MSC ORCHESTRA - Just off - some comments (March 14th to March 26th, 2018 - 12 night)

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#21
140 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
Thank you so much for this! Can you tell me how much free time you had in Florence? And do you remember where you met the bus in Florence?

Also thank you to those that posted about the tips on board!
#22
Canada
196 Posts
Joined Apr 2014
You're very welcome! lots more to come...

I believe we arrived in Florence about 10:30 a.m. - 11:00 am if memory serves me correctly. Our guide Julia walked us to the Dante statue at the Basilica of Santa Croce and then we were instructed to meet her there at the Dante statue for 3:30 p.m. I think to walk back together to the coach which was parked by the Torre della zecca by the arno (river). Then we were back on the ship around 4:30-4:45 p.m for our 5:30 p.m. all onboard / 6 pm departure. I may have the times off but we had at least four or five hours in Florence to explore which was plenty for us because of the walking involved on uneven cobblestones, getting lunch and there is so many things to see! Florence was very busy as well so you can't zoom around without avoiding people in every direction.

Originally posted by tampagirl2
Thank you so much for this! Can you tell me how much free time you had in Florence? And do you remember where you met the bus in Florence?

Also thank you to those that posted about the tips on board!
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MSC Orchestra - Mediterranean - 14/03/2018
Holland America Koningsdam - Eastern Caribbean - 01/08/2017
Carnival Glory - Eastern Caribbean - 01/23/2016
Carnival Conquest - Eastern Caribbean - 06/22/2014
Royal Caribbean Monarch of the Seas - Bahamas - 04/02/2013
Celebrity Constellation - Southern Caribbean -
01/28/2008
Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas - Eastern Caribbean - 02/04/2006
Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas - Western Caribbean - 02/14/2004
Celebrity Horizon - Bermuda - 05/18/2002
Holland America Maasdam - Western Caribbean - 08/19/2001
Crystal Symphony - Mexican Riviera - 01/05/2001
#23
Canada
196 Posts
Joined Apr 2014
Port #4 Valletta, Malta - truly my favourite of all the ports, so charming!

Day 4 was our first 'At Sea' day and since there was basically nothing interesting in the daily activities we mostly lounged about and walked the promenade which although is not a complete 360 degree walk you can walk about maybe 280 degrees from the rear of the starboard side through the enclosed bow area and back down to the rear of the port side.

Back to Valletta....which was Day 5.

This was our only port where we did not purchase any type of transport or excursion. MSC offers a selection but I had read about Valletta in advance and felt it was both safe (no concerns whatsoever) and there would be more than enough for us to see on our own in Valletta instead of venturing outside the city.

We both loved this port. It really has a special feeling and it's a beautiful island with an enclosed harbour. The ship docked right alongside the cafes and shops. We did a circle walk of the city starting with the uphill walk (or elevator for a small fee but even that is a bit of a walk from the ship) into town then around the outer perimeter of the city passing by the military museum where the cannons are shot for Noon, the various forts, Second World War memorial with the giant bell and unknown soldier that faces the harbour entrance, venturing up to Hastings Gardens and then into the town center to eat lunch, shop, pass by St John's Cathedral in the square and other locations before returning to the ship. We spent most of the day on the island and visited many of the places featured on the "Movie trail" which is a sign and map that shows you where famous films have been shot in Valletta such as the latest version of Murder on the Orient Express, Assassin's Creed and many others. The map is right at the bottom of the hill you walk up but we didn't see the locations identified with numbers while we explored but we we visited many of the shot locations and revisited the map on our return to the ship to see how many we saw firsthand.

My advice - if you're an able walker you can see lots on foot without an excursion and you can take your time (we are fast walkers but we took our time to look around as there was so much to see and we never got lost...but if you have mobility issues I would suggest an excursion because the city is built on hills with narrow sidewalks and uneven sidewalk-staircases as I call them (the stairs/sidewalk to the Hasting Gardens was quite something and my tush really got a workout on that staircase). Either way it's definitely worth getting off the ship as Valletta is beautiful (any place would be worth getting off the MSC Orchestra in my opinion as it was the dullest of ships) and I would be more than willing to live there!
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MSC Orchestra - Mediterranean - 14/03/2018
Holland America Koningsdam - Eastern Caribbean - 01/08/2017
Carnival Glory - Eastern Caribbean - 01/23/2016
Carnival Conquest - Eastern Caribbean - 06/22/2014
Royal Caribbean Monarch of the Seas - Bahamas - 04/02/2013
Celebrity Constellation - Southern Caribbean -
01/28/2008
Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas - Eastern Caribbean - 02/04/2006
Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas - Western Caribbean - 02/14/2004
Celebrity Horizon - Bermuda - 05/18/2002
Holland America Maasdam - Western Caribbean - 08/19/2001
Crystal Symphony - Mexican Riviera - 01/05/2001
#24
Canada
196 Posts
Joined Apr 2014
Thank you for your insight John. One point - we selected Bella because it suited our needs. I don't drink alcohol, we don't use the Spa on any ship and the other inclusions for Fantastica and Aurea would be wasted as we wouldn't use them. The only perk that would have been nice was the anytime dining but not worth the additional cost in my opinion.

