The meals were excellent in restaurants & buffet & tea, coffee & water was provided all day. We particularly enjoyed being able to ballroom dance till 1am every night, though there were many beautiful bars to enjoy other entertainment. The Theatre was outstanding, with first class acts most nights.
Our only criticism would be the excursions were expensive & not enough info was given to those who wished to go ashore alone. & there could have been more instructions & better organisation on disembarkation on last day. However, this was a very memorable holiday, which we would recommend & definitely do again.
What we found objectionable, occurred when we received our tickets and discovered that we were to pay $18 per day for 20 days, totalling $360 for tips!!!!
We visited the Reception to complain and they stated that we would have to see the Purser. So several of us Brits did see him and complained. We were required to sign a declaration form, which we did and were not charged the $360 surcharge!
My advice, stay away from MSC cruises!
Travel operator: First Choice
On the other side, I have never ever in my whole life had to swallow so much tasteless powder-food in my whole life! From the scumbled eggs and coffee in the morning, to soups, sauces, and desserts at lunch and dinner, every thing was made of powder. And on the top of it, totally tasteless.
Talking with the Brasilian staff, they told me that whenever possible, they ran to the nearest restaurant on shore to get some decent food.
Talking with Italian housewives, I asked them if this kind of food was representative for Italy. It was interesting to see how hard it was for them to be polite and diplomatic...
For us, never ever MSC, thank you.
Travel operator: MSC Orchestra
Travel operator: roi
Travel operator: MSC
Travel operator: msc orchestra
What I experienced on MSC Orchestra by Italian passengers (90%):
They push in front of you at the buffet, or any queues when waiting for something.
They cut queues everywhere and anywhere.
They won’t move over so that you can fit into the elevator.
If the elevator starts closing before you’re in, they won’t try to hold it for you.
If you arrive at your floor on the elevator, you can’t get out, because the Italian people who want to get in, won’t let you out first.
They talk at the top of their voices down the corridors at all hours of the morning.
If you are standing somewhere where they want to stand, they will push you out the way so that they can stand there.
If you have ever been on a five star cruise before the MSC Orchestra will be a disappointment for these reasons:
Room service is not free, and very heavily priced.
THEY CHARGE FOR A GLASS OF WATER!!! Even when the same water runs freely in your cabin to brush your teeth and shower! That’s right 0.50 Euros for a glass of shower water served in a glass (no ice).
There is no free ice tea or fruit punch like they have on other ships.
Breakfast is only between 08:00 and 10:00, if you arrive later, there’s nothing for you to eat and you’ll have to wait for the lunch buffet.
The breakfast is very simple. You cannot design-your-own-omelette, you cannot even ask for a fried egg. In terms of eggs, it’s either scrambled eggs or plain omelettes.
It is impossible to find a teaspoon by the breakfast buffet! I cannot eat yogurt with a large spoon, but teaspoons are not available. Everyday I had to ask for a teaspoon and was asked what the teaspoon was for. When I told them it was to eat my yogurt they reluctantly handed over a single teaspoon. Teaspoons are not even available at the coffee/tea station. To stir your coffee/tea, you must use a wooden ice-cream stick.
The lunch buffet is pretty much always the same, only one or two things might be different each day.
The lunch buffet and breakfast buffet are always over-crowded.
For an Italian ship, the pizza is not that good and is not available all day like other ships. They are simple large rectangle pizzas cut into squares.
There is no late-afternoon buffet either.
The dinner in the dining room had a different menu every night, but the food was not amazing. The soups were great but the starters and mains were often a disappointment.
The “Always Available” menu had “Grilled Fillet of Salmon”, so the one evening I ordered it, and was served a piece of white fish that was not salmon.
The Orchestra is a very large ship, that somehow seems small when you’re on it. What I mean by this is that all areas always seem so crowded. Perhaps this may be because they might have more rooms than other ships, but there always seemed to be too many passengers on board.
The bingo was terrible, with only 1 game of bingo per bingo session.
The photographers were not very professional and pestered you for a picture every night at dinner.
Travel operator: MSC Orchestra
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 Gills’, 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 Gills’ 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”. Gills’ blamed MSC and MSC blamed Gills’, and 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 Gills’ 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, from Thomas Cook Cruises, for example.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Travel operator: MSC
Thanks MSC for a great experience. We hope to travel with you again in the future!!!
Travel operator: Only Fun Vacations
My summary is this,the food although fantastic did lack presentation which other ships are known for-but I will say I rather have my food piping hot,which it was,rather than the chef playing around trying to be an artist,trying to impress us.The food spoke for itself.If your looking to be well travelled and cultered please try this wonderful line.I'm of Italian descent and have been to Italy many times.You find rude people every where you go.hint hint! I will travel with european lines because I love that I can get a taste of my culture.It is still alive,just not in America. Viva La Orchestra!
Travel operator: msc
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