Nice ship and itinerary, too crowded at times. We liked to food, but the selections didn't change much. Enjoyed the entertainment, but most of it was difficult to understand since it was in Italian. Prices for drinks and excursions were reasonable. Overall, it was just too crowed to enjoy most of the time.
My favorite part of the cruise was Palma De Mallodrca. I thought that the majority of the cruise help were awesome. I thought that the Customer Service Representatives were awful and not helpful at all in fact I found them to be hostile. I have been on several cruises and yours was the first one where I was denied juice and beverages and made to pay for them. Over all I would not recommend this particular cruise to anyone and I don't think that I will cruise on MSC ever again. We were charged for TV service that we never received and were initially told that the charge would be taken off our account but it wasn't. The culture of some of the clients was one of hostility and aggression. I deal with aggression everyday at work. I go on a cruise to get away from that. I felt that I had to put on my "game face" in order to eat, participate in excursions or to disembark the boat. Your company should put something in place to combat this type of culture. You should set the example of care and concern for your customers.
We originally booked this cruise becsuse of the ports having never been on MSC becore. The guests changed at every port so it was constant caos!! We felt like no one ever settled down! You could NEVER get a place at the pool because as you were off on excursion, new people boarded and went straight to the pool. If you stood in line for and waited your turn someone would walk to to the front of the line and butt in.
We chose this cruise for the ports, we were sad to miss a couple of them due to the weather.
The food was not very good in the buffets for breakfast. There was very little selection and the same food items were served throughout the entire cruise. Dinner was hit or miss, I wish there would have been selections for more picky eaters. No one wants to eat a plain chicken breast every time they don't want the evening's offering.
The evening entertainment was sparse and the production value was low. The pools and hot tubs closed early and we didn't have much chance to use them due to excursions and dinner times.
We really struggled with our expectations during the cruise wondering if we were being nit picky, we have come to the conclusion after some discussion that there were no large problems but the small issues took away from our overall experience.
Let me first single out our Cabin Steward (Derma) and the Asst Maitre'd (Antonio). They both went above and beyond what was expected and MSC is fortunate to have them in their employ.
The best part of the cruise was visiting Malta, the Flamenco Dance show and the finale Italian Music show. Other than that it was ordinary and boring. The constant pressure to sell you a "drink package" (everything from hard liquor to what they a "coffee cuddle") at every single port was annoying and intrusive. In other words, if you did not want to drink filtered water in the buffet, make your own tea or try to stomach their horrible self serve coffee, it was going to cost you money.
In addition to the pressure to sell you a drink package, there was constant pressure throughout every public area of the ship to sell you a photo package (at lest 5-times what each picture is worth but they will give you a discount "buy 1 and get 1 free" - so you will only pay 2-1/2 times its value).
The buffet was the same almost every day (except for the "feature meat of the day at dinner"). The formal restaurant had a better selection but with extremely small potions. And we are a part of 8 adults and 1 baby, all but 2 of us got sick from the food (bad enough to have to stay in the cabin almost a full day - lucky for me it was the day completely at sea so I did not miss anything, not so lucky for my step-daughter and her husband missing the bicycle tour of Genova).
I have traveled on other cruise lines and never was there this much pressure to upsell, or just being cheap (not even ice tea or lemonade in the buffet without a charge per serving or refill).
One more point I need to bring up, I have a disability (spinal problems). As such I cannot stand for very long in a line. Getting back on the ship in Barcelona, I showed my government issued photo disability ID card to the first "security guard" just before he directed you to the lines for the metal detector and xray scanners. I told him I had a disability and asked to use the handicap entrance. His response "no way - impossible." After standing in the very long line, clearing the scans and having to rest 2 hours in my cabin, I went to Guest Services to file a complaint. As of this writing 1-week later, I have still not had a response from MSC regarding the incident.
Highly doubtful I will ever cruise with MSC again anywhere in the world.
The entire Yacht Club experience was wonderful. The lounge and perks and overall service was better than any expectations We appreciate everyone involved.
Great Itinerary. Very clean ship. Upgrading to the Yacht Club is worth the money.
We will take a future MSC Cruise to Greece. Not a whole of kids on this trip. The quality of the food was fresh each day.
The good part of this cruise was the schedule of port arrivals--always in the morning, which allowed enough time for on shore outings.
Improvements are needed for:
1. Music, base noise in cabins goes on until early hours of the morning, making sleeping very difficult.
2. Entertainment mediocre only. The seats in the Strand theater were very uncomfortable--seats themselves leaned downward; no legroom; no support
3. Computer connections very slow and expensive
4.Food offerings generally were mediocre at best-almost everything tasted the same; salad dressings too vinegary and again it all tasted the same. Pizzas were runny and soggy.
5.The gym had only one elliptical
6.Library hours and content very poor.
