I'm a veteran of 7 cruises(each on different lines, ships,and destinations)and for the money this is just about the most fun I've had. This was a last minute spring break trip for myself and my two teen-age daugters. My husband and teen-age son took an eastern Caribbean cruise on another line one week earlier, so we were able to compare experiences. While I found the crew to be efficient, cordial and pleasant this was not a cruise on which we were coddled and pampered. This didn't bother us in the least but other passengers were really annoyed. If you don't like having to get up from your deck chair to get a drink you may be annoyed too.
Embarkation: Extraordinarily quick and easy. We were on the ship and in our cabin in less than 20 minutes after the taxi dropped us off at the port. No waiting in lines. Lots of porters and staff to assist. Our onboard greeting was relatively low key. We were not greeted by the staff as we has been previously by other lines; no "over" enthusiastic crew, violins, champagne, etc, but we were immediately directedto our cabin where we were greeted by our steward and were asked if we needed assistance.
Ship: Immaculately clean. Some ships not yet one year old are already "worn". This one sparkled! My disappointment was in the size of the cabin. We were in category 12 (the most expensive on the ship). Identified as a suite with balcony it was not nearly as large as deluxe outside veranda cabins that I've had on other ships in lower categories. It did however have more than enough storage (remember we were 3 women, 2 of them teenagers with lots of stuff) including a walk in closet! The bathroom didn't have a double sink which is what is usually provided in this category and we were supplied with the minimum toiletries (shampoo only). Our steward was helpful and pleasant when he was around which was rarely. We must have seen him 3 times during the entire cruise. He must have had a sixth sense because if we left the cabin for only 15 minutes, it was straightened up when we returned. When we had a request for extra towels, bottled water, etc. we had to call the main desk who then paged him. Even though we didn't request it, he placed a third chair on our balcony within minutes of our arrival on board and lots of extra bath towels. Very low key but very efficient.
Food: The food was plentiful and varied. If you don't like a pasta or risotto course with dinner and like the standard American fare this might not be for you. No mac and cheese here. The dinner menu varied each evening but always had the standard, steak, chicken and salmon, etc. available. Our dinner waiter encouraged the girls to try everything and brought different courses for them to sample even if they didn't order them (like frogs legs). On the first evening we asked for fresh fruit with Nutella (not on the menu) and for each night thereafter, without requesting it, were brought assorted fruit along with the dessert they requested. The freshly made pizza was great and available each afternoon. The ice cream was just O.K. We were looking forward to some great gelato being on an Italian line but it was just soft-serve from a machine. The dining room was pleasant and not noisy or crowded. Service was good but again not over-enthusiastic. Pleasant and efficient.
Entertainment: By far the best. Each lounge had different and continuous entertainment each evening. You had many choices. The teenagers had places to "hang out" and activities if they wished. The "animation" staff during the day kept going like energizer bunnies and there was always some off-beat game going on if you cared to participate. We just lounged on the deck and enjoyed watching everyone else participate. There were always available deck chairs, no matter what time you got out on deck and plenty of towels. We were not pressed to buy drinks and many times you had to go to the bar to get one. This annoyed a lot of older people. I kinda liked not being pushed to "purchase" every 15 minutes.
Passengers: Most of the passengers were American with only a few Italians. There were many families with young children and teens and lots of young 20s but this may be because we traveled over spring break. My biggest disappointment was with the dress code for dinner. There were 2 formal nights. Most people don't go formal anymore but at least they wear business or cocktail attire. Men and women both were permitted in the dining room for dinner in shorts on these nights and in fact every night, and these were not the young people, these were middle aged adults! The young people were the ones appropriately dressed. At the table next to us one middle-aged man wore the same flannel work shirt to dinner every night. It took away some of the "glamour" of dining on a cruise when so many people really dressed like slobs. I have to say the Americans were the violators since the Italian passengers were always decked out for dinner. The dress code probably should have been somewhat leniently enforced.
Ports of Call: We went on beach excursions in all ports except Honduras. They were terribly overpriced. While the cruise line claimed to be independent and not responsible for shore excursions those of us who were unhappy were given refunds or adjustments without question. In Cozumel, the beach excursion was $80 each person. When we got to the beach there were no beach chairs (part of the package)during the morning. When we returned and complained we were given a substantial adjustment on the bill. The same with Grand Cayman where the beach chairs were rusted and broken. Again an adjustment.
