The Strand Theatre is an impressive split-level venue located at the front of the ship on Deck 6 and 7. The theatre can seat 1,200 passengers in the lower auditorium and 400 upstairs, with all seats providing an unobstructed view of the stage (the first in the MSC fleet to feature LED screens). Due to the broad mix of international passengers, the shows are mostly variations of song and dance routines, with singers often embracing several languages during each song, along with acrobats and magicians. The shows might not be that varied, but they are all slick and colourful, in particular a Spanish-themed performance featuring guest flamenco artistes and the vibrant Nature show with some exciting acrobatics.
Shows generally last 45 minutes and are performed twice a day, usually at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., to accommodate passengers on both dinner sittings.
There is no bar service in the theatre, but passengers are welcome to take drinks through and the closest bar is La Prua piano bar located next to the entrance to the theatre on Deck 7. This upper level of the theatre also has a raised area at the back of the auditorium with eight tables, each with four seats, that can be swivelled to face the stage. This is a good spot for people who want to enjoy a drink while they watch the show.
The theatre is also used for bingo, children's shows and as the meeting point for excursions.
On week-long roundtrip Mediterranean sailings from Rome (Civitavecchia) there are no sea days, and MSC Splendida calls at a different port each day, often arriving in the morning which provides plenty of time to explore. A variety of trips are on offer, ranging from traditional city sightseeing tours to bike excursions and special family-themed excursions. Parents going on trips can also leave children aged three to 11 in the Mini Club.
For those staying onboard there is plenty to keep them occupied, with a host of free daily activities listed in the Daily Planner left in cabins every night. Starting with an al fresco morning stretching class in the Aqua Park at 9:30 a.m., typical daily events include dance lessons (usually several per day), trivia quizzes, napkin folding and cookery demonstrations, arts and crafts such as making paper flowers, meetings for card players, pool parties and various sporting challenges including ping pong, table soccer, mini-golf and squash tournaments.
There are games arcades on Deck 6 and 18, and the Virtual World area on the topmost deck also houses the most thrilling attractions onboard -- an F1 simulator and 4D cinema which are both open from 10 a.m. to noon and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily, and are available at an extra charge. The bright red full-size racing car facing a video screen mimics the excitement of driving on a track and a choice of six 4D films, including some especially for younger children, are available in the adjoining cinema. There are two small bowling alleys in the Sports Bar on Deck 7.
The non-stop fun continues after sunset with activities including more dance lessons, bingo, karaoke, talent contests, big-screen sports coverage and themed parties, such as a white night and glow party. On one of the gala nights there is also the chance for ladies to indulge "An Officer and a Gentleman" fantasies by dancing with some of Splendida's senior officers. There is excellent live music throughout the ship, with venues including the atrium and various bars. Talented performers include a pianist, guitarist, acoustic duos, singers and a band. The large Royal Palm Casino, minimum age 18, is located forward on Deck 6 with slots available from 5:30 p.m. and tables from 6:30 p.m. One side of the casino is a smoking area. The Club 33 Disco is situated on Deck 16.
MSC Splendida Bars and Lounges
There is a total of 19 bars and lounges onboard, with 13 inside (including the Top Sail lounge that is only available for passengers staying in the Yacht Club) and the remainder outside (including one for the Yacht Club). An extensive drinks menu of cocktails (around 6.75 euros), non-alcoholic mocktails and kids' cocktails (4.50 euros), wines (from 5 euros a glass), mixed drinks such as gin and tonic (6.50 euros), beer (from 2.95 euros) and soft drinks (from 2.50 euros) and coffee (from 1.45 euros) is available in each bar and prices are the same throughout the ship, with the exception of the special mixologist cocktails in La Prua and premium wines in L'Enoteca.
Splendida Bar (Deck 5): Serving early morning coffee through to post-dinner drinks, this bar is situated at the side of the atrium and well located to watch evening musicians, including the pianist tickling the ivories on the crystal-studded piano. Open from 6 a.m. until 1 a.m.
L'Aperitivo (Deck 6): Overlooking the atrium, this bar is in a busy location and is another great place to listen to live music and indulge in a spot of people watching. Open from 5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
La Piazetta (Deck 6): It's hard to believe you're on a ship in this delightful midship setting that resembles an Italian square, with its ornate tiles and chairs and tables surrounding a central fountain. Serving coffee and drinks, it is open from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m.
The Cigar Lounge (Deck 6): This smoking lounge serves drinks from 5 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. and is open throughout the day for passengers who want to smoke indoors. Cigarettes and cigars are sold on the ship.
Royal Palm Casino (Deck 6): The ship's second indoor location where smoking is allowed, the bar is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 8 p.m. until late.
L'Enoteca (Deck 7): This atmospheric area with its barrel-shaped chairs and wine racks embedded in the walls serves premium wines. It is also used for tutored wine tastings where six samples, served with snacks, cost 12.90 euros. The bar is open from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.
L'Espresso Coffee Bar (Deck 7): If you need a caffeine hit then this is the place to go. The cafe serves all manner of coffees from espresso and cappuccino to frozen coffee, chocolate flavoured coffee and coffees with a nip of alcohol. Open from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m.
The Aft Lounge (Deck 7): This lively lounge bar is situated right at the back of the ship and has a stage and dance floor. It is also used for events such as theme parties, cocktail receptions for repeat passengers and talent nights. Open from 5:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
The Purple Jazz Bar (Deck 7): This is another of the ship's most popular bars, particularly for couples who want to dance to live music in the evening. It is also used for dance classes, trivia sessions and karaoke. Open from 5:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
La Prua Piano Bar (Deck 7): This sophisticated and intimate bar next to the upper auditorium of the Strand Theatre features live music and in addition to the main drinks menu the bar staff also mix up special molecular cocktails priced from 7.50. Open from 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Sports Bar (Deck 7): Used to screen sports and football games -- with the ambience very vocal during the latter -- the bar is open from 4 p.m. to midnight.
