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MSC OPERA - Mini Review

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I'm back from another great cruise and wanted to share some initial thoughts. A full review will follow sometime in the future. I had hoped to fly directly home after the cruise but mother nature decided against that. An ice storm in Atlanta wreaked havoc and almost every flight into the city was canceled. I spent the night at my mom's who lives across Florida outside Naples and made it back to Atlanta on Sunday. As fate would have it, I'm missing a bag and I only hope it turns up. After working 11 years at Delta I've never had them lose a bag, and I hope my luck doesn't change now. Regarding the ice storm ... well it's a distant memory and it's all but melted.

 

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 a 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. What is really odd about embarkation is that absolutely no forms were required to be filled out, nothing! They did scan our passport but that was it. I've never had that on any other cruise line. I'm thinking if MSC can get away with it, why not other lines?

 

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/

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Ernie, the photos are GORGEOUS ... your mom is absolutely fab. ...

so what happened to you?;) (sorry, mom, jk!)

Thanks for sharing. I'm looking forward to hearing about the --probly few -- issues with the cruise. Oh, it really is so beautiful! Great to know who to say hi to on a flight, too. And as you know ... it's 36F in ATLANTA at the moment. Sheesh! February 26 and counting!

Benita

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Very nice info Ernie..I can't wait till i'm on the Lirica feb. 15.....Dennis

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Nice pics! I notice there's a mini golf course. Is there a fee or age limit to use it? I know my 7 yr old son will want to play every day!

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Ernie, the photos are GORGEOUS ... your mom is absolutely fab. ...

so what happened to you?;) (sorry, mom, jk!)

Thanks for sharing. I'm looking forward to hearing about the --probly few -- issues with the cruise. Oh, it really is so beautiful! Great to know who to say hi to on a flight, too. And as you know ... it's 36F in ATLANTA at the moment. Sheesh! February 26 and counting!

Benita

 

 

Hi Benita,

The few issues were already mentioned. Larger cups needed in the buffet, better TV programming, more gym equipment, and a better gift shop selection. They are all really minor and basically had little to no impact on my enjoyment of the cruise. They are also all things that can be very easily corrected as well.

 

Can't believe this cold weather. :( Send me back the Caribbean please!

 

Ernie

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Nice pics! I notice there's a mini golf course. Is there a fee or age limit to use it? I know my 7 yr old son will want to play every day!

 

 

I don't believe there is any additional charge or age limit. That was one of the really nice things about MSC ... they were not trying to nickel and dime you 24/7.

 

Ernie

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Oops. I didn't notice you'd added the "issues" to your mini-review. Thanks.

 

Did you take advantage of any of the spa services? Price range?

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Your pictures brought back very pleasant memories from our December 11 trip. As well, your comments echoed ours. But - the real star of this posting seems to be your Mom - are you sure this isn't really your sister?

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Your pictures brought back very pleasant memories from our December 11 trip. As well, your comments echoed ours. But - the real star of this posting seems to be your Mom - are you sure this isn't really your sister?

 

 

She would love to hear you say that ... but she doesn't read CC.

She looks great doesn't she!

 

My mom has more energy and is more outgoing then people 1/3 her age. She has a way with making friends with everyone and she always has a great time. She tends to be the life of the party, and has always been this way.

 

I might also add she has been a wonderful mom over the years to myself and my siblings.

 

I'll pass on your comments and she will get a kick out of them.

 

Ernie

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Did you take advantage of any of the spa services? Price range?

 

I was planning on it, but never did. On day two I was going to book the "Sun Shower" which you stand in for 10 minutes to get a little full body color. I was planning on getting a tan one way or the other. Then the weather improved and we had sun the remainder of the cruise ... so it was not needed.

 

Like the gift shop prices, the spa was not what I would call cheap (not that any are). The plus side is the spa is not operate by Steiner's like on all the other ships. It's some Italian company and the staff was very nice, polite, and quite good looking. I did not hear of anyone getting the hard sell to buy products after their treatment.

