We’re just back from our mini-cruise in the Mediterranean with MSC cruises as part of their #MSCBlogCruise event. So what did we think of life on the sea? Well, I for one had a great time and cruising is definitely something I’d like to try again in the future. Here’s my ultimate guide to life aboard the MSC Splendida!
The MSC Splendida was our home for the three-night trip. We flew to join her in Rome and the very first thing that struck you was the size – she’s absolutely massive! The 18 decks not only provide somewhere for over 4,000 guests and 1,000 crew to sleep, there’s enough eating and entertainment options to keep you busy during your trip.
There’s loads of different cabin types on board so you can choose something to suit your budget. Ranging from inside cabins to suites (some of which come with Nintendo Wii consoles) there’s also a number of cabins available that are suitable for those with disabilities or reduced mobility. There areÂ photo galleries and 360 degree panoramas of each cabin type on the MSC website to help you pick the perfect option.
Our balcony cabins came with everything you would expect in a good hotel room including TV, hairdryer, safe, toiletries and (importantly!) wi-fi.
While onboard you can pick from a huge range of food options. The vast Bora Bora buffet serves food 20 hours a day and has everything from pizza and pasta to Chinese and Indian. In the evening, dinner is served in La Reggia restaurant. Both of these options are included in the cost of your cruise but there’s also other options available if you want to try something different.
The Santa Fe provides a great range of Tex-Mex items and if you fancy an afternoon snack, you can head to La Piazetta for cake or ice cream. L’Espresso coffee bar is a great place to relax – especially with one of their excellent hot chocolates!
The one thing to watch, though, are your drinks. There are some free options for tea/coffee and water in the Bora Bora but apart from that, you have to pay for all of your drinks (and you’re not allowed to take your own on board). I imagine that your drinks bill could stack up rather quickly but there are drinks packages available which are worth checking out in case they work out cheaper for you.
There’s loads of different things to do onboard the Splendida – I was amazed by just how many, actually. You can go to the casino, have a drink in one of the many bars on board, stop off at the nightclub or check out the cigar lounge. The sports bar has a mini-bowling alley or you can go and test your driving skills in the F1 simulator.
There’s also a 4D simulator – I was a bit confused by this as they call it a cinema so before arriving I thought you’d be able to watch a film, but it actually takes on you a specially-made ride on a roller coaster. It was good fun and although a bit expensive for the time you get on it, I guess it’s one of those things that’s always worth trying once!
I believe that most cruise ships have theatres but the one aboard the Splendida is massive – it holds 1,600 people! There are shows on every night and you can check what’s on in the daily newsletter delivered to your cabin. The newsletter also gives information on the huge number of daily classes and activities – from classes in the gym to bingo in the lounge.
If that all sounds a bit too much, you can go for a swim in the pool or relax in the Aurea Spa which has saunas, a Turkish Bath, solarium and massage rooms (I think Keri spent a lot of her free time in there!).
When you are in port, you can either do your thing or join one of the specially organised excursions. You simply book at the excursion desk and then meet at the designated meeting spot to be taken on your tour. We joined excursions in both Genoa and Aix-en-Provence and I must say that they were better than I thought they were going to be. I had visions of hundreds of people trailing around but the groups were small and tours were available in a number of languages. The local guides were knowledgeable and the tours also had opportunities to sample local foods or visit markets. There was a free time at the end of each tour, so even if you went back with the group instead of making your own way back to the ship, there was still time for a coffee or a wander about.
All of the information about the tours is available in the onboard newsletter and we were particularly glad that it gave information about the terrain on the tour and whether it was suitable for those with limited mobility.
I really loved being onboard the Splendida. It was a little bit overwhelming at first – probably because I’ve never been on a small cruise ship before, let alone such a big one as this! It’s like a very glamorous hotel on water with lots of glitz and sparkle which is a whole lot of fun. And since there are passengers from all over the world, people-watching is particularly good fun.
The sheer number of people was a bit of a nightmare at times – the buffet was sometimes extremely crowded and it could be hard to get a lift, but you can easily choose quieter times if you prefer (we did go off-season though, so I imagine that it must sometimes be difficult to find a sun lounger or a spot in the jacuzzi when it’s really hot!).
The staff were really friendly, everything was run really efficiently (imagine having to feed so many people round the clock!) and the entire ship was absolutely spotless. It was great to wake up each morning to see where you’d docked. I love travel that’s part of the trip (which is why I love trains, but not so much planes) and when you cruise, getting there is definitely a major part of the trip.
Many thanks to MSC for their hospitality during the trip.
A seven night Mediterranean cruise on board MSC Splendida starts from Â£529 per person including return flights
Departing from Genoa (Italy) on 30 November; 7, 14 December 2013 and 4, 11, 18 January 2014
Calling in Marseille, Barcelona, La Goulette, Palermo, Civitavecchia and back to Genoa
For further information on MSC, bookings and terms and conditions please visit www.msccruises.co.uk or call 0844 561 1955