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Sail Date: July 2013
We did Amsterdam down to Lisbon and back, with stops at Vigo, Spain, Bilbao, Spain, Le Havre, France, Southampton, England and Guernsey. We twice went ashore and explored on our own, twice used private small-group tours NOT booked through ... Read More
We did Amsterdam down to Lisbon and back, with stops at Vigo, Spain, Bilbao, Spain, Le Havre, France, Southampton, England and Guernsey. We twice went ashore and explored on our own, twice used private small-group tours NOT booked through the ship and twice used ship-booked excursions. We are still new at cruising, this being our 3rd cruise, but we are learning fast. We have no desire to ever book a ship-booked excursion again - overpriced, overcrowded, few stops, most of the time wasted waiting for 70 people to get on and off the bus. We are very glad we tried booking our own private excursions. We used We Hate Tourism Tours in Lisbon and Discover the South in Southampton. We were delighted with both. It is worth paying extra for the customized, small-group experience. The main dining room was excellent. The food was great and the service was great, with one exception: an adjacent table (#55 in the L'Approdo dining room, 1st seating) had a family of 6 adults with 4 loud, hyperactive kids whose parents had no interest in controlling them. We were struck by flying objects, the kids were constantly yelling and shrieking and would not stay in their seats. The dining-room staff took no responsibility for controlling those people, who really should have been kicked out of the dining room on their first night and told not to return, at least not with the kids. The same family of idiots ruined our bus tour in Bilbao, and we were told by other bus passengers that they had done the same on a previous tour. The tour guide also took no responsibility and did nothing. The same family of idiots disrupted the stage show one night in the theatre, and at least on that one occasion, they WERE kicked out. MSC, your staff REALLY dropped the ball here - this is ample reason for me to avoid booking with MSC in the future. It really took away from the pleasure of the trip. You are too concerned with making sure the family of idiots had a good time, and not concerned enough with the fact that they were ruining the good time for everybody else who was ever near them. The buffet was open at suppertime, but had very limited choice. This is NOT good enough. The casino was good, but not very lively. We loved our staterooms and our balconies - we saw groups of dolphins 4 times, and watching docking and castoff was interesting. Room service was perfect. They need more do-it-yourself activities, and they need to upgrade those that they do have. The mini-golf, for example, was so dilapidated as to be useless. The worst performance by MSC was the usual (I have done an MSC cruise before) - they do NOT organize disembarkation properly, either for port visits or the end of the cruise. Information is sparse, vague, and often just plain wrong. Getting off the ship is slow, and wastes precious hours that we want to spend visiting the port cities. The staff who actually talk to us are trying and are usually polite, but clearly there is a problem higher up - it seems clear to me that the leaders just do not care. Eventually we will all trickle off the ship somehow, and then they will be free of us - that is obviously their attitude. The only thing I have to compare with is the one Royal Caribbean cruise I have done, and Royal Caribbean did this part of the job RIGHT. It was done quickly and efficiently every time. MSC need to wake up, and realize they will lose customers to their competition because of this. Lastly, the usual towels-on-the-lounge-chairs problem. MSC had placed signs on the pool decks saying that belongings left unattended on chairs for more than half an hour would be removed. And that is a good sign. But unfortunately all it was was a sign - I saw no evidence that they ever did it. ALL cruise ships and ALL beach resorts need to put up signs like this, but then they have to assign staff members with the duty of actually DOING IT. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2011
My husband and I just returned from the Opera where we sailed from Amsterdam to Oslo, Stavanager, Flam and then disembarked in Bergen, Norway. We are both in are early 40s and were not travelling with our two teenagers. We arrived in ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from the Opera where we sailed from Amsterdam to Oslo, Stavanager, Flam and then disembarked in Bergen, Norway. We are both in are early 40s and were not travelling with our two teenagers. We arrived in Amsterdam the morning before our departure and stayed with a fantastic couple we found on airbnb.com (a site I highly recommend instead of paying super high hotel charges). This was a great start to our cruise as the couple was from the UK and was able to help us figure out how to