My trip onboard the MSC Orchestra Cruise ship was my first time trying out a cruise. To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure whether it’d be my sort of thing, and had some doubts about it. Overall, it was an interesting experience. While there were some things I didn’t like so much, there were other aspects I enjoyed.

MSC Orchestra Cruise

Itinerary for our MSC Orchestra Cruise

As this was our first time trying out a cruise, we decided to book a short 3 night trip. We decided this’d give us a good idea about whether or not it’s something we’d consider again. Our MSC Orchestra cruise departed from Barcelona and would sail to Palma de Mallorca and then spend a day at sea before arriving into Genoa.

Overall, I liked the itinerary. We weren’t so interested in disembarking during our stops, instead, we wanted to spend the time getting to know the ship more and understanding what a cruise can offer. Actually, as it happened, the best days for doing this were definitely port days when most people had disembarked for the day and everything was much quieter.

Our cruise took place in early June and cost us €439. This was for two people, sharing the cheapest cabin available (interior) and having the basic alcohol-included drinks package, known as the ‘Easy Package’.

MSC Voyagers Club Loyalty Scheme

Before this trip, I didn’t know all that much about the world of cruise ship loyalty schemes. To be fair, I still don’t. However, one thing I did find out was that MSC offer a status match. You can obtain a status match if you hold premium status with most major hotel chains, or another cruise line. As I have Accor Platinum Status, I decided to try and my luck and apply on their website.

Three days later I received an email informing me I’d be upgrade to MSC’s highest status category which is Diamond. This didn’t seem bad at all, considering I’d never even stepped foot on a cruise ship before. You can find out more about the different Voyagers Club levels on the MSC website. I wasn’t really sure what impact it’d have onboard, so was looking forward to seeing.

Diamond Status has a number of different benefits. To be honest, most of them don’t appear to hold a great deal of value, but the following I did expect to get value from:

  • Priority Boarding.
  • Complimentary dinner in a specaility restaurant of my choice.
  • A welcome gift of sparkling wine and macarons.
  • Late cabin check-out
  • One hour of complimentary access to the thermal spa area.

There are some other interesting benefits, although they personally didn’t appeal to me. For example, the vaguely mysterious sounding ‘MSC Voyagers Club exclusive Diamond Party’ or 40% off purchasing pictures onboard.

MSC Orchestra Cruise Check-In & Boarding

Prior to our trip, everything seemed to be well organised. As mentioned above, we did this trip on a budget. This meant we booked the cheapest interior cabin available. We didn’t pay extra to choose the location of our cabin and decided to leave it to chance. Around one month before our departure date, we recieved an email from MSC. This included details of our booking as well as our cabin number. Interestingly enough, it showed us that we’d been upgraded to a cabin with a window and partial view.

Around two weeks before departure, we received another email which contained our baggage tags and check-in time. This advised us that we should board at 13:00. I have no idea if this was the standard time, or if we were given an earlier slot because of having MSC Diamond (since early check-in is an advertised benefit). We actually arrived about an hour earlier than this, and it was no problem.

MSC Orchestra Cruise

I didn’t notice any dedicated queue for MSC Diamond members (priority boarding is supposedly a benefit) but it didn’t make any difference. There was no one in the queue, to my surprise. Prior to the trip, I’d had images of huge queues to board, and having to spend hours in a cruise terminal before being able to get on the ship – so I was pleasantly surprised. We were only travelling with backpacks, so didn’t need to check-in any luggage.

Once inside, you need to pass security, which was very straightforwaed. Afterwards, there was a quick document check. This is when you receive your cruise card – which you will need to access your room and to make use of any services onboard. Once all of this was done (at most it took 15 minutes) we were able to board.

Our MSC Orchestra Cabin

During the check-in process we were informed that our cabin might not be ready. We were advised that it might be better to head to lunch first, and then to go to our cabin afterwards. We decided to try our luck and find our cabin (8166). Fortunately, it was ready and waiting for us, so we were able to put our backpacks down. The day before our cruise, we’d arrived back in Europe from Thailand, so were pretty jetlagged and took the opportunity for a quick nap.

MSC Orchestra Obstructed View Window Cabin

The cabin looked exactly as it does on MSC’s website. To be honest, it really isn’t my sort of style. It was green, very green. MSC is more towards the budget end of the cruise market, so I wasn’t expecting it to be particularly luxurious feeling – and the design definietely wasn’t. The space felt small, but actually, it wasn’t as cramped as I had expected. MSC Orchestra was built in 2007, and it does look a little dated. I’m not really sure why this design and colour scheme was adopted in the first place though.

MSC Orchestra Cabin

The bed, however, was extremely good. It genuinely felt like something you’d get in a very nice hotel. Additionally, all of the bedding was of a really high quality, and very comfortable for sleeping. There was also a small sofa (green of course) but it wasn’t particularly comfortable and we didn’t really use it.

MSC Orchestra Window Cabin

In line with their MSC Voyager Diamond benefits, a bottle of sparkling wine was waiting for us, as were some macarons and bars of dark chocolate. I thought this was a really nice touch, and a great welcome gift. It’s rare I get anything like a bottle of wine as a welcome gift when staying at an Accor Hotel, for example.

