Hi all, I booked this cruise for me and my family and extended family last September after much debate.
This was a first time cruise for all on the trip, there were 10 of us in total.I have read all the reviews on the opera on this site and on others and this did not put us off as its the same for other cruise lines, opinions vary.
We took advantage of the flights on offer at 50 a head from Glasgow too Southampton, we didn't know the flight times at time of booking, around a month before travel we got the flight times.we had to catch the flight from Glasgow at 06:45. So We were up from 2am , when we got too Southampton the bus transfer arranged by msc was full, so we waited at the airport for around an hour, this wasn't a big problem as when we got there the queue still hand moved.
Embarkation took around 1.5 hrs from when we got in the queue.
First impressions of the ship were very good, ship was spotless!
This proved to be the case throughout our trip, ship was constantly being cleaned .
Pools were decent sized and never overcrowded to any great extent,public areas were good on board with a nice style and design.
Cabins were I thought good,yes as per previous reviews the showers were small but they do the job and if I can fit in it(me being a tad on the husky side) then should be no trouble for most.
Cabin steward was friendly and kept it spotless throughout the cruise, we had 3 cabins for our party, two x4 berths and 1 x2 berth.We were in cabins 8250,8248 and 8246.No ship noise encountered by us and found the beds comfortable.
We went in advance for the Agrisimo package and this was a smart move, you avoid the 15% service charge per drink and had no issue obtaining service.
Staff for the most part were smiley all the time, but even if they were not, consider they do 11hr shifts folks and that's split from 6am till 12pm/1am. For 9 months with no days off.I think we can cut them some slack on the smiles eh?
Our party ages were from 11-45 and our kids did not take part in the kids clubs, I don't think the opera is ideal for teens to be honest but our lot did seem happy with the facilities on the whole.
We tried once or twice the bun fight at Buffet restaurant , food selection was decent,you could find something to fit most tastes there, It was hot and OK food, I don't think its top notch grub Id rate it about an average hotel on the food for the buffet and we always had dinner in La caravalle in the late sitting, food again, plenty choice,friendly service all the time from our waiters(thx guys) and 7 courses, not all I liked but hey your on holiday, try it and see what you like or don't like, again id rate it as about a 3-4 star hotel type food.
Ijmulden we took the msc tour to see Anne Franks house, Family enjoyed it.
Had no issues getting on or off the boat.
St peters port, was a short stop and having worked there in the past we followed me around for a bit seeing bits and bobs, nice place.Had no issues with the boat tenders getting on or off, we got there early got our tickets and came back when called to get off.Simples really.
Vigo....did Our own think in vigo and in all honesty I thought the place was a dive,didn't feel very safe in vigo at all, and after seeing the drunk guy having a pee in the park and another balance a can of beer on his head ,we encountered a few what looked like junkies at a bus stop, this was enough for me to know it on the head.To be fair to vigo, there was a shopping center right next to the port and a go kart track too, so you didn't have to go far but It just wasn't for me.
Bilbao-Was quite a overcast day when we docked there which was a shame as there was a beach right next to the port, on a nice day this would make a good place to chill I think.
Lisbon-We had arranged our own tour for here which was fantastic, really liked Lisbon!
Le harve-I didn't go into town but my wife and sister did with the kids, there was loads of people who paid for taxies and some who walked into town and this was in the main because MSC didn't bother to tell anyone there was free shuttle bus at the port, we only knew there was one when we say it from the pool deck and went and asked.This was a little poor but easily sorted with an announcement or stick it in the daily events sheet you get in cabin every evening.
Entertainment-its a mixed bag to be honest.
Some of the singers were really good!, one night it could be opera show another acrobats etc.
The wed and Thursday shows were fantastic, had they all been of this quality I would have given it a 5 out of 5.There was a truly shocking mime artist one night, utter , utter crap.
Getting home,got taken to the airport and left there at around 0930 and had to wait till 2035 for our flight.Again , the flights were a bit of a pain, next time Im just going to drive and stay in a travel lodge as we were all knackered last night when we got home.
Would I go on the opera again? Yes , enjoyed it .
Would I use MSC again?Yes.
The food was OK,ship was decent and staff great.Ship could be improved by adding an outside movie screen for late night movies by the pool.
The out side waterfall on the exhausts stack I never saw it on, why not take it away and fit a climbing wall??, these two improvements wouldn't break the bank MSC and would enhance the ship no end.
The itinerary was OK,I would say for the price we paid(565 per adult) and just the port taxes for the kids, its a bit of a bargain taster cruise.
Don't agree to be honest with previous post about how it was the UK folks who needed the manners, in our experiences on the ship I found the European guests in the main,arrogant and very pushy.
I would say to anyone considering a cruise on the opera you get far more than you pay for and give it a go,its a good ship.