navigate Amsterdam as well as drop us at the cruise port. Embarkation took all of 5 minutes from the time we walked in the front door to the time we stepped on the ship. We arrived at approx 4 pm. Everything was smooth and there was NO line at all. I understand that a lot of passengers boarded in Southhampton so that is probably why there were no lines. We immediately went to our room which was a balcony room and we were very happy with the accommodations. I loved having the balcony and would definitely recommend it for this cruise as most of the reason you are taking this cruise is to take in the Norway Fjords and all their beauty. It was worth the extra price we paid. Our bags arrived shortly after and we rested and got ready for dinner where we had the second seating. This served us very well for this cruise as we would be tired after a long day of sightseeing and would come back for a nice nap until about 7pm. Keep in mind that it was light out from 4am to approx. midnight every night...in fact, it never really got completely dark. One of the first things we immediately noticed is the general age of the passengers. I would say the average age was approximately 60 years old. For me, I loved this! In my opinion, older people are generally more interesting to talk to. However, the other thing we noticed is that we were definitely the minority. In fact, we did not meet anyone else the entire time on the cruise from the US. Again...this is GREAT in my opinion. I loved it. We did meet a lot of people from the UK, a nice couple from South Africa, Italy and Germany. The service was great in our room...I swear they made up our beds 3 times a day. :) We had absolutely no issues at all with anything related to our room. The service in the dining room was good but not like we have experienced on other cruises. We did have a great server 'Phillip' from Brazil and he was very friendly. However we encountered waiters at other times that were not very warm and fuzzy...they seemed a bit put off by us. The food....well....I had read reviews before going and so I was prepared. There were a few dishes that were quite good (a pork dinner one night) and the desserts and pasta dishes were all very good. One of my dinner choices was inedible...ugh. But again, all in all...I would say the food was decent to good. The casino was very small and often times we were the only ones playing but we absolutely loved some of the staff. Christian from Ecuador was the best! Also, we loved Daniel from Romania but he took a lot of my money loll. They offered black jack, 5 card poker (against the dealer) as well as roulette. From talking to the casino staff, the Northern Europe trip typically does not have many gamblers. We still had a great time each night playing a few hours of blackjack as poker. There wasn't enough interest to get the Texas Hold Me tournament going so I was a bit bummed by that. The sites (Oslo, Stavanger, Flam and Bergen) were all fantastic. We loved them all. We did not book any excursions through the ship and saved quite a bit of money by booking directly with the companies. Oslo: we just walked around, shopped in the wonderful downtown area, tried to ride the bus to visit the Viking museum but ending up getting lost and going to a residential area. The good thing is that most people (if not all) speak English so we really had an easy time getting back to the cruise port area. All in all we loved the experience...even the getting lost. It's all part of the adventure!Stavanger: Oh what a lovely port! We got off the ship and immediately booked a 3 hr. cruise to see Pulpit Rock (from the water not walking on the rock). Again, we paid less than what the ship was advertising. Before our cruise, we walked around the great shops, had lunch, watched people, etc. It was a wonderful sunny day. The cruise was fantastic and worth the price we paid approx. $65 apiece. When we came back we went up to the top deck of the ship (the disco area) and took in the sun, the people down below in the port, the wonderful scenery, it was truly lovely. Flam: Again...breathtaking. Unfortunately, the weather turned a bit cold a little rainy. We knew that was wanted to take the infamous Flam train to Myrdal and back and figured it would be rather busy later in the day. We were some of the first off the ship and headed right to the train station ...only a short 5 minute walk. The round-trip was approx. $65 each and again worth every penny. One piece of advice. When going up to Myrdyl, find a seat on the right hand side of the train. :) There isn't a lot to do right in the small village so this might be one stop that I would recommend taking a ship excursion after the train ride. We ended up heading back to the ship for lunch and then taking a VERY long nap...I don't think I have ever slept so much in one week...it was much needed. Bergen: This was our departure port so we headed off the ship (there were maybe 50 other people also leaving at this stop) . One thing I didn't research was