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14 MSC Cruises MSC Orchestra Spring Break Cruise Reviews

This cruise was chosen for its itinerary. The ship is a fancy barge where you pay extra for anything you may need. We were expected to pay for a glass of tap water in the formal restaurant. They do not provided any facial tissues in the ... Read More
This cruise was chosen for its itinerary. The ship is a fancy barge where you pay extra for anything you may need. We were expected to pay for a glass of tap water in the formal restaurant. They do not provided any facial tissues in the balcony stateroom. They allow open smoking in several areas inside the ship which permeayes the showroom and other bars! There are over 21 points for improvement with this cruise company. The entertainment us cheap, appears unrehearsed and karaoke like most nights. Embarkmemt required showing proof you were a real person I've 3 times and queuING each time. If you are a first timer cruiser this cruise may be good for you as you would not know how low a standard MSC is. Of course you may like to pay to have open dining but other crise companies have all the above plus more included in their offer Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Friend chose it as it was a cheap offer but I would never go on Orchestra again. On embarkation we had to wait for 2 1/2 hours to board ship. When we got on board our room hadn't been cleaned, that was our first complaint of many. ... Read More
Friend chose it as it was a cheap offer but I would never go on Orchestra again. On embarkation we had to wait for 2 1/2 hours to board ship. When we got on board our room hadn't been cleaned, that was our first complaint of many. The ship itself is nice and clean and beds comfy. The shower in room is very small. Our dining experience on our first day was awful. We had booked a first sitting in the restaurant but when we went to the restaurant we were told it was full and we could have the 9pm sitting or use the buffet restaurant, that was our second complaint. We went to the buffet restaurant as 9pm is to late for us to eat. What an experience the buffet was ! Children running around unsupervised while people had food on their plates, food was only lukewarm and not what I had expected on a cruise as had been told by friends that food on cruise ships is superb, this definitely wasn't in the buffet. The next night we made sure we were booked in on early sitting in the restaurant. The food in the restaurant was very good but no water on the table you had to pay for every drink and no coffee after meal, you had to go to a lounge and pay for your coffee. Entertainment had strobe lighting most nights.bad service in Casino bar. Our steward was excellent, twice our toilet wouldn't flush and he sorted it quickly. We couldn't visit Katakolon as there was a storm so had to stay in Bari overnight so missed seeing there. Internet on ship was useless even when we paid for premium. It was my first cruise so very disappointed but friends have told me not to be put off as other cruise lines are excellent but never got with MSC again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
We are regular cruisers and MCS Orchestra Caribbean cruise was not a good experience on so many levels. Hassle on embarkation to disembarkation. Lots of in your face high pressure selling from the moment we stepped on board to the end of ... Read More
We are regular cruisers and MCS Orchestra Caribbean cruise was not a good experience on so many levels. Hassle on embarkation to disembarkation. Lots of in your face high pressure selling from the moment we stepped on board to the end of the cruise. As bad as the high pressure that one gets in the street markets of the Dominican Republic. Those who have been there will understand what we mean. Internet so slow that it was very expensive and absolutely useless. Very expensive clock ticks away while you waste time trying to get your web pages with no success at the end. Rating one out of ten. Food was well below standard that we have had from other cruise companies. Rating four out of ten. Entertainment far to repetitive, e.g. For 15 days cruise, Three nights shows of Grease, two of Michael Jackson, etc. no Cabaret on far to many nights . The few shows that were not repeats that we did see were of an excellent standard but because they were far to short and repeated it was disappointing. Because of this we only give an overall rating of four out ten. Other choices of entertainment were also repetitive, boring and just average. As English travellers we were also overburden with large very noisy French. There was no sensitivity in seating couples on large tables with large groups of non-English speaking guests. It was the same for nearly every breakfast and lunch. For dinner, we as a sociable couple were placed alone on a table set for four every evening except one. Dining experience was a poor three out of ten. The cruise consisted of long stays at poor ports and very short repeated stays at the best resorts. We only went on a few excursions because the they were excessively expensive. About twice the amount that we had paid on other cruises. The ones we did take were poor and we found we could do far better making our own way. The amount disembarkation and embarkation of passengers at nearly every port was unbelievable and there whole cruise made it seem like we were on a Caribbean Ferry rather than an enjoyable cruise, especially the last three days of the cruise. Rating for journey and places visited, four out ten. To be quite honest, extraordinary rare we were pleased to be going home and because of our experience on this trip we certainly will not be booking again with MSC. Our overall rating grudgingly is a four out of ten. When we embarked we had to carry our own baggage to our room because we were simply abandoned by a member of staff. It's a shame we feel this way because the ship was very grand, the waiters were very attentive and the cabin was what we expected. Management need to seriously look at why so many people we spoke to on this holiday felt the same level of dissatisfaction. Plenty of negative reviews are posted which shows the poor standards. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
All my recent experiences have been on Cunard where the meals are a highlight to be looked forward to, the ambiance of two thousand passengers dressed in evening dress is electric and the lectures are of a high standard and the floor shows ... Read More
All my recent experiences have been on Cunard where the meals are a highlight to be looked forward to, the ambiance of two thousand passengers dressed in evening dress is electric and the lectures are of a high standard and the floor shows are West End standard. This short cruise on the Orchestra was a total contrast to this. The ship was ok but the public rooms were in general very brash and lacking in taste. The food in the self service cafeterias was very poor and in the restaurants just poor. There was no attention to detail - a waiter came around trying to sell grapa and limoncello - both of which I like - but at the beginning of the meal and they were not available at the end. The food was very works canteen standard. The cabin was quite good and having a balcony overlooking the stern was a new experience for me and an enjoyable one. The wine bar was also to be recommended. Overall, if this was my first experience, I wouldn't be going back. Cunard you're fantastic!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
The daytime/evening cruise entertainment crew on Orchestra was the best I've ever experienced! Richard, Fernando, Akeetaka and the rest of the entertainment crew kept us laughing and dancing the whole cruise. Fun games and Caribbean ... Read More
The daytime/evening cruise entertainment crew on Orchestra was the best I've ever experienced! Richard, Fernando, Akeetaka and the rest of the entertainment crew kept us laughing and dancing the whole cruise. Fun games and Caribbean dancing poolside by day and salsa dance lessons, silly, side-splitting contests and games in the evening. Of course, sometimes the other passengers provide some of the best impromptu, situational humor on board!My cabin was on 10th floor forward/portside. It was a perfect location on this ship for quietness. The people in cabin next to me were very noisy in early AM- One could easily hear banging of doors and drawers in the closets. Wish they could find a way to buffer this noise from drawers and doors. The closet provide adequate storage for hanging items, luggage and drawers for me alone. It would be cramped for 2 people. I loved the dresser with built-in hair dryer/mirror and stool- made getting ready easy for females! Cabin is very spacious, clean and well appointed. I was very comfortable. The bathroom also very clean and easy to maneuver in. Could have used a picture with some directions for how to work the shower- a bit confusing. The balcony was spacious with 2 chairs and a small table. The balcony floor was always wet and glass railing/sliding glass doors covered with salt water/mist all the time. I wish there was a way to keep it clear- probably a challenge on the forward part of the ship! The nightly entertainment in the theater was spectacular! A real european flare with cirque de soleil feel to some of the shows. The opera and classical performances were top notch. I was pleasantly surprised by the trapeze artist, acrobatics team and ballet in the onboard entertainment. The food was a bit of a disappointment over all. However, I did NOT go hungry ever and I'm sure I put on a few pounds while onboard. The Italian inspired dishes were quite bland and did not have the zing of flavor I would expect from even an average quality italian restaurant. I was very impressed with the variety of offerings for lunch and dinner in the dining rooms. I especially enjoyed