Having read about MSC offering ship visits on the Cruising Mates Forum, I thought it would be nice to see round a MSC ship ship prior to our cruise in July. We applied via e-mail and were lucky enough to get the date we wanted.
We have had our booking confirmed for Sunday 24 June and are really looking forward to seeing the inside of a MSC ship for the first time.
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We have arrived at damp but dry Southampton cruise terminal. The next step is to go to the pass office in the terminal to get our passes. The tour is due to start at 10.30 with lunch at 1.00.
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After parking the car in the short stay car park we made our way to the cruise terminal to check in. The cruise terminal seemed almost deserted compared to recent visits we have made. After a short wait we were called to form a line to begin the check in process, this took about another 15 minutes and from there we were ushered through to the waiting area where we were joined by people who were actually boarding for the next cruise.
We were divided into 3 groups and ours was the last to go, our tour guide for the day being a young lady by the name of Lee Moult who is the Direct Marketing & MSC Club Co-ordinator.
Entry to the ship was on deck 6 and once everyone in our group had boarded we were gathered together in the La Cabala Piano Bar for a quick briefing, we were informed that normally the groups are made up of around 25 people but today there more people than usual so this might mean that we may not get to see as much of the ship. Our group ended having 35 people in it and Lee wasted no time in getting the visit under way so as to maximize the time available.
First stop was at the aft on deck 6 to view one of the 2 dining rooms. I was immediately aware of how narrow the MSC Opera was compared to the to much bigger ships we have experienced. When we reached the L’Approdo restaurant Lee briefly explained that this restaurant would be where you would be seated if you had elected to sit on a table for 2 as there were no tables configured like this in the other restaurant.
From there we made our way forward passing through various lounges and the Montecarlo Casino (where smoking is permitted) until we arrived at the Teatro dell’Opera theatre. My initial impression of this ship was everything seemed very compact but easily accessible. The stair and lift lobby areas feeling very enclosed.
We were shown an Ocean View cabin which was much smaller than we are used to and although it had a large window still felt very claustrophobic to me. I don’t think I could spend a 7 days in cabin of that size.
Next area to be viewed was a balcony cabin which was no bigger than the Ocean View, the only notable difference being it had a balcony.
It was then taken up to deck 12 where we were shown the Byblos discotheque which is at the aft of the ship. From there we followed our group down to deck 11 and were shown through the buffet area and Le Piscine Pool Area. The ship although 8 years old still looks immaculate throughout, the pool area being the only area of the ship which to us looked its age.
Although lunch was scheduled for 1.00pm we were informed at 12.25pm that we would be making our way to the La Caravella Restaurant on deck 5 for our lunch. The food we were served up was very impressive and we will be eagerly looking forward to the dining experience on the Musica on 4 weeks time.
Following the lunch we were then directed to the Caruso Lounge on deck 7 for a presentation and talk about MSC. This was followed by a short Q & A session where not surprisingly the main topic ended up being about gratuities. I will never understand the British mentality towards this.
Even though the tour gave us the chance to have a good look round, unfortunately we didn’t get to see all of the ship, one of the areas we missed being the spa. Everywhere area we were shown was spotless and in top condition but have come to the conclusion that this ship would be just too small for us. In particular the cabins which are the smallest I have ever seen.
I believe that MSC does have a lot of potential for us and if we get on with the Musica which a much larger ship then who knows we could become a regular cruiser with them. Their KIS (Keep It Simple) promotion with its seemly cheap prices did make an impression. It remains to be seen if the reduced prices mean certain things are cut back. We will just have give the Musica a go and find out!
Below are a selection of photos which were taken during our tour. If you keep clicking on the image you will get a slide show in a larger format.