1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. MSC Cruises
  4. MSC Splendida Review
  5. MSC Splendida Cruise Reviews

4 Southampton to Europe - British Isles & Western MSC Cruises MSC Splendida Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise for many reasons. It started in the U.K., an easy and inexpensive place to reach from the U.S., and also because we were looking for something where American's would be few and finally the price was very ... Read More
We chose this cruise for many reasons. It started in the U.K., an easy and inexpensive place to reach from the U.S., and also because we were looking for something where American's would be few and finally the price was very competitive. But the problems with MSC began almost immediately. Their web site is just awful! The site almost seemed designed to confuse and frustrate the user. One example, the first time you login with your name and booking number it nags you into signing up for their "Voyagers" loyalty program. So I signed up. I now had a Voyagers club users name and password, this I was told by the web site would "simplify" using the site. LOL, no it did not! I would sign in with the Voyagers club account and the first three times I had to go through the password retrieval process because the site would not remember any of the passwords I had chosen. So I returned to signing on with name and booking number, and of course it just kept nagging me to become a "Voyagers" club member, which of course I already had. Well about a month later I tired logging on again with the "Voyagers" club account and it let me in, but now the account had no record of my booking. So at this stage I have two accounts, first the one where I logon with booking number and name, and the "Voyagers" club account which has no record of any booking. Several calls to MSC never resolved the web site usage issue. Anyway, two months before departure we contacted our travel agent and asked them to inform MSC that we would be disembarking early at Le Havre (last port of call). In a subsequent phone call to MSC (because I was unable to use their web site for anything!) they verified that they had been told of our early disembarkation plans. And this small issue turned into one of a multitude a small annoyances and hassles. This again became a problem when it came time to check in (online of course), well it didn't work..of course. So I once again had to call our travel agent, they contacted MSC and checked us in, I was told I'd receive an email with 24 hours with the tickets and other documents. Well two days later I had not received the expected email. So again I called the travel agent, again they call MSC. Finally, a day later, I receive the email with the tickets and other documents. And for each of the next FIVE days I received another email containing the same information, but oddly several of those emails were visually very different...so strange. Anyway pressing on, we arrived in London a couple days early to do some sightseeing, then on departure day made our way to Southampton. Check-in was efficient and remarkably unwelcoming. When we stepped in front of the MSC agent at the cruise terminal we handed the man our documents and smilingly said "hello". He snatched the documents from my hand without a word and barley a glance. He spent the next couple of minutes keyboarding and staring at his laptop. Beginning to wonder if there was some problem I asked the fellow, "problem?", there was an immediate and curt "no", again without bothering to even look at me. After another minute, or so, he grabs a couple of sheets off a printer hastily stamps them and hands them to me saying "OK". Thus official "welcomed" by this warm and hospital MSC crew member ,we then made our way on board. First stop, the obligatory photo with a ship's wheel and photo of the Splendida in background. Then on board to the "Reception-Guest Services" lobby on Deck 5. My first thought was how cramped and tiny it was compared to the photos of it in MSC marketing materials. Once again we show our tickets and then have a photo taken for id purposes and are instructed to proceed to our room where we'll find our "cruise card". So off to the room ,12166, it generally looked as accepted from the photos I had seen. I had known from deckplans that I had been assigned a a joining room. In my mind I thought of a similar hotel room, where ajoining rooms are separated by a door on each side, which provides from some sound insulation. Well in this case it was a single very thin hollow door. I would spend the next six nights listening to coughing/hacking, drunken cackling and idle chatter in male and female blue collar English accents..it was like there was a TV in the next room constantly playing some bad british sitcom. So after a brief stop the room we were off the the Bora Bora Cafeteria, which at first seemed OK. But as the days wore on it kept getting progressively more unappetizing. I actually believe that the quality began taking a noticeable dive on day two and just kept going, but part of the grossness was discovered as we started paying closer attention. For the most part of food was terrible. There were a few exceptions but by and large most of it was of shockingly poor quality and sloppy preparation. Some of it was just simply inedible. Here is an example; late one night we decided to avail ourselves of the buffet and a salad sounded like just the thing. Well hunger quickly turned to revulsion when I got to the salad bar. It doesn't seem like fresh clean lettuce would be much to ask for, or deliver. But, there before me was the most nauseating excuse for lettuce I had ever seen. It was literally slimy green and brown water logged chunks. The food throughout the trip was unbelievably bad. It was few evenings later when we realized that the same specials served in the "restaurant" were the same as those served in the cafeteria. It was soon crystal clear that all the offerings in the "restaurant" where exactly the same as those served at the buffet. Well so much for the pretense of dressing for dinner only to be served luke warm cafeteria food. Of course it was no surprise to discover that room service fare was also from the cafeteria. And odd things about the food service just kept coming up, like the fact that they will NOT serve coffee during dinner in the "restaurant", not even with desert. OK, so the food was simply awful in just about every way. OK! Now on to the public rooms. The Splendida is a large ship even by modern cruise ship standards, yet all of the public