the veal cordon bleu, lamb (twice), indian curry dishes and filet mignon. The cream of fruit, chilled soups were amazingly tasty as well. My favorite desert served in the dining room was the panna cotta. The gelato poolside was yummy too. The complimentary fresh fruit in one's cabin each day was a real plus. I liked being able to order room service with no additional charges. Foods that could use some improvement are: salads at dinner, need more vegetables on side of main entrees, offer more shrimp dishes for dinner, appetizer offerings in the lounges for "midnight buffets". I liked the concept of having a limited offering for the midnight snacks in the lounges rather than providing a huge buffet. However, the offerings were greasy and rather tasteless. Poolside. I was concerned about general safety in the pool areas. They need to have someone monitoring safety more and not leaving this responsibility to the parents and passengers. We saw lots of young children unattended- hopping into the hot tubs and pools. I was very concerned about drunk adults diving into the pool with glass bear bottles in their mouths- very unsafe and stupid. The chair "saving" situation is problematic- but really it is the responsibility of passengers to act appropriately. I do not see any practical way for orchestra staff to make this situation better. Passengers need an attitude adjustment and need not feel entitled to own a chair for the day. Photography. I enjoyed sitting for photo portraits during evenings. Photographers did a nice job of posing me. Not thrilled about posing with the silly clowns or pirates during dinner. I wish one could order different size photo packages with the portraits. Only 8 x 10 offered. Would be nice to get 5 x 7 or wallet size packages. Overall my experience on MSC Orchestra was fantastic! I would cruise with MSC again and recommend them to my friends- that is the number one sign of success. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
This was one of the worst cruises I have ever been on!!! For a company that claims on their website "On the ships of MSC you will discover a perfect blend of European charm and modern Italian elegance....When you vacation with MSC ... Read More
This was one of the worst cruises I have ever been on!!! For a company that claims on their website "On the ships of MSC you will discover a perfect blend of European charm and modern Italian elegance....When you vacation with MSC Cruises, you'll travel in unparalleled style with the world's fastest growing cruise line" this ship sure did not meet up to my expectations of this charm and style! The ship for being only 2 years old was not in the best of shape. The couch in our stateroom had tears and the balcony railing was rough and unpolished. The wait staff in the dining room (Ibicus) was exceptionally slow. It took forever to get each course. My husband finished a glass of iced tea and not one of the wait staff offered to refill it. The seats were dirty looking. The food was mediocre at best. Most all of the crew never had smiles on their faces and all looked as if they really did not want to be there. Even if that was the case they could at least have plastered a smile on their faces. I noticed too, that a high percentage of the officers were Italian and seemed to look down on crew members who were not Italian. A couple of times they were even belittling them in front of the passengers. The stops at the ports were too short from what was originally shown on the itinerary. The disembarkation process was nice though. I personally will never take another MSC Cruise again! Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
On April 4, 2009, me and my family, a total of 14 people, boarded the MSC Orchestra not knowing what we were going to experience since it was our first time booking with MSC. We head heard from other sources that it was a newer ship and ... Read More
On April 4, 2009, me and my family, a total of 14 people, boarded the MSC Orchestra not knowing what we were going to experience since it was our first time booking with MSC. We head heard from other sources that it was a newer ship and was supposed to be nice-looking as well. Well those 2 comments were correct, but wait until you here our story. EMBARKATION DAY: We found getting to the ship terminal station was a breeze and dropping of our luggage was easier than I thought. One negative comment was that we had to share parking spaces with a Princess cruise, which was fine since we found a spot not to far away. We made it through showing our passports and travel documents and went to get our id cards, which is used as a room key and charge card. We gave our credit card information, took our pictures, and received our cards. Note: These are VERY IMPORTANT. Try not to lose them. Go up the elevator one level and get your minors  life jackets and wristbands. The line moved steadily, and we checked off 4 life jackets and wristbands. From there you board the ship and find yourself into the beautiful lobby. This process was VERY simple and there was absolutely no line watsoever.  From there we went to our cabins, since it was around 2 o'clock and drooped off our carry-on bags and headed for the pool deck. Had some gelato, which was $1.50 for a sugar cone, $2 for small cup, and $2.50 for large cup. We went to the buffet on that same deck, which was packed, and found ourselves 2 empty booths and a table right in the entrance. Grabbed some pizza and drinks, and enjoyed. There were other options here as well, like salad, chicken fingers, burgers, hot dogs, fries, and some other dishes and fruits.DINING: There are 2 things that everyone can agree on. One - the waitstaff at Villa Borghese on Deck 5, (we had Parka and Giri from Indonesia as our main waiters, divided among the 14 of us) was very helpful and caring. Two - most of the food was EXTREMELY DISGUSTING!! I understand that it's not supposed to be the best food in the whole world, but this food was very very very very very very very bad. It was disappointing, especially since it was an Italian cruise line. The pasta was cold and tasted liked it was not fully cooked. The soup tasted like tap water, and the chocolate gelato there was very untasting, I guess is how you would describe it. If you want something good, especially on of the formal nights, get the spinach and cheese crepes. They were probably the best item on the menu for dinner. The bread, of course, was good as well as the vanilla gelato. There was one pasta that was a special one night and I can't think of the name, but it did not have any sauce and had some spices. Very good indeed (about the pasta with spices). Bar waiters and waitresses were usually available whenever you needed them. We would spilt up occasionally for breakfast and lunch onboard and days at sea. Breakfast was good as well as lunch. The cheeseburgers are good. BARS: At 10 o'clock all of them claimed to be "closed". The bar attendants would say things like "The Savannah Bar is open now." when you were at the neighboring Amber Bar, and the Savannah Bar would say the same thing vice-versa. All of this would get annoying at times, especially if you just wanted a bottle of water. There was one man at La Cantinella bar that was always helpful, so stay get your drinks there when it's past 10 o'clock. CABINS: Tiny room. Open bathroom door and hit cabinets in front of you and front door. Shower very small, very difficult if you have to bathe young children like some of my family members did. Limited storage for luggage. Lots of drawers. The safe doesn't work properly. Hangers provided. Sheets not changed/cleaned. Bed comfort is ok. Not enough space for max. capacity - 4 adults - to walk in. Ladders for bunk beds have limited space to crawl up. My cousin found a movie when we first opened out bunk beds and another surprise, a dirty pair of wet underwear!!! We informed the cabin steward and he quickly removed it from our hands and apologized, but I would expect more from that terror! The lights or the tv don't turn on unless you leave a room key in the light holder next to the door. We were not informed of this and there are no signs indicating to do so. We saw a housekeeping maid putting her card in and flipping the lights, and that's how we got power the 2nd day.Positive remarks: It was quiet a lot of the times, rooms were cleaned twice daily, and the room was close to the elevators. Our room always had fresh towels. PORTS: The ports were fun and exotic. At Key West we got there an hour earlier, leaving an hour earlier. We were not informed that we needed id's such as passport and drivers license on top of our room key to get back on the ship since we were docked at the Navy base, so some members had to get BACK ON THE SHIP AFTER THEY WAITED IN LINE TO LEAVE THE SHIP!! This caused chaos as we had a wedding to attend to (that was the point of the 14 member family vacation, as well as to enjoy ourselves). It was nice there, and we were informed when to get the last trolley to get back on the ship by the trolley driver. In Mexico we docked, Grand Cayman Islands we had to use a tender boat as well as the Dominican Republic. More info on ports below.POOLS: Were usually crowded, espcecially on the at sea days. We found the pool next to the buffet to be more crowded than the other, and having a higher capacity of kids. The pool in front of the stage with the kiddie pool was a bit less crowded. The water was salt water from the ocean which was good and bad. Good because the salt water is good for you and bad because most people don't know this and jump in or go under water with there eyes open and end up with red eyes. The pool was 6 foot deep all around and there was one ladder if any. Smaller than Royal or Carnival. The hot tubs were not always crowded, and we found these to be relaxing, even though 4 adults were squished in there. There is a kiddie pool about ankle deep between