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MSC Orchestra Review

Find a MSC Orchestra Cruise from £219

MSC Orchestra
4.0 / 5.0
381 reviews

Pros
Cons
Bottom Line

About

Passengers
2,550

Crew
1,000

Passenger to Crew
2.55:1

Launched
2007

Shore Excursions
151
Sails To
Africa, Eastern Mediterranean, Mediterranean
MSC Cruise Deals
Teijo Niemela
Cruise Critic Contributor

MSC Orchestra Overview

MSC Orchestra, which joined MSC's fleet in 2007, is the line's eighth ship. Like MSC Musica, its sister vessel, MSC Orchestra represents an evolutionary new design strategy for the line. It would be safe to say that with these two new ships (MSC Musica debuted in 2006), the cruise line is definitely ramping up to better compete with other European big ship lines, like Italy's Costa and Spain's Pullmantur.

MSC Cruises, which is based in Naples, was conceived with the premise of offering Europeans an affordable cruise vacation -- a concept that was fairly revolutionary in the late 80's and early 90's. Today, it competes primarily against Genoa-based Costa Cruises. And yet, it's only been building its own ships since 2003 when it introduced the mid-sized MSC Lirica. That ship was my first MSC cruise, and it's clear after my recent seven-night voyage on MSC Orchestra -- which is almost twice as big -- that the MSC onboard experience has greatly evolved.

First, however, if you don't know what to expect from MSC, I'll fill you in. The line has long been praised for its innovative and whimsical entertainment options (and still offers some of cruising's most fun activities), as well as its heavy emphasis on creating an Italian ambience (via crew and restaurants) that is reminiscent of upscale (not to be confused with luxury) hotels in Rome or Milan. MSC attracts a broad mix of primarily European passengers, and the number of languages spoken onboard reflects the line's wide geographic range (all major announcements are offered in up to six languages, even Japanese).

With the introduction of MSC Musica and MSC Orchestra, both measuring 92,409 gross tons and carrying 2,550 passengers (double occupancy), the line firmly into the big-ship, new-ship, moderate-fare game that's long been played by Costa, Royal Caribbean and Carnival, among others. It's interesting to note, however, that MSC does carry more passengers than the others. For comparison's sake, Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas is about the same tonnage -- but carries 450 fewer people. As such, ships are bulging with passengers in certain peak times, such as during European school holidays; MSC Orchestra consistently carried over 3,000 passengers during the summer season. And at peak times, beware: certain shipboard facilities, like the pool deck and buffet restaurant, can be incredibly congested.

Of course, one reason why Orchestra's space ratio is less than its competitors is its belief that all -- or at least most -- cabins should be standard size. Thus, there are just 18 mini-suites (and even those are not all that huge at 269 square ft., including balcony). On the plus side, Orchestra's itineraries are quite port intensive, and so passengers are off the ship much of the time, only returning for a bit of relaxing and dining at day's end.

Actually there are a lot of pluses to the MSC experience, as long as you don't mind the crowds. Indeed, English-speaking travelers who prefer a more European experience when cruising in Europe should, in particular, give the line a try.

Editor's Note: Because MSC Orchestra is Europe-based, all onboard prices are in euros (go to www.xe.net for latest conversion rates).

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Top MSC Orchestra Itineraries

MSC Orchestra
7 night mediterranean - eastern cruise

Venice, Bari, Katakolon (Olympia), Mykonos, Athens (Piraeus), Sarande, Dubrovnik, Venice

7 NIGHT Mediterranean - Eastern CRUISE

MSC Orchestra

View All MSC Orchestra Itineraries (16)

Fellow Passengers

MSC Orchestra is a pan-European ship with its true meaning -- passengers hail primarily from Europe and the U.K. Though on my trip, there were also folks from Asia, America and Canada.


MSC Orchestra Dress Code

Many Orchestra passengers are first-time cruise travelers, and it didn't seem like they understood the dress codes on my trip. There were two formal nights and five casual nights, but passengers often chose to dress up more than necessary during a rather port-intensive itinerary. For men, it's really not necessary to bring a tuxedo, and during the formal evenings, jacket and tie seemed to be more the norm than suits.

It's recommended that passengers not wear any jeans, T-shirts, shorts or bare feet after 6 p.m.


