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6 Malta (Valletta) to Europe - Western Mediterranean MSC Cruises MSC Splendida Cruise Reviews

This was my third cruise so I was pretty exciting to go on a ship once again with my family for a holiday! I was a bit worried after reading these interviews but it didn't ruin my excitement! So let's begin piece by piece ... Read More
This was my third cruise so I was pretty exciting to go on a ship once again with my family for a holiday! I was a bit worried after reading these interviews but it didn't ruin my excitement! So let's begin piece by piece Embarkation; Both with NCL and costa the embarkation/check in took ages but with MSC it took only 15mins!!! As we gave our tickets, passports and deposit we went out of the terminal, they took us a photo and went in the ship, the room attendants will great you as you go in and take you to your cabin, the room attendant also helped us with one of the hand luggages!! Our cabin was on the 8th floor and as we went through the middle of the corridor we saw the atrium (wow feeling)!!! As we kept on going you can see public area attendants constantly cleaning non-stop. The room was nicely presented and felt very fresh although I noticed some stuff which really wasn't a concern but since i was a housekeeping supervisor I was a bit curious! There was some dust on all of the room number plates on the ship, and even at the top of pictures and furniture, whereas they should be cleaned upon every arrival but anyways who will check up there? Ok so from now on ill hurry up a bit! Bora bora/Pago pago cafeterias (buffets); Food almost always cold something which I didn't experience on other ships! Some items tasted the same but looked different! Desserts: huge disappointment! Knowing the italians they are quite good with the dessert but on this ship the same cream in eclairs were served more than once and sometimes dessert didn't taste of anything! Breakfast: always pretty crowded but I always found somewhere to sit. Lunch the same. Dinner don't even bother going to the buffet stay at la reggia or villa verde as the choice during dinner is very limited!! Dinner(main dining rest. I eat at la reggia) service was great although waiters weren't trained appropriately for this kind of service' but they were always nice and know what you'd want I almost never asked for nothing and after the first day the waiter memorized our drink orders! The food is great in the main dining areas with plenty of choice and a great atmosphere! Also they need some cleaning on the floor, the floor under the tables looked pretty dirty all the time and under the windows it was always dirty, also the hangers holding the windows were full of dust! Aqua park; The main pools and Jacuzzis were quite fun very crowded but if you go either early in the morning of after 5 there will be plenty of space! Bars/lounges; Bar waiters/sommeliers need to greet more and ask if you wish to order anything and be allot more friendly although i never had any problems with them! The drink prices aboard the ship were quite expensive €2.70 for coca-cola for example and then you need to add a 15% service charge to the bill but there are some packages which those who like to drink allot (unlike us) will surely benefit from! Photos: What a rip off! €20 per photo (except for some offers) I would've got one of them but in 4 out of 6 photos that were taken of our family (incl. the one with the captain) came bad (i.e. someone with closed eyes or half cut out etc...) the picture taken with the captain was taken very very fast the camera man didn't even bother to look at the photo and mind you it was only us and some 10 people in the que. Wi-fi/cyber library; If i hadn't the facebook addiction and the need to check the emails for work purposes I wouldn't have had used the internet on the ship, the connection was always great and fast but it was a bit pricey wifi €10/hr and there isn't wifi in the rooms. Housekeeping; Public areas: simply great! I never noticed either papers on the floors or smudges with the windows/stainless steel. The rooms were cleaned twice a day (morning and turndown) together with the changing of towels which were fresh everyday! Don't expect any chocolates or towel foldings as "pampering" on this ship doesn't exist! Reception; The receptionist always answered my questions with the right answers! On they one I requested the main bed to be done with double sheets but this was never told to housekeeping so I told the room attendant directly. Also they should smile a bit so that guests will feel comfortable talking with them! Entertainment; Lounges and bars were ok not the best but ok I also enjoyed some quizzes made by the animation team about tracks from particular artists. Theatre: there was only 2 out of 7 which were great, the other not that bad but you'll get bored after few minutes Ports; We went down to every port on foot/by shuttle bus all were great except for Messina which was a little bit messy and there was allot of confusion in the roads so beware! Also beware of people trying to force you to sell you bracelets or any other stuff just walk away! (Something which we noticed in all of the ports/cities) for some reason the shuttle bust form the port of Barcelona to the city centre (a less than 5min trip) costed €8 per person (bought onboard) i think it was a bit expensive. General: It was a wonderful holiday although from this experience i might not travel with msc again I don't discourage you to go since the price was pretty low and you get what you pay for! The ship is pretty amazing and it was a pity that it had these small (but big for some) mistakes/negligences! Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
I am going to compare this cruise to our RCCL cruise which we took out of venice last year. Our holiday started on a very good note...... we were upgraded from outside to balcony cabin Category 8. I was hesitant at first, since I have 2 ... Read More
I am going to compare this cruise to our RCCL cruise which we took out of venice last year. Our holiday started on a very good note...... we were upgraded from outside to balcony cabin Category 8. I was hesitant at first, since I have 2 young kids and thought this might be dangerous, but I had no problems, and it was very well worth it! We had paid Eur990 per adult and Eur120 per child for this cruise, so I guess you cannot call it cheap, considering we only paid for an outside cabin on Deck 5. We paid the same amount of money for an inside cabin on Deck 8, on RCCL Voyager of the seas for seven nights, including return flights from Malta to Venice, two nights in 3 star hotel in Mestre and 1 night in 3 star hotel in Venice, plus all transfers from airport to hotel to port to hotel to airport. This ended up in a 10 night holiday for the same amount of money. Check in started at around 12.15 in Malta. We were the first group to check in, 4 adults and 2 children. This process was very quick. A photo was taken once we went out of the terminal and we made our way to the ship. We boarded from the first door we found and found ourselves feeling very lost. We started asking around, and noticed that we had boarded from the wrong door, therefore we were not shown to our cabins by the white gloved attendants I had read about, but a girl offered to show us where our cabins were. She just pointed them to us, and we had to get to know about everything by ourselves. We had been supposed to board from the middle door, but no one had guided us. I checked the balcony door, and found it had a lock which was high enough for my one and a half year old not to reach, therefore making the cabin safe. We had agreed never to let the kids on the balcony by themselves, because of the table and 2 chairs. Otherwise, everything was safe. The cabin door itself was too heavy for the little one to open, therefore it was ok as well. The suitcases, though very very big fit snugly under the bed. There was a big red sofa, which at night would be opened into a big bed for my four year old. I had brought a travel cot with me, which I opened myself, and it did take a lot of space, but we could still walk around when the sofa bed was closed. The towels were very clean and so were the sheets. The blankets were the old type, not quilts, therefore they did not look so clean, and were covered with hairs, because they are obviously not washed every time. I suggest they should use quilts, so they can wash the cover after every guest. The carpets