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MSC Opera vs X - A 'JMO' Review

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Hey Everyone!

 

I'm back from my b2b Opera/Millie cruises and have some very definte opinions to share (who would have thought I"D have opinions? LOL). Unfortunately, I am having trouble posting! Just read that most/all of you are also having problems. I promise I will get this on the boards, SOMEHOW, by tomorrow!

 

BTW, I was not able to access the boards at all on either trip because of the time involved @ 50 and 75 cents per minute!

 

More soon! It is good to be home!

 

Gail

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Welocme home. There are a lot of us waiting breathlessly for your review!

 

Linda

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Hey Gail :D

 

We are all waiting to hear about your upgrade to a suite and what kind of suite amenities the Opera has. :D Butler? How big is it? Was your overall experience very positive compared to Celebrity? I know--apples to oranges, but how would you describe the differences? Martini bar? Any new Martini favorites? :p

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Ok, here's a little unedited taste:

 

 

MSC Opera 2/26/05 to 3/5/05

 

 

Cabin #9220 Cat 9

 

 

Day One – Boarding the Ship

 

 

After a very uneventful flight from Jax to FLL, I was met with the longest line I had ever seen to get taxi’s. Even the Skycap commented that it was unusual. Fortunately, I had a resourceful Skycap and he managed to get me in a cab within 30 minutes of my 1:05 PM flight arrival. Ride to port was uneventful, just a little more in cab fare due to traffic, $12.00 in place of the usual $10. With all that I was still onboard by 2:15. The check in was smooth with many lines open, if you had filled out your paperwork ahead of time, you only had to give a credit card and have your picture taken (which was done right there, no other line to go to). You then showed your card to get onto the gangway and at the ship they clicked your card into the machine and you were legal.

 

 

No champagne waiting, but a uniformed, white gloved woman who escorted you to your cabin. Wayan (my cabin steward) was there quickly to welcome me and explain anything I needed to know about the room. My outside, oceanview room was the highest category without a balcony. It is a tad smaller than the X ship cabins, most of the space being lost in the hallway. One closet, approx 40” wide (Lots of large, thick, plastic hangers. You could use smaller hangers and get much more stuff in!), 6 drawers, 13”w x 17”d x 7 ½” deep, plus two shelves. The space behind the mirror has the safe and storage, there is a shallow drawer in the desk, two doors on either side of the desk approx 6” wide with shelves and two night stands with doors and a shelf. Very adequate storage space, bright, pleasant, colorful room, comfortable bed and lots of extra pillows.

 

 

The bathroom is tiny but well laid out. Yes the shower is a challenge, but I made it work so I think anyone can. Besides, it’s bright and shiny and new! That counts for a lot! It actually has a bigger feel, except when you are in the shower. The standard joke is to squirt shower gel on walls and spin! Actually, not too bad of an idea!

 

 

I ate lunch at the buffet which has a large glassed in dining area off the stern. Very pretty. I tried a little of everything: the beef ravioli was good as was the red snapper, I skipped the salad and had the cream of mushroom soup which was great. The breads were fantastic, a tomato and basil roll and a potato loaf. Both great but served room temp. (I noticed throughout the week that the Italians do not have the love of hot bread with butter as we Americans do. When I ate at the Captain’s Table with the Senior Officers, none of them even used butter!) Cups for water/iced tea are still in the 8 oz range so bring a mug with you. The iced tea was good, not from concentrate or instant, you just needed more than 6 ounces! Also a challenge was the fact that they do not use trays, they have LARGE oval platters that you use for everything in the buffet, grill, pizzeria, etc. Saw several mishaps with those at lunch! This first day there were paper napkins at the casual restaurants, but I understand that is just first day lunch and the buffet will have cloth napkins the rest of the trip.

 

 

Muster. Yes, I did it. Well sort of. That has to be a private story, sorry!

 

 

I was invited to a predinner cocktail party and when I went it turned out to be a private affair for the featured guests on this cruise, Baseball Greats! Met some really nice people, some very famous because of their sporting activities. I’m sorry to say I’m not much on baseball, but I did meet the only man to ever pitch a perfect no hitter in a world series game. Whatever you wanted to drink and nice hordehoures including caviar, both red and black. Yummy. Met Amanda, one of the American Social Hostesses (there are others for several languages).

