MSC Splendida Cruise Review by J-T-Travellers: A gorgeous ship overall ... pity about the smoking though.
Overall Member Rating
A gorgeous ship overall ... pity about the smoking though.
Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean
So there you have it in a nutshell. We loved our cruise overall but ended up practically bronchial from the vast cloud of cigarette smoke that plumed out of the casino and into much of the surrounding areas.
Perhaps you are considering sailing with MSC and would like more information than that one tagline.
Would we sail with MSC again? Absolutely.
Our embarkation in beautiful Marseille was a breeze.
The meet and greet crew were delightful.
The food in Villa Verde was very enjoyable.
Our cabin was the most spacious we have had on any cruise line so far.
The balcony was worth it.
The evening shows were spectacular. Seriously. Spectacular. Some of the dancers were a bit frumpy but the singers, acrobats, costumes, lighting and guest performers were outstanding.
The cabin crew, as on every cruise we've taken thus far, were wonderful.
The waiters were adorable.
The food was More plentiful.
The cities we visited were gorgeous.
The Splendida is eye-poppingly stunning.
The Mediterranean is beautiful.
The ship is so large that it makes the sea seem very calm.
Even in winter we were able to swim in the lovely covered pool area.
What would we have liked to be different?
Personally I'd like to see the smokers herded off to a tender and trailled half a kilometre behind the ship but before you attack me for being unkind I'd like to inform you that I missed my one and only opportunity to visit the interior of the Louvre on the final day of our trip due to ill-health induced by attempting to extract oxygen from smoke filled air. And I have not had a cold in over 4 years! And I live a very long way away from Europe so it's not like we can just pop back over for a visit. I could go on...
Apart from that, I'd have liked to see an occasional movie or something interesting up on that big screen instead of the incessantly repeated shore tour promos. But that was no biggy really.
So yes, we would certainly cruise with MSC again.
If you have booked this cruise I expect you'll really enjoy it. I hope you do. Take some cough lollies.
PS I just put all this info in the deck plan review and thought it might also be useful for people doing actual cruise research so here it is again.
This was a fine place. I was surprised that we were not upgraded considering that our "guaranteed cabin" cruise was booked a full year in advance and we paid full fare, when I noticed some really impressive sales as the year progressed. We made friends with a couple who had paid much less than we did and were in a much bigger cabin on deck 12. I'd say this was probably due to the Australian MSC booking office's way of doing things. If you do book through the Aust. office be aware that some of the most important information you need to action prior to your cruise is found only in the small print at the base of some, not all, of your documentation. I gave them feedback to this end suggesting they use at least bold text for this in future. So if you see your online booking form information appearing in bold, you can put it down to that :-) Or use a good travel agent. That should circumvent such issues.
However, we were perfectly happy with our cabin. Less
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This was a fine place. I was surprised that we were not upgraded considering that our "guaranteed cabin" cruise was booked a full year in advance and we paid full fare, when I noticed some really impressive sales as the year progressed. We made friends with a couple who had paid much less than we did and were in a much bigger cabin on deck 12. I'd say this was probably due to the Australian MSC booking office's way of doing things. If you do book through the Aust. office be aware that some of the most important information you need to action prior to your cruise is found only in the small print at the base of some, not all, of your documentation. I gave them feedback to this end suggesting they use at least bold text for this in future. So if you see your online booking form information appearing in bold, you can put it down to that :-) Or use a good travel agent. That should circumvent such issues.However, we were perfectly happy with our cabin.
Port and Shore Excursions
This bus effectively transports you from the ship to the end of the port. If you want to make some headway into Barcelona I'd recommend choosing the blue bus that goes up to the top of Las Ramblas and much closer to the incredibly spectacular La Sagrada Familiar. This is well worth visiting. (Understatement!)
If you want to go inside you'll need to organise tickets ahead of time as the queues are long and if you've just trekked all the way from the port, as we did, you won't have time to stand in the queue for hours and then make it back to the ship in time.
We loved Genoa! It was pouring with rain and we loved it! Not the rain, Genoa. The cafes, the square, the medieval architecture, the lovely Genoans.
So you walk off the ship and into town. That's it. Easy.
