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: Group. Families. Value for Money.
Good for: Children`s Programs. Families. Foodies.
Good for: Foodies. Families. Group.
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, Western Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, Transatlantic
Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. 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.
Good for: Foodies. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Africa, Mediterranean, Transatlantic
Good for: Foodies. Group. Families.
Good for: Foodies. Group. Families.
We booked a cruise on MSC because we thought they would be like Costa. We are ballroom dancers and thought they might be close to Costa in that area.
The musical groups were even better than Costa, but the dance floors were not as nice as Costa. The Costa Fortuna/Magica had wood floors, while the Orchestra had tile floors that were a bit sticky. They did have a lot of dance space in 3 locations and provided a lot of opportunities to dance.
The food varied from okay to excellent. Service was excellent in the lounges, dining room and cabins. Their cafeteria food was as good as we ever had on a cruise. The key seems to be in ordering food you expect Europeans to be good at preparing.
Our room was right over a bandstand, but we did not hear the noise below us, nor any other noise.
The seas were pretty choppy the whole cruise, but the ship handled them very well.
MSC had excellent entertainers, but unfortunately the producers for their shows were not of the same caliber. They totally messed up the last show with horrid sound tracks. Ifelt sorry for the two singers, trying to sing with such terrible background music/noise.
One negative was the "excellent" entertainment team. We found them annoying, arrogant and vulgar.
Embarkation and disembarkation were the fastest we have had in eight cruises. Ten minutes after walking into the terminal, we were on the ship. Luggage also got to our room the fastest of any cruise we have been on.
We would cruise MSC again, but Costa is still our first choice.
MSC had a lot of Indonesian employees on their wait staff. They were very efficient and courteous, but not as outgoing as the Filipinos on Costa and NCL -- but they were very efficient.
This cruise was a mixture of the ridiculous and the sublime. First, the sublime: the balcony cabin (category 10) was beautiful, comfortable and roomy. The balcony was big enough to sit and enjoy the views, and the shower was big enough for my 6'2" 250 lb. husband (something rare on cruise ships). Beware, however, of the 'obstructed view' cabins. The obstruction is a lifeboat occupying the entire balcony, blocking not only the view, but the light, too. You're better off going down a category, and saving the money.
The ship is wonderfully decorated in an elegant art deco style and has several areas for activities -- including a lounge dedicated to smokers. There is an adequately equipped gym and a large theater which provides excellent entertainment.
That was the good stuff. Everything else ranged from merely annoying to outright awful.
The food -- of which there is plenty (there are 5 different times one can 'dine) is laden with MSG. If one is allergic to MSG (as I am), one is limited to a nightly dinner of pasta pomodoro (even the salads and the pizza are off limits). The daily programs state thatpassengers should notify the Maitre d'Hotel about dietary limitations, but their solution is to tell you what you cannot eat (which is most of what is on offer in my case). The menus are wonderfully diverse, but the execution is hit or miss: mostly miss. The poultry and the fish were always dry and stringy, the meat (beef, lamb, pork, etc.) is like shoe leather, and the vegetables were sometimes mush and sometimes very good. The desserts were mostly very good.
The staff (when they can be located) are dictatorial, argumentative, and rude, except for the few servers from Thailand and Cambodia. The posted schedules are rarely accurate (except for meal times and the entertainment), and passengers are frequently huddled in masses awaiting their quide/leader/whatever to appear.
The internet café is extremely expensive, and the computers are almost always down (yet that's the only way to confirm flights, for example). The beauty shop offerings are about twice as expensive as the same services on land. I also learned -- to my horror -- that the beauty shop staff aren't even well trained. My once shoulder length hair is now 2" all over my head. When they did a touch-up, they used extremely strong peroxide and overlapped -- once I got home, my hair started coming out in handfuls right at the overlap. I now get frequent concerned questions about how my chemo is coming.
The excursions are highly overpriced and always late. The staff also lies about the rules of the various countries. For example, they told us that the only way to see St. Petersburg was to go on their planned excursions because Russia would not let us off the ship. This is a complete lie: the Russian government allows all passengers to visit Russia for the day as long as they a) spend the night on the ship and b) have a copy of the front page of their passport -- no visa required (in fact, you can't get a visa for one day -- I tried).
MSC offers a 'children cruise for free' gimmick, but even that is not worth this cruise from Hell!