 

Here are some prices:

 

Balinese Massage

30 minutes - $84

45 minutes - $120

60 minutes - $149

 

Stone Therapy - $130 for 45 minutes

 

Manicure - $39

Slimming treatment - $84

Body Exfoliating - $143

 

Sport Therapy Massage - $123

Shiatsu - $117

Cranial Massage - $26

Facial - $58

Complete Facial Treatment - $84

Electronic Stimulus - $32

Presotherapy - $39

 

Sun Shower - $15

Face UVA - $15

 

Shampoo & Blowdry - $41

Haircut - $39

Color - $71

 

There are other treatments but that should give you an idea.

 

Ernie

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Thanks, Ernie, for the prices. Now I can budget accordingly.

 

And BTW, has anybody ever told you that you look a lot like Alan Rickman?

So 'tisn't just Mom blessed with the good looks!

 

Benita

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And BTW, has anybody ever told you that you look a lot like Alan Rickman?

So 'tisn't just Mom blessed with the good looks!

 

Benita

 

 

LOL Benita. :D Never heard that one but I have been told I look like Vin Diesel. Now if only I had Vin Diesel's body!!! ;)

 

Ernie

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Can you please pass along that FAX number for seating?

Thanks, your pictures were great!!!

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Can you please pass along that FAX number for seating?

Thanks, your pictures were great!!!

 

The direct fax number (if calling from the US) is:

011-874-335762711 (dial it exactly as written).

You will be charged International overseas satellite rates. In other words, it's probably not cheap! ;)

 

Put the fax attention to: Maitre d'Hotel - MSC OPERA

 

You don't want to send it until the Monday or Tuesday prior to the weekend you are sailing. The Maitre d' only works the table assignments one cruise in advance, and if you send it too early it will most likely get misplaced or forgotten.

 

Include your names, booking numbers, cabin numbers, and any specific requests (sitting, table size, dining room, location). I would also recommend writing in very plain English ... remember that Italian is the Maitre d's first language and his English (especially the written word) might be a bit rusty.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Ernie

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Really enjoyed seeing the pics, especially those of the Legend, since we were sailing away on her then, taking pictures of you taking pictures of us! We were not familiar with MSC before, but I think we will be checking into them, as we like the sounds of cruising like it used to be! Thanks!

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Damn, Ernie! No pics of Marco! How did THAT happen???

 

(And here I thought I was too old to swoon).

 

My experience almost exactly mirrored yours (but we did have Hot Hot Hot a couple of times, and I am glad... but I think it was on Il Patio with the Popcorn Band). I thought all of the entertainment was absolutely stellar.

 

The TV programming was strange but not the choice of the ship. It was a failure on the part of the satellite provider. It sounds like it is fixed now.

 

The things that were "different" or quirky were actually charming. I don't know how anyone could complain...

 

By the way, the spa is not run by an "Italian company." It's a U.S. company based in Austin. Their only other seagoing client is a ship in Spain so far. The spa is gorgeous and gets little recognition because they call it the "health center," so people think it's the medical center. There are beautiful steam and sauna rooms and relaxation rooms with wicker chaises... all free. The spa manager is fantastic, an Italian named Mimmo.

 

It was too windy (and really, really rough) to go to the mini-golf on my cruise, although I could have gone while we were in St. Thomas.

 

I'll post my pictures soon. I missed getting one of Marco too. And I also wished there were more logo items, I love the MSC logo and would have purchased a tote if they had them.

 

jj

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The things that were "different" or quirky were actually charming. I don't know how anyone could complain...

 

 

jj

 

Jana I must 100% agree with you. This so endorses our experiences with MSC for some years now and I am pleased and delighted for you.

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I'm sure I have one of Marco on one of my 9 rolls of film. As soon as I get them developed, I'll scan it and post it. I, personally, thought Luca was a cutie. Marco was a bit standoff-ish whereas Luca was a total flirt.

