MSC Opera

MSC Cruises

Ship information

MSC Opera

About MSC Opera

The 2,150-passenger MSC Opera is one of four medium-sized Lirica-class ships, dating from 2004 (the others are Armonia, Lirica and Sinfonia).

MSC Cruises spent more than $200 million on Opera and the rest of the Mistral class during a two-year refurbishment program in 2014–2015 that saw a nearly 80-foot-long section sandwiched into the middle of each ship. The "stretching" procedure added nearly 200 more cabins -- 94 of which have balconies. During the refurbishment, the line also took the chance to update the spa and childcare facilities, as well as to add an interactive water feature called the Spray Park to the top deck.

The result is a ship that looks and feels contemporary, despite its advanced years. MSC has really thought about what ship would fit best for this Cuba itinerary, and has gone to great lengths to give it a Cuban feel in terms of entertainment and cuisine, as well as some well thought out shore excursions.

Opera does have its limitations, however, not least the crush at peak hours at the buffet and the lack of dining options.

The ship has been homeporting in Havana, Cuba from the winter 2015-16 season, and stays two nights and two and a half days in the Cuban capital, which means you can get a real feel for the city, enjoying its nightspots and -- if you're feeling adventurous -- venturing out to discover other parts of Cuba during the day.

Opera also stops in Montego Bay, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Cozumel, Mexico. Opera was joined by sister ship MSC Armonia in winter 2016.

Cabins

MSC Opera has 12 cabin types available

Inside Cabins

3 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

3 Inside types to choose from

Inside Cabins

3 Inside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

5 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

5 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

5 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

5 Outside types to choose from

Outside Cabins

5 Outside types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

3 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

3 Balcony types to choose from

Balcony Cabins

3 Balcony types to choose from

Suite Cabins

1 Suite types to choose from

Deck Plans

9 deck images available

Activities and Entertainment

Theater

The Teatro dell'Opera is situated at the front of the ship across two decks. It's large, gilt and ornate with seating for 713 people. There are a variety of performances throughout the week, some a bit cheesy like a Dirty Dancing tribute and others revue-type shows, but when docked in Havana there is an absolute standout called Legendarios del Guajirito, by a group of musicians which include some original members of the legendary Buena Vista Social Club. MSC has managed to secure a weekly performance from these Cuban maestros in the main theatre and the show is a lot better than an overpriced shore excursion to the Tropicana Club. The only thing is, it costs, so there is usually a pretty small audience, which is a shame as there is lots of audience participation (on stage and in your seats), wonderful Cuban music and great dancing.

The theater is little-used during the day, though there is the occasional show such as the end-of-cruise performance by the kids onboard.

Daily Fun

During the day, many of the activities center round the pool, with early morning aerobics, stretching, and a walk round the ship with the endlessly energetic entertainment team. You'll also find Bingo here, with the announcer repeating the numbers in all the languages represented; Sudoku and quizzes. On top of this, there are dance lessons, cocktail demos, table soccer and Zumba, as well as lots of impromptu music and pool parties. The exuberant entertainment team practically shame the guests into participating, acting as cheerleaders for enjoyment and inclusion. They may have to shout their instructions in five languages, but all the passengers get the meaning -- get up and dance! 

Other day time activities include language lessons (Italian, of course, or Japanese), craft creations and card games, which take place in the Cotton Club. You'll find live music playing everywhere: at the pool, at the al fresco dining spots, during tea, in the main lounges on Deck 5 -- all performed by a talented group of musicians including bands, trios and pianists.

A 24-hour arcade with various video games is located on Deck 6, just outside the Teen Club and part of it, though open to all.

At Night

The poolside fun is not restricted to the daytime; dance lessons continue here at night, as well wonderful shows from Cuban locals (when the ship is Havana). Elsewhere, you'll find karaoke in Byblos Disco, as well as dance lessons and crazy competitions, often aimed at teens.

Med Pearl Casino (Deck 6): Roulette tables, blackjack, poker and Texas Hold 'Em competitions take place here daily. There is also a bar.

MSC Opera Bars and Lounges

There's always something happening in the bars and clubs on Opera, and the ship has a fun, young vibe, with people eating late, drinking later and dancing until the wee small hours.

Piazza di Spagna Lounge (Deck 5): Large bar, which is popular for "meet the officers" events and after dinner drinks.

Sottovento Pub (Deck 5): Smokers rejoice (or non-smokers be warned), this English-style pub allows smoking on one side. It's dark, and has banquette style seating against the wall. There is a good selection of reasonably-priced international ciders and beers including stouts, pilseners and ales. You'll find Bucanero and Cristal, from Cuba, as well as Red Stripe from Jamaica, plus Heineken, Amstel and Sol. If you're feeling inclined, you can even order "Un metro di birra" -- a meter of beer -- which is 10 different draught beers of your choice for 22 euros. You can also order a limited selection of sandwiches and desserts here.