My husband and I have been to Italy several times, and love it -- we were hoping that 'cruising Italian style' would be an extension of the pleasure we had on land. We couldn't be more disappointed.
Italian cuisine is no guarantee of good food. MSC Poesia was a disappointment.
The Italian cruise ship company MSC hosts a Mediterranean gastronomic dining cruise featuring fine food and wine. Unfortunately the culinary experience will be less than expected, since the food comprises three-course cafeteria fare served as six dishes and costing twice as much. I will actually contend that I have eaten better dinners at roadside inns than the food turned out by the Italian cruise kitchen.
Tough meat, tasteless fish and unsavoury side dishes characterised my dining experience. We felt cheated. The cruise company has apparently put their "bean counters" to work applying the modern economic principle known as "profit maximization." Basically this means using the cheapest ingredients available and charging the highest possible price. The dessert was good, I admit. Italian ice cream is not easy to ruin, but this one treat was not enough to compensate for poor dinners throughout the entire week.
Breakfast and lunch were good, but strangely enough, the fare was identical day after day. The advantage of this, of course, is that the meals are predictable -- you know in advance what you are getting -- and thedishes are placed in exactly the same place each day. The disadvantage is that the food becomes increasingly boring. Fortunately the cruise lasted only one week. If MSC Cruises had sent us on a two-week trip with second-rate food like this, I would have abandoned ship at the first available port of call.
Not one ill word about the service personnel on board. They were always smiling, helpful and service-minded. Frustration increased, of course, with each passing day and the guests' realization that the quality of the food very simply would never improve. Naturally one cannot expect the gastronomic quality of French cuisine on board an Italian boat, but again, this was really the bottom of the barrel. If you are tempted by a cruise in the Mediterranean, be my guest, but if you want to enjoy fine cuisine on the high seas -- forget it.
We have made 46 cruises, and this cruise, by far, was the worst cruise we have ever taken.
1. The suite was very nice, plenty of closets and nice decoration. Balcony had RATTAN chairs. Every night water came all the way up to our suite, leaving nice pieces of salt between the rattan to be used for breakfast, I guess.
2. A lot of brass all over the ship, shining at all times.
3. To the contrast of the above, were the scoffed officers' shoes or sneakers.
4. No matter who you wanted to talk to -- housekeeping, room service, photo or any other shop etc., etc. -- you could only call 99, front desk, and they wanted to know at all times who you wanted and what you wanted to talk about. Every crew member was scared. During dinner, supervisors were making notes as to what the pax. wanted and what the waiter ordered, so that he could not order something more for himself. They were watching their supervisors at all times over their shoulder. VERY UNCOMFORTABLE. I did know what the waiters talked about to each other. Nearly all ofthem Indonesian, 350 of them from Bali and Jakarta alone. I have lived in Indonesia for 19 years, during that time having 6 servants and a factory with 600 employees. I speak their language fluently, could understand it, and all I picked up was that they only get 2 meals a day. No wonder they tried to get some extra. No wonder that one day a servant from Madagascar jumped overboard, that the next day a servant from India jumped overboard and then a servant from China wanted to jump, but they were able to get to him at the last minute and locked him up. The ship went in circles for over 5 hours, so we missed Cayo Levantado, Samana, Dominican Republic, and went to Nassau instead. There were no announcements regarding the 2 dead people, etc., etc., and no apologies either.
5. I requested 99 during the night some orange juice (book says room service 24 hours round the clock). 99 got me a room service guy on the phone, who told me that he could not bring orange juice, but he could come to our cabin to explain it all to me, absurd. A CONFERENCE WITH A BELL BOY AT NIGHT RE: ORANGE JUICE?
6. One night I was very sick. The doctor visited me in my cabin, gave antibiotics and told me to eat something. I asked my wife to bring me some desert. NOT ALLOWED. She had to take the desert in her evening handbag so that nobody saw it, otherwise the waiter would get into trouble.
7. 30% or so of the pax. were deaf mutes. They all went as a pack to whatever public room they were headed, leaving no room for others. To make it worse, any announcement or speech or instruction was said in Italian, Spanish, French, German and last, but not least, even English for the 15% or so American and English-speaking guests.
8. In regards to point number 5, I did visit the Head of Hotel and his assistant. They told me that this would NEVER happen again. I told them that in my opinion they had no authority whatsoever. Needless to say that never DID get the orange juice. However, the next day I got a bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. Ra Ra.
