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

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#1
Canada
196 Posts
Joined Apr 2014
Hi Everyone,

We just completed our first MSC cruise on the MSC Orchestra which embarked in Civitavecchia (Rome) on March 14th, 2018 and ended also in Rome on March 26th, 2018 after 12 nights at sea. We originally had 9 ports but one was cancelled.

The ports were:
Livorno (Florence), Italy
Genoa, Italy
Marseille, France
Barcelona, Spain
Valletta, Malta
Olympia, Greece (cancelled - we arrived near the port but it was cancelled either due to weather conditions or low attendance on excursions making it not viable for MSC depending on which staff member you asked)
Heraklion, Corfu, Greece
Crete, Greece
Athens, Greece

I'll first comment on the food (I know it's subjective and I know MSC is supposedly "Italian style cruising" with a Mediterranean influenced menu. My comments are my own based on our experience. My better half found the food dreadful. Portion size was NEVER an issue for us.

We're vegetarians. Short and simple the food is the worst we have had in eleven cruises on various lines.

No flavour. No spices. No herbs. No sauces.

Vegetarians beware: little to no sources of protein in the menus or in the buffet other than overcooked hard boiled eggs, tiny ill-prepared Tofu and the occasional bean dish. Frankly I don't know who the chef was but they should not be guiding MSC's "Master Chef at Sea" programme which makes me laugh just thinking they offer that. I know many will comment that in the Mediterranean they use olive oil / balsamic vinegar but this cruise line is supposedly "Italian style cruising" and I don't care where you live in the world most forms of pasta has some type of sauce and most beans/chickpeas are not served from the can on their own. The best dishes we had were in the buffet on the "Ethnic" station and that was simply because they added some curried vegetables occasionally.

We gave up on the dining room early in the cruise because both the service and the food was terrible and we were not enjoying that experience so we dined in the buffet for the rest of the cruise for most meals. Yes I spoke with the powers that be (my comments on MSC's customer service will come later.) We supplemented our meals in the ports. Not kidding: Air Canada offered the best vegetarian meal we had between the MSC cruise and our two international sector flights - a simple Black Bean Masala but it had flavour and we both enjoyed that dish the most which doesn't say much after 12 nights at sea on MSC.

The fruit and salad bars on MSC had ample ingredients to choose from and seemed popular with all guests. These stations were a saving-grace for us but they also had some of the most unusual salad toppings I've ever encountered but again lots of choice. Make your own salad and you will be fine in that regard. Pre-made salads in the buffet and dining room were normally accompanied by 3/4 cup of water in the bowl and watered-down dressing so we made our own.

Hard-boiled eggs - not sure how you can screw that up but MSC is brilliant at it - overcooked (about 99% of the ones I ate to get some protein had a green-edge yolk) or under-cooked with a soft center but all listed as "hard-boiled" and in the same pan. They don't put the eggs in cool water afterwards so be prepared for a lengthy battle in picking the shell off in many pieces. They had scrambled eggs and other egg styles which were either very runny, like chewing on rubber or dry enough to make you need to drink water to get it down.

The signs on the buffet items were often incorrectly identified for example one might say "Vegetarian" but the item included chicken, pork or fish. Other items not marked vegetarian were often vegetarian.

The desserts: most were repeated over and over throughout the cruise (i.e. same desserts at lunch as there will be at dinner and day after day). Most items were bland squares, tarts and puff pastry. I love pastry but MSC is pretty basic. I wondered if most of the food is just loaded on the ship frozen and heated and put out for the passengers.

I've added some photos at this link which include some dining room and some buffet photos (hope you access it properly, I'm not a tech wizard):
https://photos.google.com/share/AF1Q...d6X3RtdUhIbFlR


Buffet was always crowded and we had to wait to be seated in the buffet at least half of our visits there. If you opt to eat outside by the pool or in your stateroom you don't have to wait. Most of the passengers seemed to be eating in the buffet for all three meals.