the 2 hot tubs, having glass surrounding it by the bar area. They would close the pools at 6pm no matter what. They say they clean them at night but dont do that till the break of dawn. They just leave the nets over the pool and let the water stay there till the next day at 4am. They had 2 tv's always playing commercials. At night there would be chairs set up to watch either movies or sports (the Final Four was going on during our cruise). You can find this listings in the daily events booklet. SERVICE: This is the category that MSC needs the most improvement on, well at least the Orchestra. It was very difficult to communicate with employees on the ship. A lady at the front desk didn't understand what we wanted when all we were asking for was a baby crib. Service was a disgrace. The room steward never introduced himself to us, the employees on the ship were always angry and didn't bother to have a smile (except waitstaff, maids, and photoshop employees). One thing that made people angry was that the photoshop never informed anybody that they were having a sale of 15 pictures for $90 plus a cd of the ship until the LAST DAY!! Luckily for my family me and my cousin saved pictures in our families folder. This area really needs to improve.Thanks to Parka and Giri at Villa Borghese and Lillian and Amy at the Photoshop for their great service. The marachi band and the orchestra with the women were also very good (in the lobby).ENTERTAINMENT: Only shows worth seeing are the circus show, magic show, and the passsenger talent show. The pool side entertainment was dull and unexciting.MISC: The announcments on the ship took about 15 mins because they repeated it in 5 languages. English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German or Dutch. Cayo Levantado, Samana, Dominican Republic was the best. Had to to tender there but it was fine. The beach was the best and the water was perfect and not to salty. The street shops had some good stuff, but bargain your prices with them. Ate at an outdoor buffett that was not crowded right by the bar. The food was good and yummy. You can take a picture with a pirate and parrots and get a copy for $5 or 3 for $10 or $12. Can't remember. Had the best time here. Overall Grade:     D- Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
We had such a wonderful cruise, I just had to share it with Cruise Critic. We joined the roll call on this cruise and found that it really added to the enjoyment of the cruise. We felt at home because we had been corresponding with the ... Read More
We had such a wonderful cruise, I just had to share it with Cruise Critic. We joined the roll call on this cruise and found that it really added to the enjoyment of the cruise. We felt at home because we had been corresponding with the other members of the roll call for over 3 months. The thread was started almost a year ago and I am sure our group must have broken some kind of record for having the most posts over 2600 and it is still growing. Our group decided to wear Mardi Gras beads so we would recognize each other on day one of the cruise. We met our first Cruise Critic member wearing the beads in line during embarkation (Debbie). I can not tell you how much it added to the cruising experience already feeling like you had a friend before boarding the ship. The next person we met wearing the beads was on the gangway. I called out to her "Cruise Critic?" holding my beads. She responded "no Red Lobster." I couldn't stop laughing. Here she had never heard of the roll call and had been given the beads the night before while dining at Red Lobster and decided they looked very festive and kept them on for the cruise. Well we educated her about Cruise Critic and told her to keep the beads on and she probably would make about 50 friends by wearing them. Well back to the cruise. Embarkation went smoothly. We thought the port employees were so friendly and the process was very organized. We made our way to our cabin immediately to drop off our carry-on luggage. There we met Jimmy, our cabin steward. He said it was perfectly fine to leave the luggage in the room. We had a balcony cabin which we found delightful. The bed was comfortable. We had enough storage space for everything. We found the bathroom also had a lot of storage space. The terry bathrobes they provided were very nice. Their towels were soft and thick. We had a welcoming bowl of fruit to greet us. This was around 11:30 am. Jimmy always kept the room clean and well supplied. We then made our way to lunch on deck 13. We had heard through cruise critic that the buffet towards the rear of the ship was the least crowded, but we were disappointed because it was closed. This was one of the few complaints we had about this cruise that the buffets all close too early. (7pm). They should keep at least one buffet line open until 11 pm. We had requested first seating for dinner but were given second. It was very difficult to find the room where it could be changed. There was no sign to tell you and when you asked the staff they did not understand English well enough to direct you. The food on board was excellent. The first formal night was the best. They had escargot, French onion soup, sirloin steak, baked potato, and Crème Brule. The only dish we found less than excellent was the lobster. It was mushy on mine and over cooked and dry on my husbands. Our waiter was Dewa. He was excellent. He served us quickly and was very attentive to our needs. Every night he had our ice tea on the table and kept it refilled. When we asked for fresh garlic he made sure there was a plate of chopped garlic waiting for us. One night I asked for chives and he had a plate of chopped chives ready in no time. He was a dream. On deck 13 after 5 pm they have Pizza and one of the waiter's sings opera while you eat it. The gelato on deck 13 is excellent. The pool was a little cool but the hot tubs were perfect. Temperature was perfect and had a strong massage. The pool chairs were very comfortable. They had a little roof on them to shade your eyes. There were indoor Jacuzzi's as well near the gym. The gym was small but adequate. They had a nice view of the ocean. No TV. Unfortunately they also close down the gym and the pools at 7 pm. They should stay open until 11 pm. The entertainment was very good. The best was on the first night. Don't miss this show! They had the best acrobats from Africa perform. They were amazing. The cruise director is Marco. He was a disappointment. He was not very outgoing and friendly as previous cruise directors have been. Very dry, always on the phone. The entertainment team were a lively bunch. They were a lot of fun and we always enjoyed seeing them. The trivia contest was a lot of fun, especially since my group won the grand prize and I won the drawing after one weeks worth of trivia. They also had an Italian Language class which I did not attend but many did. There was a talent show the last night that was entertaining. The ports of call were nice. The only one I had never been on before was Semana. We found it very clean and relaxing. We had fun bargaining with the natives for souvenirs. We were sorry to see this cruise end, but it did. Disembarkation was easy and the people working the port were very welcoming and friendly as they had been on our departure. Oh I forgot to mention one thing. Rick Sasso, the CEO of MSC, upon our request arranged for a Seder to be held while we were on board the ship. This meant a lot to all the Jewish cruisers on board as well of those from other faiths who were interested in seeing this religious ceremony. Thanks again Mr. Sasso. GREAT CRUISE!!!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
HEEDING THE WARNINGS THAT CAME BEFORE I saw all of the reviews online before I went on this cruise and also spoke with people at work who had been on this cruise line before and there was pretty much a mixed bag aside from the ... Read More
HEEDING THE WARNINGS THAT CAME BEFORE I saw all of the reviews online before I went on this cruise and also spoke with people at work who had been on this cruise line before and there was pretty much a mixed bag aside from the commonalities which were that you need to like authentic Italian food and that you need to be aware that it is not American style cruising. Having understood that, I prepared my husband for the potential differences and he said fine. We both held an open mind and said fine...let's try it out. FIRST IMPRESSIONS Embarkation took less than 20 minutes. I will preface my next sentence by saying that I have a very keen sense of smell and our room was as I expected although I noticed that the duvet cover had a bit of a funk to it like it hadn't been washed in several sailings. (They disembark passengers at 7am and reembark new passengers at 1pm so...no telling how many weeks the duvee covers and pillow covers go without washing.) There was an odor so I'm not sure where it was coming from but it seemed to be from those coverings. Either way, having thrown all of those items off of my bed promptly upon entering the room - I did think the room was beautiful and had tons of storage. My husband and I brought a total of 4 medium to large suit cases so there was plenty of room to store everything we had. Our balcony was very spacious and we were situated toward the back of the ship (one room away from the back of the boat). One of the first pleasant European surprises we did find on the ship was that all the water and minibar items are Italian (aside from Pepsi products) and we enjoyed sampling the Limoncello and Campari soda. It was also a nice treat to have cold bottled water out of an actual glass bottle. Everything seems to taste better that way! There was fresh fruit in our cabin the first evening and our room was made up appropriately for the time of day each time we came back to our room. It was pretty amazing actually. I really got the feeling right