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.
Never have seen so many people RUN from a cruise ship -- literally.
Wait, wait, wait, wait is all you do.
Would not recommend this ship or cruiseline.
Let me introduce myself.
My name is Matt and I am from Sydney, AUSTRALIA. I'm 14 yrs old; one of the many few 'younger' passengers on board! lol.
You've probably read many other reviews of the many MSC ships, and they were probably negative I would assume.
This is my first cruise and even though it may not be of as 'High Standards' as other cruises, I still LUVED it!!
I admit that there were many problems with the cruise, but it is NOT as bad as people say it is.
I found the cruise had MANY MANY MANY old people, and I found that these old people LUVED to COMPLAIN. Hence the many negative comments.
So let's focus on things other than the food.
First, the itinerary: In 17 days on this cruise, the amount and quality of the ports were AMAZING. Let's see -- we went to the following places:
Genoa Italy Marseille France Barcelona Spain Casablanca Morroco Funchal Maderia Islands Days at Sea The Carribean Fort Lauderdale-Miami USA
The itinerary was great!!
Now onto the teen program which hasn't been discussed:
When I went into the embarkation process, I swear I couldNOT see a person under the age of 40.
But on the first nite I went to the disco to find 3 other teens my age. We became friendz from that point on.
Eventually teens came together and there were enough to socialise with.
The teen area was the 'DISCO', which was more of a multi-purpose room but still a good meeting point.
NO ADULT SUPERVISION and NO ORGANISATION.
Now it depends on how you take it, cuz I thought it was great!!
We still got to hang out n' talk and play Uno. These are the main things you do on the ship, but it was fun anyway.
Only problem was that they kept on having BRIDGE tournaments and PRIVATE COCKTAIL PARTIES, which led us to be continaully 'Kicked Out' of the teen area.
We also went to the pool quite a bit, which was fun.
Onto other people on the ship: The ship seemed to be a bit like a retirement home and you got a lot of rude stares and insults merely because you don't have wrinkles.
Haha -- we were in the minority after all, so I guess you have to get used to it.
Now, onto the teenage passengers:
The ethnic mix of the teens were:50% Italian 40% English Speaking 9% German 1% Other
The Italians seemed to be one BIG family. Since they didn't speak any English, we never talked to them. It was like a gang war -- lol.
The Germans could speak fairly good English, so they immediately joined us.
There was one Swiss guy, but the rest were a mix of Aussies, Brits, and Yanks (Americans).
There seemed to be more of us Auzzies then any other ethnic group on the ship. This seemed to be because it's our summer holidays while all the other Europeans and Americans onboard were skipping school instead!
All of the Americans came from Houston in Texas and throughout Florida, with 2 from Utah. This was kind of weird since there were A LOT of yanks! But they were mostly really BIG families.
Gala nites were formal nites and I swear we had at least 5 of them. We had a lot of important nites (New Years, Christmas, etc.) hence I think the ship added more formal nites. It seemed as if it was FORMAL so everyone wears a tuxedo and a nice dress. The Americans had neither so they just skipped dinner -- WTF?!?
Met some good friends from all over the world on this cruise!
I happened to have a good table which was shared with a family from Perth in Western Australia.
The guy there was the same age as me (14), so we got along and from the very first nite we went up to the disco and met many more teens.
In conclusion, MSC has a lot of problems to fix, but I still had the TIME OF MY LIFE!
What really matters is the frame of mind you have when you cruise this ship.
If you read all the negative comments and you go into the cruise with a negative attitude, then you will HATE the ship.
On the other hand, if you have an optimistic outlook and a positive attitude, you will be much more confident that you will meet new people and have a FANTASTIC time.
Would I do MSC agian?
Well, don't get me WRONG. I LUVED the cruise. But choosing another line like Princess, Carnival, or RCL may be a safer option!
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 were very excited about a Holiday Cruise. We had previously had a wonderful transAtantic cruise on Holland America and it was delightful.
No so with MSC! It was a total disaster. Four bags were lost -- they were never delivered. We got 17 days of promises and lip from the very rude staff.
The food was bad. There was no compensation and the ship's stores were closed until the 21st of December.
We have found out since that our bags had arrived before the ship sailed and were never retrieved by MSC. At present, we have traced them to Funchal where they have been since the 18th of Dec. We arrived in Funchal on the 22nd and were told by MSC that they had checked for baggage and none had arrived. We are still trying to retrieve them, but with little hope.
MSC will not return our phone calls and we are left on our own to deal with this situation.
As a seasoned traveler, I feel MSC will never make it in the American market.