9. The food was terrible, hardly any choices. They did not know what a soufflee was, and thought a ceasar salad was iceberg salad with slices of cheese on top. I guess I'd better stop. One thing was funny, they report to US Customs all purchases made. So they called me and wanted to see my Custom declaration, because I bought more than the exempt $800 -- all of it was on my declaration.
10. Suggestion: MCR CRUISE COMP stay in Europe. You people have NO idea what brings Americans on board. I could not find ONE American couple who would sail with you again. Formal night 3, nearly all Americans in Tux, maybe 70% of the Europeans did not know what a Tux meant, I guess, but they all know slippers and shorts, and Italian woman all like movie stars. HOWEVER NOTHING STOPPED US AND THE OTHER PAX WE TRAVELLED TOGETHER WITH FROM HAVING A GOOD TIME. After all, there was at most times plenty of food and the shore excursions were very nice and well organized.
From the time we started the cruise at Venice and finished up at Genoa, we had a brilliant time. MSC Sinfonia is a fabulous ship, very clean and the staff are helpful and obliging, although sometimes under pressure from their clients.
The food was excellent in quality, quantity and presentation, but we found it "warm" rather than hot. The same for tea and coffee. Luke warm tea is not nice!!
However, the evening entertainment more than made up for any other failures. Professional shows, very entertaining and not too long. There was lots to do and see for those that wanted to, and quiet lounges and decks for chilling out. We would definitely cruise with MSC again and are already looking at cruises for next year.
The majority of people complaining about the cruise ship were those who could not get food 24 hrs round the clock, which is available on North American cruise lines. It IS aimed at Europeans we felt, and they tend to eat light and less often. It was normal to see Italians and Germans just having fruit and cereal for breakfast rather than the huge platter of friesreadily available.
We were happy with MSC Sinfonia and rate it 8/10.
Well I wanted to take the time to write a review because I did have a GOOD experience on the Lirica. I have cruised 8 times and although it was the most unbearable lengthiest embarkation proceedure EVER, we did receive a HUGE apology 3 days later, saying it was due to lack of qualified personnel at Ft Lauderdale (There were (5) 80 year olds). The MSC crew were desperately trying to assist them verbally (not allowed to do more than that) and were just as frustrated. We waited from 11:30 until 3:30 to get on board! The crew was Italian and philippine and balinese and charming and nice, yet very unaware that "the customer is always right" policy we Americans serve with. You get more bees (if any) with honey on this ship. No one knows or cares if you have a problem, unless you take the attitude of 100% calm and friendly.
The dining room was fantastic. We ate at the Bussala restaurant and every night had two or three entrees each with our 6 course meals. We were given as much of anything we wanted and since there was sucha variety of food that tempted our taste buds, we tried every entree, whether on our own or our kids. Paulo the maitre 'd, I love YOU!, Bruno the asst. maitre 'd, you get kisses and hugs! You run your dining room with excellence and Rudy was the most pleasant happiest waiter ever and always smiled. Place your silverware on your plate and they replace at every course. They know how to serve and attend to you first class. I am a critic, so I was on the watch and found that I have never had better service elsewhere, restaurant in NYC or on vacations. On the 2nd formal night we had a succulent gorgeous huge lobster tail better than I have had in bar harbour. I must say many people did not have the same experience I had, but I am an Italian food critic raised on fine dinning and I beleive their opinion is that of the average American who doesn't know real Italian food, but that only of the local pizzeria.
Captain Giacomo was charming and drove the ship with precision. It was smooth sailing even when we were in 12 foot seas one night. I actually prefer a little movement, and was disappointed that when I disembarked (easy process) I did not have the rock n roll feeling I love that helps me sleep better in my own bed.
I boarded with 7 suitcases and when we entered our tiny cabin I had an anxiety attack! I am 350 and found the space tight for anyone, especially with 4 in a cabin. We couldn't get a balcony because only 3 are allowed, yet it is twice as big! Dumb! Well I unpacked everything and successfully put away all things! I fit 4 pieces under the two twin beds! I needed the cabin to look spotless and ship-shape so I could appreciate the small scale furniture design and feel the least cramped as possible. The bathroom was a joke! As you sat on the throne your left foot rested in the shower pan and right arm in the sink. Luckily there was a shower curtain and drain on the main floor so when you showered with the hand held you could step half outside the shower without the curtain (which would stick to you like a rain coat unless you were twiggy). Clean up was a breeze and I soon relaxed and found the cabin quite well designed and efficient and even comfortable!