away that the crew on the ship work...a lot. They are always visibly working and it almost made me feel bad because it seemed to be every time I turned around there were 4 or 5 crew members near me doing work of some kind. They definitely have the attention to detail when it comes to cleaning. Bathroom amenities include small pink bottles of shampoo and soap and showercaps. No conditioner. Glad I brought mine... Oh, also - highly recommend bringing in your checked baggage some bottles of wine and/or liquor. We brought on 5 bottles of wine and one of liquor with no problem. Also brought on one bottle of rum from a port with no issues whatsoever. This was a nice feature of this cruise...I must say as it saved me quite a bit of money. Dinner the first evening took almost 3 hours...it got better each night after that so I'm not sure what happened that evening but it was a bit of a surprise. I must say that our server Ruslan was very helpful and accommodating to even the most critical of guests (2 were at our table). We did have a strange and rude encounter with the Maitre d' on the first night because he wanted us out of the dining room as it was time for the next seating and he didn't realize that it was our servers who had kept us there that late. So, everyone got up abruptly and left in a state of shock. I'm pretty sure one of my fellow tablemates had words with him afterwards as they were syrupy nice the next evening. It did get better as the cruise went on...and our table took every opportunity to tease them about wanting to yell at us again. One night when the restaurant was mostly empty they even played around with the guests by riding one of the guests scooters around the dining room. Everyone had a good laugh and the owner of the scooter especially enjoyed seeing them have fun for a change. The show the first night was hilarious, the second was good, and the third was interesting. This night I noticed that they were playing recorded (simulated) music over the top of a classical concert and it was obviously strange. I didn't go to any shows after that until the Celtic Spirit (5th night) and they went from Celtic music and dancing straight into a Michael Jackson song followed by We are the world...which felt like a strange ploy for better tips. Strange to say the least. Didn't go to the show the next two nights. I think having lived in Chicago and Las Vegas for many years - I am probably not the best person to judge what entertainment should be on a cruise ship. I have high expectations and I was a bit disappointed in this area. I really enjoy cruise ship comedians and there was not a hint of comedy on this boat except for the first night. I was not prepared for that realization. WHAT'S NEXT? Husband got sick on the 3rd night (sore throat, coughing), I did too around the 6th night. I heard the ships out of south Florida are known for the virus due to the recycled air so it probably hasn't much to do with the ship itself however there was not one mention on this ship of handwashing. There were Purell stations set up at embarkation and disembarkation points but that was it...I can't help but think this could have had something to do with it. Even our cabin steward was coughing non stop. When I asked her how long she'd been on the boat she said it was a 9 month contract. I also asked her how long she'd been sick. She said weeks... The food in the dining rooms was most always good to excellent. Buffet was fair to good. Every breakfast was exactly the same items in the buffet(included scrambled, fried, plain omelets, sausage, bacon, variety of bread, cereals, yogurt, milks, fruits, pancakes, waffles, juices). One strange note...there was not one berry to be seen on the ship the entire time I was there. Most lunch items were the same from day to day as well although they did change up the main entrees from day to day and added fresh pastas. The pizzeria was fair to good depending on how good of pizza you are used to eating. If you are from Chicago or New York you will probably judge it more harshly as we did...it was decent and hit the spot when you were hungry. They have basic cheese, pepperoni, veg, then you can add some additional toppings if you want. Breakfast at the buffet cuts off distinctly at 10:30am and there is no food available between 10:30am and noon when lunch starts. The buffets are abruptly cut off in between meals so if you get up late you need to order one of the 4-5 items from the room service menu which includes tuna salad or chicken club sandwich, ceasar or mixed green salad, fruit or cheese plate, or desert. That is it... You can order a continental breakfast (rolls, juice, coffee, tea) for delivery to your room in the morning but it is a pretty disappointing breakfast unless you are used to a small breakfast. Tried the Chinese restaurant and while their Dim Sum is on par with what I would expect from a high end Chinese restaurant, the rest is your average Chinese food in any decent sized city. Service was a bit slow for the price and the price was high when I went in with the expectations set by previous reviewers who stated "Best Chinese at Sea". It may be, but it isn't better than the three Chinese places that are within one block of my house in Las Vegas, or what would have been near my house in Chicago either. Again, a matter of what is available to you on a daily basis vs. how much you enjoyed the experience. Port times and excursions were the most disappointing part of the cruise. If you noticed when you read the excursion descriptions that you had a hard time choosing because they all sounded the same...it is because they are very run of the mill. There was not one moment of "Wow" factor in either of the mid range excursions that we attended. If you are looking for wow, spend your money on the experience based excursions like parasailing, jeep tours, zip lines, etc. That would be the only way I would recommend paying for an MSC organized excursion. I would think twice about paying for the touring excursion. The two that we attended were boring and not worth the money. We would have been better off taking a tour on our own, renting a car, or staying on the beach. The port times are WAY TOO SHORT to do much and they will leave you if you don't make it back to the ship on time. Several people were left throughout the cruise. One guy fell asleep at Cayo and had to catch another cruise ship to catch up at another port with us. The best recommendation I can make is to stay close to the port so you are on time or carefully plan your time so that you have enough time to do something realistic and get back in time. Beach would be best. My favorite port on this cruise was Cayo Levantado which was the first port to visit...after I left there I had a bad taste in my mouth. It wasn't until I went to the other islands that I realized that it was the best of the 4 which wasn't saying much. I do think that all of that could have been remedied if I had chosen to just go to the beach on the first three ports and then shopping at or near the port in Nassau. In Antigua, I highly recommend searching out the best beaches in a guide and going there in a group if you can.(adds a factor of safety). There were some magnificent beaches there that we saw on our way back to the boat and it made us sick to our stomachs that we had sat for 4 hours on a boring bus tour when we could have been at that beautiful beach. If you stick to that you would be much better off and would save the excursion costs. You could easily take a cab wherever you need to go using a guide book. The ship has a ton of swaying and vibration. I have never felt it like this before and it was worse in the back so if you think this will bother you then I would advise booking in the front to middle of the ship. Also, the back of the ear patches are very necessary on this ship. I didn't do it and I regretted not getting them the whole time I was on the ship. Instead, I had to take Bonine and was either half sleepy or sick for most of the "at sea" portion of the trip. LAST IMPRESSIONS ARE LASTING IMPRESSIONS I didn't see one moment of disrespect until the night before disembarking when I went to the Accounting office to see about an issue with my credit card. They do not authorize transactions on your card as most companies do...they do multiple authorizations across the cruise in $50 increments and after a few authorizations coming from outside the US - my credit card company saw it as fraud, called my house, and promptly disabled my card. This happened on two cards. When I went to explain that they needed to settle the authorizations they already made on my card they told me no...it was declined. I had to tell them several more times to settle the authorizations they already made and I would pay the remainder in cash. I was met with some attitude and when I asked the person to listen to what I was saying I did end up with what I needed, however the next morning I also heard a passenger raising their voice and being an ugly Canadian (threatening) and the crew at the Accounting office sneered and spoke to each other in Italian but never responded to the passenger. I think it may be a cultural thing to avoid the confrontation but I'm not sure. I do know that they had a steady line for 3 hours on the morning of disembarkation full of passengers who were disputing their bill or portions of it...so there probably was a reason for the anger on both sides of the equation. My husband also reported that the disembarkation crew members were very rude to him when I was at the accounting office dropping off my final paperwork. I believe they were tired of seeing him standing there and we were suppose to be self assist disembarkation but it took me longer to get thru the hoards of people in Accounting than I thought it would so he was left standing with them for 20 minutes or so... Once I appeared and we moved out of their way they looked pleased. I later found out that they have to have all of their self assist passengers out before the other passengers can leave. So, all in all...I was happy to leave the ship and was looking forward to eating food that wasn't Italian. I was happy to leave the room that made my sinuses clog up in a few minutes. This was the first time I have ever felt this coming back from a trip. Luckily, I do have a few days in south Florida to sit on the beach and relax. I would probably not recommend this cruise line to anyone unless they have kids and could benefit from the kids sailing free. Everything is scheduled and unless you skip most of the activities you can't really just sit and relax. If you were looking for a low cost vacation as I was in this case, I do think we got our money's worth but I think we could also have done that and gotten some better entertainment and port times by going thru Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