 

 

On to dinner. I had table 234 in the LaCaravella Restaurant, late seating. It’s a nice table of 6 singles, put together by the cruise line. We have a gorgeous waiter named John. I really didn’t care too much how the food was, I just liked looking at him! Two of my tablemates had prime rib which was a huge portion, three had the fish and I had the eggplant with tomato, pesto and mozzarella. Quite tasty, but rich. The pasta course, everyone had the risotto and it was very good. I had a banana and strawberry chilled soup which was very good. Topped it all off with White Chocolate Cheesecake.

 

 

In the show lounge, we met Ketty, the cruise director who emceed the show and did all announcements in five languages! Pretty impressive. The main act was a juggling drummer. Pretty funny, but I was tired so only saw about 2/3’s of his act. I went to bed!

 

 

More to come.

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We're looking forward to more Gail. Thanks! I want to know about the muster.:confused: ;)

 

Garry

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Ketty was the CD on MSC Melody a few years ago when I was onboard. I have NEVER seen someone go from one language to another without missing a beat like she does! Very nice woman as well.........

 

Claudia

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Gail, Welcome back. How was this cruise compared to going on Celebrity. We would like to give this cruise line a chance if it is good. We were planning on something before June but just got the news that our car needs a new transmission so I guess a new car will be coming into the garage. I rather be cruising but I guess i will wait until our Sept. cruise. Pat

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Interesting review.

 

The pitcher was Don Larsen of the Yankees. His teammates included Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra. This was 1956.

 

Amanda, the Social Hostess, used to work on Summit (and probably other X ships) until they gutted the position. Whe was very, very classy.

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Amanda, the Social Hostess, used to work on Summit (and probably other X ships) until they gutted the position. She was very, very classy.

 

Was this Amanda the very classy British Amanda Reid? If so, she has been lamented by many X passengers who miss her -- we were on her LAST X sailing - on Constellation Baltic, June 2003 - we'd sailed with her before; she'd invited us to Captain's Table during that last cruise - said she was going off the ship on vacation. When we asked which ship she'd be coming back to, she just said she wouldn't know for a while - no complaining about X revamping the SH job, etc... Yes, class all the way. (After that, the SH was given a whole different kind of responsibilities -- and NOW there isn't such a position anymore - they've got them now as the "Captain's Club Hostess" and they're behind the front desk for several hours a day -- no more of that nice traditional floating around the ship really being a totally welcoming and gracious hostess that Amanda did so well.)

 

[Now, if your Amanda wasn't the same one, well, I just told another nice story about the well-known Ms. Reid!]

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Gail--where are you? We are left hanging in limbo waiting the 2nd installment of your review! :p Who is this mysterious Amanda? Is it really Amanda Reid or someone else who is an American Socia Hostess? When did you get your upgrade to a suite--and why? The plot thickens!

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Was this Amanda the very classy British Amanda Reid? If so, she has been lamented by many X passengers who miss her -- we were on her LAST X sailing - on Constellation Baltic, June 2003 - we'd sailed with her before; she'd invited us to Captain's Table during that last cruise - said she was going off the ship on vacation. When we asked which ship she'd be coming back to, she just said she wouldn't know for a while - no complaining about X revamping the SH job, etc... Yes, class all the way. (After that, the SH was given a whole different kind of responsibilities -- and NOW there isn't such a position anymore - they've got them now as the "Captain's Club Hostess" and they're behind the front desk for several hours a day -- no more of that nice traditional floating around the ship really being a totally welcoming and gracious hostess that Amanda did so well.)

 

[Now, if your Amanda wasn't the same one, well, I just told another nice story about the well-known Ms. Reid!]

 

Hi Birders !

 

I remember Amanda Reid very well. She always did an outstanding job, and was a total Class act. I still cant figure out why Celebrity eliminated this position, and the Social Hostess is very much missed these days. I also remember another Social Hostess on Summit last year (Camilla Sullivan), who was absolutely incredible. We would have loved to see her again sometime....but thats probably not going to happen.

 

I would be surprised if the Amanda that Gail is talking about, is Amanda Reid, as we all thought that she was with Cunard. I would be happy to hear if Mr. Sasso was able to hire her away.... but it is probably another Amanda.

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Well, we're gonna have to be patient and wait for "the rest of the story". Gail is out of town for a few days.

