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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
It was our second time with MSC. The first one was with MSC Fantasy and was very good. To start, embarkation lasted three hours, very stressful. We had to buy soap at the first port we arrived because the soap dispenser did not work. ... Read More
It was our second time with MSC. The first one was with MSC Fantasy and was very good. To start, embarkation lasted three hours, very stressful. We had to buy soap at the first port we arrived because the soap dispenser did not work. The menu at buffet and restaurants did not have many options, specially if you do not want to eat meat. They take a lot of time to refill food and coffee, when they do. Napkins at the buffet were dark blue fabric, dirty and smelly as well as the plastic glasses to drink water. Dining tables at the buffet were usually dirty, they did not remove the dirty dishes and stuff very fast. No enough tables at the buffet, it takes some time to find a place to seat. No shows at the theater for several days, even at sea days. However, one night there was the best show we ever enjoyed at cruises, with an Argentinian singer, Guillermo Guido. Great show. Instructions to connect to the Internet were not given to the rooms. After some time, we finally found the instructions on a blackboard near the Reception office. We wasted a lot of time with long lines everywhere because there were just a few officers to help you. It seems that they did not have bilingual crew. The library was very limited, not only the quantity of books available but also its schedule. The person in charge of the library did not speak or understand basic Spanish, in spite of most of the passengers were Argentinian. The crew looked very tense and did not smile at any moment, they just did the minimum required with a tired face. Finally, they charged for water and everything, even for the only scale they had at the gym, $9!!! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
Ship is old but OK, Service is very good, polite, helpfull... Cabin could be better. Excursions are very expensive and not good organised, to get on and off the boat it is a war, a fight to be the first ! Dining is like a hundreds of ... Read More
Ship is old but OK, Service is very good, polite, helpfull... Cabin could be better. Excursions are very expensive and not good organised, to get on and off the boat it is a war, a fight to be the first ! Dining is like a hundreds of hungry pigs doing a hold-up on the buffet! The theme restaurants are better for the service, food is as bad as in the self service. Once I had risotto with St Jacobs scallops , sorry was only 1 slice, about 1/5 of a scallop!! An other day we had Pintade.... the leg who has been warmed up in a microwave, it was hard as a stone!! Also pay attention to your drinks.... not included and very expensive if you want to enjoy cocktais, wine, etc .....I hoped to have a good reposing cruise, but it turned out in a horrible experence. That is why I do not want to let you have the same disillusion Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
We took (and reviewed) a similar repositioning cruise from Genoa to Brazil aboard the MSC Orchestra 2 years ago. At a cost of just £50 per person per day we think MSC offer exceptional value for money. The balcony cabin was just great. ... Read More
We took (and reviewed) a similar repositioning cruise from Genoa to Brazil aboard the MSC Orchestra 2 years ago. At a cost of just £50 per person per day we think MSC offer exceptional value for money. The balcony cabin was just great. We provided our own kettle to brew a cuppa whenever we felt like one. The €287.50 that we paid to access the spa was money well spent. The saunas were even better than in 2014, heated to 80°C rather than just 70°C, and the steam rooms were also hotter and not draughty. The payment also included access to 3 indoor Jacuzzis that were rarely crowded. We thoroughly enjoyed the 5 classical concerts by the 6 talented members of Musica in Maschera in the ship’s main theatre. The in-house entertainment team were good too, although their talents were repackaged again and again, as the same jugglers, acrobats, dancers and strongmen performed in Batman outfits for Gothem, in Asterix & Cleopatra outfits and finally for one last ‘Best Of’ show. High-margin items like perfumes, beauty products and handbags were always for sale from stalls set up in public areas around meal times. I was concerned by the very high suggested manufacturer’s retail prices quoted for a brand of watches, Invicta that are sold exclusively on TV shopping channels, cruise ships and over the internet. They claimed a €1499 price tag for the Invictca 2928B, and left leaflets in our cabin announcing discounts of up to 75%. MSC’s selling price of this watch is €549. I bought one over the internet after the cruise for £70. Beware of inflated sea prices as you have limited consumer protection! MSC Shore excursions were popular but we plumed for our own independent activities except in Rio. We paid $70 for a full day tour in a minivan, for a similar tour priced €140 on board (which included a light lunch delivered to your cabin beforehand). It’s worth noting that MSC provide no maps or practical information about shore stop destinations so do your homework beforehand. (Exceptionally, at Mindelo the local Cape Verde authorities had no information booth nor were there exchange facilities. Banks need to see your passport or a copy of it, but you can pay in most places using euros (preferred) or US dollars). We ate mostly at the buffet, enjoying real mozzarella cheese, fresh fruits & salads penne with tomato sauce, baked whole fish with tomato sauce and jellies amongst the culinary highlights. Dining in the restaurants is the only area I would rate as fair to poor. Breakfast and lunch are now both semi-self-service/semi-served, which is awkward if you have circular bench seats on a table for 8. Dinner is fully waiter served by friendly Indonesians, but the food was served lukewarm rather than piping hot, and most main course choices were either over- or undercooked. Soups were poor, desserts including a sugar-free version, quite good. Overall I stress that MSC offer tremendous value for money. The main reasons we go are to relax, read, sunbathe, enjoy undemanding entertainment. We ate perfectly adequately in the buffet and even managed not to gain weight. However I think next time we shall try another (more expensive!) repositioning cruise… Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
We did back to back cruises and did Greece and Montenegro the week before on the same ship. Awesome itineraries, we were scheduled to stop at Malta but due to rough seas detoured to Majorca which was amazing beautiful place to visit, no ... Read More
We did back to back cruises and did Greece and Montenegro the week before on the same ship. Awesome itineraries, we were scheduled to stop at Malta but due to rough seas detoured to Majorca which was amazing beautiful place to visit, no biggy cause I already been to Malta before, some passengers were upset about not getting to Malta, but good that we had another port to visit as plan B as I believe some cruise lines don't always do this if a port is cancelled. The ship was nice cabins big enough and very quiet. We requested and paid for and upgrade from inside to balcony, but they refunded the money and said it was a free upgrade, WOW!!!... Food was OK in buffet, they do delicious curries and pizzas but don't serve enough curries in the buffet or restaurants. An indian couple on the table behind us asked if they would prepare their table a special Indian meal, request granted, not many aussies on ship (about 40) and we asked if they could organise a quiz for us,,, request granted, also excellent service with captain and ambassador frequently walking round ship asking if everyone happy and anything extra they could do, we asked for a table change and well no request seemed to be to difficult. Probs nearly 3000 passengers on this ship but staff so nice and professional they make you feel your the only one... Didn't like disembarking at Buenos Aries, small terminal busy and hot, took 2 hours to get out, but I think that's the ports problem, not MSC. Most ports easy to get on/off ship. The tours were reasonably priced, same price as private tours. I booked and paid for the thermal spa but didn't use it, only went to gym to weigh myself but then they said scales broke (I'm not that big) so upset that all I wanted to use in the thermal spa area were scales and same not available. I have booked again to go on another cruise with MSC next year. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
MSC ORCHESTRA ANTILLES GRAND CRUISE, B2B, Trans-ATLANTIC GRAND CRUISE (28nights) Choice of Itinerary This was driven by a number of factors. Most importantly was my wife’s desire to see where “Death in Paradise” was ... Read More
MSC ORCHESTRA ANTILLES GRAND CRUISE, B2B, Trans-ATLANTIC GRAND CRUISE (28nights) Choice of Itinerary This was driven by a number of factors. Most importantly was my wife’s desire to see where “Death in Paradise” was filmed. Secondly was the fact that we didn’t cruise in 2015 because of the wedding of my younger daughter, which had to be moved from its original April date to September for reasons to do with the venue. Thirdly I booked it in rather a rush as MSC decided to discard the 20% discount for Black card holders. They gave two weeks warning of the event. So the first 14 night cruise was an easy choice and the dates fixed themselves when I realized I could make it B2B with the eastward repositioning cruise. The other important fact is that the repositioning cruise was such good value that the 20% discount on the first cruise paid for the major part of the second cruise. The ship chosen MSC Orchestra Technical data Musica Class Gross tonnage:- 92409 tons Length:- 293.8 m Beam:- 32.2 m Draught 7.7 m Height 59.64 m Decks:- 16, incl. 13 for guests Lifts:- 13 Voltage (in cabin):- 110 / 220 volts Maximum speed:- 23 knots Stabilizers Stabilized with 2 fins Number of passengers:- 3,013 (on double basis)(max. 3,223) Number of cabins:-1275 Balcony suites:- 18 Balcony Cabins:- 809 Ocean View:- 173 Inside Cabins:- 275 Disability Cabins:- 16 (11 inside; 2 OV; 3 balcony) Crew members 1,054 Pools 3, 4 whirlpool baths Choice of Cabin Initially I wanted a balcony suite on deck 15 on the port side. There are only 9 on the port side of the ship and none was available for the entire 28 days, unless we changed cabin half way through. An idea my wife won’t go with. This was probably due to the rush pf Black cardholders getting their last discounts. There were 40 on the first two weeks and 205 on the second, and on the repo leg the ship was over 1,000 guests below capacity. That meant that over 10% were Black card holders. This left us having to have a balcony. Again there were none available, at my preferred location, on the forward hump of decks 12 and 14. So we had a cabin on deck 12 in the recessed area. The cabin came with the “Aurea” experience, which comes with the all inclusive drinks package and other perks. By comparing prices with the next level experience down, “Fantastica”, I worked out the AI package was £15pppd. If you purchased it as a Fantastica guest it was £22pppd, so it was a bit of a no brainer to have the better experience with the AI package and several other perks, which I’ll mention later. The only drawback was we had to have a cabin on deck 12, which is below the pool deck, as the Aurea package isn’t available on any other balcony cabins on lower decks. This is probably why the cabins on the hump were sold out first. Pre-cruise arrangements We had the outbound flight, BA, through MSC, as I couldn’t get as good a price, independently, as they were offering, which was a surprise to me. It was an early morning flight from Gatwick direct to Bridgetown. We booked in to the north terminal Premier Inn so as to be close to the baggage drop off point which can be used the evening before the flight. I was very surprised that they had no parking for the night and only offered a discounted price on short stay parking. Next time I’ll use the Sofitel as it has its own car park. We checked in and dropped our bags off and were told by the BA rep that we had been wise to do