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Too embarrassed to say we went

Age: 47

Occupation:Counselor

Number of Cruises: 10

Cruise Line: MSC Cruises

Ship: MSC Splendida

Sailing Date: 2010-07-20

Itinerary: Western Med

This was the most disappointing cruise we have ever experienced. If a travel agent recommends you to MSC, that person either does not like or does not know you. For the most part, this ship, while new and spacious in many respects, was overcrowded and the service, crew and food options were dismal.

The food was mundane and limited and it does not appear as though the company has given much thought to customer service or convenience. For instance, the dinner seating arrangements are outdated and inflexible. Quite remarkably, there are only two seating options. Thus, if one has the late seating, you must either be prepared to eat a meal that lasts until 11:30 p.m. and as late as midnight, or go without as there is no buffet or any other type of offering after lunch shuts down - sometimes as early as 2:30 p.m.! Granted, there are pay restaurants, but we found the food extremely lacking and overpriced.

What this company has appeared to give a lot of thought to is how to charge for virtually everything. Water at dinner? Be prepared to pay. Shuttle service from ship to port entrance in ports with large harbors? 15 Euros per person. Movies in your room (not even first run movies)? Payment please. In addition, everything purchased has a 15% service charge tacked on and crew tips and gratuities are automatically added on to the bill (along with an obligatory UNICEF donation that we suspect for which the company takes credit if it in fact gives UNICEF such monies).

Overall, we found the ship and its crew not very hospitable and the overall experience uninviting and dismal. This company has a lot to learn from other lines and we in good conscience can not recommend it to anyone.

This company touts its food as one of its highlights. Sadly, the food, along with the food service staff was the lowlight of our cruising experience. The lunch and breakfast menues are one-dimensional and limited. Cans all involved in several respects and there is a marked absence of quality. For instance, no sushi, no salmon, poor quality meat usually covered over in thick gravy, canned fruits and vegetables and virtually no chocolate. Plenty of bread, though. In fact, while many food bins were empty, the majority of the food service bins were filled with bread during lunch and breakfast. Overall, very little quality and even less variety.

The appetisers and anti-pasta at dinner was oftentimes good - until the waiter brought a plate out that had a paper packet for sprinkled cheese which confirmed the processed nature of the whole ordeal - microwave and cheese packets. The menu selections at dinner were extremely limited. For instance, not one steak, lobster or whole fish was seen the entire cruise. Just thin slices and small portions accompanied by apparently disinterested and disengaged waiters.

To its credit, this ship's stateroom's were nice and spacious. The crew that cared for such were also very nice and very good. However, the "offer" to allow children under 17 to room with adults appeared to me to be a bait and switch tactic as we have two children under 17. When we attempted to take the line up on the offer, we were told the offer was not available because there were no triples available. We thus ended up having to purchase three cabins (there were five in our party- with two children under 17). Needless to say, we were shocked and disappointed when we arrived and immediately noticed that our room was in fact a triple!

Non-existent, one-dimensional and crude. Some of the crew interactions with the customers raised several eyebrows (for instance, one game played - and videotaped! - involved putting ping pong balls down a man's pants and then seeing which female passenger could massage and manipulate the ball down the front of the man's pants and out the bottom of his pants' leg first. Another activity - again videotaped - involved putting a water bottle between a man's legs and having him walk toward a woman lying down while a stream of water arced out of the bottle between the man's legs and toward the woman. Not exactly our idea of sophistication.

Shore time was extremely limited (i.e. Barelona - 4 hours; Less than 7 hours in many other ports). Thus, excursions essentially consisted of extremely overpriced shuttle service to limited spots for shopping. By our calculation, a taxi was about 4 times cheaper than the shuttle service provided and far more flexible.

It's hard to be disappointed by a trip to the Mediterrean. This was our third trip to the Med in four years. Previous cruises on Norwegian and Celebrity were fabulous. Not so, this time. Expensive, crowded, tacky and an overall uncomfortable and unpleasant experience.

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