Many people ask, ‘What’s it like on a cruise ship’? One way to find out is by a ships visit and today that is just what I am doing. MSC Opera has just undergone a major refurbishment and looks pristine berthed at Dover’s terminal 2.
Built in France at a cost of $266 Million Opera entered service in May 2004. A major refit in 2015 lengthened the ship adding extra balcony cabins and entertainment areas making it even more appealing to the cruise traveller.
On such a sunny day Deck 11-Tosca is the place to be where the swimming pools of which there are 2, yes two, and the adjacent Jacuzzis are being put to good use by happy cruisers. Children have their own area, the Doremy Spray Park which will keep them entertained for hours. Need liquid refreshment, the Spinnaker Pool Bar with tables and wicker chairs is but a few steps away as is ‘Gelateria Italiana’ boasting 16 different flavours of ice cream. Feeling hungry, visit the other end of this deck for the Patio Outside Cafeteria, Patio Hamburger Paradise and of course no Italian ship would be complete without the Patio Pizza and Pasta bar. With all this food it comes as no surprise the well equipped gym and walking track are also on this deck as is the Byblos Discoteca for those wishing to dance the night away. After a late night what better way to rejuvenate than a visit to the Aurea Spa with its massage and therapy rooms, thermal suite, relaxation rooms and of course the hairdressers to make the rejuvenation complete.
Cabins range from inside with no view to balcony suites. All are well equipped with television, air conditioning, safe, shampoo and shower gel in the bathroom and that all important hair dryer as standard. Room service is available and there is a mini bar but the drinks, unless you are on a drinks package, are extra charge. Outside cabins with a view are the same size as the no view, about 140sq.ft. whilst balcony cabins having the same amenities increase in size to 172sq.ft. and balcony suites to a very large 290sq.ft. The balconies are large enough for a table and two chairs allowing you to relax and admire the view in comfort. There is a cabin to suit everyone.
One of the most important aspects of any cruise is the food. Most people put on weight and find their clothing a little tighter as they leave the ship and as many cruise directors say, you come on as passengers and leave as cargo and the food on this ship will not disappoint. I took lunch in the La Carravella Restaurant, the largest of the four restaurants. Dark wood comfortable chairs with arms, gold drapes at the large picture windows complimented by blue carpeting. Add bright brass and gold coloured rails and fittings and you really do have a touch of elegance. Would the food be as good as the décor? The menu given was the normal lunch time menu and the selection was vast with up to 7 choices plus the buffet with tempting meats, cheeses and salads. Choosing the Salted Cod as a main, I was not disappointed, cooked with Italian flair and excellence. To finish was a Fresh Fruit Salad and wonderful Pistachio Ice Cream all washed down with a chilled fruity Italian white wine. In the evenings this restaurant operates the usual two seatings for dinner.
When it comes to entertainment you are spoiled for choice, “Teatro dell’ Opera the main entertainment theatre and the largest venue, with colour coded blue seats and dark pink carpet this is a colour scheme that works well. Situated at the forward end of the ship, two decks high with tiered seating where 713 guests enjoy unobstructed views of the main production shows and spectaculars. Deck 6 is home to the Cotton Club where a live group perform nightly and a dance floor to help you burn off those calories, the Cabala Piano Bar, a place to relax and enjoy an aperitif with the sound sound of, yes, correct, a piano in the background, the Med Pearl Casino to chance your luck and much more.
Opera with its white hull and superstructure topped by the dark blue MSC funnel looks what it is, a modern smart looking cruise ship. The passenger nationality is dependent on where the ship is based. If sailing from Mediterranean ports it will be a mix of Italian, French, Spanish, English, German and Scandinavian, totally cosmopolitan and a host is supplied for each Nationality. Kathy, the English Host was also my guide for the day and was excellent. The ships layout gives the impression of spaciousness, helped by the use of pastel and bright colours, gleaming glass, with bright rails and metal work to great effect. This is a ship that will suit families and adult couples alike. With one of the newest fleets afloat and operating in many regions of the world MSC will provide you with a cruise that will be a memorable experience for the right reasons.