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I am stuck by the phone, waiting on other people so thought I would jump in here for a little bit. Char is right, I have to go to Pompano Beach but can't go until some things are taken care of, so here I sit.

 

Amanda was not Amanda Reid. Very nice young lady. Have her name written down but not handy a this minute.

 

I see that there is another thread saying how bad MSC is, so I wanted to just give a little more detail while I had the chance.

 

Day 2 I was up bright and early, back to the wonderful upstairs cafe with the great glassed in aft view. They had musili which is what I like in the am, plus lots of breads (very good), fruits, potatoes, lox, etc. Same thing as most ships. They just do an excellent job on the breads so that is the part worth noting. And the view is spectaculor!

 

Down to the pool with LOTS of lounge chairs, no pads, but they are comfortable and have a sun visor that can be used to shield your face if you want. No announcements so pool area is very quiet until about 2pm when the Animation Team comes out. They use the area in front of the pool bar so if you want quiet, go to the other pool near the grill and pizza area and you will not be disturbed. I liked the AT. They did lots of fun stuff like scavenger hunts and sing offs. Never did they do anything to insult or diminish anyone. It was all in good fun. After the games they always had music and a quite involved dance lesson. All this lasted 2 to 3 hours and was a good deal of fun. The AT was very well trained to get people up and involved. I saw people participate who would have never done so without the AT people (me being one of them!).

 

Food by pool. I was so impressed to have real iced tea there. No instant, no 'concentrate', just real tea from tea bags. That and the coffee were available 24 hours. Probably was juice or lemonade, but I was so thankful to have iced tea I drank it all day! LOL! The pizza was excellent, hand tossed. They can make 8 pizzas at a time and the first hour they are open you always have to stand in line. Worth it! The burgers, hot dogs, fries and one meat, veggie and salad were served on the other side of the ship and were pretty good. I don't think I did the buffet at all for lunch. It looked ok, but I'm just not a buffet person. I went to the restaurant almost everyday for lunch. The pasta and fish were magnificent! Red Snapper, Sea Bass, some interesting stuff.

 

The pool bar had a two glass bottle of Souve that was $4.25 including the gratuity. (this was a 'secret' told to me by a departing couple who had been on a b2b) Wine was about $3.25 per glass other bars. (Also loved the fact that you could get house wine (red or white) by the pitcher at either inside dining room, lunch and dinner. $7.50 for a small (1/2 liter or so) pitcher. Didn't price the larger one. Overall drinks were cheap! Martini Limon' was $4.95 for a single, Cosmos were on special all cruise for $4. I thought they were very good prices. They state that 10% is added but the $4.95, etc, included that. Nice change. They really do not nickle and dime you. (When I wanted to buy a cd of an entertainer, I had to really search, they don't 'hawk' things.)

 

That first formal night I sat at the Captains Table. It was very different from other cruise lines. First, there were no flowers on the table. And no two foot place settings. They serve as the Europeans do. When seated you have a knife and fork. As you eat courses, additional silveware is supplied. Made for a much less crowded table. With Italians, it's all about the food! We had most of the senior officers seated with us with a passenger, an officer, passenger all around the table. Made for very interesting conversation. Also you know a lot of the officers and they are always stopping to chat when they see you around the ship. Dinner had a very friendly feel and I enjoyed it much more than the usual Captain's Table I'm used to. Nothing extra or different was served from the regular restaurant food, just the ambiance and tablemates were different. I loved it!! All the seating, gathering the group, etc, was done by the Head Matre'd, Mario.

 

There are two restaurants for dinner and I had a table in the La Caravella first, but was moved by the third night to meet up with my CC pals. Both were good. Very much a matter of opinion which you would want to eat in. La C was brighter, larger and more energetic. The second dining room was more laid back and I liked it very much. However we had a table in the back area which is large, the entrance and exit have longish halls with one set of tables on each side of an aisle. If I was seated there, I'm not sure I would have like it as much. They have booths on one side and tables with baquettes on the other.

 

Maybe this will hold ya'll for another day! LOL! I really did love it! I had a marvelous time and would go again, anytime! Also will be glad to answer specific questions while I'm drippin' and drabbin' this out!!

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My bad. Assumed it was Amanda Reid. Amanda is not a common name - oh wait, have a niece called Amanda ;).

