Cruises, Europe

How would you like to discover the sights and sounds of Marseille, get lost in Genoa’s windy cobbled streets, visit Aix-en-Provence’s bustling market and eat tapas in Barcelona, all while having unpacked your suitcase only once?

If this sounds like the holiday for you then look no further than a Mediterranean cruise aboard the MSC Splendida. As one of MSC’s exclusive Fantasia class ships, MSC Splendida can hold around 4,000 guests and there’s close to 1,500 staff. With 18 decks – 14 of which are for guest use – all opulently designed, you feel like you’re in a high-end hotel in ‘Vegas with a great selection of bars, restaurants and entertainment onboard.

Cruising is a great way to travel, allowing you to have a single base while moving from city to city. There’s nothing better than opening your curtains onto a new port every morning, refreshed and raring to go after a good night’s sleep.

Cruise ship entertainment

However long your trip, you’ll never get through all the Splendida has to offer, and whether you’re sporty, a foodie, a wine connoisseur or someone looking to completely unwind, there’s something just for you.

To give you a taster, consider spending time at one the four pools, squash courts or playing shuffleboard or mini golf. If that doesn’t take your fancy perhaps you’d prefer some time playing in the casino or arcade, or trying out the 4D cinema or interactive F1 simulator.

As for the evenings’ activities, there’s plenty to keep you entertained. Every night there’s a different performance on in the 1,600 seater Strand Theatre – an impressive sight – and you can enjoy live music and dancing at one of the seven bars or the Club 33 Disco.

Relax in the Aurea Spa

As you walk into the Aurea Spa you already begin to unwind as you’re welcomed by the friendly ladies that work there. You can completely forget that you’re on-board a ship when you enter this area as it looks like you’ve been transported to a high-end salon that wouldn’t be out of place in cities like London and New York.

Although quite costly, the treatments are magical, and specialities include Balinese massage, traditional water treatments, saunas, Turkish bath, solarium, relaxation room, thalassotherapy and whirlpool baths.

The Balinese massage will leave you totally relaxed and it’s wonderful feeling those tight muscles pop back into place. For something more relaxing, try out one of the many facials on offer or perhaps treat yourself to a full body scrub that’ll leave your skin refreshed and revived.

With wonderfully friendly staff it’s a pleasure to go here and something not to miss when onboard the MSC Splendida.

Cruise food

MSC takes great pride in its culinary offerings and with four restaurants on-board there is something to suit every taste, from traditional Italian fare to exotic Mexican cuisine. The Bora Bora buffet offers a huge selection of foods from around the world, but the highlight has to be the classically designed La Reggia restaurant, where every evening you are offered a wonderful five course selection. My highlights included vegetable tempura, oxtail consommé with julienne vegetables, and a perfectly cooked lamb rump. Delicious food that doesn’t disappoint.

Excursions

When you dock you have the choice of going it alone in the new city, or taking one of the MSC excursions on offer.

These can be either a half or full day in length, and you can pick up a great guide to your options at the excursion desk onboard. These give a great breakdown of the sites you’ll see, whether food is included and the difficultly level (i.e. if the terrain is flat or there’s lots of stairs and hills to walk) so you can pick the excursion that suits you the most.

During my time on board I went along on excursions to Genoa and Aix-en-Provence and found the guides friendly, entertaining and great at giving you a taster for the sights and the history of the area.

In Genoa I explored the city’s historical centre, wandering the narrow streets known as carruggi and visiting the Cathedral of San Lorenzo and in Aix-en-Provence we explored the 12th century St Saviour’s Cathedral and wandered around a local market.

At the end of each trip you’re given some time to explore on your own, so you can shop, find a café where you can people watch, squeeze in a new site or go back and further explore somewhere you’ve just seen in passing.

The MSC Splendida is an impressive ship that’s given me a taste for the cruise culture. If you’re considering cruising around the med, MSC is well worth checking out.

A seven night Mediterranean cruise on board MSC Splendida starts from £529 per person including return flights, departing from Genoa (Italy) on 30 November; 7, 14 December 2013 and 4, 11, 18 January 2014, calling in Marseille, Barcelona, La Goulette, Palermo, Civitavecchia and back to Genoa.

For further information on MSC, bookings and terms and conditions please visit www.msccruises.co.uk or call 0844 561 1955.