May 9, 2015

Pianist in the Atrium

Leaving behind her familiar Mediterranean home, MSC Orchestra recently visited Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, on her 33 night Grand Voyage itinerary, that began in Dubai and ended in Fremantle. This was the first time any MSC ship had sailed “down under”. Cairns was scheduled as the first Australian port where the partial circumnavigation of the Australian Coast was to start, but Mother Nature had other ideas, deciding to send a cyclone to the area that prevented shipping from entering the port, so Brisbane had the honor of being the first Australian port to welcome MSC Orchestra.

Covent Garden Theatre

Covent Garden Theatre

Next it was Sydney’s turn to celebrate in true Aussie style with an evening beach party, held on deck around the pool during her overnight stay. Celebrations went on well into the night as many of the passengers who had embarked in Dubai, enjoyed dancing to the Australian bush musicians who came on board especially for the occasion.

Sandra Tiltman enjoying a pre show cocktail

Sandra Tiltman enjoying a pre show cocktail

I boarded in Sydney and sailed to Fremantle, so I was able to live the Italian lifestyle that cruising with MSC offers. It did not take me long to unpack and settle into my balcony cabin before I was able to start experiencing first hand all the pleasures of sailing in this modern luxury cruise ship, which exuded Italian style and comfort.

Launched on 14 May 2007, MSC Orchestra is the second of the ‘Musica-class’ cruise ships in MSC’s large fleet. Living up to her name and in tune with her musical theme, each of MSC Orchestra’s decks carries the name of a musical instrument such as Saxofono, Violino, Mandolino and Clarinetto.


La Cantinella Wine Bar

The large atrium was home to an elegant white grand piano which was played throughout the day, either by a solo pianist who performed a varied programme of modern music or a classical trio of two violinists and pianist. It was a real treat to sit and enjoy a coffee while listening to this relaxing music.

Early evening the ship’s bars and lounges came alive with music of every variety, from a dance band in the jungle themed Savannah Bar, to the guitarist in the more intimate Amber Bar. La Cantinella Wine Bar with its lively saxofonist supplying the music was also a very popular pre dinner location. The music did not stop after dinner, when those who love to dance headed for The Shaker Lounge and for the night owls who did not want to go to bed, the Disco went on long into the night and the early hours.

Cooking Fresh Pasta in Dining Room

Cooking Fresh Pasta in Dining Room

I spent a lot of my time on board in the Covent Garden Theatre, where two live performances were scheduled every evening, to cater for the two dining times. This comfortable double level theatre provided a fantastic view from every seat, much better than many shore side venues I have visited. The modern production shows were extremely professional and showcased a variety of entertainers. Language was not a problem as the MC made concurrent announcements in five languages.

A highlight for me were the series of afternoon classical concerts, featuring the music of Tchaikovsky and Puccini, performed by the magnificent opera singers and musicians especially on board for this Grand Voyage.

Sandra Tiltman  Photos: John Pond



December 6, 2014
Where MSC Orchestra’s Grand Voyage Begins

Where MSC Orchestra’s Grand Voyage Begins

While cruising the Mediterranean, from Athens to Venice, at the height of this year’s European Summer, it seemed like every port we visited there was always one of MSC’s large white elegant ships already docked. Not surprising really, as MSC is synonymous with the Mediterranean.

Their modern luxury cruise ship fleet exudes Italian style and comfort, so no matter which one of their twelve ships you choose to sail on, the experience will be one to remember.

From Italy, Spain, the Greek Islands, Turkey, Croatia, France, Greece and Northern Africa they have the Mediterranean covered and with their flexible embarkation ports, joining a cruise could not be easier.

MSC funnelMSC also sail further afield with their programme of Grand Voyages, allowing passengers to enjoy such regions as the Caribbean, South America and Africa. Now it’s Australia’s turn to welcome MSC to our shores.

MSC Orchestra will embark on her maiden voyage to Australia when she sets sail from Dubai on 21 February 2015. The 33 night Grand Voyage will visit many exciting ports such as Mumbai and Cochin in India, followed by Colombo, Phuket and Langkawi before arriving in Singapore, where there will be an overnight stay, giving passengers plenty of time to explore this ever changing city. Benoa, on the Indonesian island of Bali, will be the final Asian port before cruising on to Australia.

Cairns is the first Australian port of the Grand Voyage, with MSC Orchestra due to arrive on 13 March 2015. From Cairns she will begin a partial circumnavigation of the Australian Coast. After visiting Brisbane, it’s Sydney’s turn to greet her and where she will make another overnight stay prior to visiting Melbourne, Adelaide and finally Fremantle on 26 March 2015.

Sophia Loren, MSC Orchestra's Godmother

Sophia Loren, MSC Orchestra’s Godmother

Lynne Clarke, Managing Director of MSC Cruises Australia and New Zealand said “We are thrilled to be bringing MSC Orchestra to Australian waters. We will be equally excited for our loyal passengers to have the chance to see the cruise ship in their home waters.”

