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.
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.
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.
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.
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