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MSC Orchestra Facts & Figures
Owner/Operator:MSC Cruises
Year built:2007
Builder:Aker Yards, St. Nazaire, France
Former names:-
Gross Tonnage:89,600
Length:293.8 m (963.9 ft)
Beam:32.2 m (105.6 ft)
Passengers (normal):2,550
Passengers (maximum):3,013
Crew:987
Service speed:23.0 kn
Sister Ships:MSC Musica, MSC Poesia, MSC Magnifica
MSC Orchestra Photo Gallery
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From the ShipParade Archives: MSC Orchestra On Board Report
All photos and text: © 2007 Bart de Boer (unless otherwise noted)
This article was first published on June 16, 2007. Decor, services and amenities might have changed since publication

The success story of MSC Cruises reads like a novel. In a world where cruise lines are multinational companies run by invisible boards of directors that have no apparent links to shipping, it is quite refreshing to see that MSC Cruises is very much a family affair. As Italian as Ferrari and cappuccino, the whole Aponte family turned up for the naming ceremony of their latest musical masterpiece MSC Orchestra at St. Nazaire on May 3, 2007.

MSC Orchestra at Lisbon. This photo © Luís Miguel Correira
MSC Orchestra at Lisbon, Portugal. This photo © Luís Miguel Correira
These photos © Luís Miguel Correira

Built by Aker Yards, MSC Orchestra is the second in a series of three Panamax cruise ships, specifically designed for the pan-European cruise market. Last year ShipParade ventured to St. Nazaire to witness the naming ceremony of MSC Musica and now, one year later, Alexa Aponte christens sister vessel MSC Orchestra. Being twins, the two ships are interchangeable

on the outside. But thanks to clever use of colors, MSC Orchestra feels different from her musical sister. With bold interior design, Italian flair and a multi-cultural hospitality team, both ships are floating European resorts with an easygoing feel to them. Perfect for families with children, MSC Orchestra spends her days in the blue Mediterranean offering a taste of 'la dolce vita' to anyone willing to leave the everyday life behind and join the MSC family. So: Strike up the band!

MSC Orchestra naming ceremony, St. Nazaire
MSC Orchestra at St. Nazaire, France
Officially named!
MSC Orchestra - atrium

Welcome to Italy! No matter where in the world you step on board MSC Orchestra, you will feel like you have just entered a little piece MSC's home country when first set eyes on the three-deck high atrium. It has a ceiling of twinkling lights, a backlit waterfall, beautiful curved staircases and a circular stage floating over water.

L'Incontro Atrium

On the lowest level (Pianoforte Deck), you will find the reception desk which is manned around the clock by attractive Italian ladies. Popular on most hours of the day is the L'Incontro Bar - actually two bar counters on starboard and port sides where you'll find the Italians sipping their cappuc-cino's in the morning and their Campari's before dinner.  One deck up, done in a most

attractive purple and burgundy color scheme is the shopping section, consisting of a large boutique and jewelry shop,  and a beautiful semi-circular shore excursion desk. Curved grand staircases connect the three levels, making it the true heart of MSC Orchestra.

L'Incontro Bar

L'Incontro Reception
L'Incontro Reception
L'Incontro bandstand
L'Incontro Bar

Beautiful atrium

MSC Travel Agency, Violino Deck
The Purple Bar
Lo Zaffiro Jewelry shop
Madison Avenue Boutique
 

MSC Orchestra - cabins

These days, cruise ships all seem to compete for the most lavish accommodation at sea. Garden Villas, vast penthouse suites and seagoing apartments are all too common on most new ships. Not so on MSC Orchestra. With a choice of twelve stateroom categories, the ship basically offers only five different cabin sizes, ranging from comfortable inside cabins to luxurious suites.

Balcony

65 % of all staterooms are equipped with a private balcony, but you should be aware that the cabins in the front and aft of the ship have very small verandas. So if you plan to spend time out on the porch, choose one of the amidships balcony rooms. All cabins on board come equipped with comfortable beds, a mini bar, hairdryer and flat screen TV. Done in green

or burgundy tones, they are classy but rather dark. The bathroom is compact but well designed, with great water pressure. Too bad that MSC still uses sheets and blankets. Isn't it time to switch to duvets?