In sum: A very relaxing and reasonably priced cruise. A "no tipping" policy was welcome (no envelopes, suggested guidelines, etc.) and because of it I was probably more generous. If you want to be coddled, pampered and fawned over and constantly badgered to purchase drinks this cruise is not for you. If you don't want an enforced dining dress code, this is for you too. I'd go on this ship again in a hearbeat if larger cabins were available. I'd even be willing to pay more but we had the largest and it was small.
I booked this cruise because it was affordable, it is a new ship, and my heritage is Italian. I read a lot of reviews before I left which ranged from bad to good.
Embarkation was excellent. The staff was friendly and moved very quickly.
We were greeted and escorted to the elevator by a young lady who carried our carry-on bags. The cabin was easy to find.
My initial reaction on the cabin was that it was smaller than others I have had (i.e., other inside cabins), but once the bed was separated into two twins it was more spacious. The closet and other available storage space were more than adequate for two women with two full suitcases each, along with all their hair and makeup products.
Our cabin steward was wonderful, and was quick to accommodate any needs. The service throughout the week was as good as any other cruise line I have been on.
I thought the food was excellent. There was something for everyone. The buffets were well-planned, and offered a good variety to satisfy any taste.
The dining room staff was wonderful. They went out of their way to get youanything you desired. We had late seating, and even though they had just finished working on the early seating guests, they made everyone feel welcome and provided great service.
The ship was beautiful. It was spotless and well cared for. Crew members were constantly cleaning, and every area was well kept up, no matter how many people used it.
There was plenty of entertainment throughout the day and evening. The cruise staff was very energetic and got everyone involved if they desired, but did not pressure you if you didn't want to.
The entertainment in the lounges was wonderful, and the music varied to meet the preferences of every age group. People onboard seemed happy and everyone spoke highly of the cruise, food, and ship.
The itinerary was not the most desirable, but I knew that before I left. When we did go into port, disembarking was smooth and you never felt crowded. I've experienced waiting in large crowds on other cruise lines, but that was not the case on this cruise line.
I found the staff at the front reception area not as accommodating. They did not go out of their way to make you feel satisfied with their answers, but most were European women, and the language was a barrier at times.
After two days, we realized that the ship was not completely sold out. We inquired about an upgrade and the Rooms Manager moved us from an inside cabin to an outside with a balcony at no charge -- and was more than happy to do it.
We didn't purchase any excursions, but those who did said they were pleased with how the cruise line handled it.
I have been on about 10 cruises over the past 15 years on various lines, and I felt completely satisfied with this cruise line and ship. I paid $550 for the cruise and definitely got my money's worth. I am seriously considering a Western Med cruise with this company later in the year.
The MSC OPERA- A beautiful ship. Very clean. That was the best part.
The staff was extremly rude, except for the activity staff.
The food portions were very small, smaller than I have ever witnessed on any other cruise. The best food was the cold soups in the dining room, and pizza at the buffet if you wanted to wait for it.
Of the (7) nights I was on board, I only met the Bus Boy on the 5th night. I got up and served myself Ice Tea and water as needed (3) of the nights.
ROOM SERVICE was quick , but that was due to the fact that the offerings were limited. Unless you wanted a Ceasar salad or turkey club.
If you are looking for burgers and dogs this is a cruise for you.
According to all published records the itinary clearly states the times in certain ports, but that is not corret. If you had made other arrangements, they will not notify you that the times are different. Grand Cayman should have been from 10:00am-6:00pm, but was 8:00am-2:00pm. You only found this out the night before if you read the next daysevents. but it was not stated so.
The entertainment was good. The magician and (2) comedians were excellent.
The bathrooms were hard to find. When you did find them, they only had (1) staff, and were just as small as the rooms.
Smoking was very abundant, and not inforced, in the non smoking areas.
The best part of this trip was leaving the boat on the last day.
I DO NOT RECCOMEND THIS COMPANY TO ANYONE< UNTIL THEY CAN GET IT TOGETHER> IM SORRY ROYAL< I WILL COME BACK>
Power doors, Hallway A/C, self serve,Ice Cream, oversized public bathrooms, and friendly staff were not present here.
MSC STAFF- LEARN HOW TO SAY HELLO AND WELCOME YOUR GUESTS> THEY ARE PAYING ALOT OF MONEY TO BE THERE.