Embarkation: Arrived at 1230pretty easy. I wouldn't go much earlier than this because of the mess of people getting off the boats. Buffet and pool area is open. You can also go to your roombut there is no luggage for awhile. ... Read More
Embarkation: Arrived at 1230pretty easy. I wouldn't go much earlier than this because of the mess of people getting off the boats. Buffet and pool area is open. You can also go to your roombut there is no luggage for awhile. Especially if you have kids-have them wear their suits, get chairs and drinks and hang out by the pool upon embarking. Grab a table and eat out there as well. Sail away party is worth watching! At Sea Days: If you have kids, you are probably stuck by the pool. If you can, go to upper levelsplenty of quiet places to lay in the sun. Pool area is pretty noisy of course. Our group liked to grab a few chairs, as well as a table nearby so we could have food, shade and sun. No need to get up early...just be patient and chairs open up. Kids loved the pools, couldn't keep them out of them. We had planned on the Kids Club for our 6, 8,9 and 10 year olds. However, it was not a good experience none of them wanted to return. They did meet a couple of friends and met up with those kids at various times. Despite the reviews, I had planned on making Kids Club work-my kids and there cousins are not "difficult," but the 7-12 program was really lacking. Plus, I noticed that these kids that were in Kids Club were often running around the ship unsupervised asking strangers questions to fill out a game sheet. Sooo- what's the point?? We quickly got over the Kids Club disappointment and our kids swam, played tennis, ping-pong, mini-golf, arcade and relaxed. At night, our kids gathered in one room and either watched a movie or played the xbox that we brought. I think that the 3-6 year old program was better for the preschool kids. Not sure about the adult activities, as we were not interested in most of it-but it seemed like there was stuff to do if you wanted to do it. We did participate a little bit in the "Baseball Greats" stuff. Cayo: Loved this beach! Got the girls hair braided, rented sea kayak (only $15 for 2 hours!) and found a quiet spot just below the grassy area. My husband and 13 year old parasailed and loved it. Shop here-it is better than the other ports in my opinion. Chairs are free and a worker will get them for you if you ask. St. Maartin: Clean port. We just walked around and shopped. Then we got some chairs and an umbrella and played on the beach. Water taxi is $6 round tripor you can walk. This beach has TONS of sea shells. Antigua: We did the Pirate Ship excursion. Very fun! Open bar (free), rope swing, plank, snorkel, dancing, beach time and swimming. We had just enough time for this excursion and then had to be back on the boat. This port time was really short. Nassau: You must have an excursion at this port! We snorkeled. Nassau is dirty, crowded and NOT the place just to walk around. Snorkeling was OK, the water was real choppy. Dining and Shows: We had 2nd seating with a show before dinner. All the shows were very good of course everyone will prefer some over others. Good variety-don't miss the orchestra night. Dinner does take a couple of hours. We didn't minddinner was more of an event for us. The kids were finealthough they skipped a couple of times but they generally preferred to be in the dining room. We had fun with the head waiter- Sergiohe is entertaining and very good. We also purchased the wine package. Food was generally very good. Order italian as much as possible. Ordering American food on this cruise is a bit like getting a hamburger at a mexican food place-it can be good, but you take your chances.... Embrace European dining you can have cheese for breakfast and dessert! Buffets were fine. Pizza was really good it is served from 5pm-9pm. Other: Spa is really nice! Steam rooms, workout room and sauna are free and should be taken advantage of. Alcohol is reasonably priced. Order wine package in dining room and take wine back to your room. You can get beer buckets for $10 or $12. Teen Disco is iffy. My 13 year old went, but we supervised a few times or only let her stay for an hour or so. If your teen is likely to "test boundaries," they will get in trouble here. Magnifico Buffet on Thursday night is amazing! If I would have know, I would have had this be my dinner. Each night there were midnight offerings of some sort. Shaker Lounge is where most of the night life is-as well as the casino. Service is good-but not pushy! This is a laid back cruise. If you need something, you will need to ask. The staff is not intending on being a constant source of entertainment. There are only morning and evening announcements. Read your daily and spend your cruise how you prefer.....I found it to be different than Carnival both are good-just different from one another. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
I went on a cruise with 18 other college students for spring break. The ship was modern and full of amenities. Nonetheless, I would caution college students and younger students, as the ship is geared more towards a European and elderly ... Read More
I went on a cruise with 18 other college students for spring break. The ship was modern and full of amenities. Nonetheless, I would caution college students and younger students, as the ship is geared more towards a European and elderly crowd. Food: The food was simply ok. They did beef (steak, burgers, etc.) very well, but often times missed the mark on fish, Italian, and more complicated items. Food was also not available at all hours, and there was a lull before the midnight buffet every evening. The pizzeria from 5:00 to 10:00 pm was very good. Although there was limited room service available, the items they have were tasty and arrived within 10 minutes after ordering. Ports: Unfortunately, the port times for the cruise were a bit early. We left Key West at 2:00 PM, Cozumel at 3:00 PM (Local time), Grand Cayman at 4:30 (Local Time), and Cayo Levantado at 3:30 PM. It seemed that many of the other cruise lines had better port times. Nonetheless, we were placed on close docks and at the closest tender. Cayo Levantado was the least enjoyable port we visited, as they charged for lounge chairs and there was very little beach space for the thousands of visitors (it didn't seem quite as private as they advertised). We didn't feel as though we had an opportunity to experience culture of the Dominican Republic. Service: The table service was a little slow, and we never spent less than two and a half hours at dinner. As a European cruise line, it definitely had the feel that time was not a concern. All of the staff were very accommodating and they remembered our preferences later. Many of us got the feeling that the cruise line catered more towards Europeans as the staff would often times not understand exactly what you were saying. The cabin staff was friendly and attentive. We were impressed by their work ethic and speed in cleaning our room in the morning and turning down our sheets at night. Additionally, the staff often would give priority to Italian cruisers. For example, we were playing a pool game where we tried to land rings on bottles and were next in line. The staff told us the game was ending and we could not participate in the contest. A family went up to them and spoke to them in Italian and was able to participate in the game. Although most announcements were announced in five different languages due to the diversity of passengers, occasionally some announcements were in Italian only. I was also disappointed in the helpfulness of the staff at the excursion desk. I asked them if they had any scuba trips in Cozumel and they provided little assistance beyond "There should be many of scuba shops as you leave the ship" although I did not find this to be the case. The photo staff was one of the worst parts of the cruise. During dinner they would take two and three pictures and even after saying "no thanks" told us to sit up straight and take the photo. The photographers had ambitious quotas they had to meet and were set on meeting them, even at the expense of guest satisfaction. We were disappointed to find the first night of karaoke consisted of slow, melodic Italian and French songs that were not to the liking of many Americans. Rooms: We were upgraded to balcony rooms on floor 11 (huge plus - the balconies really were a highlight of the trip). They were gorgeous and relatively spacious. The TV system (a flat LCD-screen) was convenient, as you could do almost everything from ordering shore excursions to reviewing your billing account. Another plus was the ability to connect the balconies, making it very easy to go from room to room if you had a large group with multiple rooms reserved in a row, without taking your room key. Amenities: The gym was nice albeit small (6 treadmills, 2 ellipticals, 2 bikes, 2 stairmasters, and relatively