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Terence81

Review of MSC Opera: Mar 5 - Mar 12

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Overall, I was very pleased by my 7-night Western Caribbean cruise aboard the MSC Opera. The ship housed much more than any other ship of her size.

 

 

The major debate I had become aware of prior to my cruise was the ethnic and cultural differences than typical cruises from the competitive American lines. At first, I thought the announcements and instructions would become an annoyance being completed in five languages, however I was wrong. MSC practices without any announcements during the cruise. The only time we heard a public broadcast was when we were leaving Grand Cayman and were paging specific passengers who had not gotten back to the ship. Having the announcements for the shows, by the pool, or during bingo were less of an annoyance, but more fun for us. We were relaxed and enjoying the cruise, so it was fun to reminisce of earlier school days learning the foreign languages. And, I give kudos to the crew for the ability to speak in five languages fluently.

 

 

Another hot topic for MSC critics and reviewers seems to be the food. I was aware of the international aspect of the line prior to going in. I expected to see less typical American food, and more international and cultural dishes. I was not surprised. The food was just as was heralded by previous cruisers. The afternoon buffet had a different spread each day, while maintaining the always popular pizza and grill bar. And, for the record, the pizza was outstanding. After the first day trying it, it became a daily stop. It was always fresh out of the oven, and prepared at standards of New York pizza, with an Italian flare. Between limited hours there was also a soft-serve bar. Another frequent stop for the week, this ice cream was very tasty and by the end of the cruise, the long lines would be testament for that. The best part about the casual afternoon buffet and treats was the Il Patio, a canopy styled area adjacent to the pool with tables and chairs. Always a slight breeze, some sun, and typically a band playing made for a great casual afternoon lunch. There were, however, a few hours during the day when the only food you could get was room service. But, the way you eat, the cruise line is doing us all a favor by not putting anything else out for us to eat. Dinners were exceptional. Bad publicity has labeled La Caravella dining room, however, it was a pleasant and great place to eat. The food was always prepared well. The steaks, fish, chicken and one of the best veal fillets I have ever eaten were served there. The pasta courses were fantastic, with the Spaghetti Bolognese still ringing in my head. Desserts always were always great, also. For those pickier diners, there was always ice cream, or cheesecake available. Not to mention the dedication from the wait staff to make us happy. (Ciro and I Gede made a great team, and an enjoyable dining experience.) The only downside to the dining room was the wind steward, Tatiana. Whether it was the language barrier (which didn’t stop our wait staff from trying), she just didn’t show much enthusiasm for making us happy. We bought a bottle of wine at every dinner, wishing we had seen the $91 MSC wine package earlier in the cruise. (It includes a different bottle of wine with each dinner.) A midnight buffet every single night is less common as it used to be. With a different spread each night, it is a must see, atleast the Gala buffet night.

 

 

The most impressive part of the MSC Opera was the amount of public space. I have experienced 3000+ capacity cruise ships, which housed less possibilities for the passenger. Decks 5 and 6 housed the majority of the lounges, with the Cotton Club always being the hot spot for the older crowd. There was always congestion in getting by, but with the activities going on, it could only be expected. The piano player in La Scaba was always a pleasant surprise, also. The Monte Carlo casino was a bit small, as expected from a European cruise ship, but proved to be ample for the gambling population onboard. We even won on the slot machines. The Piazza de Spagna was also a great place to enjoy music before dinner or before calling it a night. Other great spots included the atmosphere in Byblos or the relaxing music in the Caruso Lounge. With plenty of places to unwind, or to have fun, or to make memorable moments at sea, the MSC Opera offers big ship space in a much smaller ship.

 

 

Cabins onboard the MSC Opera was quite impressive. We had an inside stateroom on the Rigoletto Deck, cabin 7140. At 144 square feet, it is smaller than the average cruise ships cabins, but with mirrors all around, the feeling was different. However, with the setup of the large closets, vanity and beds, there was always enough room to move around. A suggestion for MSC would be to purchase chairs that slide under the vanity/desk, though. A major downside was the shower. The bathroom was very well decorated, however, the size of the shower overtakes the other positives. It was shaped at an odd angle, and a door would better serve the curtain. I am in-shape twenty something who is significantly smaller than the typical cruise passenger. Good luck to all those larger passengers who despise a small shower as much as we did. The soundproofing issue simply was not an issue. I heard others complain, however, I believe these passengers are those who are focused on the negatives rather than the positives. All in all, the cabin was nice, it’d be better with an improved shower.

 

 

Entertainment is one area where I was undecided. The live bands in the lounges were great. There was a different style in every one, and there was always a niche of people who frequented each one. The Teatro dell Opera, though, didn’t house such great performances. That is in my opinion, though. Being in NYC, I love Broadway style shows, and first class theater. It just wasn’t there. I knew this going into the cruise, though, so I wasn’t upset or surprised. There was an opera, a comedian, a magician, a variety show, and others during the coarse of the week. The magician was laughable, but the variety show was worth seeing. I had never seen acrobats do performances such as I witnessed on a ship before. Even though we didn’t enjoy the shows, many people did. I frequently heard many positive marks by passengers as we chatted in the hot tub. No matter what niche of music or entertainment a person is looking for, it is onboard and above par when compared to other ships.

