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Free cruise for two to New York on the Queen Mary 2- Competition

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Review of MSC Splendida – 21st Sept 16 to 28th Sept 16

Embarkation was straightforward and the 4 of us were onboard by 2pm. We had 8.45pm seating for dinner and were informed that because we booked the “Bella” experience everybody else on a higher grade took precedence so beware if you want to pick your dining time book at least a “Fantastica” grade which is usually about £50 each more expensive.

We were in the Villa Verde restaurant and had a table for 8 but 2 people never made an appearance. Food was good and my nephew had at least 5 courses every evening – and even had time for pizza in the buffet later. He said the pizza was excellent. What is wrong with soup spoons? There doesn’t seem to be any onboard the Splendida. When my husband ordered brandy after his meal it came in a champagne glass – what’s that all about. Silly things but annoying. My nephew’s girlfriend was enjoying her salad but gagged when she saw a caterpillar enjoying it as much as she was! The food was varied (see above) but was not always hot. The waiter was run off his feet so there’s no chit chat it’s one course – boom, boom, boom, one after another. They called it “Gourmet dining”, I think not.

We had lunch in the dining room which was described as a “lunch bistro”. We were led to a table and handed a menu. We noticed there was food set up in the restaurant buffet style but it wasn’t explained to us that you could either go to the buffet area and help yourself or wait to be served. We waited to be served (big mistake) …. 20 mins before my salad came. I think they were deliberately serving you slowly so you would be encouraged to use the buffet. If I’d wanted a buffet, I would have gone to the buffet. Shockingly bad experience. (It was the same at breakfast).

The various bars were lovely – the Purple Bar was my favourite. As a lot of the passengers were German, there was quite a bit of oompa type music and lots of dancing. Fun to watch. Everyone seemed to be having a great time.

Our cabin was bigger than expected with a seat and small table. Kept neat & tidy by the cabin steward. We were on deck 5, just along from Reception and the Splendida Bar which was handy for a nightcap. Gratuities were 9 Euros each a day which were added to your onboard account.

We had opted for the all-inclusive drinks package which included cocktails, coffees and ice creams. Trust me, it was well used. Excellent prosecco – although allow plenty of time for your order to be taken and drinks to arrive

Our itinerary was Zeebrugge, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Le Havre. In Zeebrugge the port organised a free shuttle bus which took you to the port gates. MSC organised shuttle buses at approx. 15 Euro return to Blankenburg which was a bit steep. There was no reduction for kids. We got a taxi to Bruges from the port gates for 50 Euros for up to 8 people. It was a lovely warm day so we did a canal boat trip and visited “Chocolate Story”. We found the Bar Wall and had a couple of beers overlooking the canal. The beer had been brewed 2 doors down. A great way to while away an hour or so.

You could walk into Amsterdam from the ship. It was 25 mins approx. You could get a tram nearby (2.8 Euros for a 1-hour use or 7.5 Euros for 24 hours). We took the tram to a (world famous, it was said) flea market past the Heineken Experience where we spent a couple of hours looking around.

The ship docked 9 miles from Hamburg and MSC organised shuttle buses for around 14E. I don’t know if MSC docked as far away as they could in order to charge for the shuttle buses because other passengers said there were at least 2 docks much closer to Hamburg. Makes you wonder.

In Le Havre there was a shuttle bus organised by the port. It was 4E per person all day which was good value but there was a wait of 45 mins. We caught a taxi (4 persons) for 8 Euros and then walked back to the ship which took about 40 mins.

The weather was pretty good the whole trip and there were plenty people in the swimming pools. A couple of days though people were using blankets as it was a bit chilly out.

Disembarkation went smoothly. We gathered at the Aft Bar and were then taken for a face-to-face with Immigration then disembarked. I asked if this was a new procedure but was told MSC have always done this when arriving at Southampton. Never heard of that before. We were off the ship by 9.40am.



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