looked clean and free from stains and so were the curtains. The cabins are very modern, with flat screen tvs and very comfortable beds. The bathrooms are big and very clean, though the shower on RCCL was more comfortable, with the shower door, rather than the shower curtain there was on MSC. There were 2 bathrobes on MSC as well, which there werent on RCCL. The basin was big enough to bathe my one and a half not so small baby. It had the perfect shape for this. After putting our hand luggages in the cabin, we made our way to Bora Bora Buffet for lunch, because it was already 1pm and the children were getting hungry. Bora Bora together with Pago Pago is very big. We had no problem finding a table. In our 7 days on the ship, we always found free tables without any problems. You just need to keep on walking and you will find a free table. From my first impression of the buffet, there were fewer choices than on RCCL. There was no roast and desserts were very limited. There were about 4 choices of pasta for lunch, 4 choices of daily specials, which included meat and veg, 4 choices of international dishes, which included Mexican, Asian, Indian or Spanish. Apart from this, there was a pizza station, which always had 4 choices of pizza and a grill which included different burgers every day (chicken, turkey, beef or pork), hot dog sausages and a different type of grilled meat or fish every day (most of the time very delicious grilled pork, which to in my opinion was the best dish in the buffet). As for dessert, there was always jelly and 2 different types of cakes, which were hardly ever any good. Desserts surely do not compare to those on RCCL, which used to have about 10 different choices every day, including ice cream, and which used to be very very good. There was never any ice cream or chocolate cake in the buffet. Most of the time it was just a boring sponge cake with cream. The only good items I remember were a sweet rikotta stuffed pie and a mille foglie. The tiramisu was ok, though not to die for. Anyway, this might have been a good thing for me, because I ended up eating less sweets than on RCCL, therefore I did not gain any weight at all, whereas I had gained 3 kgs on RCCL. I hardly ever noticed any pushing in the buffet. People queued in an orderly manner and always waited their turn. In general, guests were always cordial and friendly. Italians, Spanish and Maltese, though a bit loud are generally friendly and helpful. Everyone was holding doors open for me, to allow me to pass with the pushchair. The English and Americans were friendly as always, and the Eastern Europeans kept to themselves. Most people always said 'Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening', when we met in the lifts. As for the staff, they were always nice and helpful, always smiling and saying Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening. Let me tell you about my first impressions of this ship. It is so big...... Our cabin was right at the front. It took us around 8 mins to walk to the back, to make our way to the buffet or MDR. I enjoyed walking to the lifts at the front then walking across the pool areas to reach Bora Bora. On the other hand, I liked to walk all through the corridors to the lifts at the back of the ship to reach MDR, to avoid walking through the Casino, since this is a smoking area. This is one of the things that bothered me about MSC. They let people smoke inside, apart from the outside smoking area. You could always smell cigarettes when walking in the Piazzetta since there is a smoking area in it. Not that I liked the Piazzetta myself. I saw the ceramic seating area as cheesy. Not Italian style at all! I prefer the Royal Promenade Style of RCCL. This provides a nice walk with a city feeling, as well as interesting cabins for those who choose to stay in the ones above it. The Atrium on Splendida is not as grand as on RCCL as well. The swarovski crystal staircases are a nice touch though, and I liked the grand piano and the seating area on Level 5. We were assigned to 2nd seating in La Reggia. I normally enjoyed the food very much, since I like seafood. My husband, who does not eat seafood did not like the meat as much. He felt that it tasted heated and not fresh. I always found the seafood to be cooked fresh, almost as if to order. I especially liked the Grigliata Mista di Mare and the king prawns. I also enjoyed the fish soups and some of the seafood risottos and pastas. We did eat in the Buffet in the evening once, when we were too tired to wait for dinner time. Choices were very limited, especially compared to RCCL. But I used to take my sons to eat here every day at 7.30pm, before they fell asleep. It always used to be very busy at this time. Therefore the evening Buffet proved to be very handy for me. I went to Villa Verde for breakfast sometimes. This provided some quality quiet time where I could enjoy a cup of coffee in peace and quiet (if my sons allowed me). I always ordered smoked salmon, which could not be found in the Buffet. Then I later made my way to the buffet for some waffles with cream and chocolate sauce. Villa Verde is accessible by lift from the lifts inside Pago Pago or the lifts at the back of the ship on Level 11 (not sure if it is accessible from the other levels as well). This was a big issue for me since I was always going around with a pushchair (or two), therefore staircases were out of question. Actually, the only place I did not manage to visit on the ship was level 16 at the back of the ship, where they had the straw beds, since this was only accessible by stairs. But I'll try to do my best to go there on my next visit! I liked to order room service breakfast every day since we are used to having coffee before going out and I felt it tasted better than the coffee in the Buffet or MDR. To the contrary of what I had frequently read, coffee tasted very good on MSC. It was actually better quality than on RCCL. Apart from coffee all day long, there is water, ice, hot and cold milk and a variety of teas available at Bora Bora 24 hrs. I found this especially essential for my sons. They both drink a lot of milk, and I also used to fill up a thermos with hot water in the evening and in the morning to be able to mix to formula for the little one when fresh milk was not available (at night and on shore). I did not especially like the water though. It had a faint taste of chlorine, but so did the water or RCCL. MSC Splendida lacks a 24 hr snack eatery, like the Cafe Promenade on RCCL, where sandwiches, pizza and desserts are available 24hrs. If you missed lunch because you were on land, you had to wait until dinner time, or go to TEA at 4pm till 4.45pm. Sandwiches, cakes and biscuits are served, together with tea and coffee. This was very basic compared to RCCL, since Teatime on RCCL is a continuation of lunch, where at around 3.30pm, they start getting out more food, such as Nachos, and cakes, cookies, muffins and all sorts of English Teatime Goodies! You could skip lunch altogether and get yourself a good meal at teatime, not just tea! We did not make use of the children's clubs, because my son prefers to stay with me. He did use the blue slide (teen tobaga), but it had a low flow of water, making it very slow and therefore not interesting enough! We also used the swimming pool where my sons had a lot of fun. My husband used the gymn and he complained that there are no lockers and saunas available for free, apart from the ones inside the Spa, which are not free. Something about the ports to finish off my review: Malta - our small island. It is easy to go up to Valletta on foot. There is the hop on hop off bus at the port though, which can be useful for someone who would like to go around Malta. Messina - We didnt go to Taormina since we have been there numerous times so we stayed in Messina and did some shopping and at 11.45 we went to see the Clock near the Cathedral. Unluckily it didnt work! Nothing really special to see in Messina apart from Cathedral Square! Civitavecchia - We didnt go to Rome since we have been there and we didnt want to go through the hassle of all that travelling for a couple of hours in Rome. There was nothing interesting to see in Civitavecchia and it was a total waste of time. Should have stayed on the ship. Genova - We walked to the city centre ( a 20 mins interesting walk). Walked through the narrow streets for about 4 hrs, and even ended up in the Red Light District by mistake! This city is not to be missed. Barcelona - We