In defense of the MSC Orchestra

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#1
Naples, Florida
1,697 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
Where I do not doubt for a minute that the reviews issued regarding the MSC 2-day cruise from hell are valid, I can safely say that it might just have been "one of those cruises." Mind you, that's not an excuse, but let's face it, we all have "one of those days." I had the chance to talk with Rick Sasso, President and CEO of MSC Cruises USA, and he admitted that there were problems but that it was (to paraphrase our conversation) a Murphy's law type of incident.

I was fortunate to attend a VIP night aboard the Orchestra last Friday to not only see things for myself but also get some answers to many of the concerns that others have raised. Granted, this was a night for TA's, VIPs and members of the media (which I represent), but many of my observations were contrary to previous reviewers experiences. I was warmly greeted as I boarded the ship, I found an extremely polite and friendly staff, the ship was incredibly beautiful and VERY clean, and the service was very good.

True, it could have been that they knew who we were and were told to step it up, but that wasn't the impression I got. They seemed genuinely friendly and not forced.

Did I have any issues? Yes. I'm not impressed with their food. We were served a pris fixe menu, and from the entire meal, the only thing that was italian was a plate of pasta. The two entrees were not italian in the least, and not very appetizing. Also, I will agree that there needs to be more food available for later in the evening. Also, the breakfast was not very appealing either. On the positive side, the appetizers from the Shanghai were very good and received many raves.

I can't tell those of you who have changed your mind and cancelled a sailing with MSC that you made a mistake. It's your hard earned money and I'm sure even the line would acknowledge that. However, I experienced a company that is really trying. There will be some bumps in the road for a while, but I think we will eventually see another strong competitor in the US cruise market. Plus, with kids under 17 free, that truly helps in this tough economy, and if the food is something that worries you, one can always get a meal at the different ports you visit. I do that all the time. I know, food is everything on a cruise. Would I book an MSC cruise? Possibly. The food issue is the only thing that is holding me back. Other than that, I would try them in a heartbeat.
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#2
Venice, Florida
589 Posts
Joined Mar 2005
thank you for the review. I have been waiting to hear another report on cruises following the fiasco. My TA also was on the Orchestra this weekend and I will phone her today for her opinions. We are due to sail on March 14th, and I would have pulled out if my final payment had not been done. So, I am just hoping that MSC has ironed out all their problems within the next months. As far as the food, well, we arent that particular anyway so wont expect any great shakes. If the food improves, all the better. Unfortunately, we always enjoy the anticipation before a cruise but all the negative reports have taken that away this time. But...we always have a good time no matter what, and will roll with the punches.
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#3
472 Posts
Joined May 2006
Originally posted by jt1120
Where I do not doubt for a minute that the reviews issued regarding the MSC 2-day cruise from hell are valid, I can safely say that it might just have been "one of those cruises." Mind you, that's not an excuse, but let's face it, we all have "one of those days." I had the chance to talk with Rick Sasso, President and CEO of MSC Cruises USA, and he admitted that there were problems but that it was (to paraphrase our conversation) a Murphy's law type of incident.

I was fortunate to attend a VIP night aboard the Orchestra last Friday to not only see things for myself but also get some answers to many of the concerns that others have raised. Granted, this was a night for TA's, VIPs and members of the media (which I represent), but many of my observations were contrary to previous reviewers experiences. I was warmly greeted as I boarded the ship, I found an extremely polite and friendly staff, the ship was incredibly beautiful and VERY clean, and the service was very good.

True, it could have been that they knew who we were and were told to step it up, but that wasn't the impression I got. They seemed genuinely friendly and not forced.

Did I have any issues? Yes. I'm not impressed with their food. We were served a pris fixe menu, and from the entire meal, the only thing that was italian was a plate of pasta. The two entrees were not italian in the least, and not very appetizing. Also, I will agree that there needs to be more food available for later in the evening. Also, the breakfast was not very appealing either. On the positive side, the appetizers from the Shanghai were very good and received many raves.

