We are off on our first cruise. Venice for a few days, then on the cruise. 12 days on the MSC Opera.
Would love feedback from others who have cruised MSC or Opera specifically...especially in the past 90 days or so.
And, of course, if anyone else will be on this cruise with us, please say hello.
It has been over 90 days since I sailed on the Lirica for the second time and I was also on the Opera for her inaugrual. They are great ships, but be prepared for a heavy international crowd on your cruise. What is your itinerary?
Venice to Croatia, Athens, Alexendria, Libya, Malta, Naples, Genoa.
We are prepared for a international crowd. Sort of targeted that experience rather than the all American Carnival Cruise type experience.
We understand the food is pretty great on the MSC cruises.
BDG, i was on the Opera in early June and i've written a lot about it on the german board of this forum. I try to write a little summary in english to wet your appetite.
The MSC Opera is a modern mid- sized ship with a tasteful, italian inspired Art- Deco- Interior in warm colours. Her condition is absolutely spotless. Our favourite lounges are the "Piazza di Spagna", the "Cotton Club" and the disco "Byblos". Be sure to watch the shows in the "Teatro dell'Opera", to me the most beautiful theatre afloat. The cabins are a little small but very functional and joyfully decorated.
The typical italian food is very fresh and tastes fantastic. In fact ist was even better than on the "Serenade of the Seas" last year. It was comparable to the food on Princess (if they had a good chef onboard). If you don't like typical italian food that much, there is always excellent grilled steak, salmon and chicken available. Only the desserts were sometimes not that good, so ask your waiter for advice. There is also ice cream, sorbet, fresh fruit and excellent cheese as an alternative. Avoid the open "house wine"- it doesn't come up with the food in terms of quality.
We enjoyed lunch in the beautiful restaurant more than in the self- service- restaurant. It is nice though, but tends to fill up very fast, with long queues at the coffee- stations. The food is great there too, but the selection is limited and the presentation mediocre. Instead i'd strongly suggest to try the typical fresh Naples- style pizza on the beautiful patio. There you'll also find the grill offering burgers, ribs, lamb chops and fish. Remember that there is no 24- hour- restaurant (there were some complaints about that).
The service in the restaurants and cabins is excellent. In the lounges, the service is very good too, but you have to request it, with a smile or a word, as the MSC- staff doesn't push drinks on you. The cost of drinks (and the excellent wines in the restaurant) is very moderate as there is no service charge. Be sure to enjoy the wonderful and cheap italian coffee specialties. The absence of silly art auctions and sales was a big plus of this cruise.
Are there negative aspects? Yes. The prices and quality of the photographs taken on board are simply ridiculous. There is a lack in organization of both embarkation and disembarkation. Also the tender service left a lot to be desired in terms of capacity. If you have questions typical for cruise- novices, don't count on the incredibly stupid ladies with their bad english at the reception. Check out the presence- hours of the "English hostess" instead. And: Don't feel bothered by some noisy and squeezing Europeans. The passenger- mix is all in all very nice, but some are like they are...
My wife and i found the MSC Opera a wonderful ship with a very special atmosphere, and we loved every single minute on her. The fact, that this experience was one of our cheapest cruises made it even more enjoyable. Your itinerary is great as it is a little adveturous with the visit to Lybia.
One last advice: In Venice be sure to see more than just the St. Marcus- Square and its expensive surrounding like 80% of the tourists do. Venice is simply breathtaking beautiful and romantic if you explore it off the beaten path.
Thank you, Tom...and Thank you, Crown Prince.
We are very excited about the cruise. And we will be sure to post a detailed review. Heck, we may even post 'mid trip'.
CP, concerning Venice: We are starting our vacation with three nights in Venice. We splurged a bit for a suite at Hotel Giorgione on SS Apolstoli. We definately want a couple of days to adjust our brains from work before beginning the cruise. Plus, we must visit not just the core of Venice, but Murano, etc.
The Wine: No problem. My partner and I do not drink alcoholic beverages, so we don't have to worry about the quality or find the cost on our bill at the end of the trip.
The Photographs: Again, not a problem. We carry good quality camera and digital production capapbility with our laptop computer.
Many thanks for the guidance on finding the english speaking hosteses.
We have booked a balcony room (not suite)on the cruise.
We actually look forward to being in the midst of the European Passenger Mix.
The itinerary is what appealed so much to us. Libya has been a challenge. The Visa process was not at all clear through MSC and we've taken it on ourselves. We are getting assistance through a Libyan Consular office in Canada as there are no offices in the US.
As our first cruise trip, I'm spending a bit too much time researching on line and I do see some mixed information, but your glowing review seems to define the majority of what I've seen.
I'd still love to run across other passengers booked on this 9 Nov departure from Venice.
if you visit Murano, be sure to have lunch at the "Trattoria Busa alla Torre" on the canal with the many shops that Tom described. You'll find the restaurant which is very popular both for Venetians and tourists on a square beneath an old beautiful tower. It was very good! Do not miss the "Basilica" of Murano next to the "Museo Vetrario" in the heart of the island. It is one of the oldest churches in Venice and to me the most remarkable one.
The Quarter near the "Fondamente Nuove" that Tom described is "Cannaregio". You'll find there a small romantic church completely made of marble, the "Santa Maria dei Miracoli", the most popular wedding church of Venice. There's also a very good fish restaurant close nearby: "Da Alberto".
Some more about the MSC Opera: To me, the balcony cabins are nicer than the suites, so your choice is excellent. Leaving the port of Venice is impressive (whatever you do, don't miss it), and you can watch it from your balcony. But as the old town lies at the left hand side of the ship, leave your balcony if your cabin is on the Starboard side. In that case i'd suggest to go up to deck 12 ("La Boheme") to the very front where the suites are, and on Portside you'll find a green "Emergency Exit"- sign which leads you to a big public balcony with the perfect view. If the weather is bad, go to the "Relaxation Room" on deck 11 ("Tosca") where you have the same stunning view through frameless glass windows.