MSC is one of the main cruise operators in Europe (the largest in the Mediterranean) and the MSC Splendida is one of the world's top ten largest cruise ships, with 18 decks and capacity for 3,274 passengers and 1,370 crew. As one of The Fantasia-class of ships they are acclaimed within the cruise industry for their Yacht Club - the first 'ship within a ship' area which offers a private luxury area with 24-hour butler services, suites and restaurant. They also have the Aurea Spa, acknowledged as the 'best wellness product at sea' by Cruise International magazine along with multiple restaurants, casino, theatre and other entertainment areas.
The ship has been making a few stops in British ports this year and we were able to get a tour when it docked in Greenock recently.
It's a huge ship and when you enter from the fifth deck of the ship you're presented with a huge glitzy space full of bright lights, crystals (courtesy of Swarovski), comfy seating and a grand piano. It's like a posh hotel or swanky shopping centre, perhaps along the lines of Princes Square in Glasgow.
With elevators continually going up and down - well there are 18 decks (floors)!
Or you can just take the stairs (as long as the reflections don't dazzle you too much!)
The ship is full of areas to entertain or relax in. The spacious Aft lounge looks a bit like something from the Starship enterprise perhaps.
And there are numerous themed entertainment areas like the Purple Jazz Bar.
But our favourite was the Sports Bar games room, where there are 10-pin bowling lanes and loads of TVs, which can be changed to show a particular sporting event at your request.
There's also a theatre, 4D cinema, casino, disco, clubs, swimming pool, tennis courts...the list goes on!
Lunch on board
As we are primarily food bloggers we were interested in the ship's cuisine. There are a total of 8 bars, 4 cafes and 4 restaurants on-board (if we've counted correctly!) and we dined in the Villa Verde panoramic restaurant.
To start with - a light, tender cold squid salad. Being on a ship you might expect lots of good-quality seafood and there was! This was a simple but tasty Mediterranean-style dish.
Sticking with seafood for the main we had three different types (squid, prawn and a whitefish) battered with chips. The chips were a little disappointing I have to say but the fried seafood was all very good.
And a warm moist, sticky walnut brownie to finish off a competent three course lunch. Compliments to the chef - we would come back to this restaurant!
MSC have regular cruises throughout Northern Europe, the Med, the Middle-East and the Caribbean with a brand new Cuba cruise starting this winter - the new itinerary onboard MSC Opera will also Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Mexico with two nights / two and a half days spent exploring Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and capital city of Cuba. The sailings will be available to UK guests on a cruise-only basis with the first cruise departing from Havana on 22 December 2015 (following a separate Grand Voyage cruise to Havana which departs Genoa on 2 December 2015).
For something closer to home an Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Oman cruise running this winter with direct flights from Glasgow. The seven-night fly-cruise aboard MSC Musica, departs from Dubai, UAE and calls at Khor al Fakkan, UAE; Muscat, Oman; Khasab, Oman and Dubai (overnight stay). Prices for a balcony cabin lead in at £859 per person, and include return flights from Glasgow with Emirates and overseas transfers (based on January 9, 2016 departure).
Discover more about the MSC Splendida ship on www.msccruises.co.uk where you will also find various cruise offers listed, or call 020 3426 3010 to enquire about a cruise.
Many thanks to MSC Cruises for allowing us on-board and thanks also to Alan Stuart who provided the ship header image.