We cruised with our 9-year old daughter, who is disabled. Our embarkation in Genoa was very smooth, with no queues and a relaxed atmosphere. We embarked at about 2.30pm and went straight up to our cabin - a balcony suite on deck 12. We were pleasantly surprised with the spaciousness of the cabin and especially the bathroom, which had a bath tub as well as a shower. There was plenty of storage space, especially as we had a wheelchair. The only downside was the sofa bed for the 3rd person, which was not very comfortable as the mattress was very thin. We did have a problem with an overflowing toilet on one day (clean water luckily!) and this was promptly dealt with by maintenance staff. Our cabin steward was very good, making towel animals for our daughter.
We found the lifts to be very good on this ship, as we relied on these, having a wheelchair. We never had to wait too long and rarely encountered a full lift, as we frequently did on the Divina the previous year.
were on the first sitting for dinner. Staff in the restaurant were very attentive and the food was good, with mainly Italian dishes as you would expect form an Italian cruise line. The buffet on deck 11 offered a good variety with some exotic dishes, although if you wanted Pizza you had to go to the separate pizza counter outside. The variety was not as great as on the MSC Divina, but this was down to space, as the buffet restaurant was much smaller.
Entertainment in the theatre was good, although some of the shows were quite similar to each other.
Shore excursions were generally very expensive and, having a daughter in a wheelchair, we preferred to do our own thing. One downside was that shuttle buses were not provided in a number of ports.
All in all, we found the cruise to be a relaxing and enjoyable experience. The smaller size of the Opera compared to the Divina definitely makes a difference. It is less crowded and less hectic. We would definitely book another cruise on this ship. Less
Two other ports we visited (4 and 5) were Cadiz in Spain and Casablanca in Morocco (not on the list). Cadiz is a lovely old fortified city and the ship docked within walking distance of the city centre. We decided to take a hop on/off bus city tour before going for a walk around the city. We really liked this port and would rate it 5.
Casablanca as a port was not so good. The cruise port itself looked run down and unfortunately MSC provided no shuttle bus service to the city centre. The alternative is a long walk through the industrial port area or one of the many taxis touting for business as soon as you get off the ship, which is a bit intense and can be irritating when they don't take 'no' for an answer after several attempts. The weather here didn't help matters. It was stormy with heavy showers. This was our least favourite port but, having been here once, I would like to visit again when the weather was better and with the knowledge gained from the first visit to plan things differently. I would rate this port 2
Finally, The balcony suite cabins on deck 12 were very nice and spacious, with a lounge area (sofa, coffee table & TV) between the bed and the balcony. There are only 28 of these cabins on deck 12 so it is not crowded. There is also easy access to the promenade/running track outside and the pools and buffet restaurant on the deck below.
Barcelona is very picturesque, with lots of interesting buildings, especially the Gaudi ones, including the magnificent cathedral. The port is very modern and clean, although it was too far to walk into the city from where the ship berthed. A regular shuttle service was provided by MSC, and there was also a public bus service running to/from the cruise terminal, which was cheap and convenient. There were also a number of souvenir shops in the terminal itself.
The embarkation in Genoa was very smooth and well organised. The port is only a 10-minute drive from the airport. We were on the ship within 20 minutes of arriving at the terminal, which was spacious.
As a destination Genoa looks very interesting, although as this was our embarkation/disembarkation port, we did not get to see the city.
Lisbon is a very old and interesting city. The spectacular backdrop of the suspension bridge and Christ statue at the mouth of the river makes this a very interesting entrance to the port. The ship sails under the bridge before docking. Parts of the city are accessible on foot from the ship. We chose to go on one of the open-top hop-on/off city tour buses, which are good value for money. The old trams and historic buildings make this a very good place to take plenty of photographs. This is a port we would definitely like to re-visit.