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Sail Date: October 2004
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: November 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: December 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: January 2005
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: February 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: March 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
MSC Opera Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 0.0
Dining 3.0 0.0
Entertainment 5.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 1.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 3.0 0.0

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