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MSC OPERA Sailing Dec 28th. Not up to par

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It is too simplistic to blame the problems that the ship has on the difference between American and European tastes. The ship is lovely and the layout very manageable. Plenty of lounges by the pool. Entertainment on the whole was very good to excellent, especially the dancers and the magician. Not the lavish shows you see on the American lines but very entertaining and professionally done. Cabin was adequate and cabin steward very responsive. Theatre was state of the art and very comfortable. Lounge singers and musicians very good especially the group ( Violinist, pianist and singer) on the 5th deck.

Ship was fairly prompt getting into ports. Don't know why we could only spend 1/2 day in Tortola when we only had 150 miles to go to the next port.

The cruise staff ( called Animation group) was outstanding, very entusiastic and friendly.

While I recognize that this is an Italian ship you would think that , if they are trying to attract an American crowd that you would make sure that the staff spoke and understood English. This was a particular problem in the dinning room and the lounge areas. Frequently requests were disregarded and the time it took to fill a request was unresonable. We experienced a 2 plus hour dinner the first 3 nights which made it difficult to get to the show. We were never offered coffee and dessert took 1/2 hour to get to the table. After complaining to the table captain, the service got a little better. Now there were coffee cups on the table from the beginning of the meal which is not appropriate but at least they didn't forget the coffee.However sometimes courses were skipped or served way out of order. If you wanted your steak prepared a certain way you had no chance that it would be. If you asked what was in a particular dish or whether it was spicy the words were not understood. ( What happens to a person who is allergic and really needs to know). After awhile you just ate what was in front of you.

The pasta was excellent as were the soups. The desserts were mostly good but the fish was always over cooked. Food overall was just fair.

Officers and crew were not very friendly and instead of giving way when passing in the hall ways, they would squeeze in front of you. American vs Italian ??? I Think not- rather there is a lack of professionalism and polish. We are paying the freight. I think that we have a right to service.

In the bars and teas the staff would pass right by you and not stop even though you tried to get there attention ( not all staff but enough). Sometimes they went further and made a face .

I am skipping the little things like size of cups for water, etc.

It seems to me that if I am taking a cruise, which I am paying for, I deserve a little attention. I don't consider myself unreasonable or overbearing but if the line wants to make it in the US, it has to compete with the rest of the lines (which by the way also contain mostly foreign staff who seem to get it when it comes to service).

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Rak,

Sorry we did not get to meet onboard, I am sure our paths crossed somewhere on the ship though we didnt know it.

Dusty, Linda, Al.... it was great meeting you all, you and your respective spouses and friends were about some of the nicest people I have meet onboard a cruise line.

 

As far as my experience goes on the Dec 28th sailing, I have mixed feelings about it all. The ship itself was lovely, lots of lounges, huge pool area, plenty of deck chairs and sunbathing areas, lots of quiet spots for reading(check out the relaxation rooms in the spa!!!), Many choices of lounges with very good bands for all different tastes. The animation crew was incredible, they made the cruise a ton of fun and were just a great group of kids. The theatre was excellent as well, very comfy seats, big stage and the entertainment was some of the best I have seen onboard a cruise line, especially the Italian tenor and violinist, however the entertainment did tend to get a bit repetitious as the same performers performed almost every night.

 

I have to agree with Rak regarding the dining room issues, while most of the food was good, there were some problems, steaks never getting served as ordered, waiters not knowing what certain dishes were or what was in them, there not being the "always available" menu available on formal nights, seafood being very overcooked and lobster inedible. Courses being served out of order and while one person at the table was eating their soup, another was being served their entree. Desserts were not worth the calories.

 

On the positive side, the pastas and soups were exceptional. Our waiter Dans , while not the best I have ever had by any means, tried really hard and worked his butt off to please us. By the second night we had iced tea waiting for us and coffee cups on the table at the beginning of the meal(???) but none the less we got our coffee at the end of the meal.

Also, worthy of note, I was quite impressed that there was one night when the Executive Chef, Head Maitre D and head waiter went from table to table asking what we thought of the food and service, when some of the passenegers told them the food was very good and the service was fine, he said "thank you for your compliments however I would like to know what we can improve on" That truly impressed me, that they were that open to honesty in an attempt I can only assume to better their product.

