My partner & I spent a night in Milan after landing, caught the train to Genoa, spent the night there & woke up to watch the Splendida cruise into port.
In A Nut Shell:
Things I read about from others:
Ship Vibrations - When she is turning in port with the thrusters it vibrates like crazy. This is the only time, it is a good wake up call for you to get ready for the shore excursion.
Ship Rocking - Basically none existent. Once my partner felt funny, but so did others at the same time, unsure why, it wasn't any worse. They usually slowed ship down if the seas were up a little. When its going at 20-22 knots the stabilizers aren't in effect so they slow it down to 14 or so & have the stabilizers going.
Water at Dinner - We had it included so it wasn't an issue. The staff were happy to provide it to us, no skimping at all. Don't try to get something for free, they are on the ball in that Dept.
Fellow Travellers - We had alot of Germans, Italians & Dutch. Yes they are pushy, probably ignorant is the word. Just give them a hard elbow & they back off :) Was it an issue? Nope, wasn't that bad at all.
Lifts - You can wait a while for sure. We were close to the Aft lifts & we usually walked towards the Aft before going up to avoid the crowds after dinner, shore excursions, shows etc. I didn't have a problem with them though, there are plenty.
Navigating the Ship - Takes a bit of time to get use to it, we still went the wrong way, level 7 is the main lower floor to get places. Walk around a bit, you get use to it.
Food - Average. Nothing fancy here, it was OK, but nothing to write home about.
Ship - Great in every respect, cannot think of anything negative at all.
Staff - Under skilled, over worked (our dinner waiter did breakfast & lunch in Bora Bora & Dinner in La Reggia each day...poor bugger. The staff are smiles & happy to great you.
Entertainment - For us it wasn't an issue, mostly in Italian, it wasn't that exciting but we didn't go for this, we went for the ports.
Value for Money - How else can you travel to different countries & get fed & looked after for cheaper? Was very good.
Drink packages - Unlimited is only worth it if you train your waiter & drink like a horse. My partner was crook whole time with a cold from work before we left, I got it 4 days in so she didn't drink much wine, 1 bottle a night. She had a beer or glass of wine at lunch to make it up so Yes, we did get our moneys worth, but only just in my opinion. If you are a group then sure, you'll get your moneys worth if you like to drink, just train those waiters!
I finished up with 9 beer coupons. Last night I drank ALOT, first time I felt tipsy trying to finish them off. 9 out of 36 beers left over, this was due to not going out much to bars due to early nights because of my partner. They are great value otherwise.
Port Tours - These were fine. Hard to get pictures without people in them. We had bilingual tours twice. Being ushered round like cattle doesn't appeal to me, we'd take off & do our own thing when we could. Guides were very professional & good. We did Naples (Pompeii) ourselves, cost us $33 euros to do so. It cost $100 to do ships tour. We also had a private tour in Israel. Cost a bit but man did we see alot. We asked our dining companions what they saw & we just kinda laughed. It cost them less but they saw way less. Moti Barness looked after us awesomely.
Check-in process: We went down to the ship around midday after seeing others checking in. We dropped our suitcases off, was promptly asked for a tip for the privilege, lucky I had a few coins in my pocket :)
We did do the express check-in online, however we went into the normal check-in line to get the whole deal. First you register your CC & receive your cruise cards then follow the line to book tours, drink packages etc. We had already done our drink pages (704 & beer vouchers) & we knew what tours we wanted so we did that (they tell you to book Egypt then & there to avoid missing out, but I doubt you would, but better safe than sorry hey!).
Being from Canada we had to sign a form for H1N1 flu saying we might have to see doctor for check up...grr, discrimination, but we never had to & never heard about it after that. We got our backs scanned etc & then were taken on board where a person takes you to room, shows you how to use card in slot etc & leaves you alone.
The Ship First Impression: We immediately went for a walk around, camera in hand. The ship is massive, it is very nice inside, there is no wear n tear I could see, it felt comfortable & you immediately start having fun.
We got back to our room, found our suitcases & vouchers for tours & drinks in our room. We met our room attendant who was a nice fella, always smiling & great to have around.
The Room: The room was very nice, decor was nicely done. The room was probably narrower than I was expecting but still plenty of room. Loved the balcony & used it often. Bathroom was fine, excellent toilet & pressure from shower was great along with the hot water. The body wash was fine, I used the shampoo too & found it better than what my partner brought. The shower curtain stuck a bit, but meh, it was FINE. We were on level 13 towards the stern. I found it was rockier on level 7 in the Aft Lounge than in our higher level room, not that it was ever really rocky. There was a 2 door wardrobe & 6 drawers, plenty of coat hangers & space for us.