I can't tell those of you who have changed your mind and cancelled a sailing with MSC that you made a mistake. It's your hard earned money and I'm sure even the line would acknowledge that. However, I experienced a company that is really trying. There will be some bumps in the road for a while, but I think we will eventually see another strong competitor in the US cruise market. Plus, with kids under 17 free, that truly helps in this tough economy, and if the food is something that worries you, one can always get a meal at the different ports you visit. I do that all the time. I know, food is everything on a cruise. Would I book an MSC cruise? Possibly. The food issue is the only thing that is holding me back. Other than that, I would try them in a heartbeat.
Seems like there's hope -- maybe we will use our credit vouchers in a few years, once MSC is more "established".

Thanks jt for your review!
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#4
Merrick, NY
957 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
Originally posted by jt1120
Where I do not doubt for a minute that the reviews issued regarding the MSC 2-day cruise from hell are valid, I can safely say that it might just have been "one of those cruises." Mind you, that's not an excuse, but let's face it, we all have "one of those days." I had the chance to talk with Rick Sasso, President and CEO of MSC Cruises USA, and he admitted that there were problems but that it was (to paraphrase our conversation) a Murphy's law type of incident.

I was fortunate to attend a VIP night aboard the Orchestra last Friday to not only see things for myself but also get some answers to many of the concerns that others have raised. Granted, this was a night for TA's, VIPs and members of the media (which I represent), but many of my observations were contrary to previous reviewers experiences. I was warmly greeted as I boarded the ship, I found an extremely polite and friendly staff, the ship was incredibly beautiful and VERY clean, and the service was very good.

True, it could have been that they knew who we were and were told to step it up, but that wasn't the impression I got. They seemed genuinely friendly and not forced.

Did I have any issues? Yes. I'm not impressed with their food. We were served a pris fixe menu, and from the entire meal, the only thing that was italian was a plate of pasta. The two entrees were not italian in the least, and not very appetizing. Also, I will agree that there needs to be more food available for later in the evening. Also, the breakfast was not very appealing either. On the positive side, the appetizers from the Shanghai were very good and received many raves.

