I chose this cruise based on the price and ports of call. The ship is big and beautiful, although the décor is so reflective (shiny/mirrored) that we had a hard time with finding things at first. It has a lot of sparkle everywhere. ... Read More
I chose this cruise based on the price and ports of call. The ship is big and beautiful, although the décor is so reflective (shiny/mirrored) that we had a hard time with finding things at first. It has a lot of sparkle everywhere. Balcony rooms were so affordable that we booked one, and the room really was great. The shower was really small, that didn't bother me, but was not easy for my husband.
The staff is generally not as friendly as the people on previous cruises. We have always enjoyed meeting the staff and chatting with them, but really didn't have much chance to do that here. Our cabin steward was really great. Our head waiter at dinner warmed up after a few days.
The expectations we had were based on experiences with several pervious cruises (on Holland, RCCL, Carnival). On those, we always got announcements and clear notifications of when we could get off the ship. We didn't have that here. We missed some time on land at the first stop because we were waiting for the announcement. What they did do well was use several languages for announcements we did get.
The food generally was not good. My best advice is don't take anything that lists 'Meat' as an ingredient, not specifying beef, chicken, or pork. . It's some kind of mystery thing that looks and smells like Armour Potted Meat and is reminiscent of canned dog food. If you're contemplating this cruise, buy a can and open it up to check it out. That will help you remember to not choose the wrong dish. My husband ate something that made him violently ill in the middle of the night. They use this mystery meat as stuffing for cannelloni and some other dishes. The chicken breast (always available) was good; some of the beef at dinner was ok too.They use a heavy hand with salt - their au gratin-type potatoes were so salty we couldn't eat them. You're good to stay with cold cuts, salad, fruit, and vegetables, and bread, and soup (which was almost always very good). We made a lot of sandwiches. Maybe it's just an American taste that we are used to higher quality meat. Just be prepared. There weren't a lot of Americans onboard, so of course they will cater to the tastes of their primary clients.
The entertainment was fabulous - classy, well-executed, and entertaining. They put a lot of effort into making it top notch, unlike some of the poorly chosen entertainment we experiences on an RCCL cruise that made harsh fun of larger people and sprinkled everything with lewd jokes during the family hour. (I believe that was because the RCCL Cruise Director was an X-rated comedian.) Since that experience, I had not been too interested in the entertainment, but the Splendida entertainment turned it around.
The ports were good. Many choices. Hamburg was not as good as the others, but you could instead take a train to Lubeck. There really isn't that much there, since a lot of the city was leveled in a bombing campaign during WWII. MSC does a lot of ports of call for the price, which is one of their strengths. I must emphasize that you need to research the transportation at these ports yourself; you will not get help from them. In a couple of ports (Zeebruggen and Hamburg) they offered a shuttle to/from town @ 15 Euros pp Round Trip, with runs throughout the day. It's a pretty good deal. You can do Brugge cheaper, but there was a transportation strike the day we were there. We bought the ship excursion for Paris, which included a boat ride. We were supposed to have 3 hours on land but barely had 1.5 hours and had to use that to eat lunch. This was NOT the fault of the driver or guide; it was just traffic. We still enjoyed it a lot and saw so much from the drive into town and boat trip on the Seine.
My husband says 'never again' but I'd consider it for the price and value, and because now I have the right expectations and can avoid eating the wrong things. I think there is a lot of potential with MSC. Read Less