Suite with balcony - cat. 12

Outside stateroom with balcony - cat. 11
Tasteful artwork
Outside stateroom with balcony - cat. 11

Endless stateroom corridors

Outside stateroom with balcony - cat. 10
Outside stateroom with balcony - cat. 7
Sleep well!
 
MSC Orchestra - dining rooms

Depending on your cabin location, you will be assigned a table in either the Villa Borghese or L'Ibiscus main restaurants. Located on decks 5 and 6 respectively, it is interesting to see that the design team has come up with two completely different restaurants occupying the exact same space on two decks. There is no doubt the corn yellow L'Ibiscus is the prettiest of the two, sporting a very classy look with its high-backed chairs and charming artwork. While offering similar menus and service, the oversized murals make the Villa Borghese Restaurant look a little garish. With its rather low ceilings, expect dinners to be lively and upbeat. MSC carries many families, so in true Italian tradition dinner is the time to get together and celebrate. Buon Appettito!

L'Ibiscus Ristorante

L'Ibiscus Ristorante
Villa Borghese Ristorante

L'Ibiscus Ristorante

Villa Borghese Ristorante
Villa Borghese Ristorante
 
MSC Orchestra - entertainment

Wilkommen! Bienvenue! Welcome! Having to cater for a multi-lingual crowd, the entertainment on MSC Orchestra is as pan-European as it gets. So expect a lot of emphasis on non-verbal entertainment like dancing, juggling and acrobatics. After all, acrobatics is enjoyed by all, no matter if you speak Spanish or German! That said, the 'MSC Variety Show' that we saw on MSC Orchestra was well produced, high-paced and featured some mind-boggling acrobatic stunts.

Most shows will be staged in the lavish 1,125 seat Covent Garden Theatre. While arguably less festive looking than its counterpart on sister ship MSC Musica, sightlines from most seats are fine.

Covent Garden Theatre

Covent Garden Theatre
Spectacular show

Covent Garden Theatre

Covent Garden Theatre
Covent Garden Theatre
 

MSC Orchestra - Savannah Bar

Just when you think you've seen it all, there is The Savannah Bar. Located on Violino Deck, this 477 seat alternative show room and ballroom is decked out in a striking African theme that features panther print galore. After the much-talked about Tucan Lounge on MSC Musica, the design team obviously decided that they could go one step further. The result is ... colorful!

Grand staircase leading up to the Palm Beach Casino

Still, as in all of MSC Orchestra's public rooms, the lighting is superb and despite the room's size, this is a popular place and another credit to the De Jorio design team. In the forward part of the Savannah Bar, a grand staircase leads up to the Palm Beach Casino. The casino is remarkably large for a ship mostly catering to Europeans and comes equipped with all

the usual games of chance. As all slot machines are tucked away into port and starboard arcades, the gaming tables take center stage here.

The Savannah Bar

The Savannah Bar
The Savannah Bar
The Savannah Bar
The Savannah Bar

The Savannah Bar

The Savannah Bar
The Savannah Bar
Palm Beach Casino
Palm Beach Casino
 
MSC Orchestra - Amber Bar & shops

Somewhere on most MSC ships, you will find an intriguing combination of a shopping gallery and bar. At first glance, the Amber Bar on MSC Orchestra is a pleasant, smaller bar with dance floor and lots of comfortable seating. At closer look, you will discover three different shops incorporated in the design of this room. An electronics shops, logo shop and duty free shop are all masterfully blended into the décor. Done in greens and browns, the result is pleasing and another tribute to the skills of the design team. In the evenings, a trio plays late night tunes here, making the Amber Bar perfect for the nightclub gang. And even though the shops may be closed, you will not have the impression of sitting in a deserted shopping center. Bellissima!

The Amber Bar

The Amber Bar
The Amber Bar

The Amber Bar

The Amber Bar
The Amber Bar
MSC Orchestra - Shanghai Restaurant

Down a very beautiful foyer with some intriguing artwork, you will discover a small library and card room before you reach the Shanghai Restaurant. With a name like that, a proper introduction is not really necessary. Offering an elaborate Chinese a la carte menu each evening, this reservations-only restaurant is made to look like a true Oriental hangout.

