Onboard the Opera

MSC means ‘Mediterranean style in the Caribbean’

By: Shawn Dake

Everyone enjoys making a new discovery, be it places, people or even a cruise line. I recently got to do all three in a week aboard the MSC Opera. MSC Cruises may not yet be a household name in the United States, but it’s currently one of the world’s fastest-growing cruise lines.

The 58,000-ton, 1,756-passenger MSC Opera homeports in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., from January through April, offering an interesting variety of 7- and 11-night itineraries in the Caribbean. My cruise visited San Juan; St. Maarten; and the Dominican Republic port of La Romana, for a day at the Casa de Campo resort; along with MSC’s new exclusive private island, Cayo Levantado, off Samana Bay.

MSC Opera is Italian from bow to stern. From the moment passengers step into the marble reception hall, it’s easy to see and sense the difference between this elegantly appointed vessel and the majority of new mega-ships.

No flashing neon lights or bright colors assault the eye, as clients are personally escorted to their stateroom by white-gloved staff. Earth tones and soft color schemes create a soothing environment. The professionalism of the crew is evident upon boarding.

“We hire very talented people,” said company president and CEO Richard Sasso. “MSC is a family-owned company, which is different from the corporate mentality. The key is quality, and we differentiate our product with an Italian ambiance and flair.”

As might be expected on a ship named MSC Opera, all of the decks are named after famous operas. The two lowest levels, Aida and Othello, contain most of the entertainment areas. Spanning both decks is the magnificent Teatro Dell’Opera showroom providing unobstructed views from all seats.

Above all else, MSC excels at entertainment. The spectacular evening shows combined visual effects, dancing, magic and complex acrobatic stunts that dazzled the audience. The huge cast of 23 entertainers received standing ovations every night.

Throughout the rest of the ship there was live music in every public room. The Cotton Club cabaret lounge was a favorite stop of mine for entertainment and fun games before and after dinner. Day and night, a troupe of 10 strolling entertainers, known onboard as pagliacci, or clowns, created spontaneous fun in the lounges or by the pool. Their enthusiasm really prompted guests to get involved in onboard activities.

As an entertainment bonus, select Caribbean cruises feature “Baseball Greats” interacting with passengers, telling stories and signing autographs which adds to the cruise, even for casual sports fans.

Another outstanding feature of the MSC Opera is the dining experience. Service is exceptional, and the line’s signature La Cucina Italiana offers an array of regional specialties and other choices, all prepared fresh onboard. For those who prefer to dine casually, there are indoor and outdoor dining areas high up in the ship with a good selection of dishes served buffet style. Outside, a cart serves freshly made pastas next to the pizzeria.

Cabin accommodations on the MSC Opera, while only average in size, are cleverly designed and comfortable. The balcony rooms are particularly lovely with mirrors on two sides of the bed. It made me look forward to entering my cabin, with its “wall of glass” overlooking the sea.


Travel agents will appreciate MSC Cruises’ commission structure that pays on the total cruise fare including port charges and fees. They also pay 10 percent commission on air add-ons.