few weights) and no water was provided, so be sure to bring your own. They also allow cruisers to visit the sauna, steam room, and hot tub for free. The casino was relatively small and we found ourselves consistently waiting for tables. Due to a small casino staff, they did not have all the games running all the time and would alternate nights between roulette and craps. Blackjack was European rules where the dealer pulled their second card after everyone had made bets. Statistically, this provides lower odds. Entertainment: We did not partake in much of the entertainment, as much of the entertainment catered to an older crowd (e.g. musicals, cabaret, etc.). They had no comedians because all the jokes would be lost as they translated it into the five languages spoken on the cruise. Embarkation/Disembarkation: The embarkation process was incredibly fast and we boarded in almost no time (the CEO of MSC was there that day). There alcohol policies are incredibly lax, and we were able to take on alcohol at embarkation and at all ports. Disembarkation was a bit confusing as they never gave us the proper forms to request early disembarkation. Disembarkation was slower than embarkation, but nothing unreasonable. Be sure not to book a flight early in the morning, since we found ourselves competing with cruisers both from MSC and other cruise lines to find cabs to the airport. Conclusion: Overall it was a good cruise. We had a great time and were incredibly impressed with the ship. MSC clearly has growing pains and is trying hard to improve their problems. The Italian aspect of the cruise is both a plus and a minus. I have spent much time abroad, and feel as though I am relatively accepting of other cultures. Nonetheless, sometimes you just want to hear American songs at Karaoke and see shows that aren't translated into many languages. Would I go on MSC again? With my family definitely. With my friends not until we're a bit older. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
I need to start out this review with the disclaimer: I organized a group of 19 college students to go on the Orchestra for Spring Break. However, I've been on 15+ cruises on all of the major lines. I wasn't looking for an ... Read More
I need to start out this review with the disclaimer: I organized a group of 19 college students to go on the Orchestra for Spring Break. However, I've been on 15+ cruises on all of the major lines. I wasn't looking for an absolutely wild Spring Break, rather, we wanted a more relaxing time. After religiously checking the boards and reviews, I am happy to report that we had a great time onboard the Orchestra. Yes, there were things that could be improved, but these minor problems did not interfere with an otherwise very enjoyable vacation. The Ship The cleanliness of this ship was unbelievable. There was always someone polishing the copious amounts of brass or vacuuming the floors. It really was spotless from head to toe. After having been on much larger (RCCL Voyager Class, Grand Princess, and Carnival), the ship did seem a little bit smaller—but not a lot. I thought the layout was very nice—I guess the one word that came to mind was "classy." Yes there was no Grand Promenade or funky coloring, but the ship was just very classy. The various bars, lounges, and shops flowed together and the theater was gorgeous. The pool deck was also very nicely done. However, there was a real problem with how it was set up in regards to the amount of seating. On all of the other ships that I've been on the deck overlooking the pools will normally have a row of chairs, jogging track, and then another row of chairs. However, the Orchestra only had one row of chairs and a tiny walkway—it really made finding a seat a struggle. However, the chairs have a section that flips up that you can use to shade your face form the sun—very nice. Food/Drinks With the exception of the first meal, I thought that the dinners were nicely done. Contrary to what I had read on CruiseCritic.com, I thought the beef was cooked very well. The pasta dishes and appetizers were good as well. The lobster was so-so as was the Cajun mahi-mahi. Desserts on the whole were good with the cheesecake being not very good and the chocolate parfait being outstanding. We ate every night at the formal dining room. Pizza was available for free from 5-10pm and was very good—they always had cheese and pepperoni with a couple of specialty pizzas and many different toppings. Breakfast and lunch buffets were decent. There was no omelette station and the scrambled eggs were no good. However, the baked breads/croissants were delicious and you could ask the cooks to make you fried eggs to order. Lunch buffet was probably the worst meal of the cruise (and it was still OK). Out of four stations, only one served burgers/hot dogs which were delicious. I would have to say the hamburgers were the best that I've had on any cruise! However, aside from this and a pasta station, there weren't a whole lot of options that appealed to me. There was a great salad bar, but there were also many pre-made salads that no one seemed to be touching. Throughout the day gelato was available for $2 for a cone that was AWESOME. At 11:30 snacks were served in the lounges and room service was available for free which was quick and easy, but very limited. Drinks were great and were very reasonably priced and included all taxes and fees. You could get a bucket of 4 beers for $12 (Corona, Heineken, Peroni, etc) and 17 oz of house wine at dinner for $8. Cocktails were normally $6.90 but the special of the day was $5.50. The drinking age for beer and wine was also 18. MSC was also extremely easy on the alcohol policy—we bought alcohol in Cozumel and simply brought it back onboad and straight to our cabins. Ports I felt like in many of the stops we spent little time. I think this was especially apparent in Key West (9-2), Grand Cayman (where you had to a lot extra time to tender), and in Cayo Levantado (around 2ish). However, we all had a great time in each port and the Orchestra always managed to have the best docking position (except Key West). Cayo Levantado was a big disappointment for me. It was advertised as their private island, which it was to some extent, but did not compare to other private islands. It seemed as if everything was extra—you had to pay for chairs and food which was disappointing. Also, the beach was incredibly small for all of the Orchestra and some passengers from a Princess ship. It was beautiful, but just not what I expected/wanted a cruise line private island to be like. Cabin 2 weeks before departure we were upgraded from a Category 1 inside guarantee to a Category 7 balcony which was great! The room was wonderful—yes it was smaller but it's a cruise ship. The room was nicely furnished with plenty of hangers and storage space. The bed was very comfortable and it was decorated beautifully. Staff After having read horror stories of poor interactions with MSC crew, I was curious. However, I found all of the staff to be incredibly friendly. Our waiter, Ruslan was fantastic. He made dinner fun every night and would joke around with us. Our room steward was also great and went out of his way to make sure that everything was taken care of. Bartenders, other wait staff, and buffet staff were great, as well. The Entertainment staff did try hard, although some of their games were quite "interesting." Also, the 2nd seating shows were showed at 7pm—too early for us and we only saw one show—the magician. However, it was a great show and one of the best that I've seen. In Sum We had a great cruise aboard the Orchestra. The other passengers were predominantly older and there were about 500 Italians (or so we were told) aboard and this was definitely not a "Spring Break" cruise but that's fine. It was a very relaxing vacation with good food, good staff, and a gorgeous ship. I would definitely recommend MSC to another cruiser as long as they understood that some things are definitely done in a more "European" way than other Americanized cruise lines. All in all, we had a great and different experience onboard the Orchestra! Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
Saturday- Embarkation We opted to take the 20+ hour drive from Springfield Missouri to Ft. Lauderdale. It was not a bad drive, however a little past Daytona our car died. We had to wait for a tow truck and then for them to find an ... Read More