how far the airport was from the cruise port. We ended up walking with our bags into the city center (maybe a 20 minute walk) and then luckily found a taxi to take us to the airport which was about 25 minutes away. The taxi was about $75 for the both of us. We didn't get to see much of Bergen as our flight left at 10 am. We heard that it rains 300 days a year in Bergen. We took a flight back to Amsterdam and stayed the night again and headed home the next morning. All in all our trip was fantastic! I don't think the trip is for everyone but if you have an open mind and want to see some of the most fantastic scenery in the world, this cruise is for you. The ONE negative thing for us was how expensive everything is...the US dollar is not worth much in Norway. A beer for example cost approx $12 USD..so needless to say, we didn't spend a lot of money in the ports on knick knacks, food etc. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
The whole time you are on this ship you can't wait to get to land. A British man I talked to compared it to being in the army and he hit the nail on the head. If you go on this ship drink HEAVY to cope with no service and no ... Read More
The whole time you are on this ship you can't wait to get to land. A British man I talked to compared it to being in the army and he hit the nail on the head. If you go on this ship drink HEAVY to cope with no service and no entertainment...BTW you will pay through the nose for it! Food The food was for the most part is inedible. One morning the eggs were cooked is a dirty pan that fish (with bones in it) was cooked in the night before and I threw up. You can only eat when they tell you it is time and if you are late by 15 minutes...YOU DO NOT EAT! Room Service you need to pay for and the menu consists of bad pizza, boiled hamburgers, and soup. The "juice" is Tang unless you pay for it. All of the food is the cheapest crap they could buy. Every meal you need to fight for a glass of water and most times you loose. There is no service and if so none of the slaves from a third world countries understand English. Avoid the buffet unless you like hospital food! Customer Service There are only three answers at MSC if you can find a slave from a third world country that speaks English. NO, I don't kNOw, or that is closed! I bought a cigar in the shop and the guy told me to go cut it with scissors or poke a hole in it and he had a cutter right behind him. I bought a 200 euro amber bracelet and had to fight to get a box. Checkout they made you stay on the ship in the lounge for 5 hours with your carry on bags. Entertainment The entertainment was the worst! Unless you like country western music in sang in Dutch, or comedy in Italian, or dancing the Achey Breaky Heart and the Macarena...I am not kidding! I have seen better stuff at the High school level. They have one good singer in one of their 70's style lounges other than that it was awful. I forgot if you want some real entertainment go to the smoking bar and watch the bartender yell at the staff and customers...that is funny! Casino They only have Roulette, 21, and poker for table games. The machines are from the 1980's from Vegas and some you need to put the Tokens in each pull and they do not pay. Laundry "Misplaces" your clothes and then calls you a liar when you ask for it all back. TV There is only one channel in English (BBC) and two movies that loop the whole time but if it has subtitles you can' read them because the TV is two small and the volume does not go high enough to hear most of the time. Also it goes out all the time! BBC went out while in South Hampton. "Beds" - Cots They are not beds!!! They have COTS that are less comfortable then the ones I have for camping! Safety They do not go over the safety plan for the life boats! You watch it on TV and in England the port authority would not let us leave because there were not enough people that spoke English to properly execute the safety plan. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
TERRIBLE TERRIBLE TERRIBLE BED- cheap sheets, slab for a mattress, pillows lumpy BATH- towels like cardboard, one soap dispenser for shampoo and body soap NO extras Entertainment- The very worst,at first I thought it ... Read More
TERRIBLE TERRIBLE TERRIBLE BED- cheap sheets, slab for a mattress, pillows lumpy BATH- towels like cardboard, one soap dispenser for shampoo and body soap NO extras Entertainment- The very worst,at first I thought it was a joke only to find out it was THEIR real idea of entertainment STAFF- the most rude and nasty staff ever! If you like "NO" or "I don"t know" as answers for ALL of your questions, then this is the cruise for you. FOOD- Cheap cold food, small portions, limited selections. FIXED dinner times. If you are later than 15 min. after opening time you DO NOT GET IN. NO DINNER. Buffett is salads and pizza, the same all most every day. NO FREE room service. You pay for a limited menu in room service. Ice water forget about it!We fought EVERY night for a glass of ice water. The final comment is, if you like a "sit down- shut up- we do it our way" cruise. Then MSC cruise is for you! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
