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All things MSC Splendida! Forum Blog from Kayleigh

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    All things MSC Splendida! Forum Blog from Kayleigh

    Introduction and About Me
    Hello and thanks for clicking on my review! I hope that you find it interesting and useful. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. My name is Kayleigh and I was one of the forum winners who took a three night trip aboard the MSC Splendida this month. On my arrival back in Southampton, I went straight off on another holiday, hence the delay in this post, but as promised I would like to share with you my views on all things MSC Splendida!

    Before I do so, I just wanted to tell you a little bit about me. I’m 29 years old and currently live at home with my parents approximately half an hour away from the Southampton port. My Mum and Dad are massive cruise fans so it’s perhaps unsurprising that I have followed suit! Despite cruising often being associated with people much older, this trip was my eighth on-board a ship. I work as an administrative assistant and still live at home so I tend to go for cheap cruise deals and packages in keeping with my low budget. I’m a very active individual; I perform in a local theatre group, I write entertainment reviews for a local newspaper and I play five a side football. Like most twenty-somethings, I frequent the pub on a regular basis for quizzes, karaoke, darts, pool and generally to have a good time! Determined, as ever, to persuade my friends that cruising is the best type of holiday, I was delighted to be chosen to board the MSC Splendida. Here is what I thought…

    Please note: I’ve divided my lengthy review into sections for you to pick and choose the topics which most interest you.

    Check In
    Check in was simple and quick. We had priority boarding so that was hardly surprising. Having said that, from my observations in the arrivals hall, MSC were allowing people to board early. There was no evidence of people having to wait around for too long. If you haven’t been on a cruise before, don’t be alarmed when they take your photograph at the check-in desk, it’s purely for security reasons! No-one else will see the photograph other than the crew member scanning you back in when you re-join the ship after an excursion, should you choose to take one.
    Speaking of photos, as with most cruises, be prepared to be approached for a professional photo as you board – usually, as in this case, behind the wheel of a ship that you’re pretending to steer. My Mum hates having her photo taken and I’m not usually keen until the cocktails have been flowing so we darted past!

    Décor
    As I touched upon in my last review, I was absolutely blown away by the décor on the ship. The Swarovski staircase is really something to behold! All public areas are very well decorated. I couldn’t fault the design.

    Cabin
    Courtesy of Cruise.co.uk and MSC, we were treated to a balcony cabin for our trip. Usually, to keep the cost down, I would choose an inside cabin so this was a pleasant additional extra. The room was spacious and catered for our needs. Upon arrival, there was a plate of chocolate covered strawberries. Whilst this is a nice touch I think Mum and I only managed three between us as we weren’t fans of the combination! With comfortable beds, a decent shower complete with shampoo and shower gel, plenty of storage space and a safe to keep our belongings, it was perfectly suitable for our stay. Our cabin steward was very efficient; the room was always neat and tidy! I found it slightly unusual at how little interaction we had with him. When I’ve cruised before, the cabin steward is usually a big presence and we see them a lot! On Splendida, whilst his work was amazing, it was as if our room was looked after by an Oompa Loompa (“you never see them go in or out” an apt comparison with Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday this week!); we never saw him after the initial introduction!

    Fellow Passengers
    The last time I went on an MSC ship, Magnifica, English-speaking passengers were in the minority on-board. There were certainly more on this occasion (rumoured to be around half) but that was probably helped by some very large English conference groups. I would say that the majority of passengers were German – this is not surprising given the cruise in its entirety was a round trip in and out of Hamburg! The menu, daily newsletter and written messages were all available in English and there was no problem with language barriers when it came to speaking to the crew; their English was fantastic! The loud speaker announcements and lifeboat drills led with English then were translated into other European languages. Unlike my experience with Costa, the tannoy announcements were few and far between. Personally, I like the mix of nationalities on the ship. For me, it really makes you feel like you’re on holiday!

