I embarked the MSC Splendida in Marseille on Jan 28, which was also the Chinese New Year’s day and so there was a sizeable contingency of Chinese passengers. It was actually the last night of the itinerary when I embarked, as the majority of guests had embarked in Genoa, so on my embarkation day I enjoyed the gala dinner and the show ended with the crew parade chanting ‘time to say goodbye’.
Indeed this was the third time I cruised on this ship, similar itinerary, same class of cabin. One main reason was that I think MSC’s Yacht Club is among the best cruise experience I have had, the other was that there was not much of a choice of a European cruise in January, and I needed a cruise (now that I cruise virtually every month).
Yacht Club was great because I like big ship facilities and activities, while within this ‘ship within ship’ I also enjoy a high-end service environment. The dinner tonight, the Gala, I had Foie Gras and lobster, and it was good to start the cruise this way if in a somewhat reverse order.
Nowadays you can virtually choose to embark on any port of the itinerary. I chose Marseille (in theory the last port), despite inconvenience of the cruise terminal, because I wanted to stay there for a few days pre-cruise. Be aware that the embarkation port affects price due to capacity control, a good tip if you look for as better deal. The Terminal is not in town but a taxi ride from the Vieux Port costs only EUR20.
The winter sea was not really rough but the ship rolls a bit the first night, and next morning we were in Genoa on a Sunday. Afterward the sea was smooth. The ports followed were Civitacecchia, Palermo, Valletta, and Barcelona, all popular ports of call. This is probably a very popular itinerary for the general cruiser, but as I have been to all these places several times I took a relaxing holiday. Indeed, the ship is my true destination. It is great that the weather was good almost the whole trip and the seas are not rough.
Opinions on MSC cruises differ, particularly for North American guests. I note with interest that while last month on NCL most passengers are American and English, on this ship it is predominantly European but not particularly Italian. Thus English was the first language. But what Americans may dislike the ship for reason that it is not Americanized, this I as well as many Europeans consider it an advantage. For example, the food is very Italian, the true Italian way, not the internationalized or Americanized Italian. Not Hamburger and hotdog. It is strange that the ship’s only alternative paid dining venue is a Tex-Mex restaurant. The food may be good but the name in itself is to me a deterrent so even on a third cruise I have never tried it.
I would say that the food is adequate for normal class passengers (I have tried the cuisine on Magnifica and Musica both do not have Yacht Club), and for Yacht Club it is very good. The service and atmosphere in the L’Olivio Restaurant is among the best at sea, of Silversea and Crystal standard if the food quality is less due to still a price difference. The Top Sail Lounge is great, and this is a venue open only to Yacht Club passengers. And on a warmer sunny day the buffet lunch on the 18 level outdoor terraces are memorable. These venues (including a private pool) and drinks and snack consumption there are free to Yacht Club passengers.
Yacht Club boasts of butler service and they are true butlers. You have choice of newspaper, and this is not the 4 page A4 version but the photocopy in A3 of the whole of Daily Telegraph on A3 format, bounded and delivered every morning. No other ship, including Silversea and Crystal which are more expensive, delivers such service.
The cabin is comfortable, the bath has a good tub and there is a walk-in wardrobe. In my opinion, Yacht Club is great value for what you pay and what you get.
For me, a passenger that has cruised nearly 100 times over 30 years, I come for a relaxed holiday and the ports of call are of no importance to me. I had come to enjoy top service but also big ship facilities and spectacular shows, and I am not disappointed. The shows on MSC are among the best, a production show every night. There are, uniquely, semi-classical music performances on this ship and people enjoy it. HAL is the only other cruise line that performs classical music (on Eurodam).
MSC is one of my favourite cruise lines if I want a big ship, and at Yacht I enjoyed first class facilities and services. MSC Yacht Club is among the first of ‘a ship within ship’ and other cruise lines are now doing similar. I will return.
Great cabin, spacious and has a bath tub. Very clean and comfortable.
Good port with many thing going on.
Great 4 hours strolling as ship terminal is near centre.
Didn't bother to go to Rome (too far) and Civitavecchia is no good without Romne.
Nice three hours and good urban acitivities.
Best port of call.....spectacular setting and historic buildings.