took the ship's shuttle to the centre since there was a long queue for the public bus and no buses in sight. It was a total rip off at Eur8 per person for a 5 min ride, which did not even stop near the Ramblas! Though we have been to Barcelona before, we couldnt resist going to this beautiful city again. Walked up the Ramblas to Placa Catalunya and down Avenue Portal de l'Angel to the Cathedral. Continued our walk through the narrow streets and down to El Born. Tunis - Had planned to go only for a little walk in the Terminal, but when we saw the taxi office, we decided we could trust the taxi drivers and for Eur60 for 3 persons, the driver took us to the Medina and to Sidi Bu Said (5 full hours). It was a pleasant surprise. The Medina is so interesting and Sidi is beautiful. We even ended up walking the streets in Tunis and looking at the shops. The streets are a bit hectic, but we do like busy places, so it was worth a visit. All in all, our cruise was very enjoyable. Would not hesitate to book MSC again. The cabins are beautiful and clean, the food is good and we felt the service was up to standard as well. We didnt find the drinks to be particularly expensive and no one ever forced us to buy anything, not even the photographers! I think we didnt have more than 3 photos of us taken! Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
For those of you who don't know already, we were lucky enough to win a ticket to an MSC Splendida cruise departing from our charming island, Malta. It was short notice so my partner and I were forced to check what dates we could take ... Read More
For those of you who don't know already, we were lucky enough to win a ticket to an MSC Splendida cruise departing from our charming island, Malta. It was short notice so my partner and I were forced to check what dates we could take leave from work. We settled on 11th to 18th April. It was my 3rd cruise but my partner's and our 2 ½ year old daughter's first cruise. Embarkation We were told to meet at Magazino (the Maltese departures port) at 12pm. Of course, we arranged to be there a little bit earlier, worrying that we could find traffic and be late. They made us wait till 12.20pm because they needed permission from onboard the ship but then the check-in was really quick. Our group consisted of around 50 people and there were about 4 people doing the check-in at a time. We were on the ship in around half an hour. Everyone was very nice and helpful as they even took our daughter's stroller up the ramp themselves. We ate lunch at the Bora Bora at noon and we were given a quick emergency drill later in the day. If you are usually seasick, do take medication with you. My partner took a Meclizine based medicine once a day and was fine for the whole trip. He is usually seasick even in the calmest sea so we were prepared. We had a lot of rough sea on our cruise, especially in Malta and between Rome and Barcelona. Ship The Splendida is really huge, I mean it took around four days for us to get used to where things and places were. They, of course, provide you with a detailed map of all the deck plans so I carried that in my handbag. Our daughter loved the ship! She loved the crystal staircases which I'm telling you, the pictures don't do them justice. They are really beautifully detailed in teardrop crystals arranged all over the steps. As others said, it was impeccably clean, with staff vacuuming, dusting and polishing all the time. Do yourself a favour and go around the Piazzetta for bargains. They had nice designer jewellery and handbags at great prices everyday. Also, we found the Logo shop to be well priced. We bought some stuff including a metal repica model ship of the Splendida for just 18 euro. Staff I found the staff very eager to help in general but I found it strange that some people that were behind the reception desk couldn't speak neither english nor italian. We never had a problem with any of the staff really, they were all very nice especially to our daughter. A lot of staff actually played with her, even as she passed them. She's very outgoing so maybe that's why. Other Passengers Let me tell you something, if you don't like kids don't go with MSC. We weren't cruising during holidays, yet there were a lot and a lot of kids, from babies to teenagers. Most of them were well behaved but a very small number were unruly, especially early teen age kids. They will try to skip lines, especially near lifts. There were a couple of times where they closed the lift on us, even though there was ample space. One time we managed to get in and the little bastard even had the audacity to snarl when we made it in. They will also squeeze in when the lift is completely full even for just one floor. But seriously, you cannot expect teens to be considerate so we just took a deep breath and went on enjoying our cruise. Some people really have no manners and contrary to what was said before, it wasn't italians that were rude. We had a couple of times when people jumped the queue at the lifts and they were never italians. Some spoke Spanish, French and even other languages which I didn't recognise but I experienced absolutely no rudeness from Italians. Italians are loud, it's true, but so are Maltese so we're kinda used to that. The Food Breakfast We had a couple of breakfasts at the restaurant and then decided to try the buffet. We actually preferred the buffet here since there were a lot of choices and it was tiring ordering every single thing we wanted on one plate at the restaurant. It was very busy most of the time but most people are more than happy to share their table. If you go very early it will not be that busy. It is always the same but there was a lot of variety so we never had a problem deciding what to eat. The sausages are absolutely horrible and so is the fried ham. It is sliced canned ham and it tastes of preservatives. I do suggest you take your own mugs since I found a washed cup that still had lipstick on it and a few others that had coffee stains all over and still smelled of the stuff (I detest coffee and the smell) Lunch We preferred lunch at the restaurant since it was so much less frantic and more refined. You can notice though that some items on the menu are a variation of the previous night's menu. Still, the waiters got used to us and it was nice to be served for a change. Dinner We were in the first seating at 6.30pm in the gorgeous Villa Verde restaurant. Food ranges from good to excellent. There were only a few things I ate that I thought were nothing special. As others said, don't expect lobster or even a nice thick juicy steak. A lot of frozen vegetables used but they do dress them nicely. They even managed to make me like canned mushrooms which I absolutely hate. I couldn't, however, swallow the new potatoes, which from their powdery consistency, I realised they were from frozen too. There was an instance where I was served food in a chipped plate and even a chipped water glass. Since chipped china harbours bacteria I think this was unacceptable. It was just one time though so maybe they slipped the checks. Food service was generally at a nice flowing pace. You were neither rushed nor left waiting long periods before your next course. I really recommend Sunarta, he was happy to serve us and nothing was really a problem for him. The portions are small, we are used to larger meals in Malta. Our 2 year old ate a bowl of soup, half a plate of pasta and dessert. We always ordered the appetiser, soup, pasta/risotto, two main courses and dessert each. By the end we would be full of course. You will find a lot of seafood on this cruise but strangely enough they don't provide a lemon wedge with them. I absolutely loved the seafood tempura and please don't miss out on the limoncello cream cake. WOW!! The waiter saw how much we loved it and he brought us another one! I did find a very dirty prawn on my plate. Unfortunately, I had already eaten the other two and it did give me an (tmi) urgent watery number 2 toilet trip. So be careful. The pasta is horribly plated, just thrown on the plate and served. Other courses are nicely plated. Don't miss out on the Focaccia bread on the Gala nights (which were in Messina and the At Sea days). Activities There weren't nearly enough activities on the ship. The only things that we went to were two Arts and Crafts, Bingo and the shows. The first time I went to Arts and Crafts it was really nice. We made a paper flower which was really lovely and my daughter really enjoyed it. On