MSC Opera Entertainment & Activities
The Teatro dell'Opera is situated at the front of the ship across two decks. It's large, gilt and ornate with seating for 713 people. There are a variety of performances throughout the week, some a bit cheesy like a Dirty Dancing tribute and others revue-type shows, but when docked in Havana there is an absolute standout called Legendarios del Guajirito, by a group of musicians which include some original members of the legendary Buena Vista Social Club. MSC has managed to secure a weekly performance from these Cuban maestros in the main theatre and the show is a lot better than an overpriced shore excursion to the Tropicana Club. The only thing is, it costs, so there is usually a pretty small audience, which is a shame as there is lots of audience participation (on stage and in your seats), wonderful Cuban music and great dancing.
The theater is little-used during the day, though there is the occasional show such as the end-of-cruise performance by the kids onboard.
During the day, many of the activities center round the pool, with early morning aerobics, stretching, and a walk round the ship with the endlessly energetic entertainment team. You'll also find Bingo here, with the announcer repeating the numbers in all the languages represented; Sudoku and quizzes. On top of this, there are dance lessons, cocktail demos, table soccer and Zumba, as well as lots of impromptu music and pool parties. The exuberant entertainment team practically shame the guests into participating, acting as cheerleaders for enjoyment and inclusion. They may have to shout their instructions in five languages, but all the passengers get the meaning -- get up and dance!
Other day time activities include language lessons (Italian, of course, or Japanese), craft creations and card games, which take place in the Cotton Club. You'll find live music playing everywhere: at the pool, at the al fresco dining spots, during tea, in the main lounges on Deck 5 -- all performed by a talented group of musicians including bands, trios and pianists.
A 24-hour arcade with various video games is located on Deck 6, just outside the Teen Club and part of it, though open to all.
The poolside fun is not restricted to the daytime; dance lessons continue here at night, as well wonderful shows from Cuban locals (when the ship is Havana). Elsewhere, you'll find karaoke in Byblos Disco, as well as dance lessons and crazy competitions, often aimed at teens.
Med Pearl Casino (Deck 6): Roulette tables, blackjack, poker and Texas Hold 'Em competitions take place here daily. There is also a bar.
MSC Opera Bars and Lounges
There's always something happening in the bars and clubs on Opera, and the ship has a fun, young vibe, with people eating late, drinking later and dancing until the wee small hours.
Piazza di Spagna Lounge (Deck 5): Large bar, which is popular for "meet the officers" events and after dinner drinks.
Sottovento Pub (Deck 5): Smokers rejoice (or non-smokers be warned), this English-style pub allows smoking on one side. It's dark, and has banquette style seating against the wall. There is a good selection of reasonably-priced international ciders and beers including stouts, pilseners and ales. You'll find Bucanero and Cristal, from Cuba, as well as Red Stripe from Jamaica, plus Heineken, Amstel and Sol. If you're feeling inclined, you can even order "Un metro di birra" -- a meter of beer -- which is 10 different draught beers of your choice for 22 euros. You can also order a limited selection of sandwiches and desserts here.
Aroma Coffee Bar (Deck 6): This is in a nice spot overlooking the atrium and does a small variety of free pastries and a wide variety of for-fee coffees and teas from a reasonable 1.40 euros for an espresso and 1.70 euros for a latte. Live music takes place here at night.
La Cabala Piano Bar (Deck 6): This is one of those "walk through" bars, with corridors either side full of people heading to or from the theater or the dining rooms. As such, it suffers from a lack of atmosphere. It is a small lounge sandwiched between the photo shop and the casino and has a small bar, banquette seating and as the name suggests, a piano which is played from 5.30 p.m. every evening. This is where the Black Card Holders (MSC's top tier loyalty club) meet once a cruise for drinks and the chance to meet with with the officers.
Casino Bar (Deck 6): The casino bar.
Cotton Club Music Hall (Deck 6): This is a large lounge with a big dancefloor where ballroom and dance classes take place throughout the day. There is a piano, a stage and a bar. Live music takes place from 6:30 p.m. through to 1:30 a.m. It makes for a lot less frantic late night spot for a drink and a dance (both in terms of crowds and music), than Byblos Disco.
Il Patio (Deck 11): Outside bar, part of the Il Patio buffet area.
Spinnaker (Deck 11): Pool bar. This is crowded all day and into the evening; head to Il Patio for quicker service.
Ice Cream Bar (Deck 11): Pool bar, serving a selection of delicious gelato and drinks.
Vitamin Bar (Deck 11): This is more of a pop up bar (there are no seats), near the pool, serving a selection of for fee healthy fruit drinks from 4.50 euros.
Byblos Disco Bar (Deck 11): A large space at the aft of the ship, which is invariably full every night till the early hours. There's a circular bar, a big dance floor and DJ booth and doors leading outside, for a bit of warm Caribbean air. In the day it's not used, and is a lovely spot to relax or read, and has great views from its many windows.
MSC Opera Outside Recreation
There are two pools on the main pool deck on Deck 11 and two hot tubs, which is not enough for a ship this size. In addition, there is the Doremi Spray Park for kids, which was added in the refurbishment/stretching. There are plenty of sun loungers and on the starboard (right) you'll find the smoking area, which stretches for a good half length of the ship.
Shuffleboard (Deck 12) and mini-golf (Deck 13).
The exclusive Top 13 Solarium is for suite passengers only, or for a 15 euros per day fee, which is a pretty good price. Up here, you'll find stunning views from the top of the ship, no problem getting a lounger, free water and cold towels and your own private bar and waiters.
At the aft of the ship, near the mini-golf area there is also limited sunbathing.
MSC Opera Services
The hub of the ship is on Deck 5, where you will find the main reception, the shore excursion desk, the Voyagers Club (for Loyalty Club members) and a shopping area, with some high-end brand shops. There are more shops on Deck 6, including a logo shop and various duty free shops, as well as the Photo Gallery and the Photo Shop.
Towards the front of the ship you'll find a small library and an internet area with a printer, which is in scant use now that the ship has been fitted with bow to stern Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi options are divided into three types -- Streamer, which is 69.90 euros per cruise, or 22.90 euros per day, for up to four devices; Surfer, which is 34.90 euros per cruise for up to three devices or 11.90 euros per day; and Social, which is 19.90 euros/cruise or 4.90 euros/day for a single device.