 

To all of the Amanda's in the world I apologize. But Sasso screwed up in not getting her for MSC.

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Gail, Gail, Gail :D You are really gonna make us wait to hear about your suite!!:p OK, I'll be patient until you get back.

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Gail, thanks for the post! I'm waiting to hear more. It sounds like you had a wonderful experience. :D

 

Garry

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Hi Gail, thanks for the first episodes of your review, can't wait till you tell us the rest and of course I'm very curious about your final analysis of both lines !:D

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Gail, so glad to hear about your "virgin" voyage.:p You make MSC sound divine. Waiting breathlessly for the rest of the scoop.

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Hi Gail,

 

Ok, next episode please! He is still alive and I promise he will stay that way for awhile but the episodes do a wonderful job of rubbing it in! This way your saying I told you so and not me! Absolutely diabolical!

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The evening of day 2 I was tired, full of wine from the Captain's Table and more than a little buzzed. I went to the show for a few minutes to hear Ketty do the introductions in 5 languages and then toddled off to bed. There was a message waiting but I ignored it. Bad move.

 

 

The next day I was having my coffee and rye toast when the phone rang. Chief Housekeeper Betty G left me a voice mail the day before asking me to meet her at 6pm. I was in a private cocktail party for the Baseball Greats who were on this sailing at that time. I said I was sorry and yes, I could meet her in her office at 10am. Oh, all right, but why? What does she want. I thought it was sort of a bother, but I did go.

 

First, I want to say that Betty is gorgeous! She should be on the cover of a magazine. Tall, blond, thin, beautiful. She wanted to know if I would be more comfortable in a suite. Heck, yeah! You bet your bippy! I'm a suite kinda gal!

Thirty minutes later (now that was some power packing!) the cabin steward has moved me into a front facing suite. There are two of the front facing ones and Im am told they are where the owner stays when he's onboard. Oh Yeah, I am definitely happier! BTW, the hair dryers on the O really BLOW!!

 

The suite is small, only a little larger than a CC cabin on X. There is a small foyer with a built in shelf and full length storage cabnets, a walkin closet with wardrobe built in, a tub and shower combo, a desk set in a corner past the foyer, a queen bed, sofa/sitting area and a credenza, small balcony. It really is quite nice, just don't book a suite thinking you are getting 1000 square feet. The balcony is small but at one time we had 14 people on it! Did a lot of sailaway champagne parties! With the baseball guys and their wives. They were a fun group!

 

Did I mention that my four person team won the Baseball Trivia contest? We each got a baseball signed by all the players onboard. Kind of neat ball. I know nothing about baseball, but my job was to buy the booze for the team! And I did that quite well! Brian, the friend I met onboard had a good job - he ran the slips of paper with the answers on it up to the table! The other two on the team actually knew their stuff! So we won! We were the 'Boozers Minus One' because we didn't think the lady drank (wrong!).

 

Everyone is wanting to know how the Millie compared with the Opera, so I am going to do thiat now.

 

I did not go on O expecting anything. I tried to board with an open mind, remembering that different is just that, different, and that it is not bad to be different. I didn't want to spend a week saying, 'on X it's like this'. So I made a real attemp as self talk and getting onboard with an attitude of let's see how good of a time I can have. And a VERY good time, I had!

 

There was no sorbet at 2 by the pool, there were no icey towels when we came in from ports, but there was a lovely sit down tea served everyday in one of the lounges. The room service breakfast was a little bit sparse, but after my coffee it drove me to the buffet and that lovely, glassed in aft view.

The casino is very small, but the machines pay off! The casino manager comes round to most everyone and chats. It's a friendly place.

 

The food is very good on O. I think that X does a great job with beef, pork and lamb, but is a little lacking in the fish and pasta department. The O excells in pasta and fish! The desserts on O are a little less sweet than we Americans like, but still very good. Also, O has no corkage fee if you bring your own wine and they also have that red and white house wine by the pitcher that I mentioned before. The silver is quite different with O going for more a casual, European way of serving (you approach your table at dinner to find a knife and fork, no 2 foot wide place setting. As you ordered you were supplied with the cuttlery you needed. I thought it was refreshing!

