1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. MSC Cruises
  4. MSC Opera Review
  5. MSC Opera Cruise Reviews

327 MSC Cruises MSC Opera Cruise Reviews

We had a very pleasant cruise out of Genoa to the Western Med. ports of Naples, Palermo, Tunis, Palma, Barcelona and Marseilles on this beautiful new 56000 get ship in it's inaugural season in the Mediterranean, just before it left ... Read More
We had a very pleasant cruise out of Genoa to the Western Med. ports of Naples, Palermo, Tunis, Palma, Barcelona and Marseilles on this beautiful new 56000 get ship in it's inaugural season in the Mediterranean, just before it left for it's first trip to North America. We had flown to Genoa a couple of days prior to sailing and found a comfortable small hotel in the Stazione Principe area close to the cruise terminal. Genoa, the main city of Liguria, is not really a touristy city, more a working class port, but still has many interesting sites to see and reasonable restaurants for the local specialties like pesto. Embarkation was very organized and relatively quick, we were on board by 12.30 and sampled the buffet lunch soon after. The ship is lovely in an understated elegant way, with a nice reception area and many open public rooms, bars and lounges on decks 5 and 6. The bigger restaurant, La Caravella is on deck 5, and the smaller L'Approdo at the rear of deck 6. Both had an intimate feel, just like your favourite Italian restaurant and were non smoking. Lunch and dinner menus in both were the same, and served excellent five or six course meals, with many Italian style appetizers, pastas, risotto, fish dishes, cheese selections and gelati. Main courses were good on the whole, but a few disappointed, and were exchanged by our very accommodating waiter. Service was very attentive and we had a great rapport with Nello, our waiter and Remus our wine waiter. We enjoyed the company of our dinner table mates from England, and had a fun time all week long. Probably the two wine packages bought at the table contributed. The lunch buffets in Le Vele on deck 11, and grills and pizza in Il Patio outdoors on the same deck were all very good. Most of the shows in the Teatro Del Opera in the evenings were of a very high standard, and the performers in the various lounges were impressive, particularly the two Rumanian musicians who played for afternoon tea in the lounge. English speaking passengers were a definite minority, Italian being the majority, with many German, Spanish, French and Japanese. We found most of the passengers were very friendly even if we didn't speak the same language. One interesting point, passengers could join the ship at every port except Tunis, and could even stop off at Palma and rejoin the ship a week later. Overall we were very impressed by the product provided by MSC, and hope to sail with them again. We just hope that they stick to their nice Italian ambiance. Read Less
Sail Date October 2004
ABOUT US: We are 55 and 60 years old, and have traveled extensively. We took the Westbound Transatlantic crossing of the Opera in 2004, starting in Genoa, Italy and ending in Ft. Lauderdale. This was our 7th cruise together. ABOUT THE ... Read More
ABOUT US: We are 55 and 60 years old, and have traveled extensively. We took the Westbound Transatlantic crossing of the Opera in 2004, starting in Genoa, Italy and ending in Ft. Lauderdale. This was our 7th cruise together. ABOUT THE SHIP: If you have a specific idea of what cruising should be like, with a thousand detailed requirements, you will not enjoy this ship. It does not offer the same experience as Carnival, Royal Caribbean or Norwegian and probably never will. If, on the other hand, you find the interplay of cultures fascinating, and find differences stimulating instead of just "wrong," you'll have a wonderful time. MSC is an Italian company. They are the second largest cargo line in the world and are relatively new to the cruise market so there are some good values to be had. At least half of the passengers on our ocean crossing were Europeans and the blessedly few PA announcements were in five languages: English, German, Italian, French and Spanish. Service personnel must function in most of these languages. Some do this better than others, but all seemed pleasant and patient. The MSC Opera is new and is a sleek greyhound. It was designed for the luxury trade before the decision was made to pursue the budget end of the market. The interiors are quietly elegant in dark blues, smoky plums, corals and creams. There's no art in particular but the lighting fixtures are well designed like big sculptures. The ship lacks glass-sided elevators, high atriums and Vegas-style metallic glitz, but makes up for it by being really comfortable, human-scaled like a good European hotel. Lots of small places to settle in. Lots of glass and views of the sea. We had an inside cabin. It was not the largest we've been in, but the mirror layout was the best we've seen, giving more light and sense of space than we expected. The bathroom was equally well-planned, generously sized with an excellent shower. Water heat and pressure were both good. The smaller of the two restaurants, L'approdo, is a jewel box of red and pink. The larger restaurant, La Caravella, is very sophisticated in green, cream and yellow, with lots of columns and divisions so it seems more intimate than its size would indicate. There is a cafeteria on the top deck with indoor and outdoor seating. The top deck also has two pools and is very lively. There is often an excitable host screaming in 4 or 5 languages, running incomprehensible games and contests with enthusiastic passengers, Europop blaring on the speakers. If you want quiet, there are lounge chairs on the Boat Deck most days and also at the stern of many of the cabin decks. ABOUT THE FOOD: Extraordinarily good. Northern Italian. We were on for 17 days and they didn't miss on a pasta or risotto once. Good pizza, superb homemade ice cream, excellent bread, good soup. We found the meat entrees a little lacking but others singled them out as exceptional. You could always get a grilled sirloin or chicken if you didn't like the chef's entrees. The cakes were of the baba au rhum variety. Very airy and not much chocolate, but plenty of variety. Lots of salads and fresh fruit, plus fresh fruit in the rooms. The waiters are Italian and joke a little heavily at first and not always successfully in an attempt to charm you. On the whole they are very good. When I expressed a preference for ice tea and breadsticks rather than rolls, I found them waiting every night. Luigi was an excellent waiter, Mario and Carlo excellent maitre'd's (and Sylvie was a superb cabin steward too.) MSC has a policy that you don't have to tip if you don't want to. This is churlish, the staff deserves it, they work hard. We followed the policy we have always followed. We ignored management's guidelines and tipped what we wanted to and felt was appropriate. THE BEST THING ABOUT THE SHIP: The intimacy and sheer livability of the ship are the main virtues for us, but one of the most civilized things is that they allow you to get duty free liquor and open it and consume it in your room. They don't seal it for the voyage so you'll order more from the bars like many lines do. THE WORST THING ABOUT THE SHIP: There are two really bad things about the ship: 1) SMOKING: Many Europeans smoke. Like chimneys. And seemingly they aren't even aware it might hurt others. They are behind us on banning smoking. Fortunately they were not allowed to smoke inside the restaurants, but the outdoor patio area was rendered unusable for non smokers. This was a big disappointment to us, but didn't ruin the cruise. We don't go to the lounges at night (we like to get up for the dawn) but we understand there were fights in the lounges about people who ignored the non-smoking area designations. And there's nothing like being in a jammed corridor trying to exit the ship in a port and having someone light up. Some Americans complained to the offenders but many of the smokers didn't speak English, so it was futile. We never saw staff do anything to enforce the no-smoking areas. I am asthmatic and suffer from smoke, but I was able to get away from it OK. Judge for yourself whether it makes a difference to you. 2) MANAGEMENT: Charming but utterly chaotic. Generally inefficient and sometimes maddeningly so and in odd ways. The loading of the ship in Genoa, for example, was the most efficient I have ever seen. You checked in, reserved your dining table, and booked your shore excursions in one very smooth line. But once on board, both the purser's and excursion desks were uninformed and uncoordinated. For example, we tried to book a transfer from the dock to Ft. Lauderdale airport. Reception said Shore Excursions handled that, Shore Excursions said Reception handled that, they bounced us back and forth, called each other and yelled into the phone. We eventually did get to the airport and make our flight, but a little more coordination would have worked wonders with the experience. Similarly the 24 hour internet service broke down periodically because the satellite gave them problems. Nobody had any idea when it would be fixed. There is a technician on board but service remained unreliable. Our two valiant American hostesses, Amanda and Vanessa, bravely took a barrage of passenger criticism, justified and otherwise, and relayed the complaints to management. Often the response from the bridge was an automatic "no," but then the problem would be mysteriously solved 24 hours later. THE PEOPLE ON BOARD: The Americans on board this repositioning cruise were largely retired people, many from Florida. They are very experienced budget cruisers. They have taken every line and they have very set expectations about what they like and want from a cruise. When they don't get what they are used to from Carnival, Royal Caribbean, etc., they don't perceive this European ship as different, they perceive it as WRONG! This makes some of them very hostile. For example, there are only small cups of ice water on a hot day. Not spigots of iced tea or fruit juice like on other ships. There is iced tea but only in the dining rooms. Not in the cafeteria or on the outdoor patio. This one thing made a lot of people hostile. (Until management gets around to this one, bring a tall insulated mug and make your own). We were told there is little music for ballroom dancing at night. Only disco (I guess their Mediterranean cruises have more young people -Europeans have longer vacations than us and the American passengers skewed older). There are movies on the TV but they are dubbed in many languages. And the English-language originals are often not on at convenient times, nor are the schedules reliable. "Welcome to Mooseport" loses something when dubbed in German (I'm not kidding). And some passengers just don't like it when they are so many people on board that they can't talk to, and they grow impatient when instructions have to be translated. Also, some cultures are trained to get on line, while others just crowd in, which makes for conflict. If management would put rope lines like a bank in front of the reception counter, that might defuse a lot of bad feeling. We read some hostile reviews of this ship and its sister ship, the Lirica before we booked this, but we must say we enjoyed the experience thoroughly and found it a phenomenal value. You just have to know what you are getting in to. SHOPS: Very tasteful and very expensive, which made no sense at all. The shops were one part of the ship not recalibrated for budget cruising. The stock was entirely for the European market, the wrong weight clothing and not even in American sizes. They didn't sell bottles of aspirin or Tylenol, but did sell several kinds of expensive anti-cellulite cream. Considering the average age and needs of the Caribbean cruisers this is pretty odd. Also, one lone bottle of SPF sunblock shared shelf space with plentiful supplies of old-fashioned tanning butter. If they sold some insulated mugs with the ship's logo, they'd clean up and stop the no iced tea hostility, but they are not yet that sensible. The $350 dollar sweaters didn't sell even at 50% off. When the temperature outside went to 90 degrees, people wanted tee shirts. They only had a few, they were expensive and for sale only in the liquor store! A simple $29 item in the jewelry shop would have sold out. But they didn't have anything at all in that category. SHORE EXCURSIONS: The stops on our crossing were: Barcelona, Casablanca, Funchal, Barbados, Antigua, Tortola, St. Maarten, and Nassau. Generally well run. Remember to bring Euros for Barcelona and Funchal (not all the Americans on board did). The ship charges 3 percent to change money. This includes 3 percent to cash travelers checks which is a bum deal. They're supposed to be cash. The full day excursion to Marrakesh from Casablanca which includes a 4 hour bus trip both ways is exhausting but sooo worth it! Don't miss this one. In Madeira, we found riding a wicker basket down a mountain in Funchal is terrifying without much thrill. They don't tell you you're riding down a HIGHWAY with trucks coming at you and you're being steered by 2 guys with string. Phooey! Take a cab to the top of the cable car instead. Also, Tortola is the most beautiful place I ever saw in the Caribbean. A NOTE ON LUGGAGE: Our luggage was lost between Paris and Genoa. The idea of a 17 day cruise with no luggage was really frightening for us. It was found and delivered to our hotel at midnight the night before we departed. We met people whose luggage was lost connecting from Rome, Frankfurt and London. Some bags caught up with the ship before we left, some joined us at our first stop in Barcelona, some never caught up at all. Since the art of transferring baggage seems to have been lost, travel insurance is a good idea, at least giving you some money for replacement clothing. And pack your carry-on bags carefully in case your big suitcase(s) go AWOL. HOPE FOR THE FUTURE: MSC has hired management from American cruise lines to explain American cruise culture to them, so improvement should be swift. They are really trying hard. But I don't expect they'll ever be "plain vanilla." If you like, by all means give them a try, but only if you understand going in it's going to be different, and that's not a bad thing. Read Less
Sail Date November 2004
We arrived at the ship around 12:20 and was on the ship within an hour. Everything went very quickly and the staff all made you feel very welcome. They had water and orange juice while you waited. It was the easiest embarkation I've ... Read More
We arrived at the ship around 12:20 and was on the ship within an hour. Everything went very quickly and the staff all made you feel very welcome. They had water and orange juice while you waited. It was the easiest embarkation I've ever experienced. We were taken to our cabin by a white-gloved attendant. There was a bowl of fresh fruit in our cabin which was replenished daily. Our cabin steward had a bit of an English problem but took care of all our requests very quickly. He was great. He kept our cabin in great order. The ship was lovely. At first glance you might think it to be bland but on closer inspection find a very understated elegance. The colors are very soft with a lot of mirrors and brass. We were in cabin #8275 which is an ocean view. By most standards it is small but with all of the storage space it was most workable. We were two women traveling together with all the clothes that requires plus we also had scuba diving gear. We noticed some of the desk chairs in the hall and figured out that when the bed was in the queen configuration that it took up too much space. Our cabin was next to the last aft cabin and we enjoyed having the fantail to relax on. The bathroom was small with a tiny shower but it had a removable shower head which was a huge help. There was plenty of storage in the bathroom. There was a blow dryer on the wall which we didn't use. Food is very subjective but talking with other passengers, I found most shared my opinion. The buffet was not good. We had all of our meals in the dining room which we found to be very good. There were a few disappointments but found the food to be really good overall. We saw a big change in dining room service just in the week while we were on board. We asked to be moved and our request was gladly taken care of. We had great dinner companions and enjoyed our meals. Champagne was served on our last formal night which I thought was a nice touch. They had the baked Alaska parade AND it was actually yummy. Instead of a Cruise Director the ship had a Cruise Staff which was FANTASTIC! They made sure that everyone who wanted to have fun did. We would check our daily program to find where they were going to be and that is where we headed. I just can't say enough good things about them. There are numerous lounges with great musicians in most. My personal favorites were the Caruso Lounge and the Cotton Club. I have sailed on Carnival, Celebrity, HAL, Princess and Royal Caribbean. The MSC Opera was the most "fun" cruise I've taken. If you enjoy new experiences, don't sweat the small stuff and like to have fun then the Opera is a perfect choice. Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
Let me first give you a quick answer to the question I had before taking this cruise. Should you choose MSC Cruises and the Opera for your cruise vacation? I cruised on the Opera during the week of January 8, 2005, with a group of 24 ... Read More