    Food
    As with all cruises, you’ll never go hungry aboard the MSC Splendida. With food available almost every waking hour, there’s a plethora of tasty treats to choose from, whatever takes your fancy. As part of the Cruise.co.uk group, we were fortunate enough to sample the speciality restaurants as well as the main dining and the buffet. Here’s my take on each;

    Tex Mex – Speciality Restaurant. Our first evening meal was at the Tex Mex restaurant. As a fan of Mexican food, I’m known to frequent the likes of Chiquitos and Chimichangas back home as well as snacking on nachos on my regular cinema trips! Consequently, I was particularly excited about this meal. Unfortunately, in my opinion, it was somewhat of a disappointment. For a starter I ordered the quesadillas and they weren’t tasty, or indeed like quesadillas, at all; they reminded me of a crispy pancake but with no filling and thus no flavour, which is not what I was expecting. My main was much better – my Mum and I both ordered the chicken and beef fajitas. This was hot, tasty and there was plenty of filling on the sizzling plate, I couldn’t quite finish it all which says something given my appetite! The dessert, a mango mousse, was lovely for the first mouthful but was really rather sickly and like the quesadillas, it is not something I would eat again. The décor of the restaurant was cool; it definitely paid tribute to the Mexican theme well. Just like the waiting staff in the bars, the restaurant staff were helpful and attentive. Whilst there was nothing horrifically wrong with the meal, I personally would have been disappointed had I been required to pay for it. A view that was cemented even more so on the second night…

    La Reggia – Main Dining. On the second evening, we dined in La Reggia to experience the food service provided to passengers. When I go on cruise ships, this is the option I take. I never tend to eat in the speciality restaurants as I’m usually more than happy with the food that is available with the standard package. This experience was no exception. For starter I had the prawn cocktail; I find it difficult to rate this as they are always pretty much the same! Nevertheless, it was good. Next up was the lobster bisque. This was incredibly tasty and I thoroughly enjoyed it. For my main, I opted for the fish. I tend to eat a lot of fish when on cruises on the basis we’re at sea! This was the nicest dish I’d had. Finally, I washed it down with some sorbet, a sweet and refreshing treat to finish the splendid meal. I preferred this meal far more than the previous night at the Tex Mex and, given that I would have ordinarily had to pay for the latter, this dining experience confirmed my belief that it’s not necessary to pay extra for food whilst on-board!

    Yacht Club – Speciality Restaurant. On our third and final night aboard, we were treated to dinner in the exclusive Yacht Club restaurant. In the venue, normally reserved for Yacht Club members, we were treated to a lovely meal to finish off the cruise. For a starter, I again opted for the prawn cocktail. The layout was slightly different, and more creative, than that of La Reggia but essentially it tasted just the same. I then opted for the French onion soup from the Always Available section of the menu. I’ve always enjoyed the soup on MSC and this was another one to add to the list. The risotto, my next course, was creamy but delicious despite looking a little gross; appearance isn’t everything after all! For main, I had the swordfish. Whilst this was tasty, I preferred the fish the night before. To complete the evening, I had the cheese board which was brilliant. It had about five different cheeses, all to my liking! The waiters, both of whom were fantastic and jovial all evening, asked if we would like a grappa or a limo cello to finish. Whilst on my budget, I doubt I’ll ever be able to afford the Yacht Club, those who can would not be disappointed with the dining. Was it a world of difference from La Reggia? No. But it was certainly a very enjoyable meal that I was fortunate to have been treated to.

    Buffet – all you can eat. Like most cruises, MSC Splendida offers a buffet that is available almost all of the time. There’s a great variety of food here to suit all tastes and the layout of the counters makes it easy to find what you like. My personal favourite was the pizza! In fact I liked it so much, I had pizza and a cheeseburger for lunch every day - yes, that famous combination! I’m not proud and please don’t tell my Slimming World instructor!

    Ice cream – Included in our package, we had free ice cream. To be honest, stuffed from all of the other food, I only managed one on the trip. It was nice enough but I wouldn’t rave about it. Since I’ve been home I’ve had an ice cream that was just as good. A nice to have, for sure, but not necessary!

