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17 MSC Cruises MSC Splendida Cruise Reviews for First-Time Cruisers Cruises to Europe - Western Mediterranean

I found it hard before I left for my cruise on the MSC Splendida to find real reviews which covered many of my questions for the ship itself, which I will try to answer here to help others. I arrived at genoa port in February this year ... Read More
I found it hard before I left for my cruise on the MSC Splendida to find real reviews which covered many of my questions for the ship itself, which I will try to answer here to help others. I arrived at genoa port in February this year for my cruise of the ship, arriving at the dock you are taken into a large room in which you just register and receive your cruise card, this can be very confusing as there are so many people waiting to also register, I recommend you stand in the queue regardless of the number you are given or you will be waiting forever! After this is done however you board the boat. You have to take your cruise card everywhere are this is your currency on board, you do not pay with money, you can either set up a card which payments will be taken off or you can use cash and just keep putting more on the card, then if you have any left over at the end of the week you get it back :) also tips cannot be taken off, and paid individually, they charge 7 euros a night and 3.50 euros for children and these are only extra charges you pay :) You go straight to your room where your luggage will be taken there and left outside your room for you. I stayed in cabin 10114 on port side with a balcony, it was a spacious room with a bed which was made of two single beds together, although still comfy (but ask for extra pillows as only 2 are provided for the room) a hairdryer, couch, dressing table, coffee table, wardrobe with safe and an en suite with a sink toilet and shower, within your shower you are provided with large dispensers of shampoo and body wash but not conditioner, so I would only recommend taking this as they are filled daily. They also tell you you can't use straighteners but it never caused any bother..:) The room was tidied once in the morning and also set for you going to sleep at night, however you do have the do not disturb sign if you don't want this done. The maids couldn't do enough for you and are such hard workers. For meals, there are many restaurants, Villa Verde, La Reggia, Bora Bora, Pago Pago and Santa Fe, the only one you pay for is Santa Fe, the Mexican restaurant, which is amazing which many choices ranging from 3 euros to 14 euros. You are set to one of the two main restaurants of Villa Verde or La Reggia, and you will never be in the other, I never went to these restaurants as I found they were very formal and preferred the buffet more relaxed style of Bora bora. Although the food was amazing, no complaints, many choices and real handmade prepared food :) Drinks are on the pricey side, 2.70 euro for a can of juice with 15% service charge provided on all charges, including in Santa Fe, but the prices are the same in your mini bar so if saves you having to go to another deck to buy a drink. The cocktails are amazing! Around 4 euros for non alcoholic and 7 for alcoholic, recommended! These are available in almost all of the lounges on almost all the decks and all different themes, ice cream is also available at around 1.20 euros and is AMAZING! The excursions are good but expensive, we went on them in Barcelona, Rome and Tunis, DO NOT go out in Tunis as it is very intense scary and I found all the men to try and touch me, it does not seem like a safe environment especially for those with children, would only recommend for those who wish to see how other parts of the world really live.. We went for the biggest tour in Rome including the Vatican for 82 euros each and it was incredible! Great tour guides on all tours and couldn't fault them, especially the man in Tunis, he was so good at relaxing you about the culture. The entertainment on board was also amazing, we went to two shows over the week, a variety show and a show including dancers. They are amazing and fully recommended and no extra cost! You are let known of all activities on and deals and opening times in your daily programme delivered to your room including deals for the spa, often 50% off as often very pricey! Or deals in the duty free or souvenir shops which are open while you are at sea. The main language spoken on board is English, well was for our week, however English are the minority, very rarely did you hear someone speaking English, the majority were actually Chinese and VERY rude! However all staff were lovely and could speak whatever language you spoke to them in :) we also had professional photos done which are charged at 19.95 euros each but are a good souvenir! The photographer is available in photo points or at the main stairs nightly :) Disembarking was easy, you received coloured tags which you put on your bags and leave outside your room the night before and they were taken to the port, however you are asked o attend a short meeting so they can tell you everything which is very helpful :) I hope this review is very helpful and I will add anymore I can remember later on :) Enjoy the cruise! Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
My wife and I are US expats living and working in Romania and I've been wanting to get her into the cruising scene. I've been on HA (Baltic Sea) and RC (Eastern Caribbean) before, this was her first cruise. We are 27 and 25 years ... Read More
My wife and I are US expats living and working in Romania and I've been wanting to get her into the cruising scene. I've been on HA (Baltic Sea) and RC (Eastern Caribbean) before, this was her first cruise. We are 27 and 25 years old. The price was killer, especially if you fly WizzAir into Rome! I lived in Rome for 6 months during college so we stayed in Rome for 3 days seeing the sites before embarking in Civitavecchia on a Friday afternoon. Check-in was an absolute breeze, as we did the web check-in and thus received priority boarding. I was amazed by how many people were standing in a long line waiting to get embarked, as they did not do the web check-in. Boarding started at 2 pm for us in Civitavecchia. Once on board, we were escorted to our room, an interior room, category 2, on the 8th deck. I never splurge for nice hotels/hotel rooms or oceanview/balcony cabins as we are never in the cabin except for sleeping and showering. The interior cabin was very adequate for our needs. The bed was quite comfortable and we drank plenty of tap water from the faucet in the bathroom which tasted fine. We drink tap water everyday in Romania too, if that makes any difference to you. The shower isn't large, but we don't need a large one. Our stateroom was situated near the very rear of the ship which was nice as we could take a relatively unused elevator up to the buffet for breakfast and/or lunch. We bought the allegrissimo package through our (German) travel agent before the trip for 23 euros per person, per day. This came out to 322 euros that we booked before the trip and the package is noted on your cruise cards. Every time you order a drink, you must use your cruise card and sign a receipt. The receipts list the food/drinks you ordered with their price, but the cabin charge is listed as 0. This came in handy as we saved all of our receipts to see if the package was worth it... and worth it it was! After disembarking, our receipts totaled over 1200 euros, of which we paid 0 (not including the pre-payment of the package). In essence, we saved at least 870 euros by booking the package. There are plenty of threads in the MSC forums if you want more info on the package. We drank quite a bit (obviously), so it was worth it for us. The ship: The ship itself is large, but does not feel that way (in a good way, for us) once inside. The main public area stretching three decks tall isn't huge, but is the largest public sitting/drinking area on the ship. We enjoyed the coziness of the all of the lounges throughout the ship. The ship was extremely clean and as others have said, there is always someone cleaning. We never had a problem with getting a seat at lunch (go to the back of bora bora/pago pago, as others have said). The pool decks were nice, seemed crowded around the pool some days, but there were always deck chairs available as they wrap around the entire 15th deck. Overall the ship fit our needs of relaxing quite well. My wife went to the recreation room a couple times and enjoyed running on the treadmills. They are situated at the very front of the boat so the view is great! She had no problems getting one or getting into the room. The food: We were seated at La Reggia at a table with 4 Italians. They were lovely, but after three nights we asked for a table for 2 as we wanted something a little more Romantic. Our request was happily made. The food was great, not amazing, but we liked everything we ate. It is mostly Italian (MSC is an Italian line... sailing from Italy... so I'm confused why some people on here complain about the mostly Italian food) and it varies every night. Each night is around 7 courses and you order all at once. We had no problem with this and when we liked a course, the waiters would happily bring us another plate if we requested. The buffet for lunch was satisfactory - it kept us full. There is a pretty big variety every day, the quality isn't bad, but a lot of the food was cold. This happens at a buffet, so I understand and it doesn't bother me too much. Breakfast was great - meats, eggs, cheeses, waffles, pancakes, everything was pretty good. We ate breakfast at the buffet every morning and when we had lunch on the ship, we also went to the buffet each time. Overall the food was good and better than I expected. The people: We live in Romania and speak English. Part of the reason we chose MSC is because we like the diversity of other cultures and enjoy interacting with different people than ourselves. MSC Splendida was truly a European vibe, through and through. No one was ever overly rude and no one was ever overly nice - just what we were looking for. The staff: The staff was great. They speak so many languages that it is fun to sit back and watch them interact with passengers from all over the world. We never had a problem communicating and it was fun that we didn't have to ask for tequila by the 4th night -- they just brought it to us :) Our waiter at dinner and his assistant (both named Yoni, both from Honduras!) were excellent. Our cabin attendants were brilliant as well (and non-intrusive). The information desk was helpful and polite and the casino staff as well. The entertainment on board (which for us consisted mostly of the lounge musicians) was not very good, but what do you expect? They were still enjoyable after a few cocktails. Something that gets overlooked on these boards a lot is that the staff is usually on board for 6 months, working everyday, and working exclusively in customer service -- that ain't easy folks. Overall the staff was excellent and put forth a lot of effort to make our holiday a good one. The ports: We disembarked at every port (Genoa, Barcelona, Tunis, Malta, Messina) and enjoyed them all. We never went on a cruise-sponsored excursion but had done a bunch of pre-planning for each port. Everywhere we went was great and we were able to see all the sites while spending a LOT less than the excursion prices. The itinerary was great, especially this time of year (late September). We never had any problems embarking/disembarking at any of the ports. Very quick, smooth, and easy. I spoke earlier about the people, but I want to divulge a little more information. There was a large mix of not only nationalities, but age groups as well. Plenty of old people (it's a cruise afterall), but a lot of families too. I dodged countless strollers! I think there are a lot of people on these boards and similar websites who expect too much from a cruise such as this. You don't pay a lot (in fact, it was the cheapest 7 night med cruise I found at the time of booking), so why should you expect 5 star service, 5 star food, and everyone parting the seas while you walk by? Take a deep breath and remember you're on vacation -- try to enjoy yourself -- it can make a big difference. Conclusion: If you are looking for a cheap, laid back, relaxed atmosphere with a diverse set of people who aren't in a rush, go with MSC and the Splendida. I feel we got a heck of lot more bang for our buck with MSC than other lines offer. If you're looking for the ultimate cruise with pampering luxury, no children, small amounts of diversity within the passengers, and only English speakers, look elsewhere. Splendida was exactly what we were expecting and a little more. What else can you ask? Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
My First Cruise Ever : I am now spoilt for ever" My partner and I travel a lot, we are from Sydney Australia, we are in our late 40,s and we love staying in 5 star hotel's and flying business class whenever we travel. This ... Read More
My First Cruise Ever : I am now spoilt for ever" My partner and I travel a lot, we are from Sydney Australia, we are in our late 40,s and we love staying in 5 star hotel's and flying business class whenever we travel. This cruise on the Splendida Cabin No: 1627 in the Yacht Club was like flying business class or staying in a 5 Star hotel for 8 days. The Yacht club was everything we expected and more. We caught a taxi from our hotel in Barcelona at 2.45 PM and we were in our Cabin at 3.15 pm, the taxi pulled up right next to the Yacht Club VIP Check in Tent, from there we were introduced to our butler who escorted us straight through the standard check in, it was amazing we were in our cabin before we knew it. Our Cabin was on the port side of the ship deck 16, which was wonderful to watch the sun sets + the ship always seemed to dock on this side, which was great to watch if you were still in your cabin some mornings when the ship docked at ports early. The Cabin was everything we expected, just as you see it on the web site, perfect, the only change I would suggest is try for cabin 1630 or 1631 as they are a little wider but a little shorter. The bed" was the only problem, I never wanted to get out of it, it was one of the most comfortable beds I have slept on, and pillows just choose the type you like and as many as you want just ask the butler, there was a bar fridge full of snacks, sprits, beer, chocolate and this was re-stocked every day or whenever you needed something. If you needed a shirt ironed or some washing done just ask your butler, ironing will take about 1 hour so plan ahead, washing" there is a small charge and takes about 12 hrs. but not a problem. The Cabin was very quiet; I never heard a sound, TV only watched the English news to keep up with things, the bath room very nice great shower very hot water and great pressure. From our cabin door you could either go straight up the stairs to the VIP Pool deck or straight into the private lift which went to the gym and spa ( a must to visit) incredible, or down the beautiful stair case, to reception or into the Top Sail Lounge, which was just a spectacular room right at the front of the ship with the most incredible view, here you can relax, drink, have b-fast, or different types of snacks which change depending on the time of day, pre-dinner drinks, night caps or a nice quite place to read that book. The Pool deck, wonderful" plenty of room, lots of sun lounges and a great place for Breakfast, Lunch ( had some very nice meals here) along with drink service to your sun lounge all included. Olivia's Restaurant is the dining room for yacht club members, we had dinner here every night, and we made daily booking changing the time we went to suit each day. The service was fantastic and the food was good, not fantastic but ok, we eat out a lot so expectations can sometimes be too high, so remember it's an Italian ship not a French Restaurant, if this had been a restaurant in Rome it would have been very good food, so along with the atmosphere and the service I have no real complaints you never go hungry you can have up to 6 courses and finish with some exceptional quality of cheese and fruit, plus as much beer, wine, soft drink and sparkling water as you want. It is also good that the restaurant is at the back of the ship, you get to have a bit of a walk around the ship after dinner. But you will need to pay for drinks if you stop at other bars along the way which is fair enough" And if you think you will get lost finding the restaurant your butler will escort you. The rest of the ship: the ship was huge, very modern, maintained and cleaned first-rate". We only went to 1 show which was fabulous, and really did not find time or need to use any other parts of the ship apart from a walk around going to B-Fast or dinner. I think apart from the all-inclusive package you get as part of the Yacht Club the greatest part was the uncrowded and very spacious areas only the members have access to, as I said at the beginning it was like the difference between flying Business and economy, you pay for space and good service and that is what you get. The rest of the ship was very crowded during days at sea, the pool area and the buffet dining areas were like a theme park on a public holiday, I also noticed the two main dining rooms had huge queues at dinner time and thought how lucky we were to be able to walk in to the Olivio restaurant and be seated. The Splendida is a huge ship and I am sure is fantastic for families, large party groups on a budget but I would Not have enjoyed the cruise if I was not in the Yacht Club. I guess" for a lot of people on the cruise, the ports are the main attraction, for us we wanted a relaxing week. We got off the ship at every port except for Rome, we did our own sightseeing at most ports of call except for Tunis where did a tour that we booked on board, everyone that went to Rome said it was a rush and a very long day. Would I go on another MSC Cruise? Yes but only in the Yacht Club, it scares me to think what other cruise ships are like that don't have a similar yacht club section. I don't know if I could enjoy a cruise with so many people on board (3,50 people) if they are like the Splendida without a Yacht Club. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