I saw one or two shows which were great, but since I don't like watching shows unless I know what I am seeing first, I avoided them. I go to Bway in NYC enough and although this was the only entertainment, I preferred to be free spirited and engage in conversation with the very friendly passengers of all ages. The ship's designer was stellar and I found it the easiest ship to get around yet, and not over bling-y. Classy and well designed and super clean! Super duper perfect.
Drinks on board are crazy expensive 6-8$ and soda is 2.50 a can. The soda cards and drink cards don't save you much at all and are limited, so I drank their delicious brewed free iced tea at dinner and at room service all day! Room service menu only had cheese plate, fruit plate, continental breakfast, chicken ceasar, chicken club, tuna sandwich with potato chips, and soup. That's it 24/7! We ordered it every night! I had fresh fruit (fabulous) at 7 am everyday and only went to b'kfast 2x's in the dining room. Delicious corned beef hash and lox and bagels, and every breakfast you could want, but service confusing because open seating and not our waiters always.
We laundered a formal gown and it came back in 24 hours perfect for only 4.50! There is no self laundry on the ship, so bring a laundry hamper bag (we used a huge duffel bag and kept it under the desk area as a hamper!).
The stops were good, except when we had to tender to cayman Island and Mexico. It takes 2 hours getting off the ship! The ocean was rough due to the passing storm, and they take all the tours first. Don't pay for the tours on board if you have a large group because you can get them 1/2 price in Cayman. We had a great time swimming with the stingrays, except my 8 year old who felt afraid and the 3-4 foot waves were drowning her. Go if the water is not rough because you are in the middle of the ocean on a sandbar. The 2nd stop was snorkeling in 9 ft. I had to get help as the current was pulling me away and a surfer passenger threw me life ring. I had trouble kicking with fins on and got cramps in both my legs as I tried to swim against the current. My husband and 8 year old had trouble too and went right back on the boat, but my 12 year old daughter had no problem. The 3 people on the ship were in awesome shape and to them it was like a baby pool and they made us feel so safe. It was $40 pp and they let my 8yr old go free.
In Jamaica we went to the Sunset Beach Hotel right by dock. Gorgeous beaches and spectacular kid's clubs pool, slides, and adult pool, and all you can eat and drink for $140 the whole family! What a find! Screw climbing up the water falls 2 hours away. Relax 'mon! I did this time instead. Look up Sunset Beach on internet and see how gorgeous it is!
In mexico we took a cab for 4 to Playancar Beach and snorkeled and ate on the beach. Glorious! It costs $70 for the cab all day until 7pm. They waited for us! We saw a quaint church 150 years old and ruins buildings nearby quickly and we gathered so much coral and conch shells! We bought necklaces for $1 and recommend carved wood here and also at pier in Jamaica where everything was so cheap and art work beautiful.
Well, that's my crusise review. I paid $1200 plus air fare for a family of 4 and although accommodations were tight and no babysitting after semi-lame kids club at 9:30, the cruise was a hit and I recommend going if you have class and want to be cheap! Contact me if you have questions!
This ship is designed for German speaking passengers only. We only speak English and felt like we were second rate. Half of what was being said was never translated for us. So we were told by duel speaking friends. The prices they charge for everything is stupid. In the ports we were never told anything about what was there if you wanted to sightsee on your own and not pay the large sums for the bus tours.
We did the same things as the bus tours and only paid a quarter of the price and it was for two people.
We could not do the activities as they could not speak English so we read a book and went to the gym since this was free -- the only thing that was.
Water was charged at four times the price you could get it on shore.
Their Italian food was awful.
We will never sail on an MSC ship again. We hated it.
Our Cruise on the MSC Lirica 12-04-07 to 12-14-07
I am writing this review mostly for people that have not cruised on the MSC Lirica or with MSC cruise line to supply insight from seasoned cruisers. Over the past 22 years my wife Margaret and I have sailed on Princess, NCL, RCCL, Carnival, and Commodore cruise lines.
