So there it was - Monday, the 26th - my date for boarding the MSC Opera. We travelled to Southampton Central by train, and got a taxi to ABP Southampton, where we found a massive queue to get on the ship. The lines weren't very organised (I couldn't really find where to join on), but this was not a fault with MSC and rather with Associated British Ports, so I am not taking points off for this.
When we got on, we got a bite at the indoor buffet (there was one outside, too, but it was a bit of a merky day in Southampton, thus making it more advisable to use the indoor buffet). The food was of higher quality than RCCL's offerings and there was a nice variety of sauces. In addition, the decor of the room felt cosy, and it was a well thought-out dining area. Lots of other areas felt very good visually, as well, including the coffee shop.
Entertainment was a bit deadbeat, with a few musical acts and little else. There was little variety in the music. I saw a country act in the activity agenda, but this was at the Sottovento Pub, a smoking area during the evening. I'm not too keen on people smoking in my vicinity, so we didn't go. The arcade had a few games that I saw interest in, but one of them I wanted to play, Dragon Ball Z, was broken. Ouch.
The cabin was nice, but the beds did not feel too massively comfortable, and some of the TV channels advertised were not there or misplaced (BBC One and Two were on the list, but were switched to BBC Entertainment and the BBC World News channel respectively, most likely due to licencing disputes; Euronews in English was not available but could be recieved in French; France 24 was not in French but rather in English, so if you have French-speaking friends or family members, please let them know before they go.)
Food in the dining room was as splendid as it was in the buffet.
At times, there was a few issues with service, mainly due to the lingual barriers.
Children's clubs were not used by either I (14) or my sister (11), because I found them to look quite dull.
Disembarkation at Amsterd-- wait a second... Ijmuiden? Where is that? It sounded like it was in the middle of nowhere. It took about an hour by bus to get to Amsterdam Sloterdjick, but the Felison terminal was small, and therefore easy enough to get through. However, I do not see the need for a shuttle bus between the ship and the terminal. In fact, the distance was so short that my father and I was joking about it!
Overall, I would cruise again on MSC Opera, but you may want to take a few additional pillows with you, and it may be a good idea to bring your own entertainment.