Right lets get straight to the point here! My party and I of experienced independent travellers have no complaints about our first ever cruise, but a number of observations that may be of use to others. We knew in advance it was an ... Read More
Right lets get straight to the point here! My party and I of experienced independent travellers have no complaints about our first ever cruise, but a number of observations that may be of use to others. We knew in advance it was an Italian cruise ship that would have a large mix of Europeans on board, in particular Italians, French, Dutch, Germans, Spanish etc and that we Brits would be in the minority. We knew in advance that the food in the buffet style restaurants would obviously have to cater to international tastes and that the food in the Villa Verde and Reggio restaurants would be of a high standard. We were not disappointed. However we did hear moans from some fellow Brits that the food was not well presented or like the food in the UK. Come on, get a life! In the restaurants the food was excellent and the service superb. They are serving in excess of 500 people at each sitting. In the Bora Bora and Pago Pago buffets the food is laid out for all to see and for all to help themselves. How else can these buffets cater for hundreds at a time? Be prepared however for the rudeness of the Italians and Spanish who just push in and queue jump at meal times in the buffet restaurants. Grin and bear it or stop moaning and make the effort to go to your allocated restaurant where you can have breakfast lunch and dinner served to you in lovely relaxed surroundings by attentive staff. Treat the staff well and they'll look after you. .This is a large ship, a really large ship but with everything you need. Smokers are catered for, casino goers are catered for, drinkers are catered for but not apparently the disabled or those with mobility problems. We witnessed several elderly and younger passengers with mobility problems that the crew did not appear to have any foresight or ability to help. I even witnessed an elderly couple having to abandon their allocated sitting in the Villa Verde restaurant because they could not reach their table at the far end of the restaurant. Even though they had informed MSC of their disability why on earth would you give them a table they could not reach. What made it worse was that none of the tables near the door were allocated to shall we say the elderly or infirm passengers. What made me angry was that the staff did not have the initiative to arrange a table swap. What made me incandescent was that a table of fellow Brits would not give up their table near the door for this couple. I hope MSC read this and do something about table allocation sooner rather than later and I hope the hypocritical Brits are ashamed of themselves for not giving up their table. Shame on you. Right back to the point - we embarked and disembarked at Genoa. Quick, easy and efficient. Our cabin with balcony was at the stern; perfect in every way. Clean, plenty of wardrobe and drawer space. The room staff were excellent and efficient. Activities on board varied in style and quality, but remember they have to cater for 6 or 7 different nationalities. The shows were good, again some repetition in several languages, but mostly visual to cater for different nationalities. Drinks were very expensive - buy yourself the Allegrissimo package. Even if you are only a moderate holiday drinker you'll be happy you bought the package. Barcelona - Enjoyable. Tunis - A big disappointment in every respect. Valletta - Lovely and enjoyable. Messina - You need to plan what you want to do here. Civitavecchia - A long way from Rome. Careful planning required. Highlight of the holiday was the cruise itself. Biggest disappointment was the number of fellow Brits who constantly moaned about it not being like home. My advice to them would be put your hand in your pocket, pay more and travel with Cunard. Would we cruise with MSC again? Yes. Will we actually cruise with them again? Yes. Holiday was £700 each. We paid the 98 euro service charge per couple to the cabin and restaurant staff because they deserved it. We bought the Allegrissimo drinks package which worked out at 312 euros per couple and included the general 15% service charge for drinks etc. If some of my fellow Brits are offended because I've castigated them for their behaviour and meanness then so be it. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
After booking our first cruise, we read some of the reviews and wondered if we had done the right thing. Embarkation was due to start at 2.30pm and I was dreading it in-case it was just one big hassle, well, it couldn't have been ... Read More
After booking our first cruise, we read some of the reviews and wondered if we had done the right thing. Embarkation was due to start at 2.30pm and I was dreading it in-case it was just one big hassle, well, it couldn't have been further from hassle.. Our luggage was taken from us at the port, we checked in,went through customs and were on the ship all within 40 minutes, seamlessly. Our cabin was amazing! Really roomy and very comfortable and we even had a bath. The ship was absolutely spotless, in fact there is permanently stripes on the carpets in the stairs as they get hoovered all the time. For there being 3500 guests on board, the cleanliness of all areas is something to behold. We were assigned to the Villa Verde restaurant and it was a lovely decorated room that made it feel very grand but at the same time comfortable to be in. The whole week, the choice of food and the quality of the food was excellent. We had our evening meal in the restaurant, but chose to have our breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks in either the Bora Bora or Pago Pago cafeteria. At breakfast it was a wee bit busy, but we sussed it out that there was always tables at the back of the ship in the Pago Pago cafeteria. The food in these to cafeteria's was excellent and very plentiful with loads of choices. We found most of the staff to be very very helpful with the exception of a couple who seemed to be a bit "crabbit", also we seemed to be in the minority of people who actually spoke to and had a wee bit banter with all levels of staff whereas we noticed not a lot of other guests. Initially we intended to get the 7 euro per person per day gratuity taken off or bill,which you can do,as we wanted to tip the people of our choice, but on seeing the service that all staff gave, we left it on as it is well deserved as the staff from the porters to the entertainment staff work very very hard. We booked a drinks package and it was well well worth it so it is very worthwhile looking at the packages available and choosing one to suit. All in all we had a fantastic experience and would definitely recommend MSC. The downside of our cruise was that is was mostly Europeans on the ship so there is not much interaction with fellow passengers and I was totally shocked with the ignorant attitudes of most of the other passengers from children to older adults. On many occasions I thought I had Harry Potter's invisibility cloak on, as they just barged passed you and stood right in front of you and it expected you to move round about them. We would definitely go on another MSC cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
My husband and I are both first time cruisers. We chose to book our cruise on MSC Splendida mainly because of the itinerary. We want some Mediterranean sunshine and Neither of us had previously visited Tunis, Malta or Sicily. These ... Read More
My husband and I are both first time cruisers. We chose to book our cruise on MSC Splendida mainly because of the itinerary. We want some Mediterranean sunshine and Neither of us had previously visited Tunis, Malta or Sicily. These destinations sounded more inserting to us than some of those offered by the Royal Caribbean ships in the Mediterranean. Before we embarked we were quite nervous because of some of the poor reviews regarding the ship. However we both had a fanatic cruise with MSC and did not experience the problems we read about. Embarkation was incredibly simple. We checked in online before we left and so the process of receiving our cruise cards and getting on board was very quick (a matter of about 5-10 minutes). As soon as we embarked we were pointed in the right direction to our cabin by friendly staff. Despite most of the staff having English as a second language we had absolutely no problem communicating. All staff we encountered spoke by good if not perfect English (much better than any Italian we could manage!) and they were without exception extremely polite and helpful. Staff were friendly and said hello as we passed in the corridor and our waiter at dinner provided excellent service. This could not be faulted. Our cabin was a good size and was comfortable and spotlessly clean. We noticed the staff cleaning and polishing the ship constantly so that it always looks stunning. The cabin stewards were very good at waiting until we had left the cabin before they went in to make up the bed and clean so we never felt rushed or the pressure to clear out for them. We thought that the food was excellent. We we're allocated to La Reggia restaurant and ate here every night. The menu was classic Italian with lots of small courses including appetisers, pasta courses and a meat or vegetarian main course. They did not serve tap water with the meal which meant we had to buy bottled water (we actually bought a package width 14 bottles for the week). This is a little but penny pinching but after many holidays in Italy we are used to ordering bottled water with meals so this was no different for us. The Bora bora buffet was fun! We thought there was a large amount of choice and although it does get very busy at peak times we always found a table. Our advice would be to head towards the back where it was quieter, had a lot of tables and lovely views through the rear windows. The food again is largely Italian in style with lots of pizza, pasta and salads although they also served burgers and other types of food. If you don't want to buy drinks (these are expensive with the 15% service charge) you are left with tap water with ice and lemon or squash. There are also a variety of teas and coffee to choose from. Some people complained that the buffet is the same every day which we thought was fine as there were different type of pizza and pasta each day and anyway there was no way we could have sampled everything in one day! Dressing for dinner was quite relaxed. Most people around us seemed to be following the dress code although not everyone and it didn't seem to be enforced much. My husband debated whether to bring his tux and decided against it which was the right decision as he was fine in a suit and tie on gala night. We thought MSC ought to enforce the dress code a little more. The deck got quite busy especially on the day at sea and you did need to be out earlyish to get a sun bed in a prime spot. However there was enough space. We especially liked the solarium at the very top of the ship where the no under 18's policy was strictly enforced. The ports we visited were interesting and beautiful: Barcelona: we didn't bother with an excursion here as the port is very close to las Ramblas and it is walk able from the ship in about half an hour. There is a more expensive shuttle bus run by MSC and a cheaper port bus as well. Tunis: we did the cultural and historical tour excursion and had a great day with a very knowledgeable guide. Haggling for ceramics and souvenirs in the souk was fun. Malta: again it is possible to walk from the port into La Valetta so we spent the day enjoying the sights Sicily: there's not much to do in Messina so we took an excursion to Taormina which was fabulous and we would thoroughly recommend it. Rome: we had been to Rome before so we saved money by catching the train from Civitavecchia. Costs around 5 euro each way. Alternatively you can take a bus excursion through MSC. The entertainment was ok. Probably the best MSC can do when catering for such a multilingual audience. The shows had a few good acts and a lot of dancing which got a little boring. We preferred instead to sit in one of the bars, listen to music and enjoy an evening cocktail. Disembarkation was once again orderly and organised. We had to leave our cases outside the door before 1am and then be out of the cabin by 7am the following morning. We received colour coded labels for our suitcases so it was easy to collect them in the port terminal. We hope this review is helpful. It is our findings as first time cruisers so unfortunately we cannot compare the MSC Splendida to other ships and other cruise lines. Some of the people we met did not seem to like this ship and cruise line as much as others although they also declared all of the destinations rubbish so I don't think much would satisfy! Our experience was very positive and we would cruise with MSC again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Msc Splendida and our first ever cruise. It was spotlessly clean with a constant programme of steaming, spraying, wiping and polishing. There was barely a finger mark or smudge anywhere. The food was lovely, and I am a picky ... Read More