Saturday- Embarkation We opted to take the 20+ hour drive from Springfield Missouri to Ft. Lauderdale. It was not a bad drive, however a little past Daytona our car died. We had to wait for a tow truck and then for them to find an alternator. We still had a 3 hour drive and it was 1:00!! By the time we got to our parking it was nearly 5:00. The embarkation was super easy and fast, and the staff was giving my ds a hard time about having his permit, stating "okay, driver license, it's your turn". It was funny. Apparently we had time because the ship was held over and left 2 hours late for missing passengers. Our cabin was comfortable, and the bed was much larger and softer than anticipated. There was a bowl of fresh fruit, and it was always replenished. My friends in another cabin never ate it and after the 3rd day it was removed and not filled up. Ship rocked a lot more than on previous cruises as the winds were pretty strong. We were literally rocked to sleep the first night. Our luggage did not show up until 9:30 pm, probably due to our late arrival. We missed out 1st seating dinner time so ate in the buffet. We really liked the burgers, pizza, pork chops, roast beef and of course the bread was excellent! French fries were always fresh which is shocking being on a buffet. Tea, juice, water and coffee were plentiful. Dirty plates were removed promptly. There was a crew member from Italy talking to my Hispanic husband in broken Spanish, he was very cute. And for dessert on the buffet there was cheesecake w raspberry sauce-mmmm and other cakes. The cheesecake disappeared very quickly. The show was Midnight in Paris and was excellent, however there were a couple of parts that were inappropriate for the children, as the dancers wore thong underwear and bent over frequently to show us. There is also the subject of the "Tropicana boob dancer". It was kind of funny but not in front of my 5 year old!! Sunday: Key West We ate breakfast in the buffet, and it was plentiful. You can ask for custom cooked eggs, omelets, and toast. There was always lots of fresh fruit available! I think my family ate their cruise fare in fresh fruit alone!! The ship arrived 30 minutes late. We were scheduled from 7-2, but it was actually 7:30 - 1:15, as we had to catch the last trolley by 1:15. We docked at a military base and there were free trolleys and conch trains waiting to take us into town. We walked straight down to the Southernmost point, and Higgs beach. The kids were dying for a beach, and although this was not a god beach they played in the sand and enjoyed themselves. We then took a taxi back to the Hard Rock for $3 pp and did some shopping. The chocolate covered key lime pie on a stick was so yummy, I sure wish I had some right now!! Catching the trolley back took a long time, so we shopped around in the gift shop until the line was shorter. Back on ship, we grabbed some lunch from the buffet and again it was great! It was the first Gala night. Our waiter, whose name was Rare was excellent! Everything was presented with good timing, food was really good and dirty plates were removed almost instantly when we were finished. Another server kept our drinks full. The Circusland show was very good ! The kids clubs took all the kids to see it, and we sat near where they were. We watched Oceans 13 on the big screen on the pool deck, and the late night chef's surprise was crepes flambee with ice cream. Yummers! Monday: Cozumel We were scheduled 10-5:00, and had to be back onboard by 4:30. The ship docked and we just walked right off after breakfast. We ate in the dining room and I had chocolate croissants and eggs Benedict, which is what I ended up eating for breakfast every day the rest of the cruise!! So much for variety, they were just too good! They always kept our coffee and juices filled up (we were a party of 12) and I asked for both pineapple and orange juice and then poured them together in the wine glass. Obn shore we did a little shopping and then took a cab to Chankanaab. The taxi rates are posted right there. It cost us $22 each way for 8 people. Admission was $16 pp, and the snorkel equipment was $10., but they had a combo ticket that included entrance, snorkel equipment, a t-shirt and 2 for 1 drink coupons for $28 and $20 for kids. I asked the waiter for some tacos de asada , and he said they didn't have any but would make some special for me!! It cost $12 for 4 tacos, beans and guacamole. Definitely worth it!! My friend and her children swam with the dolphins. They did not have reservations, just walked up. It cost around $100 pp but they gave her the 3rd for half price and included admission into park. We took the taxi back and spent the rest of our time shopping. The people were very rude in the shops by the pier, the Hard Rock especially. The rest of our party took a ship excursion to Tulum and really enjoyed themselves, they just said they felt rushed and wish they had more time to explore. They had no time to shop before returning to the ship. Dinner was excellent again! The fettuccine was perfect, and the crème brulee was to die for. It was my friends birthday, and they brought out a cake and sang to her - this was pre-arranged by another friend. We were exhausted from the long drive and then two port days, so went to bed early. We missed the Concerto show unfortunately, but heard it was also excellent. Tuesday: Grand Cayman I woke up early by pure accident, so I walked around deck by myself, took pictures of the beautiful sunrise and went to get a bagel (toasted with cream cheese) and coffee. The staff in buffet area were very friendly, again took my plate as I finished and refilled my coffee at the table. They also have cold milk, hot milk and cream available. All of the staff were extremely friendly, saying "good morning," "how are you" , etc. as we passed and always giving special attention to the children when they were present. I went to the shore excursion deck around 7:50 and line started to form. I met a nice couple in line who had been given the cruise as a gift!!J I wish I had friends like that...so the time went very quickly chatting with them. They were enjoying the cruise as much as we were. They were supposed to open the excursion desk at 8:30, but opened early and I got tender #2. I was back in my cabin by 8:30 to wake up the sleepy heads. We all went to have breakfast in the dining room again...yummy. The tender went smoothly and even though the line looked long, we boarded the boat fairly quickly. Once onboard I realized my husband wasn't, so I sent the rest of the group on and got off to find him. If you saw a crazy woman getting on and off the tender looking for a husband, that was me!! I couldn't find him, and when I went back to the tender line it was twice as long as when we were called. Not knowing where he was I went under the rope and cut my way (politely I hope, I was a little frantic) to the front of the line so I could ask the crew member to check if he was onboard still. He was very friendly and had no problem doing it for me. He told me my dh was ashore and I again boarded a tender. Yes, I wanted to strangle him! He had apparently stopped off at the bathroom without telling me. He thought the line was so long he would have time, but apparently not. I told him I was so busy making sure all the kids got on, that I didn't notice he was gone till we sat down on the tender. Even with all the craziness we were on the shore early enough to shop before catching our Native Way tour to the stingrays. This tour was arranged privately by Cheryl on our roll call board, thanks again!! It really was the HIGHLIGHT of our trip. We went to 7 mile beach to swim for a while first. Our tour guide Solomon gave dd5 special attention, calling her his princess and asked if she wanted him to find her some treasure. He dove down and found three huge conch's. After breaking the animal out he let her pick which one she wanted to keep! After getting onboard, we had to rush to take showers and get to 1st seating for dinner. We were sporting the wet hair look for sure! Dinner again was fantastic and the show unbelievable! Wednesday: Sea day Thank goodness! We needed a day to recoup from the week so far! We slept late, and made it to breakfast around 9:15- the dining room stops letting people in at 9:30, but the buffet is still open. We ate lunch in the dining room as well, and it was a treat. The flounder was not good at all, but it was pleasantly replaced with something else. I played a round of bingo, and blew some money in the casino, but other than that just relaxed and wandered. I went to the spa and got an appointment for a Balinese massage and reflexology. This was the biggest waste of $102. The little lady doing the massage was unable to give deep pressure as I requested and did not really do much reflexology. I have had reflexology before and this one was nothing near. I really wish I could have spent that money elsewhere, but chose not to be too bummed out. I did not tip her, however. The kids went to the kids' clubs and had their own activities. Dinner and show were again excellent!! Thursday: Cayo Levantado They changed our port time from 10:30-5:30 to 7:30-2:30 (I think). We didn't know about the port time change until late Wednesday evening, and we stayed up too late for such an early port time. Again, we had breakfast in the dining room. Eggs Benedict, of course!! We got our tender tickets late, there was no line and we got #22. I asked which one they were on and she said 20. So they called our number while we were still eating. When we finished we got in line and the tender was quick and easy. This beach is probably one of the most beautiful I've been to and the water felt so good. Some of my party had their own snorkel gear and went out behind the big rocks and said it was pretty good snorkeling over there. Chankanaab in Cozumel was definitely better. We ate some fried bananas and pina coladas in a pineapple. The shopping was fun as they would go way down on the prices. If they started at $25 they would say special price just for you $20. Then if you started to walk away they would keep going down. One even followed me, put the things I wanted in a bag and said $10 for all. Score! They also have some beautiful artwork. A good size picture starts at $40, but my friend got one for $25. I ended up getting a big one and two smaller ones for $50. By the way, do not buy the cute hats they make out of palm tree leaves, you cannot take them home with you. We saw dozens of them sitting on the table by customs. One lady I spoke with said she got hers for $2 on the way back to the ship from Cayo, so if that is the case go ahead and get it...just know you cannot keep it. Back on the ship, it was the second Gala night. We had another great dinner, the lobster was good, but they serve it very different than I'm used to. It was still whole, just sliced in half. It had a not-so-yummy stuffing in the top portion, but the meat in the tail was really good. The waiter poured drawn butter over it after serving it. It was also another spectacular show! Friday: Sea Day We again slept late and barely made it to the dining room before they closed. Another lazy day, the kids played in the pool. We tried the Gelato and it was very good! I'm glad I waited until the last day or I would have gotten it every day. I forgot to mention it, but service by the pools was great! Most of the time I just asked for a glass of iced water and they brought it in a big "daiquiri" type glass with a citrus in it. Free and served with a smile! When we did order drinks they always came quickly and correctly. We ate from the buffet for lunch and it was really good. They had a garlic pasta they were preparing and serving for you. They also had some oriental ribs that were tasty. Dinner was again very good, with a special presentation of dessert. The show was again excellent, and I was a little teary eyed thinking the cruise was pretty much over. Saturday: Disembarkation This came way too soon for me. I wish I had been b2b. We were supposed to be out of our cabin at 7, but we overslept and it was closer to 8 before we left. We went to breakfast in the dining room. Eggs benedict were not on the menu, and I didn't ask if it was available. I ate fresh fruit and chocolate croissants. The bacon was always yummy by the way, cooked just right and crisp. We were last to get off - Grey tags. We were off the ship around 9:00, but had to wait in the customs line in a HOT, crowded warehouse building for almost an hour. Had I known we would've played cards in the lounge until the line was gone. By the time our shuttle came for our parking it was 10:45. Now for the 20+ hour drive home...to snow of all things :(. Already looking for next Spring break, possibly the Magnifica?? Stay tuned... Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