the day we were at sea the Arts and Crafts was so busy, with around 20 people trying to understand what one single entertainer is showing them. I spent half an hour waiting for supplies to start (since they started earlier than planned) and got fed up and left. Bingo was 10 euros a card. Only played it once. Kids Activities The kids area is not that big but they do organise a lot of activities for the kids in one of the discos. Unfortunately, since my daughter is under 3 years old she couldn't participate in any of them, even under supervision. They told us that she could use the play area, which has some big soft shapes and a small ball pit, between 9-10am, supervised by a parent, when we are docked...so practically...never. Did they really expect us to stay aboard just so she could play in there? They did let us in on the At Sea day for that hour and told us they're closing at 10 due to safety reasons. I do understand that since the sea was a bit rough and my daughter fell over a couple of times due to the sway. Just a small note, the splendida is said to be 'La nave dei Bambini' (the Ship of Kids). Yet you cannot find a single diaper on sale on this ship. We were delayed by 9 hours on our disembarkation day and I couldn't find any for sale. Just plain stupid. Shows The shows were all nice and surprisingly my daughter loved watching all of them and was eager to go every night. I thought she would get bored or something. They mostly consisted of musical shows that required no translation of course. We especially loved the one in Genoa called Prestige. The juggler was having a bad day, but the hula hoop girl and the hand puppeteer were amazing. The acrobats in Olympo were great too. We had one night where we didn't have a show, and they also did a show just for kids which was nothing special. In fact, that was the one my daughter least enjoyed. I found it disappointing that there aren't any ramps in the lower part of the theatre. They only have a small gallery upstairs where someone with a wheelchair could watch the show. We used to leave our pushchair at the entrance and then walk our daughter to the seat, but for someone who cannot do so it is very sad. The announcements ARE annoying. In 5 different languages even in the theatre. I understand important information being relayed in all the languages but not the introduction to the show. We were annoyed and insulted that nothing was said in Maltese, not even a thank you. They were even said in Chinese and Japanese, but not in our language. Other Maltese said the same thing. Messina We decided to walk around the city since we had been to Taormina just a year ago and never to Messina. We went to see the Tempio Votivo the Kristo Re (Votive Temple of Christ the King) which had a fantastic view of all Messina. We got lost on the way, thanks to Google Maps stating there was a street when there was just a huge wall. It was a long uphill walk but well worth it. Then went to see Messina Cathedral and watched the clock tower at noon. Not as impressive as the one in Venice. If you've never been to Taormina do so since Messina is really nothing special; Taormina is. Civitavecchia Decided to take our daughter to the Rome Zoo since our partner and I had already been to Rome. Took the free shuttle to the port entrance. We took the train to Rome which was relatively easy, the way back wasn't that much since we decided to board at Roma Termini and it is a huge station. We asked several staff members were to go and all told us different things. Finally, we took Montalto train and reached Civitavecchia in time. Took a taxi to zoo (about 9 euro) Anyway, zoo was really nice. There was a lot of work being done, so some exhibits were empty but we enjoyed it just the same, especially our animal adoring daughter. It started raining and we opted for a taxi back to the station instead of walking around Rome. Genoa Rain was predicted here too so we opted for the aquarium and were really pleased we did so. We walked to the Cathedral first which was really amazing (about 30 minutes walk from ship) Then we headed to the aquarium and spent a good 3 hours there. It was Saturday, so it was quite busy but we saw everything and had a really pleasant time. We especially loved the penguins and the sting rays Walked around the old port where there were some stalls with local produce and crafts. Walked back to ship since it started raining. Barcelona Took the local shuttle for 3.50 euro. There was a long queue for it but we didn't wait long since when one was full and left, another one came by and started taking people on. The MSC shuttle was 8 euros which was ridiculous. We went to MareMagnum mall since we're visiting Barcelona again next August. We did some shopping and decided to go walk around Barcelona. We visited the Catedral (not Sagrada Familia) which was fantastic. It was raining heavily by then so we decided to go back. At Sea Bored to wits end since activities are limited and hardly interesting for my daughter. Indoor pool is tiny for all the people to fit in. At one time, there were around 13 people crammed into one jacuzzi. La Goulette As we came down from the ship we found camels waiting there so me and my daughter took a camel ride for 5 euros (not even 5 minutes) My partner took a photo with a falcon for another 5 euro. Both a bit of a rip off but we did them anyway. We were going to take a stroll around the town when we realised there is absolutely nothing to see. We had decided not to take a taxi for safety reasons since there was some unrest lately in Tunisia. But it was such a beautiful sunny day that we decided to risk it just not to waste it. We were very lucky to find a very nice taxi driver. He took us to Sidi Bou Said, Carthage and Tunis. Sidi Bou Said was exquisite. We found a small market at the beginning of the entrance and we were amazed at the beautiful handcrafts and souvenirs. Be aware that the local vendors will pester you to the limits of your patience, but we found that if you don't look at them and just keep walking, they'll stop. Don't take their first offer. We had a vendor that went down from 45 euro to just 5 euro on a leather handpainted drum. Carthage was nice. Go to Tunis only if you want to shop. Be forewarned that prices are not cheap. Only food is. We decided against Medina since even the driver told us that they grab at women, and by then, it started to rain heavily yet again and we went back to the ship. If I were to do it again, I'd only go to Carthage and Sidi Bou Said. Disembarkation We were delayed to disembark by 9 hours since the ship couldn't enter the Maltese port due to strong wind and rough seas. They told us to go eat lunch and to keep our rooms till 3pm. Some people were told by cleaning staff not to use the beds since they would have to remake them. We weren't told anything so we took a nice nap and at 3 pm went down to meet the others. We were sent to shore at Marsaxlokk (south of Malta) instead on Valletta (East of Malta) by life boats. We arrived to shore at around 6pm. Terribly tiring day. We did have some ups and downs on our cruise but all in all enjoyed it since we already knew what to expect. I am willing to cruise with MSC again, as long as the itinerary is very busy, without days at sea and not in school holidays. So, after this horribly long review...any questions? Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
This was my first cruise. I was really looking forward for this as other members of my family, including my wife had gone on cruises previously and were really happy with them from all aspects. However, I must say that I ended up as ... Read More