it as there would be chaos in the morning. How right she was, MSC had overbooked their allocation by six people. This was when we had our first bit of good fortune, the upgrade fairy allocated us seats in “cattle class plus” instead of cattle class. (World Traveler Plus in BA speak) The flight was delayed by 1 hr as they changed a wheel, after everybody was on board, but before luggage and cargo was loaded. Embarkation Because our flight was delayed we found there was a long queue on the dockside and up the gangway and on into the ship. There is no terminal building at Bridgetown so the queue was standing in quite a hot sunny area. As an MSC Black card holder I am entitled to priority embarkation, it is also a perk of the “Aurea” experience and there was no facility available. Not to be deprived of my benefits I spoke to an MSC security officer and showed him my black card. He said he didn’t know of the benefit, so I got the table of benefit entitlements out of my information folder and proved it to him. He immediately radioed the guest relations manager, and in less than 1 minute a nice lady appeared from another gangway. I called my wife who was dutifully queueing (she hates making a fuss and being different to others) and we were taken into the ship by the alternative gangway and led straight to the front of the queue at reception. The queue was the typical convoluted snake type rope system which had about 100 people in it and then tailed off out of the area and off out to the dockside, probably 250 – 300 people all told. The guest relations manager, his assistant, the head waiter of the Aurea dining area and the nice lady all made sure everything was correct and spent at least five minutes with us. They spotted a mistake on our cruise card, no code for the drinks package, and had it corrected as well as operating the strange activation machine that links your credit card to the cruise card. The service we were given by all four of them was brilliant and I overheard quite a few people in the queue asking how we got that level of service. We also were asked by people who had spoken to my wife in the queue why we were taken away by a member of the crew. The Aurea Experience This is premium service level and the top level on Musica and Lirica class ships, only exceeded by the Yacht Club on the Fantastica class ships. The other levels are Bella (No frills service); Fantastica (what I consider standard service levels); and from next year a Wellness (for fitness fanatics). The Aurea extra benefits include:- All Inclusive drinks package My Choice Dining Priority Boarding Spa package, including a complementary Bali massage Access to a reserved sundeck I was due to have one massage per person in the cabin per cruise, i.e. two in total. However due do some administrative errors we actual received four each. This also affected the benefits we received as a Black card holders. The error was that my wife was booked on two 14 night B2B cruises whilst I was booked on two 7 night cruises. This became evident when I asked to have cruise cards that covered the entire 28 days instead of having two separate cruise cards for each 14 nights. I was stunned when reception told me my wife was booked on for 28 nights but I was only booked on for 14 nights. I was then asked if I had a ticket for the second 14 nights and having said yes was asked if I could produce it. I duly fetched said ticket from my cabin and showed it to the reception manager. After a quick look at his computer and checking with sales at HQ he profusely apologised for the computer system error. As a result I received benefits for both the Aurea and Black card as if I had booked three B2B cruises and in the case of the massages as if I had booked four 7 night cruises B2B. Still I’m not complaining about these MSC booking errors. Dining on board As we had My Choice dining we were asked at what time we would like to dine. They suggest that the same time each evening is best as you will have a designated table and waiting staff. This was fine for us for most nights, but on three occasions we chose to change our time. This is no problem to arrange, it is simply a case of informing the Aurea head waiter of your requirements. However, he did point out that he couldn’t guarantee our designated table. As part of the drinks package we were entitled to dessert wine, which I like, so on the first night I had a very nice Sauterne. When I asked for it on the next night I was told it was out of stock and would I like the alternate choice an Italian wine. This was equally palatable so I asked for on the following night and was told this too was now out of stock. Not good enough, so I went to reception, waved my Black card and asked if I could meet the Food and Beverages manager (FAB as he is known). The meeting took place the next day and I politely asked if he was aware that the two dessert wines for the AI package were out of stock. He immediately phoned his stockman and was told there was none available, so he then said to get a bottle from the premium AI package list and send it to the MDR for exclusive use at our table. This lasted well into the third week by which time they had replenished the other choices. That’s what I call good service and possibly the power of asking politely, not complaining as such, and having a Black card. Breakfast and most lunches we had in the buffet which does not have sufficient seating at full capacity, which was a problem on the first two weeks. The second two weeks were no problem at all as the ship was sailing with more than 1,000 guests below capacity. We had the occasional lunch in the MDR, which on MSC ships is open every day for breakfast and lunch, with open seating and waiter service. The only alternative dining was the “a la carte” Asian fusion (Chinese, Thai and Japanese) restaurant, which we used twice and had the set “taster” menu as a perk of the Black Card. We could have gone four times but the taster menu twice was enough, four times would have been too much. The big disappointment was that the quality of the food, in the MDR, has slipped to perhaps 2.5 stars (out of 5) from the usual 3.5 to 4 stars I would give to MSC food. This may be only on this ship rather than a general slippage throughout the fleet. The buffet offerings were at my expected quality level. Entertainment For the theatre shows there was a production cast of 21 people, within his number were a three man tumbling act, a three-man gymnastic balancing / strength act, a male/female duo who were aerial artistes, 3 lead singers and 10 dancers. One couple from the dancers were the ballroom/latin experts. The full production shows were:- Mon Amour; a French style variety show which included the obligatory can-can sequence. Gold; A lavish show with costumes based on ancient Egyptian styles. Starwalker; a Michael Jackson tribute show. Grease; from the film of the same name. Samurai; again a lavish costume production. Carnevale di Venezia; a modern tribute to Italian musical tradition. Gotham; based on Batman All the production shows included at least two routines from “gymnastic” acts as well as the resident singers/dancers. Working tirelessly from early morning work outs by the pool, afternoon “party” games by the pool and hosting the evening after show “party”, where they acted as dancing hosts, until the early hours of the morning were the “Animation” team. A group of eleven young people with seeming boundless energy and enthusiasm which they used to encourage people to let their hair down and join in, but in a nice polite manner without being pushy. Evening entertainment also featured live music in some of the bars and lounges as well as the atrium. There were eight acts: Duo Italy, a guitar and mandolin combination who I thought were brilliant. Alegria Tropical, A keyboard player and a singer who played a good mix of pop music both new and old. Fransesco Medas, a pianist (with a computerised box of tricks) who played all sorts of music but specialised in playing the whole of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album which sounded as if it were the actual album being played. He was brilliant!, but then I love Dark Side of the Moon. He also did a Supertramp set. Other acts were, Tropical box, Sabor Latino, Diego and Opera2band. None of whom I can comment on as I tended to stay with the three acts I enjoyed. One act that was dire, and murdered every song they performed in English, were Duo Celine jazz. They were always the alternate act in the atrium sharing either with Duo Italy or Francesco, and when they came in to change over I took it as a sign to move elsewhere. The staff at reception, who were great people and with whom I had many good laughs as they tried to solve my sequencing puzzles and other table top puzzles; the type that involve moving matchsticks to change the number of squares or triangles, had to endure the caterwaul most evenings. I had a great deal of sympathy for them as they expressed the same sentiments about Duo Celinejazz’s performances. For the crossing extra entertainers were brought onboard; a Classic Italian trio (soprano, mezzo-soprano and a great tenor). They did four classical shows with a touch of acting humour thrown in just to make it different. Three other acts were also brought on but were aimed at the predominately French speaking guests who made up about 80% of the passengers. The tenor also did an impromptu singalong with “Duo Italy” in the atrium, which resulted in most jam-packed atrium I have ever seen. The entertainment was of an excellent standard although most of the production shows were repeated but we still enjoyed them second time round. For the crossing daytime “enrichment” activities were introduced and were organize by specialist people embarked for the purpose. The activities were diverse and included Tai Chi, Creativity (making small arts and crafts items), Bridge, Italian Lessons, English Lessons (with emphasis on pronunciation) and the 5-day team quiz (teams were for up to eight people). There were also table tennis and table football competitions. Al these events were additional to the usual dance lessons, stretching classes, morning walk, and a wide variety of cooking demonstrations. All in All there was plenty of activities to occupy your time and the entertain was of a very good standard. Staff I’ve already mentioned how good the guest services staff were, and now I’d add that our waiters in the MDR were great as well and four of the bar services waiting staff were excellent, greeting us personally (without reading your name from your cruise card), as well as remembering our usual order. There is a feeling among some MSC cruisers that the bar service is poor, I would not agree, the fact is they don’t pester you all the time but rather wait for you to catch their eye as the walk around their designated station. There were occasions when the bar tenders were working at full stretch, in the more popular bars, and there was a delay in getting your drinks brought to you, but by and large the service was efficient and discreet. They have a method of indicating that you have been asked for your order by putting the drinks menu flat on your table and putting small circular absorbent coasters in front of you. This acts as a signal to other staff so they don’t keep asking you and as a reminder where there should deliver the drinks to. tHe one odd thing is that even if you have a drinks package, which is a code on the front of your cad, you still sign for your drinks even though the total reads €0.00. It must be some sort of internal monitoring system, either of the staff or for stock control or both. And finally we had an excellent cabin steward who seemed to work all the hours god sends and sorted out small issues and sent and fetched our laundry, even if we were outside the 10.00 am deadline for handing it over. He also became a convert to Sudoku as he noticed I had two books of puzzles. I showed him the rudiments and gave him one of the books of easy puzzles so he could get to grips with it. He was delighted to be given a small personal gift from a guest PORTS OF CALL Bridgetown Barbados This was our embarkation point and a port of call later on in the cruise. I’ll deal with it later Port of Spain, Trinidad This was our first port of call on the cruise and were we felt somewhat jet-lagged, but we dutifully got up, not too late