Company is one of the world's largest container shipping lines, which started
the cruise business in 1989 by acquiring StarLauro Cruises and subsequently
renamed it as MSC Cruises. This privately-owned Italian cruise
line is nowadays the fourth largest cruise operator in the world, having twelve
ships with one more under construction.
In recent years, sailing regions of MSC
Cruises' ships include the Mediterranean (year-round), Northern Europe
(April to October), as well as the Caribbean, South America, the Middle East
and Africa (October to April). Currently no itineraries in Asia Pacific have
been introduced yet. Thus it was only my first time to be onboard a ship of
this cruise line.
One month before my travel to England,
I requested for a ship visit on MSC Opera by sending an email to the
Media Relations Department of MSC Cruises (UK). The person-in-charge soon
gave a positive reply and provided two places for me and my friend.
On 24th June, MSC Opera arrived
in Southampton in an early and cloudy morning, mooring at City Cruise Terminal.
Her last port was Bergen and next port would be Ijmuiden/Amsterdam. During
the entire summer she would offer a number of sailings to Northern Europe
and the Atlantic coast, in which Southampton and Ijmuiden/Amsterdam acted as
double homeports. Passengers could choose to embark and disembark at either
of these two cities.
We arrived at the cruise terminal at
10:00, half an hour earlier than the scheduled time. It was our first time
coming here, and it looked similar to other terminals in Southampton. At
10:30, a long queue with around 100 people started to appear in front of the
gate, probably because it was Sunday today. Some passengers also waited for
early embarkation at the same place. This resulted in a short period of
chaos. The check-in processes were longer than expected but still went
Eventually we received our visitor passes, which should be different to
those of other people as the word "journalist" was printed on them. After
passing through the security check, we came to another waiting lounge and
found our group. When all the group members were here, the staff led us to
the gangway for embarkation at around 11:00.
Our group was first guided to the
highest deck. The tour began from the Byblos Discoteca at Deck 12 aft,
followed by the open decks, and other public rooms between Deck 11 and Deck
13. Then we went downstairs for all the remaining indoor facilities on Deck
7, Deck 6 and Deck 5. For details about the ship's amenities, please refer
to the virtual ship tour in the previous section. It was, however, a pity
that we were not able to see any of the cabins.
The guided tour lasted for 45 minutes which was shorter than the original
plan. We were a bit disappointed in having insufficient time to stay at each
area and take pictures. Besides, too many people in a group made us
difficult to hear what the staff said. MSC Cruises should limit the number
of visitors on a single day. Hope the arrangements would be better in the
After touring around the ship, a complimentary lunch was served in the La Caravella main restaurant on Deck 5, from 11:45 to 13:15.
Then we proceeded to the Caruso Lounge, forward of Deck 7, for a
presentation with Q&A time. Tea and coffee were offered here. The event came
to an end after that, and we disembarked at around 14:30. MSC Opera
set sail from Southampton at 16:00.
Last but not least, we would like to
thank Isabella Shadaya and Lee Moult from MSC Cruises (UK) for arranging the
visit, which enabled us to know more about the facilities and daily
programmes of MSC Opera. We wish to have the opportunity to go
onboard another ship of MSC Cruises' very soon, and also hope to see
the ships coming to Asia in the near future.