 

The breakfast and lunch buffets were fine, especially on the days they had the extended theme ones for lunch, though they were never mentioned in the daily program so unless you wandered around you would have missed them.

 

The language barrier was a problem and I hope with time that will change, I do understand this is an Italian cruise line with primarily Italian crew so I was not expecting perfect or near perfect English at all, however there were some crew members whom appeared not to understand a word of English and in turn some things were ignored due to the lack of understanding. It did amaze me that my waiter who was from Malaysia taught himself 4 different languages in order to communicate with the passengers, so I guess it can be done if one tries, please dont mistake this as a request for anyone to go to that extreme, just some basis English would be nice.

 

Smoking onboard was a HUGH issue for me, while there were rules regarding this issue, certain side of the ship you can smoke on etc. I found a total disregard for these rules. Pipe and cigar smoking were very acceptable much to my dismay and smoking in the ladies restrooms was impossible to deal with. I cant comment on the fact the casino was very smoky as I have found this to be the case on most cruise ships. There were some lounges I could not stay in or even walk through, the smoke was that intense.

 

I found some of the issues that have already been brought up on this board addressed in some way, there is now iced tea and juices at the buffets, I am told regular drinking glasses are on order to replace the Dixie cups, salt and pepper shakers also on order. The chairs in the cabin that take up so much space are going to either be replaced or cut down but that will take some time.

 

All in all, I had a good time, I cant say it was the best cruise I have ever had nor the worst(34 cruises total on different lines) It was just ok. I went in with an open mind and tried to keep that open mind throughout. I found from

Day 1-Day 12 there was much improvement so they are trying and open to suggestions and so I think they just need some time to work out their "growing pains" as does any new ship that hits the market. This just has it a little harder because its new to the American market and the different demands, I am not saying our demands are better or worse than some in other countries, just different.

 

So there you have it, just my humble opinion.

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Thanks to you both for a well balanced review. I'm always cautious when I read reviews which only state all bad, or all good. Neither of you did that and I appreciate hearing about the good and the bad in a calm, informed manner.

 

Nothing either of you wrote has scared me off from MSC. If prices were a lot higher I might be more hesitant and less forgiving, but for what MSC charges I can turn the other cheek to a lot of things. As long as the ship is clean, has editable food, a decent gym, music, and a few bars I will be quite happy. I think MSC OPERA does have all the above.

 

It's interesting to read reviews of other lines as well. QM2 continues to receive bad reviews concerning food and service, and this now being more than a year since her debut. On the QM2 I would be much less forgiving since prices start about three times higher than what MSC charges.

 

Ernie - sailing in about 11 days!

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I agree Rak and Antcindee. I might add that MSC is aware of the shortcomings. They do read the comment cards. Chairs are scheduled to be replaced when ship returns to Genoa. New ships, Symphonia and Musica, will have larger cabins and more balconies and will sail in the Caribbean.

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I agree Rak and Antcindee. I might add that MSC is aware of the shortcomings. They do read the comment cards. Chairs are scheduled to be replaced when ship returns to Genoa. New ships, Symphonia and Musica, will have larger cabins and more balconies and will sail in the Caribbean.

 

You can see a rendering of the new MSC MUSICA at this link:

http://images7.fotki.com/v129/fileOJUR/1ba87/7/72533/1579052/MSCMUSICA.jpg

 

The ship is based off the current CORAL and ISLAND PRINCESS with Princess Cruises. The same hull design is being used.

 

These ships will have many more balconies and will no doubt appeal to N. American's. I'm also certain one or both will be based in N. America year round.

 

I just wonder if any of MSC's uniqueness will be lost on these new ships which almost seem like they are being created specifically for the N. American market. Will they end up being "more of the same"? That is the question, and if MSC does lose it's "edge" with these ships, then I don't see a reason to sail them.

 

Hopefully that will not be the case.

 

Ernie - who will probably prefer the smaller ships

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