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We had always cruised with Royal Caribbean but were getting more and more frustrated by the dwindling service levels. Along came MSC with the amazing Status Match scheme which allowed us to take our first cruise with them and at their highest loyalty level. We take a lot of cruises and have already booked five with MSC, before even taking the first (brave or stupid). The Status Match is a great sales pitch from MSC and has meant a loss of 5 bookings for Royal Caribbean. I do wish Royal would listen to it's guests and improve their once great service and forget about all the gimmicks. So, how was our very first MSC cruise. We booked a package which included a balcony cabin, flights and transfers for a really low price (under £500) and viewed this cruise as a little treat just before Christmas. We pre-booked internet and drinks. I have to say that the UK service centre for MSC should be closed down with immediate effect; they are clueless, the website crashes more than it works and when they say they have done something it soon becomes apparent they have not. So, when we arrived at Gatwick for our BA flight to Genoa, we were slightly upset that my wife and I weren't allocated seats together; but we were OK as the flight was only 90 minutes. It was when we were in our seats and we listened to people talking across rows to others and even had passengers pass items across seats that we all started chatting. I firmly believe that the MSC staff in the UK were responsible for seat allocation on this flight as EVERY couple or group we encountered on that cruise were separated from each other on that flight. It must have taken some effort to split couples and groups up so "effectively" (if only they could put the same effort into helping guests). We landed in Genoa and the included transfer was fairly straightforward. Due to our Status Match upgrade to Black Card we bypassed the long queues at check-in and were through and on the ship in less than 5 minutes. OMG I did not think you could cram so much tackiness into one place - and I thought the Italians were supposed to be classy. A whole bar coloured orange, another 99% purple, the grand atrium gold and tacky crystal; the stylist must have had the day off when these plans were drawn up. Our cabin 8151 was a sideways cabin with long balcony; it was actually a very nice layout; let down when we arrived by the cabin attendants dirty cloth left on the side in the bathroom and the half-drank bottle of water (which they tried to charge for). We missed the huge promenade we had grown to love with Royal but this was another cruise line after all and we DID like how things were set out (just not the colour schemes - and the incredibly uncomfortable seating which meant you spent most of your time lying backwards and at a slant). We knew to collect our cruise cards from our cabin; and found the empty cardboard holders for them but no cards; our first trip to guest services, who then told us to see Allessandra(?) the loyalty club host. We got there 20 minutes before her desk opened and were soon joined by several other guests. Allessandra appeared 15 minutes before the scheduled opening, saw all the guests waiting patiently and went off with her colleague (no problem there). She then returned exactly on time, put something on her desk and promptly went off to the toilet, returning 5 minutes later. That did annoy all those who had been waiting for her. She could have just come back 5 minutes late but you just got the impression that she was marking her territory and dictating how HER rules worked. She sorted our card issue and we were sent back down to Guest Services. We chose to go and see the Maitre'd to ensure our table request had been received - nope, nothing from the UK office. The Black Card worked wonders again as he couldnt find us a table but saw THE CARD and one suddenly became available. Because I have to work while Im away, we pre-booked the "Streaming" wifi package - which didn't work anywhere on deck 8 and only in certain places on the ship. It definitely didn't manage to stream anything and emails were a struggle for most of the time. More on this later. The buffet was really well laid out and had a restaurant feel about it rather than the school canteen look on Royal. Only once did we struggle to find a table. The service from every staff member within the buffet was EXCEPTIONAL. Yes, the food could have been hotter but it's a balance they have to make; keep it hotter and it dries out or burns. The restaurant was just above average. The service once again was excellent. The food was limited in choice, luke warm and the same items repeated almost daily (veal anyone?). It was OK but not to Royal standards (though service was far better). The main theatre shows were a nightmare. I appreciate that it is difficult to cater for several different languages but there was very little effort or imagination in the shows. OK so once in a while its pleasing to see two women bend into various shapes while lying across and under each other BUT it does get boring once you've seen the same thing every night for 7 nights. There were several amateurish dancers, hardly any singing, the two chinese bendy women, a 4 piece acrobatic act, a couple of aerial artistes and the most boring uncharismatic Cruise Director I have ever see. And that same combination was used EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. The various bars were once again saved by the amazing staff and the top class service; but if I have to listen to "ars ole mio" ten times a night, every single night again I might just pull the power cord. Boring isn't the word to describe the activities and entertainment offering onboard Splendida. Just a quickie for the non-smokers. Yes the casino is fumed-filled and the bar located up the staircase above it is also really bad at times. However, we didn't really notice it anywhere else on the ship. We took two "English language" tours organised by MSC; and found they were multi-lingual which made it impossible to focus and follow what was being said by the guide. We will stick to our own excursions in future. I was slightly miffed that MSC had decided to add a small Unicef donation onto our bill; I prefer to choose my own charities and donate as and when I want, not have it imposed. So, I visited Guest Services on the final day. I explained that I would like the donations removed and, due to the extremely poor internet service, I'd like a partial refund on that (perhaps the difference between the std email package and the "streaming" one we paid for). The guy behind the counter was clueless and decided to refund ALL of our charges, including the gratuities. I tried to explain this was not what I had asked for but he didn't want to listen. In a strange way, I did actually prefer it though. It allowed us to give out the gratuity to the staff WE felt provided the service. Our waiters got a little more and our cabin steward slightly less. We aren't fans of the new "gratuities go to people behind the scenes" policy as we strongly believe it is the cruise line who should cover their wages as it used to be. Disembarkation was mostly fuss-free. Although, if you pre-pay your bill in cash, be sure you don't have any credit left over. We found one woman who was refused exit from the ship until she returned to Guest Services and found she was in credit by 3 Euros. One final point to mention. Genoa Airport is an utter joke. It took over 1 hour to check-in at the BA desk as they had two staff on duty. Our bag was overweight (our fault) but the jobsworth behind the counter insisted we remove something from the case and put it through as a separate item. We removed a cloth bag with draw strings which contained some laundry and that had to go through as a piece of hold luggage. The main case was still overweight. At a time when BA are about to upset lots of customers (strike action) it would seem this check-in person didn't get the "be nice" memo. So, what do we think of our very first MSC cruise? It IS totally different to a US cruise line. The amazing service was the biggest plus for MSC, followed by the lower pricing from the cruise itself down to the enormous choice of beverage packages. We REALLY hated the activities and entertainment (what little there was). We are on another MSC ship for 22 nights in January 2017 so this will allow us to better understand them a little better before we make up our minds.

