I am going to bypass the traditional review by saying embarkation easy, balcony cabin (10128) large roomy and clean with a huge comfy bed, staff excellent and ship WOW!
I would like to buck the trend and offer useful tips that would have been useful to me and my family on our cruise on the beautiful Splendida.
Do the web check in on MSC cruise website - show this when you enter the terminal and enter a VERY short queue to check in.
We pre-booked the cheers package (over 21 days before sail date) at Â£14.85 per per person per day. Everyone on the booking (or linked bookings) must sign up for it. This includes wine, beer, soft drinks and bottled water during lunchtimes and dinner times in the buffet (during open hours) and dining room. At lunchtime, this can also be used at the pool bar! Any opened bottles of wine etc can be taken with you from the dining room in the evening to a bar where the staff are happy to supply a wine chiller and More
glasses to enjoy the rest of your evening. We have totalled up our ZERO receipts and saved Â£300 + by booking this package and making sure we always had a full, opened bottle to leave the dining room with. The wine was house white (medium/dryish), red or rose and the beer was Heineken draught, small glasses at a time.
The Duty Free shop onboard is NOT GOOD! Prices are high with a very limited choice on cigarettes and alcohol. We boarded in Barcelona where a carton of 200 cigs were approx 20 euros. You can only buy these when boarding as they check your cruise card when you disembark and they will not sell to you then!
If you are lucky enough to dock at Valetta, the duty free shop as you reboard the ship have the best prices. 200 Black Superkings/Lambert & Butler etc were 20 euros but if you buy 5 cartons, they are 90 euros (not obviously advertised) but these at the current rate of exchange worked out at Â£15.00 for 200.
Tea, coffee and iced water are available FREE 24 hours a day in the Bora Bora/Pago Pago buffet. Fruit juice in the buffet area's ( more like squash) is available during breakfast time ONLY!
The tap water in your cabin is drinkable and your cabin steward should fill your ice bucket every evening. If this is not done automatically, ask, it will not be a problem.
Room service to your cabin is available every morning for FREE. They do not expect a tip. The toast arrives usually cold but I didn't mind that and you can have croissants, butter, jams etc. The nice thing is you can at least wake up to a cup of tea or coffee as there is no coffee or tea making facilities in the cabin. Make sure you order milk though, we didn't on our first day so don't make our mistake. The tea is twinings morning breakfast tea and is fine, the coffee is ok too.
The buffet (like any other ship) can get busy, we always found a table for four at the aft of the ship which they called Pago Pago. Its a bit more of a walk to get to the food but worth it to find a table in a quieter zone.
The dining room - We ate here every night, there is a currently an Italian menu based on different regions of Italy. This is a seven course menu every night and the portions are small. The wait staff require you to order all of your savoury dishes in one go so try and have one course from each choice. There is also an everyday menu available, this is basic chicken or beef with potatoes or chips and vegetables of the day, not great but OK and we preferred the Italian menu. The Italian and the everyday menus can be mixed and mingled so try everything and a dessert menu will be given out after the main savoury starters/meals.
We found the food to be good, not excellent but generally good and it was great to try different foods from Italy. The soups were lovely, the risottos very nice and the meat and seafood dishes were good. As I said, not excellent but good in our opinion but I cannot think that anyone would go hungry after eating here there is always a good choice of dishes available.
Jewelry - Pandora bracelets and charms are cheap! a bracelet for 45 Euros and charms costing Â£40 in the UK are 23 Euros onboard. Buy early though if you want specific charms as they have little stock and the popular charms sell out in the first couple of days. They usually set up stalls in the pizza/cake area mid ship.
Our favorite bar by far was the Purple Jazz bar - Melina (the waitress in there) is a credit to MSC and looked after us well with a beautiful smile with every round of drinks. There is a group that play not only jazz music but also rat pack music and if you ask them to play Mack The Knife, you are in for a real treat! Great musicians and a nice atmosphere to relax in.
Hopefully you will enjoy your cruise as much as we did onboard MSC Splendida We would have no hesitation in booking with MSC again. The Italians/Europeans can be loud, passionate and may not believe in queuing but go with this is mind and relax. We had no trouble with the lifts, the buffet got busy at times but this can be worked around with good timing and most of all, enjoy the whole experience.