I can't tell those of you who have changed your mind and cancelled a sailing with MSC that you made a mistake. It's your hard earned money and I'm sure even the line would acknowledge that. However, I experienced a company that is really trying. There will be some bumps in the road for a while, but I think we will eventually see another strong competitor in the US cruise market. Plus, with kids under 17 free, that truly helps in this tough economy, and if the food is something that worries you, one can always get a meal at the different ports you visit. I do that all the time. I know, food is everything on a cruise. Would I book an MSC cruise? Possibly. The food issue is the only thing that is holding me back. Other than that, I would try them in a heartbeat.
Thanks for your review. I feel the same you do in that I think they truly do care. I'm hopeful that you made your opinion of the food known to Sasso and team so that they can work on improving that area sooner rather than later.
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#5
Williamsburg
2,205 Posts
Joined Mar 2003
First, the food is important if you cruise as your destination and the ports are secondary. I love the ship and what the ship usually has to offer. I enjoy dining on foods that I do not make(well I am a horrible cook) and I love being served and such. This makes for my vacation experience. Saying just eat at the ports is a bit silly since I paid for my meals on the ship. If i am in port and want to sample something in a port that is one thing. But to say you can always eat in the ports so the food is not so important is a bit naive. Most people want to be fed. Nice fruit and eggs in the morning is not something too hard to handle. Nice pizza and salads and hot entrees is not something that is not expected.
If they have the reputation of beautiful ship but horrible food there is no chance of survival here.
#6
817 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Originally posted by jt1120
Granted, this was a night for TA's, VIPs and members of the media (which I represent), but many of my observations were contrary to previous reviewers experiences. I was warmly greeted as I boarded the ship, I found an extremely polite and friendly staff... and the service was very good.
(1) True, it could have been that they knew who we were and were told to step it up, but that wasn't the impression I got. They seemed genuinely friendly and not forced.
(2) Did I have any issues? Yes. I'm not impressed with their food...
and if the food is something that worries you, one can always get a meal at the different ports you visit.
(3) Would I book an MSC cruise? Possibly.
1. Whether you were or were not given the impression that the crew/staff knew who you were, do you really believe that they did not know that the ship was hosting a group of VIPS? It is so incredibly naive of you to think otherwise that it casts a shadow on the rest of your remarks.
How many VIPs were there for this Friday night/Sat morning stayover? By looking at the Orchestra schedule it would appear that she remained ported Jan 9 night while you were aboard and then set sail Jan 10 on a regular 7 day cruise. Presuming the VIPS had the ship to themselves on Jan 9 do you really mean to tell us that the service you experienced has any remote bearing on that which would be afforded to the normal complement of paying passengers? Want to buy a bridge?
2. Not many give MSC bad marks for design or cleanliness, but I find it extraordinarily telling that even for a bunch of VIPs MSC could not muster the resources to serve a few decent meals. With all due respect, it is patently absurd to suggest dining ashore regularly as a way to cope with the inadequacy of the food served aboard. Maybe those wanting a Mediterranean cruise should just sail on easyCruise and pay for all meals separately. Incidentally, how do the latter's per diem rates compare to MSC mediterranean fares?
3. Your cruise experience appears a bit thin to be a ship reviewer. IMHO you do a disservice to the general public to cloak yourself with the expertise normally attendant to VIP status (albeit media) and to (even qualifiedly) come to the defense of MSC based solely on your 1 night aboard with a VIP group. I believe it would it would be best to leave such a defense to regular cruisers with deeper experience and devoid of any appearance of impartiality.
#7
Upstate NY
139 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
Originally posted by owl61
1. Whether you were or were not given the impression that the crew/staff knew who you were, do you really believe that they did not know that the ship was hosting a group of VIPS? It is so incredibly naive of you to think otherwise that it casts a shadow on the rest of your remarks.
How many VIPs were there for this Friday night/Sat morning stayover? By looking at the Orchestra schedule it would appear that she remained ported Jan 9 night while you were aboard and then set sail Jan 10 on a regular 7 day cruise. Presuming the VIPS had the ship to themselves on Jan 9 do you really mean to tell us that the service you experienced has any remote bearing on that which would be afforded to the normal complement of paying passengers? Want to buy a bridge?
2. Not many give MSC bad marks for design or cleanliness, but I find it extraordinarily telling that even for a bunch of VIPs MSC could not muster the resources to serve a few decent meals. With all due respect, it is patently absurd to suggest dining ashore regularly as a way to cope with the inadequacy of the food served aboard. Maybe those wanting a Mediterranean cruise should just sail on easyCruise and pay for all meals separately. Incidentally, how do the latter's per diem rates compare to MSC mediterranean fares?
3. Your cruise experience appears a bit thin to be a ship reviewer. IMHO you do a disservice to the general public to cloak yourself with the expertise normally attendant to VIP status (albeit media) and to (even qualifiedly) come to the defense of MSC based solely on your 1 night aboard with a VIP group. I believe it would it would be best to leave such a defense to regular cruisers with deeper experience and devoid of any appearance of impartiality.
WOW! That's harsh. First of all, the poster was simply giving his opinion. I, for one, really appreciate another positive comment as I am getting a bit tired of all the negativity. I do agree that candid reviews are necessary and justified, ESPECIALLY if you had a miserable time and are trying to warn others. However, give your review and stop telling others that they are idiots if they had a different experience than yours. This is not solely directed at you, but also at all of the other naysayers who keep harping on how horrible their experience was and bashing ANYONE who has a remotely positive comment. Those who feel that the negatives far outweigh any potential positives have already (or are in the process of) canceled their cruise. Others (like my family) are sailing too soon to cancel without penalty, and are therefore trying to make the best of the situation. Please understand I am NOT asking those of you with negative experiences to stop posting. I DO think all the comments and reviews deserve to be heard, whether positive or negative. But please stop harping on how bad it is once you leave your piece. Let the rest of us discover it for ourselves, and we will come back and post our experiences as well.

Respectfully,
J
#8
Georgia
1,366 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
FOURunderFour,
I had the same advice for owl61, and boy, did s/he let me have it. It seems they think I was off topic and should be reported.
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#9
Lawrenceville,Ga
2,293 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Owl61 has an axe to grind...it's ashame.

Andy
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#10
decatur,texas
483 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
Sometimes when I read a post I just get a headache!

