MSC Splendida Cruise Review by domfrontqueen: Beautiful ship but staff need training in service
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Beautiful ship but staff need training in service
I booked this cruise for two reasons: because it was going to Alexandria (with the opportunity to visit the Pyramids)and because there was no single supplement.
The BA flight from Heathrow got us to Milan in under two hours, but the coach journey from Malpensa airport to Genoa took about two and three-quarter hours. We even had to queue at the port to get off.
I had checked in online, so followed the signs to the so-called Express check-in, which took longer than the ladies I had met on the plane who took the normal route. I commented on this to a member of staff who were not at all interested.
I was impressed when I arrived on board to be greeted by a member of staff who escorted me to my cabin (Cunard's White Star service has something to learn from this). The cabin was well furnished and comfortable, particularly for one. My steward soon came to introduce himself and bring my suitcase.
The clientelle is truly international. It must have been More school holiday time in Italy, as there were lots of Italian children aboard. Other nationalities were French, German, Canadian, Norwegian, Swedish, Brazilian, etc. I did not find this a problem, and preferred it to the 'middle class middle England' crowd on our Fred Olsen Christmas/New Year cruise. However, it did mean that every announcement was in at least three languages. Consequently the quizzes were rather long winded, and the Bingo must have been a nightmare!
I ate in La Reggia restaurant every night. The option was to pay extra for Mexican food or pizza in Pago Pago. The food was certainly not Cordon Bleu, more three star Italian hotel fare. Plenty to choose from as long as you like pasta and rissotto. I don't drink wine, but there were wine packages available which others on my table took advantage of and enjoyed.
The choice in the self-service restaurants Pago Pagoand Bora Bora was OK - plenty of choice but somewhat lukewarm from what I hard from others. I tended to stick with salad at lunch time. The waiters are so obsessed with clearing and cleaning that it was impossible as a solo eater to get up and get seconds or dessert, as you could come back in 30 seconds and find the place cleared! I heard this from most of the single travellers I chatted to aboard. Also difficult in these restaurants to get a drink. One day I counted over 12 waiters within sight, but not one came over and asked if I would like something to drink.
Oh yes drink! The talk of the ship that you have to pay for every drop of water and can only get a tea or coffee without paying for it at breakfast or afternoon tea. But let's face it this is a cheap shipand they've got to balance the books somehow.
I paid £70 a day and that included a scheduled BA flight, so I was not too upset by paying a couple of pounds for a large bottle of water.
The entertainment was very visual, as one would expect with an international audience. The Brits got a bit snobby what the opera performances turned in 'al together clap along' sessions. But of course the Italians treat opera very differently and it's much more a popular form of music for them. The soprano and tenor were excellent as were the dancers, but I got rather bored with the speciality acts.
Some of the evening entertainment was of the Butlins style, but there were options, and the Splendida bar, the piano bar, and particularly the jazz bar offered good music throughout the evening.
As on most cruise ships the photographers were a pain, but I did actually see one of them almost dragging one poor lady to pose for a picture. When they were printed (in their thousands, what a waste!) they were poorly displayed so it was almost impossible find your photo. We used to count the photographers as they packed up for the night while we sat in the jazz bar and there were more than a dozen of them.
I did not take an organised excursion at every port of call, but really enjoyed the four I did at Ephesus, Athens, Mount Etna and Rome.
The 'last night' was actually two nights before we got back to Genoa, as some people were disembarking at Rome. But I felt on the last day that it was all over and didn't like the feeling I was being 'thrown out' before I was ready to go. No show at all on the last evening.
All in all a good value extra holiday on a beautiful ship which may have some design faults, but then so does the QM2! Less
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Cabin review: MSC Splendida Standard Balcony Botticelli Deck 8053
8053 Comfy cabin at the fore end of the ship, so not many people passing by outside the door. The balcony was not enormous but big enough for two chairs and a table and nicely sheltered so I was able to spend many an hour reading and sunbathing out there. It was south facing on the westward sea day from Athens to Sicily and west facing in the afternoon so it was great to sunbathe after visiting Etna in the morning and we travelled north to Rome. The bed was great for oneand certainly big enough for two. I also had a full size sofa and coffee table, dressing table, fridge and wall mounted TV. Although it was only a 10 day trip and I was on my own I managed to fill the wardrobe which had about 1m of hanging space and a cupboard with drawers and a safe. The bathroom had an adequate shower, loo and hand basin unit with plenty of shelf and cupboard space. There is a little washing line in the shower which is useful for washing out undies. There are baths available in some of the cabins so if you can't stand clingy shower curtains go for one of those. The cabin was always kept clean by my Lewis Hamilton look-alike steward.
Port and Shore Excursions
Ephesus is a fabulous site which I was pleased I chose to go and see. The coaches drop off visitors at the top of the site and it is downhill to the fabulous library and theatre.
At the exit one runs the gauntlet of the vendors trying to sell everything from guide books to jewellery to turkish delight. Having got through that I was not about to stand out in the heat waiting the photographers to put their pictures on display - which is what they told me to do when I tried to board the coach for a drink of water. Needless to say I told them what they could do with their photos!
Then it was time for the 'museum visit and craft display' which turned out to be a carpet factory. This took almost as long as the visit to Ephesus itself, and exiting involved getting through a maze of jewellery shops, hat shot, food shop,gift shop, etc. Nightmare!
I chose a panoramic tour which only cost €1 more than the one where they bring you from Civitaveccia and leave you to your own devices for six hours. We picked up a guide as soon as we arrived in the city and we saw all the wonderful ancient sites, including the Colloseum and the Forum. Sadly the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain are now in pedestrian areas so we missed them but saw everything else. We were dropped off near the Vatican where we paid €10 for a coffee and bowl of strawberries. But that is only to be expected within sight of St Peter's. We had just over an hour to explore the area, so not long enough to get inside because the wait was three hours.
Cetainly a city I want to return to, even if I did not throw a coin in the fountain!!
Pleasant summer farewell
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