MSC Splendida Entertainment
With passengers speaking five different languages, most entertainment does not focus on words. Shows are mostly musical productions, with occasional performances by perhaps an acrobat, juggler or mime.
One night in the Strand Theatre, the two-deck main show lounge, was dedicated to a show called "Sam," billed as being about the U.S.A. It was a show about historical moments in American history as they were seen in stage presentations, such as singing cowboys and Indians. The Europeans I asked thought the show was okay but ordinary. I found it silly, like watching a television show from the 1950's.
More than a dozen bars and lounges onboard include venues for piano music, jazz and Latin dancing. Because so many of the passengers eat in the main dining rooms, at either the early or late seatings, the public areas are not overly crowded during the evening. Each day, Splendida offers live music in the wine bar (L'Enoteca), the courtyard (Piazzetta), the piano bar (La Prua), the Purple Jazz Bar and the Aft Lounge, as well as dance lessons and late night disco music with a D.J. Most evenings, Decks 6 and 7 were hopping, especially as the late-seating crowd finished dinner about 11 p.m. Bars were open until 1 a.m. and the Club 33 Disco Bar even later.
You may entertain yourself in the games arcade, or head for the Formula 1 racecar simulator and four-dimensional cinema. The simulator was under repair, so I chose the 4D Cinema, where the feature attraction was falling through a mine shaft. For 7.90 Euros, I was strapped into a bright yellow seat, handed a pair of 3D glasses, and turned toward a screen for a simulated ride on a rail car that went careening through a gold mine shaft.
"How long will it be?" I asked the attendant. "About 8 minutes," she said. "Any more, you are going crazy." I did not go crazy, but was ready for the end after bouts with broken tracks, flying, bats, falling timbers, water and close calls with cavern walls. I was entertained. By the way, the fourth dimension is your moving seat, which is not nearly as rough as any roller coaster.
Daytime activities led by the cruise staff ranged from mambo and salsa dance lessons in the Aft Lounge to games in the Club 33 Disco and a late afternoon stretch class, all at no charge. While I found some of the games confusing because of all the different languages (I had no trouble with bingo), the participants were welcoming. If you want to learn the mambo with strangers who will never see you again, this is the place.
Shore excursions at various Mediterranean ports were mostly group tours, at about 50 Euros or more. They were well run with tour guides who spoke the languages assigned. When I was required to return to my cabin for my passport in Tunis, I missed my tour bus, but the tour operator onshore provided a car and driver to take me to the tour's first stop so I could rejoin my group. I was impressed.
MSC Splendida Public Rooms
This is a big and bold ship, with lots of marble and quality fabrics throughout. It's so big that the mid-ship stairwells reminded me of a major city freeway, with several fast lanes in the middle, and a separate set of slow lanes on either side. I never made it to the middle of the stairwell freeway, which often was full of groups of people moving lickety-split between the primary cabin decks (8 -13) and either the eating, drinking and entertainment on Decks 5 -7 or the sunning, swimming and casual buffets on Decks 14 -18. I preferred to skip the frenetic space of the central stairwell and walk more slowly up and down in the double set of stairs on my side of the ship.
With 3,274 (double occupancy) to 3,900 people (max occupancy, lots of kids) milling around, the ship sometimes feels overcrowded, especially at breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria, on the open pool deck during sunny days, in the covered pool area on cool days, and around the entrances to the main dining rooms the moment doors open for dinner seatings.
The most popular gathering area is La Piazzetta, an interior courtyard with ceramic tile benches and a flowing fountain on Deck 6. Nearby shops include men's and women's fashion boutiques, and stores for jewelry, logo clothing, and a full range of candy, liquor and tobacco. The ship is wired for Internet, and the Cyberlibrary on Deck 5, with computers for passenger use, is staffed for help at midday and late afternoon.
MSC Splendida Spa & Fitness
The vast Aurea Spa complex includes a gym, sauna, steam room, thalassotherapy rooms, a Turkish bath and 15 massage rooms where the staff specializes in Balinese treatments. A Balinese massage will begin with scraping of dead skin from limbs and back, and continue with muscle massaging as deep as you would like, in the usual places, with plenty of warm oil.
At Aurea's entrance is a spa bar, offering juices and healthy snacks for a fee, though it was empty most of the day on my cruise. I sat in the bar, waiting for my massage, as the quiet rooms, as well as changing rooms inside the spa, were available only at an hourly charge.
As on many ships, passengers may want to shower in their cabins and walk to the spa in their robes, as they will be led directly from the reception area to their massage treatment. Also, you may want to carry a written list of medications that you take, as massage therapists often ask about this.
Spa prices in Europe, in euros, seemed higher than prices in North America, but ads in the daily newsletter, placed in your cabin, provided significant savings. For instance, a body scrub, with 30-minute foot and body massage, along with an hour in the spa thermal area, typically cost 152 euros, but the special price one day was 99 euros.
As with most spas at sea, be prepared for a sales pitch about health and beauty supplies by the spa staff.
The gym is well equipped with treadmills, exercise bikes and weight machines. Outside, there's a court for basketball and tennis, and a jogging track on Deck 15 that circles above the pool area on Deck 14.
The pool decks, 14 and 15, feature a magrodome (a retractable glass roof) over one pool, a big hit on Splendida just as it was on sister ship MSC Fantasia. It was added so passengers could swim during winter season in the Mediterranean, when the weather often is too chilly for such activity outside. Outdoors on Deck 14 is the Aqua Park, with spraying fountains and water jets. A second pool, the Playa del Sol, is on Deck 15. If you like to soak in a hot tub you are in luck. The main and aft swimming pool areas each have two whirlpools, and the forward pool area with the retractable roof has three more.