Year Started: 1987
Ships in Fleet: 12
Summary: A pan-European mainstream cruise line that competes with Costa. New, massive ships with decent food and entertainment, Look for bargains in Caribbean.
Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Transatlantic
Good for: Foodies. Seniors. First-time Cruisers.
Regions:Caribbean, Mediterranean, Transatlantic
Good for: Value for Money. Group. Families.
Good for: Children`s Programs. Families. Foodies.
Good for: Foodies. Families. Group.
Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, Transatlantic
Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.
Good for: Foodies. Children`s Programs. Families.
Good for: Overall Service. Value for Money. Foodies.
Regions:Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, South America, Transatlantic
Good for: Foodies. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Southern Caribbean, Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, South America
Good for: Foodies. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Mediterranean, South America, Transatlantic
Good for: Foodies. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Caribbean, Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, Transatlantic
Good for: Value for Money. Foodies. Group.
Regions:Africa, Mediterranean, Transatlantic
Good for: Foodies. Group. Families.
We had an amazing time, in spite of MSC Cruises. From beginning to end, this cruise line's customer service and SOPs lacked immensely. Our itinerary said that we would be boarding the ship at 10:30am and departing at 6:30pm, and recommended that we be at the port two hours before boarding time. We arrived at 8:30am and there was only one other couple there, and no staff. The staff started showing up and informed us that we could check in after a little longer. A line started to form sometime around 11:00 am, so we got in it only to be told that we all should sit down again since they would not be checking anyone in until noon. A little before noon, the line started forming again and by now a mob had formed around the area as well. When they started motioning that people could finally check in (1:30 pm), everyone rushed the counters, paying no attention to the barriers. We were finally onboard at 5:00 pm. However, the cruise tickets stated something to the effect of "we are not responsible for service you receive while not onboardthe ship." so we figured that was why they put in that disclaimer.
We had chosen late dining thinking it would be around 8:00 pm. It was actually 9:00 pm every night, which would have been okay, except every night it didn't start until 9:30 pm and in the case of that first night on the ship, 10:15 pm. We had wanted to attend a show that was supposedly timed for the late dining crowd to begin at 11:30 pm, but we made it right on time for the final closing of the curtain. This was true of every show, since dinner always started late, and it also ran late.
We had assumed they would at least provide tap water with dinner, but no drinks at all were included. You could purchase a bottle of water for 4 euros (over $5) or a can of soda for 3 euros ($4), or you had the option of buying a book of coupons which discounted these by 1 euro each.
The food on the ship was okay. It was not bad, but not up to the standards I had heard about with other cruise lines' food.
The excursions were extra, which we knew, but somewhat expensive. So we had decided to just catch a cab or the shuttle buses that were offered for many of the ports at a 9 euro charge. Taking the shuttle bus out was fine, but returning on one proved to be a feat. Again, it reminded me of the chaos at check-in -- people in a huge mob trying to push their way onto the buses. We may have been able to maintain some sort of line, except that the buses kept stopping at different places along the street instead of pulling up to the sign. Sometimes they would go past the sign. We made it back after waiting to get on a bus for almost 2 hours.
We met some friends on the boat that had booked a private excursion to Santorini and invited us along. We had been informed in the daily newsletter that we would be receiving numbers indicating what order we could disembark at Santorini, beginning after the people who had booked the MSC excursion. According to the itinerary, we were docking at 7:30 am and everyone could leave the ship sometime around 8:30 am. Our friends had arranged to meet the driver by 9 am. When we all received our numbers, they had number 10 and we had number 16 (no idea how these were allotted). When they asked the front desk roughly what time they would be disembarking with this number, they were told sometime around 11 or 11:30. Essentially, after they not-so-calmly argued about this, they were given number 1 for all 4 of us. We were able to meet the driver at 10 am and had a great but somewhat rushed tour. When we returned to the boat, we found out that people who had numbers 15 and up ended up getting off the boat with only 2 hours left before they had to return.
