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“MSC Opera - Maputo and Portuguese Island”
Review of Portuguese Island

Portuguese Island
Ranked #1 of 1 things to do in Inhaca
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed April 17, 2014

The ship is spectacular. Not as big as I expected, (actually a but small with only 2 jacuzzis and two small pools for a lot of guests) but still impressed me a lot, as it was my first time in a floating hotel. The pools, restaurants and other public areas are well maintained and clean. The inside cabin is smaller than portrayed by brochure photo's, but acceptable.

From the beginning: Do not give any attention to your "boarding time", and do not waste money on "fast track boarding". Just be at the Port as early as possible - 7am will do, as the ques are very long to get on board the ship and directions/communication not very good at this point. Fast track option is only for customs and the que there is short anyway. Checking in is surprisingly painless, BUT... you will be lucky if your cabin and luggage is ready before 17:00, so pack a costume and some reading in your hand luggage.

Our trip destination was changed due to bad weather, so we stopped at Maputo instead of Inhambane. This was disappointing, as I really did not want to go to Maputo - but I suppose the weather determines the route and safety is important. It would have been nice though, to have this communicated beforehand and an option given to change the trip date.

The food was ample, but typical mass production menus - very bland, boring and definitely not the "taste sensation" as advertised and expected. To put it into perspective - most of the food would have compared very poorly to most items at any franchise take-away or family restaurant in SA. Do not expect Debonairs Pizza, KFC chicken or Steers Burgers - (just appreciate them when you get back, ;-). (Yes I used these franchises to compare, as proper restuarants would be just way out of the league)

The service on board from 95% of the staff was extremely annoying and frustrating. I found the level of English (which is expected for a South African cruise) lacking, and frustration levels therefore extremely high among many passengers. Bar service is extremely slow and cocktails small and lower grade.

Be aware that your expenses aboard will probably exceed your ticket price by far. Everything is expensive and charged in US dollars, plus a 15% service fee added to all bills. The drinks packages are not worth the effort. For 31 USD per person per day, an "all inclusive" drinks package is on offer, including "all drinks" up to $4.80. This basically means that you need to have 6 drinks per day to justify the cost of the package - which would be nice, BUT to get 6 drinks a day out of the exceptionally slow and unfriendly barmen and waitresses, is almost impossible, especially over peak times. Also be aware that this package excludes anything with a brand name or from the icecream bar, except for small cones, even if the price is below the $4.80.

The entertainment on board was very mediocre, but for one act (the "guy in the ring"). I really expected a much higher standard. The Cruise director and his "dream team" appeared very amateurish and a lot better could be done in this department.

The visit to Portuguese Island was a "nice day at the beach". Same slow bar service, medium grade food etc, but nothing spectacular - also nothing bad. Apart from the communication frustration on board to arrange the disembarkation to the island, the transport to the beach and back to the ship, and organisation on the island went smooth.

All in all I found the cruise an average experience, that I will not do again - with overpriced drinks, mediocre service and heaps of medium grade food. The attitude of the staff, from barmen, waiters, reception, right through to the dream team and entertainment, was that they were "superior", with a level of arrogance that did not make guests feel welcome or special. Guests felt "tolerated rather than treated". Staff created the impression that guests are a "necessary inconvenience".

The ship and floating hotel is impressive, the service and staff are not.

Seasick? I used medication, that helped, the sea was not very rough, but still caused a bit of dizziness. The "sea legs" on dry land for 4 days after the trip was actually a lot worse than on the ship itself!

Would I recommend it? Hard to say - if you have the money (remember to at least double the ticket price and include travel and accommodation before and after the trip) I would say do it once. Some people love it, I can have much better holidays with the same money.

35  Thank Deon L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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81 - 85 of 104 reviews

Reviewed March 25, 2014

We travelled from Durban to the Portuguese Islands on the long weekend of 21 March. It was an awesome and memorable experience, my first cruise and I'm hooked ! The ship is beautiful and tastefully decorated. Our cabin had an ocean view and we were lucky to be located next to the deck 8 so we had access to a beautiful sea view literally two steps from our cabin (8266) . There is more than enough food ranging from buffet breakfasts to pizza and burgers all day. The dinners are very small portions though - we had dinner at La Caravella - the service is excellent and attentive but you may not be satisfied and still have space for the pizza which is available until midnight on deck 11. There are great cocktails and ice cream desserts to try as well. I loved the shopping arcade ( Via Condotti ) and the public lounges which are beautifully decorated.The most relaxing thing is just enjoying the view of the sunrise and sunset on the sea and the sound of the waves. Its incredibly relaxing. There is good entertainment on board although on the third night there wasn't anything spectacular about the entertainment because of the theme - just check online at MSC if there if it is a themed cruise before you book. Also take note that on the final day (disembarkation) you have to leave your cabin at 6am and leave the ship well before 7am so its rather inconvenient. The trip to Portuguese Island is lovely and relaxing. Make sure you carry slops, a hat and sunblock as it gets really hot. The transfer o the island is rather bumpy but fun. I found that the organisation of the transfer was not well explained. Generally however there's a good use of English and you are able to communicate well with most staff. The Aurea Spa is highly recommended! We had the Balinese massage (59 dollars for 45 minutes plus a 15% service charge) it was totally relaxing the spa is located on the upper deck as well so you have a beautiful sea view to enjoy . Overall its an amazing cruise and is highly recommended.

16  Thank Mandira_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 10, 2014

We took advantage of a Groupon mystery cabin special to do the Maputo & Portuguese Island 4 night cruise on the MSC Opera from 24 - 28 Feb 2014. Unfortunately there does not seem to be much communication / process on how the mystery cabins are allocated and the ship reception had no idea what we were talking about. At the check in we were told that the ship was only about 2/3 full but there was no way we could get an upgrade. We were also allocated to the second restaurant sitting in the evening, on asking at reception we were informed, quite forceably, that there was no way of changing to first sitting as it was fully booked. On going to the restaurant, the matre d / manager changed us, no questions asked!
Having been on the MSC Sinfonia (sister ship) twice before, we were a bit disappointed with the range and quality of the food and the quality of the evening entertainment.
The transfer to the island is very well organised and flows very well.
The lunch on board the ship on the day that it is at the island is very limited.

6  Thank Rob G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 2, 2014

Tendered by rubber dingy from MSC Opera to the Portuguese Islands for the first time. It took about 10 minutes from the ship to reach the island.The island is not over populated and it is very pleasant to walk along the beach. We were fortunate to see one large and a small star fish close to the shore. MSC provides limited shelter and shade on the island.
After visiting Inhaca island ( which I have viewed separately ) had a lovely swim in the sea before returning for lunch on board. A lunch is provided by MSC by we decided to rather have lunch on the Opera.

A good day spend on these islands..

8  Thank BARRYBE
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 18, 2014

We went on a cruise aboard the MSC Opera from the 10th to the 14th Feb 2014. Think we would have enjoyed Portuguese Island more if we were better prepared. There wasn't enough shade and seating for all the passengers that got off at the island for the day. Never the less the beach was beautiful.

9  Thank Candice H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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