in the morning, and went for a walk around the town which is close to the port. On the way we found the lovely Trinity Cathedral, with its religiously significant maze, Woodford park, the National library which is built around the old fire station, and the old police station. The inside of the Cathedral was refreshing cool, but that had a lot to do with the huge number of fans whirring away all around the nave. Woodford park had plenty of trees for shade and was just bounded on two sides by the city hall and the cathedral, a pleasant place for a stroll and just adsorb the local feel of people having leisurely picnic lunches. On the way back to the port we found the monument to all the Olympic medalists from Trinidad and Tobago. A nice idea and far better than a gold post box. Roseau, Dominica A short walk to outside the docks and we were able to join forces with four others, 2 French and 2 Swiss, and book a taxi for a tour of the town, a visit to the botanical gardens and nearby rain forest area which included a visit the Trafalgar Falls. The road system in Roseau is all one way streets and so a guided tour is inevitable as the driver works his way around the system to leave the town. Our driver only spoke English, so that was fine for us but meant that we had simultaneous translations into French and German from the couples with us. The driver was keen to point out the severe damage done by Hurricane Erika in August 2015. One such sight was a crushed yellow school bus still lying under the tree where it had been parked, fortunately nobody was in it at the time. The other evidence left by the hurricane was the large amount of rock debris in the river beds. This is put to good use as all buildings are built from the rocks, so building material is free, you simply fetch your rocks from the local river bed and (re-)build your house with them. There was a $5, (government agency), fee to walk to the water falls which were a brisk 5 minute walk down a good path. On the way to and from the falls the driver pointed out the abundance of flowers, fruiting trees, and herbs growing everywhere. Locals are allowed to take as much of the fruit, flowers and herbs as they like but damaging or cutting down trees is a criminal offence. The tour lasted about 2.5 hours and cost $20 each which was only payable at the end of the tour and if we felt it was worth it. That was information the driver gave us before we agreed to using his taxi. We all paid. St. Georges, Grenada Another port in which we walked out of the port and strolled around. Firstly to Fort George ($2 entry fee) up a steep climb were there was not a lot to see but had great views. Then we went and walked around the harbour where the sea life was abundant with brightly coloured fish next to the harbour wall. Whilst walking around the harbour we heard a cacophony of car horns and watched as a long line of minis wound its way around the road. It was the Trinidad and Tobago mini owners club Easter week end jaunt. There must have been 150 - 200 cars, most in showroom condition. A quite spectacular sight and it must have been a bumper payday for the inter island ferry. Martinique We had no great plans for this visit as it was Easter week-end and we expected most things to be closed and this was the case, so we simply followed the blue line on the ground, put there for cruisers to follow to the small beach, paddled in the sea and walked back. We were due to return in a week. Guadeloupe This was what my wife had come for, a visit to the area used in “Death in Paradise” (DiP). As we walked out of the port we were asking for a taxi driver who spoke English, not many did. Eventually one was pointed out to us and we went over to him. He already had two French ladies and was looking for two more passengers. We asked him if he would go to the area we wanted and he agreed but said the other two wanted to go to some “Cascades” and the botanical gardens. Everybody agreed to go to all the sights and the ladies said it would be €50, I said I would pay €40 each and to the surprise and glee of the ladies the driver agreed. It turned out that the ladies spoke no English at all, the driver only spoke a few words of English and our French is almost non-existent. Despite that we had a brilliant day. First was a drive through the rain forest to the cascades, one set of rapids and one average waterfall. Then on to the North West tip of the Island to Deshairs which was our goal. Here the driver asked the locals for the sites used in DiP, and we were shown “Caroline’s Bar”, the Police Commissariat, the jetty, and the church as well as one of the restaurants used in the end “reveal”. In fact we all had lunch in the restaurant, we split the cost of the driver’s lunch between the four of us. During lunch we were in stiches as we tried to hold a conversation about DiP but somehow it worked and the ladies worked out why we wanted to see the place. After lunch it was a short journey to the beach and the house used as Humphry’s abode. A short stop to paddle and we were off to the botanical gardens, €10 entrance fee except the driver who was not charged. The gardens were excellent by far and away the best we saw on the cruise, and we visited a lot of them on other islands. Finally on the way back the driver suggested a visit to the Rhum museum but sadly being Easter Sunday it was closed, so back to the ship. We spent 7.5 hours in all with the driver and ladies on a most memorable and enjoyable day despite the language issues. I let the ladies pay the driver first then I gave him the full €100 and the ladies just laughed and expressed surprise that I’d relented on my own haggling rom which they had benefitted. But I felt that he deserved it. Over the next seven days we bumped in the ladies many times and they always had a “conversation” with us. Tortola, BVI Here we had a 15 minute walk to the botanical gardens, $5 entry fee, which although very nice were not a patch on the ones we saw on Guadeloupe. After about an hour we decided to return to the ship early. St. Maarten A morning walking along the beautiful beach near to the port follow by some souvenir shopping, which ended up as bottles of Rhum for everyone, which certainly challenged our luggage allowance at the end of the cruise. Careful juggling of weighty items between hold luggage and hand baggage and we made full use of the generous BA allowances. Dominican Republic This is one of the few places where we went on a ship’s tour. The tour was to Las Maravillas caves which is the site of some cave paintings created by some of local populace about 1000 years ago and they depict animal forms, mainly iguanas, and the burial of tribesmen. The images showed how the dead were beheaded to allow the spirit to escape. Unfortunately no cameras were allowed, nor were guns!! The tour then went on to a cigar factory, where I learned they were not rolled on “the thighs of dusky maidens” but rather they were rolled on a wooden table. The main mode of transport in the Dominican Republic is the motorcycle, they have motorcycle taxis which lots of people were using, they can be distinguished as they wear uniforms. There were many instances of three adults on one m/c and even four and five people, presumably families, where there were two adults and two or three children. We drove past shops which had literally thousands of them for sale, our guide pointed to shops and said 1,500 for sale in that one; 2,000 in the one across the road. St. Kitts and Nevis Here we had fun a games getting on an open sided tour bus, not an excursion, as we got on the bus we were told only to be told it was the wrong bus. So we changed buses. Then an Italian family got on and protested when the driver/tour guide said he only spoke English. They had been told he could speak their language. They decamped to the first bus we got on. Along comes the manager who told us to get back on the original bus, so the French people behind us shouted that “no way” were they going on the same bus as the Italians. In steps our driver and says he’s going to take our bus and overruled the boss. So some 50 minutes after first getting on a bus we set off. We did the usual tour of the “White Egret’s” nesting site, (the birds are protected by law and it’s off to gaol if you harm one), the sugar factory and Rhum distillery, past the Rhum bottle tree and on to the end of the island where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean. We’d done the sugar-line train before and it’s only possible to do it on a ship’s excursion as they book the train for the entire day. We didn’t think it would be the same second time round and the excursion was very pricy. Antigua A beach day for us here, we caught a taxi and asked to go to Runaround bay a 10 minute drive away. The driver told us it was an OK beach but if we wanted a really nice beach then we should go to Jolly beach. We agreed and after a 20 - 25 min drive we were there. We arranged a time to be picked up, so far we had paid nothing to the driver, and were reassured that he would be back at the appointed time when he said payment would be when we get back to the port. After walking and paddling the whole length of the of the beach in both directions we had just enough time to get a drink at the beach bar. Back to the car park any a sense of relief to see the taxi parked and waiting for us. On the way back we stopped off at a neighbouring beach to pick up other guests from our ship for the return journey. The extra taxi fare was well worth paying as the beach was far nicer than we had originally aimed for and the neighbouring beach where we stopped to pick up the others. Martinique The weather was against us for our return visit to the island, with heavy showers at frequent intervals, so we had a quiet day on board ship. Guadeloupe Again another return visit so we caught a taxi to the aquarium, you will have gathered by now that Andie’s favourite places to visit are botanical gardens, beaches and aquariums (this will become apparent further on in the review). We had done our homework on the distance to the aquarium ( ~ 3 kms) and checked with the tourism office the fair price for a taxi which they said was about €5 pp each way. The bulk of the taxis were asking €10 pp each way. We did get one for €6 pp each way and again we arranged to be picked up. The driver left her business card with the entrance ticket seller and asked the ticket seller to call her when we were ready to go back. This worked well and we only had to wait around 5 mins for the taxi to arrive and take us back to the port. St. Lucia This was one of the places we planned to take the ship’s excursion to the rain forest aerial tramway. It’s the next best thing to a botanical garden. The journey up the mountain was bumpy and the road was twisty which made Andie feel queasy which resulted in her being very sick into a plastic carrier bag whilst we were riding the tram. She felt a bit better after the event. The gondolas carried eight people plus a guide and in order to keep them balanced you were allotted your seat by a member of staff. Heavy people in the middle with the lighter ones at the front and back. We were in the front. Being the rain forest tramway it lived up to it name and the heavens opened up on us, which meant that we got very wet whilst the ponchos, which the guide in our gondola had available for such an event, were handed out to everybody. At the end of the ride you could elect to go on a “hummingbird hike”, a twenty minute quite strenuous walk around the forest to see if you could catch a fleeting glimpse of humming birds. We did the walk and saw several humming birds at close range. Strangely enough if you decided not to go on the walk you had to sign a disclaim saying you had been offered the walk but had declined. Barbados This was the end of the first cruise and the point where several people we had got to know disembarked. There were also major disembarkations at Martinique and Guadeloupe which meant a significant shift in the demography of the guests. Off got the Afro-Caribbean families who were mostly in their 30s and 40s with children of all ages, from babes in arms to late teens. These were by and large French speakers and made up about 85% of the guests on board. Embarking were older couples and singles, mainly Caucasian Europeans, again with many French speakers but there were now more Spanish, Italian