Let me first give you a quick answer to the question I had before taking this cruise. Should you choose MSC Cruises and the Opera for your cruise vacation? I cruised on the Opera during the week of January 8, 2005, with a group of 24 people and based on our experience and conversations with a variety of other passengers, the answer is yes. Our group was so pleased with the cruise we have already reserved space on the Opera for an Eastern Caribbean cruise departing January 14, 2006. Embarkation and Debarkation This ship departs from Port Everglades terminal 4. The whole embarkation process was only about forty five minutes from the time we arrived until completing the check-in process. We then boarded the ship, were greeted and escorted to our cabins. The whole process is well organized and efficient. The reverse process at the end of the cruise was just as smooth and efficient. First Impressions This is a very beautiful ship, elegant and tastefully decorated. The Opera is classy not gaudy and has the appearance of a premium product without a hint of the "Las Vegas" look. The Opera is a mid-size ship with 1,756 passengers based on double occupancy and 2,100 with all berths filled. The public rooms are roomy and never feel crowded. This is especially evident during the days at sea. There is no overcrowding around the pool with a surplus of deck chairs and many areas on the upper decks with only a few people. There are plenty of places on board to get off by yourself if you wish. At 58,600 gross tons this is not a ship where you stand in awe of its sheer size and gawk at soaring atriums. There is one thing that is important to keep in mind with the MSC Opera. We have all heard the phrase "This is way more than a cruise...." Not the case on the Opera. This is a cruise, in fact, an excellent cruise but there are no rock-climbing walls, ice skating rinks, or movies under the stars here. This is by design as MSC is trying to bring back a bit of the past and separate itself from the competition. If you have been on Royal Caribbean or Princess and expect all of those "extra" things on a ship you might be disappointed here. MSC has a very distinct Italian flavor on board, and we're not talking about food. The officers, cabin stewards, hotel staff, entertainers and waiters are Italian. Assistant waiters and other cabin staff workers are from Indonesia and The Philippines. This makes the cruise feel like a trip to Europe but without the jet lag. It gives you the feeling of foreign travel from a U.S. port on a cruise to the Caribbean. All announcements on the ship are in five languages, Italian, German, French, Spanish and English. MSC has designed this ship, and the cruise, to be "quiet". By this they mean a couple of things. First of all, there are no announcements made in your cabin, other then the required emergency and life boat drill announcements. Passengers are treated like adults and are expected to read the daily program and find their way to the various activities on board. The other place this style shows up is in the drink service. Cocktail service in the lounges and on the upper decks is very understated and relaxed. You certainly can order a drink if you wish but you will not feel any pressure to do so. There is no "booze cruise" atmosphere. Cabins -- The cabins on the Opera are slightly smaller than on other cruise lines. The inside and outside cabins are identical, except for the window, and measure 154 square feet. What's missing is room for a chair or that half size sofa that you find on some of the newer ships. Overall, they are still very comfortable. Each cabin has a mini-bar a safe and some extra shelf space tucked behind the mirror in one corner of the room. Cabins have good closet space with room to store your bags The bathroom is small but functional. The space in the shower is tight but it does have a great shower head. One possible solution is to leave the curtain open while showering as the bathroom floor has a drain. Just make sure you don't leave anything in the bathroom that can't get wet. Balcony cabins are larger at 180 square feet and are located on decks nine and ten. The Opera also has 30 suites measuring 245 square feet on deck eleven near the bow. No baby grand pianos or hot tubs on your veranda on this ship. Public Spaces -- When you board the ship you arrive in the Main Foyer Reception Area on deck five. This area is very elegant with a double spiral staircase; the look of marble and brass makes a great first impression. This area is two decks high. There are no cabins on the lowest public decks five and six. These decks are all public spaces. Deck five has the main foyer, several lounges, the shopping area, sitting areas and one of the two dining rooms. Deck Six has the Teatro Dell' Opera showroom, coffee bar, lounge, piano bar, casino, photo shop, cyber cafe and the other main dining room. The main showroom, Teatro Dell' Opera is a bit unusual in that it's sole purpose is to be theater, not another cocktail lounge with entertainment. It has very comfortable theater style seating with none of those little tables for drinks. No drinks are sold in the theater. It has an outstanding sound and lighting system with laser lighting effects during the shows. Sight lines are excellent as there is no balcony and no posts to block the view. Deck seven has another large lounge, card room and library in the bow of the ship and cabins toward the stern. Much of this deck has crew cabins along with a few category 6 obstructed view outside cabins. Decks eight, nine and ten are devoted to inside, oceanview and balcony cabins. Deck eleven has the health center, gymnasium and sauna along with the steam rooms. The health center has an excellent workout area with all new equipment and a full service spa. There is a children's room near the health center. Also on deck eleven are the burger and hot dog grill, a pizza station, two (saltwater) pools, two hot tubs and a bar. The stern of this deck is taken up by the buffet restaurant. The area around the pools is very roomy and does not get over crowded. The lounge chairs on board have a unique design with a shade that comes up to block the sun from your face. Deck twelve has the usual walking and sunning space above the pool with more lounge chairs provided. Around the stern of the vessel, wrapped around the smoke stacks, is a mini golf course. Food -- Food quality in the dining room is excellent and compares favorably with Celebrity Holland America, or Royal Caribbean. The menu has been changed for the Caribbean cruises to appeal more to American tastes. The menu choices are extensive with a choice of several main courses after an appetizer, salad, soup (including some delicious cold soups), pasta and an assortment of cheeses. After all that there are the desserts, all of which are outstanding. The meal is not rushed and service is of the relaxed European style. If you find the pace of service is too slow for your comfort a word with the waiter or head waiter will speed up the pace. Lunch and dinner in the buffet is standard cruise ship fare. Just a little more emphasis on European tastes as about twenty percent of the passengers on board are Europeans. For breakfast you have a choice of the dining room, the buffet or room service. Croissants and cappuccino are also available a the Aroma Coffee Bar on deck six. For lunch you can again choose the dining room, buffet or the pool grill which serves hot dogs, hamburgs, and pizza. During the afternoon soft ice cream is available near the pool area from 2:30pm to 4:00pm. There is no alternative dining and seating in the dining rooms is traditional style with early seating at 6:00pm and late seating at 8:30pm. There are several buffets both at midnight and at noon during the days at sea. The buffets are mainly Italian specialty foods, all of it very good. Another hit is Tea & Music at the Piazza di Spagna lounge each day at 4:00pm which of course features much more than tea with a wide assortment of pasties guaranteed to add inches before the end of the cruise. Entertainment -- Entertainment on the Opera is the best I have ever experienced on a cruise ship. Classy is the term that best describes the evening entertainment in the main showroom. A very energetic cast for the review type shows in the main theatre with some outstanding guest acts. On the third night violinist Marian Cristea and pianist Andrei Mihalache, both from Bucharest Romania, presented a classical concert. It was an outstanding performance of incredibly beautiful music. They were joined for two numbers by Enrico Scotto, an outstanding young Italian tenor, who received three standing ovations. All three of them appeared throughout the week with the Enrico Scotto presenting his own concert as well. There was also a pair of acrobats who did several acts which were very close to Cirque du Soleil even using some of the music. The musical performances were enhanced by excellent dancers who on one evening presented a version of Riverdance which was as good as you would see on Broadway. Another evening featured Spanish dancing. The violinist and pianist were part of the Summertime Trio, along with Daniela Cristea the wife of Marian Cristea. They were featured in the Piazza di Spangna lounge each evening playing and singing everything from Bach to rock. They alternated in the lounge with Los Reyes Paraguayos a trio of Spanish guitar players and singers. Again a great sound that is easy on the ears. If you want an upbeat sound there is another lounge which features an excellent singer as well as a piano bar. For the late night crowd there is a disco that starts up at about 10:00pm. Also on board is the Studio Band which plays anything from rock to reggae to Donna Summers. On the pool deck they were joined by the Animation Team a group of highly energetic young people who led the crowd in a combination of line dancing and aerobics. Everyone was having a lot of fun. The Animation Team also conducted various games on board especially on the sea days. There is a casino that is on the small size by design as casinos are just as popular with Europeans as they are with Americans. No movie theatre on board but bingo has not been forgotten along with dance lessons, arts and crafts, digital photo lessons, and lectures during the days at sea. Fellow Passengers -- Average age seemed to be about 45 years old with a fairly healthy mix of younger couples, families, even some babies on strollers, and older passengers. About 80 percent of the passengers on MSC in the Caribbean are Americans with the rest being Europeans. Most passengers seemed to be middle to upper income levels. Gratuities -- The official tipping policy on MSC is that tips are optional at the discretion of the passenger. Tips are not charged to the passengers on board accounts and tip envelopes are not distributed to the cabins the last day of the cruise. If a passenger wishes to tip a staff member for outstanding service they must go to the reception desk and ask for a tip envelope. All tips must be in cash and cannot be charged to your on-board account. Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
I sailed on this cruise with my mom and a couple friends and I like to think we all had a great time. I know I did!  I absolutely loved the ship ... there is so much public space per passenger. The MSC OPERA is practically brand new and ... Read More
I sailed on this cruise with my mom and a couple friends and I like to think we all had a great time. I know I did!  I absolutely loved the ship ... there is so much public space per passenger. The MSC OPERA is practically brand new and her size is around 58,000gt so she is not too big or too small. She is considered a medium to small sized ship by today's standards. For a smaller ship, the amount of public rooms is amazing not to mention the variety of bands, bars, and dance floors. In fact there seemed to be more public areas than ships almost double her size. Most of all, I loved the Italian/European atmosphere. MSC Cruises is an Italian cruise line that is just breaking into the North American market. It was a breath of fresh air and the most refreshing cruise I have taken in a long time. I can't say enough about the staff, entertainment, and of course the energetic Animation Team! They were amazing. What other cruise line schedules an activity at 1:15am?? These guys (and gals) always looked like they were having such a great time and I just wonder where they get all their energy from?? I really admired them. Dinners were fantastic. The best I've had since Silversea. The pasta dishes and bread were to die for. Our dining room staff was excellent and food was served at a very good pace. Our waiter Pepe would never bat an eyelash at special requests or orders for extra entrees. We were even granted a specific table I requested in advance. I had faxed the Maitre d' directly before the cruise and requested a large, round table by the aft windows of the smaller L'Approdo Restaurant. A reservation card was waiting in my cabin, and sure enough we were escorted the first night to the exact location I had requested. There were a few minor details that could use improving. Better cabin TV programming. More equipment in the gym (such as elliptical machines). More MSC logo items in the gift shop. Larger cups in the buffet. As I stated, they are minor and easily corrected. Even so, MSC gets really high marks from me and I would sail them again in a heartbeat. My only wish is that they don't change and become too Americanized. It was everything European about the line that I truly enjoyed. I felt more like I was cruising the Mediterranean than the Caribbean. English was definitely not the first language spoken by the staff, crew, singers and musicians. Italian was #1 but everyone did know at least some English. It was also the things MSC Cruises doesn't do which I found refreshing. No bargain basement tables in the lobby selling $10 t-shirts. No art auctions. No revenue producing announcements. No "inch of gold" being hacked everywhere. No pushing drinks. Unlimited large towels by the pool. No waiters singing "hot, hot, hot" in the dining room. Fresh fruit everyday in the cabin. No automated gratuities. No pushing for "excellent" grades on the comment form. In a nutshell, it was very civilized. I might also add it was the easiest and quickest embarkation I have ever experienced. On a side note, I felt the officers, staff, and crew onboard were probably the best looking I have seen on a cruise ship. There was also much more officer/staff interaction with passengers then I have seen before. This made for a great evening atmosphere in the lounges. The entertainment staff such as the dancers and Animation Team also worked much harder compared to other cruise lines. They were everywhere at all hours interacting with passengers and trying to make sure everyone had a great time. The dancers and entertainers also don't get away with just two production shows during a 7-day cruise (as on most lines). In fact they had some type of performance almost every night in the show lounge, either with their own show or complimenting the other entertainment acts where were featured. In closing, I truly wish MSC all the success in the world. They are not for everyone but for those that enjoy a multi-cultural experience at sea on a quality product you can't beat it. Ernie Click Link for pics: http://public.fotki.com/eroller/msc_opera_-_1222005/ Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
The MSC Opera was a beautiful ship. I loved EVERYTHING on the ship. It is very hard to explain the whole ship. It was amazing*. The dining room was even pretty. The food was excellent. My Family and I traveled on the Cruise. My sister ... Read More
The MSC Opera was a beautiful ship. I loved EVERYTHING on the ship. It is very hard to explain the whole ship. It was amazing*. The dining room was even pretty. The food was excellent. My Family and I traveled on the Cruise. My sister and I are teenagers and there were many* things for us and my parents to do. One thing I will never forget on the Cruise was the Animation Team. They made the Cruise even better than it already was. My sister and I would get up, get a lounge chair, and then go eat breakfast. Our chairs were always* in the front so we could watch the Animation Team. I learned how to bachata, tango, and country line dance. The boat was clean as possible. Our room was cleaned each day. My sister and I were in a darts tournament. We went on an Excursion in the Bahamas. It was called the Glass Bottom Boat ride. I saw lots of pretty fish. It was very informative. The saddest part was the last day and we were leaving the ship. My sister and I cried. Over all, The MSC Opera is a never forgettable trip. No matter what age, you will have fun! Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
This is a review of the MSC Opera. ABOUT US - We have taken about 20 cruises since 9/11 on Princess, NCL, Carnival, Celebrity, and Holland America. This is our first MSC cruise. Our interests are dancing, exercise, entertainment, beach ... Read More
This is a review of the MSC Opera. ABOUT US - We have taken about 20 cruises since 9/11 on Princess, NCL, Carnival, Celebrity, and Holland America. This is our first MSC cruise. Our interests are dancing, exercise, entertainment, beach access snorkeling, and, of course, food. We are not interested in gambling, buying drinks ( we carry our own on board), and shore excursions (preferring to take local transportation such as buses and cabs). THE CRUISE LINE - If you are tired of standard American style Caribbean cruises and would like something completely different try MSC. US and Canadians represent only about 50% of the cruisers while Europeans made up the other half and the ship is definitely geared towards the Europeans. Announcements are in four languages which can be irritating. Note that since most Europeans do not tip or tip much less than Americans, tipping is not necessary. The staff is mostly Italian and very enthusiastic. THE FOOD - As mentioned about the Lirica, if you enjoy pasta and rice dishes this is the ship for you. If you're into meat and potatoes you may want to give it a miss. The chef is obviously southern Italian with no typical northern veal-in-sauce dishes. Room service breakfast is typically European which means breads, juices, and coffee; interestingly no espresso/cappuccino. The breakfast buffet, however, is completely american. The lunch buffet is american inside and european outside. THE DANCING - Great music for everyone. obviously lots of Latin music but also typical popular dance music and late night disco. The dance classes are much more extensive than on other cruise lines with, in addition to the usual stuff, salsa, samba, and tango classes. THE SHOWS - Very different and very entertaining. Because of the language differences many of the acts are in pantomime. Definitely different! EXERCISE ROOM - For a ship of this size it was surprising to find over 8 different CYBEX type machines and lots of room to use dumb weights. There is a complete compliment of exercise machines. THE PORTS - Cozumel and Grand Cayman have it all. If you interested in beach access snorkeling both ports in addition to Roatan are great. In Roatan the reef along West Bay Beach is a short swim from the shore and the beach has all facilities. In Grand Cayman Eden Rock is a short walk from the tender dock and Cozumel is one large marine park. In summary, the MSC Opera is a ship that some will love including us and some will hate. BUT give it a try. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
I found the OPERA to be quite appealing; with a sleek Italian decor and a feel of ships from the 70's. The public areas flowed with ease and their pool deck is one of the largest open decks of any ship. BUT..... as beautiful as the ... Read More
I found the OPERA to be quite appealing; with a sleek Italian decor and a feel of ships from the 70's. The public areas flowed with ease and their pool deck is one of the largest open decks of any ship. BUT..... as beautiful as the ship is, the service and cuisine is by far, one of the worst I've ever experienced. As a former Cruise Director, I review a ship for its onboard services, which, include food, preparations, activities, crew and cruise staff. The food in the buffets were terrible and offered an array of choices. Meats were dry and vegetables were either soggy or uncooked. As the food in the dining room was good their in-dining lunch menu was weak and the food was no up to standard. On 3 occasions my meat plates contained bone chips. Not good at all. The cruise staff was unprofessional. The CD was a woman who hardly ever appeared in public except to MC the evening shows which were done without excitement and interest. She (CD) seemed to feel that it was a bother for her to even be there. Other staff members appeared unshaven and clothes possibly worn to sleep in. The Animation Team were standard. Problem with both staffs is that their English was extremely poor. During the activities held by the pool, PAX couldn't understand what they were saying most of the time. There is no music played during many hours by the pool. In fact, when we asked the cruise staff about it, they suggested WE give them a CD to play if we wanted music. This is a Premium Class ship??????? They used more cheap and small paper products for coffees and soft drinks then even on Sea Escape. If you call your ship Premium Class, then I would expect to have proper plates and cups throughout the day. The casino is a joke. Way too many problems to go into. My opinion is.... the OPERA is a beautiful ship BUT MSC needs to work hard to bring up the standards of their crew and staff if they plan on marketing and selling to the American market. Until I see a difference, I cannot recommend OPERA to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
Overall, I was very pleased by my 7-night Western Caribbean cruise aboard the MSC Opera. The ship housed much more than any other ship of her size. The major debate I had become aware of prior to my cruise was the ethnic and cultural ... Read More
