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Opera review Jan 14-25


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I have never posted a review of any of our cruises in the past but I couldn't let this one pass without a comment or two. Sportinglife posted a review on this same cruise and my wife thought it was me with a new screen name. His comments and remarks were duplicates of ours.


A little background. There were 8 of us in our group. The ages run from turning 50 during the cruise to 68 years of age. This was our 10th cruise and it is always our opinion that there is no such thing as a "bad" cruise. We make our own fun despite some issues or problems and every cruise has an issue or two.

We picked this cruise primarily for the Tommy Dorsey orchestra, followed by the itinerary. We had done a ton of checking and were ready for the European influence and changes that we weren't accustomed to so we didn't go into this blind.


EMBARKATION: Unlike others, we had absolutely no problems with this. We were in line probably less than 15 minutes. Of course going to the ship at 3:00 pm made a difference as we know better than to go at 11:00 or 12:00.


CABIN: Small but comfortable. Plenty of storage in closets and drawers. Bathroom is probably “normal” as far as cruise ships go but the shower is very small. We did love the LARGE bath towels. The balcony is quite small and by all means do not allow small children on the balcony without a net as it is open and a child could fall out. I understand the nets are available upon request. The bed was fine. In fact it was one of the better ones we’ve ever had.


SHIP: This particular ship is beautiful in some ways but very pooly designed. After 11 days I finally knew which elevators would take me to the 11th or 12th deck and which one only went to the 9th. Important thing to know when trying to get to your cabin (10th deck) or the grill (11th deck).

The coffee/tea area at the buffet area is very congested. You get blocked in and is a big bottleneck. But not near as big a bottleneck as trying to get from the dining room to the theatre. Passing though the various lounges allows for, under ideal conditions, one-way traffic due to table/chair configerations. And you can’t use the other side of the ship as it doesn’t go though. Just like the 7th deck….you can’t get from one end to the other without going up or down.

The theatre is small and has no balcony. If you didn’t get there 45-60 minutes before show time you couldn’t find a seat. Which would be bad if you could have a cocktail or two but no drinks are allowed.


FOOD: I’ll just echo Sportinglife in his review….THE BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE ENTIRE CRUISE.” I see some of the people that gave this cruise 5 stars….even they mention the food. Tasteless hardly describes it. At times it was terrible. I tried different beef items three different nights but after suffering through a “mystery meat” I tried others. Almost across the board things were overcooked and tasteless. The lobster was one of the worst dishes.

On the bright side they do a credible job with pasta. Except for one night when it was unedible it was good.

The menu has 3 entrée items. Yes, you can get a beef, chicken or fish any night but that’s generally the 3 options you already had.

The buffet is a horse of a different color. This exceeded to dining room in lousy (yes, lousy) food. The items were always the same. One or two of the salads might change but breakfast and lunch were the same. And always cold. French toast appeared to have just been taken out of the refrigerator. Runny scrambled eggs. The steam table obviously didn’t work. Then you had the chilled soup at dinner which was usually room temperature.

Pizza was very good. Problem is it’s only available from 1200-1700 and then again from 1800-2130 hrs. The grill, opposite the pizza, was like the buffet….almost always cold. I’m not talking warm…I’m talking cold. If you stood and watched when they put fresh french fries or hamburgers and got one, it would be great.

I see people question iced tea and coffee. Iced tea apparently is kept under lock and key as it is seldom available. Sometime during the middle of the afternoon it is removed and it isn’t there for breakfast. Juice is also not always available. And they give you tiny, I really mean tiny cups. They are 3 or possibly 4 ozs. Ice cream is available for purchase during the day at the pool.


CREW: Some people have described them as “crude”. I’d say disinterested. The cabin steward never introduced herself to us. Dirty glasses left in room. The waiter also never introduced himself. He seemed afraid of making a mistake. The waiter is responsible for drinks and wine also putting a big burden on him. There is no wine steward and our waiter had very limited knowledge of wines. We did pull the assistant out of his shell and had fun with him. Except for the “animation team” there was very little patter between crew and passengers. People working in the casino were the same way. The crew talked openly about how big a pain the passengers were. I even had the misfortune to go to the hospital and the doctor and nurse continued in the same vein as the others.