Msc Splendida and our first ever cruise. It was spotlessly clean with a constant programme of steaming, spraying, wiping and polishing. There was barely a finger mark or smudge anywhere. The food was lovely, and I am a picky customer to say the least - a choice of fine dining or fast food was available. We had breakfast most mornings in our allocated dining room - Villa Verde (very pleasant - waiting staff excellent)and always our evening meal there. Again, excellent choice - pasta and risottos, meats and fish, fresh vegetables and salads, potatoes of the day. Lovely desserts and fabulous sorbets. The cafeteria-style dining (Bora Bora and Pago Pago)was as you would expect - pizza, pasta, burgers, salad, chips etc but there was always another choice such as a curry and fish of the day. The free coffee/tea stations were sited in the cafeterias so we were in and out all the time and we were surprised at how many people chose to eat almost all their meals there rather than restaurant dining with a greater choice. Didn't they miss their vegetables? Our balcony cabin was furnished to a high standard and very clean. The bed was really comfy, the en-suite bath/shower etc spotless. Limited English TV viewing but what the heck. We considered the bar prices to be fine. The lowest price bottle of white wine was €16 and very palatable. We had cocktails for under €7 which were excellent. Some people were 'commenting' about the prices but I don't understand why. Realistically, you are in a 4/5* hotel and I cannot recall buying a bottle of wine for as little as €16 at a decent restaurant or nice hotel bar anywhere! We didn't take the organised tours; 'doing our own thing' resulted in us saving an absolute fortune and having a better time exploring. Do a little research before you go, that would be my advice. For example, organised coach to Rome (just the coach there and back, no guide etc), I recall €45 each. Instead, we took the train (7 mins pleasant stroll from the port)and for €9 each bought all day train/bus/Metro tickets! Entertainment in the theatre was okay, not West End but what can you expect? The entire staff - everyone - were the most pleasant I have met for a long time. All in all a very pleasant experience for our first cruise. I don't see how much better it could have been as I don't believe there could be total perfection; as I said before I am Ms Picky. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
This was our first cruise and we therefore had nothing to compare the experience with. All in all, we found the ship to be very luxurious and stylish, the staff very helpful and standards of cleanliness and hygiene were exemplary. We ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we therefore had nothing to compare the experience with. All in all, we found the ship to be very luxurious and stylish, the staff very helpful and standards of cleanliness and hygiene were exemplary. We initially booked the cruise because it was calling at Gibraltar and it was a destination we were very interested in visiting. In comparison with other cruise operators the price was also attrative. We flew from Gatwick to Genoa and the transfer to the boat at Genoa port was included, however for those who had travelled independently, taxis were available for 25Euros. We had checked in on line but still ended up waiting in the cruise terminal to board the ship for around 3 hours, luckily we had taken plenty to read. Our balcony cabin was lovely. Bigger than we expected, including a bath with shower over in the en suite. Beds were large and comfy. As other reviews have commented there are some negatives. We also found the smell of cigarette smoke wafted around the ship and occasionally the smell of drains also. We tried the Bora Bora buffet just once. We were unable to find a table and the noise and crowds of people just weren't for us. Instead we took all of our meals in the Reggia restaurant, relaxing whilst the waiters took care of us. We have been on holiday to Italy a number of times and so knew what to expect from the restaurant menu. Lots of courses with very small portions. Some of the food was excellent, some was not so good. If you didn't like your choice the staff were more than happy to get you something else to try. One thing that surprised us was the ban on bringing any alcohol on board. On returning from any excursion your bags were scanned and any alcohol confiscated to be returned to you at the end of the cruise. There was a mini-bar in the cabin but the items were quite expensive. We enjoyed dressing up for the Gala evenings and found that the majority of guests had also made an effort including quite a few ball gowns, though not many tuxedos. Entertainment in the bars was excellent, especially the jazz bar and for those who like to dance, there was live music each night in the Aft Bar. Leaving and rejoining the boat in port was well organised and there were plenty of taxis available or a shuttlebus service if you did not want to go on an excursion. As has previously been mentioned only a small number of the guests speak English and at lunch time we often ended up on a table with Dutch or German guests. In the evening we were placed on a table with other couples from The UK and we had a great laugh, often being last to leave the restaurant. We were prepared for the cost of drinks, water, coffee and the service charge of 7 Euros per day, per person but it was still a bit of a shock at the end of the week when we got the bill. The excursions and shuttlebus tickets added several hundred Euros alone. I'm glad we went and the Ship is amazing but the public areas often feel very crowded and the day seems very structured with restaurant times and excursion times. I think I need a holiday to get over the holiday. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
just back from our cruise. my brother and i were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary with out family's on a cruise and we really enjoyed it . we had to go to Barcelona from Ireland first and we spent a few days there which was ... Read More
just back from our cruise. my brother and i were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary with out family's on a cruise and we really enjoyed it . we had to go to Barcelona from Ireland first and we spent a few days there which was enough. we boarded the ship on Friday. it is a huge fantastic ship and it is kept spotless.. i have to say i was a bit worried after reading all the bad reviews but it was great . we really enjoyed it just a few things to make you wise to. inside cabin ,the cabins are small enough,. the kids beds are brought down from the ceiling every night and put up in the morning. they loved them. but the husband thought it was a bit small , he didn't sleep that well. the pools are pretty packed every day. i loved the sun beds up in the 16th deck if you were lucky enough to get one . they were like a bed in itself. drinks i got the cocktail package which i thought was brilliant. i so enjoyed my cocktails every evening. 12 cocktails for €77, not €67, you have to add on the service charge. we had the first sitting every night at 7pm . it worked fine. you had to get ready every evening about 6 to make sure you were there at the restaurant for 7 otherwise the doors will be shut on you. it was a bit of a rush but it was fine . the staff were fantastic at the restaurant , we got on great with our waiter and all the other staff were fantastic too . we had no problems with them and they were spotless. we had wine every night with our dinner. the first few nights we got a bottle of wine for €23 and then we changed to a jug of wine for €7 which was just as good. anniversary package would recommend this ., there is a bottle of wine and a cake and they really make a lot of it. food the food was very good. we were all happy with that. its was a bit packed some days especially at lunch time but it didn't matter. a good idea is to get your table first and then your food. and again don't lose your children in the crowd. shows shows were a bit short but were fine . the only problem was that every one was leaving the theatre at the same time and you could lose your child or someone your with in the crowd very fast. so be careful with your children . excursions went on the boat trip to the aquarium . this was pretty packed and a bit of a rip off . got a taxi to palma city centre . its cheaper than taking the bus. spa went for a Turkish bath. no such thing . its not the usual Turkish bath you get .a Turkish bath to them is going into the sauna and steam room and relaxing for a a bit, so i complained and got my money refunded. didn't try any more spa treatments after that., overall we had a bawl. we had great crack every night , it was our first cruise so we didn't know any different , the price was good , i had a 16 and 11 year old girls with me and they had great fun. we are so looking forward to our next cruise. enjoy yours and make the best of it. you only live once and treat the staff how you would like to be treated yourself and i think that would make all the difference. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
After reading all the reviews I was expecting the worst. So here is my summary:1. Ship is beautiful, clean and spacious. 2. Staff are unfriendly and in a lot of cases have poor English.3. Italian seems to be the preferred language. 4. ... Read More
After reading all the reviews I was expecting the worst. So here is my summary:1. Ship is beautiful, clean and spacious. 2. Staff are unfriendly and in a lot of cases have poor English.3. Italian seems to be the preferred language. 4. Defiantly buy a drinks package!5. Food is generally very bad, unless you like junk food...6. There is a service charge for everything you buy even if you order at the bar...7. Don't get off at Tunisia ....... you will be pestered to buy stuff and the port is a 40 euro taxi drive from city, not worth it for the few hours you are there.8. Glad i did it but won't do it again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
This was our first experience with cruising and our trip was a real pleasure. Having read critical reviews of Italian cruise lines after purchasing our tickets, I was a bit apprehensive. However, having visited Italy many times we knew ... Read More
This was our first experience with cruising and our trip was a real pleasure. Having read critical reviews of Italian cruise lines after purchasing our tickets, I was a bit apprehensive. However, having visited Italy many times we knew that Italians were fastidiously clean; and we also knew that Americans and Italians have different expectations concerning hospitality and service. The quality of service greatly exceeded our expectations. Those who served our needs were primarily from Bali. They were kind and cheerful and anxious to please.On arriving at the ship we were each provided a plastic card that we secured with our credit card. A ship is a cashless society. This magic card allowed us on and off the ship, indicated our dinner seating and our pre-paid drink and spa packages, opened our cabin door and served as a credit card for purchases throughout the cruise. Our cabin was a pleasant surprise. It was a well-designed livable space with sliding glass doors onto the balcony. An eight-by-eight foot wall mirror added to the feeling of spaciousness. The bath was small but adequate. Bath gel and shampoo were in dispensers in the shower. A hair dryer was anchored in the desk drawer leaving the bath free for the other's use. Outlets were available for both voltages to accommodate our electronic needs. Empty suitcases were stored under the bed. Your personal plastic cruise card activates the lights in your cabin and also activates a small light outside your door when it is removed. This small light alerts your steward that you are not in so that he can go in and tidy up while you are away. We were joined by our adult daughter who lives in Milan. She had an identical cabin, paying a 50% supplement as a single occupant.The many public spaces were pleasant and interesting. Several pool areas occupied the many families with children. There was one Zen pool area (read adults only). We enjoyed the music and dancing in the lounges.Food in the formal dining rooms was very good and the service excellent. My husband did not bring a tie and found that one navy jacket and several nice open-neck shirts with slacks were appropriate even for Gala nights. We opted for a later seating to allow time to relax and refresh after returning from shore excursions.Food in the casual buffets was barely satisfactory for us but crowded with happy teens enjoying the pizza and burgers. Stay with the dining rooms. Our experience with the alternative dining venues was unremarkable. Snacks in the lounges and discos were limited to chips and crackers and there was no option to purchase anything more. The cruise line is missing an opportunity here.We pre-ordered drink packages that were, for us, not a good investment. We suggest that you do better to pay as you go. We were also surprised to find that the re-embarkment inspectors looked the other way when we brought a bottle of wine on board from our shore excursions.We pre-ordered a couple's Spa package that my daughter and I shared; a great investment. With a little bartering we got additional Spa services on board at a discount. Don't be afraid to ask. We did not use the ship's shore excursion trips in the six ports we visited, but arranged our own guide and/or driver in advance. This gave us personal flexibility and opportunities to mingle with the locals in each area. We also enjoyed experiencing the local cuisine. While we paid a bit more we found that this arrangement provided more bang for the buck. We felt it turned a modest cruise into a first-class experience.This was our first cruise ever; I never even thought I wanted to do one. Both of us enjoyed it tremendously and we are now total fans. I can't wait for the next opportunity.Our Ports of Call:MarseilleWe had arranged for a driver to collect us at the ship and take us to Aix en Provence where we met Jennifer Dugdale, an American expatriate, who introduced us to the Taste of Provence (tasteofprovence.com), a delightful walking tour of the town. It was a culinary adventure as we were introduced to the fine food purveyors, sampled their specialties and heard stories of this aristocratic town. Our driver, Donal Branigan (donal brannigan@hotmail.com), an Irish expatriate picked us up again after our tour and drove us through the countryside to visit two vineyard before returning us to the ship just in time to set sail.GenoaGenoa is a lovely city we had visit on earlier occasions and so I made it a day on board and enjoyed a facial, an offering of the Spa package that I arranged before sailing. It was the finest I ever experienced. My daughter and my husband went for lunch at beachside Ristorante Santa Chiara, in Boccadasse, a small bay area not far away. They said it was superb. NaplesWe arranged a driver, Mario, to collect us at the ship. Not having had time for breakfast, we stopped a block from the ship for a coffee and pastry at a tiny shop that catered to the harbor workers. It was exceptional. We then drove to Pompeii . There we hired an elderly guide, another Mario, who had been sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm for the site for forty years. He navigated the ancient stone streets with energy and skill and entertained us with little known stories. Having visited Pompeii 30 years ago it was a wonderful experience to see the current level of excavation.After this fascinating tour our driver returned us to Naples where we all shared authentic Margherita pizzas and beer at his favorite little backstreet restaurant, the Pinotxo Bar. We were not disappointed.PalermoIn Palermo the ship docks right at the front door of the city; just walk across the street and you are there. Our guide, Paola, and driver, Gianpaolo Frederico, met us. We had a lovely walking and driving tour of the city and then went up to the lovely hill area of Monreale where we bought beautiful ceramics from artist Elisa Messina (elisamessina.it).We returned to the city for a lunch of delicious local cuisine at Ristorante Zafferano joined by our guide and driver who continued to entertain us with stories of the city and life in Sicily .Palma de MalloricaPalma is a clean sparkling city with the ships' docks right across the street from downtown. Our guide, Miguel Corral (ourexplorer.com), was an enthusiastic Mallorcan. He met us as we left the ship and provided us a delightful tour of the city riding or on foot. We then went out into the countryside to visit a gem of a little village, Valldemossa. Hollywood could not have produced such a perfect place. It in fact has been used for movies and has drawn the famous and talented for centuries. Miguel entertained us with stories as we walked about. We bought some Mallorcan pearls at the small shop of a jewelry maker. Back in Palma, Miguel dropped us at a restaurant next to the modern art museum. We were too late to visit the museum but enjoyed wonderful Mallorcan cuisine at Es Rebost d'Es Baluard.BarcelonaI visited Barcelona nearly 30 years ago to study architect, Antoni Gaudi. I often told my husband that someday I would return and show him this rich and textured city. For his birthday this year, I did. We were both enchanted by the Spanish people and the Spanish lifestyle.The afternoon we arrived we attended a Flamenco show at 'touristy' Flamenco Tablao Corobes. The food was fine but the show featuring guitarists and dancers was spectacular; it was the perfect way to begin our exploration of Barcelona. We stayed in a four star hotel, the Olivia Plaza, on Catalunya Plaza for several days before our cruise. The public spaces were unique and delightful but the superior room had no drawers or place to open your suitcases except the floor. The hospitality and ideal location of this hotel more than compensated.We arranged a tour guide in advance from ourexplorer.com., Marie Montcourt. She is a young French woman who married a Spaniard, moved to Barcelona and fell in love with her adopted city. Two exciting mornings we spent with her. One day we explored the old city and another we immersed ourselves in the magic of Gaudi. What a treat it was for me to see the progress that has been made in finishing the magnificent Cathedral of Sagrada Familia.The last day in Barcelona we were joined by our daughter to cruise the Western Mediterranean aboard MSC Splendida.After completing our cruise we spent the night before our flight at a small hotel within the terminal of the airport called AirRooms. The rooms are tiny but fresh and convenient and meant for business travelers; it was ideal in that there was no frantic taxi ride to catch our plane early the next morning. Dining is limited in the airport and so we asked at the information desk if there might be a restaurant nearby. At her suggestion we took a 10 minute cab trip to the seaside town of Gava where we enjoyed a delicious meal at Les Marines restaurant. The qualities that make the Spanish people and lifestyle so attractive does not however contribute to running a smoothly organized airport. Keep your sense of humor and go with the rhythm of the country until you depart. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
