Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 403 out of 500
Accommodation: 155 out of 200
Food: 242 out of 400
Service: 298 out of 400
Entertainment: 62 out of 100
Cruise: 291 out of 400
Overall Score: 1451 out of 2000
MSC Orchestra Statistics
Size: Large Resort Ship
Cruise Line: MSC Cruises
Former Names: none
IMO Number: 9320099
Builder: Aker Yards (France)
Original Cost: $360 million
Entered Service: May 2007
Length (ft/m): 963.9/293.8
Beam (ft/m): 105.6/32.2
Draft (ft/m): 25.2/7.7
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (40,4000kW)/2
Passenger Decks: 13
Total Crew: 987
Passengers (lower beds): 2,550
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 36.2
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.6
Cabins (total): 1,275
Size Range (sq ft/m): 150.6-301.3/14.0-28.0
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 827
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 17
Wheelchair accessibility: Good
Cabin Current: 110 and 220 volts
Casino (gaming tables): Yes
Slot Machines: Yes
Swimming Pools: 2
Hot Tubs (on deck): 4
Self-Service Launderette: No
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No
Onboard currency: Euros
A large, family-friendly ship with elegant, chic decor
Overview. MSC Orchestra will suit young adult couples, singles, families with tots, children, and teens who enjoy big-ship surroundings and a noisy, big-city lifestyle, with different nationalities and languages, mostly European. The ship accommodates families with children, who have their own meeting and play centers, video games room, youth counselors, and fun programs.
The Ship. The ship’s deep blue funnel is sleek, and features a swept-back design that carries the MSC logo in gold lettering. The overall profile is quite well balanced. The hull has large circular porthole-style windows instead of square or rectangular windows. From a technical viewpoint, the ship is powered by diesel motors driving electric generators to provide power to two conventional propellers.
MSC Orchestra is a sister to MSC Musica and MSC Poesia, though the fabrics and furnishings used in the ship’s interiors are nicer and softer. Among the numerous lounges and bars, the Out of Africa Savannah Lounge is stunning. A delightful four-piece classical ensemble regularly performs in the atrium lobby.
Plenty of real wood and marble have been used in the interiors, and the high quality reflects the commitment that MSC Cruises has in the vessel’s future.
The focal point of the ship is the main three-deck-high lobby, with a water-feature backdrop and a crystal piano on a small stage that appears to float on a pond. Other facilities include a large main show lounge, a nightclub, discotheque, numerous lounges and bars (including a wine bar), library, card room, an Internet center, virtual reality center, children’s club, and cigar lounge with specialized smoke extraction and a selection of Cuban, Dominican, and Italian (Toscana) smokes.
A shopping gallery, which includes an electronics store, has an integrated bar and entertainment area that flows through the main lobby so that shopping becomes a city-like environment where you can shop, drink, and be entertained all in one convenient area. The expansive San Remo Casino has blackjack, poker, and roulette games, and an array of slot machines.
Drinking places include a pub-like venue as well as several comfortable lounges with live music. A 15 percent gratuity is added to all drinks/beverage orders. Some of the artwork is whimsical. And, speaking of whimsical, take a look at the ‘restrooms with a view’ - the men’s/ladies’ toilets adjacent to the forward pool deck bar have a great ocean view and you can even watch the passing scenery while sitting on the toilet - if you leave the door open.
The themed decor has many Italian influences, including clean lines, minimalism in furniture design, and a collection of colors, soft furnishings, and fabrics that work well together, although it’s a little more garish than one would expect.
Access throughout most of the interior of the ship is good, but wheelchair-bound passengers should note that the accommodation hallways are narrow on some decks for you to pass the housekeeping carts. Note that there is no walk-around open promenade deck.
Although the interior layout and passenger flow is good, a congestion point occurs when first seating passengers exit the two main dining rooms and second seating passengers are waiting to enter.
The MSC Cruises crew really does try their best to provide good service to a multi-national clientele, and the ship exudes a noticeable ‘feel-good’ factor.
Accommodation. There are several price levels, depending on grade and location. There are suites with private balcony, mini-suites, outside-view cabins, and interior (no-view) cabins. Contrary to nautical convention, the cabin numbering system has even-numbered cabins on the starboard side, and odd-numbered cabins on the port side.
All cabins have a minibar and personal safe, satellite flat-screen TV with audio channels, and 24-hour room service. Continental breakfast is complimentary from 7.30 to 10am, but room service snacks cost extra at any other time.
Accommodation designated as ‘suites’ - they are not true suites, as there is no separate bedroom and lounge - also has more room, although they are small compared to suites on some on other cruise lines. They have a larger lounge area, walk-in closet, vanity desk with drawer-mounted hairdryer, and a bathroom with combination tub and shower. There is a semi-private balcony with light, but the partitions between each balcony are of the partial, not full, type. The suite bathrooms are plain, with white plastic washbasins and white walls, and mirrors that steam up.
Many cabins on Forte Deck have views obstructed by lifeboats. Cabins on the uppermost accommodation deck (Cantata Deck) may be subject to the noise of sunloungers being dragged across the deck above when it is set up or cleaned early in the morning. Some of the most popular cabins are those at the aft end of the ship, with views over the ship’s stern from the balcony cabins (on Virtuoso, Adagio, Intermezzo, and Forte decks). The 17 cabins for the disabled are spacious and well equipped.
Dining. There are two main dining rooms, Villa Borghese Restaurant and L’Ibiscus, located in the aft section of the ship, and with large ocean-view picture windows. There are two seatings for dinner, and open seating for breakfast and lunch. Tables are for two to eight, as well as some alcove banquette-style seating. Anyone occupying upper-grade accommodation typically gets the better tables in quieter areas.
Other dining options. Shanghai Chinese Restaurant makes a change from the main restaurants. This was the first real Chinese restaurant aboard any cruise ship - mainly because of the challenges of providing high-temperature wok and deep fryer preparation. Dim sum steamed dishes are also served, typically for lunch. The food embraces four main cuisines - Beijing, Cantonese, Shanghai, and Szechuan - and there’s Tsing Tao beer.
The Four Seasons Restaurant offers extra-cost à-la-carte Italian cuisine in a garden-like setting with fine china, and a menu reflecting regional and seasonal fare. Food is cooked to order, and so it tends to taste better than in the main dining room. Reservations are required, and there’s a cover charge.
La Piazzetta Café is open 20 hours a day for casual, self-serve buffet-style breakfasts and for sit-down, served dinners in a relaxed environment.
Entertainment. Covent Garden is the ship’s stunning large showlounge. The Opera Lounge, one deck above, is the place for social dancing, with live music. The G32 discotheque is for the more energetic. A large poolside movie screen provides moviegoers with more choices. All the activities are provided by an energetic multilingual cruise staff. Also, live music is provided in almost all bars and lounges.
Spa/Fitness. The Orchestra Health Center, operated by the Italian company OceanView, includes a beauty salon, several treatment rooms offering massage and other body-pampering treatments, and a fitness center with ocean views and high-tech muscle-toning equipment.
There’s also a thermal suite, containing different kinds of steam rooms combined with aromatherapy infusions, at extra cost. There’s a neat juice and smoothie bar opposite the reception desk. Gratuities are at your discretion.
For the sports-minded, there is deck quoits, as well as shuffleboard courts, tennis and basketball courts, mini-golf, and a jogging track.