DAY 25 - 07 May 2023
Time at Port: from 7 AM to 6 PM
With a temperature that rarely – if ever – dips below 20 degrees and some of the best diving spots in the world, Aqaba is perfect for the adventurous outdoorsman! Discover the vibrant coral reefs offshore, or for the more experienced divers, go deep below the surface to sunken shipwrecks. Children will love splashing in the sea and learning about marine life at the aquarium, while history-enthusiasts should visit the ancient Ayla Ruins.
Things to do in Aqaba:
Aqaba Marine Park
For those looking to get up close with vibrant marine life, Aqaba Marine Park is the place to be. Choose from 19 different diving sites with beautifully preserved habitats for optimal sea-life spotting, including clownfish, lionfish and even sea turtles!
This 12km-long stretch of beaches and bays are home to vibrant coral reefs and some of the best snorkelling spots in Aqaba. The reefs are just metres from shore, making them perfect for divers with less experience, or those just looking to go for a leisurely swim.
Part of the Aqaba Marine Science Station, Aqaba Aquarium showcases the variety of marine life found in the surrounding waters. From vibrant parrotfish to fascinating reef sharks, visitors of all ages will enjoy this aquarium.
Built around 650 AD, the ancient Islamic city of Ayla has witnessed many different eras. Rediscovered and excavated in 1989, visitors can now explore the walls left behind and learn more about the long history of this once-inhabited city.
Suez Canal Transit - Overnight onboard
DAY 26-27 - 08 May 2023
Time at Port: from 5 PM to 4 PM
Dating back to Ancient Egypt when the city was used to protect the land from invasion, the Suez Canal offers plenty of history to discover as well as a slower pace of life than the bustling cities nearby. Explore the museums here to learn more about the fascinating timeline of the canal as well as the Pharaoh’s and their pyramids, or if you have a longer stay, venture further afield to witness the Pyramids of Giza themselves.
Things to do in Suez Canal Transit - Overnight onboard:
The Suez Canal Museum
The Suez Canal museum is brimming to the teeth with all sorts of artefacts from ancient Egypt and other local sites just waiting for you to discover them. Learn all about the history of the Suez Canal and the history of those who it connects to.
Boasting over 4,000 artefacts from Ancient Egypt through to the Greek and Roman era, the Ismailia Museum includes pieces such as an intricate mosaic, statues, scarabs and an open-air gallery in the garden.
Port Said Military Museum
For more information on the Suez Canal as well as the 1956 Suez Crisis and the wars with Israel, the Port Said Military Museum is a must visit. In the garden you’ll find captured US tanks as well as unexploded ordnances.
Pyramids of Giza
By far the oldest of the ancient wonders of the world, the Pyramids of Giza are truly a bucket-list-worthy sight to see. Built 2550 to 2490 BC, the craftsmanship of these structures are a fine example of the feats of Ancient Egypt.
DAY 29 - 11 May 2023
Time at Port: from 8 AM to 6 PM
As Crete’s largest city and popular for its association with many popular Greek myths and chgaracters such as Minos, Daedalus, Ariadne, Theseus and the infamous labyrinth, it’s no wonder Heraklion boasts numerous museums teeming with artefacts found across the island. One of the most notable sites is the Palace of Knossos, Europe’s oldest city and home to grizzly tales of the minotaur, while the modern landscape is thriving with vibrant nightlife, shopping and dining.
Things to do in Heraklion, Crete:
Both a research centre and an aquarium that the whole family will love, Cretaquarium features numerous tanks dedicated to ocean ecosystems around the world, including the deepest depths, the tropics and more. Visitors can take a guided tour or explore at their own leisure.
Heraklion Archaeological Museum
One of the best museums in the world for Minoan art, Heraklion Archaeological Museum covers over 5,500 years of Crete’s history. Featuring intricate artefacts and relics from the Minoan civilization, discover the ancient history of the island at this informative museum.
Historical Museum of Crete
Covering the 4th century AD up to WWII, the Historical Museum of Crete features intricate sculptures, iconic paintings and ancient ceramics, as well as the reconstruction of a Cretan rural home. Visitors will also find a café with indoor and outdoor seating.