I was prepared for the worst - Butlins-on-Sea? - having read some of the reviews on this site, but we had such a fantastic time we have booked a second cruise with MSC for later this year (Eastern Med on MSC Divina). Maybe as I was ... Read More
I was prepared for the worst - Butlins-on-Sea? - having read some of the reviews on this site, but we had such a fantastic time we have booked a second cruise with MSC for later this year (Eastern Med on MSC Divina). Maybe as I was sceptical it exceeded my expectations; maybe if I had super high expectations I would have been disappointed? I think most of these reviews have been written by people who have a bee in their bonnet and who want an audience. I am quite a laid back person and go on holiday to relax and enjoy myself. I actively choose to see the good in things and let minor annoyances go. If you go on holiday looking for a fight, if you're the kind of person who likes to complain, there is so much to do on these ships you will definitely find something to complain about. Below is my honest opinion on different parts of the cruise. I hope you find my impressions as a first-time cruiser helpful. CABIN Our cabin and bathroom were spotlessly clean and were maintained that way all week but the fantastic attendant, Manoj. Our cabin was on the port side so for the majority of the time we had the view of the land we were sailing along side: a very nice view from our balcony. One thing I heard lots of people complaining about was that on the last night, once you have packed and your suitcases have been taken for disembarkation, the hangers in the wardrobe rattle around VERY loudly. I ended up getting up and taking them all down. There was space under the bed to put your empty suitcases. A wardrobe with hangers, six or seven narrow/tall drawers, 2 bedside tables, a desk (with hairdryer), a small table and chairs, a safe...anyway, you can see the pictures of the cabins, there is plenty of space to unpack everything. My parents' cabin was a disabled-access cabin and was cavernous (9137). FOOD & DRINK You are allocated a table in either of 2 main restaurants, which carry the same menu each night. La Villa Verde is green and La Reggia is a carbon copy in salmon. At lunch there is free seating but in the evening you are assigned a table. You can dine in the self-service canteen or pay to go to the speciality restaurant, but we mostly ate in these restaurants, which were very civilised. The buffet restaurants had a tendency to be a bit manic with people making a mad dash to each food station as if the food was in short supply (it really wasn't) or maybe they were having some kind of race, I don't know. The lunch and dinner menu in the civilised menus went like this: Appetiser (choice of 2) Soup (choice of 2) Salad (chef's) Pasta/Risotto (choice of 2) Main course (choice of 3 or 4 I think) And just when you think you't eat any more, there's a cheese course and dessert menu (plenty of choice), ice cream or sorbet and sugar-free options. The menu varied every lunch and dinner, each one being themed on a different Italian region. There was also a standard menu (eg bolognaise) that was available everyday in case the options weren't appealing to you. The wine list was extensive and ranged from EUR7 for a 50cl carafe of house wine to $$$!!! Prosecco was priced at EUR20 which I thought was reasonable, and we drank some good wines that were about EUR18-28. We did not get the drinks package and I think overall we spent about the same amount but were not restricted in our choice. The drinks were not as expensive as I thought they would be, but then I live and work in London so maybe I am just used to higher prices. Drinks packages -- we decided to get the all inclusive drinks package but it was too late to add it to our reservation as it needs to be booked a minimum of 21 days before you go. We decided to drink freely whatever we wanted; plenty of mineral water (EUR2.30 for 75cl), fruit smoothies in the spa, fine wine, sparkling wine, gelaterie ice creams, jumbo martinis, gin and tonic...you get the picture!!! Despite this we still did not spend as much as if we had bought the drinks package. I took some photos of the menus so give an indication of onboard prices, as before I went this was the one thing I couldn't find much information on. I will try and attach them to this review. In the wine bar you get complimentary tapas with any alcoholic drink ordered and in the other bars you get a bowl of crisps and a bowl of pretzels when you order alcoholic drinks. SPA In the embarkation terminal there are stalls where everyone is trying to flog you their onboard products. We did decide to buy a spa package. This cost us EUR196 and included 4x30minute Balinese massages and access to the spa for the duration of the week for my husband and me. I am so glad we did this! The massages were ok, relaxing but nothing to write home about by any means. We really enjoyed spending time while we were sailing in the relaxation room, reading on the loungers and looking out the floor-to-ceiling windows and going for a sauna and steam. This for me was the unwinding I really had hoped to do on the cruise but away from the crowds around the pools on deck 14. SERVICE In the restaurants, cabin, bars and reception we received good service. I somehow managed to leave my passport in the embarkation terminal, which is totally unlike me. I was a bit stressed, and the European staff at the reception desk were a bit aloof, but in the end they found my passport and kept it for me in the terminal and I was reunited with it on disembarkation. Onboard there is a real mix of nationalities working, the restaurant staff were mainly Indonesian, the cabin attendants seemed to be from India and across Africa but there were all faultlessly polite and helpful. The Italian staff were a bit snobbier but everyone was helpful and smiley in general. EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION To be honest, these bits weren't that fun, but I don't think there is any good way to get 3,500 people through one door, pretty much in single file, without feeling a bit like cattle. The terminal (holding pen) was pretty bland; there was complimentary water/juice but nowhere to get anything to eat and we had only been given some nuts on our BA flight so we were feeling pretty hungry/impatient to get onboard (where lunch was being served), which didn't exactly help us feel patient. Take some snacks in your hand luggage if, like me, you get grump when you get hungry! There are stalls in the embarkation terminal where the crew try and sell you drinks packages, spa treatments, speciality menus etc. We did buy the spa package and thought it was worth every penny. The attitude with the other things was that we would buy it when we wanted it rather than pre-buy anything. I am glad we decided to do this as it meant I didn't have anything to keep track of and could just relax. The night before you disembark you have to leave your luggage outside your cabin and you are reunited with it in the terminal land side (it is a bit of a free-for-all but seems to work). We had to leave our cabin ridiculously early (7am) and had to be at the rendezvous point for disembarkation (in our case the theatre) for 8.45. Even on this morning when every single passenger wanted breakfast at the same time, the waiters in La Reggia were still composed and offered a fantastic service as they served up our pastries, muesli, coffee, fruit juice, perfectly poached eggs, smoked salmon, cheese and ham.... SHORE EXCURSIONS These are a total waste of money. All of the towns visited on this cruise (Barcelona, Casablanca, Gibraltar, Valencia, Marseille) were accessible independently. In Casablanca, the only non-European city, you have to fight your way out of the port through a hundred local taxi drivers all promising to show you around Casablanca. Haggle, but if you want an excursion, go with a local taxi driver not on the MSC excursion. Put your money in the pocket of someone who genuinely needs it and who lives in that area. We walked from the port to Hassan II mosque (about 30-45 minute stroll) and picked up a lovely guide at the mosque (Ahmed) with a minivan who for EUR10 each drove us around for 2.5hours, to the Corniche, Cathedral, Old Town, shopping areas etc and gave good insight into the history and politics of Morocco. ENTERTAINMENT The dancing was good but other shows were good quality but so annoying as everything is repeated in English, Italian, French, German and Spanish. This was so tedious we only went to one show and left the multi-lingual ventriloquist after one joke and ten minutes...fortunately the musicians in the Jazz bars and other bars just played great music and this was much more enjoyable! Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Since this was our first cruise (m+f from Sweden, ages 30 and 27), we do not really have a frame of reference from comparing to other cruises. Having said that, we will try our best to rate this cruise in an objective manner. ... Read More
Since this was our first cruise (m+f from Sweden, ages 30 and 27), we do not really have a frame of reference from comparing to other cruises. Having said that, we will try our best to rate this cruise in an objective manner. Embarkation: We purchased a Fly-and-Cruise package which greatly reduced the hassle of getting to Civitavecchia port (although changing flights in Amsterdam felt unnecessary given the multitude of direct flights between Stockholm-Rome). There were no problems finding our way, we were met at the airport by MSC representatives who greeted us in a very friendly way and gave us a ride to the port in a big taxi. Firstly, Civitacecchia port is a lot more adjusted to industrial freight purposes than to cruise liners. Although the MSC crew did their best, the terminal embarkation procedure (which took place in a big hangar-type building) felt a bit crowded and at times, it was hard not to feel like being part of a sheep herd. However, it all worked out without problems, we received our cruise cards and a load of other documentation and got on board after about a one hour wait. On board, we were greeted by friendly staff who guided us to our cabin where our luggage awaited us. Cabin: The cabin was very nicely decorated and sufficiently sized. Our cabin (11287) was situated on deck 11 at the very back of the ship. Cabins in the back have HUGE balconies, it was about 10x10 feet and probably 2-3 times bigger compared to a standard mid-ship balcony, which of course felt very luxurious! The only negative thing about cabins in the back is the noisy vibrations when arriving at new ports in the morning. After having read other reviews, we were prepared for these vibrations and did not mind them, but have this in mind if you are easily bothered by such things. Ship and Public Rooms: The MSC Splendida is incredibly big, impressive and jaw-droppingly beautiful in every way. The ship is continuously cleaned by the staff and basically looks just as fantastic in real life as it does in pictures and video clips, both inside and outside. Enough said. I don't know about the situation during summer, but during our mid-september cruise there were plenty of space in all public rooms and finding a seat or a sun chair was never a problem. The Bora Bora/Pago Pago lunch buffet did get pretty crowded but one great advice in the buffet is to go to the very back of the ship, where finding a seat is a lot easier. Food/Dining: As stated in other reviews, the food was good but I am sure it could have been better. We enjoyed the Mediterranean-style lunch buffet, but if you want hot cooked food for lunch you should probably look elsewhere on the ship. We never used the buffet in between major meals but really recommend the Sports Bar, which had great food at a low price. Their Chicken Wings were great! Evening dinners in the La Reggia restaurant were also generally good, with some dishes being great and some not so great. Regional menus were good, although the soup dishes were pretty forgettable and often looked more like a cup of tea. Also, ordering items "from the grill" outside of the regular menu suggestions is probably not recommended as not even salad was included! Just some fries and some overcooked dry chicken in my case. Since you have dinner at the same table every night and there was only two of us, we were placed together with two other scandinavian couples. We all got along great and had a really good time every night, this was probably the biggest positive surprise of the entire cruise! Entertainment: Again, we don't really have any other cruises to compare it to, but the general feeling is that MSC wants to embrace their european cultural heritage by emphasising live music and theater entertainment on board. The theater variety-style shows were really good with a different show every night, and the theater is huge! The acrobatic acts (like the awesome rope climbers and balancing artists) were personal favourites. Also, there was a lot of musical live entertainment in the various lounges and bars. Shore Excursions: There was a fairly large selection of excursions for every stop, although they were often a bit expensive for our taste and we only did one or two. Instead, we mostly just left the ship to explore the different cities by ourselves. The stop in Barcelona was way too short and we barely had time to take a sightseeing bus tour, let alone do any shopping. However, the bus tour is recommended for sightseeing as it is very time efficient. Spa & Fitness: For those interested in massages or spa treatments, there is a huge selection in the big MSC Aurea Spa. We only tried the gym but the spa looked promising. The Fitness area on deck 14 is big and well equipped with a great view and no overcrowding. Upon every visit, we were almost alone in the gym. Service: As europeans, we felt the service level was mostly very good by our standards, although there were a few exceptions. The La Reggia breakfast service was not very impressive, there were too few options and the crew seemed anxious to get rid of us so they could start clearing our table. At the Bora Bora lunch buffet, the service was OK considering the amount of people being served. The cabin cleaning procedure was flawless (the cabin was cleaned 2-3 times per day) and never felt intrusive or disturbing. The people at the information desks were all very helpful. Dinner service in La Reggia was very good and fast-paced, the system with having the same waiter every night seemed to be working really well. At our table we soon became friends with our waiter and after a while he even learned our names. For my birthday, which amazingly coincided with the big gala dinner of the last evening, our waiter (Mushin!) brought me a candlelit extra big piece of cake and sang for me in Indonesian which was a great surprise! Rates and Value for money: Our only real complaint with MSC (the reason for not giving it 5 out of 5) is that beverages and the 15 percent service fees are not included in the cruise price. It is beyond us why MSC maintains this system although almost everyone seem to dislike it. For many people, this is THE primary reason for choosing another cruise line after having tried MSC. Everything should be included in the menu price, with a text that says "Tips are included". All in all, value for money is OK but when you consider these "hidden" extra costs, the cruise does not feel cheap although I am sure there are more expensive ones. Summary: We had a great cruise and would gladly recommend it to anyone, but you should know what to expect in terms of food and payment structure etc. If you have read through this and other reviews, you hopefully do :) Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