We just returned for a delightful week on the MSC Opera. As the 'new girl' in the Caribbean I think she rates very high overall.She is truly Italian in feel but will have problems in the North American market. Americans think they want the 'Italian epxerience' but they realy want it 'American style'.
We recently sailed on Costa Atlantica and that is more what they want but we all know who is Costa's boss!
The ship itself is beautiful. A little confusing with some elevators going only so far but you learn fast which ones do that. I found it a bit strange there was no single deck that circled the whole ship but again thst was easy to overcome.
The cabins were a bit smaller than Costa but quite adequate with plenty of storage space and the bathroom was roomy. The shower and curtain were great! The balcony was narrow but it still had plenty of room to sit and enjoy the sea air and the sliding door was delightful as we like to keep the door open.
I was a little disappointed in the dinner meals but overall the foodwas good and there was a good choice each day. Our waiter Americo was a delightful man as was the bus boy (whose name I cannot remember,I'm sorry.The lunches in the dining rooms were usually very good and the Pizza was amazing. We did not do the late buffets but looked a few times and they did look very good.
The Animation staff were unequalled to any on any other cruise we've been on. There were very friendly, not pushy and always on the go.The cruise director Marco was great and what can I say about Joe? He just floated across the dance floor.
I found the reception and cruise tour staff a bit abrupt but that's Italian style. The non-Italian staff seemed to be more abrasive.
The American hostess Vanessa was the most unfriendly person I met on the ship. I heard this from many passengers who also all felt she was totally disinterested in everything about the cruise. I tried to have a converstation with her(I had NO complaints)but gave up as she really didn't care and did not want to talk to me and she was on duty at the time.I felt this was quite unfortunate because a a travel agency owner I was interested in passenger feed back to help me in selling this cruise. I did not meet Amanda but Patrick showed some interest in talking to me. The impression I got was if you don't have a problem don't bother me.
The entertainment was excellant and the bands were great. The music in the lounge for Afternooon Tea was wonderful..especially the violinist who made his violin dance.
It was wonderful not to have assinine photographers in your face all the time. There was action around the pool a good part of the day for those who wanted to partake but there were no loud annoucements telling you about it. There was plenty to do..a good library on board,internet for those who just can't escape 'the net' even for a week,lectures,dancing in the evening in many venues,a wonderful piano bar and quite lounges.
I like the size of this ship as you can get to know people because you see them more than once!
The embarkation/disembarkation were very smoothe.
This ship has to be sold as an Italian experience not 'Italian style'.It has the wonderful 'flavour'
of Europe without having to go to Europe. As long as your passenger knows this in advance they will enjoy this cruise much more.
I hope you do well in this market but it will be difficult as some Americans think there is only one way to do things and will not adapt to any change.Instead of complaining about the different languages why not learn a few new words?
Overall,this was a very enjoyable cruise and as I said being an agecny owner I feel comfortable selling this ship and MSC. We had some clients on the Lirica on your Jan 15 sailing and they loved every minute.
Keep up the good work.
If you are contemplating taking a cruise on the OPERA read this first. I just came back today from a 7 day cruise Jan 29th-Feb 5th 2005 and I must say that this is the most disappointing cruise I ever made (last 7 years). This cruise line will not be around if the attitude of their personnel does not change in the next few months.
On the positive side, getting onboard was quick and easy. The ship is new thus very clean. However many things need a special attention from the top management of the company. I have already given these infos to the hostess of the Opera but I do not know at what stage these comments are going to get lost
1 The magnetic card they provide you to enter your room shows your room no. All hotels and other places that use this system do not show the room no because should someone lose their card , the room could be emptied by whoever should find it.