The pretty ship has two flaws . . . a dull menu and a crew sorely in need of training. The ship is classic italian . . .the drew works hard to serve. But no matter what you call it, pasta in red meat sauce is pasta in red meat sauce. The ... Read More
The pretty ship has two flaws . . . a dull menu and a crew sorely in need of training. The ship is classic italian . . .the drew works hard to serve. But no matter what you call it, pasta in red meat sauce is pasta in red meat sauce. The menu was dull and the food tasteless.MSC also does some other oddball things . . . like shutting everything down for hours a a stretch and charging for room service. They have traditional seating and an extremely crowded buffet, partly becaasue dining hours are short.MSC also seems to believe in a "no information is better" policy . . .basic stuff like the time the ship will sail from a port is either not available or available in several versions. So, for example, the run a shuttle from the pier to the center of town in a part and don't tell anyone!!!We took a shot a MSC after 45 or so cruises looking for alternatives . . . will keep in looking. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2010
Ships Name: MSC Opera POE: Amsterdam Cities Visited: Amsterdam; Dover, Kiel, Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Copenhagen Dates: 22 May- 2 June 2010 11 Nights This was our first cruise with MSC. It was probably our last. On a scale of ... Read More
Ships Name: MSC Opera POE: Amsterdam Cities Visited: Amsterdam; Dover, Kiel, Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Copenhagen Dates: 22 May- 2 June 2010 11 Nights This was our first cruise with MSC. It was probably our last. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being great, I give this ship and its crew for this cruise was a 3 +. Passenger Population was basically Italian, Dutch, German, French, Spanish and English. All basic instructions and info was in English and other languages. Most of the Dutch speak English so language is not an issue except sometimes with the crew personnel. Cruise director did good job on this. All transactions on board are in Euros and converted at the going rate. We booked our cruise thru Cruises Only. No problems but found out that other passengers paid less using a travel agent. We had no air or port to ship transportation and still paid more. Prices on European cruises on board are in Euros not dollars. MSC Opera, is not ready for prime time. Just too many things that were not right with this ship and its services and we saw no effort to fix them. Operated with typical "Italian efficiency" and I do not mean this as a compliment. Will start from the beginning Embarkation in Amsterdam Received info ahead giving two different boarding times in Amsterdam: 12 and 14:00. Neither was correct as time was closer to 3. Since we booked via Internet we used limousine service from Schipol, about 25 minutes to the port both ways. Euro 120 and well worth it. Plenty of taxi's but not sure of cost. Start with what we did not like: Water is not free unless you drink ships water. You can buy a water, soft drink or wine package. They push these at embarkations and at every stop. Found out 3 days into cruise that US and Canadian PAX have a Water Package included in their fares. On my invoice from Cruises Only there was entry "1 cl water authorized per passenger per day based on voucher system". I went to several info places on the ship and no one knew what this meant. Finally got note under door to pick up water package. Map of ship was not available until 2nd or 3rd day. Compendium book that is supposed to be in every cabin and provides detail info about all the ship's features was not delivered to our cabin until 7th day of cruise. Did not even know one existed. Food and Dining Rooms: The main two formal dining rooms are OK and food is OK. Our waiter was fantastic and I think most were because they really hustled. Portions are small but you can order doubles if you are hungry and they are more than happy to bring it. If you want water you have to ask for it and they will try to sell you bottled water. Dining in the Le Vele buffet restaurant, which was only open for breakfast, lunch and tee time was at best average. Food selection was pretty much the same for entire cruise. One main meat item at end of the line and it was not always good. Breakfast was not very good. Found out after three days there was a eggs to order and omelet source on the outside patio deck. Weather was very chilly on the outside deck, so all pre prepared food got cold very quick. Why this was not advertised from day one is beyond me. If you did not take the elevator that let you walk by the grill you would never know it was there. Just the haphazard way they ran this ship. The Le Vele buffet