MSC Orchestra is a bit of an Italian stallion. She is also a bit of a flag carrier.
Despite the large number of Australians who have cruised with MSC, Orchestra is actually the first of the well-known line’s ships to visit Australian waters.
And you can’t miss her visit.
Carrying 3,000 passengers – including 1,000 Australians – Orchestra recently made the grand 33-day voyage from Dubai via India and Southeast Asia, arriving in Australia on March 17.
Throughout the voyage, MSC arranged poolside parties for VIP guests along with fireworks, free-flowing champagne, endless ship visits and more.
Cruise Passenger got a taste of what was to come on a special cruise around the waters of the Arabian Gulf just before the historic visit.
Captain Giuseppe Maresca was the host when the ship spent a day at sea on her journey from Dubai to Khor Al Fakkan.
Japanese guests decked themselves out in traditional kimonos, English ladies donned glittering sequinned gowns and men scrubbed up well in dickie bows and smart evening jackets.
Copious amounts of champagne, cocktails and canapes were served to everyone at the ship’s five bars. Passengers moved from one bar to the next; each had its own music – from an all-lady trio orchestra in the lobby to Italian crooner Dean Martin’s love songs at Savannah Bar.
The high point was a chance to be photographed with the impeccably dressed Captain and dance with senior officers.  It’s an MSC specialty.
The party mood was deliciously infectious. Everyone had a good time – as the bleary-eyed guests would testify at breakfast the next morning.
Orchestra’s Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne parties are already planned: in Sydney, it will be a gala poolside barbecue on Deck 13 and fireworks to send her off on her journey to Melbourne as the ship circumnavigates Australia.
Orchestra’s circumnavigation includes calls at Cairns and Fremantle. She is then being chartered for Ausglobal’s Gallipolli 100 journey back to Europe.
There’s something especially Italian about Orchestra. She exudes a “dolce vita” attitude that Italians have uniquely made their own.
The decor is Versace-inspired, with statuesque gold leopard lamps, dazzling leadlight staircases, mirrored columns and massive chandeliers.
In the middle of the lobby, there’s a transparent piano with a trio of elegantly dressed women violinists and pianist entertaining guests.
There are four places to eat on board Orchestra: the La Piazzetta cafeteria, a self-serve buffet open for breakfast, lunch and dinner; restaurants Villa Borghese and L’Ibiscus, with large water-view picture windows; and the Shanghai Restaurant, the first Chinese restaurant on a cruise ship and now a fusion menu blending sushi and sashimi with dim-sum and baht Thai.
There are choices including aerobics and dance classes on the pool deck, a superchef contest, Arabic lessons, stretch morning exercise, paid yoga and Pilates classes, themed pool parties, dancing and a late-night disco.
For the more active, there is an undersized tennis court that doubles as a basketball court.
And the shopping is pure Milan. Bvlgari watches to Furla handbags – very Italian.
The swarthy-looking ship’s officers have designer beards and speak with an infectious Italian lilt.  As for Captain Maresca – he could not be more Italian.
It really is Little Italy at sea.

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