MSC Orchestra Cruise Review by Stewart C
- Sail Date: April 2019
- Destination: South America
- Cabin Type: Balcony Stateroom – Aurea
Sadly this cruise turned our to be the worst possible nightmare! - We booked the Top Grade Aurea package as this includes "My Choice" dining, where you can dine anytime between 7.30 and 10.45pm, and at a table size of 'your choice' either on a large shared table or an individual table for 2, it's all based on "My Choice" - The Aurera Class also includes the 'Inclusive Drinks Package' and provides a priority boarding procedure.
After a smooth embarkation, we found our cabin on deck 15, to be superb, after the usual Safety Drill, we went to a bar for a drink so that we could settle into our new home for the next three weeks... Little did we realise the horrors that were to follow!
At the bar we were told, Sorry you cant have a drink on this Cruise Card Code, this is only valid for a drink whilst eating in the restaurant or buffet during meal times, we told him that we had paid for The Aurea Class etc, he merely told us to go to reception and see what they have to say about it... We went down to Reception only to find dozens of people all queuing up with various complaints, we waited very nearly an hour before we reach a receptionist, on explaining what had happened, we got the impression that he thought we were just trying to get something extra for nothing! eventually after making some phone calls he said that he would change the cruise card and code, this worked at the bar and we got our two drinks, and we then felt more relaxed about this unsettling incident!
At around 8pm we went to the Aurea Restaurant and asked for a Table for Two, only to be told that they did not have enough Tables for Two, also they were full and had no further room until after 10pm, which would be on a large shared table, we declined this and left, we did not eat anything this first night, as there were no free seats in the buffet either...
The next morning we telephoned the Restaurant to make a reservation for a Table for 2, at around 8pm, the Restaurant Supervisor told us that he could not promise to do this as there are not enough small tables, he suggested that we arrive at the restaurant at 7.30pm right at the opening time and he would 'try' to get us a 2, he then said that if he did manage to do this, we would have to agree to keep this particular table and time for the whole duration of the cruise, we agreed to this, and he did get us seated on a table for 4, but for our use only, on the strict understanding that we vacated the table by 9.45, so they could get it set up for the second sitting... We carried on like this for the remaining 22 nights, which is certainly not what MSC promote in their "My Choice" dining options, another annoying thing is that the ships photographers would come around the restaurant 'whilst you are eating' and virtually insist on taking your photograph sometimes even by sitting with you or cuddling you!!!
We gave up even trying to get a lunch in the dining room, as they only have 3 Tables for 2, in the entire restaurant! - In most cases we tried to eat ashore as much as we could to relieve some of the stress of dining on-board...
With the Aurea Inclusive Drinks Package, we were unable to choose a wine either in the bar or restaurant, we could only request a Red or White wine, we were not looking for the Premium Brands, just basic drinks, could not select type of wine, or get an Irish Coffee or even a Bloody Mary, you were may to feel that you were trying to cheat the system!
In addition to the dining saga, we found the theatre shows to be rather poor and repetitious, the Cruise Director seemed to get most enjoyment from his pre-show introductions, which he delighted in giving out at high speed in several different languages, apparently for his own amusement.
Relaxing in the various Bars was often spoilt by the fact that sales staff would set up tables along side the seating, to sell Watches and Perfumes etc, it was at times like sitting in a Market Place!
We appreciated most of the shore excursions that we did, particularly as they got us off the ship! - We actually tried to fly home to the UK from Brazil after just four days on board, sadly this was the Easter Holiday weekend and most of the flights were either full or very expensive, we reluctantly decided to stick it out until the bitter end!
As a result of this very distressing cruise we have now decided to cancel our 2020 cruise, as there is no way we could go through this dreadful experience again, which is a great shame as we have enjoyed many cruises in the past on various shipping lines, including MSC, but NEVER AGAIN with them!
In all fairness, we must mention that we found the ship itself to be clean and smart and all the staff were extremely pleasant and helpful...
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