There are two places we really want to re-visit. Marseille and Genoa. Via a road trip visiting all the towns, cities and villages between them. Then off to Rome for a good look around before flying home.
So as tours go... leg it.
Oh and the umbrellas are much cheaper in Genoa than in Rome lol.
Marseille was our starting and ending port.
We took a taxi from our hotel, the excellent Grand Hotel Beauvau, to the port. Do this as the port is a lot bigger than you think it's going to be and the large ships are way down the end.
If you are here on a day trip use the shuttle bus to get into town and then wander around the beautiful Vieux Port or ... and here's an insider tip. Take a taxi up to Notre Dame de la Gard and then walk down to the port before returning to the ship.
Marseille is lovely. I was full of trepidation when I read all the stuff about Marseille. We loved it and would happily revisit.
One thing though. We did take the TGV from Paris, and on advice from someone on the Marseille forum we walked from the station to the Grand Hotel Beauvau at the Vieux Port. Don't do this. Unless you are NOT wearing a very heavy European winter coat and dragging heavy suitcases.
We took the wiki-train tour around Palermo because every review I read said that we'd be pickpocketed before we knew it if we struck out bravely on our own.
So here's the thing. Put your valuables in a safe place. How you determine this is up to you, but don't carry a designer handbag over your shoulder with a wallet poking out one side and a camera sticking out the other ... get it?
The wiki-train tour was good and I'm glad we did it but I didn't understand a word the tour guide said when she was speaking in English. I did pick up a few words in French so if you're French you'll be better off.
After the wiki train we headed into the pedestrian mall area on foot and enjoyed coffee and sweets at a lovely cafe. We didn't get killed even once!
Now I know the reputation for this place is pretty bad but from what I can tell the whole world is a dangerous place once you leave the shores of Australia. I'd never come across so many warning signs and loudspeaker warnings prior to this trip ... but I digress.
Sicily is really, really beautiful. There are nice people in Palermo. We met some of them. As to the rest, put your money and phone in a safe place.
Rome is gorgeous. But then you knew that already. Our guide smoked nonstop from the moment he disembarked the bus so this was a bit of a problem because we were all handed ear piece devices with which to hear the guide prattle on ... er inform us about the wonderful history of all the places we visited. And in order to stay far enough away from the cloud of pre-breathed punguency it was necessary to forgo most of the historical anecdotes.
Inside the Colosseum itself (we had reserved "jump the queue" entry YAY!) we were treated to the story of how the ancient Romans enjoyed betting on the animals in the arena.
To make the betting more unpredictable animals from different regions of the world, who were not natural enemies, would be chained together and then aggravated so that they would fight to the death.
Shortly after that we were treated to the story of how in the movie Gladiator, women and children were shown enjoying the mortal wounding of man and animal. Whereas in truth the women were only allowed to sit in the very top rows. And thereby, according to our guide, the ancient Romans were not as barbaric as the movie made out.
Shortly after that we were shown a huge marble step which was considerably worn down. Our guide made a joke that to smooth down a large marble slab you just drag a few thousand dead hippos across it. No. Not barbaric at all ...
We did see the Fountain of Trevi. Great!
We enjoyed lunch in an underground restaurant. Great!
We visited various sites of inner-city Roman ruins. Great!
We missed out on seeing the inside of St Peter's Basilica because a political rally held up the city traffic and we couldn't get there in time. Rats!
So if your primary reason for visiting Rome is to see Michelangelo's La Pieta and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel you might want to go straight there and get in the queue.
But overall I really, really enjoyed our tour of Rome and would love to go back again, particularly to St. Peter's Basilica ...
This tour was called the Romantic tour of Tunisia. Not sure what was romantic about it but it was a really good tour and I'd highly recommend it. Our tour guide Sami (pronounced Sammy) was a delight.
The hagglers in the medina are scary. Think Raiders of the Lost Ark type bad guys. I'm sure they are very nice at home, but I would think twice about picking up anything sparkly anywhere near them in future.
On the other hand we now have an incredibly beautiful mosaic and some lovely tiles and a collection of gorgeous jewellery from North Africa to brag about ;-)
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