and English speakers. The number disembarking far outweighed the number embarking and what was a ship at near full capacity became a ship with over a thousand guest below capacity. The feel of the ship changed, it felt a lot more spacious than before, and the number of child buggies you encountered dropped to almost zero. As for doing things ashore Andie didn’t feel like doing our excursion so we cancelled her booking and I went on my own to the Atlantis submarine. We had looked at doing this DIY but it only worked out about €3 cheaper than the ship’s excursion which wouldn’t entail the hassle of finding a taxi in both directions. We first had to sign a disclaimer in block capitals, which seemed odd, but it became apparent why when we received “dive” certificates after the event. Then we boarded a large tender and headed out to the sub which was nowhere to be seen. Suddenly the sub’s bow leapt out of the sea at about 20 degrees of angle before it slammed down on to the surface. A most impressive arrival. It tied on to the small surface command vessel and open the hatch and disembarked the people who had just had their journey in it. Now it was our turn to board. I managed to get a seat just behind the pilot who went through all his checks and welcomed us on to the 14,867th dive before enquiring as to how many people spoke English, the only language used on board, and got two “Yes’s”. It had clearly stated on all the information and booking forms that this was the case., so nobody had grounds for complaint. We had a safety demonstration and told that the sub was rated for a 140ft depth of dive, remember that when you look at the images. We dived and disappointingly the water was quite murky and photos were hard to get with any clarity. There was an abundance of fish and the obligatory wreck to see. All too soon we were at the surface, climbing back on to the tender and speeding back to the “office” to receive our personalized certificates. Back on the ship for lunch and just in time before the rains started giving some spectacular rainbows. The Trans-Atlantic crossing We set sail from Bridgetown with full 6 days at sea ahead of us. This is where my choice of a starboard cabin was designed to maximize the amount of sun shining on to the balcony, which is what my sun-loving wife would really be pleased about. This strategy would have been fine if we had had my preferred choice of a Balcony Suite on deck 15 or even a balcony cabin on the forward hump. Our eventual choice of an Aurea balcony, in the recessed portion of deck 12, which was 12 under the pool deck, but far enough forward so as to be under a quiet part of it, only partially fulfilled the requirement. The main factor for the disappointment came about because deck 14 overhangs these cabins, and so cuts out the direct sun for the major part of the day. The only times that the sun shone on the balcony was for about 1 – 2 hours after sunrise and in the early evening. Sunrise varied a bit as on five of the days we had to put our clocks forward by one hour. This was one small point that detracted from the holiday, but is what is to be expected on a long oceanic voyage going west to east. Activities we did Spa Treatments We had been fortunate to be told that we could have four complimentary Bali massages during our cruise. As they were part of the Aurea experience you were supposed to have them during the day the cruise they are associated with. This would have meant that we should have had two each in the first of the two week back to back cruises. This is where the Black card came in handy. I had approached the head of guest services, on day two of the twenty-eight days, and asked if it would be possible to al four during the sea days on the crossing. He told me that it was perfectly OK to do that, especially as I had a Black card. He even rang the Spa and told them of the arrangement and suggested that we might like to go and book the appointments straight away, just to ensure we were given times that were suitable for us. We went to the spa, who were waiting for us to arrive and chose the massages we wanted. Now I was led to believe that the entitlement was for a straight forward Bali massage of about 45 minutes duration. I was delighted to find out we had a free choice from the many massages on offer. We chose:- “Hot stone” massage (1hr duration) for second sea day. ”Bali holistic” massage (45 minutes) for on the sixth sea day. “Bali” massage (45 minutes) for the sea day between Funchal and Malaga. “Bali massage with Reflexology” (1 hour) for the last sea day, between Malaga and Barcelona. We both found the “Hot Stone” to be the most enjoyable but differed on our ranking of most enjoyable choices. I had a tie between “Bali” and the “Holistic” with the “reflexology” a long way back in fourth. Basically it hurt or should I say was a tad uncomfortable. Andie on the other hand had the reflexology as her second favourite and the remaining two equal third. If we get them again we’ll both opt for the “Hot Stone” massage. Tai Chi This was one of the “enrichment“ activities specially arranged for the six day passage across the Atlantic. Andie chose to attend the lessons, held twice a day on all the sea days, eight days in total. She thoroughly enjoyed them mostly because it complemented her yoga which she had missed during the first two weeks. 5 day quiz This seems to be a standard thing to do on MSC’s repositioning cruises. Teams of up to eight guests try to answer 10 questions each day filling in the answers on a sheet of paper which is handed in after each session. It is run by the animation team in the theatre, where they patrol the event to ensure no electronic devices or crib notes are used. There were 14 teams entered mostly complete strangers put together on language spoken as a first criterion. The quiz was held in 5 languages. I was in a team with six Australians and one Swedish lady. Teams of people who knew each other had distinct advantage over the others. This showed up on day 1 when my answers to two of the questions, which I knew were correct, were voted down in favour of answers given by an Aussie. These questions involved recognizing a bank note as Egyptian, and the flag of Kenya. Consequently we only scored 5 instead of 10. I had to miss the second day, when the team again scored 5, as I was involved in a wine tasting event. I was a popular returner on the subsequent days when we averaged 7 points per day. This lifted us from a lowly 12 place to a respectable joint fourth by the end with 31 points. The third placed team scored 32 and the runners up scored 33 and the runaway winners 39 points. Had my two answers been accepted on day one we would have been joint second. Wine Tasting This was a very popular event, so much so that they had to run it a second occasion. It was held in the MDR and there must have been 150 people in the one I went to. There were six Italian wines to taste. (abv = alcohol by volume) A Sparkling Prosecco (11% abv) A white (12% abv) Two Reds (13% and 13.5% abv) A Rose (11% abv) A sparkling Red (9% abv) A plate of various morsels of food, some cheeses, breads and hams to accompany the various wines was provided. The sommelier gave a brief lesson on the art of wine tasting then a description of each wine and what food types it should accompany. Assigned to our English speaking table was the English Speaking Hostess. She told us she would translate what the sommelier said. Well she did read a pre-prepared script, hardly translating for us. Almost universally on our table was the verdict that the white was not very nice and the rose was terrible. The sparkling red was judged to be a BBQ wine, i.e. one that could be quaffed liberally at a BBQ and would go down well (in both senses of the word) with guests. A pleasant surprise from the sparkling red. Other things of note for the sea days. Because the hour changed five times during the six days, and in the direction which resulted in the loss of an hour’s sleep, we tended to get up later than usual and then have Andie would go off to Tai Chi, and we would forgo breakfast and have an early leisurely lunch. We also made good use of our balcony to sit out and read and look out for wildlife. We saw plenty of flying fish, two smaller members of the albatross family, a couple of smaller seabirds which I thought were terns of some description. But the highlight was the sighting of some dolphins, travelling at speed and a pod of whales, quite possibly pilot whales judging by the dorsal fin. The use of the reserved sun deck, “Top 16” on deck 16, was limited by the high winds experienced when travelling at 20 knots into a headwind. On a couple of occasions access to the area was closed. There was however a smaller area on deck 15 which formed part of the “Top 16” area. It did get a bit crammed full on these occasions. There was also King Neptune’s party for “crossing” the ocean. I thought that these ceremonies were just for crossing the equator, but obviously MSC use them for a bit of fun on extended periods of sea days. The participants were baptized with the usual concoction of “champagne” (Prosecco to you and me), raw eggs, flour, tinned tomatoes, cocoa powder and baked beans before being pushed into the pool. The state of the pool afterwards meant that five men spend the best part of the afternoon emptying, scrubbing clean and refilling the pool. Ports of Call Santa Cruz The first landfall after the crossing was Tenerife and here we walked out of the port and got on the HO-HO bus doing the complete circuit and part of a second circuit before getting off and walking around a pleasant park, past the Auditorio de Tenerife and the Iglesia-Parroquia Matriz de Nuestra Señora de La Concepción. On the walk we were surprised to see that the trees had knitted and crocheted jackets. It seemed a nice way of decorating the park. We did buy one souvenir, a fridge magnet in the shape of a bottle of wine. I used it to make joke “Special Offer” by creating a sign saying I attached the fridge magnet to the sign and holding it, in the same fashion as our head waiter held the sign and bottle of wine when he came round the tables with that day’s special offer, presented it to the head waiter ,as we entered the dining room saying “ today’s special offer not 50% discount! Not even 75% discount; but to you a 100% discount on this magnificent 2016 wine bottle fridge magnet ; Look at the date, a very fine year for fridge magnets. This is especially for you and is only for today.” He roared with laughter and proceeded to show all the waiters and head waiters and even the Maitre ‘d who happened to be near the door He really got the joke as I had paraphrased the words he used. |The only thing missing was the chance for him to attempt to haggle the price down, as I did each time he tried to get us to buy a special offer bottle. I would ask for an additional 20% off for the Black card holder discount. He thanked me for offer adding that he thought he would be able to stick the poster to his cabin wall with the magnet as was sure it was metal. As an addendum to this story, on a previous port of call he asked about our day ashore and said in his usual jocular fashion," You had a great day but forgot to bring me a fridge magnet." Funchal Another port where we walked out of the docks and into the town, we’d been before and seen the botanical gardens and cable cars. Andie had no desire to try the downhill sled ride. We arrived during the town’s Flower Festival and were treated to some beautiful floral displays and even a group of local folk dancers strutting their stuff. Mid-morning we had a very heavy down pour, so we sought refuge in a café and indulged in the local madeira cake with a nice cup of coffee. When the rain stopped we walked through the streets admiring the displays but were forced to go back to the ship by another series of heavy downpours. Malaga Again we walked off the ship and out of the port to the to the Alcazaba fort, the Castillo de Gibralfaro fort and the Roman Amphitheatre. All three are close together about a mile and a quarter from the cruise terminal, a reasonably paced walk took 25 to 30 minutes to arrive at the ticket office. Price for entry was €3.20 for an adult and was valid for both forts. The Amphitheatre was free to enter. For senior citizens, who had a means of proving their age entry to the Alcazaba fort was €0.60, with another entry fee of €0.60 if you wanted to ego inside the Castillo de Gibralfaro fort. The strenuous climb up to the latter was a steep zig-zag path and is not for people with mobility issues or heart or breathing problems. The HO-HO bus offers an alternative way of reaching the top. We walked to the top where we met one of my Team Greece Australian guests who enquired as to whether I’d walked and was amazed when I said yes. “Good on yer mate I came up on the HO-HO” was all he could say. After pondering a while he asked for directions to the zig-zag path and set off saying ”I think I might try the walk down”. The gardens in both forts are well worth the visit and are reminiscent of the Alhambra Palace. Barcelona We have visited Barcelona seven times before on cruises and seen the sights we want to see, so as you can guess by now we walked out of the port and into the area around Las Ramblas. MSC were charging €8.50 for an all day multi-use ticket on their shuttle bus or, the port bus cost €2.00 one way, €3.00 return. After a couple of hours roaming the back streets and squares on the North side of Las Ramblas went ventured along the marina where a replica of the first Russian frigate (1703) was docked. Then we decided to catch the port bus back. Marseille Again a port we’d visited many times, the weather was inclement and it was costly to get from the port to the old harbour area. A shuttle bus return ticket was €15.90, So as it was the day before disembarkation we just stayed on board and took our time over packing. Genoa Because BA had cancelled our original flights for disembarkation day we booked a hotel for an overnight stay. Disembarkation As Black card holders we were allowed to retain use of our cabin until 10:00 and could disembark at any time of our choosing up until late morning. Our cases would be with the first unloaded in case we wanted to be off with the first group. We chose to get off about 10:30 and roll our cases the 600 yards or so to our hotel, the Grand Hotel Savoia, and get the at round 11:00. We had requested an early check-in time of 11:00 as part of the deal. We were finally checked in at around 12:15. This left us the rest of the day to explore the old city, visit the Aquarium (brilliant, but not cheap. €25 per adult) and have an evening meal. The alternative scenario would have been to be first off, put our cases in the MSC left luggage room in the terminal. This is one of the good things about MSC’s Genoa Terminal. You have to collect your luggage before 14:30. This would have allowed us to do the sightseeing and visit the aquarium before checking into the hotel, but would have meant an extra walk from the town back to the terminal with time restraints to consider. The route we rolled our cases (12 – 15 minutes), the dotted line is through the station. The next day, after a good breakfast, we got a taxi to the airport (€31.50) at 10:30, checked in our baggage and then went to the special MSC lounge on the first floor. This is another facility that MSC offer at Genoa, reserved for MSC guests. I presume it’s only open on disembarkation days, luckily for us MSC Fantasia was in port that day. The lounge is manned by MSC staff and has very comfy chairs unlike the rest of the airport which has hard plastic chairs. Conclusion We had a great cruise which for the most part had only positives, the only real negative was the standard of food not being its usual good to very good rating. The staff were excellent and the entertainment top notch. Glitches in the system were speedily dealt with when brought to the attention of the relevant staff member and for the most part worked in our favour. Would we sail again with MSC? We’re already booked on a cruise next year and who knows if the right offer comes up we’ll jump on one in between now and then. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
Food, cleanliness, service all really good, always found something nice to eat, staff amazing. Aurea package good with massage, priority embarkation,dressing gown and slippers, access to jacuzzi etc, my-time dining and (adults ... Read More
Food, cleanliness, service all really good, always found something nice to eat, staff amazing. Aurea package good with massage, priority embarkation,dressing gown and slippers, access to jacuzzi etc, my-time dining and (adults only)top sail 16. Entertainment good especially Tai Chi classes and Spanish mother & son duo opera. Only slight complaint, top sail 16 needs to be monitored to prevent passengers who had not upgraded to the Aurea package climbing over the rope with their drinks taking up sun beds and one occasion, children charging around with their toys. Otherwise no complaints Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2015
We boarded this ship with great optimism after i had been given the all clear after going down with cancer on my previous cruise on Davina maiden voyage to Miami with cancer. MSC knew of my cancer and when we arrived at the ship we ... Read More
We boarded this ship with great optimism after i had been given the all clear after going down with cancer on my previous cruise on Davina maiden voyage to Miami with cancer. MSC knew of my cancer and when we arrived at the ship we were whisked away to our cabin in minutes. From there all down hill apart from the general staff who worked dammed hard for us. First dirty pillows and lumpy replacements and a smaller cabin than on previous MSC ships. Food mediocre to the point that our waiter sent one of my dishes back (would not serve it). Not much luck with the chef either he sent his underling to talk to me. Entertainment poor compared with previous ships. Reception staff efficient but unable to make the simplest of decisions, even the officers had to refer the mildest of problems to Italy. Hygiene on t enforced with the passengers on entry to a from restaurants nor did the officers or stall i watched clean their hand before handling food or utensils in the self service restaurant. Result many sick passengers (rumor had it best part of half the passengers) with a virus that was carried by hand and through the air con. Hospital on the ship only interested in money, my examination, temperature taken and listen to my lungs on the back. no pulse or blood pressure. Result miss diagnosis. When the ship reached Adelaide I took myself to hospital put into isolation as I had Adenovirus and bacterial pneumonia (highly infectious). Does not end there. Wife forced to sign my credit account and then held captive on the ship until she signed a disclaimer exonerating MSC . To add insult to injury for this we paid over £4000 per person almost double what the Australians had to pay. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2015
We have recently returned from a 40 night Grand Voyage on MSC Orchestra. Our first cruise with MSC, only the second cruise that we have ever done, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We cant wait to do another one! We found embarkation to ... Read More
We have recently returned from a 40 night Grand Voyage on MSC Orchestra. Our first cruise with MSC, only the second cruise that we have ever done, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We cant wait to do another one! We found embarkation to be easy and well organised (and I love a French or Italian accent), and directions to our cabin were given by immaculately presented staff on board. Our luggage took a little while to arrive, but we were somewhat paranoid due to a misunderstanding with where we should be and where our luggage should be when first arriving at Dubai Port. Non MSC staff onshore were not always that helpful. First impression of the ship is really pleasing. It is spotlessly clean, beautifully decorated and furnished (subjective opinion I guess) and throughout the voyage this standard was maintained. Staff were constantly, unobtrusively, keeping all areas immaculately maintained. Every washroom I used throughout the ship were the cleanest I have ever encountered. All the time, every time. Our cabin (deck 8, on the rear), was spacious and clean. A few minor signs of wear that didn't affect our pleasure , say 95/100. Some holiday basics that can make or break. The bed(s),2 king singles pushed together, was very comfortable. A good nights sleep from day one. The pillows, unusual to my taste, and mentioned by others, but didn't affect my sleeping. More than enough drawer and hanging space. Excellent water pressure in the shower, which was more roomy than my only other cruising experience. Lots of hot water Towels changed twice a day. Room made up twice a day. Food. The buffet offered a range of food that changed throughout the day. Some aspects of the menu varied day to day and others remained constant. The standard of the food available ranged from excellent to OK. Often it was not as hot as I would have liked, but this also varied from dish to dish and day to day. We still often opted to eat there. Suggestion, if there at a busy time, find your table BEFORE you collect your food. Sounds like common sense to me. The a la carte restaurant. Staff immaculately presented, permanently friendly and willing to do almost anything to make your life pleasant. Most staff on the ship speak 4 or 5 languages and English is not necessarily going to be their best. Can be entertaining or annoying depending on your attitude and approach, but can always be sorted out. Often noticed the staff enjoying themselves and having a laugh which impressed me, because they work hard and long hours. The food was always hotter here than in the buffet and, I believe tasted better. This could of course be the ambience etc. etc. This is not to say it was better. Some meat dishes were disappointing (eg a "steak" turning out to be a thin slice of overcooked roast ), but other meals were excellent. In my opinion, all the entrees and desserts were most enjoyable. The range available on each nights changing menu was varied enough to suit most tastes. An issue I don't understand, that reared its head over and over again, was water with dinner. Water and ice (and tea and coffee) is available 24hrs in the buffet), BUT, and I knew this before embarking, water is not served with dinner unless you buy bottled water. However, every drink package, in addition to whatever you have chosen, provides a supply of bottled water that was more than sufficient for our needs, that can be obtained at any bar or restaurant throughout the ship. I heard people complaining even quite late in the voyage about this aspect but it seemed mostly along the lines of "this is what we do, and just because you are Italian you should not be different". Entertainment in the theatre was outstanding in presentation and content and variety. Wait staff were constantly attentive but achieved the perfect balance of not being intrusive. On board activities were many and varied. The activities we participated in were entertaining and rewarding. We never found disembarkation a problem although Brisbane was a bit disappointing. After cruising, I find the concept of airports, airplanes, log haul flights and everything that goes with them quite unsettling. But, as a converted cruiser, I've got to face it because I'm ready to MSC again. In summary, not perfect, but I would give MSC 95/100 for value, cleanliness, general comfort, staff at all levels, entertainment and facilities but with some room for improvement in food. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2014
There was 4 off us, one disabled, and we had a marvellous time. The staff where friendly and very helpful and went out of their way to make our disabled friend's live as easy as possible aboard. They made sure that he could access ... Read More
