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7 MSC Cruises MSC Splendida Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Europe - Eastern Mediterranean

We are just back from our week on MSC Splendida. In spite of being winter, we loved it and had a lovely time. The ship is huge and its beautiful and it shines from its cleanliness, we’ve been already in Poesia and Fantasia. Loving ... Read More
We are just back from our week on MSC Splendida. In spite of being winter, we loved it and had a lovely time. The ship is huge and its beautiful and it shines from its cleanliness, we’ve been already in Poesia and Fantasia. Loving the food, we don’t eat that much and we manage to “stay fit” just walking around the ship. We had our breakfasts on the buffet and went twice to breakfast in the MDR, we prefer the calmer MDR to the bustling buffet, but be aware that you can’t have proper cappuccino in the MDR (!!!) – I know… amazing, right? The truth is we bought online the coffee cuddle coupons and enjoyed our cappuccinos throughout the bars and even on the buffet, but on our first MDR breakfast I thought that the cappuccino alike thing they brought us wasn’t the real thing, on our second one, we made our order and after tasting I manage to ask the waiter about it and he told us that in the MDR they don’t have the proper machine to make them, only at bars and buffet… Ok, I accept, but why not warning us when we make our order and spend our coupons?... Let me tell you that the coffee cuddle package is really worth it if you love your expresso, cappuccino and so on, we can even use the coupons in the coffee frozen delights they serve (this you can’t have with your allegrissimo package), and they are truly worth it. The other package we bought was the wine and water, also worth it and I believe we’ll be getting these two packages every time we cruise with MSC. (Note that the packages bought online don’t pay the 15% service charge.) Our diners in the MDR were very nice and the food was proper, with just one or two “falls”. Our waiters were very nice and our 5 year old was with us all the time (except one diner) and he always ate from our menu, not the kids one – he was a hero for our head waiter. The breakfasts and lunches at the buffet were basically the same with everything that is expectable. Now let me tell you something new, that I don’t know from how long MSC has been doing it, maybe some of you have seen it, but for me it was a first: Breakfast and lunch at the MDR is now complemented with buffet… (!) for us this was not good… I don’t know about you, but if I want buffet I go to the buffet main area on the 14th floor; Here you can also have your breakfast and lunch on the menu like before, but now you get this extra possibility and when you arrive at your table instead of giving you the menu the waiter asks if you want to go to the buffet or order from the menu. Many people might like this little extra, but it is very awkward to see people coming from the buffet with their plates full, like the buffet upstairs and so on… We went one time to lunch and two times to breakfast on the MDR and we always ordered from the menu. I asked our diner waiter about this novelty, and I believe he wasn’t very thrilled about it either. Another thing that is worth to buy on the first day is the €35 package to use non-stop the F1 simulator, the 4d cinema (which is the least appealing of all, it isn’t very worth it…) and the bowling at the sports bar, my son had a blast at the bowling! My son went a few times to the kid’s club, but he’s not very fond of it, because obviously no one speaks his language. But he loves “DoReMi” the MSC child mascot. We used the indoor pool on the sea day. We manage to have some rest, that was our main purpose by doing this winter cruise, and we enjoyed very much, my son is already a cruise fan. Now the ports: Marseille: It was our embarkation port, we arrived two days prior and manage to go to the Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica, and stroll through the vieux port and the streets with Christmas decorations. We also visited the Marseille Cathedral on Place de la Major and another lovely church that is a little bit of the touristic path, that is the Église Saint Vicent de Paul – amazing stained glass. We also had our anniversary dinner at La Table du Fort restaurant and the food was very good. We have already been to Aix-en-Provence, Cassis, and done a half-day cruise to the Calanques but these places are also worth a visit. (From the airport we used the free shuttle bus from the airport to Vitrolles train station and from there to Saint Charles station, then metro to the vieux port where was our hotel, on embarkation day we used uber to get to port (€21,25), nice and easy) Genoa: We have already been to Genoa city center on a past cruise and decided to go to Portofino: We catch a train on Genoa-Principe station (walkable from port) to Santa Marguerita Ligure, went down by the sea for some pictures and then waited outside the train station we catch the bus (82) straight to Portofino (€5 return), which is very lovely, it was a beautiful sunny day, lots of nice pictures here. Civitavechia: We’ve been to Rome before