 

Room service on X is usually flawless and I can get cereal in the morning. O is more a true continental and there were several mistakes until I made a discovery. The hang tag for breakfast is very crowded because everything is in 5 languages! So I got out my highlighter and after filling out my selections, I highlighted every row that had something in it. Worked! No more mistakes.

 

One thing I would say that O needs to improve if they want to stay in this North American market is to teach English to more of the crew that provides service directly to the pax. The Officers, GR's, main staff, etc all speak our language, but the cleaners and delivery people are not as fluent. Makes for some interesting conversations!

 

The embarking and disembarking went great. By taking your picture where you check in they eliminated a whole step. Disembarking was fast and efficient. It took me all of ten minutes to get onboard.

 

O has two English speaking Social Hostesses and various International ones.

One SH will be 'assigned' to you. She will just always be around to answer questions, help out with most anything or just listen to you blabber on!! They have a couple of hours each day where they are by the pool, the buffet, pizza ovens etc. They are there to help in any way they can or just answer questions.

 

There are no Art Auctions! Yea!!!! Go O!

 

There are NO ANNOUNCEMENTS!!! Go O!

 

There are ENOUGH CHAIRS!!!!!!!!! Go O!

 

I liked both ships. I would go on either one in a heartbeat. The Opera is a new deal in town. Trying it out is an adventure worth doing. I'm not saying to dessert X, just make a little room in your schedule for the MSC ships. I think you'll like it! Plus the Italian guys onboard are great to look at!!!!

 

I'm very tired tonight so more later.

 

Gail

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Thanks Gail. We will definately check out this line. Pasta and some eye candy...and chairs to admire them in...mmmmmm...

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Very nice Gail. You really are doing a great review! Thanks.

 

Garry

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Gail, Wow!

 

I do think that I will edit out the Italian guys before I hit him over the head with the latest installment though! Just keeps sounding better and better! We have actually done one European line and my sil was dissapointed that they weren't trying to sell anything. I thought it was a little bit of heaven!

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Hey Gail :D

 

Really nice review~~makes us want to try it out. Now, did you get the suite upgrade because you were so wonderful at the Captain's table?:p Do you even know why you were upgraded? A nudge from Rick Sasso?;)

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Gail, If anyone deserves and upgrade it should be you. Glad you had a good time. If I can find the time, I will definitely try this ship. Pat

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Good Day. Just got back from picking up my mom's things at the nursing home so I'm here for a little diversion!

 

One thing singles should keep in mind is that MSC has a price catagory for us. No % supplement, just a price like everyone else. And so far, very favorable. They have made a commitment to do right by solo travelers and I like the prices I've seen. Not that it is trying to be the Love Boat, just not ripping us singles off so much!

 

A couple of final things about the food. O also has chilled soups but they are a good deal richer than X's (so now I like them both!) and are quite good.

I actually ate off a midnight buffet (something I hadn't done in years). I slept through dinner and was hungry so went down. It was on the pool deck but at the glassed in part by one of the outside bars. Mostly cold meats and salads, wonderful breads and a big dessert table.

 

I went to the disco that night and the Animation Team was doing a Haloween Party with costumes and everything. Was fun.

 

There is a Martini Bar with a mixologist whose name I can't spell, but it means old, used toothbrush. He got that name because when he signed on the first time he had a crew cut and it kept growing out and looking bad so they gave him a nickname. He did a good job on the Limon' and Apple Martini's. Martini's are $4.95 for a regualar sized one. They had three drinks that were $4 for the entire cruise. I know two were Cosmo's and Long Island Iced Tea, but I can't remember the third one. As I said before, that was the price, no 15% gratuity. The literature says they have figured in 10% for a tip but it is included in what ever price you see. A $4 drink says $4 on the bill.

 

Tipping was not required as MSC pays their staff a living wage without tips. I tipped only the people who had given extraodinary service. Maybe four people. Gave the Matre'd a big tip because he did so much for me, getting the cc'ers a table together, sending wine at lunch, etc. His name is Mario and he is the greatest. Always kisses the ladies hands when he greets them.

Loved it!!!

