The weather was horrendous on the 16th June, winds averaging force 7 with rain threatened. I decided to take a chance and head over on the Hythe ferry and walk to berth 104, where the gorgeous MSC Opera was berthed, since she was one of five (the others being Oriana, Azura, Independence of the Seas and Arcadia) so where the proposed 5th cruise terminal would be. If it rained en route, I’d get a taxi.
Opera is a gorgeous ship and perfect if you like lots of deck and spacious public rooms like I do. I fell instantly in love when I visited last year and a few months later, booked the repositioning from Buenos Aires to Southampton for April. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the year, I had to cancel due to medical appointments for my back, as well as another during that cruise. Depressing wasn’t the word! I’m glad I got another chance this year, since Norway next drops Bergen so is a day less. I do wish MSC would alternate their Southampton itineraries to give people a chance to go to Norway and the Baltics in summer. They’re starting to do Baltics to the end of July in 2013 but still not Norway. Anyway, it didn’t rain on the crossing but did spit a little as I was halfway between 101 and 104.
Thankfully I’d been to this terminal before as a visitor so knew what to expect. MSC didn’t provide any luggage labels so I went to get one then to check in which was an absolute doddle. It was the queue for security which was dreadful and took about half an hour to get through, despite four scanners on. I’ve had it faster with just two! Too many people who don’t prepare for it when those who’ve cruise before should know better. Well once that was done it was onto the ship via the dock and a port gangway.
Not long after finding my room, my steward brought my case. That’s very fast. The room is nice too – and perfect for one!
The ship is permantantly on CET which is confusing in the UK but fine after the first night. So the Daily Programme said muster as at 4.15pm, meaning 3.15pm. My muster station was the casino, which was lovely and warm, and they ticked your name off their list. We had to put our lifejackets on, even though they would demonstrate how to anyway. A photographer came round which was different. Usually when you’ve got a mouthful of food during dinner. It was a very fast muster with a bell sounding at the end. Sailaway was the usual 4pm but Indy was brought forward to that too and she slipped out when we went to turn. I went out to the open deck part at the end of my corridor and was very surprised how fast we turned with the aid of our tug, Svitzer Ferriby. THEN it started to rain and I was glad there was some cover on the stern. When we reached Hamble, I went back inside.
The show was at 6.45pm for second sitting passengers and a sort of variety thing which was quite good in places, really excellent in others. The girl solo singer was magnificent. What a voice! By the time it ended we’d hit worse weather but the ship handled it very well, even keeping to 21knots. Shopping then dinner. They put singles together and it’s a really good table of people. Brenda from Liverpool, Petronella from London, Shilpa from Essex and David from Kent. Only half my dietary requirement got through so the waiter said to have my main course from the Always Available, so I chose the chicken. Unusually, he also told me what I could have for dessert. That isn’t an issue on other cruise lines. Stopped off at the photo shop then went to bed.
Sunday was Ijmuiden. This ship used to go to Amsterdam, including when a friend of mine did the Baltics from Dover, so no idea why now they stayed the open sea side of the locks. We arrived early but they apparently wouldn’t let anyone off sooner. You also weren’t allowed to just walk out of the port area. I’m glad I stayed on the ship! Really busy day – lunch then a nap! The weather was glorious for our 6pm sailaway. Costa neoRomantica was the other side of the locks as we made our escape into open water.
Shops again because Danielle from Facebook/Twitter wanted one of MSC’s cutie bears. I noticed none of the ladies tops had the name of the ship on, only men’s, and the fleeces were just tatty with numerous loose threads, which was a shame. Dinner and we had another person at the table, who had been moved apparently. Rob from Glasgow. Now I was getting fed up with how MSC handle dietary requirements. I was told I had to chose my main course AGAIN from the Always Available. Now on Celebrity and P&O, the menu would be discussed the night before so I could have almost the same as everyone else. Even Cunard, who constantly mess up my order, do that. The AA menu is bland and boring! I had the fish, which was revolting. Minute steaks will go straight through me, the chicken last night wasn’t that nice and I don’t like the final option. So it looks like from now on I’ll be ordering just chips! Lose points for not bothering to make an effort. There was a little sunset left so I popped up to the Prom deck.
So trying to connect to the internet. Absolutely nowhere in the Daily Programme does it tell you where to find wi-fi hotspots, or even if there’s an internet manager. If I hadn’t visited I wouldn’t have a clue because the signs are high on the wall and easily missed with all the other various signs around the place. The main wi-fi hot spot SHOULD be the cyber café but there’s no signal in there. I eventually got logged on where I remembered by the foyer. But don’t ask me if there are any others. I went for the 480 minute package which was 50 euros. Not bad! People have said to me MSC rip you off with various prices but I’ve so far found them average or cheaper than other lines. I suppose it’s just what you’re looking for.
Our first sea day and time for relaxing since it’s the first Gala Night later. A shame it’s raining during the day. 😦