Dining Experiences: We were seated with a Mother & Son from England on a 6 seater. It was difficult to hear across the table with so many people in the dining room, but we had a good time with them. Our waiter always had a smile & was great to get along with. We dined at the Tex Mex where another waiter greeted us each time. Another nice fella who remembered our names after 4-5 days between visits :| scary yes...
Critical Dining Information: Food is sufficient, it is nothing fancy, probably comparable to a White Spot, Sizzler etc. The servings are small, but remember, you can have seconds if you desire. Just ask...
Bora Bora the buffet is a massive cafeteria. It is well staffed with different staff doing one specific role. The food is basic, well...very basic. There are no sculptures, displays. Just the food portions there. However, it works. You eat there after a shore excursion or in the morning where you want quantity, the food is plenty & it is fine. Just don't expect anything fancy.
The Dining rooms lack proper supervision & leadership. They are understaffed & if you don't get your waiter trained early you will end up annoyed & bitch about it on these forums. We bought the 704 drink package which gave unlimited beer, wine & soft drink. You have buckley's chance of getting value out of it unless you train your waiter!...Being Aussie I was determined to get my moneys worth. I would have a ice bucket full of Heineken by the 3rd night, drinking around 6-7 beers a sitting...But to get your drink limit is a challenge.
Drink service is slow, even when you hassle them. The food comes quick as you'd expect. But overall the staff should be in these dining rooms rather than in Bora Bora, they were too understaffed (and under skilled) to service the tables as you would expect.
Tex Mex was the only paying restaurant we went to, it is totally opposite, mainly because it is so quiet. One on one service, was great, nice & quiet too. Say HI to Hugo for us :)
Bars & Lounges: They are everywhere, the best for entertainment is the Aft Lounge. Dancing, exercises, Bingo etc are all here. Silly thing is they have the rear window section all smoking. All the non smokers have to be on the other side far away from the view....stupid, well for us since we don't smoke!!! Again, service was not prompt, they were too busy filling the fridges rather than serve us, it would have been a good 5-10 minutes sitting there. Lucky we could sit there watching the people trying to do the dancing.
Shore Excursions: You receive a newsletter for the next day with loads of information & your meeting point for the next mornings excursion. It is a little like a circus in the meeting point trying to find the right staff member to receive your bus number. All they need is a sign saying "English" & "German" & it would be so much easier!.
We never left on time, frustrating as you are limited on the time in ports, the guides never go over time on the excursion, however the ship left late waiting for some groups (Egypt). Could they do better with their organising? Yes, but it is not their fault totally. It is a two way street & the cruisers are just as at fault. People don't listen & follow instructions & dilly dally around slowing everything up, the staff sure must get frustrated, I know I would.
The Staff: Bora Bora staff were efficient as there was way too many of them. Dining room staff were understaffed & under skilled but nice as people. Tour staff were a little indifferent to you. They talked to you if you wanted to be talked to so they were fine. The english South African said she was frustrated at the lack of organising & communication for the shore excursions (They didn't call our number to go but our lady went with 7 of us & the rest stayed waiting for a good 20 minutes. We got sick of waiting went off to find our bus to find our woman there going where are they!)
We didn't go party so we never saw if any white suits were chatting up the girls. I never saw them walking the ship, but the Captain seemed nice enough when introduced at a show. You commonly see staff in corners texting or talking on their phone while they should be working. The discipline is low.
Like I said, our room attendant was great. No problems there.
Entertainment: We did one show. Holla Hoop lady, shadow puppet & a juggler. Was fine, but we didn't go to any other shows. We went to bed pretty early each night, well my partner did, I photochopped my pics from the day. Get use to CNN on tv :) That is basically it, 3 channels of english. We did the trivia one day. Not many people were there & we tied 1st, got a little foam ship :D Same day we played Bingo again. It is done in Italian but the numbers are shown on screen. My partner tied winning that too, $175 Euros in our pocket :) She then played the pokies & got another $150...sweet.
Most of the things are in Italian, hard to participate in, but when we did we had no problems.
I can't think of anything else to say right now, I can answer questions about things no worries.
MSC is not the choice for those that are experienced cruisers & wanting to be pampered. It is priced right & is value for money. It doesn't have all the bells & whistles, but it was a great experience & I would go with them again. They have room for improvement, but to bash them is uncalled for, certainly from our view.