This was my first cruise. I was really looking forward for this as other members of my family, including my wife had gone on cruises previously and were really happy with them from all aspects. However, I must say that I ended up as disappointed with this cruise as much as I was looking forward for it before! First of all, before going any further in my review, I have to tell you that the main reason I was looking so forward to the cruise was food. I love food and had been advised previously that on cruises you get the highest quality food and in abundance! As soon as we got onto the ship we went for the lunch (mid-day) buffet and I was already disappointed. There were 4 or more different kinds of pizza - but which tasted all the same and all had the same ingredients. There was also carvery which usually tastes quite good, but this tasted like the frozen meat you boil to make broth. No drinks were free, except for two small, out of the way, ice dispensers which incidentally dispensed water too. However, you need to hike from your table to reach the dispenser, and usually the nearer one was switched off so you had to walk to the second dispenser. Anyhow, I said to myself that probably this was a bit bland because it was just a mid-day snack and reassured myself that dinner would be fantastic and I could order two juice medium-rare steaks to make up for that. Alas, dinner time came and was so shocked when I looked at the menu. NO STEAK! Blimey! The menu was in a number of languages, so I looked in the English section, Italian Section and French section to figure out if there was anything that looked like steak. The nearest to steak I found was in the English section, in the "Always Available" menu. This was a "paillard of beef" or so it was written if I recall correctly. So I asked the waiter if it was a beef steak. Getting a blank look I asked if it was a "bistecca di manzo" (same thing in Italian) - to which the waiter eagerly nodded. Well... so that's what I ordered. Guess what I got? I got a tasteless piece of dried up cube roll cooked without any gravy over which I spent around fifteen minutes munching. It seemed to grow bigger in my mouth the more I chewed on it! Besides being tasteless, it was so small that I remained as hungry as I had been before I started eating. So I went through the menu again and saw that they had chicken breast. I ordered that too. It looked nice, but again, although it was not as dry as the previous cube roll it was as tasteless! The food cans I get for my dog will probably taste better. So that was day 1. By the way, between the mid-day buffet and dinner there was a tea-break - but I'm not even going to bother about that. Basically all you have is a few colourful trifles and some jellies if I recall correctly. There wasn't even any ice cream! Second day the food wasn't that bad and on the same day or the third one we had a Gala night. The food was much better this time, but funnily enough it was a one off. We had steak on that day and it was good - but only lasted as far as it went as the rest of the days we had bland food again (although not as disastrous as that on the first day). Portions were pretty small and presentation was greatly lacking. Drinks had to be bought, including water. Nothing free. One particular day we also had a midnight food display and buffet. There was octopus (one of my favourites) so I got some for me amongst other stuff. As soon as I tried to pick up the first bit, the rest came up with it stuck with fatty sludge - same thing that happens when you cook octopus/meat in stew or gravy and leave it overnight in the fridge! So I had to leave it there against all I wished for! Another thing to mention is that you can barely communicate with the waiters as they hardly speak any English and only little Italian. However, what really got on my nerves was that the waiters just literally threw the cutlery on the table instead of placing it nicely. I know, you're still going to do the same job with a fork whether it's put nicely or not, but when you pay so much money you would expect at least a certain level of cordiality. What got on my nerves even further was the fact that the waiters differed between tables, and treated certain tables better than others. Please note that this is an Italian ship, and Italians are known for their exquisite cuisine! I must say that this ship did anything but give a good image of the Italian cuisine! -------------------------- So anyway, besides the biggest food disappointment I could have ever expected, there was other stuff on the ship. The rooms were OK, quite clean, and they used to be done around 3 times daily I think. The bathroom was clean although the toilet was a bit uncomfortable to sit on, small diameter and a bit too high above the floor - and might make your feet go numb if you are one of those persons who sit on it for a lengthy period! Air conditioning was great - kept temperatures quite cool (although you can set it to a higher temperature if you feel cold). The pools were OK. There were 2 pools in the main area and another one in a secluded area that didn't allow children. The jacuzzis were nice too except for the fact that people were at time a tad too rude and took up all the space or pushed you over. Entertainment was OK but in my opinion a bit childish. Another thing was that we had a cocktail night, where we had 1 hour free cocktails in the lounges. Although there was only one type of cocktails (or so it seemed) they were quite sly in reducing the amount of free alcohol distributed. The machines could dispense alcohol as per their timer. However the timer was set around 10 or 15 minutes fast, so whilst the period should have been 18:30 to 19:30 (if I recall the times correctly), in actual fact it was 18:15 to 19:15. So by the time people start gathering at the lounges, which would be around 18:45, the free cocktail period would already be half way through, and in fact when I asked for a cocktail at 19:20 my request was rejected. Notwithstanding that, the trays were arrayed with 25% cocktails and the other 75% juices or whatever they were. That wasn't a very honest gesture was it? It would have been better if they had not done the "happy hour" at all rather than take us for a ride the way they did! -------------------------- We only took 2 excursions, the one going to Rome and the one going to Portofino. The visit to Rome was accompanied by a guide whose English was hopeless. I was on the verge of asking her to speak in Italian. Otherwise, the visit was nice. The one to Portofino was sort of OK. The drive was pretty boring and the guide (although her English was comprehensible) didn't have anything better to say other than "look at the nice valley" or "this is the pencil shaped building" or "this street has old houses on one side and new houses on the opposite side". I felt as if I was was in a pre-grade class with children trying to make up coherent sentences. Anyway, humour apart, the destination itself was nice (but very expensive) and besides the picturesque views not much to do except have an expensive ice cream (which tasted really good by the way) and wait for the time to return back. -------------------------- The price... one of the most important determining factors! My wife and I travelled alone, although we were part of a group of 15 people. However we booked one room alone. However, families with children under 18 do not pay for the latter. So what does this mean? It means that my wife and I, or a family of 4 with the children under 18 would pay the same price. This means that some lack of service would be acceptable for a family of 4 paying the price of 2. However, people like my wife and myself would not find that worth it as they're paying the full price and getting a lousy package. You don't get the towels in animal shapes on your bed spread, or the chocolates when the rooms are done like you get on other cruise liners. I know you can still live without these things, but especially if you're paying full price and if you've already been on other cruise liners where you experience these things you'll feel neglected. Mind you, as I said in the beginning this was my first cruise, but I was well prepared by my wife and family and had high expectations which where totally let down on day one of this cruise. Overall I would never go on a cruise with MSC again and would not recommend it to anyone, except maybe if you have kids under 18 and would get 4 for the price of 2! However, as long as I'm going to pay full price, I will go on an American cruise liner such as Carnival, Holland America and the sort. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
We cruised on MSC Splendida the week 4th to 11th August. I am going to be as objective as possible so as to help those of you who are undecided whether to book with MSC or not. In a nutshell, although it was a good holiday overall and we ... Read More