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Dianne,

 

They didn't have one when I was in the store. They had wrist bands and a sippy cup. I saw someone with a back pack, but I wouldn't have purchased one of those in any event.

 

I didn't think Marco was standoffish, just crazy-busy. My God, all those balls in the air he has to coordinate all day and night! Anyway, I got to spend a little time with him and he restores my faith that great-looking men can also be intelligent :-)

 

Here are my photos, not yet annotated and it appears that I will have to take another Opera cruise because of all that is missing:

 

http://sleeping-around.com/mscopera/index.shtml

 

And oh, I do know of something that is "complainable." The Internet service on board is outrageous. The system is fantastic, just put your card in and you are online, but it is excruciatingly slow, costs a king's ransom, and only allows you to have one window open so if you are waiting for an e-mail to send, for example, you can't be looking up something else at the same time. You can have five drinks for what it costs to compose and send one e-mail, so do that instead. And then you won't care about whether or not you need to work!

 

Jana

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Here are my photos, not yet annotated and it appears that I will have to take another Opera cruise because of all that is missing:

Good to hear from you Jana - haven't seen you around much lately!

 

Those are great photos - the more I look at photos of OPERA and LIRICA, the more I like them.

 

At first I thought I preferred LIRICA's decor but now I'm not so sure. At any rate, they both look great. MSC is definitely on the agenda for 2006 (next cruise is Baltic on CENTURY in August - haven't been on Celebrity since 1995; after we try them again I think it's time to move on to things other than US mass-market lines which are really becoming old hat at this point).

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Jana

 

Its about time I could see what the Opera looks like, your photos are just what I needed. Im on the Mar 5th sailing and its nice to see the inside when there are people around instead of just pictures of empty rooms. I now know what it will be like with 1700 others onboard, thanks.

 

Spring

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Damn, Ernie! No pics of Marco! How did THAT happen???

 

(And here I thought I was too old to swoon).

 

 

 

Welcome back Jana!! I'm so glad you had such a great experience. I think anyone that can have an open mind and not expect HAL or Princess will love MSC. It was truly a refreshing change from the humdrum.

 

Oh and the great looking staff ... did I mention them??? ;)

 

Look closer Jana ... I do have a picture of Marco. I enjoyed working out with him in the gym everyday. Great looking and smart too. I liked Luca a lot too! ;)

 

Can't wait to look at all your pics!!

 

Ernie

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Jana

 

Its about time I could see what the Opera looks like, your photos are just what I needed. Im on the Mar 5th sailing and its nice to see the inside when there are people around instead of just pictures of empty rooms. I now know what it will be like with 1700 others onboard, thanks.

 

Spring

 

Spring,

 

Keep the link... I will be annotating over the next week. I feel bad for not making it to some of the other places on board, not going back to the spa with my camera, or to the disco and awesome aft deck, no pics of the restaurants or the mini-golf, the theatre, or of the elevator hallways. <<sigh>> Guess I have to go back.

 

Did you notice my favorite? The Leaning Tower of Pisa made of Parma ham... and the ship of cheese.

 

One thing though... this ship was a lot bigger than I expected it to be considering the GRT. It's LOOOOOONG! In typical European tradition, the rooms themselves are small as they are considered "bedrooms" and the rest of the ship serves as the "salon." People really used the public spaces, too, and I have never, ever, EVER seen so much participation in activities as I have on this ship.

 

Ernie, ok, I found it, but it's from a distance and the mic is in front of his face. Not fair. I got the back of his head too...

 

jj

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Spring,

 

 

Ernie, ok, I found it, but it's from a distance and the mic is in front of his face. Not fair. I got the back of his head too...

 

jj

 

 

Well mine is a little better than the back of his head! ;) I didn't want to be too obvious you know ... I think it was enough we sat in the front row of the showlounge each night! :D

 

Thanks for the info about the Spa (American Company but Italian staff) and also about the cabin chairs being cut down. You got the scoop on the TV programming as well! You are quite the sleuth.