This was my first cruise. I was really looking forward for this as other members of my family, including my wife had gone on cruises previously and were really happy with them from all aspects. However, I must say that I ended up as ... Read More
This was my first cruise. I was really looking forward for this as other members of my family, including my wife had gone on cruises previously and were really happy with them from all aspects. However, I must say that I ended up as disappointed with this cruise as much as I was looking forward for it before! First of all, before going any further in my review, I have to tell you that the main reason I was looking so forward to the cruise was food. I love food and had been advised previously that on cruises you get the highest quality food and in abundance! As soon as we got onto the ship we went for the lunch (mid-day) buffet and I was already disappointed. There were 4 or more different kinds of pizza - but which tasted all the same and all had the same ingredients. There was also carvery which usually tastes quite good, but this tasted like the frozen meat you boil to make broth. No drinks were free, except for two small, out of the way, ice dispensers which incidentally dispensed water too. However, you need to hike from your table to reach the dispenser, and usually the nearer one was switched off so you had to walk to the second dispenser. Anyhow, I said to myself that probably this was a bit bland because it was just a mid-day snack and reassured myself that dinner would be fantastic and I could order two juice medium-rare steaks to make up for that. Alas, dinner time came and was so shocked when I looked at the menu. NO STEAK! Blimey! The menu was in a number of languages, so I looked in the English section, Italian Section and French section to figure out if there was anything that looked like steak. The nearest to steak I found was in the English section, in the "Always Available" menu. This was a "paillard of beef" or so it was written if I recall correctly. So I asked the waiter if it was a beef steak. Getting a blank look I asked if it was a "bistecca di manzo" (same thing in Italian) - to which the waiter eagerly nodded. Well... so that's what I ordered. Guess what I got? I got a tasteless piece of dried up cube roll cooked without any gravy over which I spent around fifteen minutes munching. It seemed to grow bigger in my mouth the more I chewed on it! Besides being tasteless, it was so small that I remained as hungry as I had been before I started eating. So I went through the menu again and saw that they had chicken breast. I ordered that too. It looked nice, but again, although it was not as dry as the previous cube roll it was as tasteless! The food cans I get for my dog will probably taste better. So that was day 1. By the way, between the mid-day buffet and dinner there was a tea-break - but I'm not even going to bother about that. Basically all you have is a few colourful trifles and some jellies if I recall correctly. There wasn't even any ice cream! Second day the food wasn't that bad and on the same day or the third one we had a Gala night. The food was much better this time, but funnily enough it was a one off. We had steak on that day and it was good - but only lasted as far as it went as the rest of the days we had bland food again (although not as disastrous as that on the first day). Portions were pretty small and presentation was greatly lacking. Drinks had to be bought, including water. Nothing free. One particular day we also had a midnight food display and buffet. There was octopus (one of my favourites) so I got some for me amongst other stuff. As soon as I tried to pick up the first bit, the rest came up with it stuck with fatty sludge - same thing that happens when you cook octopus/meat in stew or gravy and leave it overnight in the fridge! So I had to leave it there against all I wished for! Another thing to mention is that you can barely communicate with the waiters as they hardly speak any English and only little Italian. However, what really got on my nerves was that the waiters just literally threw the cutlery on the table instead of placing it nicely. I know, you're still going to do the same job with a fork whether it's put nicely or not, but when you pay so much money you would expect at least a certain level of cordiality. What got on my nerves even further was the fact that the waiters differed between tables, and treated certain tables better than others. Please note that this is an Italian ship, and Italians are known for their exquisite cuisine! I must say that this ship did anything but give a good image of the Italian cuisine! -------------------------- So anyway, besides the biggest food disappointment I could have ever expected, there was other stuff on the ship. The rooms were OK, quite clean, and they used to be done around 3 times daily I think. The bathroom was clean although the toilet was a bit uncomfortable to sit on, small diameter and a bit too high above the floor - and might make your feet go numb if you are one of those persons who sit on it for a lengthy period! Air conditioning was great - kept temperatures quite cool (although you can set it to a higher temperature if you feel cold). The pools were OK. There were 2 pools in the main area and another one in a secluded area that didn't allow children. The jacuzzis were nice too except for the fact that people were at time a tad too rude and took up all the space or pushed you over. Entertainment was OK but in my opinion a bit childish. Another thing was that we had a cocktail night, where we had 1 hour free cocktails in the lounges. Although there was only one type of cocktails (or so it seemed) they were quite sly in reducing the amount of free alcohol distributed. The machines could dispense alcohol as per their timer. However the timer was set around 10 or 15 minutes fast, so whilst the period should have been 18:30 to 19:30 (if I recall the times correctly), in actual fact it was 18:15 to 19:15. So by the time people start gathering at the lounges, which would be around 18:45, the free cocktail period would already be half way through, and in fact when I asked for a cocktail at 19:20 my request was rejected. Notwithstanding that, the trays were arrayed with 25% cocktails and the other 75% juices or whatever they were. That wasn't a very honest gesture was it? It would have been better if they had not done the "happy hour" at all rather than take us for a ride the way they did! -------------------------- We only took 2 excursions, the one going to Rome and the one going to Portofino. The visit to Rome was accompanied by a guide whose English was hopeless. I was on the verge of asking her to speak in Italian. Otherwise, the visit was nice. The one to Portofino was sort of OK. The drive was pretty boring and the guide (although her English was comprehensible) didn't have anything better to say other than "look at the nice valley" or "this is the pencil shaped building" or "this street has old houses on one side and new houses on the opposite side". I felt as if I was was in a pre-grade class with children trying to make up coherent sentences. Anyway, humour apart, the destination itself was nice (but very expensive) and besides the picturesque views not much to do except have an expensive ice cream (which tasted really good by the way) and wait for the time to return back. -------------------------- The price... one of the most important determining factors! My wife and I travelled alone, although we were part of a group of 15 people. However we booked one room alone. However, families with children under 18 do not pay for the latter. So what does this mean? It means that my wife and I, or a family of 4 with the children under 18 would pay the same price. This means that some lack of service would be acceptable for a family of 4 paying the price of 2. However, people like my wife and myself would not find that worth it as they're paying the full price and getting a lousy package. You don't get the towels in animal shapes on your bed spread, or the chocolates when the rooms are done like you get on other cruise liners. I know you can still live without these things, but especially if you're paying full price and if you've already been on other cruise liners where you experience these things you'll feel neglected. Mind you, as I said in the beginning this was my first cruise, but I was well prepared by my wife and family and had high expectations which where totally let down on day one of this cruise. Overall I would never go on a cruise with MSC again and would not recommend it to anyone, except maybe if you have kids under 18 and would get 4 for the price of 2! However, as long as I'm going to pay full price, I will go on an American cruise liner such as Carnival, Holland America and the sort. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
We enjoyed this cruise so much. Everything was great. Our room (12029) was a balcony on the 12th deck between the bow and mid section. Rooms were very clean and the wife kept saying how nice the bed and sheets were. What a sight to see as ... Read More
We enjoyed this cruise so much. Everything was great. Our room (12029) was a balcony on the 12th deck between the bow and mid section. Rooms were very clean and the wife kept saying how nice the bed and sheets were. What a sight to see as we were coming into a port while we were getting ready for breakfast. I was thinking about getting an inside room, but I would definitely go for the balcony room again. The buffet breakfast was great with so many things to choose from, more than you could eat and everything was hot, juice and coffee were free. We ate so much that we didn't need a lunch. The lunch buffet was also great, again with so much to choose from. The ship was beautiful and the shows should not be missed. Shows started at 9:00pm and were about 1:15 minutes long. The swimming pools were done up nicely, and they had a adult only pool too. We never got a chance to visit the night clubs because by 10:30pm we were tired from all the sightseeing and getting up early for the next days port. We did get to the casino on the last night, very nicely done, didn't win nothing. As for dinner, we were assigned to the first seating at 7:00. (Very elegant) On formal night, a sport coat and tie is fine and a dress for the lady is okay. Some people went all out with a tux and some came with just a nice shirt. You can order anything off the menu, several varies to choose from. For desert we ordered 2 of each for each of us. The food could use a little spice. We also ordered items that were not on the menu with no problem. Also you get 7 vouchers for a free bottle water with your dinner. All other water and drinks you have to pay for. What we did at the buffets is get free water from the ice machine. Two of the nights we ate in the Santa Fe restaurant and had the steak which was very very good. Tips are added to your final bill, so much per person per day. So no tipping is necessary while on board. I tipped our room stewart a few extra $$ because on the second night I asked him where the ice machine was. He went and got the ice for us. From that day on when we would arrive back from sightseeing, there would always be ice waiting for us in the room. All of the staff people were very nice. Overall we were very pleased with the whole cruise and all the ports that we stopped at. We would love to do it again. One other thing...we didn't take the cruise excursions they offer....too expensive. We found the best way to see everything was go to a tourist information center and hop on a sightseeing bus. They are cheaper and you can usually hop on/off at different stops. Make sure you ask the tourist center for a street map too. We felt safe in each port. At each port, departing and returning back to the ship was very easy with no wait lines at all. We were very satisfied with our vacation on this ship and would go again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Our cruise was 28 march from Marseille, then Barcelona. Tunis,. Malta, Sicily, Rome, Genua and back to Marseille. I am Carina, 32 years old travel agent from the Netherlands, with my husband Erik, 34 years old IT specialist. Together with ... Read More
Our cruise was 28 march from Marseille, then Barcelona. Tunis,. Malta, Sicily, Rome, Genua and back to Marseille. I am Carina, 32 years old travel agent from the Netherlands, with my husband Erik, 34 years old IT specialist. Together with my Dad (65) and mom (64). We had 2 inside cabins category 3 on deck 10, numbers were 10047 and 10035 DISCLAIMER: This will be a very personal review. It is coloured by the fact that we travelled under special circumstances, as well as the fact that I am: A) European, from the Netherlands, and therefore not used to certain things like tipping, free water etc etc B) a first time cruiser, so I have NO comparison whatsoever. I will have comparison to AIDA in a few weeks, but that's hardly a common cruiseline as well. My opinions are thus based only on this MSC experience C) a flexible, happy-go-lucky person who is easily pleased, and who is easily impressed (eg we are not used to SUPER luxury travel etc) D) we travelled with my father who is terminally ill. This made some thing more difficult, more fun and more special than they would have been otherwise. E) I am a very overweight person which sometimes also may affect my level of activity and my perception of things, although I hope not too much It surely affects my appetite and liking of the food on board! That being said, let's start this review. TRAVEL On the very early morning of 28 march we were picked up by a taxi to drive us to Lille in Northern France. We had spent the night (well, the few hours that were our night) at my parents house and the kids were at home with my inlaws, who watched them the whole week. The taxivan drove us in 1,5 hours to Lille, and we arrived WAY to early, the train station was still closed! Luckily the driver stayed with us till it opened at 5:20- am so we could sit in the warm van. I am sure dad would have frozen to death otherwise, he is so skinny and so easily cold since his illness. At the station it was a short wait untill our TGV arrived (Train Grande Vitesse). We were VERY comfortable in our first class seats! The train wooshed us thorugh France in a heartbeat: in only 4,5 hours we arrived in Marseille. A very comfortable and fast way to travel. Of course the plane would have been faster, but dad can not travel by plane anymore, so train was our best bet. At 85 euros per person for a return in first class, I thought it was a bargain! When we neared Marseille, we came out of a tunnel and there she was! We could see our MSC SPLENDIDA ship in the sunshine in the distance! I jumped and yelped from excitement, to the frowning dismay of our fellow passengers LOL. At the station, Erik (my husband) and I