We were on this ship from 4 to 14th September for a roundtrip from Southampton to Lisbon with several ports of call.
Having read the reviews on here we were a little concerned as to what we would find, but overall the ship was fine, and we had a good cruise. I have to say, this was helped by the fact that we were part of the 400 plus people who were on-board for a Ceroc dance cruise. However, even without this we would have enjoyed the ship and its facilities.
The Opera was launched in 2004, and it is starting to show, with rust in evidence around the window in our cabin and in some other parts of the ship. Also, in a few places the carpets are looking a little threadbare. Overall though the ship was in good condition with the crew working constantly to keep it clean. I don't know if it is because of the ship's age that the stabiliser system is old fashioned, but even a fairly small swell made the ship rock.
Although there is a reasonable amount of storage space in the cabins and en suite bathrooms, they are quite small by the standards of other ships we have been on. My wife and I are fairly slim, but we struggled to use the tiny shower, so I don't know how larger people coped.
On the whole the food was good both in the buffet and main dining room, but occasionally in the buffet it was not very warm, and on the odd occasion in both restaurants the meat was quite tough. At peak times the buffet was very busy, but you could get a seat if you were prepared to share, and the food was constantly being replenished. As you would expect on an Italian ship there was plenty of pasta choices if you wanted them, and they were very tasty. We also enjoyed the outdoor Pizza, Burger, Sandwich and Ice-cream bars, with the pizzas especially being delicious.
We had the all-inclusive package which was very good and included many of the items on the drinks menus, and some of the ice-creams.
The service from our cabin steward, the waiters, reception etc was mostly very good, although you sometimes had to wait a while for drinks from the bars.
The entertainment was much better than we expected, with the excellent and friendly Animation Team working tirelessly from early morning until after midnight. Daytime activities were fewer than experienced on other ships, with very few lectures, but this was because there were several nationalities on-board. Every evening there was a show in the theatre, and different music, dancing and activities in four bars and a show lounge.
On most evenings we went to one of the bars and a show before taking part in the Ceroc dancing on the open deck.
As is common with other shipping companies the excursions were expensive. Due to the distance from the port to the town in both Amsterdam and Bilbao, and also time limitation, there was very little choice but to take a ship's tour or the expensive shuttle bus.
Would we take another MSC cruise; yes if the itinerary and price were right.