Overall, I was very pleased by my 7-night Western Caribbean cruise aboard the MSC Opera. The ship housed much more than any other ship of her size. The major debate I had become aware of prior to my cruise was the ethnic and cultural differences than typical cruises from the competitive American lines. At first, I thought the announcements and instructions would become an annoyance being completed in five languages, however I was wrong. MSC practices without any announcements during the cruise. The only time we heard a public broadcast was when we were leaving Grand Cayman and were paging specific passengers who had not gotten back to the ship. Having the announcements for the shows, by the pool, or during bingo were less of an annoyance, but more fun for us. We were relaxed and enjoying the cruise, so it was fun to reminisce of earlier school days learning the foreign languages. And, I give kudos to the crew for the ability to speak in five languages fluently. Another hot topic for MSC critics and reviewers seems to be the food. I was aware of the international aspect of the line prior to going in. I expected to see less typical American food, and more international and cultural dishes. I was not surprised. The food was just as was heralded by previous cruisers. The afternoon buffet had a different spread each day, while maintaining the always popular pizza and grill bar. And, for the record, the pizza was outstanding. After the first day trying it, it became a daily stop. It was always fresh out of the oven, and prepared at standards of New York pizza, with an Italian flare. Between limited hours there was also a soft-serve bar. Another frequent stop for the week, this ice cream was very tasty and by the end of the cruise, the long lines would be testament for that. The best part about the casual afternoon buffet and treats was the Il Patio, a canopy styled area adjacent to the pool with tables and chairs. Always a slight breeze, some sun, and typically a band playing made for a great casual afternoon lunch. There were, however, a few hours during the day when the only food you could get was room service. But, the way you eat, the cruise line is doing us all a favor by not putting anything else out for us to eat. Dinners were exceptional. Bad publicity has labeled La Caravella dining room, however, it was a pleasant and great place to eat. The food was always prepared well. The steaks, fish, chicken and one of the best veal fillets I have ever eaten were served there. The pasta courses were fantastic, with the Spaghetti Bolognese still ringing in my head. Desserts always were always great, also. For those pickier diners, there was always ice cream, or cheesecake available. Not to mention the dedication from the wait staff to make us happy. (Ciro and I Gede made a great team, and an enjoyable dining experience.) The only downside to the dining room was the wind steward, Tatiana. Whether it was the language barrier (which didn't stop our wait staff from trying), she just didn't show much enthusiasm for making us happy. We bought a bottle of wine at every dinner, wishing we had seen the $91 MSC wine package earlier in the cruise. (It includes a different bottle of wine with each dinner.) A midnight buffet every single night is less common as it used to be. With a different spread each night, it is a must see, at least the Gala buffet night. The most impressive part of the MSC Opera was the amount of public space. I have experienced 3000+ capacity cruise ships, which housed less possibilities for the passenger. Decks 5 and 6 housed the majority of the lounges, with the Cotton Club always being the hot spot for the older crowd. There was always congestion in getting by, but with the activities going on, it could only be expected. The piano player in La Scuba was always a pleasant surprise, also. The Monte Carlo casino was a bit small, as expected from a European cruise ship, but proved to be ample for the gambling population onboard. We even won on the slot machines. The Piazza de Spagna was also a great place to enjoy music before dinner or before calling it a night. Other great spots included the atmosphere in Byblos or the relaxing music in the Caruso Lounge. With plenty of places to unwind, or to have fun, or to make memorable moments at sea, the MSC Opera offers big ship space in a much smaller ship. Cabins onboard the MSC Opera was quite impressive. We had an inside stateroom on the Rigoletto Deck, cabin 7140. At 144 square feet, it is smaller than the average cruise ships cabins, but with mirrors all around, the feeling was different. However, with the setup of the large closets, vanity and beds, there was always enough room to move around. A suggestion for MSC would be to purchase chairs that slide under the vanity/desk, though. A major downside was the shower. The bathroom was very well decorated, however, the size of the shower overtakes the other positives. It was shaped at an odd angle, and a door would better serve the curtain. I am in-shape twenty something who is significantly smaller than the typical cruise passenger. Good luck to all those larger passengers who despise a small shower as much as we did. The soundproofing issue simply was not an issue. I heard others complain, however, I believe these passengers are those who are focused on the negatives rather than the positives. All in all, the cabin was nice, it'd be better with an improved shower. Entertainment is one area where I was undecided. The live bands in the lounges were great. There was a different style in every one, and there was always a niche of people who frequented each one. The Teatro dell Opera, though, didn't house such great performances. That is in my opinion, though. Being in NYC, I love Broadway style shows, and first class theater. It just wasn't there. I knew this going into the cruise, though, so I wasn't upset or surprised. There was an opera, a comedian, a magician, a variety show, and others during the coarse of the week. The magician was laughable, but the variety show was worth seeing. I had never seen acrobats do performances such as I witnessed on a ship before. Even though we didn't enjoy the shows, many people did. I frequently heard many positive marks by passengers as we chatted in the hot tub. No matter what niche of music or entertainment a person is looking for, it is onboard and above par when compared to other ships. Daytime activities were abundant. The animation staff was a non-stop and full-of-energy bunch. I never saw them stop, and I never heard one person complain about their antics or spontaneity. With two pools, two hot tubs, a nicely equipped gym, and plenty of chairs in the sun, there was nothing truly lacking. Something non-MSC controlled was the passengers onboard. In the gym, they didn't acknowledge the treadmill sign up sheet as they should have, which caused a few confrontations of passengers. Adjacent to the gym was a relaxation room with wicker lounges. With only music, and no talking allowed, it was a pleasant stop on the first day out. Mini golf around the funnel was something to enjoy, however, there is always so much to do that it is easily forgotten about. I never did quite understand the Virtual Reality Games area. A few words of advice, expect to see middle-aged and senior aged men and women in swimsuits that are totally inappropriate and far too revealing. Just look away. Overall, I was happy cruising on MSC Cruises. A few areas could be tweaked to achieve the heralded "Premium Class" cruising, however, I feel they are already there. I do hope they stay away from conforming to the expectations of the typical American. This will keep them unique from the other lines, while creating there own niche in the market. Considering their success in the Caribbean this year, and the upcoming releases of two larger ships, I expect MSC Cruises to flourish with their style of cruising. Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
MSC Opera was hands down one of the best cruises my family and I have ever taken. Not to mention the great value. We booked the cruise in a guaranteed cabin (level 1) and were bumped to a level 4 room (inside state rooms). Our travel ... Read More
MSC Opera was hands down one of the best cruises my family and I have ever taken. Not to mention the great value. We booked the cruise in a guaranteed cabin (level 1) and were bumped to a level 4 room (inside state rooms). Our travel agent, while trying to keep the family cabins together, inadvertently split the family onto different sides of the ship (who would have known that 9207 and 9208 weren't close to each other???). We spoke with housekeeping about the situation and they quickly remedied the problem by moving my parents to an empty cabin on the same side of the ship I was on. :) Our cruise started in Fort Lauderdale, went to Key West, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and the Roatan Islands. I purchased 2 shore excursions. The one in Grand Cayman was called the Cheeseburger Snorkel. It was an awesome trip that explored a local ship wreck site and a coral reef that was in front of the Burger King. The snorkel ships captain was a riot and very knowledgeable. My father and I had a blast. The second excursion we purchased was for the Roatan Islands. This was our first stop in Honduras, and we explored the butterfly and botanical gardens. My daughter liked the little shops we found...especially when one of the locals gave her a little Honduran doll to take home! The rooms are smaller than those on Carnival, but there is ample storage space (including beds that sit higher off the floor so that your luggage can be stored beneath the bed). The bathrooms are small (as they are on most ships), but I found the shower best suited for someone my 3 year old daughter's size. Each night I had what I affectionately dubbed the shower curtain wrestle. My mother solved the shower space problem by not turning the water on full force and leaving the shower curtain opened. I wish I had thought of that one! On our first morning aboard, we met Bappoo, one of the wait staff in the Patio Restaurant. Bappoo found us a table and then told us if we came to his side of the ship for breakfast and lunch, he would take care of us....and take care of us he did. It soon became a joke that if we got up to fill our iced tea or coffee glasses you had to watch out for Bappoo. He would rush to meet your every need. In fact, on our last day at sea, my daughter dropped her spoon. Before I had even noticed her picking it up, Bappoo had replaced the dirty spoon with a new one. Now that is service! The food aboard was excellent. There were plenty of choices that ranged from Hamburgers and hotdogs to Ethnic cuisine. The deserts were good, but not the overly sweet ones we Americans are often used to. The risotto served in the restaurant each night was to die for! The entertainment was top notch...not the ordinary bad lounge singers you normally see on board a cruise ship. The magician was very good as were the gymnasts. The animation staff was AWESOME! Each night before the shows, the animation staff would come up with a new way to entertain the audience. One night, they followed passengers looking for seats in the theater around, and quietly slipped into the seat they were about to sit down in. Needless to say, it really surprised everyone...including my father who they played the trick on! Like I said before, this was an outstanding cruise and I will definitely look to MSC to book further cruises! Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
MSC Opera March 19 to 26, 2005. Our original room was 7161 Inside room (13 meters), 25% smaller than the typical inside rooms on other cruise ships. This posed a problem since we had an infant with us requiring a crib (cruise knew at time ... Read More
MSC Opera March 19 to 26, 2005. Our original room was 7161 Inside room (13 meters), 25% smaller than the typical inside rooms on other cruise ships. This posed a problem since we had an infant with us requiring a crib (cruise knew at time of booking) which we could not safely put in the room along with a stroller since there was no room for the crib or pack 'n' play to be opened and simultaneously walk into the room. Prior to sailing I spoke with an administrator on the ship and it was agreed that even an upgrade to oceanview or balcony would not allow for the crib and stroller in the room. Since a suite was available, we were offered the opportunity to pay to upgrade to the suite which we did. I wonder what would have happened if we refused to pay for the suite (23 meters), would the baby have slept in the hallway? We ended up in room 12002 which was lovely. Unfortunately the size of the rooms can never be overcome. As for the rest of the cruise...wonderful. All the employees on board were wonderful. From the individuals who kept our cabins fresh with turn down service each evening, to room service, buffet lines, excursion desk, wake up calls, waiters and waitresses, everything was truly excellent. MSC does NOT AUTOMATICALLY put tips on your tab ($10 per person per day that other ships tag on) and I believe the excellent service noted on the MSC Opera is directly linked to the fact that they are hoping by providing fabulous service they will be tipped at the end of the cruise, which we more than happily did. The shows each evening were very good and all ages enjoyed them. The excursion desk was tremendously helpful and honest about the excursions. Another refreshing thing about this cruise is that you were not constantly nickeled and dimed to purchase bingo cards, soda cards or anything else. Food quality was far better than expected with some of the BEST cold soups I have ever had in my life (melon soup, etc). We ate in the dining room first seating each evening, all of the appetizers were excellent, great salads and dressings, all the fish entrees were excellent, veggies excellently prepared, meat dishes did not have as great a love affair with my palate. Breakfast and lunch buffets on 11th deck buffet along with the grill and pizza bar/buffet were very good/excellent, accentuated by the excellent service and cleanliness of the buffet and table areas! I was warmed by the easy going nature of all the staff and performers who eagerly mixed with the guests. I would definitely take another cruise on the MSC Opera. Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly at all ports. Note the ports of call below. Key West and Grand Cayman were the favorites. Roatan, Honduras was quite warm and although the semi-submarine excursion was fun, it was not worth the price. Immediately as you exit the ship on Roatan Island, Honduras, a group of women at the hut there charges $20-$25 to get your whole head braided, bargain and lots of fun, everyone on the ship sported new hairdos that evening. At Grand Cayman the excursion to the Turtle Farm, Hell, Stingray City was a blast! Bring a water camera. Cozumel is Cozumel... Also, unfortunately had to visit the ships Doctor due to the baby being sick for several days, first time ever using the ships doctor...very helpful and nice. Very international crowd and enjoyable. Some of the Americans, Brits and Canadians seemed to have less patience listening to instructions in multiple languages, but I thought the cruise line did a great job in keeping all instructions to a minimum and my party was not bothered by this. Many of the employees came from Italy, Madagascar, Indonesia, and many more places...everyone was truly helpful 24/7. Day Date Port or Activity Arrive Depart Sat Mar 19 Fort Lauderdale, FL 5:00pm Sun Mar 20 Key West, FL 7:00am 2:00pm Mon Mar 21 Cozumel, Mexico 10:00am 6:00pm Tue Mar 22 At Sea Wed Mar 23 Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands 10:00am 6:00pm Thu Mar 24 Roatan, Honduras 7:00am 3:00pm Fri Mar 25 At Sea Sat Mar 26 Fort Lauderdale, FL 7:00am Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
MSC Opera. Transatlantic Crossing Fort Lauderdale to Genoa 2nd to 19th April, 2005. Although this is our own personal thoughts and opinions based on our experience from time to time there may be comment upon opinions and thoughts of some ... Read More
MSC Opera. Transatlantic Crossing Fort Lauderdale to Genoa 2nd to 19th April, 2005. Although this is our own personal thoughts and opinions based on our experience from time to time there may be comment upon opinions and thoughts of some of the people with whom we spent time during our 17 wonderful days. This was not our first cruise with MSC and what really concerned us was that changes may have been made during the 2005 Caribbean Season that might reduce our personal enjoyment. On board there were a couple who have taken 38 cruises with MSC, a lady on her 32nd cruise with MSC, a lady who had sailed with MSC westbound in November and loved it so much that she had stayed on board throughout the 2005 Caribbean season and a couple who had sailed westbound and enjoyed it so much that they immediately booked the return to cruise eastbound. It can be seen therefore that we are not alone in our appreciation of the MSC product. There were some very minor changes which we thought were not for the good. For instance previously there was a jug of water in the cabins and this was refreshed twice daily. Now there was bottled water to be purchased. In the dining room a jug of iced water was delivered to the table and remained there throughout the meal -- now you had to wait for the wine steward to refill the glasses. There had been orange juice and pineapple juice available all day along with tea, coffee and iced tea but now the juices had disappeared. Previously we had been able to purchase ashore local spirits and take back on board or purchase in the shop on board and take to the cabin and open. This was no longer permissible. The pool towels were delivered to and collected from the cabin on a daily basis. None of these minor changes spoiled our over all good impression and other things remained as we remembered. There was one change with which we disagreed strongly and this was splitting the "welcome" cocktail party to 2 venues and at one venue there was not one person present to extend a welcome. It seems that certain passengers complained during the 2005 Caribbean season that "they" did not wish to queue to enter the rooms!! We found Opera to be every bit as elegant and stylish as her sister ship Lirica. Whilst the Opera colours may have been more vibrant there were always tasteful and attractive. There were again some lovely lighting features as you would expect on an Italian ship. The very highest standards of cleanliness were again visible everywhere. Night and Day the staff were hard at work keeping Opera spotless. We love the size, the design, the space, the intimate atmosphere and the facilities on Opera and Lirica not for us are the massive ships including the MSC new builds. We preferred the soft furnishings colour schemes (and especially the art work) in our cabin 12005 to that on Lirica but in all other ways the design was identical. The same excellent storage -- it was impossible to utilise it all -- the same clever use of mirrors and an identical bathroom with bath and shower. The same fluffy bathrobes. Fresh fruit in the cabin every day and the ice bucket filled twice a day. When cruising we are not interested in the casino or the onboard shopping so whilst there are cruise liners with supposed superior facilities these would not be of concern to us. We love the "old fashioned" quality and charm of MSC. Dining at a fixed time at a fixed table in a fixed restaurant with the same waiter who comes to understand our likes and dislikes is very high on our list of "wants" on a cruise. Toward the very end of the cruise we did encounter extreme rudeness from one particular area but overall the staff were impeccable in their behaviour and service. Wherever we went we were treated politely and greeted with huge smiles and this continued every day. The staff were so willing to do anything they could to please and assist. Nothing was a bother or trouble. Even late at night in the lounges the stewards willingly and smilingly would bring a glass of water when requested. At the lunch time buffet they were only too happy to serve tea, coffee, ice tea, water. Plates were removed from the tables swiftly together with an enquiry if there was anything else that you might wish. Nothing was forced or pushed upon us. There was no harassment or pushing of drinks, photographs or any other item. Good natured cajoling by the entertainment team to take part in their activities could easily be rejected and was accepted gracefully. Let me now deal with the negative aspects although I would stress that not one was a major problem and certainly did not spoil our enjoyment nor create the feeling that we would not sail with MSC again. 