April 2015 - 12 Night Western Europe Northbound (Rome To Kiel) Cruise on MSC Orchestra
My cabin was 12169 so this will give my identity away to MSC. This is a review of the boat itself not the experience of attending a memorable event in life of any Australian or New Zealander the 100 year anniversary of the Gallipoli landings. Nothing could spoil this experience. Also we were blessed with the smoothest sailing and finest weather.
Luggage distribution: Delivered 8h after stepping aboard. We had purchased an on board travel iron and whilst some were lucky to receive them others weren't allowed them.
Cabin itself: If you don't know what to expect, don't believe the marketing pictures you look and dream at with anticipation. Its far smaller. The location of 12169 was ideal in that you could get to the buffet & deck levels 13 & 14 easily or take the lift to level 5 the restaurant easily. There was a bit of scraping noise from the buffet floor above but not enough to concern. It was any easy stagger home from the wine bar as well on level 7. Our room person was amazing and very helpful and attentive.
Food: Extremely disappointing to at times pathetic. Its hard to imagine who they believed they were catering for but when people spend the type of money we spent (note it was a charter) you'd expect a level of sophistication of the pallet. The only thing I can think of that may excuse the chefs were the fact it was a charter and that the Travel Superstore signed on for a cheaper quality menu. The dinning room staff were attentive during dinner times, but by two thirds of the way through they became very disinterested at breakfast and lunch in the dinning area.
Drinks: Aussie's love a drink and when bored at sea for two 7 day stretches surely it's not rocket science to know that beer wine and spirits would be consumed in liberal quantities. We purchased the highest drinks package from MSC direct and the wine allowed to be consumed with out paying extra was abysmal. The sommelier for MSC needs to be brought in for questioning. Then they ran out of the drinkable stuff 3 days away from the first port and never restocked the wine. The draught beer ran out the day before that along with some of the spirits. Was the drinks package value for money - rating 0 - 10 (0). This running out was to become a feature of the cruise.
Entertainment: The live performances of the artist and historians were the highlight of the trip. The in-house free movies an absolute insult. B&W 1930s and 40s, and some no one had ever heard of. The paid movies were not much better - blockbuster - you have to be kidding.
Shore Excursions: These were pre paid rip offs by Travel Superstore. After the first attempt by Travel Superstore to get the people off the ship MSC came to the rescue and things went far smoother from that point.
Services: Wifi this is so pathetic that MSC should like any hotel throw it in for free. It was far better late at night and early in the morning when less people were using the band width. However most cabins had it available but the strongest signals were on deck 7.
Medical Staff: The boat was a sick boat when it left Dubai for Australia and by the time it reached Adelaide on the way to picking us up in Fremantle, supposedly people were presenting themselves to the Hospitals in Adelaide. The virus what ever it was knocked people out of action for between 4 to 10 days in general - 3 weeks later I'm still coughing. So if you have a sick boat surely it would obvious to stock up on panadol Nurofen and the like as it would be in demand. By the time we reached Canakkale in Turkey shore excursion buses were being diverted to chemist shops where 40 people would buy the shop out pain killers and decongestants. Some of the on board medical staff were just down right rude. They made Doc Martin look like Florence Nightingale. They were that rude! Hygiene was harped on and liquid hand cleansers were everywhere. But what hope do you have you see staff obviously ill carrying trays of food with two hands coughing over an uncovered tray, or people walking into the buffet sanitising their hands on the way in coughing into their hands and then picking up the tongs. Or as in my instance an inconsiderate passenger coughing and sneezing over the back of you whilst on a bus in Egypt. This could almost be case of negligence that should have been controlled.
In summary the combination of MSC poor quality food and wine along with the illness and the very obvious grab for cash buy the Travel Superstore made this an over priced extremely poor value cruise. The entertainers and historians were the highlights along with some of the MSC staff. None of this could spoil the fact of standing on the shores where 100 years before the spirit of Australia was born.