and didn’t do the trip there. We went to Civitavechia to some souvenir shopping and then back to the ship. Palermo: First time on this port (I wasn’t very excited about this one…). We went walking to the center and see the Cathedral, then we found a free shuttle to the city center and came back using it. Valletta: Very nice, our first time on this one as well. It was a bit rainy, but we went and see the city center and its charming. Barcelona: Sunny day. We’ve been to Barcelona before. We didn’t take the shuttle provided from MSC (€22,50 for the 3 of us) and used the one from Port (€4 round trip - €12 for the 3 of us) This time we went on the Ramblas and saw the Barcelona Cathedral (not the Sagrada Família) and went to La Boqueria market (where my son lost his second tooth – the tooth fairy went that night aboard the ship…) and also went to Barceloneta. Marseille: Disembarkation day. Used uber again (€19,45) to Saint Charles Train Station. We saw lots of people walking on port and then we realized that there were shuttle buses on the end of the port. One odd thing was that we never once saw our cabin steward… we saw his name on the card on our cabin and we realized he went several times a day to our cabin to “work his magic”, and I even let him a note with some things we needed, he provided… but we never saw him… this was a first for us… We loved this 10 days’ vacation and it was a very nice deal we got from MSC, that has always nice prices for traveling with children. The staff on board was the nicest from our 3 times with MSC. Will definitely travel with MSC again! Can’t wait to book another cruise (whatever the company)… I miss my countdown clock… Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Ship very clean and modern, entertainment very good, room service good, evening dining service good. The ship does have some quirks to it. The ship doesn't want you to take a drink that might be half full and bring it to another bar. ... Read More
Ship very clean and modern, entertainment very good, room service good, evening dining service good. The ship does have some quirks to it. The ship doesn't want you to take a drink that might be half full and bring it to another bar. You are forced to leave at the current bar or drink it down and reorder at the next one. Not a big deal if you are on the drink package like we were. Highly recommend drink package because of this. The answer when ever you ask a crewmember on the ship is NO or do not know. At the Casino and changing $100 US into Euros I couldn't because they didn't have the daily exchange rate. Really, they were going to get it back in a matter of minutes anyway. I was told to go to Pursuers desk and see if they could exchange it. I asked "can you call down and check." They were put out of there way to do this. Had to Tender in Toulon, long story but tender hits Princess cruises ship, fiberglass from our tender gets spread over many passengers, lot of screming and several crying, instead of proceeding back to dock to see it there was any major damage the tender proceeds to Splendida. Whats more amazing is the officers at the Splendida didn't know it was damaged when I told them??? The skipper of the tender had a radio. Breakfast in the dining room awful. So everyone goes to buffet which is very very crowded. Beware Thats the bad. For the value of cruise I felt like I wasn't nickeled and dimed on everything transaction on the ship. Very good value for price. Getting on and off ship easy. At times the crew was disorganized which led me to believe it was a new crew. Overall I would place is in a category below Royal Caribbean and equal to NCL.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
The negatives - MSC does not care about you in any way once you get on the boat. All they want is to turn you upside down and shake as much cash as they can out of you. They are only short of wearing masks and holding you at gun point ... Read More
The negatives - MSC does not care about you in any way once you get on the boat. All they want is to turn you upside down and shake as much cash as they can out of you. They are only short of wearing masks and holding you at gun point to extract cash. Everything is plus 15% on top of the overpriced items. Tours are the biggest rip off, you can do all the tours locally for a fraction of the price for example a taxi tour in Tunusia is €40 for up to 5 hours for 4 people MSC want min €50 per person. We did a trip to Rome -train €15*4 return and express, hop on hop off bus €38 for 4 MSC can charge up to €97 per person. If you dont pay for the tour they give you no local information you need to wait until you get off the boat and talk to tourist information who are happy to provide you with the information. STAY AWAY FROM THE MSC TOURS. Getting on to the ship took over an hour, make sure you do the online checkin and avoid the ques. Asking for information from reception is pot luck if you telephone them from the room they answer apologise for the problem and never do what you ask them even when you call them 3 times. Everything is in 4/5 languages why cant they have and English session followed by Spanish followed by Italian everything takes 5 times longer. The