1) MSC is not an easy company to deal with. Requests for brochures are ignored, Faxes and letters are ignored. You are advised requests regarding dining, etc. are just that "requests" and nothing is guaranteed. There should be a far greater urgency to fulfill customer wishes in this highly competitive field. Information provided by the company varies from country to country and most certainly is not always accurate. Two very good examples of this lack of liaison were A) USA passengers were given a total incorrect arrival time in Genoa which caused great problems for some and worry whilst on the cruise in trying to make new arrangements for their onward travel. In fairness to MSC the staff on Opera did endeavour to help and provided free internet access to facilitate these revised plans B) The confusion regarding buses from Genoa to Milan. Even during the cruise the staff were trying to get information from their Italian Head Office. MSC has a complicated sales programme in different countries with huge fare differences. (I do have to say that for our dining requests -- L'Approdo Restaurant, second sitting, table for 2) finally I did receive a "guarantee" after a long distance telephone call and this was honoured.) These administrative people were not actually on the cruise with us -- so what was really most important was our actual cruise experience and this is what we judged -- and on this our review is based. 2) The manner in which our complaint for rudeness via the telephone was not well handled. There was a closing of ranks to protect the guilty party. The Hotel Director was contradictory in his response. First he needed the identity of the person responsible but when we tried to discover this we were blocked because "if one person was rude then it is the fault of everyone and we cannot give one name." Answer this question. Would you give 2 rude people the power to ruin your cruise? I expect that like me you would reply "NO WAY!" So these 2 persons at the end of a fabulous experience were not important. 3) The Virtual Reality Games Room was totally empty of games. This was upsetting for some and especially those with pre-teen and teenagers. 4) The DJ in the disco had no interest in catering to the tastes of the passengers. The DJ would frequently disappear for up to an hour leaving the most terrible "noise" blasting out!! 5) I have the highest respect for the very hard working entertainment team and joined in some of their activities!! However we could not disagree with those who voiced the view that some of the games were overlong, a little repetitive and a touch too "loud." This was especially true of the area of the pool -- the main "relaxing area" for many. Possibly changes of venues would have been an advantage! However this was minor as overall they do a superb job especially with solo passengers and must be exhausted with very few hours sleep per night 6) I felt that the staff lost a wonderful chance for a huge deck "Goodbye Caribbean" Party the day we departed Barbados. Similarly the arrival in the first European port was very low key. 7) The grilled frazzled bacon at breakfast is terrible!! I did read via "Boston Globe" that a chef had been employed especially to cook the bacon as "European chefs" were no good at that!! Well it seems the employee does not understand that not everyone wants their bacon prepared the same way and served cremated!! 8) The "Welcome Cocktail Party" was in 2 venues Caruso Lounge and Sotto Vento Lounge. We opted for Sotto Vento and there was not one officer or higher ranked person or member of the entertainment staff present to indicate "Welcome." That said it was unanimous that MSC was THE MOST generous hosts with unlimited complimentary cocktails and canapes. This was true of the "Welcome," Repeaters and "Farewell" cocktail parties. 9) The wine glasses at the dining table are small and unsuitable. We did manage to finally get long stemmed large bowled "Barolo" glasses to fully enjoy our red wine each evening. 10) Some of the late night buffets were moved indoors to La Vele. This really was not large enough. This was especially true of the Farewell Buffet Magnifique. We did not want to eat just to view but it was a terrible battle to get in and many gave up. Some other late night buffets were billed as in "the lounges" frequently this did not seem to include the Caruso Lounge. Since we did not wish to consume food at that time it was not a problem for us but some were unhappy. 11) The shore excursions were limited, not very extensive and pricey, compared to what could be done on one's own. MSC does not organise the excursions they have different agents in each port. Consequently they do not accept liability. We heard a number of complaints at the language groups being mixed and some people having virtually no information in their mother tongue. One of our group had a poor experience in this regard. 12) Unlike our previous cruises with MSC the Disembarkation system whilst good in theory worked poorly in practise. There was misinformation and misunderstanding. There was ignorance as to the nationalities and the immigration requirements for all nationalities. Now for the many many positives and there were so many. EMBARKATION. This was so easy. We arrived about 10.45 and although there were people waiting we were included in Group 1. Within 30 minutes they were on to Groups 4 and 5. Group 1 was called and it was an easy less than 10 minute to do the procedure take the picture and issue the identity/charge/key card. At 11.45 we were already on board. We understand that about 15 minutes later there were some problems with the gangplank and the wind in Fort Lauderdale and there was a delay of about 20 minutes to rectify. We were welcomed on board and escorted to our cabin by a white gloved young steward -- who insisted on taking both items of hand luggage. SERVICE. I have already indicated that the service was of an exceptionally high standard. Some staff were not fluent in English but when spoken to slowly and courteously with understanding did correctly interpret requests. The staff could not do enough to help passengers. Each and every day wherever we went we were greeted warmly with huge smiles and a friendly "how are you." Staff who came from islands like Antigua and Barbados were only too eager to give information as to how to get the best out of their islands. These people really cared. Our Balinese dining steward Budha and his assistant Budi were excellent and gave us great service. Our likes and dislikes were learned very quickly and there was every attempt to provide good service. Budha has now returned home to get married and will forsake life at sea in the future. He is a great loss. FOOD. The food generally was very varied and exceptionally good. The special buffets that featured several days during lunch were excellent. The pizzas were delicious and even the New Yorkers agreed on that score! Each day the menu featured a different Italian Regional Speciality. This could be an appetizer, a soup, an entree, a dessert. In view of the huge regional variations in Italian cuisine this was interesting. There were one or two items on the menu I did not enjoy. The Tournedo Rossini was especially poor and not the correct cut and this day the mange tout (snow peas) were yellow and way overcooked. The Prime Rib on the other hand was a Ambrosia! The lamb too was outstanding!! The lobster and seafood/fish in general were perfect! Our waiter (and others too) was happy to serve as a meal 2 appetizers or two entrees, to bring a small portion of risotto and a small portion of the pasta both of which were excellent. Requests for off menu items were received well and met with pleasure. I heard comments about individual menus. For instance one evening "Cheese" there was one cheese dish in the appetizers. Cheese included in one soup. Cheese included in the salad. Cheese in the Risotto. Melted cheese with one of the entrees. Quiche was the vegetarian dish that day. There was a selection of cheeses and then a cheesecake. I hasten to add all the cheeses were of different types! My meal that day was a white fish and orange mousse, the risotto -- a small portion only, a grilled steak with salad, and then fresh fruit. Delicious and certainly not "cheesed off." We specifically requested L' Approdo and were not disappointed. We like the "feel" of this restaurant far more than the larger La Caravella. First sitting was at 6 p.m. Second Sitting was 8.30 p.m. We had selected second sitting, always enjoyed a leisurely meal and left the restaurant every evening by 10.30 at the very latest. The "show" for second sitting diners was 10.45 p.m. so this worked out well. ENTERTAINMENT. Generally were good although there was one disaster. The Tenor left us at San Juan and we picked up various other entertainers at other ports who did "one off" shows. The predatory female singer who joined us at Tenerife was certainly not in the same class as Romancia -- a wonderful young lady from Barbados and a great singer with a varied repertoire with the PopCorn band in Caruso Lounge. We believe that they and she should have been used far more throughout the cruise. We rolled with laughter when she received a complaint that she did not sing all her numbers in English!! The magician was a great entertainer and he and his wife were genuine delightful and very approachable people happy to mix with the passengers and give special "off stage and close up" shows. The dancers were outstanding. The Can Can and RiverDance routines left the audience breathless. There were numerous standing ovations. THE BANDS. The various musicians were brilliant. Very varied from classic to Dance to Pop to Latin. There was something for all tastes. There was music at the buffet lunch, music at high tea and then from 5 p.m. music in at least one of the lounges. People managed to enjoy dancing of all styles and we certainly did our bit to wear the floors out in the various venues. We danced in the morning at Le Piscine, we sometimes danced at lunch at Il Patio, we danced in the afternoon, we danced in the evening and we danced at 3 (sometimes 4) in the morning! THE BARS AND LOUNGES. All attractive rooms with a feeling of space even though the ceilings were low. There was a sense of intimacy through clever design. There was always a feeling of being "at sea" with views over the ocean and you did not feel hemmed in. The Byblos Disco had superb views to stern with floor to ceiling windows. It was used during the day quite often by passengers seeking peace. The colour schemes were tasteful and in some rooms there was a strong art deco influence with some very attractive occasional furniture. The drinks were of a very reasonable price -- and this included the wines in the restaurants and even the mini bar. In the Piano La Cabala Bar there was a Martini Bar with a large range of Martinis!! We enjoyed several excellent Margaritas in this bar which had lovely large windows. THE ITINERARY. We enjoyed all our ports of call very much. San Juan/St. Thomas/Antigua/ Martinique/Barbados/Tenerife/Cadiz/Mallorca. They were interesting and we always felt safe. We were a little disappointed at some of our port times but we knew these well in advance and were prepared. We were fortunate in that we arrived 2 hours early at 18.00 hours in San Juan. We departed Martinique one hour later and Barbados 2 hours later. This extra time in the ports was very much appreciated by the passengers A lot of advance research had been done and this was pooled between our group who had all met through the internet and we were able to maximise the time in each port. At St. Thomas we were berthed at Charlotte Amalie adjacent to QM2. This was a busy day in port with 4 of the largest liners afloat all in harbour that day. We had arranged our own tour -- as we did at Martinique -- and had a wonderful time. PASSENGERS. Very international mainly senior citizens but with the hearts and minds of twenty somethings. Through the wonder of internet we were part of a group of varied, interesting, educated people of several nationalities. It is amazing how well we gelled and bonded. The wonderful atmosphere generated only added to the overall enjoyment. I would like to say a heartfelt and sincere thank you to all my ship mates who might read this. May we all sail again together in the near future. Would I sail with MSC again? Without a doubt! In fact I am already booked on the transatlantic crossing (all different ports) of Opera departing Fort Lauderdale 8th April, 2006, and counting the days. All in all a true 5 star experience.  Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
Just returned from a 7 day cruise on the Opera, out from Venice. We have always cruised with Celebrity in the past so it was interesting in comparing them. This ship is very clean, and our cabin was a suite type with balcony. The ship ... Read More
Just returned from a 7 day cruise on the Opera, out from Venice. We have always cruised with Celebrity in the past so it was interesting in comparing them. This ship is very clean, and our cabin was a suite type with balcony. The ship only has a small number of suites, and they are positioned on top of the ship to the front. They are very quiet,and the balcony is large compared with other balcony cabins. The bathroom is large with bath and good quality shower. You also get tea coffee served free when you want it. Service was very good, and our steward sam was excellent. We dined second sitting 9.15am which is a bit late, but you don't get rushed to finish your meal. The service is swift and very good. You have 5 courses to choose from, and we had no complaints about any meal. If you did not like what was offered you could always have Chicken or Steak or Pasta. Lunch was very good, fresh cooked pasta, or you could choose a hot or cold dish from the self service food area. We never went to the dining room, but they served a buffet there. Breakfast was good,and there was always a good choice fresh rolls, bread, fruit. One good point was that the coffee was excellent and served to your table by smiling waiters,nothing to much trouble. We were not to keen on the plastic plates at breakfast and lunch, but they were clean. The pool area is bright and clean with lots of loungers. This area does get crowded, and you do get a lot of noise, but it is only people enjoying the cruise. We went to the back of the ship where there are 5 levels to sit in the quiet watching the wash from the ship very nice place to read or sunbathe with not many people around you. The bars are very good in the evening, and the drinks are quite cheap compared to other ships. They used to have a midnight feast of some sort, but we never bothered as we were to full after our meal. All the ports were good but Istanbul stood out as the star it was very good and we had an excellent guide. This ship is worth going on, but you must go with the flow,and enjoy yourself. Do not try and find faults that our other UK cruisers seem to. We would go back on this ship, because it is excellent value for money. You do not get the frills that other ships may offer,but we really enjoyed ourselves. Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
We sailed on the MSC Opera as a reward for my husband's work as being a top agent in his real estate agency. We have sailed many times before but not ever on MSC. First, the good stuff. The Opera was an extremely elegant, ... Read More
We sailed on the MSC Opera as a reward for my husband's work as being a top agent in his real estate agency. We have sailed many times before but not ever on MSC. First, the good stuff. The Opera was an extremely elegant, well-maintained ship. It was truly like being in a world class resort instead of a cruise ship. The staff was almost all Italian but most spoke fairly good English. The lounge entertainment was excellent, and this is where we spent most of our time. The pool deck was spacious and beautiful. Our cabin steward was the best we've ever had and deserved the entire tip that they automatically added to our bill. Now, unfortunately, for the bad stuff. The whole cruise was chaotic. We were late leaving. We were late for every port and spent only two hours in San Juan at night due to poor planning on the cruise line's part. We were four hours late disembarking and missed our flight because they forgot to radio the port that we were coming in and we had to wait in the canal for them to clear a docking area for us. The cabins were very, very small. Thank goodness we upgraded to a suite. Still, the suite was about the size of the regular rooms on other cruise lines we've been on. The food was a shock to say the least. The meals in the dining room were horrible. Some was actually inedible. It was either undercooked, overcooked or covered in fruit cocktail. Our waiter messed my order up three nights in a row. The four-ounce water glass that they gave you was hardly enough to drink during your meal and you had to ask numerous times to get a refill. Forget ice tea. They serve hot tea poured over ice to cool it and then put in a glass with no ice. We tried to order decaffeinated coffee but the waiter told us not to get it because it was instant and was awful. The very short time you could go to a buffet line (one line only) it was a very small selection of food and, again, some was awful. No 24-hour pizzeria or ice cream. The breakfast was very poorly prepared and snatched up early so that there was no sleeping in and then getting a meal. If you ordered room service you might get your food and you might not. I hated having to spend my time planning on quickly getting somewhere to get something to eat so that you wouldn't be hungry all day. No, you dont go on a cruise just to eat, but you dont want to go around hungry either. People lined up on the deck for three hours waiting to get off were yelling to the people waiting to get on, "bring food! buy crackers!" There was a whole channel dedicated to nothing but the many bars and lounges with fabulous custom drinks you could get on board. They played it 24 hours a day in five different languages. Ironically when I tried to order a simple lemon drop martini in one of the biggest lounges, they told me they only had traditional martinis in that bar and I would have to go up a level to another bar to get a lemon drop martini. I asked them if they had vodka, sugar and lemon juice. They said yes but I still had to go to the other bar. Needless to say, we will not be considering cruising on MSC in the future although we will be trying other cruise lines. I will read the reviews a lot closer before we try another line as I have found quite a few reviews with the same complaints that I had. Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
This was my first MSC Cruise, having sailed before on Holland America, Carnival, NCL, Royal Olympia and Commodore. Pros: beautiful ship, ample deck space for sunning, pool area, shows, itinerary. Cons: inconsistent service, ... Read More