Aroma Coffee Bar (Deck 6): This is in a nice spot overlooking the atrium and does a small variety of free pastries and a wide variety of for-fee coffees and teas from a reasonable 1.40 euros for an espresso and 1.70 euros for a latte. Live music takes place here at night.

La Cabala Piano Bar (Deck 6): This is one of those "walk through" bars, with corridors either side full of people heading to or from the theater or the dining rooms. As such, it suffers from a lack of atmosphere. It is a small lounge sandwiched between the photo shop and the casino and has a small bar, banquette seating and as the name suggests, a piano which is played from 5.30 p.m. every evening. This is where the Black Card Holders (MSC's top tier loyalty club) meet once a cruise for drinks and the chance to meet with with the officers.

Casino Bar (Deck 6): The casino bar.

Cotton Club Music Hall (Deck 6): This is a large lounge with a big dancefloor where ballroom and dance classes take place throughout the day. There is a piano, a stage and a bar. Live music takes place from 6:30 p.m. through to 1:30 a.m. It makes for a lot less frantic late night spot for a drink and a dance (both in terms of crowds and music), than Byblos Disco.

Il Patio (Deck 11): Outside bar, part of the Il Patio buffet area.

Spinnaker (Deck 11): Pool bar. This is crowded all day and into the evening; head to Il Patio for quicker service.

Ice Cream Bar (Deck 11): Pool bar, serving a selection of delicious gelato and drinks.

Vitamin Bar (Deck 11): This is more of a pop up bar (there are no seats), near the pool, serving a selection of for fee healthy fruit drinks from 4.50 euros.

Byblos Disco Bar (Deck 11): A large space at the aft of the ship, which is invariably full every night till the early hours. There's a circular bar, a big dance floor and DJ booth and doors leading outside, for a bit of warm Caribbean air. In the day it's not used, and is a lovely spot to relax or read, and has great views from its many windows.

MSC Opera Outside Recreation

Pools

There are two pools on the main pool deck on Deck 11 and two hot tubs, which is not enough for a ship this size. In addition, there is the Doremi Spray Park for kids, which was added in the refurbishment/stretching. There are plenty of sun loungers and on the starboard (right) you'll find the smoking area, which stretches for a good half length of the ship.

Recreation

Shuffleboard (Deck 12) and mini-golf (Deck 13).

Sun Decks

The exclusive Top 13 Solarium is for suite passengers only, or for a 15 euros per day fee, which is a pretty good price. Up here, you'll find stunning views from the top of the ship, no problem getting a lounger, free water and cold towels and your own private bar and waiters.  

At the aft of the ship, near the mini-golf area there is also limited sunbathing.

MSC Opera Services

The hub of the ship is on Deck 5, where you will find the main reception, the shore excursion desk, the Voyagers Club (for Loyalty Club members) and a shopping area, with some high-end brand shops. There are more shops on Deck 6, including a logo shop and various duty free shops, as well as the Photo Gallery and the Photo Shop.

Towards the front of the ship you'll find a small library and an internet area with a printer, which is in scant use now that the ship has been fitted with bow to stern Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi options are divided into three types -- Streamer, which is 69.90 euros per cruise, or 22.90 euros per day, for up to four devices; Surfer, which is 34.90 euros per cruise for up to three devices or 11.90 euros per day; and Social, which is 19.90 euros/cruise or 4.90 euros/day for a single device.

Dining

Unlike other major cruise lines, where cuisine is fairly uniform on every ship, food varies across the MSC fleet, and depends heavily on the executive chef on the particular ship. We're delighted to report that the exec chef on Opera, Giuseppe Matarazzo, runs a fine kitchen, and we were very impressed with the quality in all the eateries. Being one of the smaller ships, there are no specialty restaurants, just two main dining rooms, a buffet and a couple of fast food outlets. All the pasta, pizza, pastries and bread are made fresh onboard daily, which really raises the quality of the food on offer. We enjoyed delicious pastries in the morning, with fine Italian coffee; and excellent fresh bread at lunch and dinner, including rosemary-infused focaccia and outstanding tortellini, with walnuts, olive oil and fresh herbs.

There are two main dining rooms La Caravella and L'Approdo. Both feature traditional seating (set time, set tablemates) at dinner, though the latter also features myChoice Dining for passengers who have chosen the Aurea experience. MyChoice Dining allows for dining between 7:15 p.m. and 10: 15 p.m., but it's advisable to ring ahead to advise the dining staff of the approximate time you plan to eat. MSC's dining experience harks back to a golden age of traditional cruising, so expect dancing waiters, birthday serenades and the Baked Alaska ceremony.