spaces seemed cramped and some simply claustrophobic. And perhaps it's Italian notions of what is sophisticated but all the public rooms were a bizarre combination of dark reds, brass, chrome and mirrored surfaces and it was that way just about everywhere. It was hard to tell where you where because much of the interior looks the same. There was not one grand or inviting room on the entire ship. It all had the look and feel of cramped and plastic shopping mall. On to "Guest Services", I'm sure working on a cruise ship has it challenges and is likely a hardship in many way, but still your in the hospitality business, would it kill you smile and maybe make eye contact? With very few exceptions the crew and hotel staff seemed like the only thing they hated more than life itself was the guests. I don't think I've ever seen a more poorly trained and supervised hotel staff anywhere. If they are trained in anything it was excuse making. Every single contact with guest services staff was a frustration. Rude, incompetent and completely indifferent. On one of the many occasions that I had to go to "Guest Services" I was the only person in line. There were two men standing there chatting and entirely ignoring my presence as if hoping I would simply go away, no acknowledgement of any kind, until I insisted on being noticed. And it was much the same every time I came into contact with "Guest Services" staff. They seemed very well rehearsed in the delivery of excuses. In fact, I heard staff deliver the same excuses to other guess verbatim. This was the staff I had to deal with when on the first night I asked for my room to be reassigned because my loud next door neighbors were also smokers. When I went to "Guest Services" about this issue I was told that smoking was not permitted in rooms or on balcony's, but that a room reassignment was impossible because they were fully booked, but they would take note of my concern and advise me if a alternative room became available. As far as I can tell no staff ever asked the neighbors not to smoke because they never stopped. And so it went for the whole trip every time it became necessary to come into contact with "Guess Services" I simply braced myself for shockingly bad service. Example; our travel agent notified MSC of our early disembarkation two months before the sailing, yet when we inquired about it on board they claimed to have never been notified, even thought they had confirmed this to be personally on the phone months before and blamed "your travel agent". And of course they made it a hassle because they viewed it as being notified at the last moment. I could go on and on with the seemingly endless shortcomings and disappoints with this cruise. But lesson learned, I will never sail MSC again. With all that said where there any good things about it? Sure, a couple of positive things are noteworthy. The ship itself seemed generally clean and well maintained. The safety drills were well managed and effective and in this regard the crew seemed well trained and led. The very best thing was our hard working, friendly and responsive cabin attendant. I feel bad that I don't remember the young mans name because he deserves mention. Oh and a mention of one final annoyance, the gym. It's hours were so limited as to make it inaccessible not to mention that in order to access it during its very limited availability you have to run a gauntlet of sales pitches through the spa to get there. All in all a poor cruise experience. It was like being stuck on an overnight ferry for six nights. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We chose this cruise because it was inexpensive. Also we had the drinks package. This ship does not cater for English people. The cabin TV had 2 channels in English, both news channels, out of forty available. Little things like no ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was inexpensive. Also we had the drinks package. This ship does not cater for English people. The cabin TV had 2 channels in English, both news channels, out of forty available. Little things like no tea spoons in the buffet restaurant, just wooden stirers like McDonald's. Also no brown sauce, and the wine glasses were plastic. This is not 5 star dining. No daily announcements of activities at all ever! People wandering around lost and confused. Never heard the captains voice once. Shuttle buses were not free. Excursions expensive.entertainment ok, but generally poor. Daily activities pretty much non exhistant. Disembarkation was a fiasco. Spent nearly an hour in a passport check on board, and then another 30 mins waiting for our luggage in the arrival hall. All in all, a disappointing overrated cruise line. No organisation, and poor service. Go Cunard, P&O, Princess, every time! Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Not for us, the ship is large and holds over 4000 people and at times you know this, it has many different nationals, Germans being the dominant guests. The ship is very clean and well presented and the cabins are spacious , we had a ... Read More
Not for us, the ship is large and holds over 4000 people and at times you know this, it has many different nationals, Germans being the dominant guests. The ship is very clean and well presented and the cabins are spacious , we had a balcony which was nice. Food is plentiful in the self service section, but not always very hot, but it can be difficult to find a seat. We only went to the main restaurant once which was ok but being the only two people on an eight person table a bit strange. Service was slow and the food choice limited compared to other cruise lines. Entertainment was geared towards the Italian market so not really our thing , but that is personal taste. Everything is payment in addition, drinks, cinema, and any other activity. The excursions are ok and as normal expensive. However the shuttle service when provided was expensive and NO DISABLED GUEST transport available. This is not a cruise for the Disabled , although the cabins that are adapted are good, the other facility's are poor , limited assistance and no trips or transport for the disabled provided. Most British guests we spoke with would not use MSC again and in particular the disabled guests. However it is a much more relaxed dress code which some people prefer. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We chose this cruise as a way to experience an inside cabin - we had always had a balcony before, but seeing all of the great offers available for insides we thought a two night break would be the ideal way to give it a go, and if we ... Read More