This was my first MSC Cruise, having sailed before on Holland America, Carnival, NCL, Royal Olympia and Commodore. Pros: beautiful ship, ample deck space for sunning, pool area, shows, itinerary. Cons: inconsistent service, inconsistent food, scheduling snafus, language barrier, complaining passengers Embarkation The Opera uses Pier 29 which was recently transformed from a cargo dock to a combination cargo/passenger terminal. The set-up is less ideal than the more established terminals at Port Everglades with taxis, busses, passengers and luggage all congregating directly in front of the buildings entrance. Employees arranged passengers in groups who were allowed to enter the building at staggered times. Once inside the terminal, the process was fairly smooth and quick. We were on the ship within 30 minutes of entering the building. While we were pleasantly surprised to be upgraded to a full oceanview (from an obstructed view), our luggage was delivered to our first assigned cabin. I retrieved the luggage myself and transported the baggage to our new cabin. Cabin The cabin was small but with plenty of space for storage. The white and blue color scheme was pleasant enough but perhaps a bit boring. The tiny shower was the biggest complaint. An irritating shower curtain further reduces your workable space by sticking to your body as you shower. Solid glass doors would improve the perception of space and functionality of the shower. MSC provides tiny bottles of shampoo and shower gel. The gel is good for about one shower, and it never seemed that I had enough on hand. Soap/gel dispensers are strongly recommended. Cabin service was certainly adequate but nothing special. A definite language barrier reduced communication with the steward. MSC would do well by instructing cabin personnel to wear deodorant as there was a nearly constant body odor problem in the corridors. Ship Amenities Overall, the MSC opera is a clean, beautiful ship with intimate public areas and lounges. A large pool area (2 saltwater pools) and solarium provide ample deck space for sunning. Despite 40 knot winds, there always seemed to be areas protected from the strong winds. One could certainly make the argument that there are too many lounge areas on this ship, as many seemed completely empty much of the day. Perhaps expanded shopping opportunities and specialty restaurants could be a better use of the copious lounge space. Speaking of shopping opportunities, prepare to spend a bundle if youre interested in purchasing watches or jewelry onboard. Even discounted clothing at the boutique was expensive. Excellent prices on alcohol and cigarettes could be found in the duty-free shop. I estimate prices were nearly half of what can be found at the local ABC store here in North Carolina. Another bonus  alcohol purchased onboard CAN be brought back to your cabin for your enjoyment! With such cheap prices, dont bother trying to smuggle anything onboard. The gym space was larger than on some ships but could greatly benefit from additional free weights and adjustable benches. The facility always seemed to be on the hot side. Adjacent to the gym are steam/sauna facilities for men and women. Choose from a steam room or dry sauna lined with cedar. Relaxation rooms in this area provide a quiet respite following your time in the sauna. Cuisine Most of the food tasted in the dining room was acceptable, with a few items falling into both the very good and not so good range. Southern Italian pastas made with tomato sauce and cheese (lasagna, cannelloni, spaghetti Bolognese, etc.) were quite delicious and expertly prepared, while some of the highly acclaimed risottos failed to impress. Some entrees and side dishes were quite salty. The Baked Alaska (which usually doesnt impress me on cruises) was actually well prepared and enjoyable for a change. Accustomed to the creative and upscale dishes found on other lines, MSC's offering did seem to be a bit of a letdown. Eggs Benedict is not available for breakfast, and the so called ham steak is actually some type of a pressed cold cut. Even presentation was a disappointment at times. For example, a medallion of tuna was served with a steamed white potato, white risotto, and white pearl onions. What were they thinking??? I only visited the buffet twice, so I wont make many comments other that to say that the selection did seem to be lacking when compared to other cruise lines. Room service did arrive promptly, sometimes within 3 minutes! The selection of sandwiches offered here are obviously made well in advance, as the bread often arrived in a dried-out condition. Service Again, inconsistency is the word of the day. Our Indonesian waiter Umar was quite exceptional and hospitable, while some of the European wait staff seemed aloof and less than approachable. Cream and butter often seemed to be in short supply. When asked to provide additional cream or butter, some waiters would bring only one small packet to the table. On several occasions, I noticed passengers on scavenger hunts at adjacent tables scouting out their own supply of cream. This should be an easy problem to solve. Is anyone from MSC reading this? There is also confusion at times in the dining room. Ordered items never arrive, food is delivered to the wrong passenger, several waiters ask for your drink order. There is a language barrier between the wait staff and the passengers, so it is easy to assume there is also a language barrier between members of the wait staff. I also witnessed inconsistent service at Reception and the shore excursion desk. Some of the Italian hosts were quite helpful, while others seemed annoyed when answering questions. To be fair, the ship was loaded with demanding and difficult passengers, so perhaps the impatience on the part of the staff is somewhat understandable. Shore Excursions We booked excursions only at La Romana and Cayo Lavantado. The kayaking trip down the Chavon River in La Romana was overpriced, and in retrospect not worth the money. I would opt for snorkeling/sailing/beach adventure combined with an independent taxi tour of Altos de Chavon, La Romana and Casa de Campo. On the other hand, our horseback riding adventure to Salto de Limon in Cayo Levantado was the best shore excursion ever. Adventurous souls will enjoy riding the horses over rocky hills, through lush fields, and across idyllic, tropical streams. At the end of the trail a vigorous hike to the bottom of the impressive Limon falls awaits you. Those with bathing attire can swim underneath the falls to explore the hiding places behind the actual cascade. This is a serious adventure, so one should be in good shape, have a good back, and not be afraid of a little mud. If you fit this bill, you will enjoy this experience. Fellow Passengers The average age of passengers was a bit older than I expected. There were numerous scooters and wheelchairs for those with challenged mobility. The largest nationality represented seemed to be the USA with a large contingent of Italian-Americans and South Florida/New York residents. A surprising number of Italians were also on board, along with numerous English, Spanish, Germans and Eastern Europeans. A younger crowd did congregate after 11 pm in Byblos disco for drinking and dancing. I am somewhat embarrassed to say that some of the American passengers on board were demanding and somewhat loud. I also overheard lots of complaining about anything and everything; it doesnt appear that everyone had a good time on this cruise. Disembarkation This was a real disaster. For some reason, we were denied entry to Port Everglades until around 10:00 am (we should have been at the dock around 7:00 am). We sat offshore for several hours as passengers waited impatiently in their designated holding areas. Only one announcement about the situation was made with no indication as to what caused this problem. One can probably imagine the turmoil such a delay causes with missed flights and fidgety cruisers. The first group left the ship around 12:00 noon just as passengers for the next cruise were arriving. Terminal 29 is already inadequate, but with passengers leaving at the same time everyone else is arriving, the scene was chaotic. This surely wasnt the memorable sendoff MSC had in mind. Miscellaneous Comments Strong winds at Port Everglades on the day or our departure prevented our ship from safely exiting terminal 29. We waited over two hours for the Zuiderdam to pull away before we had enough clearance to exit the harbor. This delay placed us over two hours late in San Juan. There isnt much to see at night in Old San Juan. We took a long walk to the fortress at the opening of the harbor which was quite enjoyable. Those looking for good shopping and nightlife may be disappointed. We rented a car on St. Maarten. Driving is easy, but the roads can be somewhat congested. Be sure to leave yourself ample time to get back to the ship at your designated time. We underestimated and almost missed the boat! We found Bia Rouge on the French side to be quiet and enjoyable. This is a clothing optional location, so please be forewarned if you find nudity objectionable. The ship spends too much precious time in La Romana. Additional time would be better spent in Cayo Levantado. I very much enjoyed the quiet and rustic ports of La Romana and Cayo Levantado. Shopping at these locations is almost non-existent, so those looking to spend money should focus on St. Maarten. Cayo Levantado (Samana area of the D.R.) is rustic, unspoiled, and beautiful with rugged hillsides and lush tropical foliage. This is the most memorable stop on the entire cruise. The show performers on this cruise are fantastic  the best I have seen on any ship. Plan to take full advantage of their talents by seeing all the shows. The captains party was quite an affair with strong drinks, caviar canapEs, and live music/dancing. Despite 12 foot seas and strong winds, the Opera sliced through the water with ease. Given my experiences on other ships, I was surprised by the overall lack of rocking and rolling. A couple who sailed the Opera last year reported that the overall experience has gone downhill. They described a more sophisticated, European experience last year that they found lacking on this cruise. Perhaps the attempts at Americanizing this line are dumbing down the overall product. Conclusion You might be thinking from my comments that I did not enjoy the cruise  quite the contrary! While the ship experience itself left some to be desired, the combination of the itinerary, on-shore experiences and friends made on board really made for a memorable experience that I would not be interested in trading. Im just not sure Ill be doing it again on MSC anytime soon. Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
Opera  Back to the Caribbean  1/14/06 Preface: This was originally posted, on 1/22/06, on the Cruise Critic Community Board, which led to some questions and allowed for clarification based upon those questions. The biggest ... Read More
Opera  Back to the Caribbean  1/14/06 Preface: This was originally posted, on 1/22/06, on the Cruise Critic Community Board, which led to some questions and allowed for clarification based upon those questions. The biggest clarification is that we did, in fact, have a great cruise! This was directly due to the group we were with. There are issues mentioned here specifically to help those who follow also have the best possible cruise. We returned late last night from the first Opera Caribbean cruise of the season (more on late last night later). A little background so our perspective can be understood  We are an almost mid-50s couple. We are Platinum on Princess and reached Select on Celebrity with the two day cruise just prior to boarding Opera. DH has schedule flexibility as long as he has internet access. Generally, vacation limitations are mine in both amount of time and when I can take that time. As of January 15th of this year we had managed 25 days at sea out of the last 365 starting with a 7 day Grand Princess Western then 14 day Galaxy TA, 2 day Century Bahamas and the first two days of MSC Opera. This is highly unusual for us since we generally do 3 cruises every 18 months due to my limited vacation time. When we look at cruises, our primary concern is ports, with either new or favorites winning. Opera had one favorite (St. Maarten) and two new ports (Dominican Republic). Booking MSC  we had two groups of friends who booked this cruise as soon as the schedules came out. Only 1 of the 14 others that booked had sailed MSC before. We planned to book it last season (its first) but the scheduling did not work due to other commitments. We received many reports from the first season cruisers and felt that this would be a good fit for us. We were looking forward to the European flavor of the cruise since we had enjoyed it on the MS Carousel a few years ago. We didnt book until mid December due to outrageous air costs from the Chicago/Milwaukee metro area. We finally hit a brief window with reasonable flight times and air prices and immediately booked. The original plan was to fly down on 1/13 and spend the night in FLL pre-boarding. However, we discovered that flying down on the 12th and taking a two day Century cruise pre-embarkation worked out to be the same price and put us up to Select so we jumped on it. Another friend on MSC with us did the same to be taken to Elite level on Celebrity. Expectations  Based upon last season reports, we had developed certain expectations for this cruise. During the interim, there was a top level management change that directly impacted those expectations. Of the expectations that did not work, we expected reasonably priced drinks along with multiple drink specials per day. We also expected real iced tea being served poolside along with gelato. Additionally, we had some other expectations based upon cruising both Princess and Celebrity, which did not work on this cruise (more later). Embarkation  We were off the Century by 9:15 which is the fastest that we have ever disembarked. Our original intention was to stay on Century as long as we could (we were close to the last group off) then drop off our luggage and take a cab to meet friends at their hotel. We took a cab over to the Opera terminal when we disembarked. Another Chicago area couple was already there and waiting when we arrived. Porters were not available so we decided to wait for them rather than lug our luggage all over FLL to meet friends who would be boarding later. Porters showed up at about 10:30 but we had to wait until the cabin assignment sheet came out so we could get the cabin number on our tags. We had two separate groups on this cruise. One member of the smaller (six of us) group was considered a VIP due to the number of cruises that she takes and our cabin assignments were based upon hers. We had all booked inside guarantee and we were given cabins 10218-10230 which were the top level of the inside cabins. Once luggage was handed over to the porter (Yes, we did tip), we proceeded to the terminal lounge and waited for processing. Once processed, we returned to our seats and waited for boarding. We followed the back to backers and the handicapped to board and were on the ship by 12:10. Our escort took us to our floor and left after pointing us in the right direction. Cabin  compact, attractive and generally workable. It definitely looked 30 sq. ft less than the Century inside cabin that we had just left. Century had two chairs and a table at the foot of the bed but this cabin only had room for 1 chair at the desk and it blocked getting off the bed when in use. Cabin came with mini bar set up in the refrigerator that actually kept things cold. Two power outlets above the desk meant that we did not need the power strip that we brought (however, it appears that they did not handle battery or cell phones chargers very well). Tiny bathroom and shower finished off the cabin. Blow dryer in the bathroom was moderately better than Century. Exploring the upper levels - Our luggage had not arrived yet so we proceeded to the upper deck to check out the public areas. Deck 11 holds the Cafeteria (directly above our cabin), the open air multi purpose seating area (also has the omelet station, grill and pizza station), the pool, the Spa, the health club and the relaxation room. While we were wandering, the cafeteria opened and we decided to get in line to have a quick lunch of typical first day buffet food. Of note, Opera has large oval plates rather than trays. As all of this is going on, our cell phones were very busy keeping track of the individual members of our group and allowing us to finally get together when everyone was on board. Dining arrangements  It was not long before we realized that our pre-arranged dining did not happen which required a trip down to see Mario to make corrections. Both separate groups had the same problem and ended up standing in line to make changes. It ended up that we managed to get the tables straightened out but wound up in different dining rooms, which we decided to live with. Sail away  We returned to our cabin and unpacked prior to muster. Muster and then sail away was upon us (at least we thought so). Muster was directly to the outside deck station and went rather quickly then we were off to meet everyone by the pool bar as planned. The day had started out cold and extremely windy but this was our pre-arranged party location so we bundled up and headed up. When we finally had everyone, we moved into Il Patio to escape the wind. We attempted to sail away on schedule only to end up moving back into our berth. The Zuiderdam was directly behind us and the winds were so strong that she had to leave first or we could have easily blown into her. The additional time spent waiting to pull out of FLL and rough seas on Saturday/Sunday ended up taken from the San Juan stop, which meant that we were only there 3 hours. Seas were rough enough that I actually put on the patch as a precaution (I havent worn it on the last six cruises). One of our dinner companions did not make it due to seasickness and another valiantly picked at her meal. Ports San Juan: Shortened time due to late sail away and a rough trip over. This night was open seating in the dining room so we went down early for dinner in preparation for getting off. Part of the group went to the buffet and felt it was unsatisfactory. We arrived in port at 8:00 PM and were off by 8:30 with a required return of 10:45 PM. Most of our group disembarked and headed to Walgreens to pick up Diet Coke (ship was still serving Coke light) and a few other necessities. St. Maarten: We all went in different directions. Some went to Orient Beach and had a great time. Others took a city tour then shopped. We took the water ferry over to the shopping area and wandered about then relaxed in a cafe and people watched. We were the smallest of 4 ships in port on the Dutch side which accounted for the huge crowds. We had to be back on board for an early departure. La Romana: The group again went separate ways. One stayed on ship and the other five from our dinner table headed to the beach (Bayahibe) by van which cost us a total of $60.00 for 4 ½ hours on the beach . ($45 round trip including the first two hours then a reduced additional fee the next two ½ hours since we told him not to wait but just come back and pick us up). Everything we read indicated that we would probably not meet anyone who spoke English but many at Bayahibe did. Chair rental $5.00/chair. Band was playing close by for the entire time and cold Presidente beer at $2.00 each. It was a great beach and a great day! One of the couples did have lunch at the small restaurant and said it was good. Bathroom facilities were provided by the restaurant and were primitive but clean. We returned to the ship to change and grab something to eat since we were doing the ships Kandela excursion and it left prior to late seating. Had pizza and cheesecake from the buffet which was quite good. The five of us really enjoyed the Kandela show though we thought it was a bit over-priced since it did not appear to be the full show (due to our sail away time). We returned to the sangria sail away party on pool deck which was very well received. It was so successful that they ran out of Sangria before the music stopped. The party was brought to an end by the only rain that we had during the entire trip. Cayo Levantado: Private island. Actually owned by a group and leased to various cruise lines. Set up quite nicely. This was a tender and seas were (again) very rough. We went over when tickets were no longer required and found the rest of our group and beach chairs to relax and enjoy the music and sun. Lots of vendors (requires cash). We waited in line for 25 minutes to get the tender back to the ship and we were definitely running late since it was very difficult to hook up so we could board. Some ate at the beach BBQ and said it was good. We waited until we boarded and had pizza. Shops  This is an area with much less focus than other cruise lines. The included a clothing store with a small selection of MSC logo items and upscale resort clothing, a small jewelry shop, a perfume shop and an equally small duty free shop. Liquor purchased is supposed to be held until the last night. Reports upon our return indicated that this policy was not being followed in at least part of the cases. Cigarettes can be taken immediately and are very low cost at $11.90/carton. Positives (please note that many of these are highly subjective): 1) The ship. New ship with beautiful public areas and constantly being maintained and cleaned. 2) Pizza. A definite highlight for us though others did not like it. We did always watch for the new to be brought out which may have helped. 3) Pasta and Risotto (lunch and dinner in the dining room). 4) Chilled soups. 5) Fish and seafood entrees. 6) Entertainment Team (previously known as animation team). High energy and fun. Wonderful at getting people involved. 