MSC Opera - Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)

Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)

MSC Opera


Berlitz’s Ratings

Ship: 404 out of 500

Accommodation: 155 out of 200

Food: 234 out of 400

Service: 298 out of 400

Entertainment: 62 out of 100

Cruise: 285 out of 400

Overall Score: 1438 out of 2000

MSC Opera Statistics

Size: Mid-size Ship

Tonnage: 59,058

Lifestyle: Standard

Cruise Line: MSC Cruises

Former Names: none

IMO Number: 9240464

Builder: Chantiers de l’Atlantique (France)

Original Cost: $266 million

Entered Service: Mar 2004

Registry: Italy

Length (ft/m): 823.4/251.0

Beam (ft/m): 94.4/28.8

Draft (ft/m): 22.4/6.8

Propulsion/Propellers: diesel (31,680kW)/2 azimuthing pods

Passenger Decks: 10

Total Crew: 740

Passengers (lower beds): 1,756

Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 33.6

Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.3

Cabins (total): 878

Size Range (sq ft/m): 139.9-302.0/13.0-28.0

Cabins (for one person): 0

Cabins (with private balcony): 200

Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 4

Wheelchair accessibility: Good

Cabin Current: 110 and 220 volts

Elevators: 9

Casino (gaming tables): Yes

Slot Machines: Yes

Swimming Pools: 2

Hot Tubs (on deck): 2

Self-Service Launderette: No

Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No

Library: Yes

Onboard currency: Euros


This large family-friendly ship has pan-European style and flair

Overview. MSC Opera suits young adult couples, singles, and families with tots, children, and teens who enjoy big-ship surroundings and a noisy, big-city lifestyle, with different nationalities and languages, mostly European. The ship is designed to accommodate families with children, who have their own play center, video games room, youth counselors, and activity programs.

The Ship. MSC Opera was the second of the new ships built for MSC Cruises, Italy’s largest privately owned cruise line - the first was MSC Lirica, which had almost 100 fewer cabins than MSC Opera. The deep blue funnel is quite sleek, and features a swept-back design that carries the MSC logo. Although similar in size and structure to MSC Lirica, there are many modifications, mostly in technical spaces, and an improved layout in public rooms.

All decks are named after operas. The interior layout and passenger flow are quite good, except for a couple of points of congestion, typically when the first seating exits the dining room and passengers on second seating are waiting to enter. The decor has many Italian and other Mediterranean influences, including clean lines, minimalism in furniture design, and a collection of colors, soft furnishings, and fabrics that work well together, and without any hint of garishness. Real wood and marble have been used extensively in the interiors, whose fit and finish is very good.

Facilities include the ship’s main showlounge, a nightclub/discotheque, several lounges and bars, an Internet center with 10 terminals, a virtual reality center, a children’s club, a shopping gallery named Via Conditti with shops that have an integrated bar and entertainment area so that shopping becomes a city-like environment where you can shop, drink, and be entertained all in one convenient area. The Monte Carlo Casino provides blackjack, poker, and roulette games, together with an array of slot machines. There is also a card room, but the integral library is small, uncared for, and disappointing, and there are no hardback books.

Drinking places include the Sotto Vento Pub (under the showlounge) and the La Cabala lounge. A 15 percent gratuity is added to all drinks/beverage orders. The ship is designed to accommodate families with children, who have their own play center, youth counselors, and programming.

Anyone who is wheelchair-bound should note that there is no access to the uppermost forward and aft decks, although access throughout most of the interior of the ship is very good and there are several wheelchair-accessible public restrooms. In passenger hallways it can be a squeeze to get past housekeeping carts at certain hours.

Minor niggles include the in-your-face photographers; constant music in every lounge; and the fact that standing in line for embarkation, disembarkation, shore tenders, and for self-serve buffet meals is an inevitable aspect of cruising aboard all large ships. There is no forward observation lounge.

