My husband and I are in our early to mid 50's. We started cruising 5 years ago and have completed 1 to 2 cruises a year. Costa, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Silversea and now MSC are the lines we've traveled on. As for destination, we favor Europe, in particular the Mediterranean, as we are interested in the arts and all it's history and antiquity. The Splendida was chosen for it's itinerary and because it's a brand new italian ship. Costa(Italian in origin) was an awful experience and we would never sail that line again.
We started our trip in Genoa, very inconvenient if you're flying from JFK, and upon boarding we discovered that we could have started our cruise at any of the ports of call. We missed this great opportunity but have only our travel agent to blame, not the cruise line. If we had booked this online, on our own, we would have clearly noticed this feature as it is posted. Strangely, we did not receive travel documents(ticket) before departing but amazingly these documents were handed over as soon as we got off the transfer that was arranged for by MSC from Malpensa Airport to Genoa Port. This process was very organized as was embarkation. Once up the plank we were escorted by staff to our cabin where the cabin stewards met us. There is one thing I must point out and that is that the cabin stewards were remarkably quick to make up the cabin the minute you left in the morning and also at dinnertime. We stayed in an ocean view suite with balcony, mid ship on 10th floor. The room was tastefully decorated in contemporary design and it included a separate seating area. The bathroom was small but had plenty of storage. Not great toiletries but then neither did the other lines with the exception of Silversea. Towels were okay as were linens.
We were assigned to the Villa Verde restaurant which is located on the 6th floor. The waiters and maitre'd were accommodating and courteous. The food was delicious and authentically Italian cuisine. They offered some continental fare but that is definitely not their forte. So my advise to Americans, in particular to those who have cruised on American lines, is to not expect prime rib or shrimp scampi on the menu. Italian cuts of beef are different as are Italian's seafood preferences. The veal dishes, the pasta dishes as well as fish and seafood dishes were excellent. The risotto dishes were exquisite and were offered both at lunch and dinner. We ate at the buffet once and did not like it at all. We also ate at L'Olivo, one of the two specialty restaurants and this was okay. The house wine selections were really good and very cheap at about 17 euro a bottle. My favorite dessert was the gelato but the other desserts were also very good.
The itinerary was fantastic: Marseilles, Barcelona, Tunisia, Malta, Messina and Rome. The tour selections offered were adequate but we felt that the ship did not stay in port long enough, often sailing by 5:00pm or earlier.
The entertainment was the best we've ever seen aboard a cruise ship. The theatre was beautifully decorated, again in contemporary design. There are many bars offering different types of music styles however the disco is mostly patronized by teenagers. It is to be noted that the median age amongst passengers was 40 and that there were lots of families. Most were European with Americans making up for only a miniscule minority. There were several different pool areas including one for adults only and different areas exclusive to children. The ship is huge and you really need to walk to get from one place to the other. The decor is elegant and modern with a warm color palette. The only critique we have about this cruiseline is that the reception staff and some of the officers were downright rude and indifferent. Also, there wss a certain level of disorganization amongst departments. Dependimg on who you asked you'd get a different answer. There were some employees that genuinely tried to assist but you had to make a lot of noise before you could get to them or they could get to you. To paraphrase the general response to our complaints: "This Is Italy!!!........"
So, in conclusion, this was a very Italian experience. We would definitely do this again and would recommend this line, in particular this itinerary and ship.