Summary: If you're a "foodie" and food quality is high on your priorities I'd suggest you skip over MSC in selecting a cruise.
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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
#2
6,684 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
Your experience re food mirrors our experience on Orchestra at Christmas last. We're not vegetarians, so our choices weren't as limited as yours would have been, but we still had the very same issues that you had in regards to the poor quality of food and offerings.

I had hoped that ours was either an aberration, or that the fact that I was ill for some of the cruise had influenced my judgement (though DH felt the same way about the food - and the service! on this cruise). It was our 18th MSC cruise and the worst we've had. I felt I never wanted to cruise MSC again when we disembarked!

It seems to me that there's some serious problems with the management of this ship.
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Bea
'Would I could set sail upon the water'.

PREVIOUSLY ON:


MSC Splendida Mar/April 2018 (YC/Repo)
MSC Orchestra Dec 2017 (Christmas)
MSC Magnifica Sept/Oct 2017

MSC Meraviglia June 2017 (YC)
MSC Fantasia Feb 2017
MSC Sinfonia Nov 2016 (b2b)
MSC Sinfonia Oct 2016 (TA)
MSC Sinfonia Aug 2016
MSC Magnifica April 2016
Celebrity Millennium Jan 2016 (Sky Suite)
MSC Divina Oct 2015 (TA)
MSC Divina Sep 2015 (YC)
MSC Preziosa Mar 2015 (TA)
MSC Fantasia Dec 2014
MSC Preziosa Aug 2014 (YC)
MSC Preziosa May 2014
MSC Splendida Feb 2014
MSC Splendida Feb 2013
MSC Splendida Feb 2012 (YC)
MSC Fantasia Nov 2011
Carnival Sensation Sept 2000
#3
Canada
196 Posts
Joined Apr 2014
Our stateroom...

Deck 11 - Flauto
Fantastica category but we were on the "Bella" experience.
Stateroom #11147, midship, starboard, with balcony

Photos (sorry forgot to get a photo of the bathroom)
https://photos.app.goo.gl/hOtZYJjlzWOwuweh2

Good location. No noise from below, on either side or above. Only 2 decks up to the buffet and pool deck. Sometimes people were smoking on their decks (not permitted) but we were lucky in that it wasn't any of our closest neighbours.

Note that one of the outdoor loud speakers is directly above the door to the balcony next to the outside light. This wasn't an issue for us unless they were giving announcements in all the languages and you were sitting on the balcony. I captured a portion of the supposedly one-time safety-drill message which was on day four of our cruise (Barcelona) but I haven't figured out how to upload that here.

I may be incorrect in this but on other lines there normally are two crew looking after your stateroom, a steward and assistant. On the MSC Orchestra we only ever saw our steward cleaning and vacuuming the stateroom.

Cleanliness: the stateroom really needed a good "wipe-round" as some of the surfaces were sticky, stained or had residue on them. However with the multiple embarkation ports I doubt the stewards really get any time to properly clean any stateroom.

Bathroom: tiles in the shower were cracked and the hand-held shower was leaking a considerable amount of water but that was repaired without us asking about half-way through the cruise. The bathrooms are pretty basic like most are "at sea". They offered only shampoo and liquid body wash. No bars of soap, lotion or conditioner. Facecloths only upon request (asked first day and replenished every day afterwards without asking.)

Bedding: good but you can see that the strips of decorative fabric on the bed that would normally be a folded up duvet or blanket are showing their age and needs to be replaced.

Closet - all fine here. About six drawers and the room safe in the first cabinet next to a wide wardrobe style cabinet. About 10 hangers when we arrived but as we did laundry we got them to put it on a hanger rather than being folded so we could fold them ourselves and use the extra hangers for the closet

We had enough storage space, a small love-seat (convertible into a single bed, again fabric stained and showing age) and desk with cube seat. We had the beds separated which made the gap between the sofa and the bed nearest the balcony doors about 4 inches apart so you had to maneuver a bit and I stubbed my toes more than once.