    Drinks
    Cruise.co.uk and MSC kindly arranged for the forum bloggers and guests to have the Allegrissimo drinks package whilst on board. I think drinks packages are always excellent value and always opt to buy them when I cruise. The range of drinks was brilliant with beers, spirits, soft drinks and of course, the cocktails available for us to try. It’s easy to determine which drinks are included as part of the package because those which are excluded are marked with an asterix in the menus. I personally didn’t find it necessary to pay extra for any premium brands or cocktails whilst on board because so much was available with Allegrissimo. I worked my way through the list and whilst I didn’t quite sink every single one, I certainly wasn’t far off! My favourite drink was the Margarita and my Mum’s was the Pina Colada.

    Bars/Nightclub
    The drinks described above were available throughout the ship. The bars are really lovely! Our favourite was the Purple Jazz bar. It was really cool and slick, not to mention my favourite colour! There was a small stage area where singers would entertain the passengers. The service was great here and I was always pleased to see the nibbles such as peanuts, crisps and olives (again, Slimming World need never know!). The Aft Lounge was a larger space with a much bigger dance floor; it was here that the themed nights took place. The Sports Bar is appealing for sports fans as well as children due to the bowling alley situated in here. The bar has lots of television screens showing sports and various pieces of sporting memorabilia on display. Club 33 is the nightclub on-board the ship. Once you get past how orange it is (a very bizarre colour choice!), it’s a fabulous venue to party the night away – and that I did! The mix of music is great, with current chart hits and older dance floor classics. I’m not even ashamed that I danced to the Spice Girls… I was on my holiday after all!

    Wi-Fi
    This trip was the first time I have ever used Wi-Fi whilst I’ve been on a ship. I don’t usually pay to use the service, instead opting to wait until I’m on land to use the internet if necessary. Again, this was provided free of charge courtesy of the forum competition in order for us to be able to upload our blogs whilst aboard. It was temperamental to say the least! I would have been frustrated had I paid for the service but, like I said, this wasn’t the case. I can’t personally compare the standard of the Wi-Fi capabilities having never used it with other companies myself. However, from speaking to other forum members and my own guest’s previous experience, it would appear that this is an area where MSC Splendida could do to improve.

    Entertainment
    4D Cinema
    For just six euros, you can experience the 4D cinema on board. There’s a choice of several films (all around ten minutes in length) to choose from. We opted for the Haunted Mine and made our way into the small theatre, donning our 3D glasses. It seats ten but with two seats out of order at the time, there were eight people in our showing. We buckled ourselves in and thank goodness we did! I wasn’t quite expecting this to be as good as it was! The seats really vibrate and tilt in tandem with what’s happening on the screen. It was great fun and I imagine kids would love it!

    F1 Simulator
    Sadly I didn’t get time to ride the F1 simulator as there was always a big queue whenever I happened to go and look. However, I did spot an excellent offer on this. For just 35 euros, you could buy an entertainment bundle (of the F1 simulator and 4D cinema), giving you unlimited rides for the duration of the cruise. As I understood it, this one off payment applied to your whole cabin. This is an excellent idea particularly for those with children.

    Casino
    A personal favourite! If ever you lose me on a cruise ship, check the nightclub and the casino and you’re bound to find me before too long. The casino on Splendida was really beautiful in terms of design. The croupiers were fantastic and all so very funny! Special mention to Sabina who was a particularly fabulous character. There are plenty of tables and slot machines plus a nice big bar with TV screens, mainly showing sports, in the middle. Don’t be alarmed to see people smoking; it’s allowed in the casino. As a non-smoker, you’d think this would put me off going in there. Thankfully, the casino states clearly that just one side of the venue is for smoking. For this reason, I didn’t even really notice!

    Theatre
    MSC Splendida boasts a wonderful theatre venue; with 1604 seats, it’s certainly one of the largest that I’ve seen at sea. Whilst on the trip, my Mum and I went to see two of the shows, both performed by the resident entertainers. The first night, we watched West Side Story. This was primarily a dance show with some of the musical numbers performed by a talented duo. The male’s voice was fantastic, as was the female’s; however the latter was much harder to understand with her very strong accent. The show was half an hour in length and was almost a taster into the famous musical – so don’t expect the whole story; there’s no fear of you missing your dinner! The second night we watched the show called Coney Island. This was a circus based show. The costumes were sensational; the colours and detail were fantastic. The highlight was the acrobatic men who did back flips whilst being catapulted in the air. Whilst it was slightly repetitive in parts, on the whole, this was a brilliant show. My only criticism of the theatre was the layout upstairs. For Coney Island, we were sat in the upper balcony but down one side (turning to our left to see the stage). The view was very obstructed; glass panels separate the staggered rows but where they connect to one another, it really blocks your view. It is difficult to explain but in short; avoid sitting at the sides head for seats facing the stage straight on! They are nice and tiered so you won’t be blocked by the person in front of you.