7. Hair dryer location in staterooms is stupid.
Overall the cruise is reasonably good. The food is acceptable but could be better. The quality of the food can be improved. The housekeeping personnel did keep the rooms cleans, and worked efficiently. The biggest complaint we have is that the pillows and blankets appeared to be used over and over by one cruise after another without actually being laundered. There was a pretty bad and stale odor, especially the pillows. They were so bad that they kept us awake frequently, and we eventually had to wrap the pillows with the towels to reduce the odor. I don't know if the blankets and pillows are ever cleaned.
Love this cruiseline. We had aurea experience which meant checkin was super fast, despite being told that preferred checkin is only available in Italy. We were dealt with immediately at embarkation in front of hundreds of people queuing. The balcony stateroom was beautiful, large, spotless, extra touches like bathrobes and slippers, the steward made different animals from towels every night which had us in stitches. My choice dining was excellent. We met many nationalities and were served immediately, whatever time we arrived. Food was good to excellent. The inclusive drinks package is a must. I won't go on P and O anymore because they don't have an all inclusive drinks package. Lisbon was our favourite port, Casablanca our least favourite - dirty, not a real 'bazaar' like Tangier, nothing to do. Very disappointing. We are now looking for another MSC cruise. The service in cabin and restaurant is superb.
You know when you plan things, but somehow nothing turns out right? From the off I mis-read because I saw 2 dates for for Amsterdam I thought, oh good 2 days there (lots I wanted to see) - of course that was my mistake not MSC's. It was nearly lunchtime before got off the ship and we sailed first thing the following morning. Everything seemed to be against us, arriving in Hamburg late because no berth (we had to sail past and turnaround) - they also docked furthest away as they could (usually so close you can walk it the city), there was no shuttles available until the afternoon and so just couldn't be bothered in the end, shuttle very expensive to get into Bruges and only Le Havre proved to be a cheap shuttle and a more interesting place than I thought it would be. Everything seemed geared to ship's organised excursions and thwarted if you wanted to do your own thing. Well that is what it felt like. Onboard there was poor organisation of the very poor selection of things to do e.g. Shuffleboard on at one time, darts half an hour later etc. So there was no time to get from one to the other. Food and cabin OK. Am sorry you asked me about this trip because I regard it as my worse cruise.
All the staff spoke at least broken English, your dinner friends maybe not. We really enjoyed this line, and would cruise it again. Staff was very friendly, and the ship was meticulously cleaned.
The ports were amazing and that is what I will focus on remembering when I think about this trip. Unfortunately, I have lost interest in wanting to travel with MSC in the future. We experienced poor service throughout the ship, even when we tried to seek help about a major housekeeping issue in our room. It's no wonder the service is bad when MSC directly encourages you Not to tip individual employees, there is no incentive to work hard. I was a bit surprised that you were not allowed to have water at dinner without paying for a bottle, and they were unable to serve coffee after dinner! I thought it was supposed to be a European cruise. On that note, they did not have a Craps table in the casino because it "isn't European". What a huge mistake! Not only is that the biggest game to create excitement in the casino, it can make the ship the most money. Fools. Sadly the food was also very subpar with the least amount of selections that I've seen on a cruise. Also, no lobster night : ( There were almost no activities offered and the few they had were the exact same every day. The entertainment was alright with a few good shows, but I was very bummed that they had no comedy shows due to the language barrier. We consistently heard other cruisers sharing similar feedback. Particularly because of the continual lack of poor service (except from a few hard workers that MSC can't bring down) I now call MSC the Minimum Service Cruiseline.
I must start by saying this is the nicest cruise ship we have been on, Except for the orange carpeting in the room, it was beautiful and in excellent condition and with higher quality finishing's than other ships.
Check in was easy, except it was strange that they wouldn't take your credit card information during check in. Instead each cruiser had to go to a kiosk on board to register a credit card for charges.
Stateroom--We had a mini-suite and the extra room was worth it, as we ended up spending a lot of time in the room. The carpet wasn't attractive. The couch couldn't be sat on. It was a sleeper sofa, and when you sat on it, the cushions slid out onto the floor. The balcony was nice, but there was a beam going down the middle, obstructing the view. The closet was spacious, but the doors were narrow and I bruised my arm getting in and out. They only provided shampoo, so you need to bring your own conditioner.