We cruised on MSC Splendida the week 4th to 11th August. I am going to be as objective as possible so as to help those of you who are undecided whether to book with MSC or not. In a nutshell, although it was a good holiday overall and we had a pleasant time and the ship is beautiful, we would not again sail with MSC. There are various reasons for this. Please bear in mind that what is not good for some may be acceptable to others and vice versa. This is just my opinion. We have sailed Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Holland America before and the service and style offered on these ships is way above that on MSC. Now some people say that it is European style cruising and should be regarded as such - well then, I don't like European style cruising because it means missing out on many special things that make you feel pampered and special for at least a short time while you're on holiday. (I should point out that I am not American; I live in a European country and love Europe!) But I prefer American style cruising. So what are the main points to keep in mind? (1) Smoking...this ship reeks of cigarette smoke! Too many areas where people may smoke. Absurdly, in the same lounge for example, there was a no smoking sign and then just a few paces away a sign permitting smoking! What a joke, except that it's not funny at all having to live with it. The Casino is disastrous - you have to walk through it to get to some shops or to one of the dining rooms and it is absolutely disgusting; it smells terrible even when it is not in use. On Celebrity no smoking is allowed, not in the Casino either. Walking along the ship you are all the time passing through smoke filled areas; even in the lifts you get it although smoking is not permitted there. (2) Dining. The food...now I had read a lot about this and I thought people were exaggerating, especially because we were always very satisfied on other cruises even after having read negative comments prior to the cruise. However this time I must say that the food is just not adequate, judging by cruise standards that is. It's edible and there are some items better than others and you can eat as much as you want of course but there is a very limited choice and presentation is hopeless - even at home I try to present simple food imaginatively but here it's just thrown onto the plate...I mean it. Forget the gourmet style presentation on Celebrity, forget the succulent steaks and meat cuts on RCC, Carnival, HA and Celebrity, forget waffles and pancakes, forget customised egg stations, forget Asian food, forget sandwich bars, forget ice-cream available most of the time, forget pizza round the clock, forget water/ tea/ coffee/ lemonade/ ice tea with your midday buffet. And for those who keep saying that this is a different style I reply that ok, I can accept that, but what's on offer should be on par! Salads are just lettuce dripping oil. Pastas and risottos are ok but nothing spectacular considering that this should be their forte as Italians - we come from a country quite similar in dietary habits and we cook tastier and more varied pasta dishes at home. Main courses are nothing to speak of. The chicken or fish or chop is just there with some boiled veg sitting around it. If the menu says 'with mushroom sauce' or 'mashed potatoes with sundried tomatoes' you need a magnifying lens to find the mushrooms in the sauce or the tomatoes in the mash. I mean it! The worst main course I had was pork ribs with sesame sauce - there were two ribs and believe me they were ribs, I managed to get a teaspoonful of meat off one of them and the other was just bone, honestly! And forget lobster on Gala night! There were three prawns on a little rice instead, though nicely cooked. There is the list of items always available on the menu and we tried the beef they had on offer. What a disappointment! It was a thin piece of meat and cooked tough, not the steak we were expecting. Over the week we concluded that they don't have an idea how to cook meat at all. Now, this being an Italian cruise line, and knowing that Italian cuisine can be superb, we have come to the conclusion that the low standard and variety of food available must be due to cost effectiveness since this line makes certain price offers (more in Service section). Drinks...you just have to buy it all. It is not very expensive, 1 litre water 2 euros including the charge. We bought a package for 109 euros that consisted of 14 cans of soda, 14 litres of water and 4 bottles of wine - we couldn't choose the wine it had to be a soave or trebbiano of their choice. You can have red if you prefer it to white but again of their choice if with this package. There are other packages available. Their packages make sure you do not 'overuse' your soda card because you get a fixed number of items! In fact we ended up having to buy more soda because we are a family of 4. How different from the soda card on the cruise lines mentioned before where you could get any amount at any time at any bar! There is a small, very, very out of the way water dispenser during the midday buffet and we were quick to discover it. However it is really out of the way and too many people on board and glasses available are really small. But you can drink it, we did on occasions. Gala Nights...such a low standard here! They let everyone in, even in jeans and in t-shirts. It spoils the fun for those of us who enjoy dressing up. Now, for those who do not like dressing up I would suggest booking a free-style cruise where such attire is ok. In this situation however I blame the dining room staff for permitting persons who do not conform to the dress code to enter the dining room. Unfortunately there is no alternative dining in the buffet on MSC, another point against them. Positive food points: food is brought hot to the table, bread is very good, soups and desserts are very good. You can order as many dishes of each course as you want and the waiters do not bat an eyelid - I expect they got used to it. (I'll speak about waiters in the service section) The midnight Gala Buffet had a fantastic display of arrangements to see, truly artistic and the best we've seen so far. The food on offer was the usual. And it was not a chocolate extravaganza; the usual deserts were available. We preferred the dining room for breakfast and lunch as there were many waiters available so the service is very good and you don't have to queue; you sit comfortably in a quiet and elegant setting. Again the choice is limited (but then so it is in the buffet) but there is as much to eat as you like. (3) Service. (a) Getting on and off the ship at all times was very easy, the best so far. You are not made to wait until excursion people get off the ship if you don't have an excursion. (b) We got off to a good start because we were escorted to our cabin and our hand-luggage was carried for us. (c) We never got to know who our stateroom attendants were. However the room was kept clean and towels changed regularly. Not knowing attendants may be interpreted as no pressure for extra tips (as tips are charged compulsorily) but it doesn't make you feel very welcome or pampered. (d) The bed linen was changed only once, midway in the one week stay. The quilt lining was ripped. Bed sheets had stains (very small but I don't like this and I'm on the lookout for it). The towels were white, clean and soft. By the way no towel animals or chocolates or cookies to greet you each night. (e) Nearly none of the staff you meet along corridors greet you or smile at you. (f) The dining room staff members don't get to know your names; ours could barely understand English, not even Italian, which we can speak fluently (although we are not Italians). They don't chat with you. Sometimes they get orders wrong as they don't understand clearly. At the end of the cruise we didn't feel the usual urge to thank them profusely and feel that we are going to miss them. Neither did they say goodbye to us mind you. (g) We have always travelled on 'large' ships, full capacity as we can travel only during peak season but this seemed to be the most crowded ship of all. In fact last year on Celebrity Solstice we used to wonder where all the people seem to go; they spread out sort of. On Splendida, in the evenings, you can hardly walk through the lounges to get to the restaurant. However it didn't bother us because there was a jolly atmosphere but some may find it too much. (h) Poolside - we always managed to find loungers in the shade. The pools are among the nicest we have had so far as they are quite large and the landscaping is very attractive. The towels look tired; different shades of orange, some newer than others (or some older than others), most with dark stains - from laundry detergents?? The poolside screen is not very large but ok. There are many children running about, splashing, shouting and screaming. We don't mind this at the pool at all, but if you do beware! (i) Kids go