MSC Orchestra was launched on 14 May 2007, the second of the ‘Musica-class’ line of cruise ships that offer a blend of design, comfort and safety, along with MSC Cruises’ signature Italian style. In tune with the musical theme, her decks are named after the instruments in an orchestra such as Mandolino, Clarinetto, Saxofono and Violino.

Passengers will be spoilt for choice with so many dining options. The two main restaurants, L’Ibiscus and Villa Borghese, serve a selection of fresh produce, ranging from traditional and tasty Mediterranean fare to the most refined international dishes. La Piazzetta buffet restaurant also offers a large variety of Italian and international cuisine. The speciality Shanghai Chinese Restaurant serves Szechuan style food from the spicy northern region as well as Cantonese, the sweeter fare of the south. Mid-morning Dim Sum specialties from every region of China are also available.

Kids are not forgotten with their very own Jungle Adventure playroom and teens can meet in the Teen’s Club.

Sandra Tiltman    Photos: John Pond


October 1, 2013
Pierfrancesco Vago Holding Award

Pierfrancesco Vago Holding Award

Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises was recently named Seatrade European Cruise Personality Of The Year at Seatrade Europe 2013 in Hamburg.

“As CEO of MSC Cruises Pierfrancesco Vago guided the business through a series of strategic moves which has seen the fleet grow three-fold through a €6 billion new build programme, with the most recent new vessel MSC Preziosa, launched earlier this year. His leadership of over 15,500 employees in 45 countries is dynamic, open-minded and characterised by a focus on team building” said Mary Bond, Editor, Seatrade Insider.

MSC sails throughout the year in the Mediterranean as well as seasonally in southern Africa, northern Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean, the French Antilles, South America, the Canary Islands and the United Arab Emirates.

MSC offers cruising with an Italian flair with their twelve ship fleet of MSC Preziosa, MSC Divina, MSC Splendida, MSC Fantasia, MSC Magnifica, MSC Poesia, MSC Orchestra, MSC Musica, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Armonia, MSC Opera and MSC Lirica.

DSC00003MSC makes cruising the Mediterranean even easier and convenient with their choice of embarkation ports. Instead of having only one embarkation port as shown in the itinerary, MSC allows passengers to choose from specified ports where to begin their cruise, which will also end at the same port.

If two 7 night Mediterranean cruises are booked back to back, MSC even offers free transfers between Genoa and Venice.

Great news for seniors, they get a discount per cabin if two people aged over 65 are sharing a cabin together. Don’t forget, children under 18 sharing a cabin with two adults travel free, only paying the port charges.

From 16 March 2014, for cruises from Genoa or Venice around the Mediterranean for 7 nights or more, a limited number of cabins will be offered with zero single surcharge.

Sandra Tiltman            


May 26, 2013

MSC1317051_Aerial Preziosa H

When sailing on a cruise ship, enjoying all the services they have to offer, have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes to make everything magically just happen.

MSC Cruises can now satisfy that curiosity for travellers on board its Fantasia and Musica class ships, with their newly created “Big Reveal: Come and See How We Do It” tour, perfect for those passengers who want to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes.

DSCN9059This new tour allows passengers a sneak peek into the inner workings of their ships, allowing access to off limit areas such as the backstage area of the theatre, laundry, galley, food storage area, and the MSC Yacht Club on Fantasia class ships.  The tour closes with a culinary demonstration followed by a tasty treat from the gourmet kitchens.

The tour takes place on cruises of seven days or more, generally in the morning of a full day at sea and entertains participants for two and a half hours, sharing MSC’s passion for the seas and some of the secrets behind its unique Mediterranean way of life.

Travellers will be entertained with fun facts such as, for a seven night cruise, MSC Preziosa used:  29,827 kilo of fresh fruit, 3,770 litres of vegetable oil, 8,735 kilos of flour, 8,600 kilos of pasta,13,900 kg fish was cooked,12,879 kg of fresh vegetables and 2,285 kg of sugar.

MSC Cruises is the market leading cruise company in the Mediterranean, South Africa and Brazil and operates across the globe.  Sailing throughout the year in the Mediterranean, they also offer a wide range of seasonal itineraries in southern Africa, northern Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean, the French Antilles, South America, the Red Sea, and the United Arab Emirates.

Their modern fleet comprises twelve ships: Fantasia-class MSC Preziosa, MSC Divina, MSC Splendida and MSC Fantasia; Musica-class MSC Magnifica, MSC Poesia, MSC Orchestra, and MSC Musica; Lirica-class MSC Sinfonia, MSC Armonia, MSC Opera and MSC Lirica.

DSCN9023MSC Cruises is the only company in the world to receive the “7 Golden Pearls” award from the Bureau Veritas in recognition of its high level of quality management and environmental responsibility.  MSC has also achieved ISO 9001 and ISO 22000 certification for the quality and food safety of all aspects of its catering, both on shore and on board.

MSC Cruises believes that global leadership brings increased responsibility towards the physical and human environments in which it operates. As such, a long term partnership with UNICEF was undertaken in 2009 to fund a community project aimed at providing disadvantaged children in Brazil with a quality education. To date, MSC Cruises has raised over two million euros for the initiative.

Sandra Tiltman.