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2 MSC Cruises MSC Orchestra Cruise Reviews for Senior Cruises to Europe - Western Mediterranean

After reading the poor reviews of the MSC cruise line ships, we embarked with a considerable amount of trepidation on the MSC Orchestra for a combined 3 cruise, 25 day trip around Northen Europe, the Baltic and down to Italy. Boarding ... Read More
After reading the poor reviews of the MSC cruise line ships, we embarked with a considerable amount of trepidation on the MSC Orchestra for a combined 3 cruise, 25 day trip around Northen Europe, the Baltic and down to Italy. Boarding The ship itself was magnificent and when we (my wife and I) first saw it in Copenhagen we were impressed. Despite all the previous criticism we were dropped off by our taxi, had our luggage taken and tagged, showed the path to take to registration, received our information pack and cruise cards and on the ship within 15 - 20 minutes. Cabin We had a balcony cabin on deck 11 and it was very nice indeed - we actually had room to move in the bathroom!! Throughout the cruise we were looked after by 2 great cabin attendants and nothing was too much for them. I think the secret is common good manners, a good morning and good evening and a thank you - goes a long way. Yes they were not particularly good at English but it is amazing how patience, manners and a smile goes a long way. They spoke 3 languages - I only spoke English. I wonder who was the one who was really disadvantaged. Food and Food Service The food was one of my main concerns after reading the very poor comments. Perhaps we were on a different cruise line witha similar name because both my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the food and generally the food service particularly from our 2 dinner waitesr who made our dinner time such enjoyable occcassions. Yes it was 3 back to back cruises so the menu was repeated on a number of occassions but regardless it was good with a good selection. We took the second 8.30 pm sitting and the menus were well presented and the food was good quality servewd by very nice staff. The maite'd came over to our table (and others) almost every evening to see how we were were going. We know for a fact that he replaced the waiter at the table next to us as they had concerns with him. The food in the buffet on the 13th floor was also very acceptable with a wide choice including Regional and a buffet of salads. One of the most memorable aspects of the buffet was the magnificent midnight buffets with bautifully presented ice carvings, butter carvings and well presented food and deserts. It was delicious. Land Tours We went on at least one land tour in each port and were mainly impressed with the quality of the guides and the locations. The Norway stops were absolutely breathtaking and there was so much to take in. ST Petersburg was memorable as was many of the other land tours. Cant fault MSC on these. The Ship We simply enjoyed coming back onto the ship and sitting for a while over one of their great cocktails in on of the numerous bars. We attended a variety of activities including cooking demonstrations, quizzes, wine tasting and a fashion parade. The ship was spotless and I was generally satisfied with the prices on the ship. Most of the crew were very pleasant and efficient but we did have run ins with some very rude security staff who thought it was their job to grunt as you went through with your cruise card. Fellow Passengers Generally we had no problems with the passengers and met some lovely people on the cruise. We only had real problems with one very large group of about 1,000 people from a particular country which borders the southern Baltic near Denmark. Talk about a complete lack of manners and so rude - we weren't the only ones who had problems with them. Improvement One area with we we really had problems was with the Accounting Dept and the main desk. They were unbelievable. You would get one answer from one person, then go back later to check and get a different answer. Incompetence seemed to be the rule of the day with them. We only found 1 person from each area that really knew what they were talking about. They didn't have movies during the day and they need to sort out their smoking policy. Having one side of a bar smoking and the other non-smoking does not work out. Overall We enjoyed our time on the cruse and actually I said to my wife I would be quite happy to stay on board and continue to cruise. Yes, you can find fault in even the best place but we did not take a cruise to find fault - we came to enjoy the cruise which we did. And by the way we have nothing with MSC other than being satisfied cruisers. Yes, we would do another MSC cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 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
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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