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3 MSC Cruises MSC Orchestra Cruise Reviews for Spring Break Cruises to Caribbean - Eastern

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
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
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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