Number of Cruises: 4
Cruise Line: MSC Cruises
Ship: MSC Opera
Sailing Date: n/a
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
My husband and I booked this cruise after reading many reviews and searching for a vacation that wouldn’t break the bank. Our prior cruises were aboard Royal Caribbean twice and Princess once. This was a great vacation. First, we weren’t working, didn’t have to cook, clean or make the bed. Second, we were together.
We had a great time! Below are some highlights.
Ram: A category all to himself. Ram was one of the waiters in Le Vele (the buffet restaurant). He found us on the first day, showed us to a table and assured us that if we sat in his section each day he would give us the best service possible. That he did. He spotted us when we came in, got our drinks and reserved a table for us before we were even through the line. Ram seemed to have a rather large following, as his section was always full, and he had a good rapport with many passengers. He took the time to get to know us and even noticed when we missed breakfast or when I wasn’t feeling well. Ram was top notch! I recommend looking for him on the first day and sitting in his section the entire cruise.
Dining: The food was about as good as any other cruise line; you can’t expect “superb” when a kitchen has to cook for so many people. Our waiter wasn’t overly friendly, but adequate. The assistant waiter appeared to do the brunt of the work load, yet always had a smile and was eager to make our dining experience enjoyable (more sauce, an extra dessert…). Our wine steward also took care of our water glasses. He was pleasant and didn’t mind stopping to talk to us, both in the dining room and in the various lounges. My husband enjoyed the pasta course, which could have been an entire meal in normal circumstances. The desserts were delicious, especially the ones that the Maitre D’ cooked at his station in the dining room.
Entertainment: The nightly shows were the best that we have experienced onboard. The juggler was talented and funny. The magician and his wife (I think she is his wife) were enjoyable. The variety shows kept your interest. It was also nice to see the entertainers walking around the ship. In addition, it was nice to see the Captain around the ship. He could be found in some of the lounges and even in the buffet dining room. We got to meet him at the Captain’s cocktail party, where he took the time to talk to us for a minute. That was really nice, considering we look younger than we are and sometimes are not taken seriously.
Spa: My husband got the Balinese massage treatment. All week he was going back and forth between getting it and not getting it. Finally, on the last port day, the spa discounted all massages by 25% (the biggest discount) swaying him to go ahead and get it. He said it was magnificent.
Room: Sufficient. There is plenty of storage and enough room for two. The bathroom was equally sufficient, minus the shower which was tiny.
Tipping: I really liked that tips weren’t forced upon us. In fact, being able to tip at my discretion, made me want to tip the people that I interacted with daily more generously.
Pool: The pool lounge chairs were so comfortable and it was refreshing to have the flip top to shade your eyes from the sun, making reading so much more enjoyable without the sun coming in over your sun glasses. I would have loved to have smuggled a couple off for our house. If anyone knows where to purchase them, let me know! The animation team was always at the pool, which was entertaining, but they were ALWAYS at the pool. (If you know what I mean)
Ports/Roatan: This was the only island that we booked an excursion. We went horseback riding, which we booked through http://www.BarrioDorcasRanch.com. This was so much fun. After we were finished with the ride we arranged to stop at Fosters and enjoy the beach for a while. The other ports were Key West, Cozumel and Grand Cayman. It was nice not to have a trip jam packed with excursions. We leisurely walked around the shops and the areas near the pier.
Other: It was nice to be able to buy a drink and not have to worry about having to get a second job when you got home in order to pay the bar tab. Drinks were extremely affordable and there weren’t a lot of shops luring you to the register to spend money, which helped keep the final bill lower than a cruise aboard a different line. The casino was quiet as well, which was good because it didn’t call you in. We found all of the staff to be friendly. There were lots of “hello’s” and warm smiles.
While this was a great trip and we wouldn’t mind sailing with MSC again (as long as the price stays low), there were a couple of… I don’t want to say negatives because they didn’t affect our overall cruise experience, rather minor inconveniences.
Room: We were below the Il Patio, pizza side. This is where they held the special lunch buffet and midnight buffet several nights. Let’s just say they have to set up and clean up several times a day, dragging tables across the floor. Not a big enough annoyance to make us request a room change, instead it became a joke for us. However, if you are a light sleeper you might want to make sure that you are not directly under the Il Patio.
Dining: There wasn’t that much of a selection for people on the South Beach diet. Granted, I knew that I would splurge and eat desserts and a couple of pieces of pizza; however, there wasn’t a huge assortment of vegetables on the buffet or at dinner. The salad lettuce and toppings weren’t that appealing either. You could get an omlette for breakfast at the grill, but it was cooked on the grill, and the insides weren’t warmed because the eggs cooked too quickly on the hot grill. This complaint could be due to the fact that there were so many other things that I don’t eat at home that were just calling my name making the healthier choices pale in comparison. :)
Roatan were not the same as they originally scheduled. Like I said, nothing that would ruin our vacation. In fact, we enjoyed being in Cozumel at night.
This was by far our most relaxing vacation. We went into the cruise with the mindset that we were going to relax, not plan a lot of things and enjoy having time off to spend with each other. That is exactly what we did.