On January 2, 2009, we arrived to the Port of Fort Lauderdale at 1 PM, the time they told us we could board the ship. When we got the terminal there were already approx. 500 people in line waiting to get in. When they finally opened the doors at 2:30 PM there were approx. 1,000 people in the check-in line. All of this time no announcement were made advising passengers as to what the delay was. Another hour wait once inside the terminal building to get to the check-in desk. It was a good thing that it was not too hot or raining. We finally got on board the ship at 4:50 PM.
The scheduled 7:00 PM sailing time was delayed until 8:35 PM since it took extra time to process people checking in. People were still checking in at 7:00 PM. They did make up the time lost and arrived in Nassau at the scheduled time.
The lifeboat drill was also delayed until 8:30 AM the next morning. Some people managed to escape that since they got off the ship and went shopping.
We had the 8:30 PM, Late Seating, for dinner. We arrived at the dining room at 8:50 PM only to find ourselves waiting in another line to get into the dining room. They had not opened it yet for the late seating. First seating passengers were still in the dining room. The second night was not as bad. They opened the dining room doors at 8:45 PM.
By the time we finished dinner, with the slow service, it was 10:50 PM. We arrived at the 10:30 PM Late Show at 11:00 PM only to see the remaining 20 minutes of the show before it ended. We were not happy about missing the show. The show was the only thing that actually started on time.
We had an Oceanview Cabin with Balcony. It was a spacious cabin with a king size bed and quite nice. A larger bathroom as compared to other ships we have been on. The entire ship was quite elegant with a lot of marble, paintings, sculptures, mirrors, etc. The layout of the ship was very good. It was easy to navigate from one part of the ship to another without getting lost. Not confusing as all.
The food was average. No fancy presentations either. Service was slow. No midnight buffet on the first night and when they did have the midnight buffet on the pool deck it was just ordinary items on trays. No fancy displays or ice carvings.
The disembarkation procedure was another disaster. We elected for Priority Boarding by taking our own luggage ashore. Passengers were told to gatherer in the lounges at 7:00 AM. They announced for the first Priority Group to disembark around 8:30 AM. They had moved no more than 10 feet when they announced for the second group to disembark and then the 3rd group 10 minutes later. Another 1 hour wait in a hot corridor to disembark. We finally got ashore at 10:00 AM.
During the cruise there were no announcement made as to what was going on. No meetings about Customs Regulations, etc. The only good thing about that is you did not have to hear announcements regarding Bingo Games every 15 minutes.
The crew was unfamiliar with the layout of the ship. If you asked one of them where the nearest restroom was located, they either did not understand English or did not know. Passengers making complaints at the Reception Desk were just smiled at and told that they did not understand.
No type of compensation was offered to the passengers for their inconveniences. Only a letter apologizing for the inconveniences was slipped under the cabin door.
The daily ship's bulletin said that MSC would like all passengers to fill out comments cards, but no comments cards were slipped under the cabin doors nor were any to be found on the ship. I guess the crew of the MSC Orchestra did not want the passengers comments going back to the company.
I do not think any of the passengers will be recommending MSC Cruises to their friends. MSC really has to get their act together.