2 The first morning I went to get a drink from the orange juice fountain on the top deck. It smelledand tasted like it was part orange juice mixed with grapefruit juice. I tried to bring this up with the personnel on the deck but nobody seemed interested. I got in touch with the assistant maitre D later on and explained to him that it could be very dangerous for people who have to take pills with grapefruit juice. He didn't seem to be aware of this but he said that it was impossible that they would have grapefruit juice in the orange dispenser. We were having this discussion beside some people that were sitting at a dining table and they told the asst maitre D that they also were sure that there was at least part of the mixture that contained grapefruit juice. He just walked away. The following day, I went to the Maitre D himself and explained to him the same concern and that I had been in the main dining room where they served real orange juice. He just told me ''then if you want real juice, you just have to come down to this dining room and get some'' I was only trying to be helpful and this is the way you get treated by top management of the ship what can you expect on the way down the ladder. Later on during the week, we did have real orange juice. I am not saying this was done by the ship people, but someone should have the open mind to accept that there is a possibility that there could be a mistake made by someone and take note to correct it
3. The attitude of the waiters is arrogant in many instances. Several times, I returned the food that arrived cold and as soon as I would do this, their attention becomes nil to our needs. They start talking between themselves in Italian about the different guests not knowing that some people will not volunteer the fact they understand Italian. On Thursday noon, there was meatloaf on the menu and when the other couple asked it the meatloaf was made with beef or pork, the girl said that she didn't know and didn't feel the need to find out. 20 minutes later the couple had not been served anything, so they just left. In case you want to know, it is important to know if the meatloaf is made with beef or pork IF YOU ARE JEWISH. When you go to the dining room for breakfast or lunch and you see 8 waiters chatting between themselves and no one comes to serve you because the waiter that serves your table is gone to the kitchen and it seems that only he can serve you coffee or a glass of water, it gets me mad. Saturday morning, I dared to ask one of the other waiter to serve me a cup of coffee and when I took a sip, it tasted exactly like the water that you drink from the faucet in our room CHLORINE
I told the waiter that it tasted awful and he replied to me that I should drink Expresso.
4. When you get onboard your ship, you are completely cut off from the rest of the world. You have 2 preacher channels but not one single news channel so that you know what is going on in the rest of the world. . It would be nice to have at least one location on ship where you could see a news channel CNN, FOX or whatever during the day.
When you get up in the morning, if you happened to be before 6:30 you cannot get any food. Coffee (if you can call it that) is served only on the open deck. It it is windy and cold like it was this week you are out of luck. I wonder what happens to people who are hungry in the middle of the night.
There are no Laundromats on any floor. The only way you can get some clothes cleaned or ironed is thru your services. At $1.15 for a pair of socks and 4$ for a shirt, it turns you off.
The casino is opened only certain hours of the day. You can't play blackjack between 6.30 and 8.30 at night even when you are at sea There are many complaints from the blackjack players about the special rules made by the operating company that stack the odds in their favor. The only place I have seen this in North America is on that ship. The rooms are very small 9 X 15 but that I can live with if the price is advantageous At both St Thomas and Ste Croix, you are stationed at the complete opposite side of the other cruise ships. A 30 minutes ride across the island in the case of Ste Croix. That I can also understand since they are the last kid arrived in the block. BUT..... In St Thomas we got off the ship and we were told there would be buses to take us to town or the other side of the island where all the other major ships were. We got on the bus and halfway between the ship and the town the driver stopped and told us we all had to pay $4 or get off the bus and walk the rest of the way. If we would have been told before getting on the bus that there would a charge of $4 it would have been acceptable but everyone onboard felt that we were being hijacked by the driver.
The food on the top deck is very ordinary and lukewarm at best. I asked for a pepperoni pizza and no kidding there was only 6 little slices of pepperoni on a 12 inch pizza. If you like pasta, you will be happy for 7 days.
On Saturday we were sent to the 12th deck and told to be there for 7:30. We got off only at 10:30. Again I am willing to accept this because MSC has last priority at all ports
I am planning a cruise for next year for the whole family and you can be sure that MSC will not be on my list of options
I met 3 travel agents on the ship that told me the same thing and one of them told me there is travel magazine evaluator that was also onboard and that he felt the same way.
If you intend to have a wonderful experience when you take a cruise, consider Carnival, Celebrity, Sun Princess, Royal Carribean instead .
I strongly would recommend MSC to send their top management on other ships with an open mind attitude to see how American and Canadian people like to be treated. If they are planning to make headway start with Carnival and then when they want to get more money for their rooms, move on to the Princess line and see how people are pampered there instead of being treated like they know nothing about cruises ships..
Although this is our own personal thoughts and opinions based on our experience from time to time there may be comment upon opinions and thoughts of some of the people with whom we spent time during our 17 wonderful days.
This was not our first cruise with MSC and what really concerned us was that changes may have been made during the 2005 Caribbean Season that might reduce our personal enjoyment. On board there were a couple who have taken 38 cruises with MSC, a lady on her 32nd cruise with MSC, a lady who had sailed with MSC westbound in November and loved it so much that she had stayed on board throughout the 2005 Caribbean season and a couple who had sailed westbound and enjoyed it so much that they immediately booked the return to cruise eastbound. It can be seen therefore that we are not alone in our appreciation of the MSC product.