In May 2015 MSC Opera will undergo a ‘chop and stretch’ operation which will add an 82ft (25m) mid-section, almost 200 additional cabins, more public rooms and entertainment facilities and new shops (but no additional elevators), and more exterior deck space which will include a waterpark for children.

Accommodation. There are several different price levels, depending on grade and location: one suite category including 172 ‘suites’ with private balcony, five outside-view cabin grades, and five interior cabin grades. The cabin numbering system has even-numbered cabins on the starboard side, and odd-numbered cabins on the port side - contrary to nautical convention.

All cabins have a minibar and personal safe, satellite TV, several audio channels, and 24-hour room service. Tea and coffee are complimentary, but snacks delivered by room service cost extra.

Accommodation designated as suites - they are not true suites, as there is no separate bedroom and lounge - has more room, a larger lounge area, walk-in closet, wall-to-wall vanity counter, a bathroom with combination tub and shower, toilet, and semi-private balcony with a light but partitions between each balcony that are partial, not full. Cotton bathrobes are provided. The suite bathrooms are very plain, with white plastic washbasins and white walls, and mirrors that steam up.

Some cabins on Othello Deck and Rigoletto Deck have views obstructed by lifeboats, while those on Turandot Deck aft (10192-10241) may be subject to late-night and early morning noise from the cafeteria on the deck above. Cabins on the uppermost accommodation deck are subject to deck chairs and tables being dragged across the deck when it is set up or cleaned early in the morning.

Dining. There is one principal dining room, La Caravella Restaurant, with large ocean view picture windows in the aft section of the ship. There are two seatings for meals, in keeping with other ships in the MSC Cruises fleet, and tables are for two, four, six, or eight.

L’Approdo Restaurant is assigned to all passengers occupying accommodation designated as suites, although other passengers can dine in it, too, on a reservations-only basis. As you might expect, the food and service are superior to that in the main dining room.

Other dining options. Casual, self-serve buffets for breakfast and lunch can be taken in Le Vele Cafeteria, although the serving lines on both port and starboard sides are quite cramped and the food is quite basic, or at the pool deck outside the fast food eatery, with grill and pizzeria. Le Vele is also open for sit-down, served, but casual, dinners each evening - it’s actually open for 20 hours a day - so even in the middle of the night you can find something to eat. Extra-cost coffee/tea and pastries are served in the Aroma Café, on the upper level of the two-deck-high atrium lobby, but annoying videos constantly play on TV sets in the forward section of the area.

Entertainment. The 713-seat Teatro dell’Opera is the ship’s main showlounge, located in the forward section of the ship. It has tiered seating set in a sloping floor, and the sight lines are good from most seats, which are plush and comfortable. The room can also serve as a venue for large social functions. There is no separate bandstand and the shows use recorded music, so there’s little consistency in orchestration and sound balance.

High-quality entertainment has not, to date, been a priority for MSC Cruises. As a result, production shows and variety acts tend to be amateurish at best when compared to some other major cruise lines.

The Opera Lounge, one deck above the show lounge, is used extensively for social dancing, and features a live band. Meanwhile, for the young and lively set, there is the Byblos Discotheque, the ship’s throbbing, ear-melting discotheque. A number of bands and musical groups provide live music in the various bars and lounges.

Spa/Fitness. The Opera Health Center is one deck above the navigation bridge at the forward end of the ship. The complex has a beauty salon, several treatment rooms offering massage and other body-pampering treatments, as well as a gymnasium with ocean views and an array of high-tech, muscle-toning and strengthening equipment. There’s also a thermal suite, containing different kinds of steam rooms combined with aromatherapy infusions, at extra cost.

The health center is run as a concession by the excellent Italian company OceanView, with European hairstylists and Balinese massage and body treatment staff. Gratuities are not included, and are at your discretion.

Outside on deck, sports fans will appreciate a neat eight-hole mini-golf course that wraps around the funnel, while a walking/jogging track encircles the two swimming pools in the center of the ship.