Dining --Let me start by saying I can't eat gluten, however my traveling companion had no dietary restrictions. I notified MSC of my dietary restriction as soon as I booked my cruise and called three weeks before to confirm it was in my record. They confirmed it was and indicated the buffet items would be marked indicating those that were gluten-free and in the dining room there would be a separate menu. Seemed easy enough. I went to the buffet when we got on board and nothing was marked. I went to customer service and she said they should all be marked. I asked what the marking was because I saw nothing. She called someone and was told that they wouldn't mark anything and that I should only eat in the restaurant (which wasn't open). Seems like a change in policy. While I realize there is the potential for cross-contamination, I can use my judgment to determine the risk of eating at the buffet, if they items that aren't prepared with gluten are marked. This is what I have done on all other cruises with no issue. Other cruise lines will actually bring you fresh items if you ask, so you don't have to worry about cross-contamination. Not on MSC. In the dining room, they do have a separate gluten-free menu. However, they have a separate person who takes your order. They don't coordinate with the server for your table, so you aren't served at the same time. More than once, after waiting 20 minutes between courses I just left without eating the main dish, as it never came. There were a lot of food choices for regular and gluten-free diners. Similar to European restaurants, they don't serve water with meals. So you either need to buy what you want, or buy a beverage package (more on that later).
In the dining room, they make no attempt to seat you by people who speak the same language as you, so there is a lot of awkward silence at the table. I usually enjoy getting to know others on the cruise and the dining room is the best location for this, however not on this cruise.
Room service--warning--they charge per plate, even if they say it is free. The menu is very poorly written. It only mentions charges for the desserts (indented under the dessert indicating it applies to the item directly above it). However, this is for everything on the menu. The portions are tiny, so not a meal substitute.
Housekeeping--above and beyond. Magically had the room done when we returned, regardless of time of day we left. They don't waste towels and time one creating towel animals, which I really appreciated.
Beverage-you pretty much need a beverage service as they don't provide anything in the restaurant to drink. Water, coffee and tea is available in the buffet. The mini-suite package included an unlimited drink package. When I went to get my drink, the server told me I only had a "water package" so I would have to pay for anything other than water. Again at the service desk they said our cards had one of the packages listed, but I actually had a higher level of service. If I hadn't known to ask, we would have spent a lot of money on drinks.
Entertainment-because of the diverse languages, the evening entertainment is very limited to non-vocal music, dancing and acrobatics. The first time it was entertaining, but each night was basically a repeat of the prior act with just a new "theme." New theme meant the costumes changed, but not much else. The program stated no recording, but this was not reinforced in the introduction, or enforced during the program. There were so many people with their screens on video taping the performance, it was very distracting. The other issue was there were so many people who showed up late. They seemed to think it was okay to distract everyone else and obstruct the view so that they could be seated. Rude is same in all languages!
The daily entertainment was very limited. You were basically responsible for entertaining yourself. With so many sea days this was challenging. The TV only had one English station that came in, and you couldn't plug another device into the TV, so it was a waste of space.
Spa--Well laid out and service was great. As on other cruises, the masseuse will try to sell you products, but that is to be expected. Steam room and sauna were nice. Steam room is not very hot and there is a lot of standing water on the floor and seat, so be prepared.
Elevators-they need to work on the programing for the elevators. We would stand and watch elevator after elevator go by (in the direction we had requested) and not stop at our floor. People began just pushing the up and down arrows when requesting an elevator and would get on the first one to stop, regardless of direction. This meant they took up space going down and then back up, further reducing the availability of elevators. It was really frustration. Due to a physical disability, I could not take the stairs, so was forced to wait. The back elevators access is limited, as they have the restaurant in the middle of the ship. Poor planning.
Tenders--they don't advertise which stops require a tender (as other cruise ships do). They let you know the day before, then require you to go to a location to get a ticket to get off the ship. The tickets can be for hours later, as they are only running a couple of tenders. Be forewarned. Even if you have a private tour booked, they won't let you on the tender before your ticket.
Excursions-very limited and overpriced. The communicate upfront that if there aren't enough people speaking your language that you will be put on an English speaking tour. However, what they did was group the non-German speaking guests with the English speaking guests and sent a translator from the ship to translate everything the guide said. This severely limited what the guide could say, so the tours were not effective. The one tour we had that was only English was the best tour with the guide able to give us so much history and background, because he didn't have to stop for the translation.
Disembarkation-fairly smooth except for passport distribution. They took the passports when we boarded. On disembarkation day, the distribution of passports was delayed and started after we were supposed to have been off the ship. There was supposed to be a shuttle to the train station. We looked for signs or employees to ask about this, but couldn't find it, so ended up taking a taxi.
If you are an English-speaking guest, use your judgment when booking with MSC. It will not be a cruise where you get to know other cruisers and will spend a lot of time alone with those with which you are traveling.
The reason for this cruise was Svalbard/Spitsbergen, North Cape, Trumso and 5 nights in the Artic so different from Miami. The Fyords and Bergen where the dessert. The lagniappe was Hamburg. Met all our expectations
The Splendida was really too big, too many people, but the ship was so clean and their staff so helpful, that you can over look the crowds.
Our chamber maid was the nicest person and so helpful that we left her an additional tip.
The less expensive rooms down low were more stable in a rough sea and both days, the people in the top suites felt worst. A little justice.