There were some very minor changes which we thought were not for the good. For instance previously there was a jug of water in the cabins and this was refreshed twice daily. Now there wasbottled water to be purchased. In the dining room a jug of iced water was delivered to the table and remained there throughout the meal - now you had to wait for the wine steward to refill the glasses. There had been orange juice and pineapple juice available all day along with tea, coffee and iced tea but now the juices had disappeared. Previously we had been able to purchase ashore local spirits and take back on board or purchase in the shop on board and take to the cabin and open. This was no longer permissible. The pool towels were delivered to and collected from the cabin on a daily basis. None of these minor changes spoiled our over all good impression and other things remained as we remembered.
There was one change with which we disagreed strongly and this was splitting the "welcome" cocktail party to 2 venues and at one venue there was not one person present to extend a welcome. It seems that certain passengers complained during the 2005 Caribbean season that "they" did not wish to queue to enter the rooms!!
We found Opera to be every bit as elegant and stylish as her sister ship Lirica. Whilst the Opera colours may have been more vibrant there were always tasteful and attractive. There were again some lovely lighting features as you would expect on an Italian ship. The very highest standards of cleanliness were again visible everywhere. Night and Day the staff were hard at work keeping Opera spotless. We love the size, the design, the space, the intimate atmoshpere and the facilities on Opera and Lirica not for us are the massive ships including the MSC new builds.
We prefered the soft furnishings colour schemes (and especially the art work) in our cabin 12005 to that on Lirica but in all other ways the design was identical. The same excellent storage - it was impossible to utilise it all - the same clever use of mirrors and an identical bathroom with bath and shower. The same fluffy bathrobes. Fresh fruit in the cabin every day and the ice bucket filled twice a day.
When cruising we are not interested in the casino or the onboard shopping so whilst there are cruise liners with supposed superior facilities these would not be of concern to us. We love the " old fashioned" quality and charm of MSC. Dining at a fixed time at a fixed table in a fixed restaurant with the same waiter who comes to understand our likes and dislikes is very high on our list of "wants" on a cruise.
Towards the very end of the cruise we did encounter extreme rudeness from one particular area but overall the staff were impeccable in their behaviour and service. Wherever we went we were treated politely and greeted with huge smiles and this continued every day. The staff were so willing to do anything they could to please and assist. Nothing was a bother or trouble. Even late at night in the lounges the stewards willingly and smilngly would bring a glass of water when requested. At the lunch time buffet they were only too happy to serve tea, coffee, ice tea, water. Plates were removed from the tables swiftly together wih an enquiry if there was anything else that you might wish.
Nothing was forced or pushed upon us. There was no harassment or pushing of drinks, photographs or any other item. Good natured cajoling by the entertainment team to take part in their activities could easily be rejected and was accepted gracefully.
Let me now deal with the negative aspects although I would stress that not one was a major problem and certainly did not spoil our enjoyment nor create the feeling that we would not sail with MSC again. 1) MSC are not an easy company to deal with. Requests for brochures are ignored, Faxes and letters are ignored. You are advised requests regarding dining etc are just that "requests" and nothing is guaranteed. There should be a far greater urgency to fulfill customer wishes in this highly competitive field. Information provided by the company varies from country to country and most certainly is not always accurate. Two very good examples of this lack of liason were A) USA passengers were given a total incorrect arrival time in Genoa which caused great problems for some and worry whilst on the cruise in trying to make new arrangements for their onward travel. In fairness to MSC the staff on Opera did endeavour to help and provided free internet access to facilitate these revised plans B) The confusion regarding buses from Genoa to Milan. Even during the cruise the staff were trying to get information from their Italian Head Office
MSC have a complicated sales programme in different countries with huge fare differences. (I do have to say that for our dining requests (L'Approdo Restaurant, second sitting, table for 2) finally I did receive a "guarantee" after a long distance telephone call and this was honoured)
These administrative people were not actually on the cruise wth us - so what was really most important was our actual cruise experience and this is what we judged - and on this our review is based.
2) The manner in which our complaint for rudeness via the telephone was not well handled. There was a closing of ranks to protect the guilty party. The Hotel Director was contradictory in his response. First he needed the identity of the person responsible but when we tried to discover this we were blocked because "if one person was rude then it is the fault of everyone and we cannot give one name". Answer this question. Would you give 2 rude people the power to ruin your cruise? I expect that like me you would reply "NO WAY!" So these 2 persons at the end of a fabulous experience were not important.
