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Ship Visit to MSC Opera

Dover - 28th July 2010

Report by Ann Haynes

All images ©2010 Ann Haynes unless noted

MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle
Photo©2010 Ian Boyle, Dover, 23rd May 2010

     
MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle
MSC OPERA - Atrium
Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle



MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle
MSC OPERA (Deck 11) - Buffalo Bill Children's Area
Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle



MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ann Haynes
MSC OPERA (Deck 11) - Aurea Spa
Photo: ©2010 Ann Haynes



MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle
MSC OPERA (Deck 11) - Spinnaker Bar
Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle



MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle
MSC OPERA
Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle



MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle
MSC OPERA (Deck 13) - Mini Golf
Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle



MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle
MSC OPERA (Deck 12) - Biblos Discoteca
Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle



MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ann Haynes
MSC OPERA (Deck 12) - Biblos Discoteca carpet
Photo: ©2010 Ann Haynes



MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle
MSC OPERA (Deck 11) - Le Vele cafeteria
Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle



MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle
MSC OPERA (Deck 6) - Teatro dell'Opera
Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle



MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle
MSC OPERA (Deck 6) - Aroma coffee bar
Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle



MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle
MSC OPERA (Deck 6) - Aroma coffee bar
Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle



MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle
MSC OPERA (Deck 6) - Cotton Club
Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle



MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ann Haynes
MSC OPERA (Deck 6) - Montecarlo casino
Photo: ©2010 Ann Haynes



MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle
MSC OPERA (Deck 6) - Montecarlo casino
Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle



MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle
MSC OPERA (Deck 6) - La Cabala piano bar
Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle



MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle
MSC OPERA (Deck 6) - L'Approdo Restaurant
Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle



MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle
MSC OPERA (Deck 6) - Caravella Restaurant
Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle



MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ann Haynes
MSC OPERA (Deck 7) - Card Room
Photo: ©2010 Ann Haynes


MSC OPERA
MSC OPERA - MSC image

I arrived at the English port town of Dover by train, so my pleasure at a ship visit grew as we glided along the coast and I could see cross-Channel ferries, a small ship with a dark funnel just visible above port buildings and a large white cruise ship that could only be MSC OPERA.

After the usual security checks and handing over of passports, I was one of a small group of Ocean Liner Society members welcomed on board the ship on Rigoletto Deck. I like the idea of the operatic theme being used for the deck names and happily followed our guide up to La Bohème Deck 12 for the start of our tour around one of the older ships in the fleet.

OPERA was built in 2004 at the Chantiers Atlantique yard in France, for Mediterranean Shipping Cruises as a cruise ship, registered in Panama, and took her place in the fleet alongside her sister ship LIRICA, which had been built and launched in 2003. Part of the origins of the company includes the acquisition of the Flotta Lauro fleet of ships in 1987, which was then renamed Starlauro Cruises. In turn the fleet was renamed again as Mediterranean Shipping Cruises in 1995, following the 1994 loss of the ACHILLE LAURO. Now the company is known as MSC Crociere Italiane, with a growing fleet of new-builds.

The ship has a tonnage of 59,058, can accommodate 1,712 passengers with and without balconies, has 4 restaurants, 8 bars and lounges, “wellness” facilities, and several play areas for children.


MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ann Haynes
MSC OPERA (Deck 12) - Biblos Discoteca
Photo: ©2010 Ann Haynes


The layout of the ship is such that Sun Deck/Mini Golf Deck 13, La Bohème Deck 12 and Tosca Deck 11 all have open deck space and facilities; Turandot Deck 10, Norma Deck 9, La Traviata Deck 8 and part of Rigoletto Deck 7 have cabins; part of Rigoletto Deck 7, plus Otello Deck 6 and Aida Deck 5 have the public rooms.

Passengers on the wide deck of Sun Deck 13 in the glorious sunshine get the chance to enjoy being at sea, with a panoramic view. Mini-golf and Shuffleboard are also available. From there we descended to see the outside jogging area on Deck 12, which surrounds the swimming pools on the deck below. Aft of this is Virtual Reality Games area on the port side, which flows into the Discoteca Byblos. This has a circular dance floor surrounded by comfortable pink-upholstered chairs, set on a pink-grey carpet. Doors opened onto a small deck looking out over the stern of the ship.


MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ann Haynes
MSC OPERA (Deck 7) - Gym
Photo: ©2010 Ann Haynes


On Tosca Deck 11 forward is the Relaxation areas and Gymnasium, with wonderful semi-circular views through the floor-to-ceiling clear glass walls. I do find it hard to understand the logic of placing this equipment somewhere with the best outward and forward looking views of the sea ahead, but then I don’t travel on a ship to use a Gymnasium. The Beauty Parlour and other relaxing facilities looked most inviting.


MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ann Haynes
MSC OPERA (Deck 11) - Swimming Pools looking aft
Photo: ©2010 Ann Haynes


Aft of this are the two large swimming pools, separated by small spa baths, with the Spinnaker Pool Bar at the forward end, and the Patio Open Bar & Restaurant at the other end. There was an Ice Cream Bar, a Beer Bar and a Pizza facility. These are all sheltered from the vagaries of the weather by high and thick glass panels stretching all the way along the side of the decks. With lots of seating around, it looked a very attractive sight in today’s sunshine.


MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ann Haynes
MSC OPERA (Deck 11) - Spinnaker Bar
Photo: ©2010 Ann Haynes


 Just aft again is Le Vele Cafeteria, which had a large cake on display, iced with the words ‘Welcome on Board’. Most passengers on this 12 night cruise had joined the previous day in Amsterdam, flying in from various locations, but about 600 British passengers were due to embark in Dover on the day of our visit, ready to sail north amongst the Norwegian Fjords. We met a member of staff who had been employed with a Guest Relations role, specifically for British passengers, and he told us this had already proved a very successful idea; the company is part of the growing cruise market in UK and wants to increase this role by basing the ship in Dover.


MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ann Haynes
MSC OPERA - Le Vele Cafeteria
Photo: ©2010 Ann Haynes



MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ann Haynes
MSC OPERA - Le Vele Cafeteria
Photo: ©2010 Ann Haynes



Everywhere I noticed that the chrome, mirrors and glass were kept beautifully clean, making this a very labour-intensive ship, but good to see. This is a 6 year old ship, but the furnishings and decorations seemed to be wearing well, and I liked the fairly subdued colour scheme of coffee, tan, cream and gold, with Mediterranean Blue on the seating. I was told that if something looks like marble, it is marble!

We were not able to see any cabins because they were either in use or about to be used, which was a shame.

We were taken down to Rigoletto Deck 7 to see the Caruso Lounge, before descending again to Otello Deck 6. Here we saw attractive L’Approdo Restaurant and wall art, before heading forward through the Cyber Café, Photo Gallery, La Cabala Piano Bar, before arriving at the Montecarlo Casino. At the entrance to this was a sign which read: “In this area, smokers are welcome”. How astonishing – I don’t think I’ve ever seen something like that before, but apparently it is very popular. Forward again is The Cotton Club, providing music; at the time of walking through it was appealing enough to make two of us immediately wish to take to the dance floor… Forward again is the Coffee Bar, leading on to the Teatro dell Opera, with excellent seating and sight lines to the stage.


MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ann Haynes
MSC OPERA - Montecarlo casino
Photo: ©2010 Ann Haynes


Reception was midships on the Aida Deck 5 below with the lower part of the theatre, the Pub aft of that, with various shops leading through to the other restaurant, La Caravella. It was here that we were to meet for lunch and I was interested to compare MSC OPERA’s food and service for this lunch with a short cruise I did two years ago on MSC MELODY.

I found that the food choice appeared good, but regrettably the reality was not. I was surprised by the residual clear liquid in the bowl (not the dressing) after finishing my salad. My entrée had a tomato ‘sauce’ covering part of it that lacked flavour and the mashed parsley potato was so soft that I wondered if it had been frozen and thawed on the plate. Such a shame, as I was hoping for delicious food on an Italian ship. Service was difficult for the waiters, as the tables for four were very close together, and cutlery, water and wine was passed and served to the person sitting next to me by means of reaching across in front of my face.

After lunch we went for coffee in one of the nearby seating areas. The serving of that proved very difficult for the steward as she tried to manoeuvre between people and chairs to get to the little tables to serve the drinks. Ah well, perhaps MSC will realise this small difficulty and be able to improve on it.


MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ann Haynes
MSC OPERA (Deck 6) - Sottovento 'Pub'
Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle


Today’s visit had been arranged thanks to Peter Godliman, our OLS Ship Visits Organiser.

I really enjoyed visiting the ship and was very impressed with the public rooms and areas, and I thought it had an excellent ‘flow’, with lots of small sitting areas which looked very inviting. The outside decks looked well cared for by the ship’s staff, as did all the furniture and fittings that I saw. I think the condition of the ship inside and out is a great credit to MSC and everyone who works on OPERA and I imagine it will be an enjoyable experience to sail on her.


Ann Haynes
July 2010


MSC OPERA - Photo: ©2010 Ann Haynes
MSC OPERA (Deck 7) - Caruso Lounge
Photo: ©2010 Ian Boyle


MSC OPERA
MSC OPERA - MSC image






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