entertainment is very poor - mainly the dancing - some of the acts are great but they seem to be thrown into the middle of very poor dance performances - I cant blaim the dancers they are only doing what they have been taught. However the kids and the wife did enjoy it. Bingo €10 for 1 game - because of the languages it takes over an hour. You must pay for water in the restaurants, tea and coffee are only available until 10am unless you pay. Bring your own water into the restaurants. The pools are salt water and you tend to come out crusty. The positives - The boat is out of this world it my first cruise but I have never seen better. Prior to getting onto the ship baggage was taken from up and dropped to the room excellent. Room is spot-on with a balcony but dont do anything less the inside cabins are terrible - pay the extra dont ruin it by doing it on the cheap. If you like you bacon and cabbage the fine dining is not for you. The trick is to order 7 courses (this is apartently they way the Italians do it). All the courses are small - some people were ordering starter and a main but it not enough. What ever you want they will deliver. If not you can also use the other restaurants. Nobody tell you to bring trousers and shoes I was dining in trousers and a shirt with people on the next table in black tie. Dont let that put you off you paid for this experience too. Shoes on a foreign holiday with baggage prices - no thanks. Other than reception I had no problem with staff they were as helpful as they could be, but they never engaged in conversation. The Cruise director Enzo is Italian - enough said. You must understand that the Italian on board have no manners (its in the breeding) open the door for them and you could be there for 15 minutes. They hold the lift to engage in conversation, skip and jump ques and talk as loud as they can, they will remove your towel from your sunbed and sit on it even when your wife is lying on the one next to it. After a while you just wave your arms and shout, they get the message. Have I said enough!!!!! All said myself and my family had a wonderful time and a great experience its a great way to see a new city every day. From people I spoke to at the bar that have been on more than one cruise they say its not as good as others. Be open minded we did not pay a lot for our experience and therefore our expectations were low. Would I do it again YES was the food good YES I would have loved to talk/email someone prior to departure to ask questions - markglynn@oceanfree.net - remember I have a job and cant answer everybody but will try to do so. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Kids Zone: MSC is not a kid friendly cruise for English speaking passengers. Last summer we took a Royal Caribbean cruise and my kids loved the kid's club so much that we could barely drag them out; however, this is not the case ... Read More
Kids Zone: MSC is not a kid friendly cruise for English speaking passengers. Last summer we took a Royal Caribbean cruise and my kids loved the kid's club so much that we could barely drag them out; however, this is not the case with the MSC cruise line. The staff keep the children in one small room playing the same movie over and over again in "Italian only". If the kids do not want to watch the movie, the only other option is to either play table soccer (only one table) or the Wii (only one Wii console). This makes for a very boring few hours. My children begged me not to go back after just one experience. Entertainment: I was surprised to find out that MSC offers very few activities throughout the day (both sea days or at port). If you like to do something other than a 30 minute dance lesson, then choose a different cruise line. Although I have to say that at least two of the 6 night shows were very captivating. Food: The breakfast and lunch buffet were fantastic. They offered a variety of foods that both my kids and I really enjoyed. Dinner on the other hand was very lacking both in choices and flavor. Voyager of the Seas -Royal Caribbean had such tasty meals EVERY night that I looked forward to dinner on MSC Splendida, only to be let down night after night. I could probably name only a handful of dishes on MSC that were actually appetizing. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
A beautifully appointed ship tragically let down by awful catering and very poor staffing.It also became very clear that MSC is a money grabbing organisation, charging for bottled water at all times, even with dinner in main restaurants, ... Read More
A beautifully appointed ship tragically let down by awful catering and very poor staffing.It also became very clear that MSC is a money grabbing organisation, charging for bottled water at all times, even with dinner in main restaurants, charging for tea and coffee at all times other than breakfast.Tea spoons were in very short supply and soup spoons non existent. You were expected to eat soup and desert with over sized desert spoons.The initial fares seem sensible but be assured when getting on board you will pay through the nose for everything.As I stated in the comment sheet on board, this company would benefit greatly from a visit to P & O, Royal Caribbean or Holland America to observe their professionalism. They would also improve the British holiday experience with a programme of staff training and development of public relations skills for all staff.Should you be considering a cruise with this company my advise would be done.All my family were struck down with a most severe sickness and diarrhoea bug and my husband is till under the doctor to this day.Finally disembarkation was the most chaotic mess ever experienced. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