We chose this cruise as a way to experience an inside cabin - we had always had a balcony before, but seeing all of the great offers available for insides we thought a two night break would be the ideal way to give it a go, and if we didn't like it then there was no great loss. The cabin was spacious and well appointed with shower room. I hear gripes of people who don't like shower curtains as they can stick to you whilst showering - my tip here would be to take some magnets and stick the curtain to the edge of the cubicle. Problem solved. My only gripe with the cabin would be that with it being an inside it perhaps would be beneficial to show the view from the bridge or other webcam on a tv channel so that it's possible to see the weather. Embarkation was very quick - we got the train from Birmingham to Southampton and enjoyed a champagne picnic on the way. A short transfer to the Mayflower terminal (which cost £4.00) and we were in the queue to board. We dropped off our luggage and were onboard within about half an hour. I must say this is probably the exception and not the norm. According to the person who checked us in there were only 150 guests changing over on this particular day. That, coupled with a late departure, would explain why the terminal building was so empty. We took our hand luggage to the cabin and proceeded to the Main Dining Room for lunch. A delicious meal consisting of appetizer, soup, salad, main and dessert was coupled with some very enjoyable chardonnay which comes with the Allegrissimo package. I did note that compared to other sailings there was no 'always available' selection and a sandwich option had been added. It seemed apparent that the menu had been tweaked to favour the majority of German passengers, which is absolutely understandable. The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring the ship and comparing her to her sister ship MSC Fantasia. There is no difference in terms of layout, however the decor seemed darker. My personal taste is for the lighter colours used on Fantasia. The aft bar on the top deck is styled loosely around Antoni Gaudi / Barcelona with bright mosaics. This area was no smoking, when on Fantasia at Christmas smoking was allowed up here. I'm personally glad this has been changed as there is a large smoking area on the deck below with ample tables and chairs. We attended the muster drill (of course) which was completed quickly and efficiently despite the need to use multiple languages owing to the multi-national guests. The first evening's entertainment in the theatre was an opera gala, which was very good and accompanied by a string quartet. Obviously not to everyone's taste however there were plenty of other options with many of the bars hosting bands, duos, singers etc. The atrium is a favourite spot of ours and the all so glitzy Steinhoff piano is not to be missed! We set sail at 8pm and were soon seated for the second sitting of dinner. We had requested first sitting, however we were told there was no availability. MSC does state that requests cannot be guaranteed and perhaps owing to so few passengers changing over this was the reason they were unable to accommodate our wishes. We were on a table that would take eight passengers, however there were only four of us. This was nice as it enabled us to get to know the couple we were dining with and it was easy to have a conversation. I do find that when at a larger table it can be difficult to talk to all guests and get to know them. After dinner we relaxed with one or two drinks before having an early (ish) night. NB something I hear very often is that you can only have Heineken on the drinks package. If you go to the l'apertivo bar (or Cantina Toscana on Fantasia) you can also have Murphy's or another beer which I cannot remember the name of!. On both days we took breakfast in the main dining room. I had eggs Benedict with a side order of smoked salmon which was lovely. My partner had salmon and MSC Express, their version of a Full English. The coffee in the dining room isn't the best, so it would be my tip here to get yourself a latte or cappuccino from one of the bars to take in with you :) We spent the whole of the sea day relaxing and playing games. There were some other activities going on around the ship, a few party games, dance classes, keep fit and arts and crafts. As it was such a short break we just wanted some time together. In the afternoon there was a lecture on our destination, Hamburg, which was very informative. The lady giving the presentation was from Hamburg and showed some of her own photographs and stories, as well as telling us the story of Hamburg. She gave the presentation purely in English and I would presume other slots were available for other languages. The evening show was 'Simply the Best' which was a selection of famous songs and a bit of dancing. We didn't stay for the whole show. Dinner consisted of an appetizer (we both had moules mariniers, a salad, pasta and then we both chose duck as main course which was beautifully cooked and presented, plus a selection of desserts was availble - we had fruit owing to eating so much!) The rest of the evening was then spent in the casino and the other bars sampling some of the wonderful cocktails included with the Allegrissimo package - it's well worth having! We had a bit of a flutter in the casino, which I can happily report has now been split in to a smoking and no smoking side. The casino is massive and having sailed on Fantasia I often wondered why smoking was allowed all the way through when it is plenty big enough to split in to two areas. We were woken very early with lots of vibration - it was the bow thrusters pushing us in to port. I don't recall hearing the noise quite so badly in the balcony cabins we have stayed in. Also there must have been some sort of crew passage behind us or something as it was quite noisy during the night - cabin 10019. We really enjoyed the cruise, but don't think I'd choose an inside again when it's often possible to get a outside or balcony for not much more money. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
MSC Splendida Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 3.3
Entertainment 5.0 3.3
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.6
Family 5.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.1
Enrichment 2.0 3.0
Service 5.0 3.8
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 3.7

Find a MSC Splendida Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click