 

My friends and I were so amused at how much the Italian Animation Team loved to get dressed up in very bad drag! It was too funny. Those awful wigs and crazy dresses ... it's just something you would never see on an "American" geared cruise line.

 

Some of the short skits they did were just too hysterical ... some others went right over my head but I enjoyed them anyway because they put so much energy into it. ;)

 

Thanks for all the info! You really filled in the blanks for all the stuff I missed.

 

Ernie

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Ernie - I had a feeling you would appreciate MSC! When I sailed Melody a couple years ago, I thought it was one of the best cruises I've ever done. I loved the "European/Italian" feeling of it. I also loved the pasta and risotto!

 

Pictures were great, thanks for sharing!

 

Claudia

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One thing though... this ship was a lot bigger than I expected it to be considering the GRT. It's LOOOOOONG!

And quite narrow! Beam is 84 ft. A standard Panamax cruise ship is 106 ft wide. Need I say more?

 

At the same length, but a Panamax beam, you'd be looking at a much, much bigger ship in GT terms. If I had to guess, I'd say in the 70,000 GT range or so.

 

At first glance one would think that the narrow beam was because the hull design was conceived for the shorter MISTRAL. But she is 709 ft long, whereas OPERA is 763 ft long (as are LIRICA, ARMONIA and SINFONIA) - not a huge difference. Even MISTRAL is unusually narrow for her length - and I have to wonder what the story behind that is. Obviously there is a reason, but I can't fathom it.

 

In GT terms, incidentally, there is a huge difference between MISTRAL and OPERA, with MISTRAL coming in at 47,276 GT and OPERA at 59,058 GT. Considering that this is a pretty narrow ship, that is a testament to just how tall and square all these ships are for their dimensions. (The external styling of LIRICA and OPERA hides this pretty well; one only need compare them with ARMONIA and SINFONIA to see that...)

 

In typical European tradition, the rooms themselves are small as they are considered "bedrooms" and the rest of the ship serves as the "salon."

I think you're reading a bit too much into that Jana ;) . The cabins are small because the ship's basic design is that of a middle-market European cruise ship in the days before balconies were important in the European market.

 

At least on paper, the cabins are not smaller than those on Princess or RCI anyway. And the design is basically a shrunken-down version of the cabins on the CENTURY-class ships. (The cabins, aside from minor decor changes, are carried over from MISTRAL, whose interiors were designed by AMK Design, who did the cabins on the CENTURY-class ships.)

 

What is a fairly serious issue in the US market is that there are no real suites (not a single one). I expect that this problem will be rectified on MSC MUSICA and MSC ORCHESTRA - which will be far larger ships, based off the Princess CORAL-class hull. I can't wait to see what they look like, and hope they aren't to Americanized.

 

My friends and I were so amused at how much the Italian Animation Team loved to get dressed up in very bad drag!

And no doubt that was the point of doing it :) . Silly (and cheap) as it may be, that sort of thing can be terribly amusing - and I wouldn't be surprised if it goes by the wayside as the line gets more Americanized.

 

Out of curiosity - do they have live music with the production shows on MSC? I'm not really the production-show type (or maybe it's just that when we go on a major US line, I feel like I've already seen them all, ten times over ;) ) but as this is something that many US lines seem to have cut recently, I'm curious to see if it's in place on MSC.

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Pictures were great, thanks for sharing!

 

Claudia

 

You're welcome Claudia! I'm glad you enjoyed them. I'm certainly I will be sailing with MSC again provided they don't change and become too mainstream.

 

Ernie

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And no doubt that was the point of doing it :) . Silly (and cheap) as it may be, that sort of thing can be terribly amusing - and I wouldn't be surprised if it goes by the wayside as the line gets more Americanized.

