Hi all reviews are subjective and it's about managing expectations. After reading the mixed reviews we decided to place our expectations towards the low end of the spectrum particularly after our fantastic time aboard the Carnival Magic in Aug. Perhaps this is why we had a superb family vacation!
We are a family of 4 Brits and arrived at Malpensa airport on 17th dec. After being greeted we were told to wait by an exit. After 30 mins we were shown to our coach ,that was the last communication. As this is our second cruise we knew that the transfer would take 2 hours, we also knew that our luggage would be transferred to the ship directly, a lot didn't so confusion reigned as we strolled to the ship. We had checked in online with MSC so straight to fast pass check in and on board within 30 mins!
The Splendida is really beautiful , from the jaw dropping Swarovski staircase to the many beautiful themed bars. The ship seemed about 80 % full with majority of passengers Italian,French ,German and Spanish with a smattering of Brits and Americans
All drinks have a 15% service charge added to the list price which was the same on carnival. A 7 euro daily service charge per adult and child over 14 was also added again the same as carnival.
Our cabin number was 11029 located 6 cabins from the front and under the pool areas which was handy. The balcony cabin was a nice size and the kids( 13&11) were ok in the sofa bed. A safe,hair-drier, minibar,dressing gowns and flat screen tv were included. European 2 pin plugs are required.
We were allocated a table for4 in le Reggia restaurant table 706 upstairs. Our waiter Anibal was fine. We were the 6pm sitting and always overrun by 30 mins not surprising with 7 courses!
There were casual,informal,formal and 2 gala dinners. Gala saw a few dinner suits but mainly jacket and tie, the same for formal. The other 2 wear what you want. The dress codes were observed by about 60 % on our sitting. The daily booklet delivered to your room indicated evening dress code.
The food was Italian - appetiser,starter,soup,salad,pasta,main course,dessert. As a family we will try most foods but if Italian food is not to your liking then it's the buffet for you!
Now the buffet Bora Bora is altogether a different proposition, at peak times it is a scrum! Tip take the lift nearest to room 257 ( prefix floor no.) and this will take you to rear of buffet where it is quieter. Great for people watching, this is when our European friends start to arm wave and get excitable. Tip find a table first and guard it, even a coat on a chair is no guarantee your table will be free when you return!
To be honest we gave up breakfast after day 2 but our itinerary allowed us to as most ports we arrived at 1pm. So straight to lunch which was quieter and started at 11.00 -it was lie ins for us! We pre booked the Cheers package which was drinks inclusive with lunch and dinner - 357 euros for the four of us. This was not available on board. You still had to sign a bill each meal but the amount was reduced to zero!
You could take breakfast and lunch in the dining rooms.
The kids loved the pools but are not kids clubs fans so cannot comment also we never bothered with the main entertainment, the music in the bars was fine for us. The Christmas decorations began to appear after day 2 and were a great seasonal touch.
The staff in general were great and courteous at all times but then we had no problems. Our cabin steward was a star the wife loved the no making of beds etc.
The biggest bonus for us was the weather, average 19 C and in Valencia peaked at 24! Clear blue skies all week.
The ports we visited were Barcelona, Casablanca ( tip take a taxi to Hassan 11 mosque with worlds tallest minaret tower, it is not walkable. Taxis become cheaper as you walk out of immediate area. If you walk to town allow 35 mins, taking a right at the crossroads. There is a market behind a walled area which is good fun if you are assertive. The wife was not happy and had us back on the ship within 2 hours!). Gibraltar, Valencia and Marseille were the others.
Summing up a great family holiday we would definitely go with MSC again as long as the price was as good as this was.