ENTERTAINMENT: We went for the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and were not disappointed. The other lounge acts were also very good. As to the shows in the theatre…we couldn’t really get in as due to the slow service in the dining room we could never get there in time to get seats. We did see one show which was O.K. but I’m sorry, you can only take so many jugglers and I didn’t really care to see ballet.


CULTURAL EXPERIENCE: We were ready for differences. Europeans far exceeded Americans on this cruise. All announcements made in 5 languages. Bingo takes a really L-O-N-G time when it’s called in 5 languages.

If you are a prude or have teenage sons or whatever, keep in mind that there are a lot of Europeans. That bears repeating as there were several, 5 or 6, ladies that went topless at the pool. Not on a top deck, secluded from people but right next to the pool. I did NOT file a complaint.

Like Sportinglife, we witnessed fights. Right at the pool. Quite a sight when two elderly gentlemen engage in a fist fight. And elderly was the name on this ship. I won’t even go there. And I’ve already told you our age range.


ITINERARY: The second reason we picked this cruise. There were some issues like the State Department warning for Columbia. Armed military accompanied most of the tours.

We went on a ferry in the Panama Canal. There were two ferry boats. Ours was loaded to the gills with the 2nd one barely ½ full. After an hour and half bus ride we arrived at the ferry. Almost everybody needed to use the facilities. They didn’t work. They never flushed. Imagine what they were like after 3 hours on the ferry as people still used them.

Cuacao!!! We were standing on our balcony watching people getting off. Two members of my family just got off the gangway when a rope snapped (or the pilot boat ran over it). The ship started to drift out to sea. The gangway fell into the water. I kept watching for people to bob up in the water. They were very fortunate nobody was on the gangway. The pilot boat was dead in the water with one of the ropes in his propeller. He was attached to the ship as other ropes got tangled/sucked into the thrusters, causing the pilot boat to be bashed into the bow of the ship repeatedly. We eventually drifted about a mile or more out to sea before tugs pushed us back. Divers were in the water for about 7 hours removing rope from various places under water. Not a thing was ever said except an announcement was made that “there would be delays” in continuing the debarkation. Instead of leaving port at 6:00 or 7:00 pm we pulled out at 0200.


DEBARKATION: Again, this was a breeze for us as we were staying in FL an extra day so we were in no hurry. We waited until the last group was called and our luggage was easy to find as it was some of the only things left. We were at our hotel in 15 minutes or so after leaving the lounge staging area. I will say that if some folks had an early flight they might not have made it as they were running late….again.


OVERALL: Our philosophy has always been “there is no such thing as a BAD cruise” as we feel you alone can make it a bad cruise. This one tested our philosophy but we refused to allow bad food, rude old people or uncaring crew members ruin it for us. We make our own fun. Would I, or any of our group, ever sail MSC again? In one simple word….NO.

I truly expect to be attacked by the “pie in the sky” people that saw things in a different light and give this cruise and MSC 5 stars but I can’t see how anybody could compliment or give kudos to the food. And I did indicate goods things in my review. And keep in mind, this was MY review and it certainly doesn’t reflect the views of the other 1,900 people on board. It is my opinion (just like noses…everybody has one) that unless MSC changes things drastically OR the European market continues to come here for cruises that they will not last long in the American market. The prices are great but the shortcomings are many.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for an intelligently written, detailed and credible review. Aside from the overall low marks for food and service I was particularly interested in your observation that even though Americans were a distinct minority there seemed to be more than the usual quota of inconsiderate behavior on the part of the passengers - not to mention the lack lustre performance of the crew itself. I am weary of reading here the supercillious bashing of American seniors as if they had a monopoly on bad behavior. People of any nationality who complain that Americans are ruder or that senior Floridians, in particular, are pushier than any other group of elders are pathetically myopic and generally unqualified to talk about the behavioral differences of different age groups within different cultures. Though it is great sport to mock Americans as a way of demonstrating one's own good breeding and worldly sophistication. It's almost pathological.

By the way, if I had heard a crew member openly complain that the passengers were a pain I would have confronted him on the spot. And I mean confronted.

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