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MSC Splendida

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MSC Splendida was launched nearly 8 years ago as one of the Fantasia class of ship.  At nearly 1,100 feet long, 124 feet wide and weighing in at a fraction under 138,000 tons this is a big ship by any standard catering for over 4,000 passengers. Best described as a resort, as in reality that is just what it is, a resort at sea. A white superstructure with contrasting dark blue funnel, writing and glass on the balconies, this is a ship that stands out from the crowd.


17 bars and lounges, 2 main restaurants, a buffet area that must be one of the biggest on the European cruise ship scene split into Bora Bora and Pago Pago. The Strand Theatre, a spectacular auditorium encompassing 3 decks, producing some amazing shows. An Aqua Park with water spraying palm trees, pools, water jets, plus a tube water slide and home to a large outdoor cinema screen. L’Equadore, a second pool area with Jacuzzis boasts a sliding roof enabling it to be used in inclement weather. Playa del Sol at the rear of deck 15 has a further pool and Jacuzzi’s. With up to 1,000 children on board at any one time these pools are in constant use and not the place for a relaxed swim or peaceful nap. There are areas for younger children and on deck 16 is Virtual World, an F1 Simulator and 4D cinema. The buffet area is also dominated by parents and their offspring during the breakfast and lunchtime periods when it is sometimes difficult to find a table. This is definitely a ship for families with children.


There are however areas allowing you to move away from the family environment. The first is ‘Top 18’, an adult only area where for an extra charge, payable for the full cruise, daily or on a half day basis, allows you to chill out on a Rattan Lounger, sip at a cooling cocktail and soak up the sun whilst letting life drift by. The area has its own bar, Jacuzzi and towels with the ships name embroidered.  

For those wanting a totally different experience try MSC Yacht Club, situated at the front of the ship, high up away from the other passengers. This is not an extra as is Top 18 but a different grade of fare, indeed it’s a ship within a ship and what a ship. The Yacht Club fare buys up graded cabins, private lounges, restaurant and pool area. A private bar near the pool where the cost of drinks is included in the fare and bowls of fresh fruit adorn the area. Yacht Club brings you into the world of white gloved butlers sporting formal dress with tail coats and, use your Yacht Club key card to enter your private lift to whisk you between decks. Having tried it I can confirm this is a very different world and perhaps how cruising used to be in a bygone age. 


After sunset the ship takes on a totally different set of clothes. It quietens down, children disappear as if they have left the ship, the lounges produce singers, pianists and groups who provide quality music and entertainment. The main atrium, flanked by those wonderful stairs where each step is glass enclosed Swarovski crystal costing 35,000 Euros each, houses a pianist accompanied by two female violinists totally changing the ambience of the ship. The Strand Theatre with seating for 1,600 spread over 3 decks gave some of the best shows I have ever experienced at sea. The singers in the production ‘Italians’ Portrait of Italy had a richly deserved long lasting standing ovation, the costumes in ‘Tezca’ The Pyramid of Mystery production were fabulous. If after all this you are not ready for bed visit the ships nightclub on deck 16 affording spectacular views over the ship, Le Club, decorated in bright orange.


One area always busy with passengers, the photo gallery occupying the largest space I have ever seen on a cruise ship. Photographers who didn’t pester you but were always available with different scenes set up ready to take your picture and people queuing to have them done.


Breakfast and Dinner were usually taken in the Villa Verde main dining room where our table for 2, located by a huge picture window overlooking the stern of the ship, affording views when not in port of the ships wake disappearing into the distance often accompanied by the setting sun made for a romantic setting. The quality of food received in the Villa Verde was beyond reproach and expertly served by the delightful Cantur and his young assistant Sahuda. The seafood starter, a fusion of taste and colour, mussels in red wine sauce, an absolute delight showed how MSC excelled at presenting sea food if this were to be your choice plus the choice of meats were a mouth-watering experience.  Filipe, our Head Waiter was one of the few on a cruise ship who actually came to the tables and spoke with the passengers. One evening he came to the table with a dish of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese drizzled with Honey, wonderful contrasting flavours. A meal in Tex Mex, one of the speciality restaurants was again of excellent quality with service to match, certainly one of the best T-Bones I have had outside of the USA.


Dress code on board is very relaxed. On the two formal evenings very few people dressed for the occasion whilst chino’s and sports shirts were much in evidence in the main dining room. This was also true at the Captains Cocktail Party.  


The question is would we cruise with MSC again and the answer has to be yes. On this ship? In all honesty the answer has to be yes, but outside the school holidays. The ship is beautiful, the food, service and shows excellent but it is a ship for the young and families with children. The facilities for children cannot be faulted and are up there with the best. Without doubt any young family booking a cruise on Splendida will have a ‘Splendid’ cruise at a realistic price. 

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For various reasons, this is my first visit to the Forum for several months and I was delighted to read your thorough review.

I will freely admit that I am the sort of person who tends to form a view of things with only limited knowledge. For that reason, I have, so far, dismissed MSC as a cruise line to which I would not be attracted.

However, your review has reminded me that my first impressions can often be misleading. In particular, it reminded me of my very first, unavoidable visit to Italy - a country I just knew in advance would be dirty and not at all what I would enjoy. An overnight stay on a caravan site at Lake Como served to overturn my negative views and we have since returned to the country again and again.

Maybe I should give MSC a try after all.


David H

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Hi David H,

Firstly a very warm welcome back to the Forum.

I have just returned from another cruise with MSC on one of the smaller ships, Opera. The ship is beautiful with lots of bright colours tastefully blended with the fittings. The food, cabin, entertainment and service were all of a very high standard. The downside, it was a 4 night cruise in the Med that attracted a lot of the younger generation who wanted to party during the day and late into the night. This decided me the next trip on MSC, and yes, there will be one, will be on their bigger ships and for more than 4 nights. Here are a sample of the dishes from the nightly 7 courses. The T-Bone was in the MDR and cost a small supplement but was worth every Euro. The Parcel of Smoked Salmon a delight, Sushi exceptionally well prepared and the Strawberry Mouse just right.

If you would like to chat generally about it feel free to send me a PM.







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