A Right Song and Dance on the Opera
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|Reviewed By: Simmons, Purfleet on 11th Oct 2011|
|Cruise Line: MSC Cruises||Times cruised before: 10+|
|Cruise Ship: MSC Opera||Sailed: September, 2011|
|Destination: Northern Europe||Age: 46-55|
|Cabin: Inside||Occasion: Annual/regular holiday|
Oh its taken me ages to get around to this review of our recent trip on the MSC Opera, I just did not know where to start. We booked the cruise as it was cheap and fitted in with my holiday entitlement at work, and we went on with an open mind, but really knowing that it would not be up to Celebrity and Cunard standards.
Firstly the boarding went very smoothly, in fact so fast that no one bothered to take our Norovirus forms...oops! The ship is not pretty to look at, almost ferry-ish, but once aboard I was very surprised at the inside which was fine, and our cabin was the same as every inside cabin we have had, (maybe with a smaller bathroom). Oh and the tiniest blanket I have ever seen, it did not even cover the full size of the bed!
Now, just because the ship went from Southampton, did not a UK cruise make, oh no, as the ship dropped off and picked up from each port, but at first I thought it quirky for a change, but I am sorry to say that some of the other European people on board could only speak to each other loudly , and when started they all spoke together, and louder and louder.
We had upgraded to All Inclusive and one look at the bar menu had me thanking my lucky stars that we had, with tins of Coke at E2.70 +15% (nearly £3 with the exchange rate as it is) and a vodka and coke was E7.00 (inc the tip!). The free coffee was shocking, and even the sachets of Nescafe tasted wrong in the buffet, so with the AI we were happy to sit and have really lovely coffee in the Aroma Cafe, which also had a great selection of Teas at only E1.50.
If you are buying your drinks as you go don't order a double as it will cost you a fortune, and the measure is near a double anyway.Beers were also very expensive with a 285 ml Stella bottle costing nearly £4.75!!
We had a look round the ship, and got ready for a night out, There is a good selection of bars including one for ...SMOKERS!!, and you could smell it a mile away...(Wait, smokers don't get all uppitty yet!). I have no problem with smokers , as my partner only gave up last year, but this was the heavy fog you get with foreign cigarettes, you know Gaulosures (?) Camel etc, and this smell was over powering in the casino also, but I did not want to go in there so it did not worry me.
The singers in the bar were a little on the underwhelming side, and the English pronunciation of some of the songs was sometimes a bit suspect, but they all did there best, and with a pianist in another bar and a guy on a violin elsewhere it was OK, and better than I expected. We only went to one show, which was fun, with those people that hang off curtains, and twirl about, two men who juggled each other who were very good and some "dancers" twitching and shaking around a polystyrene taxi. The lead singer (English) was very good and the theater was packed and boy oh boy these Europeans do like to cheer and clap, (and talk and talk all through the show!!) . Around the pool every day there is "Fun with the ents staff...including exercise, knobbly knees type fun etc) . The "Lady Opera" show had to be seen to be believed, as the staff got some "mature" woman to pole dance and bounce on a mans laps to burst a balloon..while the male ents staff were dressed in drag with Monty Python style lipstick on..honestly!! But the Europeans loved it, they were so happy. We thought we had gone through a time portal into the Hi Di Hi holiday camp, all we were missing was Su Pollard as a mad chalet maid!
Yes the announcements were all in 50 languages, the bingo lasted weeks due to this, but we were on holiday so who cared.
We found the most amazing bar staff in the Piazza Di Spanga where bar manageress Fany and her boys made our trip, they were so friendly and funny, in fact all the staff seemed very friendly except for the cleaner in the Spa, who insisted that the door to the men's sauna and steam room was left open for all to see in. By the way the charge for the "spa" is shocking and there is no inside Jacuzzi pool, it looks like there was one but it has been replaced by wicker "relaxation" beds. The small Gym is well stocked and very acceptable.
The ship does absorb people well, and although the weather was not brilliant the few good days round the pool saw loads of beds and room. There is the normal Burger bar and a nice fresh Italian Pizza bar in the bar area.
Now on the day we got on there were about 50 Spanish teens on board (maybe only 20 but it felt like 50!) they were rampaging around the pool deck, and the nightclub but thankfully they got off in Amsterdam. According to the staff the Euro Mums just let their kids do anything they like "as they are on holiday", including splashing other people in the spas to make them get out, and play fighting in the disco at 1am. You will find very young children in the disco after 1 am.
The disco was great with "real" club music, like Lady Gaga and some great Latino house music and thank goodness only one 70's night, so we were not subjected to non stop Abba and Village People (other ships take note...we are not all 80+, I love Abba but not every night).
So far so good, then comes the highlight of the day DINNER. Now remember you are on an Italian Ship, catering to many Europeans who have no idea about "dressing for dinner", so expect on a "formal" night to see long shorts and flip flops entering the restaurant...by the way hardly any of them used the hand gel !!
The Dinners were Very nice, not superb, not WOW! just above OK. Meats were small and over cooked, in fact on Steak night the most fun was seeing the waiter ask everyone how they wanted it, but when it came it was all cooked the same. The Risottos and Pasta dishes were great , and remember on these ship you are supposed to order the pasta/ risotto as a course after the Appetisers and soups (which were also very good, with lots of beans and pulses), and portions were served so that you could enjoy the full menu. We had fantastic staff at our table, and lovely table mates, which is so important. If you are All Inclusive you have to order wine by the bottle and the three on offer are all very nice and includes a lovely Rose. The house wine in Carafes is not bad value in the restaurant either.
Now the shops...with their "low prices", I saw a watch made by Fossil, that I have seen in the UK for £90, in Hamburg for E110.00 and bought on the QM2 for $60!! which they had marked up at E139.00 Avoid. The duty free shop had some bargains but make sure you know what you are buying...(a large bag of Maltesers was E4.99), but Absolut vodka was worth buying on board and a good saving.
Now here is the quandary, we had a great time, the price was great, the itinery was a bit rubbish, but I knew that when I booked it, (apart from Bilbao, being closed as it was a Sunday, and the Guggenhiem was E30.00 each to get in if you wanted too). I hated the fact that we were in container ports (La Rochelle) and they still charged for a shuttle, even in Cherbourg (E7.00 for what was a 8 minute walk!), but the staff were great..so would I go with MSC again, and in all honesty I don't know. Whatever you do, go with an open mind, this is not P&O, Thompsons or like a full UK cruise, go full inclusive if you enjoy a few drinks and want nice coffee, expect Italian foods and lots of noisy people, and do not go on this ship in the Euro school holidays if you want peace and relaxation, cos you will not get it.
|Quality of Food|
|Main Resturants, English breakfast in the buffet was shocking , but everything else seem fine, its not a UK ship is it?|
|Oh they did try....some was good some was awful, but all done with a smile..(except the singer in the Martini bar, she looked so sad everynight)|
|None, they were so expensive, and so were the shuttle buses.|
|All the staff in "Fanys" bar, (the Spagna) and our fab waiters|
|tHIS IS NOT A SHIP FOR CHILDREN I dont have any but they were all wondering about bored|
|Oh Yes! It was just like being at Pontins. If you did'nt want to see it there was plenty of other things to do though, but the Entertainment staff were very active and always smiling|
|Very normal inside, the loo was a bit whiffy and had to ask for it to be cleaned, which it was straight away.|
Dec 06 2013 09:14AM)