You will have to pay a cover charge to dine at the Shanghai Restaurant and reservations are taken on a first-come, first-serve basis. Too bad the room is really closed off and loses some of its attractiveness because of it; an open-plan 'sidewalk-style' layout would have been better.

Art Arcade

Shanghai Restaurant
Shanghai Restaurant

Art Arcade

Art Arcade
Card Room
 

MSC Orchestra - Wine Bar

The uppermost level of the three-deck high atrium has some unexpected surprises. First, there is a space-age Internet Café where guests may check their e-mail and surf the web. On starboard side, the smell of leather reveals the charming La Cubana Cigar Room. A small bar on one side and a lot of overstuffed seating will make this area a sure hit with cigar aficionados.

Internet Café

Walking aft on Saxofono Deck we reach the La Cantinella Wine Bar. Here, you are able to buy wine by the glass and attend wine tasting sessions. The room is rather long and

narrow, taking some of the 'wine bar' feel away. Still, the actual bar area in the middle of the room is very inviting and will surely be very popular on any cruise. With the La Cantinella Wine Bar occupying the port side, the starboard side is given over to the beautiful Photo Gallery. Where MSC Musica's Photo Gallery was chock a block with historical shipping photos, MSC Orchestra's gallery has a sport oriented theme with oversized black and white sports classic photos covering the display panels when not in use.

Artium at Saxofono Deck level

Internet Café
La Cubana Cigar Room
La Cubana Cigar Room
La Cubana Cigar Room

La Cantinella Wine Bar

La Cantinella Wine Bar
La Cantinella Wine Bar
Photo Gallery
Photo Gallery
 
MSC Orchestra - Shaker Lounge

The main difference between MSC Orchestra and her sister ship MSC Musica is the use of colors. But there is one major design modification that sets the two vessels apart. For MSC Orchestra, the aft Shaker Lounge was redesigned and now sports a wonderful glass wall aft, letting in a lot more daylight and creating some very sought after seating groups overlooking the horizon. The décor of the room is very attractive; a perfect spot to sip a frothy cappuccino in the morning, take dance lessons in the afternoon, have a cocktail or two in the evening and dance the night away to the sounds of a live band later. With a huge dance floor, the mood is just right around the clock.

The Shaker Lounge

The Shaker Lounge
The Shaker Lounge artwork

The Shaker Lounge

The Shaker Lounge
The Shaker Lounge
MSC Orchestra - casual restaurants

Looking for a casual buffet breakfast, a slice of freshly baked pizza, a miniature cup of steaming espresso or a special dinner? Head up to Mandolino Deck where you will find the huge La Piazzetta Cafetaria, MSC Orchestra's buffet restaurant. Huge glass walls offer an unprecedented view of the sea, while your inner self is taken care of by means of the two buffet lines.

4 Seasons Ristorante a la carte

Despite the size of the room, the layout is not perfect and a 'free flow' area would have been better to enhance the passenger flow. If the weather is nice enough, bring your plate outside to the pool deck, where you will find numerous shady tables to enjoy your meal. During peak meal hours, the adjacent 4 Seasons will open up to cope with the crowd. Looking more elegant than La

Piazzetta, 4 Seasons has its own  twin buffet and bar. In the evening, this is where you can diner a la carte, provided you have made an advance reservation and are willing to pay a supplement. 

La Piazzetta Cafetaria

La Piazzetta Cafetaria
La Piazzetta Cafetaria
La Piazzetta Cafetaria
4 Seasons Ristorante a la carte

4 Seasons Ristorante a la carte

4 Seasons Ristorante a la carte
4 Seasons Ristorante a la carte
La Piazzetta Cafetaria
4 Seasons Ristorante a la carte
 

MSC Orchestra - Pool Deck

No expense was spared when designing MSC Orchestra's stunning pool deck. This is one pool deck that was designed with the guests in mind. Directly forward of the La Piazzetta Cafetaria is the Acapulco Pool, attracting adults and arguably the quieter of the ship's two swimming pools.