7) Shows  only missed one of the main shows but the rest were great. Since this really was a multi national cruise, it was a challenge to come up with shows that pleased all and they appeared to succeed. 8) Cabin Steward  Unofficially met her in the hall outside the cabin. She was very good. All you had to do was ask once and it was done immediately. 9) Our waiter. Also never introduced himself and had very limited command of English. It was a very slow start but we really appreciated him by the end of the cruise. He was more than willing to do whatever was needed to keep us happy. 10) Lively and fun pool area with the entertainment team keeping the fun going. 11) Great pool lounges with sun shield. 12) No corkage fee on wine brought to the dining room. 13) Availability of reasonably priced ½ and full carafes of house wine. 14) The galley buffet. This was something we have never seen done. The galley for La Caravelle dining room was set up with a buffet (separate of Grand Buffet) and it was fun to see the area where food was prepared. 15) Small aft deck on each of the passenger floors for a quiet place to watch the wake and relax. The other side (keep in mind that we had developed some pre-conceptions based on experiences on other lines and information received about Operas first season. 1) Too many passengers for the size of the ship. Many public rooms became impassable when entertainment was performing. The buffet at full operation had two lines running that went well out the door whereas the comparable Celebrity ship (passenger count) had 4 lines running. 2) Coffee. Coffee urns in Il Patio were emptied at 6:00 PM promptly. After that, (outside of dinner or room service) you need to purchase coffee which started at $1.50 for the plain ordinary and went up from there. Coffee service was missing at the evening buffets also including the Pastry buffet but could be purchased from the bar. We choose not to sit in the cabin waiting for room service so purchased large insulated mugs to fill prior to the cut off time. 3) Decaf is Sanka instant. I would have really enjoyed the coffee bar if they had real decaf to make the specialty coffees with but was not worth it with Sanka as a base. Later report from MSC corporate was that brewed decaf is, in fact, available in the Coffee bar along with the main dining room and buffet. 4) Lack of included cold beverages other than water outside of meals. The included iced tea at poolside is gone and replaced by cans of iced tea at a charge. Juice is removed from passenger access and not replaced with tea/lemonade as on most cruise lines. 5) Cups  Extremely small coffee cups which are even bigger than the water glasses in Il Patio. Styrofoam cups in Il Patio. Fortunately, I had my Galaxy water bottle with and we were able to pick up travel mugs for coffee in San Juan. 6) Very limited breakfast hours. Both buffet and dining room stopped serving at 9:30. Croissants were available in several locations until noon when the Grill, Pizza Station, Dining Room and Buffet opened. This really put breakfast out of the question for those who enjoyed sleeping late since room service has very limited options. 7) Large gaps in snacks or light dining options with a very limited room service menu. An interesting aside was that the original room service menu in our cabin (dated 11/05) had prices in it for everything other than continental breakfast. We found out that this was in error and our cabin steward corrected it with the right menu. The morning gap is followed by a gap after 6:00 PM until 11:30 when either waiters bring around snacks or a buffet is set up. Due to rough weather and times in port, many missed dinner and were left with very limited choices when they felt better or returned to the ship. 8) Very disorganized. Appears to be directly related to level of training. Cabin steward did not introduce herself or show the cabin amenities. The layout of the cabin is extremely close to that of Celebrity so we did not have a problem locating the safe but have heard from newbies that they had to ask. Wait staff in the dining room did not introduce themselves either. First two nights in dining room and could not get through that we wanted iced tea. Our waiter finally understood on the third night and actually found large glasses for it by the fifth night. There was not a single dining room meal where everyone at our table got everything they asked for. In some cases, we received more than we asked for. One night had some getting their salads first while other received their soup first. We received an invitation to a special cocktail party less than two hours prior to the party. We did not see it until ½ hour after the party started since that is when we returned to our cabin to get ready for dinner. Our VIP friend was invited to a special cocktail party. When she got there she noticed that she was the only single female. She finally figured it out when she saw the picture of her and the captain with the Happy Honeymoon cake in front of them. 9) Confusing information. We were told that there was a 3% charge to get cash on your sea card and that it must be handled at the bank. After multiple attempts at the bank, we finally went to the casino. Not only was it not a problem but we increased the amount slightly and there was no surcharge. 10) Beef entrees  ok to not very good. 11) No wine steward available for those who preferred that method of ordering. 12) Time management. We went down to the duty free shop during their listed open hours and they said to come back later since they were re-stocking. We came back when they suggested and they told us to come back in another hour. This was during the hours that they were supposed to be open. 13) Things not happening as scheduled. A shop bazaar was scheduled for the last sea day but none of us ever found it. Sandwiches were scheduled after San Juan sail away but we finally went to bed after seeing no sight of them or waiters in any of the public lounges. 14) Lack of announcements when we were free to disembark in port. However, art auctions and other announcements were often made. 15) Excursion Desk. We did not receive info on tours until embarkation. We went to the excursion desk to get information on available tours and transportation in La Ramona and it took 15 minutes and many questions to finally get a copy of a price listing for cabs since they had no information on the tours that they were offering. 16) Casino. Very small and few chairs for slot machines. 17) Drink prices. MSC went from possibly the lowest in the industry to very high with drink specials at $6.50. Number of drink specials were also cut back from multiple choices to 1 mixed cocktail choice per day or 1 Martini choice per day at $6.50 in the martini bar (This does include the tip). There have been reports from some on Lirica that there were $4.00 drinks for Happy Hour prior to dinner but this did not exist or we all totally missed it on Opera. There were also a couple of times when Sangria was an additional special at $3.00/glass and a very big hit. One couple that we were with just got off Sea Princess where the same cocktail was 50% less. 18) No quiet location in the pool area for much of the day. There are other locations for those who wish peace and quiet. 19) $12.00 per day auto tipping. This is the highest of the mass market tipping amounts. In this case, the question is whether many of those getting auto tips deserves them at all while those that do may be shortchanged due to the amount given to others. Recent information brings this whole tipping issue up as questionable. Some have indicated that these tips go toward salary and are not given as additional tips to the staff. I can neither confirm or deny this. I do know that if you wish to remove auto tipping then you need to do it early in the cruise. 20) The line is supposed to be Italian style but most of the staff that passengers interface with are not Italian or even European as on other lines and have very limited command of English. We booked Opera originally with the idea that this would be a lower cost way to get an extra cruise in each winter and offer a different experience than our normal mass market cruises. Per diem at booking was comparable to the other mass market lines but last years pricing of extras indicated that we would, indeed, save money overall. The changes with the start of this Caribbean season (in drink pricing and tips) brought the overall costs up and put MSC in direct competition with X and Princess where we have accrued Captains Club benefits. Up until disembarkation all the above listed negatives were just nuisances which did not impact the enjoyment of our cruise and would not remove MSC from consideration when we booked our next cruise (based upon attractive pricing and itinerary). In reality, we thought many of them amusing to downright funny. We were told by Brits that were on with us (having made the transatlantic crossing) that things dramatically improved when we Americans boarded the ship. The improvements, in their opinion, covered not only the quality of food but, even, the hours that it was available. It seems that the grill and pizza shut down at 2:30 every day during the crossing. Disembarkation  this is where it alleviates MSC from our possible cruises. We were supposed to dock in FLL at 7:00 AM. None of us are sure of exactly what happened to change that. The official information from the bridge was that the harbormaster would not allow us in due to high cross winds. We did not reach the dock till close to 11:00 and were beaten in by Hal, Princess, Celebrity and Carnival that I could actually see. We had friends who had missed their early flights but we were still hoping to make our 12:40 flight at this point. Occasional announcements were made but didnt do much to clear up the question that all of us had about when we would be able to disembark. At 12:00, we realized that there was no chance that we would make our flight. Unfortunately, we had 3 cell phones and they were all dead. For some reason they did not charge correctly in the cabin. DH went down to the desk to ask to use a phone to contact our airline. He was told NO. He was told that there was a public phone for passenger use in the terminal, which he could use when we disembarked. However, he was given no indication of what time that disembarkation would take place. A lengthy discussion did not change their minds. He spotted a friend and was able to use their phone to notify our airline of the problem. The airline had seats available on the 1:45 and the 8:45 flights but we were advised to not do anything over the phone and to just see the rep at the airport. If we had not notified them in advance, we could have been out a considerable amount of money for a last minute booking. We were still on the ship when our original flight left and we made it to the airport 5 minutes too late to make the 1:45 flight. They booked us on the 8:45 at no extra charge and we ended up renting a car and going out to Sawgrass Mills until it was time for our late flight. We were in a similar situation with Royal Caribbean many years ago and the treatment was like night and day. Royal Caribbean handled everything even though we had booked our own air. Did we enjoy our cruise? Yes, definitely! We were with great old friends and made some great new ones. We had a wonderful time! Most of the negatives were actually amusing as they were happening. That said, based on our experience on Opera and with the increased costs and the disembarkation mess we are unlikely to forego our Captain Clubs benefits and consider them again. Our biggest disappointment was that we were looking for something different to provide competition to Celebrity and Princess but this doesnt seem to be at that point yet. MSC appears to be caught between two worlds and doesnt appear to be getting the best of either. Only time will tell! I would be happy to answer any questions. I can be reached at donnaw7471@yahoo.com. Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
Embarkation: We arrived at the pier around 11:30 and were on the ship by 12:15. It was a very smooth process. Upon arriving on the ship you are greeted with a line of white gloved crew members and one of them escorted you directly to your ... Read More
Embarkation: We arrived at the pier around 11:30 and were on the ship by 12:15. It was a very smooth process. Upon arriving on the ship you are greeted with a line of white gloved crew members and one of them escorted you directly to your cabin. You don't have to hunt for your cabin. We then went to the buffet for a lunch and had plenty of time to explore the ship before the lifeboat drill. The Ship: The Opera being new is very clean. All the public areas are large and very bright and clean with plenty of seats. The public rest rooms are large and were always very clean. Our cabin wasn't very large , but has plenty of storage space. The bathroom for a new ship was rather small. The shower was small and didn't give a normal size person room to turn around. The safe was hidden behind the mirror and was awhile before we found where it was. Our cabin was very clean and comfortable. We didn't get a towel animal or chocolate left on our pillow at night, but we did get fresh fruit left in our cabin every night. I found the daily program wasn't as informative as found on other ships and it was slipped under your door instead of being left on your bed. Itinerary: This wasn't the best times and places to be. We were in Old San Juan from 5PM -11 PM. This didn't give you much daylight time to explore the island . Then we went to St Maarten. Again we were only there from 9AM - 3 PM. We took a nice tour of the island, but didn't have any time to shop at the end of the tour. Had to be back on the ship by 2:30. Then they took us to La Romana in the Dominican Republic. We were there 12 hours and unless you went on a tour, there was NO place to walk to or go. The private Island of Cayo Levantado was the most wonderful place to go. It was the best part of the entire cruise. Food: The meals were not the best I have ever had. This was my 8th cruise and the worst food as far as selection goes. Being Italian cruise line, you get pasta every night, but the steaks weren't the best. The dining room is under staffed. Our waiter who worked very hard had to wait on you, do drinks, water etc. Most of the time we didn't get a refill o water and Never had a bar person come around for service. Unless you went to the dining room with a drink, which we learned to do, you didn't get one. The second formal night they did give you free champagne and they had flaming baked Alaska. The hours for breakfast at the buffet was over by 9:30 AM We had pizza that was excellent. They actually made it there. It was fresh pizza. Entertainment: The shows at night were the best I've seen on a cruise ship. The entire entertainment crew were just the best. The comedy team of young people were very entertaining before the main shows. They were so funny they made tears come down my face. The cruise: The pool area was very large with 2 full pools and hot tubs in between them. One pool was where a lot of pool side programs were held and the other one was rather quiet. The average age on this cruise was probably 60. There was only a handful of children on board. Debarkation: Debarkation was as smooth as getting on. All the same color tags were put in different lounges. They checked and our lounge every one had the same color tags. In 1 1/2 hours everyone was off the ship. Overall, I had a good time, but this wasn't the best cruise I have been on. Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
BIO: I along with my wife have been on 14 previous cruises. Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Princess, Norwegian, Century, and yes even Disney. By far this has been the worst cruise yet. EMBARKATION: First, the ship on the previous sailing had ... Read More
BIO: I along with my wife have been on 14 previous cruises. Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Princess, Norwegian, Century, and yes even Disney. By far this has been the worst cruise yet. EMBARKATION: First, the ship on the previous sailing had not arrived till 10 am. We always get to the ship early to beat the lines and unwind. However, as we got to the gate we were told we could not enter the port and was turned around. We were told that we would have to wait till 1 p.m. To add further insult to injury the port security told the cab driver a specific place to drop us off (the Causeway & 14th).Like we're locals and really know the area. We hailed another cab which took us another way to the port and we still had to wait in the sun in a parking lot. We were fortunate enough to find chairs to sit in and drink watered down juice that was offered from the cruise line. But the cruise line did not go out of their way to accommodate the many passengers who had no chairs to wait outside in the sun. Once inside the embarkation went pretty smooth. ON BOARD:The ship is very nicely decorated. They greet you with the white glove service upon the ship to escort you to your room. However, our escort got lost taking us to our room lol. ROOM: Room was spacious,clean and bright. Shower leaves much to be desired for anyone over 150 lbs. For all the men there is enough closet space for his and mostly hers. ENTERTAINMENT: Was not that bad. I would rate it a six. Lot of body parts showing (the European style and way of life). PUBLIC SPACES: Very spacious and many places just to sit and relax or talk. Never felt claustrophobic or contained. The casino is a disappointment, it's very small and the tables were hardly ever open and there were no denomination machines such as $.25, $.50, $.05. You just used tokens which I believe were equivalent to U.S. $.25. There were only about 20 slot machines. The best room was the relaxation room adjacent to the gym. A soundproof room with wicker chairs and subliminal style music playing subtly. FOOD: Was a big disappointment!!!!! Alternate dining served the same food as in the dining room at that moment. Food was the same day to day just garnished and prepared differently. Not a large assortment of products. Food for the most part was bland and over or under cooked. The lobster had more breadcrumbs than lobster (disgusting). The Neapolitan Grand Buffet was a joke!! First it was held in the galley and you did not get a chance to take pictures because they started carving and eating the layout before 1/4 of the people had the chance to see the designs. The Grand Buffet Magnifique proved lightning does strike twice. There was no order with the line and they opened the doors 1 hour later than scheduled. By the time you got to the layout half of it was already eaten, because as you go around you grab food at the same time. Overall, the appearance of the ship is a 10. Very elegant and a lot of marble and brightly toned. Entertainment a 6. If you're European it would be a 10. Food a 4 and that's being generous. Rooms a 8 cause they need a real shower otherwise the rooms were excellent. MSC service is good for the Mediterranean and Europe. But if they expect to run with the big boys in the North American market (RCL, CCL, NCL, HAL, Disney, Princess, etc.,.) they have to step it up a notch. Otherwise, they will not make it. I will never ever cruise MSC again. Even if I won it as a gift, I would trade it in for the cash value. If you have been on any other cruise line then don't waste your time you will be disappointed. You get what you pay for and MSC is the truth to that. Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
The good: service from the non-italian staff is fantastic! seafood and pasta dishes are excellent spotless ship. very very clean! entertainment is the best! Really vegas show quality!!!! entertainment team is really good. The not so bad: ... Read More