There was 4 off us, one disabled, and we had a marvellous time. The staff where friendly and very helpful and went out of their way to make our disabled friend's live as easy as possible aboard. They made sure that he could access anything he needed and help was always available for going ashore and returning as with everything else on board. The entertainment staff worked very hard to make the time on board entertaining and encouraged everyone to have a very good time. Both my friend and I are a bit reserved but they encouraged us to join in and we ended up having a wonderful time. The entertainment staff took time out during the day to ask and answer questions and where always ready to take on suggestions. The entertainment on stage was first class, with something for everyone even if some of the nights where not to our taste, they were still very professional and entertaining, with the performers taking time out at the end to be at the exits of the theatre to meet and answer questions. The ship was clean tidy and very comfortable. Meals were excellent with plenty of variety and very well prepared. Serving staff where well trained and very Curtis making sure that your food was delivered correctly. We only took one shore excursion to Petra, but this was very well organised and we enjoyed the whole experience. It was something that we could not have done without the excursion. The rest of the time we did our own thing when going ashore as out friend finds due to his disability it is not easy to go on shore excursions as a lot are not suitable for wheelchairs. The inside cabin was comfortable and the cabin Steward was friendly helpful and kept everything clean and tidy. Embarkation in Venice was efficient and quick with extra care being taken for the disabled, the same for disembarkation in Dubai. Safety was always top priority and going through the Suez Canal and around Yemen the Staff where kept well trained and you felt that they would be able to handle any emergency that was forthcoming i.e piratecy. Overall we would all do another cruise with MSC, having done numerous cruises with other company's we feel that value for money and hospitality MSC will take some beating. We are looking to take another repositioning cruise in 2016 if one comes up with MSC as these are exceptionally good value for money. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
Well, after all the worry after reading some of the reviews on this Cruise Line, we did actually go with an open mind. We where not dissappointed the ship was beautiful. After a very long flight we actually boarded just after 1pm plenty of ... Read More
Well, after all the worry after reading some of the reviews on this Cruise Line, we did actually go with an open mind. We where not dissappointed the ship was beautiful. After a very long flight we actually boarded just after 1pm plenty of time to unpack have lunch and a good look around. Everything on this ship is very expensively done the furnishings, decor etc are magnificent. Our cabin on Deck 12 was very clean and spacious and our cabin steward extremely good. We opted for the late seating for dinner as the early one was 6.30 a little soon for us, this was perfect as MSC did a show at 7.30pm for late diners so we saw the show before our meal. Every show was exeptional, we loved them all most could compare with a West End show they where so good. The Covent Garden Theatre is beautiful the nicest I have seen on any ship. We found the meals to be very good, plenty of choice and the Express Breakfast in the Main Dining Room was really nice. We have no cause to complain, yes the food on other ships is possibly better but for the price we paid the choice was very good and we enjoyed all. Our waiter Salvador was excellent. The Animation team worked really hard especially when we celebrated Crossing the Equator meaning that the pool had to be emptied and refilled and cleaned there was so much mess as people where Christened with Champagne, flour, milk, raw egg and last but not least Coco powder it really was quite a celebation!the ports of call where all good especially Rio and the Statue of Christ the Redeemer was magnificent. We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise and would have no hesitation in sailing with MSC again. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
Booked in August 2008 after seeing the MSC Orchestra Transatlantic/Repositioning Balcony Cruise advertised in Saturdays' Daily Mail.  Their advertisement stated that a transatlantic flight and one night's accommodation in ... Read More
Booked in August 2008 after seeing the MSC Orchestra Transatlantic/Repositioning Balcony Cruise advertised in Saturdays' Daily Mail.  Their advertisement stated that a transatlantic flight and one night's accommodation in Miami/Fort Lauderdale was included.  The latter turned out to be misleading and we paid over £80.00 extra for "3 star accommodation", which turned out to be the awful River Park Hotel & Suites in Miami, although well located for the free transit system and Bayside etc.  However, as a result we did upgrade us from deck 8 to deck 12 (the highest for standard balcony accommodation) as compensation, when I complained about their misleading advertisement. Remembering that we had booked this cruise 9 months before travelling and with just 2 weeks to go there was no sign of our tickets so I called, who after putting me on hold for about 5 minutes stated that they were calling for our tickets from MSC's head office in Italy that day, which should take a couple of days to reach them, and they would then be sent out to us first class post.  We were still without tickets 1 week from departure, so I rang again, and also rang the MSC Club member's hotline number, as we were  already members, having travelled with them twice before on the "Opera".  The outcome was we travelled with e-mailed/inkjet printed documents, which caused some issues with the transfer coach operators in the US, and we never received the "before you cruise" booklet we were supposed to have.  All in all this was very stressful, and subsequently I have written to express my dissatisfaction, particularly when we saw what the official MSC travel pack should have looked like, which all other UK passengers had received. I have say that after this disappointing start the MSC Orchestra and the transatlantic cruise visiting New York (2 days/overnight), The Azores, Portugal, Spain and finally back to Dover was absolutely superb.  The Orchestra is a beautiful ship and as reported is kept spotless, at all times.  I don't understand some of the earlier critisms, as we found hot (tea, coffee, decaff and infusions) and cold drinks (iced water & fruit juices) available free of charge for most of the day and even at the midnight buffet.  Yes, the bottled water in the cabin is expensive at $4.50 per bottle, and compared to "our local" back home, so were the alcoholic drinks/cocktails, but given the presentation of them and the fact that in the La Cantinella wine bar you always received a plate of "Palma Ham" and cheese and elsewhere generous dishes of both crisps and Japanese rice crackers in beautiful surroundings and served by immaculately dressed & extremely courteous bar staff.  It truly is a 5 star ship and in our case represented very good value for money. DINING: My wife and I found the food of a very high standard, in both the deck 13 buffet restaurant and in the mornings and also the evenings when we had our very own table for 2 in the second sitting of the Villa Borghese Ristorante on deck 5.  We had an Indonesian head waiter from Bali, who was excellent, except when we arrived a few minutes late and a nearby table of 8 Germans caused total chaos by confusing him with their desire to order copious bottles of wine each evening!! THE SHOWS: The theatre on the Orchestra is very large and a truly beautiful facility, with excellent sound and lighting, which puts many London theatres to shame.  As with the MSC Opera we found the shows to be of a very high standard, the costumes beautiful, and the performers actually received a standing ovation for final show of our cruise. THE ENTERTAINERS: Unfortunately, the Orchestra's animation team did not impress us at all and we found them flat and somewhat embarrassing to watch, whereas there were some real characters on the Opera, who regularly had us in stitches, so much so that we used to make a point of finding out which bar they were in each evening.  On this cruise we made a point of avoiding them if we could. EXCURSIONS: The excursions were expensive, and the tour we took was billed as lasting 4 hours only lasted 3 hours and we did feel cheated at $53.00 each.  This was the cheapest excursion on offer, some being double that, but it enabled us to get our bearings and spend the remaining day and a half finding our own way using the "subway", Staten Island Ferry, World trade Centre/Ground Zero, Central Park, "Top of the Rock", etc.  As their main focus and intention is to sell you as many excursions as possible, what is annoying is that they do not provide port information or maps until the evening before or to tell you there was a local tram for Euro 1.60 (100yds from the port entrance) when due the distance from the port to the city centre of Lisbon (Portugal) they were doing us a favour by arranging a shuttle bus for Euro 12.00 each.  Furthermore, on occasions we were not told in advance that there would be free shuttle bus provided from the ship to the city/town centre in the hope that you would book an excursion rather than doing your own thing. TIPPING: I do not agree with the MSC policy of adding a daily amount to your account to cover tipping.  For a 17 day cruise this would have added $232.00 to our joint account, but what is really annoying is that many passengers are unaware of it, as it hidden in the booking small print, but we already knew as we had experienced it on the Opera previously.  All you need to do is contact the Accounts desk at any time during the cruise and ask for an "opt-out form" to allow you to either personally tip those that had served you, or adjust the amount deducted to suit you. Finally, despite the somewhat negative as well as positive comments above we are still rating the MSC orchestra Cruise Very Good to Excellent, and would have no hesitation travelling with the company again next year or indeed recommending the MSC Italian cruising experience to friends.                                      Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
Unfortunately, my wife and I had to cut our back to back cruise of 1/10 thru 1/24/2009 short due to a death in the family and fly home from Fort Lauderdale this past Saturday. At our insistence, our daughter and son-in-law continued ... Read More
Unfortunately, my wife and I had to cut our back to back cruise of 1/10 thru 1/24/2009 short due to a death in the family and fly home from Fort Lauderdale this past Saturday. At our insistence, our daughter and son-in-law continued onboard for the second week. But let me set the record straight by our experience on this our 34th cruise - having sailed previously with Royal Caribbean (Diamond Plus Members); Celebrity; Holland America; Carnival and NCL. I many respects, we found MSC Orchestra comparable to Royal Caribbean and Celebrity and most certainly hands above Holland America; Carnival and NCL. To begin with, embarkation was flawless - took less than 15 minutes. Debarkation equally as efficient. This ship is FABULOUS, perfect size unlike the vehemoth floating cities RCL is introducing. Our cabin was luxurious, balconied on Deck 15 facing forward overlooking the bow of the ship - cabin steward and assistants more than accommodating and efficient - morning room make up completed within 30 minutes of our leaving for breakfast. Food was typical cruise food - one expecting gourmet should try the ilk of Crystal and PAY for it! Don't know why there is any criticism of lines for the casual dining at the buffet in La Piazzetta - there were NO lines (certainly not out to the pool) - there are six identical stations within that venue which allowed for easy access to the typical variety of breakfast fare - the same is exactly true for lunch. We had breakfast in the dining room only once but found the convenience and atmosphere of the La Piazzetta more appealing for breakfast and lunch (especially at the outdoor dining tables aft). We had late seating in the Villa Borghese Restaurant which proved to be a pleasant experience each evening - our waiter and assistant were most accommodating with impeccable service and special requests were executed flawlessly, notably nightly plates of a variety of cheeses awaiting us each evening. Again, the dinner menus were typical of RCL and Celebrity with some interesting and DELICIOUS departures such as succulent Rack of VEAL; absolutely delicious leg of lamb - not to mention the awesome lobster tail, of which we had 3 servings - and more if we wished. The formal entertainment, in the most gorgeous theater at sea that we have ever seen, was all European, mostly Italian, were all quite unique and not the typical revue type shows. Other evening entertainment, in addition to beautiful dance music in the abundant lounges, lead by the young and very friendly Italian Cruise Staff, was HILARIOUS and the FUNNIEST and MOST UNIQUE programs I have ever witnessed on any of our previous cruises. One in particular was a "beauty" contest for Mr.Orchestra which had the standing room only audience in an absolute frenzy of gut splitting laughter. Earlier negative comments on CruiseCritic.com referred to the "stare". Well, I looked for the stare and could not find it. Remember the adage "you only get what you pay for" - in the case of MSC ORCHESTRA it is not true - YOU GET MUCH MORE! DonDonTheCruiserMon Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