3) The Virtual Reality Games Room was totally empty of games. This was upsetting for some and especially those with pre-teen and teen agers.
4) The DJ in the disco had no interest in catering to the tastes of the passengers. The DJ would frequently disappear for up to an hour leaving the most terrible "noise" blasting out!!
5) I have the highest respect for the very hard working entertainment team and joined in some of their activities!! However we could not disagree with those who voiced the view that some of the games were overlong, a little repetitive and a touch too "loud". This was especially true of the area of the pool - the main "relaxing area" for many. Possibly changes of venues would have been an advantage! However this was minor as overall they do a superb job especially with solo passengers and must be exhausted with very few hours sleep per night
6) I felt that the staff lost a wonderful chance for a huge deck "Goodbye Caribbean" Party the day we departed Barbados. Similarly the arrival in the first European port was very low key.
7) The grilled frazzled bacon at breakfast is terrible!! I did read via "Boston Globe" that a chef had been employed especially to cook the bacon as "european chefs" were no good at that!! Well it seems the employee does not understand that not everyone wants there bacon prepared the same way and served cremated!!
8) The "Welcome Cocktail Party" was in 2 venues Caruso Lounge and Sotto Vento Lounge. We opted for Sotto Vento and there was not one officer or higher ranked person or member of the entertainment staff present to indicate "Welcome". That said it was unanimous that MSC were THE MOST generous hosts with unlimited complimentary cocktails and canapes.This was true of the "Welcome", Repeaters and "Farewell" cocktail parties . 9) The wine glasses at the dining table are small and unsuitable. We did manage to finally get long stemmed large bowled "Barolo" glasses to fully enjoy our red wine each evening
10) Some of the late night buffets were moved indoors to La Vele. This really was not large enough. This was especially true of the Farewell Buffet Magnifique. We did not want to eat just to view but it was a terrible battle to get in and many gave up. Some other late night buffets were billed as in "the lounges" frequently this did not seem to include the Caruso Lounge. Since we did not wish to consume food at that time it was not a problem for us but some were unhappy.
11) The shore excursions were limited, not very extensive and pricey, compared to what could be done on ones own. MSC do not organise the excursions they have different agents in each port. Consequently they do not accept liability. We heard a number of complaints at the language groups being mixed and some people having virtually no information in their mother tongue. One of our group had a poor experience in this regard.
12) Unlike our previous cruises with MSC the Disembarkation system whilst good in theory worked poorly in practise. There was misinformation and misunderstanding. There was ignorance as to the nationalities and the immigration requirements for all nationalities.
Now for the many many positives and there were so many.
EMBARKATION. This was so easy. We arrived about 10.45 and although there were people waiting we were included in Group 1. Within 30 minutes they were on to Groups 4 and 5. Group 1 was called and it was an easy less than 10 minutes to do the procedure take the picture and issue the identity/charge/key card. At 11.45 we were already on board. We understand that about 15 minutes later there were some problems with the gangplank and the wind in Fort Lauderdale and there was a delay of about 20 minutes to rectify We were welcomed on board and escorted to our cabin by a white gloved young steward - who insisted on taking both items of hand luggage.
SERVICE I have already indicated that the service was of an exceptionally high standard. Some staff were not fluent in english but spoken to slowly and courteously with understanding did correctly interpret requests. The staff could not do enough to help passengers. Each and every day wherever we went we were greeted warmly with huge smiles and a friendly "how are you". Staff who came from islands like Antigua and Barbados were only to eager to give information as to how to get the best out of their islands. These people really cared. Our Balinese dining steward Budha and his assistant Budi were excellent and gave us great service. Our likes and dislikes were learned very quickly and there was every attrempt to provide good service. Budha has now returned home to get married and will forsake life at sea in the future. He is a great loss.
FOOD The food generally was very varied and exceptionally good. The special buffets that featured several days during lunch were excellent. The pizzas were delicious and even the New Yorkers agreed on that scrore! Each day the menu featured a different Italian Regional Speciality. This could be an appetizer, a soup, an entree, a dessert. In view of the huge regional variations in Italian cuisine this was interesting. There were one or two items on the menu I did not enjoy. The Tournedo Rossini was especially poor and not the correct cut and this day the mange tout (snow peas) were yellow and way overcooked. The Prime Rib on the other hand was a Ambrosia! The lamb too was outstanding!! The lobster and seafood/fish in general were perfect!