We were very uncertain about this cruise even after we booked it. This was our 7th sailing with our other cruises being on Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Costa. We are big fans of RC, but Costa was less than spectacular in our eyes, so we ... Read More
We were very uncertain about this cruise even after we booked it. This was our 7th sailing with our other cruises being on Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Costa. We are big fans of RC, but Costa was less than spectacular in our eyes, so we were afraid that MSC would be the same value. The other element for us was that we brought our 14 month old daughter on this cruise. We wanted to make sure it was doable for her. Here are our thoughts. Embarkation: We were at the Port of Genoa around lunchtime and there was hardly any line at all. We breezed right through all of the check points and were in near shock when we were walking on board after less than 45 minutes. On past cruises, this was one of the more painful parts of the cruise. Ship/Stateroom: These were both outstanding as many on Cruise Critic have already stated. There were very few areas that we could fault but we found ourselves overly impressed with the elegant design of the common areas and the stylish decorations in our stateroom. With a balcony stateroom, it was slightly difficult to find a place to put the baby crib, so it ended up sitting in the middle of the room between our bed and the balcony. As you can expect, this was not the most convenient place, but the narrow space did not have room for a crib anywhere else. The bed was extremely comfortable and the balcony was a good size. In the rear (aft?) of the ship, we did not feel much motion except for docking at the ports. Food: We were pleasantly surprised by the breakfast and lunch buffets. I think our expectations were low, but the food quality was good. The dinners were initially stated to be at 7, but almost all of the meals began at 630pm. This was much better for our daughter because she is usually in bed by 730. After the first night, the high chair was ready at our table. The dinner meals were hit and miss, but were never displeased by what was served. Some meals were notably good. Initially, we were not allowed free ice water, but we used a booklet of free bottled water that was in our stateroom. If we didnt have this, I would not have been pleased about having to purchase water every night. Ports: We were pretty happy with the itinerary that was offered by MSC. The shuttle to Marseille was 15Euro per person for a 10 minute ride and there was no other option to get to the Port Vieux. In my eyes, MSC should have provided this complimentary. This is an example of being nickel and dimed by a 'budget' cruise line. In some cases, the ship should have stayed longer in some ports and less time in others. Barcelona is the one port that we felt especially rushed. I'll write more in the port reviews. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
On 7 Feb 10, my wife and I board the MSC Splendida in the port of Genoa for a trip in the eastern Mediterranean. I chose the line since the ship seems new and beautiful and the price offered by my travel agency include three days in Rome ... Read More
On 7 Feb 10, my wife and I board the MSC Splendida in the port of Genoa for a trip in the eastern Mediterranean. I chose the line since the ship seems new and beautiful and the price offered by my travel agency include three days in Rome with hotel. I entered the trip with eyes wide open knowing that it was an Italian line with different cultural approaches. The itineary included Israel and Jerusalem which seemed very attractive. Pre-Cruise: We flew coach on Delta Airlines (great service) to Rome and were transferred free of fees to the Dominia Hotel in the Campanella section of Rome. The hotel was quite nice and the service was faily good, but there were very few places to eat and nothing to do near it. Americans usually have to look carefully for dining options since restaurants in Italy are very expensive and the Euro to dollar exchange rate is not very favorable. One can figure doubling the price of a meal in Italy over American prices for comparable food. Though tourist sites were far away, the hotel did transfer us to the subway station each day at no cost and the metro could be used for one Euro to go to any station on the line. The tickets were good for 75 minutes before timing out. With a map of the subway and a tourist map of Rome, we found everything very easily. Travelers should be careful of pick pocket on the subway. The worst part of this arrangement was getting back to the hotel. The subway ran