I have been on many cruises and most lines, but I thought it would be interesting to try an Italian cruise company. MSC seemed to have nice ships and a great Med port schedule for our November cruise, and the price was good. Now that I've tried it, I probably won't repeat the experience. Here's why:
1. The ship was too big for me. I don't like crowds, especially when I am eating. When the crowd is primarily Italians, they crowd in everywhere, and are noisy. A buffet line is not a good place to interact with the Italian psyche.
2. The ship was smoky. Our stateroom and the dining room were fine, but most of the public areas had the odor of smoke. The casino, which you pass through from the dining room to get to the shows, was so bad I had to hold my breath as I cut through it. So no dancing and hanging out in the lounges.
3. There were lots of children onboard. Even in the no-children "Zen" top deck, there were kids. Enough said.
4. Our neighbors, including their kids, were partiers and extremely noisy. The kids seemed to be launching off the bed and bouncing off the walls. After midnight I considered it okay to pound on their door and call reception asking for intervention. But the next night it would happen again.
5. Water? Tea? Coffee? Not on this ship - not unless you pay for it. If you wanted a glass of water in the dining room, they expected you to buy it. We ended up bringing a water bottle to dinner. The maitre de frowned at it but I could care less. I'm not paying for plain old water.
On the good side, the food was very good, the entertainment was engaging, and getting on and off the ship at each port was without any hassle or wait. I had a good time aboard the Splendida - but I would probably have a better time on RC or Celebrity or Cunard.
Perfectly fine, except for the noisy neighbors. You will always know when the side thrusters are pushing you into docking, no need for an alarm clock!
Walk out of the port facility before you get into a cab. You will save half the cost of the ride. Our visit to Carthage was engaging. A local guide gave us an informative history at the site for 10 Euros. Next visit I will go to Tunis!
If you are a walker, this is a great port. We walked the entire walled city perimeter. There are some beautiful parks and gardens to see in the Floriana section. I also really liked the fountain, surrounded by old 1950 style buses.
Actually visited Messina. Walkable, but took the tram to the northern end for a visit to the City Museum, which was somewhat limited to local exhibits that had been preserved. Also walked through the squares, visited the astronomical clock and the cathedral.
The best. Almost missed the ship on the way back, as the train from Rome was a local, and stopped everywhere. We had to jog from the train station to the port, and since the shuttle buses were no longer running, another jog to the ship. Two miles total. Don't be late - you have to leave Rome Termini before 4 pm!
A nice city, walkable, and worth a day to explore. I would go back to see more of it.
The ship leaves you out in the boonies, and MSC wants 15 Euros apiece to take the shuttle to town. Screw that. Walk out of the port (20 minutes) and get the 35 bus at the port entry. Ride 10 minutes and transfer at the end to the 55 bus, for another 10 minutes. Stay on this bus if you want to go through the Old Port and ride right up to the Notre Dame Cathedral. Total cost per person one way, 1.5 Euro. Reverse it to come back to the ship.
We stayed here for a couple days as it was our port of embarkation/debarkation. Use the Aerobus and the metro subway, combined with the cruise ship shuttle, for transportation from the airport and also away from the ship. Barcelona is a great city for walking, and the metro lets you do big leaps from one area to another.