We booked this MSC Opera cruise because of its Havana (Cuba) focused itinerary, and it didn’t disappoint us. It was our third MSC cruise in 4 years and our 12th cruise (we did it with various cruise lines - Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean, NCL, and Costa).
MSC Opera is the smallest ship we have ever been, and probably the oldest as well (it was built in 2004). However the ship was clean, well maintained, and the friendly staff and crew made our vacation a memorable one.
Our flight to Cuba arrived quite late due to heavy snow in Toronto. Our check-in at 2:00am was quick and without any issue. The buffet restaurant was still open to wait for the late arriving passengers, about 20 of us. MSC Opera docks in Havana for 2 days, so the late flight arrival didn’t cause too much problem other than a very long and exhausting day.
To our surprise the inside cabin was quite small, it was probably around 12sqm or 120sqf. Much smaller than other popular cruise ships we have been in. However it was clean and have all the amenities such as generous closet space, safety box, hair-dryer, telephone, and a small TV. The bathroom was typical size, however the shower was quite tight even for smaller person like me (178cm, 70Kg). Some reviewers mentioned about shower curtain sticking to our legs during shower, that’s true.
Despite the smaller size ship (2200 max passenger) we find the ship was comfortable and didn’t feel small (other than the inside cabin). There were ample table in the buffet during breakfast and lunch. During busy time, there are attendants in the entrance who guided us to a table, so finding spot to enjoy breakfast and lunch was never a problem. Also, there were always many available tables towards the swimming pool where we can enjoy breakfast and lunch despite the fully booked cruise.
Staff in the buffet were quite friendly and always try to help. The food was typical popular cruise line and comparable to the like of Royal Caribbean and NCL ships, however the selection was inferior compared to Celebrity or Princess Cruise.
We did try breakfast in the main dining room in Deck 5. Again, table was always available and service and selection were pretty good compared to those in the buffet restaurant.
Dining in the main dining room was good. Service and food selection was acceptable for this type of cruise, however service was rather slow at times. The only issue that bothers me was the room temperature in our table no. 390. It was quite warm and was quite uncomfortable during the gala night (because of the formal attire).
Due to size of ship, there was no specialty restaurants which was fine with us. However there were many lounges to enjoy live music and drinks. All public areas were clean and in good condition despite the age of the ship (14 years old). Service is the bar and lounges were excellent.
Theatre was a bit smaller and to be expected, however finding seats were not a problem. The nightly show was at 8:00pm and 10:00pm which we find a little late, but we had fun.
The shows were mostly musical and dance due to many languages spoken among the passengers, so it was quite understandable. We were always confused every time the cruise director spoke because he talked so fast in probably six languages – Italian, French, German, Spanish, English, and Portuguese. It was a challenge to notice when he starts and finish talking in English. But it didn’t bother us at all since it was fun to be part of so diverse group of people who were there to have fun. Despite the challenges, we find the shows were comparable to other popular cruises.
We did use the customer service desk several times because the ship TV doesn’t have interactive feature for accounting to track our spending during the cruise. We also needed their help when the seas was a little rough. Customer Service desk always have supply of motion sickness medicine when the going is rough. The staff was always polite, friendly, and helpful, especially the dude from Romania.
Regarding the itinerary, the Havana stop was our main focus and it was excellent. The ship docks at the Sierra Maestra terminal and it is right across the street from the Old Havana. Tourist is always respected and we feel very safe even at night roaming around the old Havana. I guess tourism is Cuba’s main source of income.
Old buildings in Old Havana were clean and reasonably well kept for us to enjoy. The streets were clean and we walked all the way to the Capitol building (El Capitolio) which was about 20 minutes from the cruise terminal via old Havana cobble stone narrow roads. There are many things to see along the way so the walk was enjoyable.
We also enjoyed the vintage car tour and the walking tour that we booked online.
Despite of years of trade embargo, we find Havana to be surprisingly vibrant and reasonably lively for us to visit. Most importantly we feel very safe everywhere including walking in poorer areas which normally are not safe to do in other countries.
The rest of the itinerary were stops in Montego Bay (we didn’t go out due to safety concern), George Town, Cayman Island, and the beautiful Cozumel, Mexico. We disagree with MSC’s security warning on Cozumel. Cozumel is totally safe and we should not worry too much spending time in this beautiful Mexican resort city.
The ship arrived back in Havana at 1:30pm and we departed the shipat around 2:30pm. Disembarkation was easy and well organized, however it took a little longer at the Cuban immigration.
All in all we were very satisfied with our cruise. Our thanks to Sunwing (Canada) and MSC Cruise for offering this beautiful Havana cruise.
Convenient & on-time pickup. Comfortable vintage Chevrolet car with excellent driver and tour guide. it was 2 hour in car tour and one hour walking tour.View All 251 City Tour Reviews
There was safety advisory for Montego Bay.
Been to Grand Cayman several times.
Ship late arrival and early departure from Cozumel due to some technical issues with the ship. We decided to do our own Cozumel walking tour and skip Playa del Carmen.
Cozumel is beautiful and safe. Lots of shopping and place to eat within walking distance from the cruise terminal.