frequently, but the hotel only provided early evening transfers from the metro station back to the hotel so the time frames became inconvenient. The bottom line is that you were stuck in Rome from 2 PM to almost 6 PM unless you used a taxi which was about 50 Euros ($75) back to the hotel. The buses involved changes and were somewhat confusing. Boarding: We left Rome aboard a very early morning transfer bus (0545 AM loading time) and traveled six hours to Genoa. The transfer on to the ship was easy, but unfortunately, it took until 9 PM for my wife to receive her luggage and she was forced to dine in clothing she had worn since 4:30 AM. Cabin: We chose and inside cabin for cost and the fact we use it only to shower, sleep, and change. It was very adequate in size and the cabin stewards were absolutely excellent. Very little U.S. news was provided on the TV satellite. The stations were all Italian or German with European CNN as the only exception. One complaint I did have was no robe, despite the fact I saw others with such a garment use for the indoor pool. I found out that only selected cabins and levels had this service, but upon complaining, we got robes. The cabin was equipped with a mini-bar and a small fridge that keep things only slightly over room temperature. I tried to lower the temperature, but there were no thermostatic controls. The sheets were changed every day and the attendants provided new towels twice per day. Water: It seems that MSC tries to squeeze the last Euro out of every passengers. My biggest complain was that there was no drinking water. One had to buy drinking water by the liter bottle at 1.9 Euros apiece. We did get a 12 bottle coupon book for 12 liters, but it could only be used in the dining room. In the cafeteria, it would not be honored, but one could find some water at one of two tiny water/ice dispensers that were well hidden in the dining area. Waiters would not give you water and you had to get it only your own. We asked service personnel in Reception and they gave us a ludicruos answer. They said the Germans were the majority on board and the Germans preferred to buy their water. I wondered if the Germans would agree. Another one in reception told me that the water in the cabins was not potable which is ridiculous for they would then have a very sick group of PAXs aboard. At the water dispensers in the cafeteria only small juice glasses were available or coffee cups. The machine did dispense ice however. We, like most Americans are accustomed to getting water all over the ship and resorted to refilling bottles in our cabins. Most purchased bottled water was served at almost room temperature and the waiters seemed to resent bringing ice to the table. This was the single most irritable thing to us. Beverages: Free coffee/tea was only available at breakfast. If you wanted a cup after lunch or dinner, you were told it was from the bar and one would have to pay for it. The alcohol and soft drinks were probably priced the same as on other ships and we noticed that drinks were not pushed as heavily as on the Caribbean cruises. In fact, you could not buy a drink in the theater area before a show, but the shows were short by comparison, so no problem if you were thirsty. The cappuccinos sold near the indoor pool in the afternoon were very good. Between 3:45 and 4:30 each day, the ship offered tea and snacks in the cafeteria area. It was the same snack on the same tray day after day which was a tea sandwich and some cookies. Food in cafeteria: Poor at best. It was the same thing on the same tray every day. The only sort of change was a small carving table for roast chicken or ham, etc. on a daily basis. Breakfast offerings were exactly the same every day. The meat offerings were usually cold cuts (mortadella and ham, but on once occasion,we tasted a very good salami), We always got very undercooked bacon, and small Italian sausages that invariably seemed to be overcooked or undercooked. The eggs were always on serving pans, either moist and scrambled over overcooked sunny side up. There were no omlette stations, but they did offer a precooked cheese/egg something or other. There were various breads of the European variety, but the toast could be used for floor tiles. We'd have killed to get a good pastry or donut. We never did see French toast nor pancakes, but the variety of fruit was nice and waiters traveled about with glasses of juice on trays. Unfortunately, the cafeteria closed for the day at around 2:30 PM and never reopened for meals. You could get cabin service, but we were told it was at a cost. So much for 24 hour availability to food. Food in the dining rooms: Mediocre at best. Lunch was geared mostly to suit a European clientele, but the did have some old American favorites like hamburgers, fries, and hot dogs. Problem was they didn't seem to be very much like real American not dogs and hamburgers! Somehow a hot dog without "the works" isn't really a hot dog and hard rolls are not conducive to American tastes on a red hot. Each lunch featured things like fish, beer and some sort of pasta for lunch. There were also soups. They did have desserts, but we stuck with the ice cream which was very good. One day they