Acapulco Pool

A raised teak decked platform houses two Jacuzzis and overlooks the wonderful El Sombrero Pool Bar. Despite the name 'Pool Bar', the pools can not be seen due to the bar's built-in location, but it is that closed-in feeling that gives this bar a unique feeling. During our overnight stay, the place was crowded day and night. And with good reason!

Further forward is the Cala Blanca pool with twin Jacuzzis and an oversized screen showing movies, video clips and MSC commercials. One deck up, there are more of those typically Italian lounge chairs plus a rather cramped jogging track.

Pool Deck with Acapulco Pool

Cala Blanca Pool
Cala Blanca Pool
Acapulco Pool
Pool Deck with Cala Blanca Pool

Sun deck with Jacuzzis and Acapulco Pool

Pool Deck with Cala Blanca Pool
Acapulco Pool
Deck 16 sun deck
El Sombrero Pool Bar
 
MSC Orchestra - R32 Disco

Party Time! Each evening the party crowd find their way to the aft part of the Chitarra Deck. The R32 Disco was named after the ship's yard number and is done in a post-modern silver and burgundy color scheme. A bit like 'Mission Impossible' meets 'Star Trek' really! This is one of the larger seagoing discos and on a typical Mediterranean cruise in summer it is standing room only after Midnight. Mind you, the disco doesn't open until 11 PM anyway! With monitors in ceiling, walls and dance floor, there is no escape from the video clips, while outside on the disco's aft balcony (accessible through sliding glass doors) the party continues until the wee hours.

R32 Disco

R32 Disco
R32 Disco

R32 Disco

R32 Disco
R32 Disco
MSC Orchestra - Body & Mind Spa

All the way forward on deck 13 is the Body & Mind Spa, home to MSC Orchestra's wellness center. The area has a distinct tropical feel, with gilded Buddha statues welcoming the guests. The complex comprises of  a hairdressing salon, beauty salon and a large relaxation

Body & Mind Spa

area with beautiful oversized rattan lounge chairs, three Jacuzzis and a large lounge with bar. And of course those of you that desperately need exercise there is a large gym overlooking the bow of the ship. With their parquet flooring and oriental feel, the numerous treatment rooms are very attractive and considerably larger than their counterparts on most other ships.

Body & Mind Spa

Body & Mind Spa
Body & Mind Spa
Body & Mind Spa

Body & Mind Spa

Body & Mind Spa
Body & Mind Spa
Body & Mind Spa
 

MSC Orchestra - upper decks

The oversized midnight blue smokestack of MSC Orchestra overlooks all the daytime action around the two pools, but the vessel's top decks hold some more surprises. All the way forward is a large, sheltered sun deck surrounding the main mast. Quieter than the buzzing pool deck, this will be the hot spot for the 'older youth' on sunny sea days.

Directly aft of the funnel is a full tennis/basketball court, while one deck lower you will find a small miniature golf course and shuffleboard. And take our tip if the crowds get to you: all the way aft is a nice small sheltered sun deck with just a couple of lounge chairs. Get there early and you'll have the best seat in the house. Eh, ship!

Deck 16 open deck

Looking forward from deck 15
Proud logo

She is a big ship!

Tennis Court
 
MSC Orchestra - made in italy

Some cruise lines let several design teams go wild on their ship, with each team designing a specific area. Other cruise lines have a single designer responsible for the whole ship. In the case of MSC Orchestra, Studio de Jorio has proven a trustworthy partner. In a repeat performance after designing several other MSC ships, the Italian touch once again shines through. Fresh, shiny, upbeat yet stylish and very recognizable, the De Jorio interiors are quite unique and give the newer MSC ships a unique style. On MSC Orchestra, the colors are a little more 'earthy' than on sister MSC Musica. But the result is equally wonderful. So we leave you with a quiz question: which came first: the orchestra or the music?

Welcome aboard cake

Elevator lobby
Atrium

R32 Disco

Body & Mind Spa
Beautiful color scheme
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