Recently I spent the day on board MSC Splendida whilst she was visiting Southampton. The second of the Fantasia class of ship, MSC Splendida is one of the biggest ships in the MSC fleet. She entered service in 2009 and spends her time sailing in the Mediterranean and northern Europe.
Compared to other tours, this one started quite late as we ventured onto the ship later on in the morning. As you board you are taken straight into the heart of the ship, an impressive atrium, opulently decorated and a hive of activity throughout the day. A signature element of this is the Swarovski crystals embedded into the staircases across the atrium. To take a virtual tour of the ship click the video below.
We walked through the ship passing the L’Enoteca lounge/pub, the Santa Fe Tex Mex and found ourselves in the Aft Lounge where we were given a variety of refreshments and nibbles. Facing out of the aft of the ship you could see how this large space would come alive at night, equally I’ve heard on good authority from Vegan Cruiser that this is an excellent place to sit and chill during the day.
Usually in doing ship visits they follow a set agenda, you will have the tour followed by lunch, but in this instance we were invited down to lunch before we’d seen the ship. We walked from the Aft Lounge down a deck to the aft Villa Verde restaurant again overlooking the stern of the ship. As the name suggests this restaurant has a very Italian feel to it, decorated in various shades of green and gold.
Lunch consisted of classic and light Italian fayre, which was probably handy given the amount of walking we were about to do. I have to say I was mildly disappointed by lunch, given MSC’s heritage and other reviews of the food, I expected the cuisine to be really fresh and full of flavour, however, I’ve certainly had better Italian food at sea and better service. This was a shame as I was expecting something quite special.
After lunch we started the tour and headed up to Club 33, the lounge at the top of the ship. This venue affords some of the best views on the ship, looking over the pool deck Aqua Park and through to the horizon. A multi-purpose venue, this is where people would come to dance and have a good time later on in the evening, or perhaps have a pre-dinner cocktail whilst watching the sun set.
Behind Club 33 is Virtual World, a plethora of video games and consoles, including a Formula 1 simulator. Continuing our wander, we found ourselves at the main pool, the Aqua Park. This is an impressive space with pools, Jacuzzis, waterfalls and water jets and somewhere I could see myself relaxing on a sea day. Even in late September in the UK the deck was busy with people chilling out.
Just ahead of the Aqua Park is the L’Equatore pool area, which affords a retractable magrodome cover. This as you would expect was busier than the main pool and again was a very nice space to sit, have a drink and read a book.
At the front of the ship is the Aurea Spa and Gym. MSC are well known for their spa areas and upon entering the area you could see why. As we walked in we were welcomed by the staff and we found ourselves in a very nice bar / café area that acts as the hub of the spa area. I have to say I was very impressed by the Spa, its offerings and the gym as well.
Above the Spa is the MSC Yacht Club area, which the line describes as their ship within a ship concept. This exclusive area affords its own 24-hour butler service, a concierge, the most luxurious suites on board as well as it’s own lounge and restaurant.
Heading back downstairs we found ourselves at one of the top tier Royal Suites on board. This well appointed suite has a large living room, bedroom, as well as a dressing area and a large bathroom. Given its location it also has a wraparound balcony that overlooks the bow of the ship and the view ahead. I certainly wouldn’t say no!
Unfortunately, due to time constraints (and on board guests) we weren’t able to see any other types of cabins which was a shame. But to give a flavour of what the cabins are like, here’s a selection of cabin types that can be found on board.
For the final part of the tour we found ourselves down on deck 6. Firstly, we saw the large Strand Theatre at the front of the ship. A very stylish and contemporary space, this theatre can hold up to 1,800 guests and spans decks 5-7. This is home to a range of shows by MSC, together with guest entertainers. Following this we saw the Royal Palm Casino, a 1,000 square metre space, including a well stocked bar. Finally, on our way back to the Atrium we saw the Piazzetta. This cosy space is a hub for the shops on board, as well as indulging in ice-cream parlour, pastry and chocolate shop. Other areas that link to this area included La Prua Piano Bar, the Purple Jazz Bar, together with other shops and boutiques.
One important thing I noticed on the tour was how the staff on board were very friendly and attentive to ours and other passenger’s needs. Always good to see!
MSC Splendida currently sails a mixture of 7 night European itineraries. Whilst we were on board it was announced that from 2018 Splendida will sail to china for year-round cruises.
For more information on itineraries and Splendida deck plans please go here
To see deck plans of the ship please go here.
Images and content © Marcus Adams and MSC Cruises 2016.