 

 

Daytime activities were abundant. The animation staff was a non-stop and full-of-energy bunch. I never saw them stop, and I never heard one person complain about their antics or spontaneity. With two pools, two hot tubs, a nicely equipped gym, and plenty of chairs in the sun, there was nothing truly lacking. Something non-MSC controlled was the passengers onboard. In the gym, they didn’t acknowledge the treadmill sign up sheet as they should have, which caused a few confrontations of passengers. Adjacent to the gym was a relaxation room with wicker lounges. With only music, and no talking allowed, it was a pleasant stop on the first day out. Mini golf around the funnel was something to enjoy, however, there is always so much to do that it is easily forgotten about. I never did quite understand the Virtual Reality Games area. A few words of advice, expect to see middle-aged and senior aged men and women in swimsuits that are totally inappropriate and far too revealing. Just look away.

 

 

Overall, I was happy cruising on MSC Cruises. A few areas could be tweaked to achieve the heralded “Premium Class” cruising, however, I feel they are already there. I do hope they stay away from conforming to the expectations of the typical American. This will keep them unique from the other lines, while creating there own niche in the market. Considering their success in the Caribbean this year, and the upcoming releases of two larger ships, I expect MSC Cruises to flourish with their style of cruising.

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Thanks for posting the review, I enjoyed reading it. I'm feeling better and better about booking the Opera. I have one question, do they have a spa onboard? I love getting a massage onboard, but so far I haven't heard anyone mention a spa.

 

Terri

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Opera does have a beautiful spa, and numerous treatments available; I didn't try any.

 

Thanks so much for a balanced review, reinforcing my great experience.

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Terence you wrote a wonderful review. My wife, daughter and myself were on the Opera Mar 12 Eastern Caribbean and had a very nice time. I had purchased this trip on Skyauction Oct. 04 for a very low price and then began following the reviews. The actual trip exceeded our expectations and we were all delighted. Teedee wonders about a spa....there is a beautiful spa up on 12 deck at the front of the ship. My wife and I would take separate saunas late in the day and then watch the sun go down from the relaxation room. Full floor to ceiling windows give a great view. There is a full range of spa services available and they never seemed really busy. We would travel with MSC again without hesitation.

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Glad to hear you too enjoyed the Opera.....the ship is wonderful. Too bad about your wine steward...mine was great & had a wonderful personality to go with his wine knowledge.

 

Onboard I found to be entertained in whatever manner I chose. The music onboard was greatly enjoyed - all over - all day.

 

 

One point - the soundproofing is somewhat lacking in teh aft section on deck 7 inside cabins. I had one teh first nite & could hear teh microwave ovens & ice machines in teh kitchen below...starting at 3:00 A.M. when I asked to be switched - the hotel manager was very nice & did say MSC knew of the problem.

 

After changing to a cabin on deck 9, I could hear people out in the hallway & on each side of the cabin...it was noticeable but did not disturb me.

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One point - the soundproofing is somewhat lacking in teh aft section on deck 7 inside cabins. I had one teh first nite & could hear teh microwave ovens & ice machines in teh kitchen below...starting at 3:00 A.M. when I asked to be switched - the hotel manager was very nice & did say MSC knew of the problem.

 

It is funny you say that your first cabin was lacking substantial soundproofing, because our cabin was in the same vicinity. Cabin 7140, an inside cabin in the aft. I guess with all the strenuous activity of laying by the pool, eating, and relaxing all day long, we were so tired we didn't even notice! I am glad to hear they were accomodating enough to move you, too. Since they acknowledged the problem, I'll bet they try and solve the issue during it's first refurbishment.

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Terence81 -

 

Thank you so much for the review - a lot of great information - your cruise sounded wonderful and very relaxing!

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I so enjoyed reading this review. We are booked on the Opera in January. It sounds just lovely. And though you didnt go into detail about the food...I now find myself craving Speghetti Bolognese! Tell me, did you happen to take any aerobic classes? How is their selection of free weights? Do they have ellipical machines? We need to burn off that food somehow...

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There is something about enjoying the food and working out that just doesn't coincide.

 

I was very impressed with the overall presentation of food. The one thing that I found most unique was the new silverware for each course. You never would use the same fork, knife, or spoon, each of which was delivered to you right before the next course arrived. On those days when everything on the menu was great (the pastas, breads, and specailty dishes, especially) you would feel like you were just making so many dishes. I have to agree with other reviewers that the salads were just "okay." The soups I thought were very tasty. A selection of cold and hot soups frequented the menu for a great variety. The crab bisque was tasty, as well as the french onion. As I mentioned initially and will reaffirm everyone, the pastas were of the best I have ever tasted aboard a ship, and right on par to some of the better italian restaraunts I have ate at. Main courses were always great. The veal was great, the steaks were always juicy and tender. Chicken and fish were also prepared quite well. The flounder one night was so good, my waiter was ready with another...tempting me. I caved. Desserts were typically "good." The baked alaska, and cheesecake were very tasty. The traditional italian pastries were absolutely great. Overall, not a disappointment. Out of the dining room the food was still better than average. The pizza sticks out, as I mentioned before. As do the ecclairs. Absolute diet killers!

 

In regards to the gym, it was a very well organized area, with a decent amount of machines. For the size of the ship, everything seemed adequate. I was surprised their were no elliptical machines, however, I wouldn't doubt they'll arrive soon enough. Treadmills and free weights were present, in limited numbers. However, when you think about the number of people that actually work out while cruising...the gym was definitely substantial. The only true disappointment I had was the jogging track. It wasn't a continuous track on the same level...for you'd have to dodge sunbathers and chairs. Even with the minor details you may dislike, I was not disappointed by the facilities. I didn't get to the gym as much as I wanted, and I know I was not the only one!

 

Enjoy cruising the Opera!

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