The stop at Mykonos was scheduled during the evening, so we had decided not to leave the ship since it would cut into our dinner time. Apparently they had decided to make the early seating open and have no late seating. It was printed in the newsletter, but not very clearly. It did not specifically state that late seating was cancelled completely. Our friends had not even received a newsletter that day, and every other one they had gotten was in German. Bottom line, there was no food except the restaurants where you could purchase food. After arguing with the customer service desk again, our friends were able to get us dinner at the sushi restaurant on the house. Had they not spoken up, we wouldn't have gotten a meal at all unless we paid for it.
All of the spa massages, facials, etc. couldn't be booked because there was one person there at any given time running the reception/appointment desk AND giving the massages/facials. They had no openings for the entire week when we checked the second day. We were also unable to use the jacuzzis because the rules were not enforced about a 20 minute time limit and a maximum of five people. There were at least 10 or more kids in all four jacuzzis every time we checked.
We were given a letter about two days before the end of the cruise stating that they would be automatically charging our account 6 Euro per person per day for gratuities, totaling 84 Euro (over $100) for my husband and myself. We had been giving tips to the wait staff that deserved it and we had planned on leaving something for the woman who serviced our room, but had not been told this at any point, even by those we had tipped. We were informed that the only way to change this amount was to fill out a request at the Accounting Desk, which was only open two hours a day. We not only made it a point to visit the desk, but we also changed the amount to zero, citing on the request exactly why and that we would leave what we thought was fair for the housekeeping staff. The staff at the desk responded with a rude, "thanks a lot" to my husband when they saw that.
I know some of this may seem trivial, but in my opinion this was a lot of money to spend to experience this level of stress and inconvenience. After my experience with MSC for my first cruise, I am not sure if I will ever take another cruise period. If I do, it will definitely not be with MSC. I filled out their comment form and mentioned all of this in it, but I do not know if they will take it seriously. But talking to several other people on the ship, including the new friends we had met before check-in, no one was at all satisfied with the quality of this cruise line.
Just back from an 11 day cruise on the MSC Lyrica. I loved the ship -- it was extremely clean.
The shows each night in The Broadway Theater were wonderful and there was a different one each night for all 11 nights of the cruise!
There was exceptional entertainment provided by very talented people.
The live music in each of the lounges was outstanding and geared for mature people. There were many couples dancing.
Our room was nice and the cabin personnel did a great job and were always friendly.
It was a nice experience to hear four other languages spoken other than English.
Our excursions in each port were well planned and well organized.
I found the food to be good and had no complaints about the meals.
I would definitely book another trip on the MSC Lyrica!
I was concerned about our pending cruise after reading some of the reviews -- however, I was pleasantly surprised. The staff was very courteous and very attentive. Our room attendant was very helpful, and we received superior service from our dinner staff.
The room service menu was very limited compared to other cruises we have been on, and the amount of smoking on the ship was also annoying.
The food was good (not spectacular), but the Chinese restaurant was overpriced for the quality.
>I noticed that the Americans were very attentive when the announcements were first made in English, but very rudely began talking loudly when the announcements followed in the other languages! I, for one, really appreciated the variety of languages!
There were plenty of lounge chairs available -- unlike other ships we have sailed with.
The bar service was good and not "pushy."
The time in port was limited -- that could be improved upon so that we are not so rushed.
All in all, I think it was an excellent cruise experience for the price.
There were good and bad aspects to this cruise. However, there was more bad than good.
The crew at times seemed lost. Yet when we had a problem with our cabin, they were right there.
Much was done in French or 4 other languages.
The entertainment was a little too much for me. Food was okay, but that's just it -- it was just okay.
I would have to say that if you are from the States, stay away from MSC.
We took this Cruise Jan 2010. The ship was beautiful. The food was a little lacking. It is Italian based so you get a lot of that type of food. I have no desire to eat Pasta for a while. The places we went to were awesome and the ease of getting on and off the boat was pretty good. Exercursions were overpriced. Drinks were expensive. It was VERY clean and our cabin cleaners were great. They would make towel animal shapes for the girls! I was a little disappointed I was told they had babysitting but they did not so we saw no night life on the boat. Long waits for the elevators. We used the stairs a lot. Overall great trip.
