MSC Opera - Northern Europe
After having to cancel the fantastic repositioning cruise on MSC Opera from Buenos Aires to Southampton due to my back, I was thrilled to be going on at last, albeit two months late, when I booked the 16th June 2012 cruise to the Fjords on the 30th May.  There was some availability so I went for oceanview cabin 8110.  A couple of hundred more than an inside but there are some places you need a window in case there's bad weather.  I also booked a tour in Oslo, since I didn't see a lot in 2009.  The other places I can just wander.  As I had no e-ticket by the 11th June, I phoned and one was sent.  But how do I get luggage labels???  I hope there are some at the port.

The 16th arrived and Opera was berthed in 104, where the new terminal is intended to be.  I wish they'd get on with it since five is becoming normal now!  The other ships were Oriana in QEII, Azura in Ocean, Independence of the Seas in City and Arcadia in Mayflower.  The weather was meant to be raining but was okay, apart from the force 7-8 pushing me down the pier as I went for the ferry.  At least I made that one, which nornally I'd have missed but they also went way out to bring her into the pier.  The rain tried coming briefly as I walked to the terminal.
I had to get a luggage label, since I hadn't been issued any, then went to check in.  It was all a doddle but the security queue was horrendous!  They had four machines on but the hold ups were people removing things there instead of preparing.  You can understand newbies but not seasoned cruisers who ought to know better.  One old couple in front of me had only cruised once before on The Topaz for Thomson, yet the wife acted like she was an expert on Southampton boarding procedure.  That's when she wasn't moaning about everything, comparing to an airport.  Then it was on via the dockside gangway and find my room, which was by the second stairway so easy to remember.  It was a lovely room, four berth with two bunks.  A little cramped really but ideal for one which was far more important on this day.  There was plenty of storage space, detatched shower head in the bathroom, TV was rubbish unless you were Italian, French or German and a complicated safe.  All the beeping when I was trying to set it up scared me so I gave up trying.  Sockets were US and European while the info book was in several languages.  If you wanted to sit at the dressing table, it was a bit cramped.  You couldn't pull the chair all the way out because of the beds so I had it at an angle.  What was a little confusing was everything in the Daily Programme was ship time, which was an hour ahead.  So muster would be 3.15pm and second sitting 7.15pm UK time.  It would be fine after leaving Southampton.  My luggage turned up really fast, which is impressive.
I'd had some pizza from Il Patio and stupidly sat where it was quite breezy, meaning my Coke can blew off.  Muster was interesting.  I was muster station S, which is the casino.  The rest appeared to be on the Promenade deck.  As it was freezing and windy, I was glad I hadn't been out there, especially since I hadn't taken a coat.  They do a roll call - yay!  You also had to wear your life jacket.  That really should be standardised across the industry instead of having different lines do different things.  Unusually, a photographer came around taking snaps of you.  It was fairly short with a bell sounded at end to signal it over.  Then onto the end of my deck for sailway.  It wasn't raining, but was quite windy so we needed a tug.  Svitzer Ferriby attached to our bow.  The last time Opera had been berthed in 104, she backed up to the Middle Swinging Ground and turned but this time we would be going forward as usual, while Indy slipped out.  After our lines had been thrown and the men returned to the van. the security guards had trouble opening the gates in the wind.  After we'd turned and neared Ocean Dock, the heavens opened!
As visibility was rubbish and I couldn't get Oriana stalking us (the other two were delayed), I went back into the warm and dry.  It was getting a bit bumpy after we turned into the Solent - oooh!  So the question was, how rough was it likely to get before we arrived at IJmuiden in the morning?


© Patricia Dempsey 16th-24th June 2012
Not to be reproduced without permission