    Entertainment Crew
    The entertainments team on the ship were fantastic. Whilst I didn’t take part in any of the dance lessons, those who did certainly looked like they were having fun! The interaction that I did have with the entertainment team, at theme nights and when in the bars, was always great. Just like Sabina in the casino, special mention must go to Kiki, a bubbly member of the team forever trying to get everyone involved, making us laugh and always having a smile on her face!

    Excursions
    I’m unable to comment on shore excursions. A combination of gloomy clouds and having been to Le Havre before, coupled with the fact that we were having such a good time on board meant that we didn’t bother getting off at the port!

    However, again courtesy of Cruise.co.uk and MSC, we were treated to an on-board excursion in the form of a ships tour. This, essentially, was a backstage pass to the workings of MSC. I won’t go into huge detail about the astonishing facts and figures we heard, I wouldn’t want to spoil it for those of you who do the excursion in the future! However, we were shown around the laundry, the kitchens, the store rooms, the Yacht Club and behind the scenes in the theatre (backstage, dressing rooms, costumes and sound desk). Our guide from the excursions office, Priscilla, was fantastic, reeling off fascinating facts and answering all of our questions throughout. The only criticism I would have about the tour is that it’s a long time to go without any kind of refreshment! It was two hours but it involved a lot of walking including lots of stairs and was really hot in some of the areas (quite frankly, I think the staff are all superheroes coping with it). I think, particularly for older guests or those less mobile, some may struggle with this excursion. My suggestion would be to break it up half way through for a question and answer session and the opportunity to get a drink.

    Check Out
    Check out was slightly more complicated on this occasion but only because the UK immigration were doing passport checks on board. This was not the fault of MSC and we were advised this only happens twice a year. It simply meant we had a long queue to get off the ship; everyone who left that day, be it disembarking or for an excursion, was required to show their passport before leaving. It took no more than half an hour for us to make our way through though and we were still able to use our cruise cards to get a drink whilst we waited – non-alcoholic I might add! As always, my Mum and I chose to keep our luggage on us as opposed to leaving them outside our cabin the previous night. This meant once we were off the ship, we could walk straight out.

    Conclusion
    As you can see, the vast majority of my review is extremely positive. I had a wonderful time on-board MSC Splendida. The staff were absolutely fantastic throughout the trip and credit to them for how hard they work day in and day out to make the passengers' holiday a memorable one. You really have to see and experience the ship in person to appreciate just how great it is but I hope that my work goes some way to answering any questions you may have. I will certainly be cruising with MSC again as a result of this wonderful trip. If you haven't yet cruised with the company, I would urge you to give them a try.

    All that’s left for me to do is thank Cruise.co.uk for this wonderful opportunity, to thank MSC for having me aboard and of course, to thank my fabulous fellow forum bloggers who made the journey all the more special!

    Thanks!
    Kayleigh

    #2
    Lovely detailed review,sounds like you had fun.

    Comment


      #3
      Thank you for sharing Kayleigh, I'm glad you and your mum had such a good time. I would have eaten all those strawberries though!

      Another positive review for Splendida, I really will have to try her............................................Car ol

      Comment


        #4
        Nice review, thanks! Do you have any photos to share? I'm Splendida obsessed now and counting down the days.

        I have to say I quite like the cabin person to be relatively invisible unless I need them. I don't really like the constant awkward small talk... but then I'm not great with small talk!

        Who else have you sailed with before? It's nice to get an idea of your previous cruising history just for comparison

        Originally posted by carol, welwyn garden city View Post
        Thank you for sharing Kayleigh, I'm glad you and your mum had such a good time. I would have eaten all those strawberries though!