 

Out of curiosity - do they have live music with the production shows on MSC? I'm not really the production-show type (or maybe it's just that when we go on a major US line, I feel like I've already seen them all, ten times over ;) ) but as this is something that many US lines seem to have cut recently, I'm curious to see if it's in place on MSC.

 

 

If the quirkiness goes to the wayside, along with the Italian/European atmosphere then my desire to sail with MSC will diminish. If MSC is smart they will be VERY careful about what they change. What they don't want to become is another mainstream line like Princess or HAL. This will mean certain death as they can't compete with powerhouses like that. They need an edge, a gimmick if you will that differentiates them from the rest of the pack. Right now they have it. Another once great Italian line used to have it as well .... Costa. Unfortunately sailing on Costa today is nothing more than sailing on a slightly European version of Carnival Cruise Lines. Even the ships are identical. Even though Costa is very successful today, I have absolutely no desire to sail on them. Why bother when I can sail a new Carnival ship in my backyard and basically get the same experience? I'm just hoping that MSC doesn't follow the same course. What we may see happen is a modified version (i.e. - more Americanized) of the MSC experience on the new ships that will eventually be based in N. America year round as opposed to the European ships. It all depends on just how modified that experience is as to whether people will continue to find it interesting and unique.

 

One thing is for certain, regardless of the direction that MSC takes I will always be a fan of their medium sized ship's .... MSC OPERA and MSC LIRICA. I really found them to be the perfect size ... not too big or too small, and never crowded.

 

Ernie

 

ps - there is an amazing amount of live music on MSC OPERA ... but not for the production shows. In fact there is no band at all in the show lounge ... it's all a canned click-track for the most part with some live singing. This was disappointing to me but I don't think most other passengers even noticed.

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At first glance one would think that the narrow beam was because the hull design was conceived for the shorter MISTRAL. But she is 709 ft long, whereas OPERA is 763 ft long (as are LIRICA, ARMONIA and SINFONIA) - not a huge difference. Even MISTRAL is unusually narrow for her length - and I have to wonder what the story behind that is. Obviously there is a reason, but I can't fathom it.

 

 

What I find really interesting is that LIRICA/OPERA are listed as being more narrow than ARMONIA/SINFONIA. I thought all four ships were basically identical as far as dimensions go?

 

FYI LIRICA/OPERA have their width listed as 84 feet. ARMONIA/SINFONIA have a width of 94 feet.

 

Sorry to bore some of you with this, but the technical side of me finds it intriguing as I know Doug will as well.

 

Ernie

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If the quirkiness goes to the wayside, along with the Italian/European atmosphere then my desire to sail with MSC will diminish.

I have to agree with you there. This is what makes them so attractive in the first place. In fact, aside from the decor and size of their ships, this is really all that differentiates them from mainstream US lines to begin with... The fact that the onboard product is not that of a mainstream US line.

 

We're going on CENTURY in August basically for the destination... But aside from destination, I honestly don't have a tremendous desire to go on any of the big US lines out there.

 

We do like to go away in the winter, preferably on a cruise, to get away from the weather... And right now MSC is the only line doing 7-day or shorter Caribbean cruises that are not ridiculously expensive that actually have much appeal (Though I have to admit that last year I found a very good deal on SeaDream that we may well have taken except that it wasn't valid the week we needed. But that sort of thing is a one-off.) The others are just too dull at this point. I hope to try MSC sometime in 2006, and assuming it hasn't changed a lot, I think I'll love it. But if they go too mass-market American, I'm afraid the appeal won't be there. Not that I'd avoid them, but if they do that why choose them over HAL or Celebrity or whoever?

 

If MSC is smart they will be VERY careful about what they change. What they don't want to become is another mainstream line like Princess or HAL. This will mean certain death as they can't compete with powerhouses like that.