Prosecco and Macarons

Food on the MSC Orchestra Cruise

Regardless of the package or cabin you book, meals are included. This includes a buffet which was open for 20 hours (!) per day. Additionally, you’re allocated a restaurant and time for dinner each day. When booking, we requested the later time slot, and were allocated a dining time of 9pm in the Villa Borghese restaurant. This was great, as I don’t like eating very early. There are two included restaurants onboard, the other being L’Ibiscus. From what I understand, they both serve the same menu.

MSC Orchestra Restaurant

The restaurant is also open for breakfast and lunch, although the times were very limited. In addition to the buffet and the two included restaurants there is a speciality restaurant called Shanghai which offers Chinese and Asian cuisine. We could have eaten here for free as one of our MSC Diamond benefits, however, we chose not to. We checked the menu, and went to see how it looked – and to be honest, it didn’t really appeal.

This was laregly because the food in the main restaurant was actually really good! There were different main course options to choose from daily, as well as different pasta dishes, starters and desserts. While the food won’t win any awards, it was by no means bad, and much better than I had expected.

MSC Orchestra Restaurant Food MSC Orchestra Restaurant Beef Dish MSC Restaurant Chicken Dish

Unfotunately, I didn’t enjoy the buffet quite so much. It felt very canteen like, was usually extremely busy, and came with a lot of pushing and shoving. Worse still, it wasn’t uncommon for the supposedly clean plates and cutlery to be dirty, which rather put me off the whole experience. The only thing worth going for was the pizza – especially if you were looking for a snack at any point during the day. Other than this, I’d avoid it again at all costs.

Dessert Cake

Drinks on the MSC Orchestra Cruise

When we booked, MSC were offering a promotion which included drinks. This essentially meant the price we paid included the most basic alcohol-inclusive package, known as ‘Easy’. Also included were soft drinks such as bottled water, fanta, sprite, coke, and juices. It was also possible to get speciality coffees.

The alcoholic drinks were awful. Genuinely terrible. While plenty of cocktails are included, they’re all made with unbranded spirits. Typically, I only really drink wine, so this wouldn’t have been a huge deal, but the wine was near to undrinkable and should have come with a free gaviscon. Even a couple of glasses spaced out through the day resulted in a headache and feeling unwell. It’s more than possible to get cheaper wines which are drinkable – so I don’t think there are many excuses for this.

MSC Orchestra Cruise

Personally, I didn’t think any of the bars were great. Although they all have slightly different designs and themes, the offerings are the same. So it doesn’t really make a huge deal of difference where you choose to go. There were various entertainment options spaced out through the day such as quizzes and karaoke in some of the bars, but this isn’t really my thing. While it makes sense drinks options are replicated throughout the ship, it’d be nice if they served some different juices and wines to give the bars a personality of their own.

If I was to travel with MSC again, I’d definitely look at buying a better drinks package. Alternatively, on a short cruise like this I’d consider not bothering with one at all, and just buying as I go. If you don’t purchase a drinks package, you’ll only be able to get free drinks in the buffet – and it’s limited to water, coffee, or tea.

MSC Orchestra Cruise Ship Facilities

MSC Orchestera is one of MSC’s smaller ships with a capacity of 3,200 passengers (although this’d only be if all of the pullman bunk beds were in use, which is highly unlikedly). This means it has less facilities than some of MSC’s larger ships. While I didn’t think there were a lot of things to do, there was enough to keep us occupied. The ship has an outside pool and a large deck area. Unfortunately, the pool isn’t heated so in early June wasn’t particularly warm. There are also jacuzzis dotted about the main deck area, but these were usually very busy.

MSC Orchestra Cruise Palama De Mallorca Cruise Ship Port View

We didn’t try out the theatre, but nightly shows were advertised. There’s also a fairly large casino, but again, we didn’t try this out. We did, however, try out the spa area, and made use of our one hour free access. It was really good. We tried out the jacuzzi, as well as the steam room and sauna. While one hour isn’t a great amount of time, we enjoyed the experience. The MSC Orchestra also has a gym, which is free for everyone to access, and well eqipped.

MSC Orchestra Deck and Swimming Pool


For me, my time on the MSC Orchestra cruise was a mixed experience. There were lots of things which surprised me in a positive way but I found other aspects slightly disappointing. We decided to do this cruise on a budget, and it’s important to remember we only paid €439 for 3 nights and a basic all-inclusive package. I don’t think it was bad value.

On our final day, we had to leave the ship by 9am. This was strictly enforced, with our cabin attendant repeatedly entering our room from 7am onwards. We weren’t planning on having breakfast, so didn’t want to wake up before 8am, but this was impossible in the end. As late check-out is a Diamond benefit, I had been hoping that we’d be able to leave closer to midday, but this wasn’t permitted. This can make the final morning feel quite rushed.

Cruise ocean view.

We were upgraded to a cabin with on an ostructed window view. It was nice having this, and certainly better than an internal cabin. I’m not sure why we were upgraded, but it was a pleasant surprise nonetheless. For a longer cruise, I’d definitely place value on having a balcony cabin instead though.

In future, I’d so some things differently. I wouldn’t bother going anywhere near the buffet and stick to the restaurant instead. I’d also explore booking a better all-inclusive drinks package. Overall, I can see the attraction. I particularly liked the fact taking a cruise forces you to disconnect. We didn’t buy the wifi package (just as I never do when I’m flying either). There’s something incredibly nice about having a period of digital disconnection, and a cruise can provide this opportunity.

I’m not sure if I’d rush back to try it again, but I wouldn’t exclude the possibility either.