Originally posted by Captain-John
Thanks for detailing your experience on Orchestra. I summed my Orchestra cruise up by saying I would cruise MSC again, in Aurea or above, if it was a very good price, food issues aside. However the more likely outcome is that I will try the YC in the hopes of improved food, and/or a larger ship with more specialty restaurants (more to the cost but worth it for a better culinary experience).

To be honest out of all the recent Orchestra reviews, I found that I 'liked' the food the most, or at least I wasn't as critical as others have been of it - but be under no illusion by the end of the cruise I was starting to get bothered by it.

Bea - I found the food mostly on par with what we had on Preziosa a few years ago, as far as I can remember. Maybe a notch or two below but not wildly different. It's interesting that in your vast MSC cruise experience Orchestra comes bottom (I presume!) for the food. I presume MSC will internally 'rank' their ships based on how many bad reviews they get, how many people remove the service charge etc. - I would love to see if their assessment matches that of those who have cruised on her!
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MSC Orchestra - Mediterranean - 14/03/2018
Holland America Koningsdam - Eastern Caribbean - 01/08/2017
Carnival Glory - Eastern Caribbean - 01/23/2016
Carnival Conquest - Eastern Caribbean - 06/22/2014
Royal Caribbean Monarch of the Seas - Bahamas - 04/02/2013
Celebrity Constellation - Southern Caribbean -
01/28/2008
Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas - Eastern Caribbean - 02/04/2006
Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas - Western Caribbean - 02/14/2004
Celebrity Horizon - Bermuda - 05/18/2002
Holland America Maasdam - Western Caribbean - 08/19/2001
Crystal Symphony - Mexican Riviera - 01/05/2001
#25
Canada
196 Posts
Joined Apr 2014
STOP THE PRESS! I skipped our second port! Genoa, Italy!

I realize now how I did that - my brain was pushing me to move on to Marseille as Genoa wasn't my favourite port, actually it was probably the least interesting.

In Genoa we did the MSC excursion GOA16T called "Genoa and the Palazzo del Principe". Here's my firm advice - don't do this MSC excursion. You will be disappointed mainly because the Palazzo del Principe is a run-down "palace" within a few steps of the port entrance and it is surrounded by highways and other buildings. The palace should not be open to visitors in it's current shabby state. They do not allow you to take photos unless you pay an additional 4 Euros and then their staff basically followed our groups every step to ensure those who did not pay the 4 Euros were not attempting to take photos. I have never seen more unprofessional visitor services staff. They made you feel uncomfortable and one of the gentleman in our group who was not taking photos but was chastised by the staff actually told the staff member he was "sick" and "something was wrong with him". Our guide even told us she didn't feel the 4 Euros was worth it because the only thing really to see is tapestries on the walls. We only got to see the small garden area which other than the fountain of Neptune was not much of a garden and inside we saw about 3 or 4 rooms out of the entire palace. The family of the prince who owned the palace still reside there and they are not providing a positive visitor experience. Our well informed tour guide tried to keep us interested with a lengthy (way too much detail) historical lecture but it really bored us and I'm a history sponge so what does that tell you? the guide was dull and didn't seem to know how to make history interesting. It was a shame because she knew her history but looking at our group of English speaking, Italian and Japanese tourists, we couldn't have looked less interested in what she was telling us.