Exactly. In Europe they can take on anyone, but if they're really serious about getting into the American market, the key - as bizarre and counterintuitive as it sounds - is to not be too American. (And of course to let people know about their product. Most people still say "who?" when I say "MSC" but it's early on yet. A couple of years ago nobody knew who Oceania were since they didn't even exist, so if they do it right MSC should not have a problem here.)

 

Now in all fairness they could also differentiate themselves by not having huge ships... Except that they just ordered two of them, so in a couple of years that differentiation factor will go the way of the dodo when MUSICA and ORCHESTRA come along.

 

What we may see happen is a modified version (i.e. - more Americanized) of the MSC experience on the new ships that will eventually be based in N. America year round as opposed to the European ships.

This is, to some extent, necessary - I just hope it doesn't get too out of hand.

 

I'm sure MSC well know that there is a huge market for Americans cruising in Europe, but they seem to be focusing mostly on Americans on their Caribbean cruises and Europeans in Europe. (For that matter, Costa do the same, except that in the Caribbean they focus on Americans only on ATLANTICA and MEDITERRANEA, and have other Caribbean ships exclusively for Europeans. Either way, Costa do not seem particularly interested in American pax on their European itineraries.)

 

ps - there is an amazing amount of live music on MSC OPERA ... but not for the production shows. In fact there is no band at all in the show lounge ...

This was exactly the case on HAL. Disappointing but not a big deal to me as I could very easily do without any production shows at all - and frankly, on a ship with enough other places to go at night, may well not attend them.

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What I find really interesting is that LIRICA/OPERA are listed as being more narrow than ARMONIA/SINFONIA. I thought all four ships were basically identical as far as dimensions go?

 

FYI LIRICA/OPERA have their width listed as 84 feet. ARMONIA/SINFONIA have a width of 94 feet.

Where is this information from?

 

I'm quite sure there must be some discrepancy here... These ships are all based on the same hull design and I'm quite positive they have the same beam.

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Where is this information from?

 

I'm quite sure there must be some discrepancy here... These ships are all based on the same hull design and I'm quite positive they have the same beam.

 

 

Check your sources Doug ... you can find the difference listed in several places. Several pieces of literature lists the width of LIRICA/OPERA at 84 feet. Likewise with SINFONIA/ARMONIA at 28.8 meters (or 94.49 feet).

 

This was not a figure I found from just one source, but several. You can start right the MSC website for starters and go from there.

 

What I'm thinking is that the ships *are* in fact the exact same width. Depending on how you measure it is where the difference comes into play. All these ships have bridge wings that probably extend 5 feet on either side of the ship. I think this is where the discrepancy of the 10 feet comes into play. Some sources must be measuring the width including the bridge wings, and other sources are using the actual width of the hull.

 

Interesting that on MSC's own website there are different figures listed for the widths of these sister ships.

 

Ernie

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I, too, just got off the Opera, and loved the classiness of the ship. I heard several other passengers say the entertainment was the Best they have ever seen on a Cruise Ship. We were escorted to the elevator by Sergei, one of the Dancers. This allowed a little better connection to the shows. The dancers are as good, if not better than any I have seen in Las Vegas. The Magician was spectacular (except for the separated lady trick). The Comedian (actually he would better be described as a clown) was very good. He was on the Paradise for our very first cruise. Marian the Violinist brought down the house. (He was much better than the Italian Tenor who had a good voice in the upper range but seemed to have trouble in the lower range)

 

The Animation Team must live on Amphetamines. I particularly liked Javier, Daniella, and Sylvia, the ones I interacted with the most. (and Mapwife got caught in the theater by the Animation Team)

 

And there was even some interesting lectures on board by Ambassador Thomas McNamara about Terrorism and the US. My wife enjoyed all three. Seemed to add some class to the line.