L'Equatore (Deck 14): Serving the covered pool area, the bar is open for coffee from 8 a.m. and serves drinks until 9 p.m.
Tartaruga Bar (Deck 14): This bar serves the Aqua Park and gets particularly busy during pool parties. Open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (weather permitting).
Aurea Spa Bar (Deck 14): This peaceful lounge is part of the spa complex and serves protein shakes, smoothies and healthy drinks linked to the colour coded Wellness Package, such as yellow for healthy skin, purple for deep cleansing and green for relaxation. Open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Movida Bar (Deck 15): This quiet bar serves the Playa del Sol pool at the back of ship and is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (weather permitting).
Top Sail Lounge (Deck 15): This bar is situated in the exclusive lounge for Yacht Club passengers and starts serving coffee at breakfast time and remains open until late in the evening. Note: Standard passengers who want to experience the high life in the Yacht Club can pay 80 euros per day for access to the amenities of the Top Sail Lounge and pool deck (excludes L'Olivio restaurant).
Club 33 Disco (Deck 16): The bar in the nightclub is open from 11 p.m.
The One Bar (Deck 18): Situated on the Yacht Club's private outside deck, the bar is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (weather permitting).
Top 18 Bar (Deck 18): For passengers who pay to get into the Top 18 sun deck, the bar is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (weather permitting).
MSC Splendida Outside Recreation
The main pools are on Deck 14, where the covered L'Equatore pool leads to the Aqua Park -- the main outdoor hub. The covered pool, which has three hot tubs, is the quieter of the two. It is surrounded by tables and chairs, with loungers on the mezzanine deck overlooking the pool. On sunny days the Aqua Park is the main gathering spot and is a very lively area with piped music playing throughout the day and night, along with live music events such as themed pool parties, including a fun Snow Party complete with a snow cannon. The main pool, which is 5ft 10in deep, is surrounded by decking, smaller splash pools, spraying fountains, water jets and two whirlpools. (Two more whirlpools are situated immediately above on Deck 15). The area nearest to the pool is surrounded by plenty of loungers, and tables and chairs are situated under a covered area at both sides of the ship. There is a smoking area in the Aqua Park.
A children's pool, for youngsters who are out of nappies, is located on Deck 15. Adults in search of peace and quiet can head to Playa del Sol, a lovely area overlooking the stern of the ship on Deck 15 that few passengers seem to discover. The mosaic-tiled pool area, which has a hot tub is surrounded by loungers, tables and chairs.
Yacht Club passengers have their own private pool and hot tub situated in a prime spot at the front of the ship on the uppermost Deck 18.
The L'Equatore pool is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and the Aqua Park, and other outdoor pools, are open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Whirlpools are open from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The Tobago waterslide, with a minimum age of eight for users, is located on Deck 15 and is generally open twice a day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. There is a shuffleboard area on Deck 16 plus a squash court and area for outdoor games.
Far away from the lounging areas around the pools is the quiet for fee sanctuary Top 18, which, as the name implies, is situated at the top of the ship on Deck 18. This private sun spot, with a bar, showers and complimentary fruit skewers, has loungers (including novel ones shaped liked leaves) that cost 10 euros per day, 5 euros for the afternoon or 40 euros for the cruise. There are also gorgeous cocoon-like rattan day beds, which offer shade and accommodate two people, which are priced at 30 euros for a day, 15 euros for the afternoon or 100 euros for the cruise.
MSC Splendida Services
Two large 24-hour reception and guest services' desks are located midship on Deck 5. Nearby is a business centre, which can also be used for private meetings and small receptions. Next to the business centre is the Cyberlibrary, open 24 hours, and with four terminals available for passengers. It also contains a library with books, mostly novels, in various languages and a quiet reading area.
There is Wi-Fi throughout the ship, with good connectivity throughout our cruise. Unlike the majority of cruise lines which charge by the minute MSC offers three different packages based on individual requirements, which is much better than seeing precious minutes tick away when service is slow or patchy. The Streamer Package costs 22.90 euros per day 69.90 euros per seven-day cruise, and provides full internet access for up to four devices, including audio and video streaming, with maximum bandwidth priority and a limit of 340 MB per day or 1.5 GB per cruise. The Surfer Package, suitable for browsing web, e-mails and social networks, costs 11.90 euros per day or 34.90 euros per seven-day cruise for up to two devices with a limit of 170 MB per day or 800 MB per cruise. The Social Package, for keeping in touch via social networks and chat apps, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, costs 4.90 euros per day or 19.90 euros per seven-day cruise for one device. The amount of data used is shown at every log in and Wi-Fi extensions are available onboard at a reduced price. Passengers who book prior to cruising receive 20 per cent more data allowance.
The shore excursion office is located midship on Deck 6, along with a selection of shops including a mini mall selling everyday essentials and boutiques.
The large walk-through photo library is located above on Deck 7, along with an art gallery and another shopping arcade including a perfumery and shop selling MSC logowear and branded souvenirs.
There is no guest launderette, but a very efficient next day or express (same day) dry cleaning and laundry service is available, along with an ironing only service. Dry cleaning ranges from 2.30 euros per item of underwear to 13.80 euros for a man's suit, and laundry ranges from 1.73 euros per item of underwear to 9.09 euros for a dress. A special laundry service is also available for baby clothing (see MSC Splendida for Families).