lugged all the luggage, we wanted to make this trip and doable and easy for mum and dad as possible. We looked for the taxis and were told it would be 30 euros. Let's do it. In the end, it was 25 when we got to the ship, so that was a good cab driver. We were simply stunned by the beauty and the largeness of the ship; it promised to be a very special week! EMBARKATION Marseille is not a main port for MSC embarkation. First we stood in line for our luggage. No porters here (at least not at 11:30 am). We delivered our bags in the terminal, where they would be scanned and handeled later. In this port, you are not present if (or when?) they are scanned. In my suitcase I had some cans of pepsi and some cans with mix-drinks like bacardi cola. No problem, The suitcase turned up intact around 5:30 pm by my cabin, with all the goodies inside. After leaving our suitcases, we went up to the check in area. We registered our creditcard and recieved our board-card. We went to an information stand on drink packages. We bought the cocktail package, the small beer package and the soda package. We could not buy a wine package, this would be handled later with dinner. No worries: you can buy these packages later on also, so no need to buy A LOT at once! I was sure we would need multiple packages, but turned out we had enough. The cocktail worked out to be 12 for the price of 10 compared to buying them apart. The softdrinks (cans! big ones too) worked out to be 2,20 euros per can in stead of 2,70 euros apart (excl 15% service charge) The savings on beer was comparable, thus good deals I think. Anyway, more on drinks later. We had to wait 15 minutes and at about noon we could enter the ship. We were not met by a crewmember for a photo shoot nor to show us to our room. Maybe because we were so early, because later on we always saw people having there embarkation picture taken with a not-so-handsome sailor and a lifesaver (how do you call those rings things in english?). And we saw a lot of people throughout the week being escorted to their cabin by a white-gloved crew member. Not so for us: we just found our own way to our cabins on deck 10 to leave our handluggage. TIP: please put your lighter clothes or even bathing suit in your handluggage! I was so hot with my winter clothes untill I finally had my suitcase at 5:30 pm! Really stupid, as I have read this tip so many times before... So, check-in was a breeze but not as 'complete' as we saw later on with other passengers. (although I did not need a picture and we found the rooms pretty quickly ourselves) THE CABIN We had 2 inside cabins. I tried to get an upgrade/upsell on several levels (since I work in the industry) but failed. The ship was full or almost full so none to be had. When I saw the inside, I was not dissapointed! I found the cabin quite large (for 2 people!) with a nice big and VERY comfy bed with a mirror on the wall behind it. A little bench and table and a dressoir. Enough closet space and IMHO also enough clothes hangers. But hey, I 'only' brought 8 or 9 different outfits, and some for my husband. The bathroom was also adequate, I had expected much smaller! Water pressure and temperature was always nice. I sometimes clinged a bit to the curtain, but that is to be expected with my size LOL. The minibar was stocked and had enough room for the cans I brought from home (and the butter that was requested by our sicilian guide, more on that later) We never used anything from the minibar. The roomservice menu was not very expensive and also very small. Not many choices. Only in-room breakfast was for free (albeit not so elaborate) but we nevfer tried this. All in all, very happy with the cabins! Every night we received the newspaper for the next day. The first one in French but I asked the steward for english ones and he did so after that. I just had to 'train' him to put them under the door! He had the habit of knocking to deliver them at or after 10:30 pm, when we were usually just getting to bed or already asleep. After instructions he understood and just slid the thing under the door. (his knocking was persistant!) I also instructed him to make up our beds with seperate blankets (we just hog them otherwise and we fight about them) It took him a full day to understand what I wanted. First he thought I was cold and needed more blankets so he turned up the heat! He did his job, not more, not less. We did not have a special bond with him. My mum had only one little gripe: when she wanted to go to her cabin for a bathroom and shower visit, they were cleaning and they let her wait outside for a long time. She thought they should have let her in and resume the cleaning later, but that's debatable. We left our hand luggage in the nice cabins and went on to explore the ship. Man, it is big! And so beautiful! We were just walking around with huge smiles and sometimes with open jaws of amazement. Of course it was my first time on a cruise-ship, so I was bound to be amazed anyway I guess. The pools, the sundecks, the bars,: it all looked SO nice in the sunshine! We looked for the buffet restaurant on deck 14, BoraBora (and PagoPago, they are one and the same). In this restaurant buffet breakfast and bufet lunch is served every day (breakfast from 6:30 till 10 and lunch from 12 till 14:30) and also a teatime (from 15:45 till 16:30) conmsisting of cakes, cookies, some tarts, some sanwiches, coffee and tea. The BUFFET LUNCH was really quite OK, I thought. No way can you cook a buffet for 4000 people and have everythin piping hot! If you want hot, freshly made food, you are better off lunching in the dining room. Always a salad bar. Always some meat and cheese, some cold dishes like pasta salad or rice salad. Always some hot pasta options, pizza slices (not many varieties but nice), potatoe/meat/veggie options, a carvery station (recommended, was nice EVERY day!) and one buffet line with fries, hotdogs, hamburgers and the like. This line was only 1, and all the others were repeated. This line was therefore the busiest and sometimes took a long time to get something, especially with lots of rude people (sorry, mostly Italian) jumping in line, pretending there was no one there with them. There was also dessert stations with jello and tarts and cakes, very nice. No ice cream. I liked the food, there was always something good for me to find. !!!!! At lunch no drinks are included. You just order and get served a drink. HOWEVER: there ARE water stations that are sometimes being used by people hidden between the buffets. It is not really meant to be used at lunch, but I saw people using them anyway (and sometimes even using brutal force to try and use the locked juice machine as well! ) I have no opinion on this, as I am never used to free drinks with my lunch anywhere. I just buy them. But this is how it was anyway. Now we are on this subject anyway, let me tell you about the WATER SITUATION Yes, it is true, no free water except for breakfast. No ice water, no free water bottles. I heard recently that US passenghers now get water coupons, check with your TA! I dod not get any free water. My dad just asked for a small glass of tap water for his medication sometimes and he got it every time at no charge. So maybe if you ask friendly enough... The bottled water in your room is at charge (maybe except with those coupons) and also at dinner. Not expensive, but if you are used to free water it is a let down I guess. However consider this: MSC is usually cheaper than the american lines. If free water, iceatea or coffee is very important to you, consider that you are probably paying for it with other lines. I am not used to free anything, so had no problems with it whatsoever. The water in the stateroom is drinkable. I did and survived THE SHIP we finished our lunch and went on to explore the ship. We went up to deck 15 and saw the Playa del Sol, the so-called ZEN area, adult only pool and sundeck at the aft of the ship. Wow, it was beautiful! I could not wait to go and sit in one of those jacuzzis, unfortunately had left my bathers in my suitcase, so this day it was not going to happen. The ZEn area was very nice and if the wind on the aft had not been so cold, we would have sat there many times! This time of year, if the wind comes from behind, this area was a bit too cold, especially for my dad who is easily cold since he is ill (and lost a lot of weight). Luckily the ship is fitted with screens so that on deck 15, there are enough spots where one can relax and sit in the sun. We all had a small hour orso on the sunloungers and we were already burnt! Man, 18 degrees in Marseille sure enough is hot when you are in a windless spot. B) What we noticed all the way when we were checking out the ship, is the degree of detail everywhere. I love mosaic tiles, which are used a LOT at the pool areas and everywhere, so I was very happy. But not only those; everything was just perfectly finished. My dad worked as a tiler some years ago, and we was always looking down in amazement at the beautiful Italian tiles in all colours and shapes ans sizes, laid perfectly, cut sharply according to him. Even in the lifts! It is a ship with very elegant decor, at least to my taste. Every bar or lounge is different in shape and decor, so everyone can find his or her favourite spot! The purple bar with all purple and stripes, the piano bar for a more nautical elegant atmosphere, the sports bar with sports memorabilia, TV screens, bowling etc, the Aft lounge with wavy chairs and a nice dancefloor and so on, and so on! if you can not find a favourite spot on this ship, I do not know what WOULD be nice for you. Our favourite was the cigar lounge, later more on that. Around 5:30 pm our suitcases had arrived and it was time to unpack, have a nice hot shower and put on some evening slothes for our next adventure: DINNER We had requested early seating and a table for four at booking, and we got what we requested. There are 3 dining rooms: Villa Verde on deck 6, and 2 different floors of La Reggia, lowed (deck 5) and upper (deck 6). We were assigned La Reggia lower and it is an elegant restaurant, although all the velvet and dark yellow took some getting used to from my side. First seating is 6:30 pm and second at 9 pm, which was just way too late for us with two parents who are on medication and who are used to eat at 5, like all older dutchmen. Only on 1 night, Tunis, the seatings are 1 hour later both, because sail away from Tunis is only at 7 or 7:30. Our waiter was Mahmudi from Indonesia, a little nice man who was quite serious. He was very polite and friendly, but he never grew as close to one of his tables (as far as we could tell) as some of his colleagues. He did a very good job however and we were happy to be served by him. We got a menu which was themed on a region in italy, and we could choose from six courses (appetizers, salad, soup, pasta/rice dish, main course, dessert). It was perfect. My dad can not eat very much anymore since his radiation treatments, so he was fine just ordering a soup and a pasta dish in stead of a main course. The rest of us ate mostly 4 courses. One day I tried 6, but I felt stuffed for hours! The best appetizer I had all week was a pate with tangy orange marmelade, loved that! The best pasta dish was pumpkin risotto. The best main course IMO was a turkey dish and the best dessert was the baked alaska on Gala Night 2! (more on that later) Now this on the food in the Main dining room. It was hot enough for me, never got cold food. It was also not bland for me, as I sometimes read. Everything tasted nice and pure, not overly salted (which I do not like but may be your preference). I was SURPRISED that they managed to get difficult dishes like turkey or risotto on the tables for so many people, still tasting pretty good! It is difficult to make a not-too-dry Turkey or a not-over-stirred risotto anyday, let alone for 1000 people or so! I was impressed. Make up of the plates was not always overly pretty, but hey: it went down fast enough so who wants pretty curly basil leaves and drizzles of balsamic vinegar on the plate? For me, the food in the MDR got a 8 out of 10, some nights even a 9. As stated as an answer on one of the questions above, the MDR is the only FREE option at night. The rest are pay restaurants (more on those later). This did not bother us, we had fun and good food. We bought the WINE PACKAGE which consisted of 7 bottles of wine and 7 bottles of water, so one of each every night. This was 129 euros plus 15% and it was a good choice for us. No hassle with 'What shall I drink tonight?' We just opened a wine and a water and this was enough for the four of us every evening. About the other DRINK PACKAGES we had: if you drink by the pools, you get plastic glasses. That is OK with me, would not eant it any other way with kids running around. What we noticed, was that the SMALL beer package we pruchased was officialy for 12 small beers of 0,2 litre. This happened only in the pool areas, there indeed the glasses were tiny and 200 cl approx (and too cold according to my father). But in all other bars we went, the coupon for a small beer gave us a big bottle of 330 cc and a glass! so a TIP for BEER DRINKERS: purchase the small beer booklet, no need to buy the big beer one. You get big beer anyways in all bars except by the pools. We also had a lot of fun with the cocktail package 12 for 69 euros plus 15%. I LOVED their frozen cockatils like Strawbery Margartia and MSC Colpa di Fulmine. Thouroughly enjoyed these. BARS AND LOUNGES We used our first night to scoop out all the bars and lounges, but I am guessing it took us three days to get a total overview in our head of what was really available. There is so much to chose from for every occasion or taste! One of our favourite hang outs sinc day one was the cigar lounge. It was a quite corner of the ship, not many people there and very serene. A Great place for us to unwind after dinner and have a drink before bedtime. We are (unfortunately!) early sleepers so never made it past 10 o'clock. I think my roll call members are still angry with me for never showing up at their meetings 10:30 and 11:30 pm... I hope they understand my explanation on the roll call, I really was beat every evening, especially from guiding and helping my parents a lot. Another favourite was the Piazetta, the little Italian square in the middle of deck 6 where people meet and mingle all the time. Beautifully tiled, with painted skies and some fun shop surrounding it. I always enjoyed sitting here watching people and waiting for the cigar lounge to become empty at 9 pm, when all the pre-dinner-smokers rushed to their second seating. Too bad there was a marketplace going on every night on the Piazetta. I understand, stalls sell more than shops, especially iof they create the impression that things are cheaper that way. But it took up a lot of space I thought. There are some shops here for jewelry and clothing but also sweets and cakes and icecream. The italian iceacream on this ship tastes very good! Try it as dessert at dinner or here for a small fee in the Piazetta. If you love your icecream, like I do, you will not be dissapointed!