Balcony was good too although I found the balcony furniture very cheap and the stool particularly uncomfortable to lay your calves/feet on unless you adjust it the right way so the bars are not digging into you. Depending on your stateroom location your balcony furniture might be a different style as some had metal while others had the synthetic bamboo style. The stateroom dividers on the decks didn't latch firmly so they would be making noise if the ship was rocking or the wind was strong but we never heard the noise from inside the stateroom. One of the LED lights in the ceiling started flashing about half way through the cruise and it was noticed by the steward during his rounds and by us because it felt like a disco in the stateroom when the lights were on. It was replaced the next morning. Balcony window doors were mostly clean but the glass rail was dirty throughout (I give them allowance for this because sea-spray as I call it makes it really difficult to keep clean constantly but on other lines we've been on the glass panels were spotless).

Cabin steward: language was an issue for us. I wouldn't exactly call him polite but his grasp of the English language needs improvement. He could be quite confrontational which I found odd. For example: We had purchased the Laundry 40 package (40 items per stateroom to be washed during the cruise). We did this because I like to try to travel without unnecessary luggage due to airline baggage restrictions. MSC does not stick to the "picked up by 10:00 a.m., returned by 5:00 p.m. the next day policy" for it's laundry but all of our items were returned the next day albeit normally after 5:00 p.m. On about the fourth day we sent some of the laundry out using the provided paper bags and laundry forms, we had sent one or two items already but this time we were sending about 6-8 items. My better-half had prepared a bag of laundry to give to the steward. The steward started confronting him about the volume of laundry we were sending and he had to firmly inform the steward about how we had pre-purchased the laundry 40 package which was our choice and offered by MSC. The steward seemed annoyed by this as if it was a chore for him and required additional work from him. On day 5 we ran out of the laundry forms in the stateroom (steward did not replenish them automatically perhaps out of spite) so in that evening I called Guest Relations to ask for more of the laundry forms to be delivered to the cabin (will do was the answer). About 20 minutes later a different steward arrives at the cabin with breakfast order forms. Not sure how you confuse "laundry" with "breakfast" but they did. I had to explain to him that we wanted laundry forms not breakfast forms and off he went to come back with laundry forms. Clearly Guest Relations did not relay the right information the first time which we found was frequently the issue during the cruise or the stewards have poor listening skills. The next morning to my surprise our steward confronts me about that request I made the night before to Guest Relations. He (in broken English) said that by asking for the breakfast forms (I corrected him and told it was laundry forms the whole time which required several attempts to get him to understand this) he would loose "chips" which I took from trying to decipher his remarks as being some sort of performance control system that he gets monitored by. I was really taken back by how rude he was about this. I asked for laundry forms which he did not replenish automatically and now I was being spoken to in a very rude manner that I should have come to him first (which I couldn't because he was not available.)

Because of other service issues onboard we removed the "hotel service charges" (gratuities) from our account on day 4 or 5 but opted to pay only our cabin steward a gratuity direct paid to him in cash for looking after us for 12 nights. Frankly I might have stiffed him because his service needed a LOT of improvement but my better-half felt it was the right thing to do so I gave in.
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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
#4
Canada
196 Posts
Joined Apr 2014
Thank you for your comment Bea. I had read some comments about the food on the Orchestra before we left so I was prepared for lackluster but lackluster would have been a generous term to apply to what we received.

Originally posted by Beamafar
Your experience re food mirrors our experience on Orchestra at Christmas last. We're not vegetarians, so our choices weren't as limited as yours would have been, but we still had the very same issues that you had in regards to the poor quality of food and offerings.

I had hoped that ours was either an aberration, or that the fact that I was ill for some of the cruise had influenced my judgement (though DH felt the same way about the food - and the service! on this cruise). It was our 18th MSC cruise and the worst we've had. I felt I never wanted to cruise MSC again when we disembarked!