The good: service from the non-italian staff is fantastic! seafood and pasta dishes are excellent spotless ship. very very clean! entertainment is the best! Really vegas show quality!!!! entertainment team is really good. The not so bad: Other food dishes in the dining room are not prepared consistently well, but still acceptable. Ask for omelettes or other dishes made with real eggs. Outside of meal times not much is offered. Room service menu is limited and not good. Burgers and hot dogs are not good either (available 1200-2100hrs). Pizza is not bad, but not great. The bad: Dealing with the Italian staff (reception, excursions, etc). The tipping policy! : make sure you opt out of the mandatory tipping of 12.00/day/person that is added to your bill. This money is not given to the staff as a bonus for good service, it is merely used to pay the service staff their fixed salaries. Instead, give a cash tip at the end of the cruise. They work really hard for this money. Don't give it to the cruise line! 2 of 3 excursions cancelled at the discretion of MSC! Bioluminescent tour in San Juan and snorkeling at Cayo Laventado. Don't count on this line honouring any excursions that you book with them. Any complaints regarding the cancellation or mishandling of excursions will fall on deaf ears! The Italian staff at reception and at the excursion desk will do nothing to resolve the issue to the satisfaction of the customer! One of the excursions was taken to the wrong place in St. Maarten. snorkeling was supposed to be the excursion, but the tour group was only offered kayaking instead. Money for the excursion was not refunded even though the group paid for snorkeling and didn't get to snorkel!!!! Casino has limited hours of operation and is small The gym on board has crappy equipment, the location is nice. Embarkation is really slowed by the ship photographer trying to take everyone's picture. Many of us in the lineup bypassed this. All passengers are escorted to their rooms by staff- nice touch Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
A little about me before the brief review. Family of four, two boys 2 and 4. We have been on about eight 7 days cruises in the past three years (Carnival, Holland America, Princess, and Royal Caribbean). We had two rooms, one an oceanview ... Read More
A little about me before the brief review. Family of four, two boys 2 and 4. We have been on about eight 7 days cruises in the past three years (Carnival, Holland America, Princess, and Royal Caribbean). We had two rooms, one an oceanview and the other an interior view. The check-in process was painful. The ship arrived late, the taxi drive told us that this is common with MSC. We had to wait outside in the heat since the metal detector was at the entrance not the interior of the building. Once past the heat, the embarkation was fair. On the boat, ship is newer, nicely decorated, with very small but deep elevators. The ship is definitely long but not very wide. The room is clean to me but my wife wasn't impressed. One nice thing I would say is that there was lots of closet and space made available for you things compared to the other ships. Now to the main reason why we cruise, the FOOD! The food was at best mediocre. Another person I met on the ship put it more bluntly, "I would return it if I was at the restaurant!" However, they do have some good stuff. Their best has to be the spaghetti and the pizza. However, these things are not available 24/7. In fact, we had to time ourselves constantly for certain type of food. It seems like the food places were open for the ship's personnel's convenience. The only available food 24/7 was the room service with only about 10 items on it. They will NOT deviate even if you offer incentives. They even suggested that I not bother them and go to the buffet! I had to hang-up after telling him the line for that buffet was two miles long! One more thing, the Europeans have this thing for eggplant. I must admit that they prepare it well. However, I could only tolerate three days of consecutive eggplants. Next reason to cruise, service. Here worse in than other cruise line is the language problem. Since more than 30% of their clients are European and 70% of the worker are from Italy, there is definitely a language barrier. This may get better with time but it was frustrating for us. One big complaint from my wife is the children program or lack of it. There was an attendant there but not much beyond that. We had only two hours in Puerto Rico. St. Maarten was nice. La Romana of Dominican Republic scares me but I think it is just a developing nation with lots of people loitering about. The Cayo Leventico is MSC private beach place and it was the best stop. The entertainment was different and good. I will end it here and hope it helps with your decision to cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
Getting There is Half the Fun? Oy... you'd think it would be easy to get from the #1 US vacation destination to a major US port, but it isn't. The only direct flights eastbound were red eye ones, anything else entailed a long ... Read More
Getting There is Half the Fun? Oy... you'd think it would be easy to get from the #1 US vacation destination to a major US port, but it isn't. The only direct flights eastbound were red eye ones, anything else entailed a long layover. So I opted for the red eye and I will say that Song did a fairly good job with it. Since I haven't heard anyone mention them, I thought I'd take the opportunity to say a few things about it. First, this is an airline with a sense of humor. The safety lecture was actually a bit amusing, I don't remember ever smiling at one of those. There is some food available for sale, this can be arranged for on line or in flight. Menus are available. Television is free, as are the headsets. The ones they use have a single prong and fit into the ear so can't be used with ear plugs (I had ones to help with cabin pressure since I had hoped to sleep). Individual screens, many entertainment choices including PPV movies, customizable playlists for music and games along with flight info. No pillows, plenty of blankets. Each of them sealed in a plastic bag. One pass of the food/beverage cart early in the flight, another of water near the end. Flight was without incident, luggage arrived promptly and I went upstairs to await my cabin mate. It is not a lot of fun to be in a airport alone for an extended period of time. These days one has to lug their luggage everywhere... and there is no room in a bathroom stall for it... AND the chances of finding a seat when one returns is slim. But we did eventually meet up and shared a cab to the pier. Meeting Opera A pleasant surprise when we arrived... we were allowed to check in immediately and then to sit in a large comfortable waiting area. Juice and water were available to drink and this was our first chance to see the excursions information. They were also showing (and trying to sell) their wine packages.) Most of the group met up here and the wait to board seemed very short. On the ship a white gloved cabin attendant took my carryon and escorted us to the elevator where we were given instructions as to how to find our cabin. Having been in various inside cabins, I didn't expect too many surprises. Worthy of note is the fact that there's a large mirror over the bed instead of the usual curtain in an attempt to simulate a window. There was another mirror over the desk and a full length one on another wall. There were two closets and to make our clothing fit all I had to do was remove a few of their large hangers. Six drawers and some shelves behind another door. Shelves in the bedside tables. A lap drawer in the desk with enclosed shelf space on either side. Outlets in both 110 and 220, no adapter necessary (I had needed one on Melody). Two shelves over the bathroom sink and storage below it. Two shelves in the shower too. All in all plenty of storage. Lighting MUCH better than I had experienced on Melody. Enough to be able to read in bed. Wall mounted hair dryer in bathroom. The sort of shower I've come to expect with a moveable, removable hand held head and a temperature sensitive control. The shower drained well and even though we had rough enough seas to encourage holding on at times I never had water slosh over into the rest of the bathroom. Most of what was available on the television was news. There were several movies running continuously, one in each language. I couldn't find a way to get subtitles on the non-English ones (on Melody a movie was always subtitled... of course neither language could be counted on to be English) Nadia was our cabin attendant and she stopped by to introduce herself and check to see if we had any special needs. She seemed to be a nice young woman, but that was the only conversation I had with her all week. By then I was getting hungry (remember that red eye... I had brought Cheerios with me and that was all I had had to eat since leaving home) and we went in search of lunch. Opera Time Our first clue about "Opera time" came with our docs. Initially we had been told that the dinner times were (roughly) 6 and 8, but the docs said 7 and 9. IMO 7 is pretty ideal and on most cruises I'd "settled" for late seating (a bit late for my taste) rather than dining "too early". When we saw the times in the docs several of us opted to change from late to early. My happiness with that only lasted from the time we got our docs until shortly after boarding though, as it turned out that the times were indeed 6 and 8. The next incidence of Opera time was on boarding day. The Daily Program clearly said what time the buffet would be open, and lots of pax were there, but it didn't open until a half hour later. We kept being told it would open "soon" or I suspect that many of us would have gone away and come back. (To be fair, there were inspectors doing their thing and that may have been the cause of the time difference.) The last "annoyance" along those lines had to do with luggage. Two of us shared a cab and so our luggage was handed over at the same time to the same person. My cabin mate's single bag arrived promptly, my two were very delayed. As long as I see active signs of luggage being delivered I don't concern myself too much about such things, in fact this time I made jokes within earshot of the crew that it might be an interesting week with me naked. Of course I was actually well prepared, with enough clothing etc. for a full day in my carryon. When I was no longer seeing new bags in the hall and the door to the crew access was closed I called the desk. Nice lady asked how many bags and the size and color. She assured me that they were still distributing luggage. She called back later to make sure I had them (and I did). These were the ONLY examples of such things and were quite minor and were I not trying to be thorough I probably would have forgotten them by now. Opera Nights This trip confirmed my feelings about a couple of things on a cruise... the first is that I prefer late seating and the second that I really prefer a large table. I like the quiet time on deck while the early seating folks are getting ready for dinner and missed that the nights that I was one of them. And as I've often said the "dining experience" is a large part of why I cruise, a small table doesn't afford me the conversation and exchange that a large one does. Most of my meals at home are eaten right where I am now, in front of the computer, so I relish listening to live people and interacting with them. A large table shares the "burden" of that so that no one feels as though they have to carry the conversation. Portions for some courses at dinner were considerably larger than necessary. Pastas were enough for three or four people unless one intended them as an entree. Risottos likewise were in portions that were much too large for most people and the times I had them I shared. Even the night I intended my ravioli to be an entree I didn't finish it and instead had two things off of the dessert menu (gotcha... I had cheese and then a sweet) The menu itself required a careful eye since there was an "International Menu" on the left that sometimes had items that weren't listed elsewhere. One of the changes I saw that I liked was that MSC now had cold soups a few times. I tried and liked a couple of them. Cappuccino and espresso are bar drinks and not available at all in the dining room. The wine list looked to be pretty extensive and ranged from inexpensive wine by the carafe to over $100/bottle. There is no sommelier. I didn't see any bar service in the dining room and suspect that there isn't any. A wide variety of music is available in six different venues starting just before dinner and ending in the disco "whenever". (Speaking of the disco, it's the largest one I've seen on a ship. It's located on Deck 12, aft, with lots of windows. It's a beautiful place to be during the day and there's even some deck space outside.) Teatro Dell'Opera is a real theater and the shows were well attended and very much worth seeing. I would categorize most as "variety" shows, with dance, music, magic and acrobatic acts. All were a delight. The Animation team did pre show "things" some nights, and they were very funny. I'm not going to give anything away here. They also entertained in a couple of the lounges, putting on shows and dancing with the pax. Buon Giorno Opera There were several early risers greeting the dawn each day. You could tell it was early, there wasn't any hot milk next to the coffee and we had to help ourselves to what was there, but despite the hour there was a selection of teas available. I was a bit surprised that cocoa was not among the offerings. Breakfast began at 6:30 in the cafeteria and grills, 7 in the dining room. I looked at the dining room menu and decided that I would stick with the buffet for breakfast. My personal choice was fresh fruit, a piece of whatever frittata they offered, cheese, smoked whatever and (usually) a chocolate croissant. The idea (for me) is to eat something other than what I would have had at home. The buffet included scrambled and hard cooked eggs, sausage, bacon, hot and cold cereals, (including mueslis), various bread type things, fresh, dried and canned fruit, juices, yogurt and other less easily identifiable foods. Outside they had an omelet station and pancakes. I never got close enough to be sure of the exact offerings, but what I saw people eating looked pretty good. (I found it of some passing interest that the food in the buffet was labeled in English and ONLY in English. The dining room menu was in whatever language seemed to fit.) The Animation team did games and crafts in the mornings, along with some group exercise and there were fitness classes held in the gym (for a fee). The cabin attendants put out Do Not Disturb signs on the cabin doors, flipping them up in such a way that they would drop into a normal position when the cabin was vacated. I guess this was "nicer" than putting a piece of paper in the door, but the signs did sometimes fall onto the floor rather than remain hanging. If someone put a Do Not Disturb sign out themselves they ran the "risk" that it would be taken when the room was made up. (Someone told me that they had a problem hanging onto their sign) Baseball Greats on an Italian Ship? It does sound just a bit odd, but the cruise did originate in the US. Stan Bahnsen has been organizing and facilitating these groups. He was joined on Opera by Greg Luzinski, Pete Mackanin, Graig Nettles, Frank Howard and Gary Peters. They each had their wives and other family members with them. I had a chance to speak with each and invariably they were quite charming. There were several activities aboard that involved them such as clinics, video presentations, Q&A sessions, trivia and of course autographs. I am not particularly a baseball fan, but I'm the mother of one, so made sure I got everyone's signature and that's why all the photos with the players. I would suggest that anyone who goes on one of these in the future bring along a couple of baseballs as they were $25 in the gift shop. Where Does this Cruise Start? Apparently that depends on where one lives. For us it originated in Port Everglades, but for others in San Juan. Shopping Opera There were more shops with more choices than I had seen on Melody. They now have some MSC Crociere goods in the boutique, although nothing with any specific ship's name. They don't have magnets and they don't have made in China items with the names of the various ports on it. The DO have expensive Italian clothing which doesn't seem to be selling and some reasonably priced items such as polo shirts for $13 and baseball type caps for $4.80. There is a Duty Free shop which seemed to do a brisk business in liquor and cigarettes. The prices seemed good and alcohol could be purchased and taken back to one's cabin (although everything in writing said otherwise). There is also a pretty upscale jewelry store which sold 18K gold and diamond jewelry along with some less expensive items. Finally they had a perfume and cosmetic shop which was usually pretty quiet. While I did go in, I don't know how the prices were, maybe someone else did? You Call This Art? I don't usually go to these things, but did last week because the subject comes up so often... They said frames were included, with upgrades (for a fee of course) available. Shipping $35. "Fee" of (I think) 15% (I don't get that one) Most things were available in almost endless numbers, but some were supposedly originals. There was a viewing and only those pieces that someone had expressed an interest in were presented. There was almost no real bidding, prints were sold at the price that was presented, only bidding on the originals. I enjoyed my glass of champagne and didn't buy anything nor did I go to any other of their presentations. Oops As I've mentioned, I cruised with MSC before and knew that there was going to be a repeat cruisers' party. Since I had passed the info on my status along when I booked I had expected an invitation which never came. When I asked about it I found that I wasn't the only one who didn't automatically get an invitation, that several people had only been invited because they had spoken up in time. I guess I missed out on a glass of champagne. Singles There was a meeting for the Singles at 11am on the second day. This was attended "mostly" by women. Champagne was served and it was just an opportunity to meet and chat. I'm not sure why men don't seem to go to these things as I know that there were several single men aboard who didn't attend. Formal Nights As is typical on a 7-night cruise, there were two of these. The first was the Captain's Welcome Aboard Party. Only thing of note was that this took place in two venues. The Captain and Staff were in the Caruso Lounge. If one didn't care about that aspect of the party, they could go to the Sotto Vento Pub. Photos This is one of the things I wish they hadn't changed. Opera is handling photos the way other lines do. They print them and try to sell them. Of course since most are thrown away, the ones which are sold are at very inflated prices. (On Melody only a few were printed and pax selected what they wanted from a computer. Because that kept their costs down prices were lower.) But the photographers seemed to be less intrusive. For example they didn't stop people on the gangway to take pictures, they were taken on the pier and it was very easy to avoid them. Library Good, but as happens most times with limited hours. One or two in the morning, two in the afternoon. Towels and Chairs Opera has the same type of chairs that impressed me on Melody. There were more than enough for the number of pax aboard. Beach towels were available on deck. One was supposed to give the pool attendant their cabin number and sign for them. Arrivederci Opera This is another thing that they did very well. Colored luggage tags were distributed the night before we left and we were assigned to a place to wait between vacating our cabins and when we left the ship. Because they had some control, there wasn't the crowding I'd experienced other times and everyone was assured of a comfortably seat. I saw one of the young ladies from the Animation team during this time and she appeared to be on the verge of tears. I suspect this was all very new for her and every bit as difficult as any farewell could possibly be. When my color was called, I walked off the ship, quickly found my luggage exactly where it was supposed to be and headed out. Every 15 or 20 feet a smiling person was stationed to keep us headed in the right direction. You all know the drill... show your