Excellent cruise value especially considering kids under 17 yrs sail free.
Ship was immaculate although considerable ship movement/vibrations felt regardless of deck level or location.
Superior embarkation/disembarkation process. Picked up kids' life jackets and yellow identity bracelets upon boarding the ship.
Maitre 'D was available upon boarding (12:30-3:30pm) in the Orchestra meeting room (Deck 6) for any special requests.
Room cards are inserted inside room for operation of lights and also acts to notify room stewards of room occupancy/do not disturb.
Easy operating safe without the need of swiping credit card, etc.
Some passengers, including myself, experienced dark blackish water while showering and after flushing toilet. Apparently this occurs occasionally and we were told to run water for 5 minutes to flush out the system. Inquiry made at information desk seemed to suggest this problem was a well known fact.
There are two identical pool areas, except one is without a kid's wading pool and stage, which provides for quieter ambiance if desired. Amazing deck chairs, each with an attached shade canopy.
Smoking areas well adhered to.
Large washrooms throughout the ship.
Fitness area small, but adequate to achieve a basic workout. 25 minute limit for cardio machines. No water infitness area. Need to bring your own water bottle.
Mini putt is only 5 holes and very unremarkable. Found that the supply of tennis balls and ping pong balls becomes depleted during the latter part of the cruise.
There is a large jungle gym for kids. Advertised age groups (3-8yrs and 8-13yrs) were actually 3-6yrs (Minis), 7-12yrs (Juniors), and 13-18 (Teens), although there were times where Minis and Juniors combined for common activities. No pager available for kids' programs.
Passengers must pay for soft serve ice cream which is located behind poolside bars.
Draft beer ($59 for 14x14oz) and tropical/mixed drink ($69 for 12) packages available from the bar. Purchased as a coupon booklet which equals two free drinks compared to buying separately.
Dining room only wine packages available (7-10 bottles of house white and/or red for $70-$100 or choose from select wine list for $105-$150). Best to pre-purchase these wine packages as all package options do not seem to be offered when onboard. Wine bottles (corked or uncorked) can be taken from the dining room for later use. Bring your own corkscrew for opening corked bottles.
There is no activity sheets/crayons handed out to children in the dining room. No Spa (low calorie) menu items offered.
The MSC Orchestra is a peanut-free ship.
The Four Seasons Restaurant, located at the back of the ship, opens as part of the buffet during breakfast and lunch offering almost identical choices (except fast food options and pizza) and is significantly less chaotic with no lines. There are no trays to use for the buffet, although they do offer extra large oval plates. Soy milk is available for those with dairy allergies.
Port times sometimes differed from those advertised, causing some problems if private shore excursions are booked. Tender coupons to Cayo Levantado unnecessary as far as needing to present them for tendering.
Quality of shows was excellent and they were very refined.
As a travel agent with 57 cruises, I feel qualified to post this review. While it is impossible to please all, I will give you my feelings on MSC. We sailed the Lirica in 2005 and loved it. Cabins are small, even for 2, but every other aspect was excellent. I have sold many cabins on MSC, and raved over the line. I just sailed the Orchestra, and would not recommend this line to anyone. As an agent, I have a duty to tell the truth, not just to agree that every ship and every cruise is fantastic. We had a Category 11, Luxury Balcony. The room was small for 2, let alone 4 or 5.
Children love movies, especially on a cruise. Movies cost $10.70 each. So if you really want to pay that to see The 40 Year Old Virgin, Wall-E, and other old movies, you will love MSC. Also, no ESPN or sports channels. CNN Europe is the only news channel, and most of the channels are blank. No movie channel, unless you like the 2 channels of TNT, one in English and one in Italian.
Thebath comes with no washcloths, and the room stewerd is invisible until the second day, no matter how many times you call for him. Room service is a joke. If you misplace a single sheet of info on the first day with all the papers given, you have no idea you can get food and sandwiches. A club sandwich is a turkey club only, and when you order one you get a half one. But you can BUY many items on room service.
