We took this cruise because the itinerary was good, the price was right and it dovetailed with the end of a land tour that we took in Croatia. However, we did not anticipate that the ship would be full of Italians on Easter holiday with their children, or that some port and shopping activities would be completely closed due to the holiday.
The reviews on MSC Opera are not as bad as some people would lead you to believe. I think probably it's a 3 star overall. The Opera is older and smaller than some and doesn't have the staffing (#s and training ) of Holland America (HAL); however, I would compare it's overall service level to Carnival. CAVEAT : We have 175 days on HAL, so that may "color" some of these comments.
Great cabin,clean, spacious and comfortable--but shower is a joke! Room steward did an outstanding job.
Good Friday crowds were heavy--I can't imagine what it's like in the Summer. We did a 1/2 day tour of Murano, Doges Palace and St Marks. The boat ride to Murano was interesting, but I'm not sure I would do it on my own, unless I specifically wanted to go to the glass factories. Doges is probably worth a guided tour (get there early to avoid the crowds), but St Marks and the rest of Venice can easily be done on your own (with the help of Rick Steve's). We particularly enjoyed getting a 24 hr Vaporetto pass (20 euro) and cruising the canals at will--especially the night ride from Fiero, near the port, to the Bridge of Sighs and St Marks. Getting to/from the port is simple, but needs to be thought out, if you're in town--and not just coming from/to the airport. The cruise out/in to Venice is absolutely spectacular--DON'T miss either.
Nice little town,80 nm from Venice. Took the free elevator up to the old town, which is right across from the ship, then did a quick walk thru, but most shops closed for Easter Saturday so hit the TI and continued to the bus to Piran (6 euro r/t). Beautiful 30 minute drive to one of the neatest towns on our trip. Piran is a seaside town that is pretty much the way this area was before it was "discovered"...I am fairly sure that we were the ONLY Americans in town. It has a beautiful town square, nice cathedral overlooking town and many alleys and byways to explore, along with the requisite bakery for an excellent lunchtime Boreck. The bayside promenade is lined with little restaurants and cafes and made an enjoyable stroll. Back to Koper in the PM, there was a grocery next to the market,which is where the bus dropped off. It was a nice stroll back to the ship, along the waterfront promenade.
Great town, with the Diocletian palace, right on the "Riva"; however, it's a 1/2 mile hike from where the ship docked (OK if the weather's good). The Palace is really something--we had done it the week before on a Gate 1 land tour, so we didn't repeat, but I think a guided tour might be worth it. There's plenty to do in the old town, with a great market area on the right-hand side (which was closed this time, since it was Easter Sunday). Be sure an go to the big statue (looks kinda like Dumbledore,from Harry Potter) and rub his toe for good luck. Right behind the statue is a nice park which is great for a picnic, if you have a "breakfast" sandwich along from the ship. There are a lotta shops, cafes and restaurants in the old town alleyways--good for wandering. We enjoyed sitting along the "Riva" in froni of the British Embassy, just people watching.
If there was ever a required"early get-up" this was it...ABSOLUTELY spectacular sail in, starting around 0600. This is the southernmost fjord in Europe (though I don't think it was formed from a glacier). MANY picture opportunities. Kotor is at the end and is a beautiful, albeit small, walled city. You can climb the walls (1350 steps), but I would recommend an early trip to Perast to see the little church on the island that was built by sailors dropping their ballast over a 100 yr time period. A taxi would probably do it for 3-4 folks, then the 10 minute boat ride out, followed by a presentation by one of the ladies who works there. Go early to avoid the ship excursion crowds. Back to Kotor you can just wander the "warrens" and alleys to your heart's content.
The quintessential Greek island town, replete with white-washed houses, blue roofs and windmills. You dock at the new port and water taxi to the town. If you only doing one r/t, consider using the 2 euro o/w water taxi vs MSC's 7 euro unlimited rides. On landing, immediately go right and follow the seaside thru the Old Venice area toward the windmills. Then just wander the old town--expect to get lost in the alleyways that are full of shops, which range from ultra-expensive to China-made tourist crap. We elected to not stay in town for the sunset, since it was cloudy and overcast.
A different kid of Greek island. It was ruled by a lot of folks throughout the years. It is NOT whitewashed and feels more European. Here again MSC "nickel 'n dimed" us with a 9 euro/pp bus into town, but first you caught the free bus from the ship to the port exit. We decided to use a 10 euro taxi for 4 people. This took us right to a square where we entered the city and just walked around the alleys and byways. It was Orthodox Good Friday and the town was jammed with people watching and participating in the many parades that are sponsored by churches and organizations. Each had a band, singers, marchers (church goers, scouts, Navy people,etc) and someone carrying the cross and others the simulated remains of Christ..It was VERY interesting. We wandered, shopped and took a lot of pictures. Corfu is famous for its kumquat liquor--very tasty, but I was afraid I'd get a large bottle confiscated by MSC, so just bought a small souvenier bottle.
A true suprise port. We didn't expect much and almost didn't get off the ship due to rain--since it's a 1/2 mile walk from ship to town. MSC offers a 10/pp euro bus, but we looked and determined that the old town started right at the port exit--so when the weather cleared we walked (my wife just had knee replacement 5 months ago and one of our companions is 84 and we had little trouble doing any of the walking). There are buses but we didn't connect to either the port bus or the one that circumnavigates the port to town (#56, I believe). Upon entering the old town we just followed our noses and got to the St Nick's Church, which is where the bones of St Nick were brought from TU in the 1300s. Continued wandering the alleyways--with a cappachino and bakery break--eventually ending up at the fortress. Then it was a 1/2 mile back to the port entrance.