Palace of Knossos
Also known as The Labyrinth, Knossos is Crete’s largest Bronze Age archaeological site, and Europe’s oldest city. Take a tour of this fascinating site, said to have once been home to a terrifying Minotaur, as well as the palace of King Minos.
DAY 31 - 13 May 2023
Time at Port: from 8 AM to 6 PM
Naples is one of the most important cities in Italy. Its foundation dates back to the 8th century BC, and it once had an important relationship with Athens, due to its commercial power and position on the sea. The city is rich in history and there are numerous places of interest to visit, in particular the archaeological excavations of the nearby Pompeii and Herculaneum, which were destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD.
Things to do in Naples:
The opening of the historic National Archaeological Museum of Naples took place in 1816. Built by Ferdinando I of Borbone, at the time king of the Two Sicilies, it boasts the richest collection of works and archaeological finds with regard to Roman history.
Museo d'arte contemporanea
The Museum of Contemporary Art, also known as the Madre Museum, is located inside Palazzo Donnaregina, in the center of Naples. It was established in 2005 with the aim of promoting cultural and artistic development in the territory of Campania.
The construction of the Royal Palace began in 1600 and for a long time was the residence of the Spanish viceroys, before passing to the House of Bourbon and finally to the House of Savoy. The architectural style is a mixture of Baroque and Neoclassical. Today, the palace houses a museum and a library.
The history of Pompeii begins in the 9th century BC, when the area was inhabited by the Opici people - an ancient Latin population. Today the town is famous because of the eruption of Vesuvius, which occurred in 79 AD, which led to its total destruction.
The profile of Naples would not be the same without Mount Vesuvius that dominates the city skyline. Versuvius is known for the violent eruption of AD 79, which became famous for the destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and was witnessed by Pliny the Younger.
The tremendous eruption of Vesuvius, in 79 AD, not only destroyed Pompeii but also the ancient city of Herculaneum. The archaeological excavations of this city can be visited today and, since 1997, are part of the UNESCO World Heritage List.
San Gennaro Catacombs
The Catacombs of San Gennaro are the most important Christian monument in Naples. The remains of San Gennaro, the main patron saint of the city, have been held here since the 5th century. The labyrinth of corridors also house Christian frescos from the 2nd century AD, and mosaics from the 5th century AD.
Castel Nuovo is a medieval and Renaissance-era castle. Most commonly known as Maschio Angioino, its construction began in the 13th century at the behest of Charles I of Anjou, after he moved the Italian capital from Palermo to Naples in around 1268.
Piazza del Plebiscito
The Piazza del Plebiscito is located in the historic center of Naples and was of considerable importance after the construction of the Royal Palace. Today Palazzo Salerno, Palazzo della Prefettura, and the Basilica of San Francesco di Paola are also located here.
DAY 32 - 14 May 2023
Time at Port: from 8 AM to 6 PM
One of the most famous cities in the world, Rome has been an epicentre of politics, art, architecture, and food for thousands of years. It is home to some of the most well-known historic sites such as the Colosseum, the pantheon, and Vatican City. It’s easy to spend a day in a hundred different ways in Rome, whether you’re looking to sip on incredible wine and people-watch, indulge in decadent pasta, pizza, risotto, and gelato, or if you’re eager to wander around the streets soaking in all the history you can. Rome is one capital city which will always leave you wanting more.
Things to do in Rome (Civitavecchia):
Found in the heart of Rome, Vatican City is the smallest independent state in Europe at just 0.44km² with a population of 1,000 people. It acts as headquarters to the Roman Catholic Church and is home to The Apostolic Palace - the Pope’s residence –the Vatican Museums, St Peter’s Basilica, and the Sistine Chapel.
St Peter's Basilica
Within Vatican City is one of the biggest churches in the world; St. Peter’s Basilica. Accommodating up to 20,000 people, this is where the Pope delivers services. Its 136 metre high dome was designed by Michelangelo, and was completed in 1614.
