The Blck Sea cruise that wasn’t!
Norm | September 26, 2018 | MSC Cruises | MSC Orchestra
I had booked this Black Sea cruise 12 months previously mainly for the Black Sea itinerary and although the Ukrainian ports were cancelled before we went the Rumanian and Bulgarian ones were looked forward to as they were new to us.
We had an early flight to Venice out of Manchester on Jet2.com and was in Venice by 1030.As my wife needed her wheelchair due to a knee complaint we were off the plane last but near the first for baggage due to welcome assistance by the airport personnel. As I hadn’t booked a transfer to the ship I asked a MSC rep at the arrivals gateway whether we could use their coach and was ok’d at a cost of 16 euros each.This saved a lot of hassle and inconvenience by not using an express bus into Venice and then the people mover and the longwalk to the ship! Our luggage went on the coach and wheelchair and we were given” invalid priority” at the check in desk and assisted to the gangway. We were in a suite on deck 15 at the front of the ship and were delighted by the cabin.We had been on the MSC Lirica before the Orchestra so as they were near identical in layout, but not size, there were no problems in getting about.
We were assigned first dinner sitting at six pm and found our table companions quite alright.They being a mother and daughter from Melbourne Australia and a pair of ex pats from Scotland now residing inSwitzerland.They had come down with a coach party from Switzerland and were friends (he also picked up a cold virus and now I’ve also got it!!)
The ports of call were modified whilst we were at home as the Ukraine situation caused Yalta and Odessa to be cancelled but other places outside the Black Sea were inserted.No opportunity of cancellation mentioned in the letter!
As we had already been to most of the ports prior and after the Black Sea we were a bit miffed but as a couple of vague ports were inserted in the itinerary we were not too perturbed.As we got up to Istanbul and after a morning’s hop on /off buses tour we arrived back on board to find that due to bad weather in the Black Sea in the next day or so that any calls to Constanta Rumania and Bulgar in Bulgaria would be cancelled for the safety of passengers and crew!! The “rushed” new ports of call would be Marmaris and Dubrovnik!
The alternative other ports were Volos ( a container port) and Gythion( a tender port call to a nonentity village by the sea) Only Marmaris was interesting as it was a large marina and had the bazzar shopping precinct and also was easy to use the wheelchair.The port of Dubrovnik was nothing new as we were there in May!
Overall a waste of money really as what we wanted to see and do were cancelled due to war and weather!! It will be a long time before the Black Sea area of Ukraine is fully open and I don’t think I’ll try for it again!!
The ship was wonderful and the weather mostly was quite warm.The food was acceptable but the entertainment was very amatuerish and the women couldn’t sing. The many languages spoken by the cruise director didn’t put us off as you could turn a blind ear to it all!Going on this ship again in January as it goes round the Arab Emirates from Dubai. The addition of a flight down to Mauritius for an all inclusive hotel stay helped.
Will remember to pack our scrabble next time as the foreign ones we borrowed were a bit iffy!!
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