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If the sun becomes too hot there is the Spinnaker Pool Bar to retreat to for a cooling drink complete with tables, chairs and umbrellas. At the opposite end is Il Patio, an open air restaurant where it would be ideal to dine in the cool of the evening.

 

 Cabins range from inside no view to balcony suites. All cabins are well equipped and as standard come with television, air conditioning, safe, shampoo and shower gel in the bathroom and that all important hair dryer. 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. Balcony cabins are a larger and whilst having the same amenities increase in size to about 172sq.ft. and balcony suites to 290sq.ft. The balconies are large enough for a table and two chairs. 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. If the food I had onboard is typical of the standard then I do not believe anyone will be disappointed. I took lunch in the La Carravella Restaurant which is the largest of the four restaurants. Dark wood chairs contrasted with beige seats and back panels. Gold drapes at the large picture windows complimented by blue and gold carpeting this really did have a touch of elegance. On most ships visits you have a choice of usually 3 different options in each category but this was different. The menu given was the normal lunch time menu and the selection was vast with up to 7 courses had you been so inclined and that did not include coffee. I started with the Seafood Cocktail, followed by a delightful Fish and Shell Fish soup. For my main I selected the Grilled Beef Strip Sirloin Steak with a creamy Mustard Sauce on a bed of Mushroom, Tomatoes and Peas. To finish was a Fresh Fruit Salad and Ice Cream all washed down with a chilled fruity white wine. In the evenings this restaurant operates the usual two seating for dinner. The food really was excellent.

 

 Opera features several entertainment lounges. The main one as well as the largest is “Teatro del’Opera”. Colour coded with blue seats and a dark pink carpet the colour scheme works well. Situated at the forward end of the ship the tiered seating gives room for 713 guests. Here are performed the main production shows and spectaculars. Sight lines are good with no obstructions so a near perfect view should be possible from all seats.

 

 The Caruso Lounge on deck 7 is a particularly nice entertainment venue to be in. Featuring large picture windows, comfortable arm chairs and settees this is the place to spend an evening with those new made friends and enjoy a drink and chat. This venue is also host to bands and cabarets.

 

 Moving on brings you to the Monte Carlo Casino with its slot machines and gambling tables. This is one of the areas of the ship that allows smoking and which some may find off putting but others a blessing, being able to smoke without having to go out on deck during inclement weather. Smoking is also allowed in one of the other bars.

 

 The Cotton Club, another entertainment venue which is set up for a regular musical group to perform. The seating is settees and semi arm chairs. There is a small dance floor for those feeling energetic. As with all the venues on board it is thoughtfully furnished with contrasting colours.

 

There are many areas I have not mentioned and did not visit due to the lack of time available. There are numerous lounges and bars, spa treatment rooms, a gymnasium and a pub which I could imagine myself being in and chatting at the bar just like home.

 

This is a ship with a white hull and superstructure topped by the dark blue MSC funnel which looks what it is, a modern smart looking cruise ship. The majority of people on board if sailing from the UK will be from the UK but if sailing from Mediterranean ports about 60% will be Italian, the other 40% consisting of French, Spanish, English and Scandinavian. The cabins are similar size to many other cruise ships but having said that they had a more spacious feel than some others. What struck me on my first visit and again this time was the size of the pool deck and the 2 swimming pools. Because of its layout it is more spacious, a word that keeps cropping up, than some larger ships. The lunchtime menu was vast and a credit to the cruise line.

 

 This is a ship that will suit families and adult couples alike. I certainly enjoyed my day on board but the time went too fast not allowing me to see many of the venues. MSC sail to many popular destinations and with 12 ships making up one of the newest fleets afloat there is something for everyone who is looking for a good cruise at a realistic price.

 

 

 

Alan Fairfax

MSC Opera

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 Visiting cruise ships is a job I personally find very satisfying. They are beautiful things but vary from company to company with each one having its own unique appeal. MSC have one of, if not the newest fleet of cruise ships in the world and today I was visiting their UK summer based ship MSC Opera.

 

As I approached terminal 104 in Southampton Opera looked magnificent with her white hull glistening in the sunshine. Boarding was very quick and efficient and within minutes we were standing at the foot of the atrium surrounded by sparkling glass and metal work.

 

 Built in France at a cost of $266 Million Opera entered service in May 2004. At 830 ft. long, 94 ft. wide and weighing in at a little under 60,000 tonnes this ship by modern standards fits into the medium size of cruise liner. Carrying a maximum of 2,200 guests and attended to by over 700 crew this gives a reasonable guest/crew ratio.

 

Today was one of those rare hot sunny days so it was a good time to see the swimming pools of which there are 2 situated on Tosca Deck. In between them are two Jacuzzi’s which were in great demand. Sun beds are in abundance and are not pushed up close together thus making the area feel less crowded.

Alan's video review of MSC Opera

Alan Fairfax -  is a professional cruise writer for

YOUR HOLIDAY TV

Alan also writes for the

Ashford Advertiser Media Group with regional papers across Kent and

www.SilverTravelAdvisor.com