After walking to the palace from the port entrance for the short tour there we then got on the coach for a tour of Genoa by coach until we were dropped off in the city at the waterfront by the Aquarium (PS if your doing the aquarium tour don't expect much because the aquarium is really small and not impressive). On the coach tour we went through the city streets and saw places of interest. Once at the Aquarium for a pit stop for bathroom and snacks (at your expense of course) we had two choices: walk with the guide over to see the cathedral from the outside and some of the other incredibly narrow historical streets (we actually enjoyed this portion of the tour the most, the streets were crowded but it felt loosely like you were in the Harry Potter films on the cobbled streets at the shop where he buys his wand) or you could sit on the waterfront until the rest of us returned. Finally we boarded a small tour ferry vessel for our very quick return to the ship. I can only assume the return to the ship by this small ferry was faster than the coach weaving itself back to the ship on one directional streets.

Again - please don't waste your money on this excursion. Worst excursion of all the ones we purchased. Have I made myself clear enough?
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MSC Orchestra - Mediterranean - 14/03/2018
Holland America Koningsdam - Eastern Caribbean - 01/08/2017
Carnival Glory - Eastern Caribbean - 01/23/2016
Carnival Conquest - Eastern Caribbean - 06/22/2014
Royal Caribbean Monarch of the Seas - Bahamas - 04/02/2013
Celebrity Constellation - Southern Caribbean -
01/28/2008
Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas - Eastern Caribbean - 02/04/2006
Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas - Western Caribbean - 02/14/2004
Celebrity Horizon - Bermuda - 05/18/2002
Holland America Maasdam - Western Caribbean - 08/19/2001
Crystal Symphony - Mexican Riviera - 01/05/2001
#26
140 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
Thank you SO much for these great details! Will definitely avoid the Genoa excursion . I'm finding it hard to figure out what to do in that port. Maybe we will just wander around a bit and take it easy. We only have one sea day scheduled so that will be a nice break.
#27
Canada
196 Posts
Joined Apr 2014
I'm glad you find the info useful. Getting good value and a positive experience is what I look for. I don't expect miracles but I do expect at least to be entertained for the hours I spend on an excursion.

Genoa also has hills which you with see as you exit the port area so I'm not sure how easy it is to explore on your own from the port, you might need a taxi or shuttle to the town centre. Our guide also warned us about pick pockets there too.

Originally posted by tampagirl2
Thank you SO much for these great details! Will definitely avoid the Genoa excursion . I'm finding it hard to figure out what to do in that port. Maybe we will just wander around a bit and take it easy. We only have one sea day scheduled so that will be a nice break.
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MSC Orchestra - Mediterranean - 14/03/2018
Holland America Koningsdam - Eastern Caribbean - 01/08/2017
Carnival Glory - Eastern Caribbean - 01/23/2016
Carnival Conquest - Eastern Caribbean - 06/22/2014
Royal Caribbean Monarch of the Seas - Bahamas - 04/02/2013
Celebrity Constellation - Southern Caribbean -
01/28/2008
Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas - Eastern Caribbean - 02/04/2006
Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas - Western Caribbean - 02/14/2004
Celebrity Horizon - Bermuda - 05/18/2002
Holland America Maasdam - Western Caribbean - 08/19/2001
Crystal Symphony - Mexican Riviera - 01/05/2001
#29
New Lenox,IL,Eagle River,AK
713 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
I enjoyed reading your review as it reminded me of the horrific cruise I took on the Seaside in Jan. Food was terrible,service was terrible, and guest services was a joke. The only thing you were not lucky enough to experience was the constant sewer smell being pumped into the room thru the AC. It's a shame because the ship is beautiful and we were excited to be able to cruise on it but were terribly let down. I could go on and on about the problems we had but you live and learn. This so called "European style" of cruising is not for me!
#30
Canada
196 Posts
Joined Apr 2014
Hi Everyone,

Here is a link to all the Daily Programmes for this cruise in one large PDF format.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/17E4...ew?usp=sharing
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MSC Orchestra - Mediterranean - 14/03/2018
Holland America Koningsdam - Eastern Caribbean - 01/08/2017
Carnival Glory - Eastern Caribbean - 01/23/2016
Carnival Conquest - Eastern Caribbean - 06/22/2014
Royal Caribbean Monarch of the Seas - Bahamas - 04/02/2013
Celebrity Constellation - Southern Caribbean -
01/28/2008
Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas - Eastern Caribbean - 02/04/2006
Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas - Western Caribbean - 02/14/2004
Celebrity Horizon - Bermuda - 05/18/2002
Holland America Maasdam - Western Caribbean - 08/19/2001
Crystal Symphony - Mexican Riviera - 01/05/2001