 

 

The Risottos in the dining room made me dive off the Atkins diet with a vengence. The rest of the food was spectacular. Although, we did find out that certain dishes needed some supplements to make them more appealing for the American diet. Specifically, a sprinkling of Parmesan helped the pasta and risottos, and vinegar made the salads better. The Salads were a constant comment of many of the people around us in the dining room. Most consisted of a Green Leafy Vegetable with a minimal amount of Oil based dressing. We found that asking for the vinegar and oil made it a little more palatable. And we found we were not the only ones. Watching the Waiters fill the carafes one lunch, I noticed that most of the vinegar carafes were about empty and the oil were full. Desserts were Italian Cakes that were good, but as other posts have said, "Don't expect much Chocolate."

 

The ports were interesting but. . . Arrived in San Juan at 8:30PM. Only things open were Walgreens, a Grocery Store, A Casino, and the Hard Rock.

 

St. Thomas was a full day. . . Fortunately. Although our tour operator was surprised that they were to leave at 5:00PM. we raced thru Charlotte Amalie with one eye on the clock and the other on the traffic!!!

 

St. Croix, although only 40 miles from St. Thomas, took from 5:00PM to 7:00AM to get there. St. Croix has potential, but the Cruise Lines need to work with the Tourism Department. Even though we were there at 7AM, Fredericksted did not have anything open until 10:00AM. Ship excursions were to the beaches. Period.

 

But would we go on MSC Again. Sure, particularly at the rate we went this year. But I hope that Sasso convinces MSC to extend the Port Stops.

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OK... Here's the deal on the ships' beams.

 

They are all absolutely, positively the same. 28.8 metres/94.4 feet for all six ships - MISTRAL, SEVEN SEAS MARINER, MSC ARMONIA, MSC SINFONIA, MSC LIRICA, and MSC OPERA. So they are narrow ships, but not that narrow (I knew 84 ft sounded crazy, even for a 709 ft ship like MISTRAL or SEVEN SEAS MARINER). This information is per Bureau Veritas, who class all six ships and should know.

 

The 84 ft measurement MSC use for LIRICA and OPERA is either incorrect, or using some odd measurement system that I don't know about. I have no clue why it is so widely circulated. I am sure, though, that I've seen it someplace for one of the other ships too... I've certainly seen it frequently enough to have gained the impression that it was the beam of all these ships. I guess it isn't, or at least not by normal standards used by BV (and also RINA, as some of these ships are also classed by RINA who also report a beam of 28.8 m). Hmm.

 

There are two different kinds of beam - the moulded beam and the beam at extremeities. BV and RINA both report only one kind of beam, and I assume this is moulded which is the smaller of the two... So the "two different measurement systems" bit strikes me as unlikely... But I can't think of a better explanation. It would be quite extraordinary if the 84 ft figure was a typo, seeing as how widely circulated it is.

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Jana - may thanks for sharing your fantastic pics with us.

Cannot wait now to see it all for ourselves!

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Doug,

 

I think you are wrong about the cabin sizes. The standard inside and outside measure a puny 120-square-feet and the balcony cabins measure 140 without the balcony. There is no room to sit and visit at all.

 

And it's true, the European standard for resorts and hotels is to minimize the room size so that people congregate in the "salons," which in this case is the rest of the ship. I mentioned it because the cabins are much smaller than most North Americans are used to (on newbuilds, at any rate) and so they know why and that there is indeed a whole rest of the ship to use as "home."

 

Jana

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St. Croix, although only 40 miles from St. Thomas, took from 5:00PM to 7:00AM to get there.

 

But would we go on MSC Again. Sure, particularly at the rate we went this year. But I hope that Sasso convinces MSC to extend the Port Stops.

 

Hi Charles,

 

I'm really sorry we didn't "hook up," I got your card but just never met up with you!

 

Re: St. Croix... we circled all night, because it is cheaper to do that than to pay for the dock space.

 

Re: port stops... the Caribbean itineraries are decided years in advance and most of the docking rights had been handed over already. This summer will be a little better because at least two ships (Celebrity Century and RSSC Diamond) will be out of there, maybe MSC can pick up some of the berthing slots.

 

Jana

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