In May 2007, MSC Cruises launched their Panamax vessel, the 92,409t MSC Orchestra. Following its sister ship, the MSC Musica, the MSC Orchestra is the second of three Panamax cruise ships designed for the pan-European cruise market. The third ship, the MSC Poesia, entered service in 2008.
Built at the Aker Yards in St Nazaire, France, the naming ceremony for the MSC Orchestra took place in May 2007 in Venice.
The ship was christened in the presence of MSC Cruise’s ‘Godmother’, Sophia Lauren, and the entire Aponte family. The MSC Orchestra’s inaugural voyage was from Civitavecchia to Genoa in Italy
MSC Cruises, based in Naples, is the largest all-Italian financed cruise company. It has offices in Milan, Venice, Genoa, Rome, Palermo and Bari and 26 international locations.
The MSC Orchestra is 293.8m long and 32.2m wide. It has a top cruising speed of 23k. There are 13 passenger decks (18 decks in total), containing 1,275 cabins (809 outside cabins with private balconies, 173 outside cabins without balconies and 275 inside cabins). The ship has a capacity for 2,550 passengers and 1,054 crew members.
Although identical to the MSC Musica, the MSC Orchestra has been decorated in its own style. The ‘True Italian Signature’ style was conceived by the De Jorio Design International studio. Established in Genoa by the architect Guiseppe de Jorio in 1956, De Jorio Design International specialises in the architectural design and furnishing of cruise ships.
Even though the Italian influence is found throughout the vessel, many of the onboard facilities have been designed with Asian tourists in mind. A 68-seat restaurant, ‘Shanghai’, serves cuisine from Beijing, Canton, Shanghai and Szechuan – and is the first Chinese restaurant aboard an MSC Cruise liner.
The MSC Orchestra offers extensive entertainment facilities including mini golf, a tennis court, a jogging track, several beauty salons and two swimming pools. In addition, there are various bars and restaurants including a discotheque, the Covent Garden theatre, a cinema, a casino, a wine tasting bar, a library and an art gallery. There is also an internet cafe and a children’s playroom.
All cabins have interactive TV, a minibar and a radio. The suites with a private balcony are 25m² and have ‘optimised indoor air quality’ air conditioning, a double bed that can be converted into two single beds and a bathroom with a bathtub. The non-suite cabins have private bathrooms with showers.
A recent addition to MSC Cruise vessels is the display of art from leading Italian and international artists. The art is displayed in halls, public areas and cabins, with the MSC Orchestra operating a separate art gallery where items are auctioned.
MSC Cruises are family orientated and children are very much catered for. The Mini Club, for children aged three to ten, organises arts and crafts activities, dancing, painting courses, treasure hunts and a mini-Olympics. Children under three years of age are also welcome, provided an adult remains with them.
During the summer months, the MSC Orchestra operates throughout the Mediterranean (Italy, Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Tunisia, Cyprus, Morocco, Balearic Islands, France, Spain). Some itinerates also include the Canary Islands and Madeira.
During winter (January to April), the MSC Orchestra operates in the Caribbean, visiting such destinations as Florida, Key West, Mexico, Grand Cayman, Antigua, Bahamas and Bermuda. Each year there are two transatlantic voyages – one to the Caribbean and one back to the Mediterranean.