Our cruise departed from Ft. Lauderdale on 12-04-07 and returned 12-14-07 and we will start by reviewing the check in process or lack there of. We arrived for check in fairly early at about 12 noon as the MSC office had told us that was a proper time to arrive. The previous cruisers were still in the process of leaving the ship and there was much confusion on what to do with the arriving passengers and their luggage. It took some time to find anyone that knew what to do with our luggage but we finely did find a porter. We went into the area designated for arriving passengers and were given a number 3 and then lead to the "holding" area where we sat a long time but we did meet some veryinteresting people from Philadelphia. Finally after what seemed an eternity (probably more like 1-1/2 hours) were let into the check in area where there were like 14 lines and you just picked any line. As can be expected some lines move faster then others, and it appeared that a lot of the computers the check-in personal were using either did not work or the personnel were very unfamiliar with them. After some time in line we reached the check in lady and this went fairly well as we had pre-registered at http://www.msccruisesusa.com and that appeared to have helped a lot. Several people had trouble with their check-in due to lack of all required travel documents, or a credit card or lack of a passport, all of which were listed as requirements on http://www.msccruisesusa.com/guidaallacrociera/default.asp?guida_id=9&page_id=397 . The cruise line requires you to have a credit card on file or a cash deposit as they list this as cashless cruising, upon check in you are given a passenger card to use for all purchases onboard and to ID you upon leaving the ship or returning to the ship during your trip. The cruise line will also deduct gratuities at $12 per passenger per day to your listed credit card (more on this later). We were then allowed to board the ship. At the entrance to the gangway were the ever present ship's photographers (more on them later).
Upon arrival aboard the Lirica we were met by head steward that handed us off to a white gloved steward who took us via elevator to our cabin which is a Veranda suite cabin number 10071. The suite was very large and comfortable with a queen bed, fold out couch, chair, small but very adequate walk in closet, drawer space, bathroom with tub and shower, and very nice veranda. NOTE: there is NO smoking on any verandas on the MSC Lirica and also smoking is discouraged in the cabins -- there are like 8 to 10 places on the ship one can smoke and that is all.
This ship has truly an international clientele. Our table mates were from Sweden and a very nice couple and we were pleased to meet so many people from various countries. It is not a typical American cruise. All of the announcements are given in 5 languages and on cruises to the Caribbean English is given 1st.
The passengers on our cruise were surprisingly old, perhaps due to the length of the cruise (over seven days). There were only a handful of children and young couples. There were few single people onboard.
Because the Lirica uses a predetermined gratuity rate (12%), the staff does not try to win somebody's favor by pleasing him or her, especially in order to gain an advantage. We believe this makes the service way below what it use to be and we do not like it at all -- plain and simple put service suffers a LOT because of this policy. BUT it is used by almost all the cruise lines now. I have asked the staff if they ever get the tips we supply this way and have received many different responses but most staff say yes in a divided way with the management getting the majority of the money and the working staff getting very little. You can always tell accounting you'll do it yourself, if you don't agree with the rate or you want to recognize service individually.
Our cabin steward was the best staff member we met on the cruise, always there when you needed him and the room was always made up and immaculate. He kept things in tip-top shape, including a supply of ice and fresh fruit at all times.
The waiters and waitresses in the dining room were way below standard especially on the 1st night but after we talked to the maitre d' things got somewhat better. They only have one waiter and NO bus boy for about 6 tables and the staff always seems behind, our water did tell us that the kitchen was under staffed and that made the wait staff always behind.
Most passengers felt the food was below quality level, and that is very true when it comes to meats and desserts. The one night we had lobster it was beyond dry and there was no drawn butter served with it, it was very bad. The Italian dishes were good. The desserts are not very tasty or imaginative. One oddity -- there is no free ice cream. The menu was very limited.
I am a shopper but my wife is not and there are very few shops on the Lirica, maybe 4 or 5 and that included a shop dedicated to cameras, computers, and all things electrical and that shop was way way over priced. The liquor shop is GREAT and has GREAT bargains, the Emeralds International shops was also Great and had a wonderful staff and many bargains although you had to look for the bargains which are in watches and NOT jewelry. The clothes shop had very few t-shirts and very very few items with the ships logo. This shop was very limited. The perfume shop was also over priced
The personnel from the Photo Shop are very nice and very professional and take very nice photos but most passengers thought the photos were very over priced.
