The 3,900-passenger MSC Splendida is a beautiful ship both inside and out.
The MSC Splendida is well suited for families, but its price range, interesting itineraries, and excellent common areas will also appeal to couples and singles. The MSC Splendida
caters primarily to Europeans, but North Americans who enjoy a European-flavored, multi-lingual vacation will appreciate the value of the ship's programs.
In addition, the ship features the MSC Yacht Club, a terrific VIP luxury-cruise alternative area on this otherwise mass-market ship.
MSC Splendida - Embarkation and Disembarkation
benjamin-nagel/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
The MSC Splendida sails 7 to 11-day itineraries in the Mediterranean year-round. On the repeating 7-day western Mediterranean itinerary
, MSC allows guests to board in any European port of call, disembarking at the same port seven days later. This translates into a very smooth boarding process since only about 500-1500 guests turnover each day. Also, the flexibility of choosing the embarkation port is a real plus for travelers.
This process does result in a couple of quirky events. First, the safety/lifeboat drill may not occur on the first day. Ours was day 5. Next, we saw the "farewell" show before the "welcome aboard" show. These oddities were fine with us since the embarkation process was so smooth.
Let's take a tour of the MSC Splendida.
MSC Splendida - MSC Yacht Club Top Sail Lounge(c) Linda Garrison
Although most of the MSC Splendida is geared primarily towards the average mass-market cruiser, the MSC Yacht Club is a VIP luxury haven located on decks 15 and 16 forward. Passengers booked in any of the 99 MSC Yacht Club suites have access to the private Top Sail Lounge
, The One Pool
, and a special area in the MSC Aurea Spa
. The MSC Yacht Club guests also have 24-hour concierge and butler service, and drinks included in the Yacht Club and Villa Verde and L'Olivo Restaurants.
I highly recommend the MSC Yacht Club experience for those who love a large ship cruise experience but value the exceptional service and amenities usually only found on small luxury cruise ships.MSC Splendida - MSC Yacht Club Photo Gallery
MSC Splendida Balcony Cabin (c) Linda Garrison
The MSC Splendida has 12 cabin categories, including interior
, oceanview, balcony, and suite with balcony. Like many modern new ships, most of the cabins are on the outside and have balconies. The balcony cabins
are about 172 square feet, along with a bath and balcony. The cabins all have private bathrooms with showers, and the suites have a tub/shower combination. The cabin decor is bright, comfortable, and has high-quality furnishings, along with both 220-volt and 110-volt plug ins.
The MSC Yacht Club area has 99 suites in three categories--standard
and executive, and royal. The family suites sleep 4 to 6 passengers.
MSC Splendida Atrium (c) Linda Garrison
The interiors of the MSC Splendida are a mixture of classical elegance and high-style contemporary. Every room has special touches that make the ship's decor appealing and interesting.
Two of the most striking features are the Swarovski crystal staircases in the atrium and in the MSC Yacht Club concierge area. One sparkles with silver crystals
and the other with gold
. They are really quite spectacular.
The MSC Splendida has a large atrium
surrounded by bars, shops, and places to sit and people watch. The rest of the interior of the ship is filled with comfortable public spaces. Overall, the MSC Splendida is one of the loveliest large cruise ships I've ever seen.
MSC Splendida Purple Jazz Bar (c) Linda Garrison
As noted above, the public areas on the MSC Splendida are elegant and diverse. This feature can easily be seen in the variety of bars and lounges on the ship. They range from the ultra-contemporary, orange-colored Club 33 Disco
to the quiet, subdued La Prua Piano Bar
The Aft Lounge
is one of the largest bars on the ship, and it has spectacular views of the sea from its large windows. The Sports Bar
has video screens, a small bowling alley, and other games to enjoy with a drink. The Purple Jazz Bar
is bright and colorful, with many shades of purple and brilliant, modern light fixtures.
The MSC Splendida also has specialty bars for coffee, ice cream, wine, and aperitifs. In addition, there are four bars on decks 14 and 15 near the pools.
MSC Splendida L'Olivo Table Setting (c) Linda Garrison
The MSC Splendida has two dining venues with surcharges. L'Olivo Restaurant
is an excellent Mediterranean venue on deck 15 overlooking the Zen area. It features delicacies from 14 different Mediterranean countries. I loved the presentation
and the flavors of the dishes in L'Olivo and thought it was worth the surcharge. One evening I enjoyed swordfish carpaccio with capers, a Greek salad, gazpacho soup, and prawns, followed by chocolate gelato for dessert. Delicious!
The MSC Splendida also has an extra-fee Tex Mex restaurant named Santa Fe
. It is casual and fun, and the price is reasonable. Santa Fe is a good alternative for lunch or for dinners when you don't want to dress up.
MSC Splendida La Reggia Restaurant (c) Linda Garrison
and Villa Verde
are the two main restaurants on the MSC Splendida. Most of the dishes have an Italian twist and range from adequate to very good. One note for North American cruisers--like most European restaurants ashore, there is a charge for bottled water in all the MSC Splendida restaurants and tap water is not available. The ship does have a "drink" package, so passengers might want to purchase it.Bora Bora
and Pago Pago are the two cafeterias on the MSC Splendida. They are busy and noisy at mealtime, but have a good selection of dishes on the buffet.
MSC Splendida Aqua Park (c) Linda Garrison
Sun worshipers and those who love to lounge on the decks will enjoy the outdoor areas on the MSC Splendida. The ship has three swimming pools--one main pool
with a large video screen, a second pool for adults-only
in the Zen area, and the third called L'Equatore
that has a sliding glass cover. When the cover over L'Equatore is closed, it becomes an indoor pool. The ship also has a waterslide for teens.
In addition to the pool areas, the MSC Splendida has outdoor bars, a sports deck and arena, and the Solarium, an area with very comfortable chairs on deck 18.
MSC Splendida Kids Areas
MSC Splendida Photo of Il Polo Nord Courtesy of MSC Cruises
MSC Splendida - Entertainment
MSC Splendida - The Strand Theatre Courtesy of MSC Cruises
The MSC Splendida is filled with passengers from around the world, and announcements are made in five languages. Thankfully, the number of announcements is low!
I was a little worried about how the ship would handle entertaining so many nationalities. However, the shows in The Strand Theatre were excellent and definitely geared to an international audience. The onstage production cast was large, with singers, dancers, and acrobats/gymnasts. The shows were varied and fun for everyone, and some even included entertaining variety acts. The theme of one of the shows was "Sam", and it was all about the USA from an Italian/European perspective--lots of cowboys, Indians, disco, and 50's music. Isn't it interesting to see how others perceive us?
MSC Splendida - Conclusion
MSC Splendida in La Goulette, Tunisia (c) Linda Garrison
The MSC Splendida is a gorgeous cruise ship, and is best-suited for family groups, couples, and those interested in a port-intensive cruise vacation with fellow passengers from around the world. Those English-speakers who do not like to be in the minority on a cruise will probably not like the Splendida.
We loved the special MSC Yacht Club area, and it should be considered by travelers who are willing to pay more for special service and extra amenities.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary cruise accommodation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.