La Caravella (Deck 5): This is the larger of the two MDRs and is designed in a light green color. Table sizes include for two and four and larger tables with banquette-type seating. There is a raised section in the center and the ceiling is low, which gives a feeling of intimacy.

Breakfast: is served just in La Caravella. Breakfast is buffet style, with a range of cold cuts, fresh pastries, cereals, fresh fruit and hot food including eggs, bacon and sausages. There is tea and coffee served at your table.

Lunch: Lunch is served buffet-style and makes a much more civilized option than the stampede at the buffet. There is waiter service for drinks. The buffet is set up at one end of the room, and will include an appetizer which might be a seafood salad; a choice of meat, fish or veg for the entrée as well as a choice of sides and veg; followed by dessert.

Dinner: Menus at dinner offer six courses every single night, with appetizer, soup, salad, a risotto and pasta du jour, main entree and dessert. There is no "typical" night; every night is themed (Mediterranean, TexMex, Cuban), and you'll get regional specialties, which are often exceptional. On our Mediterranean night, we started with moules mariniere and a selection of Greek dips (hummus and baba ganoush), which were delicious. There were two soup choices -- a French fish soup or a spicy tomato soup -- followed by either a paella or a risotto. There were three main courses, all of which were delicious: a Tunisian couscous, with chicken and lamb; sword fish and sliced beef grill striploin which was melt-in-the-mouth cooked. Desserts included baklava and profiteroles. On other evenings, we enjoyed a rich and tasty chocolate mousse cake and crepe suzettes, which were light, caramelized and served with hazelnuts. There is always an ice cream selection.

It's worth noting, too, that the pasta and risotto selections are served in portions too huge to be considered a side order.

There is always a vegetarian dish to choose from the starters and mains, in this case tasty chickpea falafels, with yoghurt sauce. You can also mix and match from an Alternative Choice (always available) menu which features entrees of hoki fillet, steamed or grilled chicken breast and a meat dish every night. There are also a couple of alternative starters to choose from, usually reflective of the region the ship is sailing in. The ship does cater for food allergies, but you need to advise ahead of time (as in before the cruise) to ensure you are catered for.

Service is excellent: attentive, friendly and knowledgeable, with preferred dishes and wine choices remembered.

There are two gala dinners every seven-day cruise which feature even longer menus, often from a celebrity chef. MSC has a link up with Italy's equivalent of Gordon Ramsay, two-Michelin starred chef Carlo Crocco, who fronts Masterchef Italia and Hell's Kitchen Italia, who designs one of the dinners. On our sailing we had a delicious six-course menu, starting with shrimp cocktail, and followed by a lobster bisque, tortellini stuffed with asparagus tips and either a fillet of salmon or roast fillet of beef, followed by a chocolate cake.

There is an extensive wine list with the emphasis on Italian wines of course, but also plenty of choice from New World and other European countries. Glasses start at 5.50 euros, bottles at around 21 euros.

L'Approdo (Deck 6): The smaller of the two MDRs is designed in a soft color palette, a kind of light red with lots of mirrors and lights; with a slightly raised center and tables ranged round and along two separate corridors. The ceiling is very low, so there is no sense of grandeur as you might find in some MDRs. There are plenty of different seating options, with lots of tables for two.

It features exactly the same menu as La Caravella. It also has a separate section reserved for MyTime Dining.

Open: Breakfast (La Caravella only): 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.; Lunch: noon to 2 p.m.; Dinner 7:15 p.m. and 9:45 p.m.; and from 7:15 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. for myChoice Dining (L'Approdo only).

Le Vele (Deck 11): is the ship's buffet restaurant and it offers lido-style fare. Breakfast items feature the usual (scrambled eggs, bacon, hash-browns and breads). At lunch, there are two food lines (and a separate dessert and fruit station). Several salads, an array of cold cuts, hot and cold items, pastas, a carving station, a variety of fresh fruit, and some mushy, institutional desserts are available at lunchtime. Pizza and burgers are served throughout the day. Note: It gets packed quickly, with long lines forming at peak times, and it is sometimes hard to snag a table -- our advice: head outside to the Il Patio area, where there is a lot more seating. Open: 6 a.m. to 2:30 a.m.

Il Patio, located outside of Le Vele, offers al fresco snacking most of the day. On one side is the pizzeria, making fresh oven-baked pizza of at least four varieties and two pasta choices. The other side is a fast-food area, which serves in the morning as a made-to-order omelet and pancake station, and in the afternoons cooks up grilled burgers and hot dogs with fries and salads (with condiments). Open: Same times as above.

Room Service: Room service options include Caesar salads (with or without chicken), pizza (for a charge) and a sandwich. Breakfast is served from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and includes tea and coffee, hot and cold milk, juice, rolls and croissants and toast, and yogurt, but no cooked food.