Our waiter (and others too) was happy to serve as a meal 2 appetizers or two entrees, to bring a small portion of risotto and a small portion of the pasta both of which were excellent. Requests for off menu items were received well and met with pleasure.
I heard comments about individual menus. For instance one evening "Cheese" there was one cheese dish in the appetizers. Cheese included in one soup. Cheese included in the salad. Cheese in the Risotto. Melted cheese with one of the entrees. Quiche was the vegetarian dish that day. There was a selection of cheeses and then a cheesecake. I hasten to add all the cheeses were of different types!. My meal that day was a white fish and orange mousse, the risotto - a small portion only, a grilled steak with salad, and then fresh fruit. Delicious and certainly not "cheesed off". We specifically ¨requested L' Approdo and were not disapponted. We like the " feel" of this restaurant far more than the larger La Caravella. First sitting was at 6 p.m. Second Sitting was 8.30 p.m. We had selected second sitting always enjoyed a leisurely meal and left the restaurant every evening by 10.30 at the very latest. The "show" for second sitting diners was 10.45p.m. so this worked out well. ENTERTAINMENT. Generally were good although there was one disaster. The Tenor left us at San Juan and we picked up various other entertainers at other ports who did "one off" shows. The predatory female singer who joined us at Tenerife was certainly not in the same class as Romancia - a wonderful young lady from Barbados and a great singer with a varied repertoire with the PopCorn band in Caruso Lounge. We believe that they and she should have been used far more throughout the cruise. We rolled with laughter when she received a complaint that she did not sing all her numbers in English!! The magician was a great entertainer and he and his wife were genuine delightful and very approachable people happy to mix with the passengers and give special " off stage and close up" shows. The dancers were outstanding. The Can Can and RiverDance routines left the audience breathless. There were numerous standing ovations.
THE BANDS. The various musicians were brilliant. Very varied from classic to Dance to Pop to Latin. There was something for all tastes. There was music at the buffet lunch, music at high tea and then from 5 p.m. music in at least one of the lounges. People managed to enjoy dancing of all styles and we certainly did our bit to wear the floors out in the various venues.We danced in the morning at Le Piscine, we sometimes danced at lunch at Il Patio, we danced in the afternoon, we danced in the evening and we danced at 3 (sometimes 4) in the morning!
THE BARS AND LOUNGES All attractive rooms with a feeling of space even though the ceilings were low. There was a scence of intimacy through clever design. There was always a feeling of being "at sea" with views over the ocean and you did not feel hemmed in. The Byblos Disco had superb views to stern with floor to ceiling windows. It was used during the day quite often by passengers seeking peace. The colour schemes were tasteful and in some rooms there was a strong art deco influence with some very attractive occasional furniture.
The drinks were of a very reasonable price - and this included the wines in the restaurants and even the mini bar. In the Piano La Cabala Bar there was a Martini Bar with a large range of Martinis!! We enjoyed several excellent Margaruitas in this bar which had lovely large windows.
THE ITINERARY. We enjoyed all our ports of call very much. San Juan/St. Thomas/Antigua/ Martinique/Barbados/Tenerife/Cadiz/Mallorca. They were interesting and we always felt safe. We were a little diappointed at some of our port times but we knew these well in advance and were prepared. We were fortunate in that we arrived 2 hours early at 18.00 hours in San Juan. We departed Martinique one hour later and Barbados 2 hours later. This extra time in the ports was very much appreciated by the passengers A lot of advance research had been done and this was pooled between our group who had all met through the internet and we were able to maximise the time in each port. At St. Thomas we were berthed at Charlotte Amalie adjacent to QM2. This was a busy day in port with 4 of the largest liners afloat all in harbour that day. We had arranged our own tour - as we did at Martinique - and had a wonderful time.
Very international mainly senior citizens but with the hearts and minds of twenty somethings. Through the wonder of internet we were part of a group of varied, interesting, educated people of several nationalities. It is amazing how well we gelled and bonded. The wonderful atmosphere generated only added to the overall enjoyment. I would like to say a heartfelt and sincere thank you to all my ship mates who might read this. May we all sail again together in the near future.
Would I sail with MSC again? Without a doubt! In fact I am already booked on the transatlantic crossing (all different ports) of Opera departing Fort Lauderdale 8th April, 2006 and counting the days
All in all a true 5 star experience.
