MSC Opera Cruise Review by MaxeMill: Amsterdam & Norway - Virgin Cruisers
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Amsterdam & Norway - Virgin Cruisers
For my partner and I this was our first experience of cruising, and one that we'd be happy to repeat. We boarded at Southampton on a rainy day having driven down from Wiltshire - the process was quite painless. We drove into the docks and were directed to the embarkation terminal where we dropped our cases, from whence they were whisked away by friendly & polite porters, who directed us to the parking area which was some distance away. The chaps there didn't let the rain dampen their good spirits, and they pointed us to the parking bay with broad smiles. Once we'd sorted out the car & our hand baggage we got into a shuttle bus which took us back to the terminal for boarding. The hall was very busy, and there were queues to get processed, but with several hundred people to deal with I would say the process was reasonably smooth. We found our way to our cabin (deck 10, with balcony) with the help of a map, and were pleasantly surprised by it - clean, comfortable, plenty of More
stowage space (cases were put under the bed), well-appointed (hairdryer, shampoo, shower gel, TV, power points), and the twin beds were pushed together to make an enormously wide (and very comfortable) double bed. Our cases were delivered to our door within a couple of hours of boarding, and there were plenty of hangers for our clothes. The balcony had a small table and a couple of wicker chairs, but as it was raining we decided not to use that facility on that day, although we did have a Continental breakfast delivered to our cabin on the day we docked at Oslo.
We found the food beyond reproach, and enjoyed all our meals; and we also took the decision before departure that we were not going to worry about the service charge or the price of the drinks, but that we were going to have what we wanted - it would've spoiled our enjoyment if we felt we had to watch the pennies; not that we're rich - far from it. We also were happy to use the minibar for a drink or two. We felt the service charge removed the need for deciding how much to tip, and who - this way the problem was removed from us. If it's a problem for you, then maybe you shouldn't cruise. We felt the biggest problem was the rude and oafish passengers; sadly, many of them British.
The excursions were pricey, but for ease we booked them via the ship, except Bergen, where we made our own way to the funicular railway and the fish market (about a 15-minute gentle stroll from the port).
At Flam we were taken by coach to Voss where we had lunch, and then back to the ship by train. This was quite an experience - Voss is 57 metres above sea level on the Oslo to Bergen line; we had to change trains at Myrdal which is 866 metres ASL (clearly above the snow line even in June)!, so quite a climb! The next train took us from Myrdal to Flam (2m ASL), so that's quite a steep descent. We stopped part-way down for a rather impressive waterfall - it's worth doing this trip. We felt this was poorly policed by those crew members who accompanied us, as no check was made at Voss that everyone was present (unlike other trips), and indeed some passengers were missing when we left Flam - not sure how many, or their reason for not getting back.
I'm aware that I've not mentioned Amsterdam (beautiful); Oslo (likewise); or Stavanger (stunning in the sunshine).
The crew could not have been better - friendly, helpful, and willing to "go the extra mile" - also able to flick from one language to another seamlessly. We Brits were by far the biggest contingent, but there were French, Americans, Dutch, Germans, Spanish and of course Italians. Some reviews mentioned an irritating entertainments director (Franco) - he's either been fired or is deployed elsewhere, and the guy we had is OK (Alessandro).
Disembarkation was as smooth as embarkation, but it was a bit of a shock to the system to have to quit our cabin by 7 am after a week of being very relaxed. There was a queue to get onto the shuttle taking us back to our car, but it only needed a few minutes before we got back to our car, and were able to drive away home. All in all, an experience we'd be happy to repeat, and with MSC. Less
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Cabin review: 1010146
Very happy with this cabin - two single beds pushed together to make an enormously wide (and very comfortable) double bed. Plenty of stowage space (cases under the bed), plenty of hangers, well-appointed (hairdryer, power points, shampoo, shower gel, plenty of towels, one towelling dressing gown, TV). Big mirror, plus a dressing table with another big mirror. Plenty of hot water at all times. Bit of noise at nights on occasion - could've been crew moving sunloungers on deck above.