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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.

Mixed bag but give it a try

MSC Splendida Cruise Review by Pickaway Cruiser

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: September 2016
  • Destination: Europe
  • Cabin Type: Balcony Stateroom – Fantastica
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.
Pickaway Cruiser’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
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Cabin Review

Balcony Stateroom – Fantastica
Cabin B2 13110
The cabin was spacious with plenty of room to hang your clothes, 6 drawers, and room to store your luggage. The shower was small and that bothered my husband, but was fine for me. There was a cabinet that allowed you to store your cosmetic items beneath the sink. I am not sure of the category designation so I chose the middle one.
Piero della Francesca Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Amsterdam
    We did our own transportation. It was easy to get around and the locals are helpful. We visited the Dutch Resistance Museum and took a canal ride; we also took the train to Haarlem to see the Corrie Ten Boom museum. Her family sheltered Jewish people during WWII and were all arrested; most of the family died in the camps. The story of their commitment was profound and inspiring to all who would help others being persecuted. It was the highlight of our trip which included many wonderful sights and experiences.
    View All 802 Amsterdam Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Brugge (Bruges)
    Don't miss Brugge. It is the most beautiful city I've seen yet. It's easy to do on your own. You don't need to purchase an excursion. Normally you can just walk up the road and catch the train, but they were on strike the day we did it. The ship also offers shuttles to/from town, which is an easy way to get there.
    View All 380 Brugge (Bruges) Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Hamburg
    Keep in mind that this city was nearly levels in a bombing campaign during WWII, so there isn't as much antiquity as in other ports. The Rathaus building was VERY impressive and worth the time to fully appreciate it. We also loved the Miniature Wunderland. We got a group Hamburg card for local transportation. We had to ask for help from the bus drivers because it wasn't as easy to understand as in other cities, and not much English at this port. Also the Steinwarder dock is far from town. You'll either need to take a taxi - around 25 Euros one way - or buy the ship's RT shuttle, about 15 Euros RT per person.
    View All 136 Hamburg Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Paris
    We took the tour with the boat ride, and are glad we did, because that was the main sightseeing we were able to do.. We didn't get the 3 hours on land, due to traffic and the wait for the boat. We only got about 1.5 hours, and there was barely time to eat a very late lunch. We also didn't get parked close to Place de la Concord and had to go to the expensive Champs Elysees area to eat; but the meal was really great French food, and so a part of our experience. The guide and driver were both very good and helpful. We had a stop mid-way for a bathroom break, where food and coffee were also available. Since Paris is so far away, I don't regret using an organized excursion for our first foray into the city.
    View All 61 Paris Reviews
  • Southampton
    We started from London and took the train to Southampton; on the cab drive back to the train, we saw a little of the city and it looked like a place worth exploring. There's a lot of history there and the locals can tell you a lot of stories.
    View All 992 Southampton Cruise Port Reviews
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