We just returned for a delightful week on the MSC Opera. As the 'new girl' in the Caribbean I think she rates very high overall.She is truly Italian in feel but will have problems in the North American market. Americans think they want the 'Italian epxerience' but they realy want it 'American style'.
We recently sailed on Costa Atlantica and that is more what they want but we all know who is Costa's boss!
The ship itself is beautiful. A little confusing with some elevators going only so far but you learn fast which ones do that. I found it a bit strange there was no single deck that circled the whole ship but again thst was easy to overcome.
The cabins were a bit smaller than Costa but quite adequate with plenty of storage space and the bathroom was roomy. The shower and curtain were great! The balcony was narrow but it still had plenty of room to sit and enjoy the sea air and the sliding door was delightful as we like to keep the door open.
I was a little disappointed in the dinner meals but overall the food was good and there was a good choice each day. Our waiter Americo was a delightful man as was the bus boy (whose name I cannot remember,I'm sorry.The lunches in the dining rooms were usually very good and the Pizza was amazing. We did not do the late buffets but looked a few times and they did look very good.
The Animation staff were unequalled to any on any other cruise we've been on. There were very friendly, not pushy and always on the go.The cruise director Marco was great and what can I say about Joe? He just floated across the dance floor.
I found the reception and cruise tour staff a bit abrupt but that's Italian style. The non-Italian staff seemed to be more abrasive.
The American hostess Vanessa was the most unfriendly person I met on the ship. I heard this from many passengers who also all felt she was totally disinterested in everything about the cruise. I tried to have a converstation with her(I had NO complaints)but gave up as she really didn't care and did not want to talk to me and she was on duty at the time.I felt this was quite unfortunate because a a travel agency owner I was interested in passenger feed back to help me in selling this cruise. I did not meet Amanda but Patrick showed some interest in talking to me. The impression I got was if you don't have a problem don't bother me.
The entertainment was excellant and the bands were great. The music in the lounge for Afternooon Tea was wonderful..especially the violinist who made his violin dance.
It was wonderful not to have assinine photographers in your face all the time. There was action around the pool a good part of the day for those who wanted to partake but there were no loud annoucements telling you about it. There was plenty to do..a good library on board,internet for those who just can't escape 'the net' even for a week,lectures,dancing in the evening in many venues,a wonderful piano bar and quite lounges.
I like the size of this ship as you can get to know people because you see them more than once!
The embarkation/disembarkation were very smoothe.
This ship has to be sold as an Italian experience not 'Italian style'.It has the wonderful 'flavour'
of Europe without having to go to Europe. As long as your passenger knows this in advance they will enjoy this cruise much more.
I hope you do well in this market but it will be difficult as some Americans think there is only one way to do things and will not adapt to any change.Instead of complaining about the different languages why not learn a few new words?
Overall,this was a very enjoyable cruise and as I said being an agecny owner I feel comfortable selling this ship and MSC. We had some clients on the Lirica on your Jan 15 sailing and they loved every minute.
Keep up the good work.