offered calamari and fries, but the waiter seemed to be insulted when someone asked for marinara dipping sauce. The even meals were so-so. There were appetizers, salad (iceberg lettuce with very little variety in dressing or other vegetables). Each meal offered a large pasta dish which was very filling. There was also a two soups, one chilled and one hot (lukewarm on arrival), but these were always absolutely excellent. The main courses were themed to some area of Italy and always some sort of fish, a beef/veal/lamb dish. There was no lobster night, but one evening we did get large prawns with the heads on. They were very overcooked, almost to mush. The desserts were fair. We had three "Gala Nights" which meant tie/suit/formal, but many of the Italians showed up in open collar shirts and no jackets. Frankly, we thought three was too much for a eleven day cruise. Let me emphasize one thing. We are NOT picky eaters. We ate what was presented, but I am comparing this cruise to food on Celebrity, Princess, and Royal Caribbean and in every case, the Splendida was far below their Caribbean counterparts. Clientele: The Americans were a small component of the total passenger load. Most were Germans with the Italians coming in second, and the French last as European counter parts. There were a few wonderful Brits and Australians too. With this in mind, it was obvious the crew catered to the Germans. All announcements were made in German, Italian, French, and English, but the explanations were long in the first three and short in the others, especially during the shows. We found ourselves outnumbered at about 2,800 Germans to 78 Americans, but those were pretty good odds at Bastogne and likewise on this cruise. We found the Germans to be very rude and the French polite to our surprise. The Italians were terrific as were the few very friendly Spaniards! One German who spoke English criticized his own countrymen saying the rude were from East Germany. They pushed on elevators, criticized other passengers in German, and would not politely cue up as others did. Their behavior in the pool area was obnoxious as if they were the only ones using a hot tub. During announcements, everyone tried to be quiet to allow the other languages to be heard.....except for the Germans. Shows: The cruise line did OK considering the problems of multiple languages, but the shows were short (about 1/2 hour) and had two presentation per night. Due to the language differences, we had no com medians, but lots of no speaking acts. One mime was teriffic and put on a great show without one spoken word. They had what appeared to be an eastern European classical group with an Italian tenor and they were very good. The violinist was the best I had ever heard. We also enjoyed a piano virtuoso who was Italian. Dancing: Almost non existant. Day time entertainment. There was one cooking demonstration and little else available to English speakers. Games like Trivia were played, but the games were usually in Italian. I read three books during the cruise to keep busy. Enrichment: Very limited English library with only about one shelf of dog eared books and many more suited for the younger traveler. Not on lecture in any language to my knowledge. The library also had a computer center for e-mail, but it was expensive and get up and running as well as downloads ate most of the time. We had no hook up in our cabin for a laptop. Crew: Very professional, but sometimes the ones who were bilingual and worked the desks seemed to blow you off. The passport control became a mess at times and this was really evident when we had to get our passports back upon disembarkation. Disembarkation: The ship ran us about to several locations on different decks as the result of passport control in conjunction with departure. We found our baggage easily, but one American couple lost one of their bags from the cabin to the terminal and had to leave without it due to their transfer. Medical: One American member of our dining group fell on the ship and broke her arm. The ship treated her at no cost, but there was no x-ray equipment on board. She was x-rayed by a Greek doctor on Crete and casted ashore. The costs were hers alone. The ship seemed to show concern for her injury and she was treated aboard by a German doctor. Overall: We are used to Caribbean cruise lines. This cruise was definitely different and I don't regret taking it for the itineary, but the service and food was difficult. The service was not as responsive and the idea of having to buy drinking water was entirely foreign to me. I went into it eyes wide open, but still I didn't like this feature. The language barriers created some lack of passenger interaction and we felt like we were second rate in the eyes of the crew. The MSC Splendida is absolutely beautiful, but if the line wants to be a success in the Caribbean, they must change a lot of their ways. As for us, we will not sail aboard MSC again. Reason? The service wasn't as good and the food was mediocre at best. Entertainment was lacking. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
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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