The colosseum was opened in 80 A.D. with 100 days of exciting games. It was mostly used for gladiatorial combat and fights with animals until around the 6th century when it began to fall into disrepair. It was then used to store building materials until the 18th century, when the papacy decided it should be preserved. As it stands now, however, more than two-thirds of the structure has been destroyed.
Known the world-over for its elaborate, 15th century artwork courtesy of Michelangelo, Botticelli, Luca, and Perugino, the Sistine Chapel is where new Popes are elected and ordained. It is located within Vatican City, inside The Apostolic Palace.
This Michelangelo sculpture is located inside St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. It depicts the body of Jesus after he has been crucified, being held by the Virgin Mary. The statue was originally commissioned by Jean de Billheres – a French cardinal – as a memorial for his tomb.
This is one of the most iconic buildings in Rome. There are myths surrounding the building of the original Pantheon, but the structure we see today was built in 120 A.D. by Emperor Hadrian. It was created as a Pagan temple to “honour all Gods” – which is the translation of “Pantheon”. In the year 609 it was converted to a Christian church, although it is still widely known as the Pantheon.
This popular public square is located where the (now fallen) Stadium of Domitian once stood, in 86 A.D. Since then it has been developed into a social gathering spot, adorned by three magnificent fountains that were commissioned in the 16 and 17th centuries. These are Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, Fontana del Moro, and Fontana del Nettuno.
DAY 32 -
Hotel stay included
Cape Town Hotel Stay - 3 Nights
We don't know the hotel yet but it will be centrally located, a minimum of 4 stars, selected from our list of preferred hotels & based on a 'room only' board basis. Local government city taxes & local resort fees may be payable.
Customer reviews for MSC Orchestra
Based on 18 reviews
Value for money
Initially we chose this cruise to fit in with holiday availability of family members - and certainly had some trepidation given some of the reviews. We need not have worried. Simply put this was a great cruise - if you are looking for a Mediterranean style cruise in the Med. If you are looking for a British cruise experience in the Med, then you will no doubt be critical, but this is not P&O nor Cunard....it is MSC, and it suited us perfectly. We wanted Mediterranean food on board - and that is what we got - pasta, risotto, pizza and plenty of other choice. We had a Suite Cabin, on Deck 15, top accommodation level, with Aurea experience, providing reserved sun deck area over two decks outside and above the cabin. The Aurea experience meant we ate in the Ibiscus restaurant on anytime dining, where the staff were excellent - Maria and Pante ensuring we were warmly welcomed and looked after. The evening meals might appear to some as being somewhat small in quantity, but it was good and tasty, though not always as hot as we might normally expect (but I always reflect that in Masterchef the food is always served and tasted cold:)) Breakfast was fun.... a bit of a bun fight in terms of finding somewhere to sit in the buffet, but the food was good, varied plentiful. The main sundeck was a family oriented affair, with plenty of loungers, small pools, and Jacuzzis, with entertainment almost non-stop - with music always on... very Mediterranean, it was bustling and noisy - may not be to everyone's taste - but we had the refuge of the Aurea reserved areas so did not avail ourselves of this, seemingly madhouse. Service was always attentive, and polite, more so than I perhaps expected. Good drinks, with our package giving us free non-premium drinks, which were quite plentiful, and varied. Prices for premium was ok. If you are expecting P&O style entertainment then you will be disappointed - but what we say was good - an abridged song & dance version based on Grease. Good fun. All announcements are made in a multitude of languages - and the obligatory safety drill was well done, as was the disembarkation briefing. There were no Captain's updates that we heard, but there were almost daily crew exercises that could be quite noisy in terms of tannoy volume. TV - didn't use it other than checking the bill - but understand it has limited choice if you are expecting British entertainment - but hey we were on holiday and not