May 13.... today was the start of our 7-day Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona on the MSC Splendida. We spent the morning in our hotel packing up and then headed to the Cafe Veranda in our hotel for a very expensive but delicious buffet breakfast. As would befit any 5-star hotel, the restaurant is classy, serves excellent breakfast with an insane number of choices and the staff is courteous - in other words it was perfect but of course made a huge dent in our wallets! :-P ..Sometimes a splurge is totally worth it!
We took a taxi from our hotel to the cruise terminal on the west side of Port Vell - was about €17 since they charge per bag as well on top of the metered fare. We reached the terminal around 1:30 pm and the whole check-in process was very smooth. No lines for back drop off or check in. Our only dark cloud was DH lost his cell phone in the taxi and realized only too late that it was gone!!
We entered the ship on deck 6. A staff person was assigned to escort us to our room on deck 10 (cabin # 10421), which was a nice personal touch. We had an interior cabin and tried requesting an upgrade. However, the interior cabin is quite nice on this ship. It doesn't feel all that claustrophobic because there is ample usage of mirrors in the cabin. In fact, the entire ship has plenty of mirror, glass, glitter.... the design and decor is very Italian and modern. I was used to the Royal Caribbean fleet of ships and the decor on MSC Splendida is quite different. After quickly checking out our room, bidding adieu to our ship escort, we went up to deck 14 to the Bora Bora Cafeteria for the lunch buffet. The layout of the cafe seems nice enough - there was plenty of place to sit and it didn't seem overly crowded at around 3:30 pm. Food was alright - nothing to write home about although even the simple pastas were excellent. I got some Penne with tomato sauce and another pasta with pesto sauce and both were good. Didn't venture beyond the familiar, got some lentil soup which was also pretty decent. We had to shell out €2-plus for a bottle of water and were cursing ourselves for not buying bottles of water on shore like we did on our previous cruises. :(
We met up with my friends who have neighboring cabins and then headed out to the pool on deck 14. The afternoon was hot enough to warrant being in swimsuits and wading in the pool. But the pools have salt water so the kids were quite annoyed! DH got me the drink of the day: 'sex on the beach which was sorely missing the one required ingredient - alcohol! Doh! The lounge chairs by the pool were comfortable and we spent a good hour and a half enjoying the water and sun. A little after 4, there was coffee/tea/pastries/cookies/
Dinner tonight was a formal affair. We had early seating at 7 pm at Villa Verde restaurant on deck 6. I didn't particularly care for the food. Appetizer was OK, asparagus soup was tolerable, salad was really bad and so was the main course of tofu with vegetables. The only saving grace was the first course of mushroom Risotto and the ice cream with mirengue. I was also spoiled by the excellent wait staff (and dining room food) on Royal Caribbean (even Celebrity was better than this). If today's experience is any indication the wait staff leaves a lot to be desired.
After dinner we went to a late night showing of 'Mirage' in the Strand Theater (decks 6/7). The show is excellent with some amazing dancing & acrobatic performances. The theater itself is also very beautiful, the stage & lighting are fantastic, the costumes & artists magnificent. There was ample seating and all the kids with us (of age range 3-8 years) enjoyed the show.