MSC Cruises Splendida – Mediterranean Voyage – Day 3

Splendida in Messina Last night we were late sailing and also had many new passengers join the ship. Dinner was again an excellent meal served by Catur and his assistant. Both were very happy as they had been able to speak with their families in Indonesia because of the port’s free Wi-Fi. Being away from your family months at a time is not easy for them but working on the cruise ships is one of the few ways they can give them a reasonable standard of living. Catur shows us a picture of one of his children and said it was lovely to hear her say ‘Hello Papa’. Starting with Waldorf salad this was followed by a thick vegetable soup. As a main course I decided on the fillet of trout with almonds accompanied by carrots and potato. For desert it had to be the mixed ice cream again, it’s so creamy and smooth. Tonight it’s water as we have decided to have a wine free day. Dinner finished we head for another part of the ship and find ourselves in La Piazzetta, an area of wrought iron tables and chairs with miniature trees, the columns, low walls and outer seating are tiled with designs of fruit and flowers in blues, greens and gold. A group is playing and couples of an older generation are dancing. There is a section where you can select from 16, yes 16 different flavours of ice cream. It is here you find La Boutique selling well known brands of clothing and handbags. We listen to the music for a while before making our way back to 9007 where our bed had been prepared and turned down by Story our excellent cabin attendant.

The next morning we awake once again with the sun shining through the large windows. The coast line is visible as we approach our next destination, Messina. 

Messina Cathedral Time for breakfast and today we visit the self-service buffet but on arrival it is packed out with a long queue food so down to deck 6 and the tranquillity of our table in Villa Verde. Fresh fruit salad followed by an omelette filled with peppers is delicious. We are now entering the harbour at Messina and once again the captain turns this huge ship almost in its own axis. Ropes thrown to the quayside and we are soon tied up and passengers are able to go ashore. We wait until the rush has passed before we venture ashore. Making our way to the Cathedral Square we board the little train that will give us a tour of Messina for the sum of 10 Euro per person. The tour lasts nearly an hour taking in the sights of the old town including the church of Christ the King with one of the largest bells in Italy and from where you get magnificent views across the city to mainland Italy. Passing the various statues, buildings and memorials you realise that this is a city with history going back many centuries. Arriving back at the start point it is a must to visit Il Dumo, the cathedral, consecrated in 1197 under the name of Santa Maria but damaged in the earthquake of 1908 and reconstructed only to be damaged again by bombs during the war in 1943. The interior is stark but beautiful. Its wall lined statues, main altar and side chapels with their respective ceiling paintings are rivalled by few. It has the largest organ in Italy with 16,000 pipes and 5 keyboards. The famous clock tower with the revolving figures that appear at noon each day, the crowing gold Cockerel, the Lion that strikes the bell, the clock, signs of the zodiac, all in gold its beautiful, no other word for it.

Madonna Lighthouse entrance to Messina harbour The temperature has now risen to over 30c so a cool drink is called for. A charming little bar comes into view with its white canopy inviting us under. 2 cans of zero coke, 8 Euros but the Wi-Fi is free. Back to the ship in time for lunch in the Pago Pago Buffet. The jerk chicken accompanied by roasted peppers is very tasty and will stave off the hunger pains until dinner. Now for some relaxation.

Just after 3pm am was awoken from my slumber on a sunbed as 3 long blasts from the ships whistle indicate we were leaving Messina for our next port, La Goulette, Tunisia.

Aqua Park Deck 14 Tonight was the first Gala Night but before that was a tour of the MSC Yacht Club with Theresa the ship’s Guest Services Manager, a lovely lady who speaks 6 languages. A ship within a ship is the best way to describe it. Situated at the top of the vessel the Yacht Club is the premium part of the ship offering those that pay the extra premium services of tail coated butlers and waiters in an area that is truly magnificent. With their own pool, restaurant, cabin grade and lounges this is an area to be admired. It offers a tranquillity that turns this huge ship into a private yacht.

Tonight is the first Gala Night and an opportunity to dress in either a dinner or formal suit. This is the normal mode of dress for these evenings but many of the guests fail to recognise it and arrive for dinner in jeans and open neck sports shirts. After dinner is a photo with the captain and in the main show lounge an introduction to the ships main officers by the Cruise Director. However this is done in at least 5 different languages and seems to last forever. A quick drink and time for bed as we are on a tour tomorrow.

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Alan Fairfax

Travel writer & cruise journalist

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