restaurant is far too small to accommodate the crowd, even when many opted to eat breakfast and lunch in the main dining room Tables are full very quick and you have to wander around to find seating. The waiters that are supposed to be busy busing tables and making space are the laziest or most uninterested bunch I have ever seen. They spent most of the time gathered together talking. I noticed that the dish rag they used was the same for every table and after a few it was more of a smear than clean. Kind of disgusting? Where was supervision? Never saw any. Restaurant is noisy and traffic flow is not good. Why do they put margarine in another separate line and not next to butter? Why are popular items so far back you need the arm of a NBA player to scoop them out? No thought given to item placement far as I could tell. For breakfast fishing out a boiled egg, all hard boiled, was like bobbing for a prize. Sometimes you got an egg, or two eggs or only water. Usually no one around to ask to get you an egg. Diabetic or sugar free foods were extremely limited. We asked several times why only orange jello and were told more were coming. They never showed up. In main dining room only diabetic or sugar free item was Fructose sweetened Ice Cream. Not sherbet or sorbet but chocolate or coconut ice cream. Fructose is not sugar free it is just another form of sugar. For me it is not approved so I did not eat desserts. The only alternative to dinner in the two main sit down restaurants was the Pizzeria which just serves pizza on one side of the Level buffet restaurant. It is not complimentary. Never went there so have no idea how good it was. One thing worthy of comment is the extremely bad coffee called "Coffee Americano" It was horrible. You are supposed to dilute it with hot milk but no matter what you did it was horrible. Did not meet one person except the Italians who drank it. We all used the instant coffee mix. Coffee/tee/juice bars are inadequate and lines are long every meal. I do not understand why they did not have one waiter going around filling up coffee cups in the morning. This would have reduced the congestion and long lines. Stations are only located on each end of the Le Vele buffet restaurant so lot of walking to get to it. One thing that is curious is why folks, who drink tee, fill their cups with hot water, dunk the bag then stand in front of the coffee/tee service stirring their tee. It is as if it cannot be done at their table. One other item is there are no tee spoons, only large soup spoons or wooden sticks to stir. Spoons are not in the silverware napkin and you have to get these on the dessert/fruit island. Dressing for dinner: There were three formal or Gala nights and meet the Captain for cocktails. Dress ranged from formal, tuxedo, suit and tie, sports jacket and dark trousers with tie to untucked sports shirts and one guy with flip flops. Point is that they are not too particular and if you do not want to pack extra tux you can be OK with suit or sports coat and tie. Summary: You will not starve for sure but buffet selection in the Le Vele is way below standards of other cruises I have been on. Did not go to Midnight buffet or any of the special finger food deals in the lounges. Tee time served same old pan cakes and horrible finger sandwiches. It is a stretch to call them a sandwich. Must be OK for English as they ate them. Lettuce on two pieces of bread with a cucumber slice is not a sandwich. The Hamburger Hot dog and pizza place on outside deck were OK but everything was cold. I am not sure where the folks who man these places were as I only saw folks at breakfast. By the way the two "cooks" who were doing omelets in the AM spoke almost no English or GE and it was little difficult to communicate with them. Best to know some sign language. One thing that really bugged me was how they cooked the waffles. They greased the bottom waffle iron with a pad of butter but not the top. The top stuck and they tried to scrape it off with a wooden spatula. That did not work so they pried it off with their bare fingers, non gloved!! Waffle was by then not really a waffle but cooked dough. Someone who can cook should show these guys how to make a waffle. Tipping: MSC has a policy that gratitude's are assessed and charged to your ships card at the rate of $12.00 or Euro 6 per day per passenger. We were told that if you did not want to participate go to the accounting desk and have it changed. I prefer to tip individually so I went to accounting desk and was told it was not possible to change!!!!. I insisted but they would not change. Said I I had agreed by taking the cruise!!! The only two folks I wanted to tip were our cabin lady and our waiter. They were both superb. Now a bunch of deadbeats who did nothing got rewarded. Pure socialism. Plus we were assessed a contribution for UNICEF. No one ask me if that was OK. Shore Excursions: Over priced but the ones we took were OK. In Russia unless you have an individual Russian visa you have to