When you get onboard, there is no free glass of bubbly for repeat cruisers as mentioned in the info. The balcony glass and the entire balcony is coated in salt. It will be cleaned half-way through the cruise, though. And toward the end of the cruise you are given an info sheet telling you that if you bought any wicker items, they won't be allowed back into the States. Give that info on the 1st day, please!
Dinner was a big joke. Lousy service, lukewarm food. We ate at the 4 Seasons specialty restaurant for 5 days. It was the best thing on the ship, but at $25 a person, it can add up. But it was worth it. Avoid the Chinese restaurant. I would not eat there again even if it was free. You pay per item, and will pay $30-40 per person easily. The 1st night we had a very large table of Italians that shouted, laughed at the top of their lungs, even had the wait staff giving them ugly looks. And, to top it off, they started smoking at the table, and nothing was said to them.
The only free ice cream is at dinner, and when the kids want ice cream at other times it is $1.50 a cone. Great ice cream, but start adding. And pizza is offered only at night for free, so during the day you can purchase it! For such a large ship, there are too few shops onboard. But the best thing, or worst, depending on your view, you can buy liquor off ship and bring it back to the room and drink it there, or to the dinner table like the table next to us did. You love Coca Cola but not Pepsi? Only Pepsi is sold, at $2.50 a small glass. No soft drink cards.
I was really looking forward to their private island, as the other lines have great ones. We finally got off the ship at noon, had to be back onboard by 3:00. And NOTHING is free on the private island. Food and drinks all cost a very high price. And if having 1000 chairs for 3000 people is your idea of fun, you will enjoy it. If you get up to take a dip in the water, your chair will be gone when you return. People will dump your belongings and take your chair, nobody will stop them. We found all ports had a very short stay. Better planning by the cruise line is needed here. I could go on and on -- but you get the picture.
Oh, I almost forgot. Of the 3 main elevators midship, 1 was out of service the whole cruise. No excuse for this, especially when this is a new ship, on its fourth US sailing. And for free fun, you can push a button, watch the other 2 elevators pass your floor 6 times before stopping. Enjoy!
I forgot to add about smoking. It is allowed in the cabins, but not on the balcony. Yet everyone who smokes does it on the balcony. Get used to the smell in all the hallways! Just remembered! We sailed with 3 other travel agents, and we all got a special invitation to a private cocktail party for a group sailing onboard. We all show up, and are told halfway through the party that we were given the invite by mistake, and their own members were not given invites. Along with the invite in the cabin were 2 tickets to an excursion in Key West. We all thought it was a freebee from MSC. I was hesitant to go, and upon arriving in Key West, looked at my room bill. We were being charged for the excursion. It took 5 days to get a credit after returning the tickets. They said we were charged in error. I believe this is their way of selling, as both of the other travel agent couples went on the excursion, thinking it was free, and did not get a credit. And everyone we asked how they liked the cruise so far, we got ugly looks, nasty comments, etc. And if you go on a baseball cruise, as we did, and you need a baseball, no problem, they sell them onboard for $14. And I have been known to send a birthday cake to unsuspecting others (Tom), and they used to be free. RCCL charges about $8 for a small cake, but you can get the same small cake on MSC for $45. But they sing for free.
Just remembered about service. On many occasions I and the wife, or Doug (travel agent) and his wife, went to the lounge for a cocktail. We would be the only ones in there, and the 3 hostesses and bartender talked together, ignoring us. Doug went to the bar, and could not get their attention for quite some time. And Doug is very mild mannered, quiet, not like me. And it wasn't just us being ignored. Other couples would come by, sit, wait, get up, and leave.
And I just remembered, I need to add this to my report. Everyone at the table ordered escargo for an appetizer. We loved RCCL and other ship's escargot, 5 in a pool of garlic butter. What we received here were 2-3 pieces of escargot swimming in a heavy brown sauce filled with mushrooms. And at the Shangai Chinese specialty restaurant, my tablemates ordered the peking duck. Expecting a leg or a quarter of duck, they received 4 tiny pieces of duck in a bed of rice. I ordered a 'tang combo,' for $25, and was told it was 16 different items, and would be hard to eat all by ourselves -- the wife and I. It was 16 small appetizers, 8 each, on a single plate. The 'corn crab soup' had 2 pieces of corn and just the flavor of crab, no crab meat, for $8.50. I may seem to be picky, but until I win the Powerball and can throw away money, I will expect value received for money spent, and I don't feel MSC delivers such a product. I almost forgot, well, I did forget, but I remembered when I looked at my receipts -- All I drank at the lounges were shots of Jack Daniels. They cost $6.90. A Jack and water, or on the rocks, with the same amount of Jack, was $4.95. Go figure.
