It was in early June that I was in Naples, returning to Celebrity Constellation to find the stunning MSC Fantasia moored on the other side of the pier. She looked amazing, gleaming white in the summer sun so I decided I needed to arrange to have a look at one of these elegant yet understated ships. The plan came to fruition on a wonderfully sunny early September morning in Southampton when I boarded MSC Splendida, one of Fantasia’s sister ships.
My short visit aboard MSC Splendida confirmed that she was very appropriately named, she is a truly splendid ship with some really stunning venues and is in immaculate condition throughout given that she is now 6 years old.
I entered the ship into the atrium which spans three decks that are linked by Swarovski crystal stairs and panoramic elevators. It is not the largest atrium afloat but is has to be one of the most sparkling.
There are 10 different lounges and bars and probably the most striking is the Purple Jazz Lounge. Elaborate cascading lights coupled with vivid purple stripes leave you in no doubt where you are. I also particularly liked La Piazzetta, a café / gelataria built to represent a village square complete with fountain and very colourful ceramic walls. The smell of fresh coffee and a great display of very appetising pastries are there to tempt you.
There are 4 main dining venues on Splendida, 2 main dining rooms, La Reggia restaurant which spans 2 decks and seats 1150 guests and the smaller Villa Verde panoramic restaurant which spans the aft end of deck 6 and provides 760 seats.
I had lunch in the Villa Verde restaurant and found the seating a little bit tight as 6 of us were squeezed onto a table better suited to 4. The menu and the food is, as you would expect, very Italian which meant that there were seven courses to choose from, I only managed 4 and the last of those was a small ice cream. There are two choices within most courses and a small range of “always available items”. I found the pasta to be particularly good, but then that should not be a surprise!
The main buffet restaurant is in two parts, Bora Bora and Pago Pago, both of which are located at the aft of deck 14. There is excellent signage to indicate what is available where and all the service areas have labels in 4 languages. There is an elaborate range of different options available and the food is very elegantly presented and looked very appetising. The fresh fruit bar was particularly splendid.
There is one speciality restaurant Santa Fe which features Tex Mex food that is priced individually so you can have as little or much as you wish.
MSC have built up an enviable reputation for their Aurea spa, the facilities in the spa are beautifully presented with a wide range of different treatments on offer.
There are a number of different pools and deck areas available, Playa Del Sol is located right at the stern of the ship offering spectacular views over the wake. The main pool area called Aqua Park is imaginatively laid out with a combination of pools and spa pools, in front of this is L’Equator, a pool with a retractable cover to provide a pleasant solarium on cooler days.
Whilst there are many loungers around the pools and adjacent decks, if you fancy that little bit more space, peace and quiet, there is the Top 18 Solarium which is an adults only area on the top of the ship, however there is a charge for entry to this little haven.
Talking about havens, the most closely guarded area on the ship is MSC’s “ship within a ship”, the MSC Yacht Club. I was lucky enough to be able to make a short visit into this hallowed area. The Yacht Club provides 71 staterooms of varying sizes, all with butler service and access to a range of dedicated facilities and exceptional service. The heart of the Yacht Club is the Concierge which includes a small library, this is where Yacht Club guests can make all the arrangements that usually require a visit to reception, shore excursion desk or the accounts office. The heart of the public rooms is the Top Sail lounge which is very elegantly furnished and offers spectacular views over the bow of the ship. The lounge has a bar and a small buffet area where light bites are available throughout the day. Yacht Club guests also have their own restaurant, L’Olive but this is located towards the stern of the ship. This offers open seating and the Concierge will ensure that you have a table when you desire. On sunny days Yacht Club guests have exclusive use of the One pool with 2 whirlpools and a large solarium and the One Bar and buffet. The Yacht Club is not just about the facilities, it is also very much about the service and there are a specially trained group of staff dedicated to look after Yacht Club guests every need.
Five hours after boarding Splendida, it was time to disembark, having confirmed my initial view that this really is a splendid ship and one that I plan to cruise on before too long.