take a tour or not get off the ship. We took the 4 hour tour of St. Petersburg. Saw what we wanted to see. Hermitage was packed and I would either combine with another tour or make it separate. There is no explanation of alternate transportation modes available at any port if you do not want to take a boat tour. You are left on your own. In Stockholm the walk to the Old City is about hour but there is a " Hop On Hop Off" boat right at the dock that will take you there for minimal costs. This was never explained. You find out from other passengers, usually too late. In Helsinki for reason no one could understand we docked at the Industrial Terminal and it was a long way to the city. Ship arranged bus for Euro 14 or about$20 per person for a less than 20 minute ride. I heard other passengers saying it was a cost saving deal but am not sure if this is true. Unless you dock at the Cruise Terminal pay the price and take a cruise sponsored shore excursion. On 24 May, we were in North Sea headed for Rostock Ge the next day. Seas were little rough and there was high wind so it was announced that "The Germans had closed Rostock due to bad weather and we would instead dock at Kiel" which is only about 100 miles distance. After I returned I found that other ships including cruise ships had docked at Rostock. Early in the AM all the supply trucks were parked on the docks. I think it was another cost saving deal as it is shorter sea trip to Helsinki from Kiel than Rostock. I think we got snookered on this. Wish I could find out for sure. Cabins: We had balcony cabin on 9th deck. Cabins are small and showers are really small. Room smelled moldy and musty. Lot of rust around balcony door. There is a small fridge with a very small selection of high priced soft drinks and beers. Two bottles of water for Euro 2 each. Cabin lady was very good and cleaned well and made up and turned down bed. I was able to look into one inside cabin and it looked twice as big as our balcony cabin. Furniture is showing wear. Only soap and shampoo in shower are provided. There is a safe. Closet space is adequate. If you need more hangars ask for them. There is a ice making machine down the hall that we found on next to last day. It was never mentioned. Just another omission that seemed to be all too common. TV in room. Only English Channel was Bloomberg and most of time it was not viewable. Lot of Italian channels and two German channels. If there were movies it was never made know to us. Entertainment: Shows in main theater were basically OK except for two. One was some kind of classical deal that was not good and other was a recap of some individual acts from prior shows. There were several good individual acts. Two shows and you need to get there early to get a seat. I assume there were not shows the first two days, Amsterdam and Dover because never heard anything about them. There are not marquee signs and you can only find out from the daily ships news paper. There is space by the theater to put up what's playing but no one did! Not sure why, Mabye they do not have sign maker. Internet: expensive and you better know how to work an Italian keyboard. Instructions are on computer but they do not work. I spend $7 and never able to figure out how to type the @ sign. No one was around to assist. Phone calls are about $ 7 per minute. My European Cell phone worked most of the time when we were within a signal range. One last comment on disembarking: We arrived at Amsterdam about 09:30 in the AM. On the previous day we were giving instructions about putting out baggage, various color codes for leaving the ship and it all seemed so easy. When we woke up on debarkation day there was note under door that we had to clear our cabins by 07:00 and wait in the assigned debarkation areas. Dining rooms opened at 06:00. We finally were able to disembark at close to 11:15. Why was this point not covered at the briefing? I am sure because the briefer would be booed off the stage. Summary: Worth the price? Absolutely not! Just too many small things that could easily be corrected with some supervision and care. I was especially turned off by the collection of tips and an involuntary charge for UNICEF. All beverages in the various lounges add a 15% service charge! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
The MSC Opera - a beautiful, well appointed and maintained ship! The service staff was superb - both attentive and friendly. Each port-of-call and tour was outstanding - great sights and tours that were not overly rushed while being ... Read More