~So creamy., hmmm! (By the way, I did not gain nor lose a pound this cruise, so I am happy with that result LOL) I also liked the aft lounge and so many more. You will for sure find a favourite spot yourself. SHOW The first night we skipped the show since it was Marcel Mimo and I sincerely HATE mime players. Can't help it, I dislike them (and clowns). I just glanced at it, got the shivvers (spelling?) and went back. The second night we did see most part of the show (USA show) but after 30 minutes we decided we preferred to do other things like have a cocktail and play some cards, or go to the casino. The show was good, well preformed, don't get me wrong. But it is all very visual due to multiple nationalities. As was the mime player, now also this USA show was singing and dancing. Very good, but not to my taste for every evening. BREAKFAST The first breakfast we had was fine. We never tried the dining room for breakfast so can't comment on that. Our sailing was full, but if you walk to tha aft of teh restaurant, there are usually spaces enough. A waiter will bring coffe/thee/ hot chocolate, another one brings juices. The buffet is one long main line (like lunch) where the frieds eggs and omelets are. The rest of the buffet area has multiple of the same lines. With scrambled eggs, bakes beans, sausages, bacon, tomatoes, boled eggs (hit and miss those boiled eggs!), fresh fruits and canned fruits, yoghurts, cereals, cold cuts and cheese, bread, jams etc, little focacia pizaa thingies, muffins and cake. I think that sums it up. OF COURSE, breakfast is the same everyday, like many complain. But what more do you need? Okay the only things missing are bagels, pancakes or waffles and maybe salmon for the fishlover. Maybe those ARE present on american lines, I don't know. I found the selection good enough to enjoy myself every morning and to eat differently every day. BARCELONA The port area is too far to walk from the city. You can either take a shuttle bus at 6 euros per person that takes you to the bottom of La Rambla, or you can take one of the long line of cabs that are waiting. Be sure to queue for this, we witnessed some Italians cutting line line and some Brits getting really upset about it. If you are 4 people, the taxi will work out cheaper (about 7 euros per taxi one way to the same location as the shuttle) We wandered la Rambla with guidebook in hand and also wandered through the narrow streets of Barrio Gotic. We have seen barcelona many times so we were able to just take stroll and take it easy. My dad got really tired very soon, so after a coffee we headed back to the ship around 1 pm. If you never been to Barcelona, I would suggest you take a taxi from the ship to Parc Guell or the Sagrada Familia (I love parc guell but both are very must-see) Maybe if time allows, you can take in both. Than let them drop you at placa de Catalunya. Taxis are abundant and cheap and metered. They might not have much small change though! At Placa de Catalunya, go inside El Corte Ingles store all the way to the top, have a coffee there with the best view in town. Then walk down la Rambla taking in the side streets and a bit of Barrio Gotic, and you will end with the Columbus statue again, where you can take a cab to the ship. The afternoon was OK, we sailed towards better weather so we were able to explore a bit more and catch some rays. The Barcelona day is half day and therefor also: GALA NIGHT These are in Barcelona and Messina. About half of the people were dressed in Gala clothing (long dress, suit with tie or tux), a quarter was a bit toned down (semi formal) and another querter did not care at all. So either way you will not feel really out of place. This is also the day of the captain meeting and cocktail, there is FREE champagne in lounges to be had Gala night had a special menu but I thought not so different from other days. It was most of all nice to just enjoy being all dressed up together! Lots os pictures are being taken but no one is obligated to buy any. We took our own on the sprakling Swarovski staircase. Would love to share it here but do not know how to add pictures DAY 2 TUNIS Well, you do not arrive in Tunis till 2 pm, so the morning was spent sunbathing and relaxing and sleeping in a bit. I even finally had a chance to sit in the aft jacuzzi! On arrival in Tunis, we were greeted by a Tunesian band an some camels that walked alongside the ship when we docked. They were there for a good atmosphere and of course if you wanted you could have your picture taken on a camel for a small fee. Now maybe a dissapointment for you: we did not go ashore here so can't comment on Tunis. We decided to enjoy the relative quiet on the ship and lay by the pools. It was 20 degrees so qarm enough for that, allthough had to stay out of the wind. It was a lovely afternoon, they even opened up the retractable roof of the indoor pool. Around 5 pm I decided to go ashore for some souvenirs. I did not need to clear customs as there is a shop with souvernis at the port. Good enough to get a fridge magnet and some herbs and perfume On Tunis day, all seatings are one hour later because of the late sail away. So we had first seating at 7:30 pm and second was at 10 pm. I was really knackered after first seating and a cocktail, so I did not make it to the meeting our roll call had around midnight, yet again. sorry guys! By this time in the cruise I was getting really worked up about some of the behaviour of some of the : ITALIANS 80% of the ship's clientele is Italian and while there certainly are lots of nice Italians people on board, we just seemed to encounter all the rude ones! I admit: when I read reviews beforehand I thought: what are these people complaining about? Lift behaviour, rude Italians, how bad can it be? Get a life! Well, after 2 days I was getting high blood pressure myself and shaking my fist in anger at the umpteenth time we were shoved aside by an Italian family who took the lift before our eyes. I just had to tell myself to relax and deal with the lift situation. We had the bow lifst, so those were not as crowded as the center ones. But it just seemed that most of the Italian guests did not see other people at all. They get in and out any lift, no matter if it is going up or down. They get in before people have a chance to get out (my mom was 'stuck' like this several times! No amount of 'scusi, need to get out here!' made them notice her. And she can be LOUD if need be! ) they cut in lines, shove you aside (also at the buffet by the way) and lost of their kids were just running around amok, playing with lifts, making lots of loud noises. I never thought I would get so bent out of shape over such a thing, but I did. It was highly annoying and one of the reasons I would consider taking another line than MSC even! Not the line's fault, but less Italians. Of course, I do not mean to generalize, I am sure not all people are like this, but we just had so many rudeness upon us... The lowpoint was when mom and dad waited for a lift. One stopped and a big rowdy Italian family with stroller came out. Mom and dad went in the lift. As the doors cloesd, the Italians realized they were on the wrong floor, so he put his foot between the lift door, SCREAMED at my mom and dad to get the hell out (in Italian obviously) and after mom and dad were so shocked they actually listened to him, they got in and left my parents standing there with their jaws on the floor. I think that was the moment my mom decided a cruise is very nice but if she ever goes again, it will be on another line, PURELY due to the high % of rudeness she encountered by, I am sorry, mostly the Italians on board. I am just saying this so you can prepare for it en try to be relaxed about it, as we did. It did NOT ruin our cruise, but it is the ONLY thing we would consider leaving MSC for. However, on our sailing the majority was Italian due to a Italian holiday period. THUS the rude people I was to encounter had to be Italians, due to the law of average. I am sure there are rude people drom any nationality, we just had back luck! If you encounter rude people of whatever nationality, just be polite and smile and think your holiday is more relaxed than theirs MALTA On the 3rd day we arrived in Malta and I was up at 6 to see us sailing into the Grand Harbour of Valletta. It was just breathtaking: on the one side we were closing in on the very surreal island of Malta, on the other side a sunrise over a practically empty ship. Those hours were beautiful, just me and the sunrise and the nearing new exciting harbour! By the time we really sailed into the harbour, a lot more people had gathered on deck 15 and 16 and were watching it with me. It REALLY is like you are sailing back into time, into some kind of Tolkien world. Very bizarre and beautifull. At breakfast we were enjoying our docking in Malta from the window and we must say: it is the most pittoresque docking place of this cruise, with the nice coloured doors and terraces We got out and walked along the dock, where we were greeted by people from the HoHo bus and taxi-service. The Hoho cost 10 euros per person, but we were not sure how comfortable it would be for dad, and how frequent, since it was a holiday (maltese liberation day I think) So we decided to go with the white taxi service. at 80 euros for 4 hours for 4 persons, it was also not expensive! The person told us that we could visit such and such and make the drive al custom made as we wanted. Full good vibes we got into a taxi with a big guy called Mario. It started out good. He took us to the presidential gardens in Valletta (I think) where we walked around for a bit. We even saw the president drive by with escorts. They were beautiful. Then he drove us to the church of Mosta, which was a nice place to visit, but very crowded with many MSC busses there. After that we wanted to go and have coffee somewhere in Mdina, but Mario wanted to take us to the arts and crafts village first. That is where mom decided she was not liking this cab driver In this so called village, tourists get dropped and pay hefty prices for handicrafts, of course the driver gets a commission I am sure. We saw a tile that cost 52 euros, which we once bought in Spain last year for 12 (and in Mdina, still a pricey tourist place, we saw the same tile later for 22). So Mario kind of wanted us to go to the glass factory as well in that village, and I said: no thank you, we want to go to Mdina now. He kind of instisted it was not to be missed etc etc, and I really had to put my foot down to skip the glass factory. In Mdina, he dropped us and announced that we would need at least an hour and he was not expecting us any earlier. ? We had coffee in Mdina and dad got tired of the steep streets very soon, so he had to go and sit down somewhere with Erik. They drank a Cisk beer, (proudly stating on the can that it was chosen australia's dfavoruite foreign beer in 1995 LOL) while mom and I explored the rest of Mdina. It was very nice. After that we were supposed to be taken to the blue grotto and see some of the coast line but all of a sudden Mario did not think we would not have enough time for this. Then I said to just do blue grotto and skip the visit ti Valletta, and all of a sudden he said blue grotto was closed today because of wind. He obviously did not want to go there. So, for our bit of coastline, he took us to see st Julians. I must say: not really what I thought we would see. I thought with coastline more in terms of cliffs and dramatic views. After a rush through st Julians he rushed us back to the ship and dropped us there a half hour early! (after 3,5 hours of sightseeing) I did not even bother to discuss this with him, as he had had enough of his way of working, but he even dared to give me an 'open' handshake. (pretending handshake, actually opening hand for tip) I cordially threw my hand into his open hand and shook it saying goodbye. He left grumpily. Hey, I do not mind tippting if service was exceptional (as you will read later on in Sicily) but this time the guy had done nothing special To the defense of white taxi service: we did see a lot of people with different drivers that had better luck than we did. I saw drivers going into the church with their people, explaining stuff and being a guide. But our driver was just that: a driver who wanted to make his own route and be done with it. Well, we did not regret it because we saw the highlights of Malta I guess in a comfortable manner, and the rest of the afternoon was free for us to laze around teh pool once again! We really got a bit of a tan there and I enjoyed the BEST Italian icecream, hazelnut flavour, it was SO creamy... JUMMM That night we had decided to go to THE TEX MEX RESTAURANT Just for a change. I had heard high praise of it. I must say: the waiter was very friendly and nice, the setting was lovely and so peaceful compared to the MDR, but the food... Nah. Not as good as the dining room IMHO. We ended up with a bill of 71 euros for 4 people for 2 courses and a drink, which was not bad, but not really worth it also. We just got the food differently then we usually have Mexican. Quesedillas were not the flat tortillas with cheese melted in them but they were rather some fried pastry thing with cheese in them. And so on. We decided to just use the MDR from that point onwards. After dinner we sat around in the AFT LOUNGE A very nice spot with great view. We got some snacks with our drinks, which was a surprise to me. Nice and comfortable chairs and live music going on. probably dancing later in the evening. After that we played at the CASINO Very nice, adequate for our liking and very shiny We all played on the machines and all of a sudden my dad's machine started the bells and whistles. He had won 180 euros! The picture I have of him next to that machine, with a HUGE smile on his face, I will cherish forever! The 180 euros went towards the bar bill We finished of our night as usual in the cigar lounge and went to bed at 10 pm (I know, we sound like elderly!) Day 5, we woke up in MESSINA For this day, I had arranged a private tour beforehand with Mario Astone on recommendation of somebody on this board. Mario quoted us 45 euros pp first for a trip to Taormina and some sightseeing, but if we could get more poeple price would be 35. He ended up mailing me that some american family also was on our ship and asking for his services, so we got in touch with each other and decided to share the ride. (35 per person, the 3 kids of the family for free) We got out the ship at 8 am, and Mario was waiting for us. I had brought him butter from Holland on his request , and got a big hug for it immediately. After a short while, the american familiy joined us: 4 adults and 3 kids. It was gonna be tight in his van! We all managed to get in the van and he drove us to the other side of the island, commenting on what we saw. What a difference with the other Mario! He took us first to Castelmola, a place the ship's excursion does not because the busses do not reach there. It was BEAUTIFUL! I must say, the whole Sicily day was for us (and the americans, I heard later) the highlight of our cruise, due to the weather, good trip and guidance of Mario From Castelmola we had stunning views on Taormina, the coastline and on mount Etna. The village was so picturesque, you would not believe it. And we were the only tourists there. After this, Mario dropped us in Taormina where we had 2 hours of free time, as per my request. I just wanted time to do our own pace and own thing in Taormina. My dad had been there 30 years ago and wanted to go back, that is why I organised the whole tour. More meant as a transfer originally, although the day turned out like an excursion. In Taormina, the american family went their way and we went ours. What a beautoful village once again, so unique and pretty. We wandered through the streets and ended up on what must be the BEST terrace with view in southern europe. We sat next to a view on Etna on one side and the coastline on the other side. All this in a lovely 20 degree sunny weather! We enjoyed an (expensive) cappuccino there and just sat there enjoying the whole atmosphere. We really could feel, smell, hear and see Sicily at it's best at that place. It is one of my fondest memories of this cruise, sitting there enjoying everything, and especially seeing my dad enjoy! After our time in Taormina, Mario took us to a lookout point where the ship's bus does not go and we enjoyed yet another splendid view. After that it was back to Messina, where we saw a church and also a viewpoint from which to see the ship, and take pictures of it. He took us to the Big Duomo (e special church with astronomical clock) where I had like 5 minutes to get some souvernirs VERY fast; we needed to get back to the ship! We said our goodbyes like old friends, paid Mario (with a good tip for this unforgettable day) and then scurried on to the ship. We entered it 2 minutes too late, and our american friends left something behind, so they were REALLy too late; I think the doors of the ship hit their butts on the way in! (funny fact: this almost-missing-the-ship experience made Erik as well as Shane (the american father) so nervous that the next day in Rome they were both, independently, nervous wrecks about getting back on time!) Well, just a GREAT day! The ship sailed at 2 pm and we sailed along the coastline of Italy. Beautiful weather, but strong wind so we had to look for a wind free spot on board. It was crowded with people sunning. Dad and I had something special planned this afternoon. I