Maybe it's best I don't remember this cruise. It was very difficult to write this review. Rick Sasso is trying hard to make this a positive experience, but as much as I enjoyed the Lirica, this was a true 180 degree turn in service, food, activities, etc. The food would have been acceptable had it been hot. It would arrive lukewarm, and if you asked for a hot serving, it took over 30 minutes to arrive, lukewarm again. A tip, should you go. The coffee is so strong, spoons kept disappearing in the coffee. Order room service, 2 coffees, you get a pot. But also order 2 hot chocolates, and you get a pot of steaming hot milk and 2 packages of instant chocolate. Mix the coffee and hot milk half and half, and you have drinkable coffee, not weak at all.
As my wife will quickly admit, looks can be deceiving, don't judge a book by the cover. Seriously, the ship is not open enough inside. The dining room on 2 levels is 2 different restaurants on 2 levels. The lobby is open for 2 levels, very small. The 5 shops are in so small a space you can shop in 5 minutes. The library has 4 chairs. The internet cafe has 5 desks. The ship is very clean, but stuffy. And the 3 main elevators, with only 2 working, hold 8 people each. When full, they skip other floors, so you wait forever for an elevator.
On a positive note, this ship sails at 7 pm. I flew on a later flight non-stop from New Orleans, arriving at 2:40. Woke up at a normal hour, not rushed to airport, non-eventful flight. Got a taxi to port, arrived at 3:15. Only a handful of guests checking in, was on ship at 3:35. Luggage arrived by 4 pm, very fast. A bowl of fresh fruit was waiting in the room. And though the bathroom is small, there is ample room around the toilet. The shower stall is huge, as long as you don't close the shower curtain. I was able to sit on the toilet while bathing, or use the toilet seat to reach my toes. Whenever we left the room, it was cleaned very quickly.
On a final (hopefully) note, the one souvenir I enjoy is my stack of past key cards. MSC now picks up the cards as you leave the ship. As I said, maybe it's best I don't remember this cruise.
Service was not up to par.
Food was acceptable to good.
Age of other cruisers was way past 60.
The crew did not interact with passengers, except for the entertainment staff. They did an excellent job.
Bottom line -- take another cruise line.
Took a 7 day cruise on MSC Orchestra. It was my second cruise and I was very disappointed.
The service was extremely poor. Dinner service took 2 1/2 to 3 hours, and many of the staff did not speak or understand English so some of the meals served were incorrect. One person was served a bowl of salad dressing instead of a bowl of soup.
Some of the bread items -- brioche, English muffins, etc. -- were stale, especially in the cafeteria at breakfast.
Several of the wait staff was chastised in front of the diners, and the waiters were arguing among themselves. Some of the staff even walked off in disgust causing further delays in service.
The language problem caused other communication difficulties. On one deck, I asked the location of the nearest ladies room and was told I had to go down to another floor. I found a ladies room on that same floor near the theatre. Why didn't the staff know that?
I feel I paid too much for such poor service and food, and I will let others know of my disappointment with the MSC Orchestra.
Just back from a "three-day cruise" on the Orchestra.
It took four hours plus to load the boat, luggage was lost and no explanation given. We lost the day.
Food was lousy. Service non-existent. Staples such as eggs, coffee and cream could not be found.
Breakfast buffet lines were intolerable and not enough food, bar staff inattentive and unfriendly.
Disembarkment took hours. We were told to leave cabins by 7 a.m., losing the third day but it still took close to three hours to get off the ship.
Dinner service was terrible, orders messed up, no busing of tables, no drink refills, etc.
The ship was full of angry aggrieved cruisers and the staff's response was indifference.