine, and the problem was with the supplier in Miami. Hmmm, Carnival, et al, seem to do ok with the Miami supplier. STAY AWAY from the lobster, or request the night before maybe, to have it prepared differently!!! There was a lot of veal served, and lamb, which I enjoyed. The serving size was small, but you could always ask for more, without a problem. The desserts left a bit to be desired. I love chocolate....not too much to be found. I usually had ice cream with chocolate sauce. The buffet lunches, and breakfasts were typical, however, again cold by the time you got your food, found a table, and then got a coffee/drink. On sea days...good luck finding a spot to sit and eat. The rolls/breads were very good. They had hot doughnuts sometimes...yummy, but needed a sprinkle of sugar. The pizza in the evening buffet was pretty good, right out of the oven. Again buffet desserts were lacking. I guess they don't like chocolate. I would have liked to have seen Italian pastries, like canoli, or such. I didn't stay up late enough for the "midnight snacks", but heard I was better off sleeping. There was a Gala Buffet one night out on deck, but mostly cold cuts, from what I heard. Room service was good, as far as service. The first night I filled out the door hanger, and it was there on time. I decided the next morning to call when I got up, and order a pot of coffee. It was there within 10 minutes. I traveled alone, but when I asked for service for 1, it wasn't enough coffee, so I ordered for two, and got a big pot. The coffee was strong...the way I like it. I usually tipped $2. The room service menu is VERY limited. I found it in the beginning of the cabin info book. I've heard it said that you're never hungry on a cruise.....well there were times I would have liked a slice of pizza, or an ice cream, but there's nothing available after 9pm. If you miss the breakfast buffet that closed promptly at 10:30, there's nothing till noon. The gelato stand is at the bar midship deck 13. It was good, but $2 for a cone, and not always available. The Crew: Some people complained that the crew was rude. I found that the Italian officers were very aloof, and passed me by, more often than not, without a smile, or "hello", even after I initiated a "Bon giorno" . Some of the crew in the buffet area would just walk in front of you, whether or not they were carrying, or pushing anything...... in my opinion a no-no. The help should always yield to the guests/customers! The Guests: Some of the rudest I have encountered on a ship! I don't know what happened to common courtesy, it was lacking on this cruise for the most part. The pool lounges were always "taken" by towels, or other inanimate object. The showroom seats were always "saved". One lady was saving 20 seats till 10 minutes before showtime, then just walked out. Of course there were notices that there was no reserving seats in both places. There were signs on the Balcony doors stating smoking was forbidden on the balconies, and strongly discouraged in the cabins. I know my balcony neighbor understood English, since they yelled at their kids a few times, but yet had no qualms about smoking. Yes, I'm one of "those " that can't physically tolerate smoke, and have a reaction to it. I had to use a rescue inhaler the first time I encountered my ignorant neighbor. After that when somebody opened their balcony door, I had to be on alert for the smoker, and leave my balcony, so they could opt to feed their death wish, and have no disregard for the rules. Good example for their kids. I didn't mind if the kids yelled, or cried, which was very seldom, but that's what kid's do. The other balcony notice stated to keep the door closed, but another smoker down the hall decided to smoke in their cabin, but share the stench with the entire hallway since they had the balcony door open, and the smoke would get blown, forcefully, under the door. I didn't complain to the cabin stewards....they were aware of it, and were spraying the hallway often. People would cut in line, or just wedge themselves into where they wanted to be. I suppose that's everywhere though. I wish I could get away with carrying a paint gun, and mark all the morons out there...although I'm sure I'd run out of paint quickly! Entertainment: Mostly EXCELLENT ! The shows were varied. Singing, dancing, acrobats, juggler, magician, etc. No comedians...I missed that. The "Entertainers" groups of cruise directors assistant "kids" roaming the 13th deck, and other places on the ship, were funny, usually at the guests expense, but funny, none the less. The tenor was really exceptional. The blonde woman soprano was too loud, and I noticed some people wincing, like I was, at the high notes. She needs more microphone placement control. I would rather have had a "live" band, but I guess they have to cut costs where they can. The piano virtuoso was very good, and the Moonlight quartet, especially the lead violinist were superb. All in all the entertainment was 1st class, and upscale. There were many well deserved, standing ovations. I do wish they didn't shine the lights into the audience though, it was very distracting. All the lounge musicians were very good as well. The showroom was nice, with stadium seating, and comfortable seats. Disembarkation: Fairly organized using the color-coded system. I really didn't like having to be out of the cabin by 