passport... hand over the Custom's declaration and out the door. I got onto a 12 pax van almost immediately and was at the airport in a matter of minutes. A full TEN hours before my flight was scheduled. Some of you may be aware that there was a lot of wet weather in the Eastern part of the US Saturday. So many flights were delayed that even those that started out on time got caught up circling FLL long periods of time. I tried to check my luggage when I got there and was told that I had to wait, inside they would take bags within two hours of flight time, outside four. As much as it was a pain for me, I understood why it was that way. At about 2:15 I asked (inside) about checking in and since there wasn't a line I was able to. Took just a few minutes and I headed right to security, commenting that it felt as though I were skiing when I was zigzagging through where long lines had earlier snaked. The man at the x-ray machine said they had been waiting for me... so you get the idea. But on the other side... what a mess! People all over. Most seats taken, people laying on the floor. I heard stories of flights that had been canceled, delays of hours. I met people from all over the country and just as I had done the Saturday before, spoke with both of my sons while waiting. My flight (Song again) came from NY and while it was in FLL air space on time, it circled a long time and was about an hour late landing. They changed over as quickly as possible and even thanked us for our cooperation once we were ready for take off. I hope that when the Song/Delta dust settles they don't lose what's good about Song. I did read that they might be adding a First Class to their planes. The present cabin configuration will make that very easy, in fact the planes appear to have been built with that intention. The rest of the trip home was uneventful although it had been a VERY long day. My Final Thoughts To get the obvious out of the way, I'm a fan of MSC Crociere. That's what got me to book my first GGC and I have no regrets about having gone. It was good to see that ships are still being built that I find esthetically pleasing. Good to see people again that I hadn't seen in a long time, good to see others that I hadn't met before. Another thing they seemed to do well was how they handled large groups. While we certainly knew that the polka group was aboard, and there were 400 of them, their activities were kept separate from the rest of the pax. There were so many smaller groups aboard that the ship had one large cocktail party for all of them in the disco. Our group had a wine and gift exchange the last day, also in the disco, and there didn't seem to be a problem with our having brought bottles in. I don't know what Cal did to arrange it, so I wouldn't suggest anyone try to walk around overtly with their own alcohol. I went ashore at Cayo Levantado. Since I haven't been to any other lines "private island", I don't have anything to compare it with... but I can tell you that it was BEAUTIFUL! Soft clean sand... long curving beach. Shade. Plenty of chairs. Live music. Bar. I went early and left before lunch was served, but I know others from the group were there later so maybe they will comment. There is an ice cream bar open in the afternoon... they had fancy ice cream based drinks for $6.50 (I think) and sundaes topped with cookies for $3.50. People were eating them, so they much have been pretty good... but there was ice cream and sherbet in the dining room at lunch and dinner every day. You may have thought to wonder how I dealt with my dinner issues. Those who know me won't be surprised to learn that I started going to both seatings, usually eating at the late one. Our group had three tables early and one late, so it was a simple matter to join them. I was much more relaxed once I'd started doing that. We saw several versions of their tipping policy prior to sailing. They applied $12/pp/pd to our accounts. I noticed that several in our group had it taken off and tipped directly. If/when I were to decide to cruise again, MSC would be a likely line for me. It supplies a combination of things that fit me reasonably well. http://community.webshots.com/user/thoseeyes48 Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
Our experience on the MSC Opera from 1/28/06 to 2/4/06 was a truly wonderful experience. We researched MSC prior to our trip due to the unfamiliarity of the ship line. We read both positive and negative reviews. Yet, as we reviewed the ... Read More
Our experience on the MSC Opera from 1/28/06 to 2/4/06 was a truly wonderful experience. We researched MSC prior to our trip due to the unfamiliarity of the ship line. We read both positive and negative reviews. Yet, as we reviewed the negative reviews meticulously, we began to ask ourselves if the writers comments were likely to affect our enjoyment of the cruise. We determined they would not. Also, from the tone of the reviews, we suspected the writer was overly particular or critical. We booked the cruise and we are so glad we did. In every aspect we found the crew to be attentive to detail, customer-service oriented, friendly, and devoted to excellence. Our inside cabin was spacious with an exorbitant amount of storage/closet space. Our bed was quite comfortable. It was fixed as a queen; we thought it would feel like two twins with the slice in the middle but somehow it felt like a queen bed. Dining was in six course meals at lunch and dinner. Salmon, steak, and other American dishes were always available as alternatives; although we always made selections from the daily menu. The cold soups were delicious-a must-try. Our waiter, Desi, was by our side to remove one course after the other immediately upon completion. We established a bond with him and it was sad to say goodbye at the end of the week. The entire crew works so hard to please. The high level of attention to cleanliness is readily apparent. We saw the common walls and stairwells being steam-cleaned on a daily basis. Signs were posted at the public restrooms to use hand towels to open the doors upon exit. Activities such as pool games, bridge tournaments, dance and language lessons, and crafts were available throughout the day. The evening shows were exceptional-Las Vegas quality. Dont miss them. Each show is unique and creative with superb choreography offering a variety of talent throughout the week. Every passenger we spoke to echoed the same thoughts. The ports of call were also a reason for our selection of MSC. Although arriving in the evening in San Juan, it still allowed us to enjoy the flavor of Old San Juan, which is where the Opera docks. The cobblestone streets, the Spanish colonial architecture and historical city walls immersed you in the local culture. Even though El Morro, a massive fortress, is closed, the nighttime view from outside is still worthwhile. St. Maarten is beautiful. We rented a car and toured the 37 square mile island. We reserved a car from Best Deal Car Rental in advance for $60 but realized upon arrival we didnt need to. The car rental company booths are to the right, just behind the bus parking lot, off the dock. It is just a few minutes walk from the pier dock. Anyways, the car rental companies are very negotiable and fight for your business. You can easily negotiate $40 for the day. Make sure you drop your car off at the rental office rather than the separate car lot. We were told to drop the car off at the separate car lot; there is no office there. Bring your car back to the rental office, get your final papers and head back to the ship. We went to Dawn Beach, beside Oyster Pond, among other places. It was an attractive small beach. All of the beaches were small with the exception of Orient Beach. If we had to do it again, we definitely would have skipped Dawn Beach. Orient Beach was gorgeous. Plenty of water sports with gentle waters on the longest beach we saw in St. Maarten- 2 miles long- and especially white sand. The colorful buildings there were also a sight to see-very picturesque. One note is that Orient Beach is recognized as a swimsuit optional beach. I thought we would be able to walk along the French Cul-de-Sac, as I had read prior to our trip, but discovered it required a short motor boat ride over, so we skipped it. We circled the western edge of the island without stops due to our concern about time. Traffic was congested in some of the towns. Mullet Bay looked beautiful. The terrain on the eastern side of the island is low lying hills where the western side is low land surrounding a lagoon. St. Martin is truly a charming island. The place to go in La Romana is Altos de Chavon. It is a must-see, regardless of your age. It is a re-creation of a 16th century Mediterranean village on the grounds of Casa de Campo resort. There are art galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and souvenir shops surrounding a cobbled square. There are cobblestone streets lined with lanterns, wrought-iron balconies, wooden shutters, courtyards, and gardens. It is on a bluff overlooking the Rio Chavon. You can go to Altos de Chavon and Casa de Campos luxurious yacht marina for a round trip cost of $6 pp from a shuttle at the ships dock. The Kandela show is shown at the amphitheater at Altos de Chavon. It is colorful and entertaining in a beautiful setting. Taxis are available at the ships dock. The local transportation service at the dock pairs people up in the taxi according to your destination making it very easy to get a reduced rate per person. The taxi driver waits for you an hour or two or however long you wish and drives you back. We went to Bayahibe Beach for 2 hours. It took ½ hr by car. Six passengers-total cost is $52($8.66 pp plus tip) The beach was quite small; yet we still enjoyed the time there. A resident was in a motor boat offering ½ hr snorkeling in an area just offshore. We would have gone except our time at the beach was almost up. Others we met did go and negotiated $6 pp; they said the fish were colorful and that they had a great time. We were going to go to Dominicus Beach but discovered it is a private beach. Cayo Levantado is the Caribbean at its finest. Be sure to pick up your ticket for the tender early in the morning of your arrival there because youll want to be in one of the first tenders over to enjoy every single second. It is gorgeous. The bluest, clearest water of any weve ever seen with the most pure white sand on the palm-tree-lined beach. Although we did not go on any excursions there, we learned from talking to other passengers who had gone on the whale watching excursion and jeep safari that they thoroughly enjoyed it. Marco, the cruise director, said MSC has had a high satisfaction rate on all of their excursions on Cayo Levantado. I hope this information is helpful. We are sure to cruise on MSC again due to their commitment to excellence, high customer service level, exceptional entertainment, and focus on maintaining a clean ship. Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
I found the MSC Opera to be a beautiful ship with great potential; however MSC has several issues that need to be resolved before it can provide an enjoyable cruise experience. I was looking forward to a relaxing and rewarding cruise ... Read More
I found the MSC Opera to be a beautiful ship with great potential; however MSC has several issues that need to be resolved before it can provide an enjoyable cruise experience. I was looking forward to a relaxing and rewarding cruise based on the information I received from my travel agent and various web sites that critique cruises. The itinerary seemed great. The itinerary and the price was my major reason for choosing MSC, which I was unfamiliar with. However the cruise was filled with disappointment. One of the major issues was communication. This became obvious when I first boarded the ship and realized that my dining requests had been completely ignored and I had to stand in line for thirty minutes or more to get them changed. MSC did fulfill my request by the following day. There were several areas where communication was a problem. Although the dining room staff worked diligently there were few who could communicate adequately in English to explain the menu or to take special requests. I also found it difficult to get information from the reception desk concerning the itinerary. Either they were unable to communicate adequately in English or they did not know the information or how to obtain it. For example the daily paper printed the names of streets to shop at one of the destinations in the Dominican Republic. However, the name of the city was not listed. Since the port was near several small villages it was unclear if the streets listed were from one of the villages or Santo Domingo (a two hour drive away). When I asked the staff the name of the city where these streets were located they were unable to provide an adequate answer. In addition on most cruise lines we were told in the daily publications and/or over the intercom system how to get off the ship at the Ports of Call. On the MSC Opera each passenger was on their own to figure out which Deck to exit on. Another major issue was the inability of the ship to arrive at several of the ports on time. We were 2-3 hours late leaving Port Everglades due to high winds, which meant we arrived in San Juan at 8:00 p.m. instead of the scheduled 5:00 p.m. This left a little more than 2 hours to visit San Juan. One instance of arriving late can be blamed on inclement weather; however this happened at other stops as well. This problem reached its climax at the end of the cruise when we arrived into Ft. Lauderdale for disembarkation approximately 5 hours late and were unable to get off of the ship until 12:30 p.m. or later. Obviously many flights were affected. We were scheduled to disembark at 8:30 a.m. MSC attributed this late arrival to issues with Port Everglades that were beyond their control. Late arrival seemed to continually be a major problem plaguing the MSC Opera, which I have not experienced when traveling with Celebrity, Royal Caribbean or NCL. There were several other minor problems too numerous to mention (limited cuisine choices and poor food quality; unfriendly staff members; limited availability of tea and coffee; poor itinerary either due to limited time at Ports such as San Juan or St. Maarten or limited activities at Ports such as La Romana). Although many of issues were small problems in and of themselves they accumulated quickly to diminish the cruising experience. On the positive side the performances in the theater appeared professional and most people seemed to enjoy them. Our cabin stewards were friendly and hard working. Our cabin was kept clean and they were quick to get us what we needed. The same is true of our dining room staff. However, communicating with both the Cabin Stewards and Dining Room Staff was very difficult. We have traveled on other cruise lines where English was not the first language of many who worked on the ships, but there were always people available with whom we could communicate. This was not true of the Opera. There were very few people available with whom we could communicate adequately to resolve issues or gain more information. This was probably the most frustrating part of the cruise. What is most amazing is that there were several people who were on the MSC Opera a year ago. They rebooked the cruise because they had a great experience the previous year; however after this cruise they were disappointed and were not planning to rebook. I am not sure what occurred in the past year to make such a difference, but obviously something has changed. I have enjoyed all of my previous cruising experiences with various cruise lines. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses, but overall they have been excellent cruises. However the same is not true with this cruise. At this time I am not planning to rebook with MSC. Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
The ship was decent but nothing overly special. The nightly entertainment was excellent. The singers were excellent. However, on the first night, there should have been an "NC-17" warning on the song and dance routine. You can ... Read More
The ship was decent but nothing overly special. The nightly entertainment was excellent. The singers were excellent. However, on the first night, there should have been an "NC-17" warning on the song and dance routine. You can probably find cleaner entertainment at a lap dance bar. The dining restaurant had its shortcomings. It had more variety than other cruise ships that we have patronized but it tasted like the lasagna that I ordered (we had the late seating) was cooked for the first seating and then microwaved for me. There were very few announcements over the P.A. system flogging their sales. However, this means that you have to be very astute as to what is going on and when. The service in the buffet dining room was good. The attendants there would get you coffee, tea, or fruit juice when wanted. We were thankful that they upgraded our cabin but I found the shower stall very small. I am of average weight but found the stall very tight. Those who are battling a weight problem might find the stalls too small. The final two complaints I have are that fruit juice was only available during breakfast and the itinerary. I realize that the itinerary has no bearing on the review of the ship but I feel that that particular itinerary was poorly planned. Outside of the itinerary, I enjoyed the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
The MSC Opera was my 16th cruise on various lines. The ship is very new and very well laid out. That is about the only thing good I can say about it. The captain and crew did a bad job. Always late entering and leaving ports, not by a ... Read More
The MSC Opera was my 16th cruise on various lines. The ship is very new and very well laid out. That is about the only thing good I can say about it. The captain and crew did a bad job. Always late entering and leaving ports, not by a few minutes but by hours. Three hours late leaving Ft. Lauderdale because of wind. Five hours late returning to Ft. Lauderdale causing hundreds to miss flights. The food was disappointing and the service even more disappointing. The deck 11 buffet was pathetic with constant lines and very few choices of food and the food there was of cheap quality, such as canned sliced pineapple and servers who allowed food to run out constantly. Two choices of drinks at the buffet water or coffee plus only orange juice at breakfast. Much of the food was inedible. It was like a school lunchroom. It was always hard to find a vacant table. At the outdoor grille the hamburgers were awful and the hot dogs sitting in hot water barely cooked, but the fries were good. And at the pizza grille you would think Italians could fix great pizza---wrong---One pizza maker and he was slow and no cook. The dining room was ridiculous from the maitre d' to the waiters. Some of the dishes were actually good but out of 5 or 6 courses there would be 2 or 3 that you would not eat. The first night it was 40 minutes after I ordered till I got my appetizer. The waiter was constantly blaming everything on the kitchen. We changed tables and the next waiter was better but only because one of our tablemates spoke Italian and she was very demanding. Again the Captain, officers, dining staff were for the most part inexcusable in the job the performed. The automatic tipping policy is probably part of the overall problem. The bright star for the ship was the animation team of young Italian men and women who were the best I have ever seen with the passengers. For pool games and passenger activities they were tops. Bottom line----This ship needs to go back to the Mediterranean and my advice to future travelers is --DON'T GO! Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
MSC Opera Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 3.7
Dining 3.0 3.1
Entertainment 5.0 3.4
Public Rooms 4.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.2
Family 4.0 3.2
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.0
Enrichment 1.0 2.9
Service 4.0 3.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.2
Rates 3.0 3.5

Find a MSC Opera Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click