Service EXCELLENT - the rest was average

MSC Splendida Cruise Review by CoupleUK

10 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2016
  • Destination: Mediterranean
  • Cabin Type: Balcony Stateroom – Aurea
We had always cruised with Royal Caribbean but were getting more and more frustrated by the dwindling service levels. Along came MSC with the amazing Status Match scheme which allowed us to take our first cruise with them and at their highest loyalty level.

We take a lot of cruises and have already booked five with MSC, before even taking the first (brave or stupid). The Status Match is a great sales pitch from MSC and has meant a loss of 5 bookings for Royal Caribbean.

I do wish Royal would listen to it's guests and improve their once great service and forget about all the gimmicks.

So, how was our very first MSC cruise.

We booked a package which included a balcony cabin, flights and transfers for a really low price (under £500) and viewed this cruise as a little treat just before Christmas. We pre-booked internet and drinks.

I have to say that the UK service centre for MSC should be closed down with immediate effect; they are clueless, the website crashes more than it works and when they say they have done something it soon becomes apparent they have not.

So, when we arrived at Gatwick for our BA flight to Genoa, we were slightly upset that my wife and I weren't allocated seats together; but we were OK as the flight was only 90 minutes. It was when we were in our seats and we listened to people talking across rows to others and even had passengers pass items across seats that we all started chatting. I firmly believe that the MSC staff in the UK were responsible for seat allocation on this flight as EVERY couple or group we encountered on that cruise were separated from each other on that flight. It must have taken some effort to split couples and groups up so "effectively" (if only they could put the same effort into helping guests).

We landed in Genoa and the included transfer was fairly straightforward.

Due to our Status Match upgrade to Black Card we bypassed the long queues at check-in and were through and on the ship in less than 5 minutes.

OMG I did not think you could cram so much tackiness into one place - and I thought the Italians were supposed to be classy. A whole bar coloured orange, another 99% purple, the grand atrium gold and tacky crystal; the stylist must have had the day off when these plans were drawn up.

Our cabin 8151 was a sideways cabin with long balcony; it was actually a very nice layout; let down when we arrived by the cabin attendants dirty cloth left on the side in the bathroom and the half-drank bottle of water (which they tried to charge for).

We missed the huge promenade we had grown to love with Royal but this was another cruise line after all and we DID like how things were set out (just not the colour schemes - and the incredibly uncomfortable seating which meant you spent most of your time lying backwards and at a slant).

