Hi, wanted to get back to everyone about our experiences aboard the MSC Opera. Returned home last Saturday from an Eastern Caribbean Cruise. Embarkation went well in spite of the fact that we had to travel 3 hours by bus. We live within minutes of Port Canaveral, so that is our port of choice. Got to our cabin in a timely manner and had a great lunch at the buffet on Deck 11. Ship is beautiful. Not glitzy like some, just very tastefully done. Easy ship to get around. Food was fantastic. Our waiter, Antonio, was the best one we have ever had in 49 cruises. No matter what we ordered, he always brought us something in addition to try. Good selection of choices, along with wonderful pastas. As was noted in previous posts, the ice cream and sherberts were so good. Bar prices were nicely priced, not as expensive as some ships. Entertainment was some of the best we have seen. There were so many standing ovations. We never missed a show. The Italian Tenor was fantastic. Wish he sang more. Each night, there were mutliple lounges playing live music. All of the groups were wonderful. We would bar hop every evening. We thoroughly enjoyed the taped version of "Il Trovatore", which was shown in 2 sessions, on sea days, preceeded by an explanation of the Opera before. We appreciated the availability of a Catholic Priest, Father Jack, for daily mass during this Lenten Season.
Times in ports, with the exception of St. Thomas left much to be desired. We have been to these ports many times, but we felt sorry for those guests who got shortchanged. St.Juan was merely an evening stop; arriving at 7 PM and leaving at 2 AM. St. Croix was a rather short stay as was Nassau.
All in all, we had wonderful table mates and a wonderful cruise. Ship was a very nice size to wander around in. We would highly recommend this ship to anyone who just wants a beautiful cruise with wonderful food and entertainment.
As in a previous post, even formal nights were easy to take. Not too many men in a tux.
Tom, please check in with all of us when you return from the Lirica. Would love to try that one too. What are your feelings about cruising aboard the Opera in the Med? We have never done a River Cruise in Europe. Sometimes I worry about leaving the country during these times. But would love to Venice and surrounding areas.
Hi geri! Thanks for your post. Well done! I think you have hit on a curiosity that many of us are pondering. That is - river cruises in Europe. The thought of stepping off a smaller but neatso (I do not want to use the word "luxurious" because the price will automatically go up!) boat in a smaller town deep in the heart of a European country is absolutely compelling. You know - a less-than-over-touristed town where you can actually stroll around and get a teeny sense of the local lifestyle. More info please! p.s. I know that MSC does not cater to this market yet, but...
While the MSC Lirica and Opera are ocean going passenger ships, here are my opinions. I think that MSC will have a more international crowd on her (than most U.S. branded ships) in Europe. That would be the deciding factor for me. MSC is well established in the European community and will be heavily booked by Euopeans. In the Caribbean, I would expect the opposite.
River cruises, on the other hand are wonderful. They penetrate areas not touched by normal ocean going vesels and expose one to the local culture. Excellent river cruise companies rated by Americans? Try Viking River Cruises, Avalon, Uniworld, Grand Circle, Peter Dielman and Amadeus. All of these offer bi-lingual or English speaking cruises. If you have done the basic European ocean cruises, do consider a river cruise for a unique experience.
Are there differences in the passenger profile between cruising in the Med as opposed to the Carribean? Not as much as I thought. Based on my experience last year, a mainstream ship (Brilliance of the Seas) had the same mix of Americans, Canadians and Brits as our most recent cruise on the Opera in December. It seems as if the Europeans are marketed or channeled into different ships than we are. One of my most interesting revelations may turn out to be a dirty little secret - we in North America can now cook and eat better than Europeans. Every bit of food we had on board ship was fresher, healthier and tastier than anything we came across on dry land in Europe.
I have found your message as well as the others that have been posted to be extremely helpful. Please consider posting it as a review as the reviews are not as current as your message and one is rather negative.
We are celebrating our 20th on board the Opera and are really looking forward to a break from the cold weather of late in Ontario!
Regarding the pools - are there plenty of deck chairs, etc Where there alot of children?
Also, is it generally full around the pool during the days at sea?
Did the Opera seem fully booked when you sailed? How long did it take you to get off the ship at the end of the cruise. It docks at 7am and we have a tight timeline with a return flight.
In answer to Aboss: Pool chairs were plentiful on the Opera. Of course, as on any other ship, there are always people who come early, put a book on the chair and call it their own. We always went up to the Solarium deck where there were always plenty of chairs for everyone and a little quieter to read or sun. There was always a lot of activity around the pool with the Animation Team. Contrary to many other reviews, we found this entertainment quite silly most of the time. We wondered if the Europeans like this sort of humor more than we did. But, it must have been just our taste, because they always got a big crowd around them. They were quite present in the lounges at night as well. One night, we sat in a lounge ready for a "Beatles" presentation, thinking we would hear some nice old Beatle songs, only to be met by the Animation Team doing silly antics wearing wigs. This wasn't exactly our taste, but the room had standing room only. So to each their own. We love music and love to sit and listen and watch the musicians.
The ship seemed pretty booked up. The Dining room was always full. That is what I use for a guide.
As to embarkation, depending on when your flight is, they will accomodate you. I think embarkation started before 9 for the early flights. We were some of the latest people getting off because we were waiting for bus transportation. We got off @ 10.