The tour desk was manned surprisingly little of the time, and the personnel at that desk did not appear overly concerned or helpful. They were not very familiar with the actual tours, and as a result were of little help. Find out about the tours in advance, this can be done by going to http://www.msccruisesusa.com/crociere/risultato.asp?periodo=12&page_id=48&anno=2007 clicking on your cruise, and then clicking on any port and it will list the tours available.
If you are looking to rest and relax on deck, near the pool, you will have a very, very hard time as there is continuing "entertainment" spewing from the microphone, whether athletics, quizzes, or games and there are deck chairs everywhere and none to spare.
The MSC information concerning ship's dress is somewhat misleading. Everyone brought way too many dressy clothes. There are only three nights requiring coats and ties, and the other evenings are informal, despite the literature calling for coats and ties almost every night.
In the casino, the two blackjack tables were invariably full, yet a third was not manned the also had two roulette tables, although we only saw one ever in use, and there was a craps table. The personnel are nice and very helpful. When we 1st. came on, there was one penny slot and 3 nickel slots, although one was out of order the entire cruise. After a day or two they did convert 4 quarter slots to nickels. My wife was lucky enough to leave the ship a winner and this is most unusual on any cruise line.
The entertainment was not to our liking so we did not attend any shows on board but our fellow passengers told us that the entertainment was not very good. First and second seating are at odd times, so that the usual procedure of flip-flopping the nightly shows doesn't work. The second show follows the second seating. If you retire fairly early, you'll need the first seating, if you want to see the entertainment. First seating is an early 5:45.
The itinerary listed was great but due to bad weather we were cut short on our stay in Roadtown (Tortola) and had to skip Cayo Levantado (Samanà - D.R.) And replace that with Nassau Bermuda.
Also this ship appeared to ride very rough throughout the cruise and I do believe it is because the Captain did not deploy the stabilizers probably to save money on fuel.
Tips Deck six is the wide promenade deck. Strangely, there are no deck chairs anywhere, and it's the only deck where the smokers can go. The chaise lounges are found by the pool on deck 11, on the track on deck 12, and on the fantails. The fantails are the ship's secret. They run from deck six all the way up to deck 12. Most people don't even know they are there.
Don't bring more than three dress outfits.
Cokes are $2.50 each but you can buy a Coke card that gives you a small discount. Mixed drinks have some odd bar prices. Crown Royal is $3.90 unless you have it with water and then its $4.60 because it's now a "cocktail".
Summary In conclusion, this ship definitely did not live up to our most conservative expectations. Our expectations were based upon the literature that MSC Lines distributed as well as our previous cruising experience. All in all we had a good time. However, there was nothing that made us feel we wanted to return. As our travel agent said "you get what you pay for," BUT with MSC you really do not.
A really, really bad experience. The food was awful. The service was awful. The deck chairs were horrific as was almost everthing else on this cruise. The excursions desk was never manned and the excursions to the islands started very early and did not offer any variety at all, and the tour operators were bad.
Our waiter at dinner did not really understand much of what me and fellow tablemates asked for and they were way understaffed.
Rooms I found tiny, though well kept.
Alternative to formal dining was minimal -- pizza and hamburgers.
Library was open for 2 hours a day even though most of the books were probably left overs from previous travelers.
I would never recommend this ship or this cruise line to anyone and after reading the last review by Denise & family, I cannot understand what being cheap and having class has to do with reviewing a ship. Does disagreeing with Denise & family make you have less class or does Denise & family have a lot less class by that comment? And, what does being cheap have to do in any way with enjoying a cruise ornot enjoying a cruise? I have tons of class and I am as thrifty as they come. I love a bargain BUT this ship is not a class act and it is not a bargain. It is just bad service and bad food.
The following is an excerpt of a letter I wrote to American Express about our cruise experience on the MSC Orchestra:
Our recent trip on the MSC Orchestra was less than satisfactory and my husband and I urge you not to market MSC cruises to Americans as it is clear the cruise line caters to its European passengers. Furthermore, it simply is not up to the standards we have experienced cruising 8 times before with Holland America, Princess, Celebrity or even Norwegian Cruise Lines.
Although we had a balcony stateroom, the balcony was unusable due to cigarette smoke. We could not even open the door without being inundated with smoke. When I called Reception to inform them that our neighbors on both sides were smoking on the balcony, I was told "That cannot be." Given the health concerns connected with cigarette smoking, I am surprised that MSC does not have an entire "No Smoking" deck to avoid such incidents, never mind being able to enforce the prohibition on balcony smoking.