It seems to me that there's some serious problems with the management of this ship.
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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
#5
170 Posts
Joined Feb 2018
Originally posted by RoyalVisit
Thank you for your comment Bea. I had read some comments about the food on the Orchestra before we left so I was prepared for lackluster but lackluster would have been a generous term to apply to what we received.
We are sailing Orchestra late Aug 18 and we talked friends into coming with us for their first cruise, I sure hope they get things sorted out on that ship. We are not fussy people but c'mon MSC at least make the food average on this ship
#6
Central Illinois
137,972 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
Thanks for sharing your experience.
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Bob

Past Cruises

Celebrity: Mercury
RCCL: Adventure, Allure, Brilliance, Enchantment, Explorer, Freedom, Independence, Jewel, Legend, Liberty, Majesty, Mariner, Monarch, Navigator, Oasis, Radiance, Rhapsody, Serenade, Sovereign, Vision, Voyager
#7
158 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
Thank you for the review! The bad food seems to be a trend! I'm hoping the pizza is at least still good! We are not vegetarian, but I do recall the pizza and pasta stations in the lunch buffet being good last time we were on MSC.

The room steward sounds awful! The last reviewer also commented on poor service in regards to their room, so this also seems to be a trend.

I would love to hear about you ports/excursions! We leave soon and sail in April on the Orchestra. We have similar ports, minus the Greek ports you visited.

I didn't know you could take the tips/gratuity off your bill. How do you do that?
#9
Civitavecchia, Italy
4,476 Posts
Joined Oct 2007
Thanks for your review!
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#10
6,684 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
Originally posted by tampagirl2
I didn't know you could take the tips/gratuity off your bill. How do you do that?
You have to go to Guest Services and advise that you want them removed. I believe you have to proffer a reason. Personally, I've never done it (I'm the one who was critical about our room steward in my Orchestra report). Here's the actual wording from the MSC brochure:

"(However), should you wish to adjust or cancel any of the daily hotel service charges in the unlikely event that you did not receive a satisfactory service, you may do so on board."
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Bea
'Would I could set sail upon the water'.

PREVIOUSLY ON:


MSC Splendida Mar/April 2018 (YC/Repo)
MSC Orchestra Dec 2017 (Christmas)
MSC Magnifica Sept/Oct 2017

MSC Meraviglia June 2017 (YC)
MSC Fantasia Feb 2017
MSC Sinfonia Nov 2016 (b2b)
MSC Sinfonia Oct 2016 (TA)
MSC Sinfonia Aug 2016
MSC Magnifica April 2016
Celebrity Millennium Jan 2016 (Sky Suite)
MSC Divina Oct 2015 (TA)
MSC Divina Sep 2015 (YC)
MSC Preziosa Mar 2015 (TA)
MSC Fantasia Dec 2014
MSC Preziosa Aug 2014 (YC)
MSC Preziosa May 2014
MSC Splendida Feb 2014
MSC Splendida Feb 2013
MSC Splendida Feb 2012 (YC)
MSC Fantasia Nov 2011
Carnival Sensation Sept 2000
#11
Canada
196 Posts
Joined Apr 2014
I hope for all your sake MSC does fix the issues onboard.

Originally posted by Cullyman15
We are sailing Orchestra late Aug 18 and we talked friends into coming with us for their first cruise, I sure hope they get things sorted out on that ship. We are not fussy people but c'mon MSC at least make the food average on this ship
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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
#12
Canada
196 Posts
Joined Apr 2014
Lots more to come, hope to add to this later today.

The pizza...well if you can call it that. It is Mediterranean style but we found them lacking any flavour. They had the same four types for 98% of the time...a very plain margherita, a Hawaiian with pineapple and ham, a cheese and I think the other was pepperoni? sometimes they added more vegetables to the margherita like peppers or aubergines. I was hoping they would be delicious but they really had no spices or herbs. They are not North American style that's for sure but we were expecting something like what we purchased onshore in Rome at Gourme' which is near the Trevi fountain. Massive difference between the quality at Gourme' at the pizza onboard the ship.

I will definitely be commenting on the ports and our MSC excursions (the best part of the cruise in my opinion was the ports). We spoke with other couples from New York, Florida, Australia and elsewhere onboard and both the poor food and service issues were a common theme.

When I went to Guest Relations about the service in the dining room I was very clear that they were to remove the "hotel service charges" from our account immediately. She never questioned my instructions. I will go into this later in a separate post to make it easier to follow.