wanting to watch TV. Food was available in the buffet 20 hours a day - and good it was too - particularly a late night Pizza slice... great pizza with good choice. Evening meals don't start until 7pm in the formal restaurants - reflecting the Mediterranean style of not eating until later than we are used to in the UK. For cabin review see below. Itinerary was great - we board at Rome, and enjoyed all our ports of call - where we had plenty of time. Tender was done well at Cannes. We enjoyed a complimentary Balinese massage as part of the Aurea experience, which was fine, and we also enjoyed the Sauna/Steam Rooms - though the inside Jacuzzi was a bit cool for indoors.... 37C. Note that smoking is permitted in more places than you might normally expect on P&O cruise - part of the Casino, a Cigar Room, and also part of the sun deck - one half of one side. There were plenty of bars, some quite gaudy, which we enjoyed rather than dull greys. If anything I would say that the restaurant choice was somewhat limited compared to other cruise experiences, particularly given the number of passengers - there was one speciality Asian restaurant - which we did not try. Other than that you are in your main restaurant, and the buffet. Formal nights - there were two - were remarkably informal - I think I saw one dinner suit. Certainly most people dressed smarter, but not DJs and tuxes... that suited us.. (excuse the pun...) There was very little hard selling - sure they took your photo, but no hassle. Overall the ship was a very happy ship - with a much broader mix of people - plenty of childen, younger couples, and actually fewer older people than say compared to a P&O cruise. In summary - we would definitely cruise with MSC again - we saw their new ship Megaviglia moored next to us at Genoa - wow it looked fantastic. A happy cruise line, unpretentious, and easy to like, particularly if you are want to relax and not worry about formality. We would look to the Aurea experience as a minimum, just so we could have some quiet/privacy outside of the cabin on the sun decks. We were a family of four - including our two adult children who had an identical cabin three doors away.
4 Jul 2017
We travelled from 12 June for a Med cruise for 1 week. Having read the reviews previously written, we were dubious about our choice. However, we had a great time. We had a balcony room on deck 11 and found this to be ideally located. The cabin was extremely comfortable and had everything we needed. Our cleanerDenzil was very thorough and was always asking if there was anything we needed. The food was very good and there was an extensive choice. The entertainment was of West End standard. We went every evening and really enjoyed the shows. The staff are very attentive and the daily excursions were extremely well organised. If we have one criticism it would be related to the disembarkation. We had to vacate the ship by 11.00am and our coach was not due to pick us up for the airport until 3.00pm. If we had not got the earlier transfer, we would have been left at the port with nothing to do for 4 hours. Overall though a great cruise that we would thoroughly recommend. We always give an honest review of our holidays and can only provide our opinion. Whilst some of the previous reviews may be negative. We feel, based on our experience, these are unjustified. We are already looking for our next cruise and would certainly consider MSC again. Gary and Clare - Lincolnshire UK
21 Jun 2016
First of all the service by Iglu Cruise was superb. As for the MSC ship Orchestra I have the following to say: The berth was the best I have had (a balcony) it was well decorated and well designed for maximum room. The whole ship was in good decorative order. Not too keen on the entertainment,but then it was geared towards the Italians. The ports of call were outstanding - yet again one of the best trips I have been on. The only detrimental aspect was the food and times of serving - it was very limited, especially if you went ashore - everything shut by the time you got back to the ship - except for pizza - and the so called evening snacks only consisted of thick bread rolls and sandwiches, which were not very inspiring. I couldn't believe that an Italian Ship couldn't cook decent pasta. The restaurants were very strict on eating times and actually shut the doors so if you were late you could not enter. It was a bit like being at boarding school. The standard of food in the Restaurants was not very good.