It goes on and on and on.................... same story different verse. Plus, if it makes no sense because the grammer is attempting to be of a higher level. I mean - come on already--

What year did you take your MSC cruise again Owl61?
#11
Edinburgh UK
8,132 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Originally posted by lovetexas
What year did you take your MSC cruise again Owl61?
I believe it was in 2005 on the Armonia in South America
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#13
817 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Fourunderfour,
Sorry if you thought my response to jt1120's post constituted a bashing. jt1120, do you think I was bashing you or making reasonable comments on your post?
Originally posted by 45014

I had the same advice for owl61, and boy, did s/he let me have it. It seems they think I was off topic and should be reported.
45014,
How ironic. Your prior post directed to me consisted of 3 words (" get over yourself " ). It was a meanspirited put down of me with not even a single word about anything else. If anyone is guilty of bashing another poster it is you.

Originally posted by Janan
Owl61 has an axe to grind...it's ashame.
Andy
Janan , I assure you I have no axe to grind. I think that jt1120's post was naive to the extent it purported to imply there were or would be no service issues just because he got good service on a 1 day VIP stay. I'm pretty sure jt1120 would understand my point.

Originally posted by lovetexas
Sometimes when I read a post I just get a headache!
It goes on and on and on.................... same story different verse. Plus, if it makes no sense because the grammer is attempting to be of a higher level. I mean - come on already--
What year did you take your MSC cruise again Owl61?
lovetotexas,
What goes on and no or makes no sense? Sorry, your comments about good grammar are lost me.
p.s. I have not been on a MSC cruise in years. I live in Brasil and they are one of only a couple of lines that frequently operate in Brasilian waters so I am interested in following their progress. We cruise often and would love to sail on MSC if it were a decent value. I think my remarks on this thread are fair. Sorry if you think otherwise.
#14
Ontario, Canada
160 Posts
Joined Sep 2006
I appreciated jt1120's review. I especially appreciate that jt1120 explained the context of his/her brief stay so that we read the comments in context.

and I generally agree with owl61's criticisms, although they pretty much go without saying. if MSC had messed up a VIP bash on the ship too, it would defy common sense to book with them.

it's nice to be able to consider everyone else's viewpoint with a grain of salt, and arrive at your own opinion a little better informed.
#15
Ohio
1,230 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Originally posted by owl61
3. Your cruise experience appears a bit thin to be a ship reviewer. IMHO you do a disservice to the general public to cloak yourself with the expertise normally attendant to VIP status (albeit media) and to (even qualifiedly) come to the defense of MSC based solely on your 1 night aboard with a VIP group. I believe it would it would be best to leave such a defense to regular cruisers with deeper experience and devoid of any appearance of impartiality.
Original poster stated quite clearly that he/she was a member of the media. In my reading, there was no "cloaking" as a VIP, world traveler, Henry Kissinger or anything else. Just a review of a gala event, spoken of as such. As far as coming to the "defense" of MSC, it certainly didn't extend to the food, did it?

Regarding same, not all food eaters are as one. Being no gourmet, I thought that I was well fed every day on my MSC cruise, two or three of the dishes were really really good, everything else was at least okay, but I'm no gourmet.
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#16
472 Posts
Joined May 2006
Now Now, Let's Play Nice. Everyone has a right to their own opinions no matter who they are!

Also, we all go on cruises with different priorities: Some of us are all for the ports of call, others have been to these ports numerous times, so it's all about the shipboard experience or relaxation or whatever your pleasure when onboard the ship, some of us are a little of both, blah blah blah.

Thank goodness we are not all alike - the world would be boring ( and I would be missing my MSC drama ) LOL!!!!
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#17
Naples, Florida
1,697 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
Originally posted by owl61
3. Your cruise experience appears a bit thin to be a ship reviewer. IMHO you do a disservice to the general public to cloak yourself with the expertise normally attendant to VIP status (albeit media) and to (even qualifiedly) come to the defense of MSC based solely on your 1 night aboard with a VIP group. I believe it would it would be best to leave such a defense to regular cruisers with deeper experience and devoid of any appearance of impartiality.
How rude! I never said I was a VIP, or a TA or a travel expert. I represented the media at the one day event, and as such, only ONE opinion, hence, I offered it on this forum. You know NOTHING about me or my history with the cruising industry, other than the cruises that I have listed in my signature (all of which were as a private citizen). I am quite aware that the crew may have been told to put their best face on because a bunch of big shots will be on board, but let's face it, what are the odds that every single worker do just that and yet the next week act rude and indifferent? I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt - as only ONE person. If you don't want to roll the dice and try them, then don't bother. And for that matter, why bother responding to my post?