Originally posted by tampagirl2
Thank you for the review! The bad food seems to be a trend! I'm hoping the pizza is at least still good! We are not vegetarian, but I do recall the pizza and pasta stations in the lunch buffet being good last time we were on MSC.

The room steward sounds awful! The last reviewer also commented on poor service in regards to their room, so this also seems to be a trend.

I would love to hear about you ports/excursions! We leave soon and sail in April on the Orchestra. We have similar ports, minus the Greek ports you visited.

I didn't know you could take the tips/gratuity off your bill. How do you do that?
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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
#13
Canada
196 Posts
Joined Apr 2014
Guest Relations Wine Debacle

Our online TA booking included a complimentary bottle of wine and $100US onboard credit ($50 pp which was converted onboard to about 39 Euros pp). Both were listed in our cruise documents provided by MSC along with our complimentary bottles of water in the dining room, our laundry 40 package, our social media package, excursions etc.

On embarkation day there was no sign of the bottle of wine or any card in the room to indicate where to call if we wanted it. So I left it until the evening to see if it might arrive without us asking. Maybe our expectations that a card would be in the room with instructions or the bottle would be in the stateroom or mini-fridge already was too much to expect. There was no card for the onboard credit and no mention of it until I asked for a statement of our account a few days into the cruise.

The bottle was not placed in our cabin automatically on embarkation day so I called Guest Relations that same evening and had to explain to them more than once that I didn't want to purchase a bottle, I wanted the complimentary bottle included with our reservation. I cannot express how frustrating it is to be basically accused for asking for freebies. The representative spent a lot of time locating the item as listed on our account, finally located it and then asked if we wanted red or white wine so we picked white and she said it would arrive within 20 minutes. I thought that was a challenge and looked forward to the wine BUT it never arrived so I thought I'll leave it to tomorrow and see if it shows up but it didn't.

So the next evening I call Guest Relations for the second time, explain the situation again and they seemed surprised the bottle had not arrived - as if I was lying to them - again, the confrontational attitude of the MSC staff was really a consistency throughout the cruise and this was not the European/North American interaction, their English language conversation was perfectly fine most of the time. The representative asked again if we wanted red or white and said it would be there in 20 minutes. Success! the wine arrived but the story doesn't end here.

This is a link to what arrived:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/I7iR9iPliZ5kRU9Z2

All good we thought.

So my husband goes to open the bottle and it has a cork but they didn't provide a corkscrew and the bottle was not already opened. So I call Guest Relations a third time to ask them either to send up a corkscrew or someone to open it for us....answer was "they didn't open it or give you a corkscrew?", I said "no", she gasped in frustration said it would be taken care of within 20 minutes. A polite guy arrived within about 10 minutes to open the bottle and Bob's your uncle. I don't drink alcohol due to allergic reactions but my husband enjoyed the wine.

It shouldn't have taken 3 calls to obtain a bottle of wine that was a complimentary inclusion on our booking. I'm convinced that had I not inquired about it we would never have received it but had I ordered a bottle of wine I would have received it promptly well I hope.

This was just one of several interactions with Guest Relations that left us both perplexed and frustrated.
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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
#14
6,684 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
The wine really should have been in your cabin at embarkation - or, at the very least, been delivered that afternoon. (I can understand that they may not now have items such as wine, etc, in the cabin in case of theft now that the cabin doors are left open with your cruisecards on the bed for your arrival).
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Bea
'Would I could set sail upon the water'.