7AM YES SEVEN A.M. I left my carry-on in the room while I went up to have breakfast. Of course seats were at a premium. For whatever the reason, the food was even more cold by the time I got to sit down. I settled for a cup of coffee (by the way the cups are super small, so you may want to bring your own insulated cup, I know I'm glad I did). I went to the cabin, got my carry-on, and proceeded to the show room....my designated waiting area. When my color was called I proceeded to debark. There were MSC people to point you in the right direction. I found my luggage, and went through customs, fairly quickly. The big bottle neck was outside, where people blocked the way to get by. I called Continental Airport Parking, and they were there within ten minutes,to pick me up where they dropped me off. My vehicle was waiting for me when I got back to the lot....everything intact! Epilogue: All in all, considering the price paid, I was satisfied with the cruise. I expected a few cut corners. Again, I was mostly put off by the passengers, not MSC. I did notice that sometimes the help would just walk by a spill, or dishes in the halls, but I've seen that on other ships too. There were a lot of kids on this cruise (Kids cruise free!), but they were behaved, and not too intrusive. I would cruise MSC again, if the price was right. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Booked the trip in april via the internet. As the time got closer i started to check the internet to book our shore excursions. the MSC site wasn't offering me options to book on line. Started reading reviews which were not very good. ... Read More
Booked the trip in april via the internet. As the time got closer i started to check the internet to book our shore excursions. the MSC site wasn't offering me options to book on line. Started reading reviews which were not very good. We left for the cruise expecting the worst. We had asked for a table for 2. If we did not go to the maitre d' after we got on ship we would be sitting with a large group. We went before we even went to our room. That was a busy place. I guess things were alittle mixed up. So go and check your dinner table with the maitre d' before dinner. Our room was with balcony and it was the typical cruise room. Our maid was very good and spoke English. Because this is a European ship (Italian) We had ALOT of Italians on board . They are all hard of hearing or think they are preaching a sermon in church. They also came in large groups.Things got alitle loud in different sections . I have nothing against Europeans , just stating my opinion. Our wait staff was excellent. Food in the dining room needs to be looked into. It was either good or Ok. Nothing special.I read in the reviews that the lobster was great. I ordered 2 lobsters and it wasn't enough to fill. Entertainment was VERY GOOD. i am talking about the show in the Covent Garden Theatre.The rest of the shows we weren't interested in. The ship wasn't in the ports long enough to do anything except your optional tour and then it left. On other cruises you spend more time in the ports. Even though you get a newletter every day I did not feel that many thing were in there to make you aware of things that the ship was offering. I thought that most people did take the time to sanitize there hands so nobody wanted to get sick. The ship is beautiful and I thing they tried to keep things clean. Because the ship allows kids in parents room for free, there are alot of them. Who brings an infant on a cruise? I was not happy with all the kids. They belong on a Disney cruise.But i'm a Senior. I heard alot of complaints. Because they are new in the American market they have Alot to learn. But you get what you pay for. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Cabin: Category 10, Balcony Stateroom, Mid-ship, Deck 11 The room was pleasant and spacious. Bed was king-sized. Full sized desk (with vanity type mirror.) Drawers on both sides of the desk. Small sofa. Mini-bar with LCD TV above. Ample ... Read More
Cabin: Category 10, Balcony Stateroom, Mid-ship, Deck 11 The room was pleasant and spacious. Bed was king-sized. Full sized desk (with vanity type mirror.) Drawers on both sides of the desk. Small sofa. Mini-bar with LCD TV above. Ample closet space (2 closets side-by-side.) A third closet had floor to ceiling shelves plus the mini-safe. There were ample, shaped hangers available. Bathroom was typical cruise line except that the sink/vanity had cabinets and shelving below (nice touch.) Balcony had two chairs and a small table (man-made wicker.) The TV had a very user friendly on-board system for messages, calendar of events, account checking, etc. Access is through a single button on the remote - no channel surfing to find it! If it is used as intended, it would be very nice on longer cruises. There were no note pads or writing instruments in the desk. At evening turn down there are no chocolates on the pillow and no clever towel animals. Lacking a personal touch. Cabin attendant was very attentive and helpful. Left telephone wake-up call that never happened. The center elevator (closest to our room) does not go to deck 13 and there are no stairs at that point. Must go down hall to next elevator station to get to 13. Elevators are generally very slow and have a tendency to skip floors when going up/down for some reason. Important note: Once inside your room, there is a little box on the wall near the bathroom door. You must insert your sea card into that box for the room lights to function. This also activates a small led light outside the room to alert your room steward that the room is occupied so that he/she will not disturb you. Nice touch! Dining: Villa Borghesi Ristorante, Deck 5, Mid-Aft. Single level dining room, nicely divided into smaller eating areas of 6-8 tables. Attractive and warm in appearance. Quite noisy. Each table had a waiter (shared with other tables.) There was not an assistant waiter. Service was slow. Had to request water (several times) and on last evening it only came at the end of the meal. Bread/rolls we never refreshed/offered again after original serving. Language was a problem and waiter did not understand "salad dressing on the side' at all. We were never asked if we wanted coffee at the end of the meal. Same evening our waiter disappeared and other waiters had to fill-in for him. Food, overall, was mediocre at best. Rice was undercooked and crunchy. Steaks were not prepared as requested. Requested baked potato was brought to table many minutes after all hot foods had been delivered. Waldorf salad was a lettuce salad with one very small piece of apple smothered with a very unusual Thousand Island dressing. Vegetables were mushy. Some desserts were actually pretty good, but cakes were dry. Never saw a head waiter. La Piazzetta Cafeteria, Deck 13, Aft. The Cafeteria is very nice in appearance. There is a separate salad bar area (cereals and fruits in the am.) Two additional hot food lines (grill area), a desert area, and separate drink area. There is an attendant to pour your coffee. Ample seating both inside and outside. Tables at breakfast were set with silverware and napkins. Seating areas were quieter than the dining room. Lines were long and personnel would direct people to other areas to shorten lines even though what they wanted was where they were in the first place. Like the dining room, food was mediocre at best. Many empty pans were not promptly filled. At breakfast there was a sign alluding to the availability of eggs cooked to order - but no personnel available to perform that task. Entertainment: Both nights the entertainment was provided by the ships' own entertainers that would have to be classified as very good to excellent. Those on the second night received a well-deserved and prolonged standing ovation. It was, without a doubt, the best cruise line provided entertainment that we have seen. Although we expected one, a cruise director never did appear. The Covent Garden Theater is very nice and has good sight lines overall with only a couple of pillars that only obstruct a very few seats. There is not any in-theater bar service before the shows. Family & Children: We were two adults traveling so it is difficult to address this area. There is a separate pool area for children on deck 13; as well as a protected play area for younger kids. Public Areas: Overall, the ship is absolutely beautiful. Decoration is tasteful and refined. Getting from one area to another is not difficult. A majority of the public areas, including outside on deck 7, like the cabins themselves, are non-smoking. There is limited smoking on deck 13. Purser's desk had more than its share of lines due to embarkation problems. Personnel behind the counter were not well versed in English and spent more time (at one point) arguing with each other in Italian than taking care of customers. The reception area is very nice and had a very nice string quartet playing many times. Very pleasant and relaxing. There are several shops in the vicinity with a better than average selection. Resort/vacation type clothing was priced below what one would expect on a cruise line. The lounges were all very nice, and most offered areas where you could easily have nice, quiet conversations. Entertainment was on par with most cruise lines. Bar service in the lounges was far superior to that available in the Casino area. The Palm Beach Casino was nice even though small when compared to those on smaller ships. Beverage service (at the bar and on the floor) was extremely slow due to the apparent lack of personnel. Attendants to handle machine problems were difficult to find and slow to respond. General announcements (minimal) throughout the public areas were difficult to hear and/or understand. There is a definite need for improvement here. Most announcements were made in English only. Embarkation: Parking ($15 per day) is available only a 100 yards or so from the terminal building. In a nutshell, the embarkation was a nightmare. We had been told by MSC that embarkation could begin at 1PM and planned accordingly. At 13:15 we joined a very long line of people outside the terminal building (they were not letting people in yet.) Very quickly the line became a serpentine. About 14:15 they started to let people in (a few at a time.) By 15:15 we were in the building to join, yet another, serpentine line leading up to the TSA scanners. The line would move for a while, then stop for many minutes before resuming the minimum progress. Eventually we made it past the scanners only to be given a number for a seating area. Only after our number was called did our 'Web Express Check-In' take on any meaning. As a result we got to wait in a short serpentine line instead