We did try to find something good to write about this dreadful experience but apart from looking out over the lovely seas that was it! It was 17 days cooped up in a tin can. Toward the end it felt like prison and one person actually ... Read More
We did try to find something good to write about this dreadful experience but apart from looking out over the lovely seas that was it! It was 17 days cooped up in a tin can. Toward the end it felt like prison and one person actually kissed the ground when we reached Fort Lauderdale. I stood and breathed a sigh of relief as I was halfway across the elevated walkway. I was back in America where things work and people are good mannered. Embarkation in Genoa Very poor with little organization. The small door where you can deposit your luggage was was obscured so I struggled with the cases right down to check in. Mind you that could be because we had two cabin numbers instead of the one we had booked months ago. OK we went back out in the pouring rain and sorted it out. Passengers could not get on board as they were pretending to board by numbers. Walking to the front of the queue we found the real problem. The photographers were stopping everyone to take their photos. This was the not wanted by many but it held the line up for ages. When we bypassed the photographer we found the security line completely empty. On board nobody showed us where our cabins were. Just told we couldn't go to them until 1.00 p.m. We just ignored that and found our cabins. Lifeboat drill Basically this was a farce for something so potentially important. The passengers arrived on time and in good order. Not so the staff. They arrived after us. The muster station was on deck 7 and it was awash with rainwater. We stood there while the staff were sweeping an inch of water away. We could not hear a single word from the Public Address system so we politely stood in line for about 30 minutes and then wandered off. It was that casual. (dangerous in an emergency). Restaurant Our table was suitable for two people but set for four and placed in a throughway for all the waiters. My head and chair was hit everytime they walked past. The noise was overwhelming as the deck height was very low. So many people were crammed in and so close together it was a miserable experience. People were complaining on the first night. We managed two nights only and then gave up eating bad cold food. Without asking the waiters started to pour bottled water. Fortunately we are experienced cruisers and we had already checked the price list and knew it was $4.50 a bottle. (Do the math for 17 days of bottled water!) We asked for a jug of iced water, which is normal. This was reluctantly brought to the table. Other passengers went four or five days before realizing there was iced water available at no extra charge. Coffee was not available without an extra charge. This was changed after the first round of complaints. The Maitre 'D told us that this was going to be the first cruise that MSC would give FREE coffee and water. Those asking for iced tea had to pay for a small tin of sweetened ice tea. There was no option. Those of us who actually had the cheek to ask for a decaffeinated coffee were provided with a cup of hot water and a sachet of instant nescafe. Should you want cream or milk you would have to wait. However to be fair the nescafe was the smart option because the regular coffee was dreadful. Having given up our evening meals, we had to review our options. At first the 13th floor cafeteria was not open in the evening. This did open after considerable complaints to the staff. We decided to eat our main meal at lunchtimes in the restaurant. As we had 17 days of complete boredom it did not really matter that it took one and a half hours for three small courses which included one or two cold starters. The food was rarely up to standard, rarely hot and not always completely cooked. For instance, we understand al dente but we do not understand three quarters cooked pasta. I did ask the waiter why the food was cold. He said it was cooked hours previously and left to keep warm. We felt that the staff resented our presence in the dining room. Not a smile until the last day when they were looking for tips. 13th floor cafeteria Had to open in the evening because so many people refused to eat in the restaurant. By the end of the 17 days it was packed. The food was mediocre and the same day after day. There might be one new item each day. We lined up for hot french fries which were about the only hot thing to eat. (in the dining room they were half cooked and warm, at best) The flow in the cafeteria was dreadful. We have no idea how electric wheelchairs are supposed to use the circular food stations which were surrounded by pillars. Half of the evenings we collected small rolls at 4.00 p.m. and ate them in our cabin. What a cruise! One passenger asked for a donut which was under the counter. She was told that they would all go if he put them out! Noise levels - We did not need an alarm clock. At 5.30 a.m. every morning the sunchairs and other equipment was thrown across the deck above our cabins and we were awake for another long day. MSC made sure were enjoyed the maximum number of hours we needed to be awake. Twice a week they scrubbed the deck at 1.12 a.m. to give us more time awake. Our written formal complaint was responded to well by the Guest Relations Officer. He said that it was not the way we told them to do it, if they don't stop we will put them off the ship. What a thing to say to the customers. How unprofessional and the noise never stoppped. The walls between the cabins were paper thin and everytime the person in the adjoining cabin shut their door our wall bounced. It was a very thin ship. Sanitization - Dispensers - often not there, often empty. Arrived one lunchtime at the restaurant to find no dispenser, asked Maitre 'D where one was and he told me rudely to use the toilets. I was also told by the same person that I should not speak in German to some ladies as I was English. Yep, we are still working that one out. Billing and Interactive TV - Not working three or four days. Reception comment it is a general problem - attitude - go away. Our billing was correct on screen on the last evening. The paper bill at 6.08 a.m. and every item had been entered twice. Spent 45 minutes in line to have a correct account issued. No apology, just a joke to them. During this time we should have left the cabin by 7.00 a.m. Cruise details prior to boarding said all transactions would be in euros. Confirmed by check in so we provided a euro credit card. Ship changed to dollars without advising people. Sports - All sports equipment could only be obtained by going to the 5th floor reception and signing for one tennis ball and the minigolf clubs and ball. Then go back to deck 15 to play before going back to deck 5 to return them and sign for the one ball and equipment. What a joke. New Year's Eve - Health and safety - Many of the passengers were on the outside deck. Not enough chairs were set out for a New Year's Eve buffet so passengers were obliged to remove every single chair in the cafeteria and take them outside. Good job that most people were sitting as the lights went out and the deck was in complete darkness. There was no safety secondary lighting. It was very dangerous. Premium Restaurant - Friends of ours had a meal costing $25 each. At the end of the meal they received the bill and found they had to pay extra for bread and coffee. Unbelievable. Attitude of staff - If they could understand or speak English we didn't find out. Just told it was the Italian way, take or leave it. They need to be advised that the Italian Way would be great but only if it is superior, or at least equal, to the competition. We asked to see the Hotel Manager but he hid in his office the whole cruise. Disembarkation - Words cannot describe the chaos that ensued. We docked at 7.45 a.m. and finally got off the ship at 11.30. We did not wait for our correct color tag to be called as our transfer bus would have been long gone. We finally got away from the port at 1.03 and could see the lines and lines of people trying to get on. How we felt for them not knowing what they were about to experience. In conclusion, I could go on and on with our complaints but what is the use? MSC were not interested in anything to do with passengers and our only way to express our disgust with the staff and management was not withhold payment of tips. The lines of people holding pink no-tips slips was a sight to behold. On other boats we have occasionally withheld a few of the tips but it was always done discretely. On this ship you could see people walking round with the pink slips and discussing it with others. Do not go on this ship, it was nickel and dime and they could not arrange a party in brewery. A complete waste of time and money. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
We are not novices to cruising as this was our 39th cruise. We are gold card members of the MSC line. Until this sailing, MSC has been our favorite cruise line. Unfortunately the service made us feel like unwanted relatives on the ... Read More
We are not novices to cruising as this was our 39th cruise. We are gold card members of the MSC line. Until this sailing, MSC has been our favorite cruise line. Unfortunately the service made us feel like unwanted relatives on the Orchestra. We have had better and worse embarkations thus nothing worth writing about. It was upon entering the ship our problems began. Our adult son came with us since this was a Christmas and New year's vacation. Upon boarding he went to the Receptionist Desk to give them cash so he could open up his onboard account. When he tried to tell the receptionist what he wanted to do she told him "if he would shut up and listen." I was standing by him or I might not have believed a customer relations person would talk that way to a passenger. We are loyal past passengers and get treated this way. Strike one within ten minutes of boarding. Other cruise lines show you to your cabin and some even offer a glass of champagne. None of that here. You are on your own to find your cabin. Being hungry we went up to deck 13 for something to eat. Another disappointment. The food was tasteless and all the salads looked and tasted the same. There were only two variety of cakes for dessert. Little did we know this was to be the case for the entire cruise. Our first dinner foretold what was ahead for the next 17 days. We never saw a steak the entire trip. Fish served every meal but over cooked and quite dry. Chicken every meal and again over cooked. We ordered pasta the first night (remembering how wonderful the pasta was on the Opera.) To our surprise it was tasteless except for a rancid, metallic taste. No one at our table could eat it. In 17 days we had truly good pasta only two times. Service in the dining room was bad to pitiful. We were at a table for 6 and one person would get their dish while the rest would wait 10 to 15 minutes. Sometimes we were served the wrong orders. Other times we never got what we ordered. Sometimes we would get our food but have no silverware to eat it with. Dinner always took around two hours. Everyday except for three we went to the "formal" dining room for lunch. Imagine our surprise to have to go through a cafeteria line (buffet) at lunch in the formal dining room. No menu service. Again the food was tasteless. In all our cruises this was a first. Christmas Eve we could have "prime rib" or lobster. Everyone at our table and next to us agreed