PREVIOUSLY ON:


MSC Splendida Mar/April 2018 (YC/Repo)
MSC Orchestra Dec 2017 (Christmas)
MSC Magnifica Sept/Oct 2017

MSC Meraviglia June 2017 (YC)
MSC Fantasia Feb 2017
MSC Sinfonia Nov 2016 (b2b)
MSC Sinfonia Oct 2016 (TA)
MSC Sinfonia Aug 2016
MSC Magnifica April 2016
Celebrity Millennium Jan 2016 (Sky Suite)
MSC Divina Oct 2015 (TA)
MSC Divina Sep 2015 (YC)
MSC Preziosa Mar 2015 (TA)
MSC Fantasia Dec 2014
MSC Preziosa Aug 2014 (YC)
MSC Preziosa May 2014
MSC Splendida Feb 2014
MSC Splendida Feb 2013
MSC Splendida Feb 2012 (YC)
MSC Fantasia Nov 2011
Carnival Sensation Sept 2000
#15
251 Posts
Joined Sep 2014
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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#16
Canada
196 Posts
Joined Apr 2014
I thought so too - even a card with instructions would have been appreciated and useful. I get that MSC has their own procedures and policies but their customer service approach is really backward.

Originally posted by Beamafar
The wine really should have been in your cabin at embarkation - or, at the very least, been delivered that afternoon. (I can understand that they may not now have items such as wine, etc, in the cabin in case of theft now that the cabin doors are left open with your cruisecards on the bed for your arrival).
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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
#17
6,684 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
Originally posted by Captain-John

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.
You presume right, CJ.

I had the very same experience as RV regarding "hard-boiled" eggs. I cannot eat an egg with a runny yolk - it must be set! We had 2 wonderful waiters at breakfast who tried to get me a hard-boiled egg. I insisted they give up after they'd brought me 6 of them - none were hard-boiled. In some cases, not even the white had set - yuck!
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Bea
'Would I could set sail upon the water'.

PREVIOUSLY ON:


MSC Splendida Mar/April 2018 (YC/Repo)
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Carnival Sensation Sept 2000
#18
Canada
196 Posts
Joined Apr 2014
Port #1: LIVORNO (FLORENCE) Moving on to the Ports...had they been awful the cruise would have been a right-off but they were great....we only used MSC excursions during this cruise. Why? because we felt the prices were reasonable if prepaid in USD on the MSC USA website rather than in Euros onboard and they offered a good selection of excursions to choose from. I prefer the easy route when I travel and the excursions mostly satisfied our wishes.

Livorno, Italy (Florence and Pisa): We had originally booked the MSC Excursion entitled "Florence and Pisa with a Smart Device" but after consulting with some friends who had been we decided it would feel too rushed to try to do both areas in one day so we changed the excursion to MSC's "Florence on Your Own" which was the right choice as we enjoyed exploring Florence by ourselves and didn't feel rushed.

I had pre-purchased Accademia Galleria tickets as well so we got to see the real Statue of David without wasting time standing in long lines. We just picked up our tickets at a small office directly opposite the entrance to the Accademia Galleria and went right in past security. I felt bad for the people in the long line outside as the rain started to come down about that time. It was well worth the approximate $25 Canadian pp cost as my new friend "Dave" was just amazing to see in person and there are many other magnificent works to see at the gallery.

For March, I was really surprised how busy Florence was versus in high season (can't imagine the crowds) but buying tickets for the attractions in advance was really worth it for us to make the most out of our time. We had to meet in the Savannah Bar for 8:15 a.m. and we were on the road shortly after. After the roughly hour commute to Florence with a guide onboard giving us advice we were set free on our own. We had Gelato at Corona's Cafe too at our expense of course. We really enjoyed visiting Florence. The Duomo line up was incredibly long so we skipped going inside but visiting a lot of churches isn't really our thing so no big loss for us.

Happy to answer questions about Florence...
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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
#19
Canada
196 Posts
Joined Apr 2014
Port #2 - Marseille, France

We had done some reading about Marseille before we left and many of the comments suggested there was not a lot that would interest us there so we decided to seek out an excursion that took us outside Marseille. We decided on MSC's "MRS19 Charming Arles" excursion which was about 5 - 6 hours in length including the one hour drive to get there. We met in the Savannah Bar for 9:15 a.m. and shortly after we boarded the coach. The coaches on all our excursions were great. They didn't have wi-fi as some expected but they were comfortable and clean. We had a fantastic guide named Pascal and driver Christian. She was the perfect guide - she makes history relevant and interesting instead of dishing out historical timelines without any folklore or stories to bring the place alive. She made us laugh and she knew her Vincent Van Gogh! who had lived in Arles and painted some of his famous paintings there while staying in an asylum which we had the chance to visit. We were in Arles on Saturday so we also got the extra bonus of partaking in their Saturday market which was just fantastic - all kinds of products from pastries to vegetables to homemade products and wines...brilliant!