MSC Opera was hands down one of the best cruises my family and I have ever taken. Not to mention the great value.
We booked the cruise in a guaranteed cabin (level 1) and were bumped to a level 4 room (inside state rooms). Our travel agent, while trying to keep the family cabins together, inadvertently split the family onto different sides of the ship (who would have known that 9207 and 9208 weren't close to each other???). We spoke with housekeeping about the situation and they quickly remedied the problem by moving my parents to an empty cabin on the same side of the ship I was on. :)
Our cruise started in Fort Lauderdale, went to Key West, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and the Roatan Islands. I purchased 2 shore excursions. The one in Grand Cayman was called the Cheeseburger Snorkel. It was an awesome trip that explored a local ship wreck site and a coral reef that was in front of the Burger King. The snorkel ships captain was a riot and very knowledgeable. My father and I had a blast. The second excursion we purchased was for the RoatanIslands. This was our first stop in Honduras, and we explored the butterfly and botanical gardens. My daughter liked the little shops we found...especially when one of the locals gave her a little Honduran doll to take home!
The rooms are smaller than those on Carnival, but there is ample storage space (including beds that sit higher off the floor so that your luggage can be stored beneath the bed). The bathrooms are small (as they are on most ships), but I found the shower best suited for someone my 3 year old daughter's size. Each night I had what I affectionately dubbed the shower curtain wrestle. My mother solved the shower space problem by not turning the water on full force and leaving the shower curtain opened. I wish I had thought of that one!
On our first morning aboard, we met Bappoo, one of the wait staff in the Patio Restaurant. Bappoo found us a table and then told us if we came to his side of the ship for breakfast and lunch, he would take care of us....and take care of us he did. It soon became a joke that if we got up to fill our iced tea or coffee glasses you had to watch out for Bappoo. He would rush to meet your every need. In fact, on our last day at sea, my daughter dropped her spoon. Before I had even noticed her picking it up, Bappoo had replaced the dirty spoon with a new one. Now that is service!
The food aboard was excellent. There were plenty of choices that ranged from Hamburgers and hotdogs to Ethnic cuisine. The deserts were good, but not the overly sweet ones we Americans are often used to. The risotto served in the restaurant each night was to die for!
The entertainment was top notch...not the ordinary bad lounge singers you normally see on board a cruise ship. The magician was very good as were the gymnasts. The animation staff was AWESOME! Each night before the shows, the animation staff would come up with a new way to entertain the audience. One night, they followed passengers looking for seats in the theater around, and quietly slipped into the seat they were about to sit down in. Needless to say, it really surprised everyone...including my father who they played the trick on!
Like I said before, this was an outstanding cruise and I will definitely look to MSC to book further cruises!
MSC Opera, sailed to try thr line. I read it was superior class service..Not even close. The ship was very cheap, laminate oak and mirrors..not quite the elegance that you see on all ships that are new. ship was not clean and cabin so so small..I could not use my chair at vanity as it was stuck under vanity and it would hit the bed when you tried to pull it out. The cabin staff not friendly and did not stock the mini bar when requested.
I called for room service, a pot of coffee and was advised no they would not as I did not fill out form and hang on door. again cabin staff did not place any in cabin..Not a ship or line I would reccomend considering all the great choices out there..they have a long way to go to livce up to their advertising..also food was so salty..
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 toosmall. 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.
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.
Click Link for pics: http://public.fotki.com/eroller/msc_opera_-_1222005/
This cruise line was billed to be an upscale line with a former head of Celebrity directing the operations; forget about it. While Celebrity Cruise lines are known for their superior cuisine this new line, MSC cruises, will soon be known for their inferior cuisine. Truthfully this not only my opinion but also the opinion of many other people on the ship. A young couple said it best, this is our first cruise and we always heard that the dining experience was the high point of the cruise but this food is nothing to write home about.
It was not so much the preparation or the style of the cuisine as it was the ingredients or more accurately the lack of ingredients. Italian rice and pasta dishes on the menu stated shrimp, scallops and, etc., as ingredients. One tiny shrimp on an entire plate. Turkey loaf at the carving station at lunch and that was the only item that day at the carving station. How expensive is a whole turkey? On the positive side;a new beautiful ship, very clean, all service personnel was top notch, and fine entertainment particularly in the lounges.Also there were four ports of call not three as on some others.