The interior of our cabin was lovely in terms of decoration, but incredibly noisy due to the scraping of chairs at allhours. We were beneath the restaurant (I belive it is called the 4 Seasons). Incredibly, the reastaurant floor is covered with laminate flooring rather than carpet, and this unfortunate choice of flooring magnifies the sound.
The ship linens were also an issue. On the morning after we left Egypt, we awoke to find that the newly changed sheets on the bed contained a large amount of dried nasal discharge (presumably from a prior passenger). I cannot tell you how revolting it was to think that we'd slept on those sheets all night. I don't wish to get too graphic, but please understand that the affected area was larger than the size of a quarter (or a 1 euro piece) and should have been noticeable to whoever folded the linens. The blanket was stained with a substance that appeared to be dried blood, but I confess I did not wish to examine it closer to be sure. We called for the cabin steward and he immediately changed the linens, but for the remainder of the trip, I felt compelled to examine the sheets every night before climbing into bed. I have never before had such an experience either on a ship or in a hotel, and do not wish to ever repeat it.
The dining room linens, including the napkins, consistently contained human hair, leading us to wonder whether the table linens were being laundered with the bed linens.
Less egregious issues included the following:
There were no washcloths in the cabin or on our deck. Fellow passengers, Harold and Hope, on Deck 15, provided us with washcloths.
Although bathrobes are listed as part of the cabin ammenities, we were not provided with them until we asked for them, after learning from other passengers that bathrobes were in fact available.
The activites, especially those for English-speaking passengers, were extremely limited in comparison with other cruise lines. When we asked for a deck of cards, we were told that we'd have to purchase them!
The games involving passengers were the sort of thing we'd expect to see on Carnival cruise lines. People being made fun of by the entertainment staff or being asked to perform childish games that involved (in the case of Mr Orchestra) male passengers singing and dancing shirtless.
Unlike every other ship on which we have sailed, the steam and sauna are not gratis. The fee was 15 euros per hour, an amount even the European passengers complained about.
The cruise line failed to provide weather advisements at each port, nor did they give a list of shops recommended or guaranteed to have fair-priced goods. It would have been helpful to know the basics; e.g., the distance from the ship to the nearest town, shop or restaurant; the price of cabfare form the pier to town, or the accessibility of public transportation. Again, every other cruise line we have traveled with provides this service.
The cafeteria staff do not offer to assist elderly or infirm passengers to find a table, carry their plate to a table, obtain water, tea or coffee for them. Again, every other cruise line we have been on has provided this service. Fortunately we are able-bodied, but I would not consider booking this line for my parents.
Incredibly, the juice machines that work at breakfast were "out of order" for the remainder of the day. It soon became obvious that the ship was simply turning the machines off so as not to provide juice throughout the day.
The buffet lines in the cafeteria were chaotic as plates and silverware are placed at either end and in the middle of the buffet, leading passengers to enter from all directions. This too was an unpleasant first for us.
There were no Do Not Disturb signs available in the cabin. And in order to use the cabin lights, the passenger's cruise card must be in the slot inside the cabin. That inserted card also illuminates a light outside to let the steward know that the cabin is occupied. Unfortunately, a steward delivering ice in the afternoon knocked insistently for nearly ten minutes while I scrambled to get out of the shower and dress to open the door.
When my husband felt dizzy on one occasion after forgetting to take his blood pressure medication, I called the medical staff to ask if they could check his blood pressure. They replied that they could, but for a 5 euro fee -- again, this is a first for us as every other ship would have done a single reading as a courtesy.
Quite simply, it appears that MSC "nickels and dimes" its passengers at every opportunity. When I tried to mail postcards from the ship, I was quoted an exorbitant price that I later learned was twice the postage charged at the port. Is MSC in such dire straits that it needs to inflate postage?
MSC Orchestra was obviously catering to the majority German passenger population. As my husband and I speak fluent Spanish, we were astonished to realize on several occasions that information conveyed in other languages was simply not imparted to the English-speaking minority. I do not know if the announcements were abbreviated because of time constraints, or the language limitations of the crew, but we were certainly glad to have the benefit of speaking another language.
In summary, we would not recommend MSC as we neither felt welcome nor did we find that the ship, regardless of its lovely decor, met the service standards to which we are accustomed and enjoy from Princess, Holland and Celebrity.