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MSC Orchestra Ratings

CategoryEditorMember
Cabins4.04
Dining4.03
Entertainment3.03.4
Public Rooms4.03.9
Fitness Recreation4.03.3
Family3.03.5
Enrichment2.02.8
Service3.03.4
Value For Money4.03.2

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More about MSC Orchestra

Where does MSC Orchestra sail from?

MSC Orchestra departs from Buenos Aires, Durban, Cape Town, Bari and Venice

How much does it cost to go on MSC Orchestra?

Cruises on MSC Orchestra start from £219 per person.

Awards and Recognition

MSC Orchestra Member Reviews

MSC Orchestra
tonyfes
Sail Date: Mar 2020
I managed to secure a wheelchair for my wife and proceeded to disembark only to arrive at the checkout with stairs and did a magical mystery trip of the Orchestra with a great MSC employee who managed... Read More
MSC Orchestra
JAXREC
Sail Date: Feb 2020
This particular boat, needs some attention, as with the the previous ships we have being on, the Orchestra needs a little TLS.... Read More
MSC Orchestra
anfieldfujia
Sail Date: Nov 2019
As a Diamond Club Card Holder and recently invited to the Launch Party for the MSC Orchestra on the 16th November 2019 and then Booked for the First 4 night cruise, commencing on the 17th November to say... Read More
MSC Orchestra
Nadsb1977
Sail Date: Dec 2019
Thank you MSC... Read More

MSC Cruises Fleet

MSC Lirica
3.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

263 reviews

MSC Lirica is one of four medium-sized Mistral-class ships dating from 2003. In 2014, an 80-foot-long section was sandwiched into the middle of the ship.

MSC Lirica Cruises to the Eastern Mediterranean MSC Lirica Cruises to the Mediterranean View All MSC Lirica Cruises
MSC Musica
3.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating


Musica serves an English-speaking crowd but with a largely international mix of passengers. Expect dance lessons and a decent wine bar to keep you occupied.

MSC Orchestra
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating


MSC Orchestra, which joined the fleet in 2007, is the line's eighth ship. Like MSC Musica, Orchestra represents an evolutionary new design strategy for the line.

MSC Sinfonia
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating


The 1,952-passenger MSC Sinfonia is one of four Mistral-class ships that saw a new midsection during a major 2014/2015 refurb. Sinfonia debuted in 2002.

MSC Fantasia

The 3,300-passenger MSC Fantasia debuted in 2008 as the largest and most innovative cruise ship ever built by Italy-based MSC Cruises.

MSC Splendida
4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating


Spendida is European through and through, from the food and decor to the coffee and cigarettes. The ship sails the Mediterranean and most rooms have balconies.

MSC Poesia
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating


Tastefully exuberant decor -- brass handrails on the staircases, marble countertops at reception, a waterfall in the atrium -- means Poesia is elegant but not boring.

MSC Armonia
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating


MSC Armonia is the oldest ship in the MSC Cruises fleet. Built in 2001, Armonia began sailing under the MSC banner in 2004.

MSC Magnifica
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating


Part of the Musica Class of ships, 2,518-passenger MSC Magnifica has a sprawling spa, a range of dining venues and a high number of balcony cabins.

MSC Divina
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating


One of the most multinational ships sailing in North America, with a decidedly Mediterranean flare, active nightlife and the suites-only Yacht Club.

MSC Preziosa
4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating


MSC Preziosa provides a fun, relaxed and affordable way to cruise the Med. With 1,751 cabins and a total capacity for 4,345 passengers, Preziosa offers a good choice of accommodation options.

MSC Seaside
4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating


Designed for North America, MSC Seaside focuses on the outdoors with more alfresco space, lots of balcony cabins and open-air attractions.

MSC Meraviglia
5.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating


The 4,475-passenger ship (5,714 at capacity) boasts a number of industry firsts, including a Cirque du Soleil venue and promenade with an LED ceiling that projects different scenes throughout the day.

MSC Seaview
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating


MSC Seaview is MSC Cruises' second Seaside-class ship, launched in June 2018. The 5,179-passenger ship, along with its sister, will have the largest ratio of outdoor space of any cruise ship.

MSC Grandiosa

Due for delivery in October 2019 and September 2020, the first of two new Meraviglia Plus ships will carry nearly 6,300 passengers plus 1,700 crew.

MSC Virtuosa

MSC Virtuosa, the second ship in MSC Cruises' Meraviglia Plus Class, is slated to launch in September 2020 and will carry 6,297 passengers.

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