        Another positive review for Splendida, I really will have to try her............................................Car ol
        You will Carol... the crystal staircase is calling! Answer it with Italian flair!

        Comment


          #5
          Thank you Kayleigh for a detailed review, glad you had a great time. Nice to hear about the casino as I frequent them nightly also.

          Comment


            #6
            What a great review Kayleigh, I think MSC are going to be very popular within the next couple of years with forum members. I am seriously considering it, The only thing is we have 2 land based hols booked and a cruise in the next 12 months, So it may have to wait till 2018 to try it. Only drawback is I will read Duncans review and he will set me off again! ( still working on Denis for the Florida holiday Duncan!) Jan.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by jan lowden, sunderland (2) View Post
              What a great review Kayleigh, I think MSC are going to be very popular within the next couple of years with forum members. I am seriously considering it, The only thing is we have 2 land based hols booked and a cruise in the next 12 months, So it may have to wait till 2018 to try it. Only drawback is I will read Duncans review and he will set me off again! ( still working on Denis for the Florida holiday Duncan!) Jan.
              Haha I thought I hadn't seen anything... your restraint is incredible! Or maybe that's Denis's restraint??

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by dst87, Falkirk View Post
                Nice review, thanks! Do you have any photos to share? I'm Splendida obsessed now and counting down the days.

                I have to say I quite like the cabin person to be relatively invisible unless I need them. I don't really like the constant awkward small talk... but then I'm not great with small talk!

                Who else have you sailed with before? It's nice to get an idea of your previous cruising history just for comparison



                You will Carol... the crystal staircase is calling! Answer it with Italian flair!
                I've got a dress that will look fab on those stairs.

                I really envy you, I bet you can't wait for next week. Have a fantastic time, and I look forward to 'sharing' it with you and Alex
                .................................................. .............................................Carol

                Comment


                  #9
                  Great detailed review, thanks for sharing with us.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Great review Kayleigh, loved the lay out & all the little details. Thanks for posting.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Hello!

                      Thank you all for your lovely feedback, I'm so pleased that you've enjoyed reading my review!

                      Carol - I'm almost certain my Mum and I were in the minority when it comes to our failure to devour the chocolate coated strawberries!

                      dst87 - Yes I do have some photos - I will try and upload these over the weekend for you! In terms of my last cruises, I've done...
                      - Carnival (as a kid, don't remember too much!)
                      - P&O Oceana
                      - Costa Serena
                      - Costa Diadema
                      - MSC Magnifica
                      - Cunard Queen Mary 2 (Transatlantic)
                      - P&O Ventura

                      Any more questions, please don't hesitate to ask!

                      Happy cruising

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Thank you. Great detail and clearly written.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Millzskillz, Portsmouth View Post
                          Hello!

                          Thank you all for your lovely feedback, I'm so pleased that you've enjoyed reading my review!

                          Carol - I'm almost certain my Mum and I were in the minority when it comes to our failure to devour the chocolate coated strawberries!

                          dst87 - Yes I do have some photos - I will try and upload these over the weekend for you! In terms of my last cruises, I've done...
                          - Carnival (as a kid, don't remember too much!)
                          - P&O Oceana
                          - Costa Serena
                          - Costa Diadema
                          - MSC Magnifica
                          - Cunard Queen Mary 2 (Transatlantic)
                          - P&O Ventura

                          Any more questions, please don't hesitate to ask!

                          Happy cruising
                          I think we only ate three or four of them so you're definitely not alone haha

                          Great review, was lovely to meet you both

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Phew - glad I'm not the only one!

                            Was lovely to meet you too! I'll be extremely jealous when you set sail again.

                            I currently have no further cruises planned - I want to cry! ;)

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Aw bless ya, I'm finding the prices for next year quite high at the moment, I think that might be due to it being quite a way off and as people have just gone back to work after summer it's a prime time for booking a holiday. We've got ours in a couple of weeks, then Paris just before Christmas then nothing booked in! That needs to change!!

                              Comment


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