free offer - speaking of children, this is what I referred to before when I mentioned the offers on MSC. Kids go free means there are many, many but many kids! As I said before, I don't mind this poolside but I did mind the running about and slamming of stateroom doors that made our stateroom rattle and shake all day long! Well, at least while we were in the stateroom as most of the time we go out. But when you go in it is usually to rest. Actually what got to us was the afternoon slot, when we wanted to rest - we just couldn't as our neighbouring stateroom had their grandchildren coming over all the time, knocking on the door, asking to be let in and then, once let inside, running about and jumping and making us feel we were next to a battlefield. Thing is, even sitting in our balcony for relaxing, we had to hear them talking loudly all the time in theirs. Perhaps we were unlucky in our neighbours. I do appreciate however that for families with children this is an ideal offer. BUT, IF YOU DON'T HAVE CHILDREN TRAVELLING WITH YOU, THIS IS WHAT I MEANT ABOUT MSC HAVING TO BE COST EFFECTIVE BY CUTTING OUT ALL THE LOVELY FRILLS, AT EVERYONE'S EXPENSE, NOT JUST THOSE WHO HAVE CHILDREN. (j) Shows and entertainment. There was a show every day except once. We enjoyed all the shows. We've seen more spectacular ones on the other ships but they had some good performers, the guest performers were the best. There was an excellent mime act and a pair of men who did body balancing acts who were really exceptional. However the resident dancers and singers are not so good. But all in all we enjoyed the shows and would recommend you see them. Most nights, after the show, there was another 'funny' activity in one lounge or another. The animation team is really good. They do mange to perk things up and one of them did a 'Michael Jackson' that was awesome - we could have watched him do it all night instead of the actual show. The animation team also got a great party going in the Disco every night, top deck, floor to ceiling windows watching the waves rush by, good music. In fact this is the first ship where the Disco was in full swing, probably as there are many young people on this ship. We are in the 40-45 bracket mind you but we danced a bit and there were many our age too. This was after the show and the other activity so really you have plenty to do into the small hours. To summarise, we had a good time but we will not sail MSC again because: (1) too much smoking (2) food inadequate in taste, variety and presentation (3) no pampering and too many missing things that would make a cruise a luxurious experience. Plus, if you can't stand crowding and shouting and running about this cruise is not for you. It is such a cold feeling. You just get on the ship, have a reasonably good time and just leave without anyone knowing so to speak - not what we're used to at all. American cruise lines we sailed with value their clients and make you feel that you are doing them a favour by choosing their line, to ensure you do so again. This is definitely not the case with MSC. For those interested a brief note about the ports: Malta - the most beautiful, most picturesque port by far. Easy to walk up the hill to capital city Valletta and easy to explore this city built by the Knights; plenty of excursions to lovely spots such as the various Prehistoric temples, Blue Grotto at Wied iz-Zurrieq and the jewel Mdina (a must see) - time stood still here at Mdina and it is so clean and there are such breath-taking views from the bastions! Messina - we had gone to Etna before so we decided to stay in Messina. Quite pretty, a lovely clock that is nice to watch at midday 12.00pm, moving figures and roaring lion... Some good shops for a spot of shopping. Civitavecchia - If you've never been to Rome you must go! One of the most beautiful cities if you love art and history and all that goes with it. An excursion is a must as otherwise you will not manage to do as much on your own in the time available. Plus you don't want to risk missing the ship as Rome is about 1 ½ hrs drive away, 3 hrs driving both ways together and depending on traffic. We had been for week long spells to Rome twice before so we walked down Civitavecchia. Quaint market, some bargains. Went back to the ship and relaxed by the pool. Genoa - took excursion to Portofino, stopping at Rapallo on the way. Picturesque port but that's it - nowhere to explore. Once we got there by ferry boat we saw it all. Lovely but nothing to do for two hours till they took us back, and we've seen more picturesque places along the Italian coast such as the Costa Amalfitana. I'm not sure the excursion was worth it. Marseille - we took a taxi from the port straight to Notre Dame de la Grade. Cost 35 euro for 6 persons so worth it as we didn't have to walk in the heat at all. The Cathedral of Notre Dame de la Garde is beautiful and the views are marvellous. You can also see the Chateau d'If on its island. We managed to hear Mass as there is one every hour on Sundays. We know people who didn't want to take a taxi but they had to walk all the way out of the port in the sun - 45 mins approximately, and then did it by bus, three buses but which did end up at the very top by the Cathedral. It worked out costing same as getting a taxi but also having the walk in the heat and the hassle of changing buses and wasting time. And having to do it twice - to get back! However from the cathedral we did have to take a bus because (a) there is no taxi stand and (b) we wanted to go down to the Vieux Port, the old port of Marseille. We walked around there for a bit, quite pretty, bought soap (savon de Marseille!) then got a taxi back to the ship just in time for lunch in the dining room, that is just before 2pm because then it won't accept more persons. Barcellona - lovely city! Wide roads lined with trees, good for shopping in pedestrian area off Placa Catalunya. Taxis are really worthwhile here. We got one straight off the ship (shuttle not worth it) to Sagrada Famiglia, just 12 euro for 4 persons. The shuttle leaves you at the bottom of the Rambla and then you still have far to Sagrada Famiglia. So worked out better by taxi. We then spent just another 5 euro for taxi to Placa Catalunya, shopped a bit, taxi back to ship. Saved a lot on excursion price. You can walk back down the rambla from Placa Catalunya then get taxi short distance left to ship. Still saves. But we had done the Rambla before and preferred more shopping time as this was the only port we really could find some decent shops in. THIS PORT STOP IS TOO SHORT. MSC would do well to make this an overnight stop and cut out Tunis and sail straight to Malta. Tunis - never again! Sooo dirty, the Medina is a shambles as are the souks, and they took us to the best places!!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
The reason I have decided to write this review is that I had read so many contrasting opinions on MSC that we had become very wary indeed . In fact we approached our cruise with apprehension. Our experience in cruising is four cruises on ... Read More
The reason I have decided to write this review is that I had read so many contrasting opinions on MSC that we had become very wary indeed . In fact we approached our cruise with apprehension. Our experience in cruising is four cruises on the Norwegian Gem. We sailed on the Splendida in the Med in November. Our first impression of the ship was that the statement " the most beautiful ship in the world" was true. We had previously sailed exclusively on NCL, and while their ships are lovely, we felt the Splendida outshone them in luxurious fittings and design. The Svaroski studded staircase in the atrium we had heard so much about was truly magnificent. I had done a lot of research and was fascinated when we actually boarded and started seeing in reality all the things I had seen in the virtual world. As MSC takes passengers on board at almost each Port of Call, there aren't thousands of passengers all embarking at the same time so we were on board about 15 minutes after entering the terminal. We were met by a line of white gloved stewards/stewardesses and were escorted to our cabin. It was great having our cabin available as soon as we boarded. Our cabin was roomy, sufficient storage and well designed with a modern look and spotless. The bathroom wasn't huge but large enough. I had heard so much about the shower curtain. They must have changed the design as it can't cling to you. However, so much was