Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all ?
Not exactly a fairytale, or like the witch in "Snow White," but on MSC Opera, there are mirrors almost everywhere, maybe a thousand of them, including in the cabins.
The stairways, lifts, and large walls were covered by mirrors; matched with brass rails.
We came early on board in Oslo, June 27 and the first we noticed were all the brass and mirrors, and not a spot on them, very clean.
I see that others call this ship for "bright Italian art deco style."
Norwegian west coast; including Stavanger, Sognefjord to Flåm, Bergen; day at sea; Southampton, and
our disembarkation port was IJmuiden in the Netherlands. June 27. to July 3.
Cruisers in our group:
Family of 3 generations - 8 persons from 12 to 88 years of age.
Our outside cabin (with large window) was small, but well-designed, clean & comfortable.
The shower area is smallest and most cramped that I have ever seen, but we managed to get ourselves clean.
2 inside cabins, about the same layout, without the window. Air-con /heating was good, and easy to control.
Old fashioned small TV. We missed CNN and/or BBC.
Most of the passengers were from families with children to retired - typical for summer-cruises.
Mixed of Italian, British, German, Spanish, French, Dutch and Norwegian passengers.
Italian officers, whom we hardly saw.
Crew and service-staff:
From Indonesia, Brazil, Italy, South Africa, Eastern Europe, Honduras and India.
Many of them are sorely in need of more hospitality/service and language training, but they did their best and worked hard.
I got the feeling that conditions on board were not easy for them. Several crew did not look so happy, which influenced the service.
Generally made in 4 to 5 languages. English, German, Italian, French and sometimes Spanish. Too much unnecessary sales-announcements.
The ship's program for each day looked cheap and had bad printing. It looked more like a sales-flyer.
As Oslo was the second port of embarkation, we were asked to meet up in one of the lounges,
with our life-vests (as in old days). When we came there, they did not care if all showed up, vests were not necessary after all, and after a brief demonstration
of the life-vest and explanation of the emergency signals, 3/4 of the time was used to sell excursion and other products.
Clean and well maintained, nice ship, but nothing special. Many lounges, small theater.
No heated pools. At least one of the 2 pools should be heated. 2 outdoor Jacuzzis.
Restaurants and Food:
Here came the disappointment. The menu in the two dining-rooms, was a bit dull and the food was mediocre, absolutely not gourmet, but OK.
Those in our family who had not been cruising before, thought the food was good in the dining room.
At the buffet, not so many choices, lukewarm, overcooked and unfortunately a bit tasteless. Italian cuisine can be so much better than this.
Outside snack-grill had tasteless burgers, but the pizza was OK.
No special-restaurants or other choices.
Theater performances were OK. No live orchestra, but taped music in theater and in some lounges. Duo and trio were average, but classic music
performances were good. They had an "Entertainment team" of 8 crew members that was active to get people out to dance.
They did a nice job there, even my old mother of 88 years was encouraged to dance.
They had different games and play every night. They had amateurish "silly games" that were crazy and funny and got us to laugh. Extra point for their enthusiasm.
A kick to those who rates cruise ships:
For several years "Berlitz complete guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships," an informative and interesting book, has rated this ship, MSC Opera,
and most other MSC ships at 4 stars.
Same 4 stars as Berlitz has rated the Princess ships, Holland American ships and Royal Caribbeans largest ships.
Anyone that has sailed on these ships, know that there is a big gap between them. The readers of Berlitz will appreciate to get an objective view.
The Opera has its qualities, but as 4-star ship, is to give the travelers too high expectations. This is not fair to the ship or the travellers.
To us, MSC is budget cruising.
But, and this is worth mentioned. We paid a "nice" price, and considering this, it was good value for money, but do not have high expectations.
For first time cruisers, and for budget-hunters, this cruise is OK, and value for money.
Morton Salt + Pepper,