MSC Splendida seen passing the village of Velsen-Noord at the 2nd of july 2015. She is the second largest ship ever to visit Amsterdam, but she at least is the longest and widest ship seen in the port and this picture was taken after her first call there.
MSC Cruises is a part of the largest private shippingcompany in the world, mostly known for its mega containerliners. Since the beginning of the 1990's, after the company took over the ships of the slowly dying Lauro Lines, the Italian Mediterranean Shipping Company entered the field of cruising. In its first years, the cruisedivision consisted out of elderly cruiseliners, but when the new millennium came, MSC knew they had to grow and modernize. Firstly, they took over the contract for two ships originally meant for Festival Cruises. Two other ships were built for Festival also, but when this company collapsed, MSC logically took over those too. For MSC, the four ships became the Lirica Class, with MSC Armonia, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Lirica and MSC Opera. The first two were the former Festival ships, the latter pair, lead by the MSC Lirica, had entered service for MSC and so this class was named after the thirth newbuilt in this series, which was the first for MSC.
Backed by an immense financial body, with over 500 ships in service the Mediterranean Shipping Company easily outruns Carnival Corporation, a newbuilding sceme was set up to change MSC Cruises into one of the worlds largest cruise-operators. This was achieved, in just over one decade. After the Lirica class, the old ships were sold off and the 93.000-ton Musica class was ordered. In the beginning of the new millennium, another new class was ordered at the first of june 2005, based on the same design but way larger. The class was named after the first ship that entered service in 2008, MSC Fantasia. With a tonnage-measurement of over 137.000, those ships were the largest cruiseliners untill then ordered for a European-based company.
MSC Splendida was the second of this class to be launched. The ship was built at the STX Europe Yards at St.-Nazaire, France and has a tonnage of 137.936. She is 330,30 meters long, 37,98 meters wide and she has a draft of 8,29 meters. The ship can sail with up to 3900 passengers and 1313 crewmembers on her 18 decks, of which 13 are accessible for the passengers. The normal cruising speed is 21 knots and the ship is driven by two propellers so no novelties as pod-propulsion. The ship wasn't delivered for free, MSC had to pay around 550 million US dollars to get it. After MSC Splendida, two more ships of the class were built. MSC Divinia started sailing in 2012 and is slightly larger then her two earlier sisters. A fourth ship was originally planned for the Lybian government and based on the Fantasia class design. Largest change was that Hannibal Ghadaffi, who oversaw the contract, included a 120-ton shark aquarium as a kinda cool extra. When civil war broke out in Lybia on the 15th of february of 2011 and the Ghadaffi's were overruled, STX sought a buyer for the unfinished ship and she was taken over by MSC as MSC Preziosa. The original name for the ship under the flag of the General National Maritime Transport Corporation of Lybia was to be Phoenicia.
Originally, MSC Splendida was to be named MSC Serenata, but in may of 2007 and still during the building-process, this was altered 'to reflect the ships beauty and elegance'. On the 4th of july 2009, the ship was delivered to MSC as their tenth ship, sailing her first cruise in the Mediterranean Sea ending in Barcelona at the 11th of that month. One day later, the ship was christened by who else then 74-year old Sophia Loren and afterwards settled in for mostly Mediterranean cruising. During the ceremony, Joaquin Cortes performed a flamenco show, Catalonian culture was displayed through a display of the castells (the human towers) and the world-famous tenor Jose Carreras, who lives in Barcelona, performed together with 60 musicians from the Orquestra Simfonica del Valles. Afterwards, a huge fireworks display lit the Catalonian sky.
MSC Splendida leaving the IJmuiden lock later that 2nd of july in 2015.
The ship was designed by the Italian company Studio De Jorio Design giving the ship a true European and mostly Italian style. The atrium, spread over five decks, is done in light colours and features palmtrees and two sweeping staircases covered in Swarovski stones. The large Strand Theater aboard the ship is set on three decks, the ships Spa measures 1500 square meters and there are four swimming pools of which one is adult-only and another one has a retractable roof so it can also be used in bad weather. The Aqua Park aboard around the main pool features 150 fountains and water jets. Those fountains do play a part in an illuminated show at night, dacing on the rhythm of the music played. Many different dining options are aboard, like a Mexican restaurant called Santa Fe and a restaurant with panoramic views named Villa Verde. Then there also is the La Piazatta lounge has to give an imprsession of an Italian village, a sportsbar with two bowling alleys and an exclusive zone called MSC Yaught Club which is more or less another class with deluxe cabins, buttler service and it's own facilities, more or less like the courtyards at Norwegian Cruise Line. This Yaught Club was first introduced on the MSC Fantasia. For youngsters, a northpole themed playcenter is also there. This place offers several clubs for all children under the age of 17 and, saying that, all children below this age do sail free with MSC Cruises. Highlight for the kids is a two deck high waterslide, giving spectacular views and a great ride.
From the 2015 season onwards, the ship started sailing northern Europe in summer and just before she sailed north, she completed her Mediterranean season. On the 18th of march 2015, the world was shocked by a horrific attack on tourists at the Bardo National Museum at Tunis, Tunesia. Normally a somewhat more stable country since the so-called Arabian Spring, but now the world saw that this regions problems are far from over. Sadly, also MSC Splendida was in port that day and several of her passengers were on an excursion to this museum. When the busses arrived, terrorists opened fire and in total 12 passengers from MSC Splendida were killed during the attack. In total 24 people had been killed in what is the daedliest terrorist attack in Tunesian history untill then. Also, seven of the victims were passengers from another ship in port that day, Costa Fascinosa. Logically, the port of La Goulette, Tunis, was avoided for the rest of the year 2015 at least and replaced by Malta. In the end of june of the same year, 39 tourists were murdered while sunbathing at the beach in Sousse and this again confirms how dangerous travels in this region is at the moment.
The MSC giant left the lock and just later met up with AIDAbella in IJmuiden's outer harbour.