Pascal showed us around the town on a walking tour and then gave us free time to explore. We decided to actually go into the Roman amphitheater that we stopped outside of as part of the walking tour. Pascal spoke about it at length but the excursion does not include the entrance fee. It cost 9 Euros pp to see but as we don't have anything close to this in Nova Scotia, Canada I was more than happy to explore and we basically had the place to ourselves on a beautiful sunny day for about an hour or so! The views of Arles and the countryside from the terrace (go to the right as you enter the amphitheater and climb the old stone stairs to the top (Pascal told us about it and she was SO right - worth the short climb!.)

Arles was one of the places we enjoyed visiting the most. If we return to Marseille I would either gladly visit Arles again or try the other Aix-En-Provence area which was popular too. If you get to go on a Saturday make sure you make time to explore their outdoor market which is right in the middle of the town and the coach stops nearby to pick you up there at the end of the excursion before the return to Marseille.
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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
#20
Canada
196 Posts
Joined Apr 2014
Port #3 - Barcelona, Spain

In Barcelona we decided to take the BCN21 Highlights of Barcelona, Monsterrat & Wine Tasting tour offered by MSC and it did NOT disappoint! Warning here though: it's about a 7-8 hour tour and if the monastery at Monsterrat is busy you could be stuck sitting on the coach as you wait for traffic to enter or exit the monastery area. Our guide told us on his last tour there the group had to wait 3 hours on the hills before they could enter the Monastery area where they then only had 20 minutes to visit before they had to return to the ship. So although we thoroughly enjoyed our visit (we had about 2 hours at the monastery) I advise caution if you're not a patient person

Our guide spoke in English and Italian I believe. Some of the excursions we did were on multiple languages which can be a bit tiresome but most only had 2, English and French or English and Spanish etc. The guide on this tour was informed but a tad boring. Thankfully our stops more than made up for his failures.

Because it was Sunday the guide and driver did the nonstop coach tour of Barcelona first because we would be able to see more of the city as traffic wasn't an issue. We passed some of the most famous buildings in Barcelona including the 1992 Olympic Games area and buildings by Gaudi but we didn't get that close to the famous Gaudi' Sagrada Familia cathedral but we could see it at the end of the street. If you're looking for a Gaudi themed tour this isn't the best one for you.

Our first stop was at the Vilarnau Vineyard in Barcelona for the wine tasting. We had a tour of the modern facility set in the hills surrounded by grapevines and almond blossoms etc. We sampled one chilled white champagne (cava) and some nuts....it was a great start to our day long tour.

Our second stop was the Monsterrat Monastery which is something to behold. It is set up far at the top of a mountain. The views were spectacular. The guide spoke about the monastery outside and then we had time to explore the inside. We opted not to wait in line to touch the famous "Black Madonna" which according to legend means that if you touch it you will get married that same year. The line for that was quite long and you can actually see people touching it from the pews in the cathedral anyway because the Madonna is set high above the pulpit and you can see the people one by one as they touch her hand.

I don't want to go into too much detail here about Monsterrat itself because I don't want to ruin the experience but you can Google it if you want more detail. We didn't get to hear their famous boys choir. We ate lunch at one of the cafeterias (they have several types of restaurants including sit down down) which was delicious (we had a hardy vegetarian lentil soup and baguettes) and did some shopping in the gift shop. They also had about 5 or 6 market stalls set up near the entrance.

We really lucked out in having a beautiful sunny day at Monsterrat because the views were really amazing. The weather can be tricky (often cloudy which would dampen the experience and it actually snowed there just 2 days after we visited) so be warned but honestly I would do it over again in a heartbeat!
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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