15 Feb 2015
Transfer from Dubai airport was well organised and speedy even at the port prior to embarkation. There were unique entertainers in the terminal building on penny farthing bikes etc while we were waiting, very impressive. Once we had our boarding/cabin cards we then had full use of the ship until our cabin was ready at 12 noon although our cases didn't arrive until after 3pm. MSC did advise pack a day bag with swimwear etc which was a great piece of advice so our holiday did begin the minute we boarded the ship. One negative (but understandable) is the safety drill before we sailed wasn't until 11.15pm after all passengers were on board. The problem for us is we had an overnight flight which got us into Dubai at around 7 am so didn't get to bed until after the safety drill. It could have been done much quicker if everyone attended (we had to wait until all passengers were there and they swipe your cabin card to know who isn't!!) Next time we would definitely either change the flight time out to Dubai or stay in a hotel overnight the day before the cruise commenced and possibly do the same on the return. Emirates had our seats booked together fine on the outbound journey but they tried to seat me and my husband on separate rows about 3 apart on the inbound flight. I was told we should have checked in online to secure seats together. I reminded them that Iglu cruises had told me they 'block book' seats so we always sit together. She then found us seats ok. (I did try to choose our seats before we flew out but if you book through an agent apparently you can't, the agent has seats already secured for you). The ship itself had everything we needed, maybe not as 'boutique' as some but it has a 'glitzy' charm all of its own and run by very friendly, accommodating staff. The Animation Team were great, worked so hard and the daily programme was fun and entertaining. The show at night time was very professional in a beautiful theatre, the sound, lighting, singing, dancing and acrobatics (very Cirque du Solei) was amazing, they did a great job, very professional! Nearly all the bars had live entertainment each night with themed party nights on top deck/savannah bar each night. Standard of drinks was excellent. Definitely take out the drinks package for all Inclusive drinks 24 hrs a day, cost us £24 a day, well worth it, even taking into account all the soft drinks and coffee/ice cream of a day, it also included the Cichetta (Italian tapas) in the wine Bar, Prosecco was a good one too! Cocktails very good too! Restaurant food and service again, brilliant, our waiter Widi in Ibiscus restaurant was exceptional. Food choice and standard again really good. Buffet had all you could want and the choice was very good. Pizzeria was open 24 hrs. It could get very busy especially at breakfast prior to tours commencing. We had to upgrade to use the Ibiscus Restaurant and beware about sittings. Iglu staff told us if we were on the 6.30 sitting it would be ok to go in at around 7.30 ( as long as we were there before 8.30).NOT SO - they close the doors 15 mins after 6.30. We changed to the 9pm sitting which really is too late for us but MSC does not do Freedom Dining which we prefer. The initial price of our outside cabin was £699 but with the restaurant upgrade we paid around £845 so make sure you upgrade otherwise you will have to eat all your meals in the buffet restaurant. We went into the Ibiscus one morning for breakfast, very civilised and served quickly too (depends on how many people are in I guess) All public areas were kept clean and today, the brass was polished daily and the toilets very clean. Cabin was clean, beds comfy with nice pillows, bathroom quite spacious although shower a bit small but we were ok, lots of wardrobe/drawer space, nice and bright. We were on deck 5 (Reception Deck where the atrium bar is with pianist/violinist) but you could not hear any noise at night, cabin was quiet. Tours were well organised and guides informative. We loved the 'family' approach to the ship, the Captain met us all on the first gala night and his staff were introduced to us. The captain even presented Employee of the Month on stage, he seemed genuinely concerned that we were enjoying our cruise and had all we needed and appreciated our custom. He was there again to say goodbye on the last gala night and to thank us for cruising with MSC, a lovely personal touch we thought. Most people did dress up and we did see a few tuxedos so I would wear whatever you want, I think the destination of the United Arab Emirates has a different appeal to perhaps the Mediterranean cruises, so be a smart as you wish! However, some passengers didn't make much effort at all! Lots of sunbeds on deck but very close together. They have attached sun shades which can get in the way of 'your sun' when people have them 'up' but not using them. Maybe lower them when you don't need shade, so you don't 'shade' the person next to you! The people we met also made our cruise a great experience so thanks to Linda and Tony! Linda and George! Kieron and John, we've never laughed so much, it was great to meet you all! Fancy another MSC cruise?
All offers and prices are subject to change and availability at time of enquiry. Prices are based on two passengers sharing unless otherwise stated and are subject to the Tour Operator's terms and conditions. Cabin and Flight supplements may apply. Other supplements may apply in addition to the price shown above. Flight details, timings and routing may be subject to alteration. Other tour operator charges may also apply. Any Onboard Spending money or drinks package value shown will be per cabin, again based on two sharing.
Note: On 13 January 2018, new European legislation is being adopted in the UK which as result will mean that we may change our required method of payment at our discretion, irrespective of how any deposit or prior payment was made.