of a long one. Actual check-in went relatively smoothly except for the fact that they could not establish the on-board account due to computer problems. By 16:30 we were in our room with our carry-on baggage. From there we proceeded to the purser's office to join another long line to establish the on-board account. While there we inquired about the SBC (ship board credit) for the fuel surcharge refund - something nobody knew anything about. (footnote: The SBC did show up on our final shipboard account prior to debarkation.) The ship was scheduled to depart Port Everglades at 19:00. Actual departure due to the numerous problems did not take place until 20:30. Because of the delays, the mandatory muster drill was held the following morning at 08:30. Probably the shortest muster drill we have been through as most people were still sleeping and nobody bothered to get them up. One plus on embarkation. Once on-board the ship, a cabin steward was there to take us (and our luggage) to our room. By luck-of-the-draw ours was the steward for our room. He was pleasant and helpful and made us feel right at home. Exactly what went wrong here, I do not know. I heard a lot of stories and excuses (from MSC personnel and other passengers.) I strongly suspect that it was a combination of many things (ship being late, delayed debarkation of the transatlantic cruise, lack of trained MSC personnel, etc.) but standing for 4-5 hours in a line did little to give a "vacation" feel to the cruise. Debarkation: I have always felt that you should learn from your mistakes; and truly felt that this would be the case for MSC on debarkation. We signed up for the 'self-debarkation' as we always do on all cruises. The notice said that we would receive a special luggage tag (never did) and debarkation would go by decks. We were told to be out of the room by 07:00. Because it was a short, 2-night cruise, most people opted for 'self-debarkation' in hopes of getting off the ship quickly. We were in line shortly after 07:00. Consequently almost two thousand people and their bags crowded into the reception area; there were lines going in several directions. Nobody with MSC seemed to be directing things at all. Children were crying, and at one point 2 men almost got into a fist fight to gain position in line. Shouts for "Security" seemed to quiet them down. The nightmare of embarkation was replaying itself, only this time passengers couldn't wait to get off the ship. It left an unpleasant aftertaste that tainted the entire trip. While waiting in line I spoke with several couples (first time cruisers) about their experience. Further, I went into detail explaining to them that this had not been a 'normal' embarkation/debarkation experience. I hated the idea that people would be turned off on cruising because of this experience - especially since the experience on most of the cruise had been positive. All things come to an end; and ours finally did at 08:30 when the line to debark started to move. Once we exited the ship, everything went smoothly. We were in our car and en-route home by 09:00. Comments: I would normally end a review with what has been said before this. In this case I think that there are a few more things that need to be said here. It was apparent throughout the cruise that MSC had fewer people than they should have had to perform certain functions. It was also apparent that many of those that they did have should have been trained better than they were. Why was this? I do no know. Cost savings reductions? Possibly. The availability, or lack thereof, of qualified people. Maybe? I really don't know. But little things -like chocolate on the pillows -matter. I only know that there is room for improvement in many areas. It is the job of a cruise line and its personnel to make people feel special; to pamper their passengers. That's why they are paying the money to cruise in the first place. MSC failed in many areas in this respect. I can only hope that MSC has learned from this cruise and that many things change and do improve. I think that MSC really missed an opportunity here. Had they truly excelled on this simple 2 night cruise, they would have won a lot of followers. That did not happen and I think, I'm sorry to say, that they lost a lot of potential long time customers. Sorry MSC, I had hoped for more from you! I spent a lot of time talking to people on the cruise about what they expected and what they were getting. Many of these people were first time cruisers and I only hope that I was able to get them to understand, and believe, that the bad experiences that they had endured were the exception and not the rule as far as cruising was concerned. I would like them to come back to cruising, if not MSC, at least another cruise line. Perhaps, later, they will give MSC another chance. They truly deserve it - they have a great ship but need to improve the service to make it a better product. Will we sail MSC again? I cannot say at this point. We had said that if we liked this cruise we were going to book the 'Cruising to Music' cruise in late February. At this point, that is not going to happen. I have a hard-sell with my other half! Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
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
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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