Your judgements of me serve to be nothing more than a personal attack, which I take quite offensively. While your points have great merit, your caustic response to my post was not called for.

To everyone else who understood why I was writing the thread and respected my post as just ONE opinion, thank you for your defense of me. I honestly feel that this line IS trying. Still, as I said earlier, if you don't want to try them just yet (or ever), that's your right. Happy sails!
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#18
817 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Originally posted by jt1120
How rude!
Your judgements of me serve to be nothing more than a personal attack, which I take quite offensively. While your points have great merit, your caustic response to my post was not called for.
To everyone else who understood why I was writing the thread and respected my post as just ONE opinion, thank you for your defense of me.
jt1120,

I'm reminded of the episode on the I Love Lucy Show in which Fred Mertz called wife Ethyl fat. Lucy insisted Fred tell Ethyl he was sorry. Fred turned to Ethyl and said he was sorry she was so fat.

I'm truly sorry you think my remarks were a personal attack. I had no idea you would take such offense at comments intended to be more humorous than caustic. That is why my follow up post even solicited your reply to those who flamed me for accusing you of bridge buying naivete.

Thank you for conceding that my points have great merit. I expected that a professional media person such as yourself would appreciate my observation that it was super naive to believe that staff and crew were unaware that a group of VIPs was aboard or that the service provided the VIPs would have any real bearing on the service afforded future cruise passengers. Ergo, the defense of MSC would be better left to paying customers sailing on regular voyages who could more accurately assess the quality of service.

You ask why I even bothered to respond to your post. I responded because I thought your opinion lacked credibility and I wanted to point that out. A word about opinions. It is a meaningless truism that everyone is entitled to one, but surely you will agree some opinions are more credible than others. There is nothing wrong with challenging the opinions expressed on CC. It is constructive to do so because it requires the person whose opinion is challenged to support it with reasonable facts and logic. Responding to such a challenge by simply intoning " it is my opinion and I am entitled to it" is neither convincing or helpful. Rather, it only underscores a lack of credibility.

The crux - it appears you took offense at my last statement about impartiality. I do not believe a fair reading of the statement even insinuates you were impartial. In a prior life I was a lawyer and the professionals rules of conduct require lawyers to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Being a member of a special invited VIP group, dining and conversing with Sasso, then touting the service on such patently thin evidence, one could get the impression that your opinion was not devoid of possible impartialty. I just remarked on that. Sorry if you interpret it as an attack on your journalistic integrity. It was not meant as such.
#19
Naples, Florida
1,697 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
^^^ But did it ever occur to you that I might be right? Sorry, counselor, we'll have to agree to disagree and let the jury decide.

BTW - OJ did it.

Happy sails.
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Joe & Christine

Nordic Empress '98 - Celebrity Mercury '99 - Celebrity Millenium '01 - NCL Sun '02 - NCL Spirit '02 - Majesty OTS '03 - Navigator OTS '03 - Serenade OTS '04 - Enchantment OTS '05 - Celebrity Century '05 - NCL Jewel '06 - Majesty OTS '07 - Emerald Princess '07 - Celebrity Century '08 - NCL Sky '08 - Celebrity Solstice '08 (inaugural) - MSC Orchestra '09 - Carnival Imagination '09 - Island Princess '09 - Majesty OTS '09 - Majesty OTS '10 - Celebrity Constellation '10 - Oasis OTS '11 - Celebrity Summit '11 - Celebrity Infinity '12 - Celebrity Equinox '12 - MSC Poesia '13 - Jewel OTS '13 - MSC Divina '14 - NCL Breakaway '14 - NCL Sky '14 - MSC Divina '14 - Celebrity Solstice '15 - Celebrity Constellation '15 - Empress OTS '16 - Oceania Marina '16 - Celebrity Silhouette '17 - Celebrity Summit '18

222 days at sea

STILL TO COME:

Celebrity Edge 11/18
Celebrity Infinity 3/19
#20
817 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Fair enough. If we ever sail together I get the first round.
I would love MSC to get its act together. They have a lot of cruises here in Brasilian waters which would be of great interest to us if they were a good product.