 

Music by the pool tends to be Latin or Oldies, no ragae or Caribbean. I liked it, but some said they missed the island type music. Somedays I stayed up by the quiet end of the pool but a couple of days I sat by all the action and it was pretty fun. I'm usually the sit and laugh at others making fools of themselves type, but the Animation Team got me to join in for some things. One I didn't do but was fun to watch was the sing off. Men vs Women, about 8 on a side, everytime the mic gets to you you have to sing a portion of a REAL song that hasn't been already used. After a few rounds we were down to Twinkle, Twinkle and Jingle Bells. Really fun watching people wracking their brains for a line or two of a song.

 

One thing I found lacking on O was a decent library. There are few books and then they are split between several languages, so the variety was small. I did, however, manage to find a book I had not read. I always take something of my own but go to the library to supplement. Hate to drag everything I am going to read with me. Maybe if I think of it next time I will take them a couple of books I can leave. Help them fill up the shelves a little! On Millie, the womnderful librarian held discussion groups. I went to one for mystery lovers and got some names of new authors I want to try. So great to be able to share knowledge with others in that format. And the Millie library is great, two floors!

 

I should also mention that once again, on this trip, Notes was very underused. I would not be surprised to see that space used for something else soon.

 

I promise, tonight I will read over my notes and get this mostly finished over the weekend. I've just been winging it today from memory.

 

Gail

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Great review, Gail - and very accurate!!!

 

 

Loved spending time with you aboard Opera - hope to sail with you again!!! :D

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Hi Gail !

 

Outstanding review. Congrats on the Upgrade.

 

I was waiting to hear your review on MSC, before I booked. I am going to give her a try later this year, when she is back in Florida. As Celebrity doesnt seem to be very interested in the Florida market, then I am glad that MSC wants to capitalize on that. We will give them a try !

 

Welcome Home !

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I was waiting to hear your review on MSC, before I booked. I am going to give her a try later this year, when she is back in Florida. As Celebrity doesnt seem to be very interested in the Florida market, then I am glad that MSC wants to capitalize on that. We will give them a try !

Host Andy, do you know something I haven't been able to find out? I have been looking for MSC schedules for the fall/winter, but on the MSC web site they show no ships in the US. The Lirica is showing Med all the way through December and the Opera doesn't show any schedule past, I think, October. No transatlantics westbound shown at all.

 

We'd love to try MSC, but so far, there are no US schedules posted past April when Lirica goes back to Europe. Gail, do you have any info on future US schedules?

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Host Andy, do you know something I haven't been able to find out? I have been looking for MSC schedules for the fall/winter, but on the MSC web site they show no ships in the US. The Lirica is showing Med all the way through December and the Opera doesn't show any schedule past, I think, October. No transatlantics westbound shown at all.

 

We'd love to try MSC, but so far, there are no US schedules posted past April when Lirica goes back to Europe. Gail, do you have any info on future US schedules?

 

Hi Char !

 

MSC's schedules are not out yet, but I have been told they will be back in Florida next season. I am sorry, but I do not have any more info other than that. I do expect the schedules to be out fairly soon though.

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Well done Gail.. You write really readably!!!

 

 

I can't get prices to come up on the MSC site - I get "contact your travel agent" (I also get that same message on the Princess site). Is that common to all or because I am not based in the US? Not sure whether I am asking in the right place but at least we are talking about MSC! :confused:

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Hi Char !

 

MSC's schedules are not out yet, but I have been told they will be back in Florida next season. I am sorry, but I do not have any more info other than that. I do expect the schedules to be out fairly soon though.

 

 

Actually, MSC schedules are out for Fall 2005/Winter 2006 although they are not on the MSC website.

 

MSC OPERA will will return to Florida for 7-night Caribbean cruises but not until January 2006. The transatlantic crossing from Europe to Florida will commence on Dec 27, 2005 from Genoa. The 7-day cruises from Florida will be to the Eastern Caribbean from Ft. Lauderdale. First one is 1/14/2006 and the last is April 1, 2006. Ports include two I've never heard of: La Romana and Cayo Levantado + San Juan and St. Maartin. After that, the ship returns to Europe. Rates start at $650 per person + tax.

 

MSC LIRICA also returns. Her main schedule is 11-night Panama Cruises and 11-night Deep Caribbean cruises. Her first Florida cruise will be December 10 and the last will be April 22 before returning to Europe. The 11 night cruises begin at $1100 per person + tax. MSC LIRICA is also scheduled for a few one-off cruises ... a 7-day, a 6-day, a 10-day, and a special holiday 11-night sailing.

 

Ernie

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