I have sailed Holland America, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Princess. Now I can add MSC to my list. I can honestly say that I have never had a bad cruise or sailed on a ship that would cause me to say "Never again". MSC ... Read More
I have sailed Holland America, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Princess. Now I can add MSC to my list. I can honestly say that I have never had a bad cruise or sailed on a ship that would cause me to say "Never again". MSC Orchestra is no different. I had a wonderful cruise and several unforgettable experiences on the Orchestra. We sailed with 34 other families and the ones I've spoken to all say they had a great time and have thanked me for booking them on this cruise. Some were first time cruisers, some had cruised a few times before and at least one person has sailed over 20 times. We arrived at the port at 11:55am and were in the buffet by 12:30pm. LOVED the salad bar- the best I have seen on any cruise. There was a very good variety of food being offered in the buffet and none of us went hungry at any time. I know that the food has been a source of debate over these past several months. I will honestly say that we always enjoyed HOT food, plenty of variety, great service and availability whenever we were hungry. There was never a time that we wanted food that there wasn't something available to us. The gelato was wonderful and we were glad to pay $2.00 for a cup or a cone each day. We were told that it is made fresh on the ship daily. The hazelnut and coffee flavors were my personal favorites! One more comment about the food.....one of the couples traveling with us felt that the food was BETTER than what they have been served on Royal Caribbean. Except for the lobster- they said it wasn't "bad", just "different". I don't eat lobster, so I can only tell you what their impression was. My daughter ordered steak nearly every night and thought it was very good. Dinner service usually took around 90 minutes- give or take. My opinion of the food? Very good, plentiful and on par with any cruise I have ever been on. We were able to enter our cabins at 1:00. We were in cabin 11165. Friends were in 11167. My daughter, her husband and their two children were in 11161 and 11163. The balcony doors were opened between all 4 cabins, giving us the ability to walk from cabin to cabin on the balconies. Gino was our cabin steward and did a great job of keeping our cabins clean and stocked with ice. We requested all 4 refrigerators to be emptied to make room for our soft drinks and water that we had brought onboard with us. This was done with no problems at all. There have been plenty of detailed reviews of the cabins, so I will simply echo what many others have said- the cabins are a good size (ours was a Superior Balcony cabin) with plenty of drawers, closet space and under- the-bed storage for the suitcases. Since our 4 cabins were connecting cabins, we had a chair and a small table in place of a sofa and table in our cabin. That was fine, since the times we were in our cabin we mostly spent on our balconies. Luggage was delivered to our cabin later in the afternoon- I guess around 3:00 or so. One of our families found that their cabin smelled of cigarette smoke (why some people insist on smoking in their cabin is beyond me- even though there is a sign in the cabins stating that MSC strongly discourages smoking in the cabins). Since their children both have asthma- they requested a change of rooms. The ship was completely sold out, however they were told that there were a couple of "no-shows" and that if the families did not show in Key West MSC would be able to move them to a different cabin the next day. In the meantime, MSC did their best to clean the cabin of the smoky odor- a nearly impossible task. When Sunday came and the families didn't board in Key West, our friends were moved from their inside cabin to a balcony cabin at no additional charge. Our Roll Call group was honored to be able to have a meeting with Mr. Rick Sasso, the President of MSC/USA division. He was gracious and available to each of us and spent time with any and all who approached him. I will say that I am very impressed with his accessibility and his willingness to spend time with the passengers of his ships. Thank you, Mr. Sasso for making time for each of us!! I know that we all appreciated your willingness to meet with our Roll Call group. The ports we visited were Key West, Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Cayo Levantado. We (my husband and I) waited no more than 5 - 10 minutes to disembark at any of the ports. I did hear that there were some problems with the tendering service at Georgetown, Grand Cayman. We were told in the morning that our time there was going to be shortened due to an approaching weather system. That may have accounted for passengers rushing to get off the ship to have more time in port, thereby causing crowds at the disembarkation areas. I heard from another CC member that a "rude passenger" attempted to start a small riot by trying to induce everyone to begin a rather childish chant. The husband if the CC member put a polite but immediate stop to the rude passenger's attempt. BRAVO to the CC member's husband! Being very early risers, we were always eating breakfast by 7:00 and ready to get off the ship as soon as we were cleared to do so. The late risers seemed to be the ones that had trouble getting off from time to time. That included my daughter and her family in Georgetown! They waited in a rather long line to tender over to Georgetown. But again, I feel that the lines were long due to the shortened amount of time we were going to have on the island. Cayo Levantado is truly a beautiful island. Again, we were off the ship by 7:30 - 7:45 and found chairs on the beach. Those that chose to sleep in a bit and get off later did have trouble finding chairs, but they didn't seem bothered by that at all. They simply laid their ship-provided towels down and sat on those. The kids all had a great time playing in the calm water. I will mention here that it would have been nice to have been able to go over to Samana in the Dominican Republic without having to book an excursion to do so, but the tenders only went to Cayo and not to Samana, so sadly that is not an option at this time. We did not purchase food on the island and opted instead to return to the ship for lunch. Again- the buffet was plentiful with lots of variety and choices. MSC is a different type of cruise line and they do not apologize for that difference. They embrace it, as should anyone looking for something a little out of the ordinary and a bit more laid back. They DO NOT have all the announcements that the other lines do all day long. They DO NOT chase you around the ship hawking their drink of the day. They DO NOT continually invite you to Bingo Games, Art Auctions, Belly Flop Contests, etc. They DO have good food and plenty of it. They DO keep the ship spotless. They DO take care of your every need. They DO have wonderful evening shows. They DO care about their passengers comfort and safety. Those that like to participate in ship-board games have the opportunity to do so with the Excellent Entertainment team. Those that like to relax and avoid those things can do so in many quiet areas around the ship. I can't personally speak about the children's programs since I do not have young children, so I will leave that for those that utilized the program to review the Juniors, mini and teen clubs. I was traveling with my daughter, son-in-law and two young grandchildren, but I did not have personal contact with the children's counselors. However, I know of several CC members that do have opinions about the children's programs and I feel certain they will be sharing their thoughts here soon. I, for one, am very glad that I booked this cruise and invited friends, family and clients to come along. I enjoyed my experience on the MSC Orchestra immensely, as did my group. Were there any "issues"? A couple- as there are on every ship I have ever sailed- but nothing earth shattering, nothing that wasn't resolved satisfactorily or nothing to cause me to bash what I feel is a wonderful cruise line and one that I will highly recommend to friends, family and clients in the future. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
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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