We knew to collect our cruise cards from our cabin; and found the empty cardboard holders for them but no cards; our first trip to guest services, who then told us to see Allessandra(?) the loyalty club host. We got there 20 minutes before her desk opened and were soon joined by several other guests.

Allessandra appeared 15 minutes before the scheduled opening, saw all the guests waiting patiently and went off with her colleague (no problem there). She then returned exactly on time, put something on her desk and promptly went off to the toilet, returning 5 minutes later. That did annoy all those who had been waiting for her. She could have just come back 5 minutes late but you just got the impression that she was marking her territory and dictating how HER rules worked.

She sorted our card issue and we were sent back down to Guest Services.

We chose to go and see the Maitre'd to ensure our table request had been received - nope, nothing from the UK office. The Black Card worked wonders again as he couldnt find us a table but saw THE CARD and one suddenly became available.

Because I have to work while Im away, we pre-booked the "Streaming" wifi package - which didn't work anywhere on deck 8 and only in certain places on the ship. It definitely didn't manage to stream anything and emails were a struggle for most of the time. More on this later.

The buffet was really well laid out and had a restaurant feel about it rather than the school canteen look on Royal. Only once did we struggle to find a table. The service from every staff member within the buffet was EXCEPTIONAL. Yes, the food could have been hotter but it's a balance they have to make; keep it hotter and it dries out or burns.

The restaurant was just above average. The service once again was excellent. The food was limited in choice, luke warm and the same items repeated almost daily (veal anyone?). It was OK but not to Royal standards (though service was far better).

The main theatre shows were a nightmare. I appreciate that it is difficult to cater for several different languages but there was very little effort or imagination in the shows. OK so once in a while its pleasing to see two women bend into various shapes while lying across and under each other BUT it does get boring once you've seen the same thing every night for 7 nights. There were several amateurish dancers, hardly any singing, the two chinese bendy women, a 4 piece acrobatic act, a couple of aerial artistes and the most boring uncharismatic Cruise Director I have ever see. And that same combination was used EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.

The various bars were once again saved by the amazing staff and the top class service; but if I have to listen to "ars ole mio" ten times a night, every single night again I might just pull the power cord. Boring isn't the word to describe the activities and entertainment offering onboard Splendida.

Just a quickie for the non-smokers. Yes the casino is fumed-filled and the bar located up the staircase above it is also really bad at times. However, we didn't really notice it anywhere else on the ship.

We took two "English language" tours organised by MSC; and found they were multi-lingual which made it impossible to focus and follow what was being said by the guide. We will stick to our own excursions in future.

I was slightly miffed that MSC had decided to add a small Unicef donation onto our bill; I prefer to choose my own charities and donate as and when I want, not have it imposed.

So, I visited Guest Services on the final day. I explained that I would like the donations removed and, due to the extremely poor internet service, I'd like a partial refund on that (perhaps the difference between the std email package and the "streaming" one we paid for). The guy behind the counter was clueless and decided to refund ALL of our charges, including the gratuities. I tried to explain this was not what I had asked for but he didn't want to listen.

In a strange way, I did actually prefer it though. It allowed us to give out the gratuity to the staff WE felt provided the service. Our waiters got a little more and our cabin steward slightly less. We aren't fans of the new "gratuities go to people behind the scenes" policy as we strongly believe it is the cruise line who should cover their wages as it used to be.

Disembarkation was mostly fuss-free. Although, if you pre-pay your bill in cash, be sure you don't have any credit left over. We found one woman who was refused exit from the ship until she returned to Guest Services and found she was in credit by 3 Euros.

One final point to mention. Genoa Airport is an utter joke. It took over 1 hour to check-in at the BA desk as they had two staff on duty. Our bag was overweight (our fault) but the jobsworth behind the counter insisted we remove something from the case and put it through as a separate item. We removed a cloth bag with draw strings which contained some laundry and that had to go through as a piece of hold luggage. The main case was still overweight. At a time when BA are about to upset lots of customers (strike action) it would seem this check-in person didn't get the "be nice" memo.

So, what do we think of our very first MSC cruise?

It IS totally different to a US cruise line. The amazing service was the biggest plus for MSC, followed by the lower pricing from the cruise itself down to the enormous choice of beverage packages. We REALLY hated the activities and entertainment (what little there was).

We are on another MSC ship for 22 nights in January 2017 so this will allow us to better understand them a little better before we make up our minds.
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