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
“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
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.