had written a polite letter to captain Mattia Manzi, explaining the special nature of our trip, and asking if we could see the bridge. We got a reply that we were expected on the bidge that afternoon! It was very fun to see the briidge and how it all works (can you believe it, such a BIG ship is mastered by a little joystick of 5 cm long???) although too bad the captain was not there. I guess the guy needs to rest sometimes LOL Our luck was that we were on the bridge at the moment that we were sailing right onto Stromboli (or so it seemed). Unique sight! That evening was the SECOND GALA NIGHT Everyone got dressed up again and we had a lovely dinner, this time with a very special dessert. The lights were dimmed and with music the waiters came in a row with flaming desserts (baked alaska) Then when this music finished, the music of VOLARE started, and the whole dining room was waving their napkins; very nice! And, I must say, the baked Alaska tasted JUMMMMM I still regret that I did not have seconds... We strolled around the ship after dinner and visited our 'usual' hangouts: the piazetta (untill 9, when all the 2nd seating fols would go to dinner) and then to the tranquil cigar lounge. Went to be again at 10 for our big day in Rome! Day 6 of our cruise, we woke up in CIVITAVECCHIA, port of ROME We had breakfast and watched the first 1000 people orso get off board to ctach their excursion busses. We got off the ship at around 8:30 and took the FREE shuttle bus to the end of the port area. (a good 1,5 km i think) From there, we walked along the water towards the station of Civitavecchia, about 1 km. There was a long line at the station, but I remembered reading on CC that you can also get the BIRG tickets inj the newspaper kiosk at the station. I quickly got 4 birg tickets there at 9 euros each. a BARGAIN compared to the rome on your own excursion from MSC at 45 euros, which is basically a transfer only. We took the 9:41 train and were in rome at 10:50. We got out in Roma Termini and bought 4 tickets for the hop on hop off bus. The only thing that would allow us to see the most of Rome above ground, within the limited time that we had. The bus (was another 1 km walking) took us past all the major sights. We could not get out everywhere, but we went out at St Peter's square and later at the Trevi fountain. There, we had lunch in a local taverna. Spagetti bolognese, what else when in rome? At the fountain, I guess 5000 people were there wanting to see it or throw a coin in it. We had to throw from a distance (hope nobody got it in the eye! ) And who did we see there? Our american friends from the day before! Unbelievable. After Trevi we finished the rest of the HoHo loop and went back to the train station. We got the 15:39 train back which was overcrowded. Dad was VERY tired after all that walking (i was so proud of him!) but luckily he could sit, and my mom a bit later also. Erik and I had to stand the entire way, pressed together with 20 other people in a tiny hot compratment, and the train was getting delayed and standing still... We arrived at Civitavecchia around 17:00, with a delay of 30 minutes. Then the long walk back to the port entrance, the shuttle bus back to the ship... PHEW what a long day! But again: sunshine and 18 degrees and VERY nice, not to be missed. We had a nice dinner once again in the dining room and we were hopefull for a last fun day in Genua well GENUA was a disspointment, mainly because it was raining cats and dogs when we got there! We did not even go out, so much rain was pouring down. A bit of a let down after all that sunshine Mom and I ventured out in the rain, but we were soaking wet and did not find iot attractive at all. Maybe we saw the wrong part of town. It seemed rather seedy. The rest of the time we filled up by playing cards, visiting the lounges and bars, having icecream and doing a nap. We enjoyed our last supper on board and were kind of sad. But I was also happy to get back the next day to my kids! We bought some sweets for them at the Caramella sweets shop on board, and some souvenirs from the Logo shop and had alast cocktail in the cigar lounge. Then it was time to pack our suitcases and put them outside. Of, I forgot! That Genua day we had a life drill at 5:15 pm! A bit late for us, who disembarked the next day. But hey, we participated anyway/ DISEMBARKATION We had breakfast and were outside the ship at 9 am. We took a cab to the TGV train station in Marseille (30 euros) but it was easter sunday so everything in Marseille was closed. Therefor we had to wait at tha train station till 1:30 pm for our train. We found a cafe to wait it out and unfortunately the train was delyed by 1 hour. When we finally WERE on board, there was no coffee and tea and the bar closed in the middle of the trip, so no food for us. And to make things worse, the train did not stop at Lille Europa, weher our taxi driver was waiting, but made an unscheduled stop at Lille Flandres. Long live mobile phones! The taxi driver picked us up there and in 1:45 hours he took us home. I think it was 10 pm when we finally got home. It was a GREAT cruise, with GREAT memories! I do not know what I enjoyed more, the cruise, of seeing my dad enjoy it so much! Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
My partner & I spent a night in Milan after landing, caught the train to Genoa, spent the night there & woke up to watch the Splendida cruise into port. In A Nut Shell: Things I read about from others: Ship Vibrations - When ... Read More
My partner & I spent a night in Milan after landing, caught the train to Genoa, spent the night there & woke up to watch the Splendida cruise into port. In A Nut Shell: Things I read about from others: Ship Vibrations - When she is turning in port with the thrusters it vibrates like crazy. This is the only time, it is a good wake up call for you to get ready for the shore excursion. Ship Rocking - Basically none existent. Once my partner felt funny, but so did others at the same time, unsure why, it wasn't any worse. They usually slowed ship down if the seas were up a little. When its going at 20-22 knots the stabilizers aren't in effect so they slow it down to 14 or so & have the stabilizers going. Water at Dinner - We had it included so it wasn't an issue. The staff were happy to provide it to us, no skimping at all. Don't try to get something for free, they are on the ball in that Dept. Fellow Travellers - We had alot of Germans, Italians & Dutch. Yes they are pushy, probably ignorant is the word. Just give them a hard elbow & they back off :) Was it an issue? Nope, wasn't that bad at all. Lifts - You can wait a while for sure. We were close to the Aft lifts & we usually walked towards the Aft before going up to avoid the crowds after dinner, shore excursions, shows etc. I didn't have a problem with them though, there are plenty. Navigating the Ship - Takes a bit of time to get use to it, we still went the wrong way, level 7 is the main lower floor to get places. Walk around a bit, you get use to it. Food - Average. Nothing fancy here, it was OK, but nothing to write home about. Ship - Great in every respect, cannot think of anything negative at all. Staff - Under skilled, over worked (our dinner waiter did breakfast & lunch in Bora Bora & Dinner in La Reggia each day...poor bugger. The staff are smiles & happy to great you. Entertainment - For us it wasn't an issue, mostly in Italian, it wasn't that exciting but we didn't go for this, we went for the ports. Value for Money - How else can you travel to different countries & get fed & looked after for cheaper? Was very good. Drink packages - Unlimited is only worth it if you train your waiter & drink like a horse. My partner was crook whole time with a cold from work before we left, I got it 4 days in so she didn't drink much wine, 1 bottle a night. She had a beer or glass of wine at lunch to make it up so Yes, we did get our moneys worth, but only just in my opinion. If you are a group then sure, you'll get your moneys worth if you like to drink, just train those waiters! I finished up with 9 beer coupons. Last night I drank ALOT, first time I felt tipsy trying to finish them off. 9 out of 36 beers left over, this was due to not going out much to bars due to early nights because of my partner. They are great value otherwise. Port Tours - These were fine. Hard to get pictures without people in them. We had bilingual tours twice. Being ushered round like cattle doesn't appeal to me, we'd take off & do our own thing when we could. Guides were very professional & good. We did Naples (Pompeii) ourselves, cost us $33 euros to do so. It cost $100 to do ships tour. We also had a private tour in Israel. Cost a bit but man did we see alot. We asked our dining companions what they saw & we just kinda laughed. It cost them less but they saw way less. Moti Barness looked after us awesomely. More Detailed: Check-in process: We went down to the ship around midday after seeing others checking in. We dropped our suitcases off, was promptly asked for a tip for the privilege, lucky I had a few coins in my pocket :) We did do the express check-in online, however we went into the normal check-in line to get the whole deal. First you register your CC & receive your cruise cards then follow the line to book tours, drink packages etc. We had already done our drink pages (704 & beer vouchers) & we knew what tours we wanted so we did that (they tell you to book Egypt then & there to avoid missing out, but I doubt you would, but better safe than sorry hey!). Being from Canada we had to sign a form for H1N1 flu saying we might have to see doctor for check up...grr, discrimination, but we never had to & never heard about it after that. We got our backs scanned etc & then were taken on board where a person takes you to room, shows you how to use card in slot etc & leaves you alone. The Ship First Impression: We immediately went for a walk around, camera in hand. The ship is massive, it is very nice inside, there is no wear n tear I could see, it felt comfortable & you immediately start having fun. We got back to our room, found our suitcases & vouchers for tours & drinks in our room. We met our room attendant who was a nice fella, always smiling & great to have around. The Room: The room was very nice, decor was nicely done. The room was probably narrower than I was expecting but still plenty of room. Loved the balcony & used it often. Bathroom was fine, excellent toilet & pressure from shower was great along with the hot water. The body wash was fine, I used the shampoo too & found it better than what my partner brought. The shower curtain stuck a bit, but meh, it was FINE. We were on level 13 towards the stern. I found it was rockier on level 7 in the Aft Lounge than in our higher level room, not that it was ever really rocky. There was a 2 door wardrobe & 6 drawers, plenty of coat hangers & space for us. Dining Experiences: We were seated with a Mother & Son from England on a 6 seater. It was difficult to hear across the table with so many people in the dining room, but we had a good time with them. Our waiter always had a smile & was great to get along with. We dined at the Tex Mex where another waiter greeted us each time. Another nice fella who remembered our names after 4-5 days between visits :| scary yes... Critical Dining Information: Food is sufficient, it is nothing fancy, probably comparable to a White Spot, Sizzler etc. The servings are small, but remember, you can have seconds if you desire. Just ask... Bora Bora the buffet is a massive cafeteria. It is well staffed with different staff doing one specific role. The food is basic, well...very basic. There are no sculptures, displays. Just the food portions there. However, it works. You eat there after a shore excursion or in the morning where you want quantity, the food is plenty & it is fine. Just don't expect anything fancy. The Dining rooms lack proper supervision & leadership. They are understaffed & if you don't get your waiter trained early you will end up annoyed & bitch about it on these forums. We bought the 704 drink package which gave unlimited beer, wine & soft drink. You have buckley's chance of getting value out of it unless you train your waiter!...Being Aussie I was determined to get my moneys worth. I would have a ice bucket full of Heineken by the 3rd night, drinking around 6-7 beers a sitting...But to get your drink limit is a challenge. Drink service is slow, even when you hassle them. The food comes quick as you'd expect. But overall the staff should be in these dining rooms rather than in Bora Bora, they were too understaffed (and under skilled) to service the tables as you would expect. Tex Mex was the only paying restaurant we went to, it is totally opposite, mainly because it is so quiet. One on one service, was great, nice & quiet too. Say HI to Hugo for us :) Bars & Lounges: They are everywhere, the best for entertainment is the Aft Lounge. Dancing, exercises, Bingo etc are all here. Silly thing is they have the rear window section all smoking. All the non smokers have to be on the other side far away from the view....stupid, well for us since we don't smoke!!! Again, service was not prompt, they were too busy filling the fridges rather than serve us, it would have been a good 5-10 minutes sitting there. Lucky we could sit there watching the people trying to do the dancing. Shore Excursions: You receive a newsletter for the next day with loads of information & your meeting point for the next mornings excursion. It is a little like a circus in the meeting point trying to find the right staff member to receive your bus number. All they need is a sign saying "English" & "German" & it would be so much easier!. We never left on time, frustrating as you are limited on the time in ports, the guides never go over time on the excursion, however the ship left late waiting for some groups (Egypt). Could they do better with their organising? Yes, but it is not their fault totally. It is a two way street & the cruisers are just as at fault. People don't listen & follow instructions & dilly dally around slowing everything up, the staff sure must get frustrated, I know I would. The Staff: Bora Bora staff were efficient as there was way too many of them. Dining room staff were understaffed & under skilled but nice as people. Tour staff were a little indifferent to you. They talked to you if you wanted to be talked to so they were fine. The english South African said she was frustrated at the lack of organising & communication for the shore excursions (They didn't call our number to go but our lady went with 7 of us & the rest stayed waiting for a good 20 minutes. We got sick of waiting went off to find our bus to find our woman there going where are they!) We didn't go party so we never saw if any white suits were chatting up the girls. I never saw them walking the ship, but the Captain seemed nice enough when introduced at a show. You commonly see staff in corners texting or talking on their phone while they should be working. The discipline is low. Like I said, our room attendant was great. No problems there. Entertainment: We did one show. Holla Hoop lady, shadow puppet & a juggler. Was fine, but we didn't go to any other shows. We went to bed pretty early each night, well my partner did, I photochopped my pics from the day. Get use to CNN on tv :) That is basically it, 3 channels of english. We did the trivia one day. Not many people were there & we tied 1st, got a little foam ship :D Same day we played Bingo again. It is done in Italian but the numbers are shown on screen. My partner tied winning that too, $175 Euros in our pocket :) She then played the pokies & got another $150...sweet. Most of the things are in Italian, hard to participate in, but when we did we had no problems. I can't think of anything else to say right now, I can answer questions about things no worries. MSC is not the choice for those that are experienced cruisers & wanting to be pampered. It is priced right & is value for money. It doesn't have all the bells & whistles, but it was a great experience & I would go with them again. They have room for improvement, but to bash them is uncalled for, certainly from our view. Read Less
Sail Date March 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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