spent in fitting out the ship that I can't really understand why they didn't put in a door instead of the curtain. We went up to the Buffet for lunch. The Cafeteria (Bora Bora and Pago Pago) is large and stretches the entire width of the ship so you have windows at both sides. At the very back are large windows and tables were always easily available in that area . In fact, we always found empty tables whenever we went to the Cafeteria. We then explored the ship. I had printed the deck configurations so that made it some what easier. The lounges and wine/coffee bars were lovely all with comfortable armchairs. In the evenings there was live music in most. Those that didn't have live music overlooked the atrium where the main Splendida Bar is with its glass piano. One of the most attractive is La Piazetta which is made to look like a square in Tuscany , complete with starry sky and original decorated tiles. Another popular lounge is the Aft Lounge where animators put on shows and group dancing with the passengers. There is also Karaoke . The only place we smelt smoke was in the Casino. There are various signs showing where smoking is allowed but we rarely saw people smoking. Even the La Prua lounge that has a staircase leading to the Casino does not have a smell of smoke - the ship must have some very efficient filters. One of our group suffers badly from asthma and even she didn't complain. It seems that people are learning to obey the rules. Overlooking the main pool are the disco's. Again with comfortable armchairs and so ideal for relaxing with a view during the day. The main pool is the Aqua Park with fountains and hot tubs and a lovely original design. Not just a rectangular pool like many ships. As our cruise was in November , not many people made use of it !!! There are tables all round under cover so we often got a coffee or drink from the bar or lunch/tea from the buffet and spent some time there as we had lovely weather there throughout. There is also a bar selling moderately priced ice cream. Leading off from the main pool is another pool - again with tables round it and a gallery with more tables. This pool can be covered so people made full use of it during our winter cruise. There is another smaller pool in the Zen area (adults only) at the very front and one for the children. The shows are a matter of opinion. Some found them very good , others so so. However, they are a good way of spending some 45 minutes after dinner. The dining rooms are at the very back while the theatre is at the very front - so you'll also be getting some exercise walking the length of the ship. We never had any trouble disembarking at the Ports of Call. A highlight of the cruise was when the ship stopped near the volcano of Stromboli at sunset with awesome background music. A lot of the criticism was regarding the food ,service and water so here are my honest opinions. FOOD Breakfast is served either in the Cafeteria or in the dining rooms till 10.00. Room service for continental breakfast is free from early also till 10.00. The Italians aren't big on breakfast - most have just a coffee and croissant. On the ship there are cereals, yogart, fruit, juice, bacon, eggs, sausages, mushrooms, baked beans, cheese and cold cuts. But the choice is not as vast as on NCL. However, there is ample and you won't end up hungry. The Buffet is self service and they don't have 'action stations' Coffee/tea is served by waiters as is the juice and there is no coffee available free 24 x 7. Lunch is from 12 to about 3/3.30. Again there is more choice on the NCL . For example there aren't action stations for pasta, sushi or asian food. There are the obligatory hamburgers and hot dogs though. The food served was at the correct temperature and we found it satisfactory. The bread is freshly baked. The dining rooms are also open for a more leisured lunch. Tea/coffee is served at about 3.45 to 4.30 with sandwiches and cakes in the cafeteria. The Buffet is not open in the evenings on the ships sailing in the Med. Dinner is in the usual two sittings in two very elegant dining rooms. The menu has the 'always available' as well as the daily menu and is in various languages. Each evening is dedicated to a different Italian region. Obviously, the food is Italian i.e. the food the Italians eat in Italy. It may not be the Italian food you find in an Italian restaurant in your home town. The Italians are very critical and knowledgeable when it comes to food and they all seemed to be satisfied with the standard offered. Our table companions all enjoyed the food. There are 6/7 courses. The portions aren't huge but you can order as much as you want. There isn't free coffee at the end of the meal. SERVICE Some of the waiters may appear aloof. Waiters in Europe feel they are there to take the orders and to serve the food efficiently. They don't act as if they are your buddy and are thrilled to see you. Many don't ask how your day was and don't always serve you with a big smile. They move around and are always ready to attend to your needs. Our waiter happened to be rather glum. However, one of our group had diet restrictions and the waiter was very helpful and kind even if he rarely smiled ! I don't need a waiter to be my friend, what I need is a knowledgeable one and that they are. We rarely saw officers strolling the ship as we used to see on the Gem, but the few we saw were polite when approached by any passenger but, like the waiters. did not act as if were all one big happy family. WATER (In the Med.) Free iced water served in jugs is not available. You can buy packages of vouchers for eur 20 for 14 bottles of 1 litre. In the buffet at lunch time there is an ice machine with water available in very small glasses. The machine is not in an obvious place though. There are various packages for wine and wine/water as well. The Ship is so beautiful and elegant, the cabins roomy and you don't have servers trying to sell you drinks at every possible occasion eg theatre and by the pool. Neither do you have crew trying to sell you Bingo or other games while in the theatre. There aren't the frequent announcements either . You aren't approached and encouraged to visit the Speciality restaurants . Announcements and menus are in 5 languages. The info left in your cabin is according to the language of your choice. Quite efficient really as on the Gem every thing is in English. The animators did their job well even though we are not the type to join in. So - would I sail on MSC again ? My only real criticism is that the ship (in the Med) is not Freestyle. We missed not having tea/coffee, water, snacks, a diner like Blue Lagoon available 24/7 and we also missed not being able to choose each day when to dine. Room service is not free after breakfast and the choices in the Buffet are not as wide as on the Gem. However, we didn't miss them enough not to choose MSC if the price and itinerary were right !!!!!! We all enjoyed our cruise because we knew in advance that the ship was not Freestyle. We knew that coffee/tea/snacks/light meals were not available 24 x 7. We knew that iced water is not freely served. We also knew that the style of service seems to cater mainly to Italian tastes - not surprising as the ship IS Italian. Many of the complaints I've read show that people book a cruise blindly and then complain if things are not to their liking. A case in point is the eur 1 donation towards UNICEF eg the kids in Brazil that appears on your invoice. It is mentioned on the MSC site, on the TV, in the leaflet on your desk under the TV, on the paper left on the bed explaining that you can tell Reception to remove this eur 1 and yet you still get people complaining that they were not advised and were upset. The principle of the thing they say as they would have been willing to pay even more. The Ship is Italian and things are done the Italian way - laid back with crew keeping their distance until needed. Many Americans enjoy this and feel that while in Europe they prefer to have the Italian experience even while on the ship. They also enjoy being surrounded by mainly Europeans as it makes the cruise more obviously part of their European vacation . Just as we were in the minority on the Gem, they will be in the minority on the Splendida. But if an American is looking for a home while away from home than he may be disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
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

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