The MSC Opera - a beautiful, well appointed and maintained ship! The service staff was superb - both attentive and friendly. Each port-of-call and tour was outstanding - great sights and tours that were not overly rushed while being informative. Unfortunately, the same level of excellence does not pervade the ship. Activities involving process and procedure usually result in organized mayhem. By way of example, I arrived at the embarkation terminal in Amsterdam and was greeted by an MSC Cruises staff member at the main entrance. He directed me to fill out tags for my luggage, to place my luggage in a collection bin and to board the ship directly upon reviewing my Express Check-In paperwork. Taking the escalator to the second floor and following the signage indicating where to go, I was immediately attacked by Attila the Hen for entering the passenger processing area while it was closed. Note I arrived at the terminal at the time specified by the cruise line and no barrier was in place to prevent my entry. Attila, however, quickly located and strung a barrier across the entry way. After waiting for an hour, my wife and I were processed and permitted access to the ship and our cabin. Time passed and I became concerned as every other cabin on my deck had their luggage by their cabin door while mine was nowhere in sight. Despite being assured by the Reception Office that everyone was "working hard" on two occasions, the ship pulled away from the pier and I was still without luggage despite the passage of five hours. Making my third trip to Reception I was asked if I could identify my luggage from a collection of suitcases that all bore the same hand-completed luggage tags. I found my bags; they were eventually delivered to my cabin. Three days later, however, I returned to my cabin to discover a complete ticket package that contained printed luggage tags. I still wonder why I wasn't linked to the ticket package at the terminal, or why the representative was telling passengers to hand-complete luggage tags. I also wonder how long the ship's staff would have left the luggage in the holding area rather than matching a name to the passenger manifest. To be completely candid there are serious security implications within this tale - the ship had departed the pier without verification that corresponding luggage owners were on-board. My next disappointment, unless you cruise with the express intention of loosing weight, was the food. Actually, it was an enormous disappointment. Overall, the food was bland and the portions miniscule. For example, one evening I ordered Chicken Cacciatore. What I got was a baked chicken thigh - no sauce, no flavor - just a baked thigh on a plate. To add insult, the thigh had to have been purchased from a preserve for pygmy chickens. How about the Duck a l'Orange? What I received was a slice of duck skin, but this time with sauce. The Risotto was a pile of starch - being served at every multiple course dinner. Deciding to try the top deck buffet as a means of avoiding the main dining room for breakfast and lunch, I was again disappointed to find similar conditions. The breakfast juices were nothing more than highly sugared powdered drinks. To label them as juice is outright fabrication. The toast could have doubled as roofing tile. Any meats were dry and typically tough as an old buffalo. The lettuce for salads was always deeply submerged in water. The salad dressing was watery and had no flavor. I will stop with the culinary disappointments list to keep this critique from becoming voluminous. Suffice to say I made it a point to find a snack while ashore especially enjoying the tours which crossed meal times without food being provided by the ship. After numerous days of being held prisoner, my last experience aboard was not surprising. According to the ship's bulletin, the breakfast buffet was to start at 6:00 am on the day of disembarkation. Arriving in the hallway to the buffet at approximately 6:15 am, my ears were greeted with loud and very angry voices. A ship's officer was preventing passengers from entering the buffet as, according to him, it was not to open until 6:30 am. Ultimately, the crowd surged past him into the buffet. When I finally turned the corner and entered the buffet - I had absolutely no desire to impede the progress of the crowd which had formed behind me - there stood the same officer with his fists and eyes raised to the ceiling sobbing, "It's not my fault." One would rightly conclude it was highly fortunate that we never encountered a true emergency while at sea. Although I do wonder why anyone was in a hurry to get anything other than some coffee and perhaps some yogurt - the yogurt was terrible even though I digress. I have to suspect that whoever was responsible for buying the ship's food loved cheap without giving any regard to quality. Overall, I would recommend a Northern European/Baltic cruise to anyone interested in experiencing the ports-of- call offered on this cruise. It would be wonderful experience, just do not do it aboard the MSC Opera, otherwise your experience will be tarnished. There are simply too many other ships and cruise lines available Read Less
MSC Opera Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 0.0
Dining 3.0 0.0
Entertainment 5.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 1.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 3.0 0.0

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