the "prime rib" was merely a small piece of over cooked roast beef. The lobster was soooo large we took three bites and it was gone. Also, I was told fourteen passengers ended up in the infirmary ill after eating the lobster. Unfortunately the food never improved the entire cruise. I had occasion to speak with Marcello, the Guest Relations manager. He told me he was a "chef" and that Italians do not cook with spices. I wondered if he thought I had dropped here from another planet. Especially since my husband is 1/2 Italian. Day two we slept in and did not leave our cabin until 10:10 am. Imagine our surprise to find it was not possible to find anything to eat on the ship until noon. The restaurant closed at 9:30 am everyday of the trip. The deck 13 cafeteria (buffet) closed at 10:00 am. No rolls, croissants, nothing. Our cabin was always very clean and our room steward had a handicap as our adult son would stay out quite late and thus get up very late. Our steward never complained and graciously worked around our night owl. We were quite happy with our service in this area. The productions shows were good and the costumes were beautiful. The were four African men who were acrobats. They were truly wonderful. The magician and illusionist were acceptable. One night there was no show at all and three nights the show consisted entirely of groups which played every night in the atrium lounge. These three nights were poorly attended since we saw them every night anyway when passing by the atrium. The Entertainment (Animation) Team on MSC really work hard and extremely long hours. These young people were no exception. They danced with passengers every single evening until 1 or 2 am. They had Italian lessons, trivia games, crazy games, dance lessons, etc. From nine in the morning until two am they were very visible and working hard. They truly made this voyage bearable. The cruise director on the other hand was very aloof and seldom said anything to the passengers. The ships lounge performers were generally good. We especially liked the Popcorn Band and their singer, Romanica. She has a truly lovely voice and is very friendly and outgoing. On the Opera you could not get on the ship or go into an eating facility without a crew member squirting you with hand sanitizer. Imagine our surprise when we cannot even find the sanitizer on deck 13 four four days. It was behind a door. Quite often when getting back on the ship or entering the dining room the hand sanitizer was empty. There was never any crew in sight the entire trip checking on this. Something we have never seen before was that none of the ships shops were open until the fourth day of our cruise. Christmas decorations (such as they were) did not appear until day four and five of our cruise. We heard several passengers complain because the ship never put up a Menorah even though we were cruising during Hanukah. There were never any Christmas Carols, no egg nog, no special Christmas show Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. A passenger chorus sang prior to midnight mass which was held at 11:00. Other than Santa for the children Christmas Day might as well have been any other day of the year. Get this the Orchestra had a Friends of Bill W. meeting in the Savannah "Bar." Our past passenger party was not until December 28 which is when we got our "welcome cocktail." It took three phone calls to get the invitation which we finally received 10 minutes prior to the party. Only ONE cocktail is permitted per passenger. No canapes. Since Saint Thomas is the first U.S. port this is where the immigration procedures were done. What a mess. We got a paper which I am quoting "instructions for passengers NON USA and Canada." We get a knock on our door and were chastised for not going through customs. I showed the person our form and he said we did not know how to read and must go right away. We stood in line for one hour to have a ship officer glance at our passport and put a sticker on it so we could get off the ship and go into town. The last week of the cruise many of the passengers and some of the crew got a hacking cough, sore throat and fever. My son and spouse both had to go to the infirmary for medicine. They were told there was not an outbreak of illness. However, the ship sounded like a T.B. ward. A couple of passengers said they had contacted the Center for Disease Control because of the ships denial and the lack of sanitization. We have cruised so many times, we know there are always a few disgruntled passengers but we have never talked to so many people who were so angry. People from nearly every country we spoke with expressed their displeasure with the Orchestra. We only met three people who seemed happy with the cruise. We found out they were on their first cruise. Disembarkation was truly a nightmare. Everyone had to be out of their cabin by 7:00 am. Breakfast was closed at 8:30 am. Nobody was allowed off the ship until after 10:30 am. There was an announcement about 9:00 am blaming the Immigration Department for the hold up. Since we had a 12:30 train home we were getting quite nervous. I went to the Receptionist and she said she could not give me a different colored tag. (Ours was over half way down the list to be called.) She then said they could not "force" anyone to stay on the ship. We spoke with some people sitting near us and they had 7:00 to 8:00 evening flights and had the first colored tags to be called. We slipped in line when the first tags were called and upon reaching the baggage area off the ship found our luggage had not even been taken off the ship yet. We spoke to someone in Immigration and were told they were ready by 9:00 am to clear the Orchestra's passengers but the ship is under staffed and that was why it was taking so long. Many a time I have gone on Cruise Critic to defend MSC, telling the detractors how wonderful MSC is. I now feel a need to apologize to my fellow Cruise Critic's for misleading them. What has happened to my beloved MSC??? Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2008
The MSC Cruise line is for the birds. If you plan a cruise DO NOT CHOOSE MSC CRUISE LINES. It is a very boring place to be. The food was terrible-horrible-everything was either undercooked or overcooked....they even screwed up corn ... Read More
The MSC Cruise line is for the birds. If you plan a cruise DO NOT CHOOSE MSC CRUISE LINES. It is a very boring place to be. The food was terrible-horrible-everything was either undercooked or overcooked....they even screwed up corn flakes (I lived on French fries and tomatoes for 17 days)...... there were no trained crew members everybody was new and spoke very little English if any at all....there were 16 decks on this ship and 2...yes 2...Christmas trees..no decorations.........no Christmas music......they had no planned organized fun things to do except stretching exercises and bingo and that was ill organized........Bingo cards cost $10 for one card......I paid extra for a smoking balcony and they did not allow smoking on balconies.......they charge 3% for cashing travelers checks.......the only deck party they had was New Year's Eve....no ice carvings and grand buffet on the last night as ships usually do...the nightly shows (except 2) were all operatic and classical.....no religious Christmas services except for Catholics.....the first and second days they had no night time buffet so you had to eat in the dining room whether you wanted to or not, then they had so many complaints that they had to open a buffet at night.....you had to pay for pizza...you had to pay for ice cream...one man had to pay $3.50 for a glass of crushed ice.....there were two big fights on the ship....no movie theater or free movies....the first few days they had 10 free movies but so many people were so bored they were staying in the cabins watching them so they took them off.....one couple got off in Casablanca and flew themselves home and another two couples got off in San Juan....... We had to beg for bananas...beg for doughnuts...they kept these things under the counter...... they did not ever have any milk although people were asking for it....until about 5 days into the cruise after thousands of complaints we didn't even get coffee except at mealtimes and on every cruise I have been on there are coffee and juices 24 hours a day.... One more thing...there were no hand sanitizers until we got to American territory and inspection time. They were hidden under the counters too. A lot of people caught colds and were in bed for a period of time....Clarence was one of them for 4 days. There were about 3K + travelers on this cruise and 2900 of them swear they will never go on another MSC Cruise Line. Everybody was complaining from all countries. If you sat down at a table or somewhere with a complete stranger, all that was talked about was how bad the ships crew, the service, and the organization was....especially the food. Everybody was teed off because the only vegetables were cauliflower, broccoli, and shredded carrots. We finally got some potatoes. They were also upset because all the deserts were the same with just different colored icing. The food was horrible in all restaurants because we tried them all trying to find something fit to eat. This is the only cruise line we have ever been on that we LOST weight. The productions shows were good and the costumes were beautiful. The were four African men who were acrobats. They were truly wonderful. The magician and illusionist were acceptable. One night there was no show at all and three nights the show consisted entirely of groups which played every night in the atrium lounge. These three nights were poorly attended since we saw them every night anyway when passing by the atrium. The Entertainment (Animation) Team on MSC really work hard and extremely long hours. These young people were no exception. They danced with passengers every single evening until 1 or 2 am. They had Italian lessons, trivia games, crazy games, dance lessons, etc. From nine in the morning until two am they were very visible and working hard. They truly made this voyage bearable. The cruise director on the other hand was very aloof and seldom said anything to the passengers. The ships lounge performers were generally good. We especially liked the Popcorn Band and their singer, Romanica. She has a truly lovely voice and is very friendly and outgoing. On our other cruises you could not get on the ship or go into an eating facility without a crew member squirting you with hand sanitizer. Imagine our surprise when we cannot even find the sanitizer on deck 13 four four days. It was behind a door. Quite often when getting back on the ship or entering the dining room the hand sanitizer was empty. There was never any crew in sight the entire trip checking on this. At one point I asked a crew member for the hand sanitizer, he sent me to the toilet. It took about three hours to get onto the ship and nearly six hours to get off. They ran us out of our rooms at 7AM (which was a first for us) and gathered all 3K+ into two small bars and then the Captain did not have some type of paperwork that America requires and we waited nearly six hours to get off. That is with no water, food or anything else and no place for all of us to sit. We were sitting on the stairs, laying in the floor, sitting on the bar and nearly hanging from the rafters. Children were irritable, crying...it was a fiasco. and I could go on and on but I bet you are tired of reading by now. However, the itinerary was great and off the ship we saw a lot of good stuff. We made several good friends and they helped to make the trip from becoming a complete disaster. So if you want to punish your friends and get even with your enemies..send them on an MSC CRUISE LINE FOR A FEW DAYS. Not us though, we will never cruise MSC again. The nicest people on the ship were both working on Deck 13. There names are Arie from Bali and Miriam from Peru. This was our first MSC Cruise and although we cruise at least twice yearly and sometimes more. This will be our last MSC Cruise. Read Less
MSC Orchestra Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 3.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 3.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 2.0 0.0
Service 3.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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