My understanding is that outside of the Yacht Club the ONLY beverages that are included in your cruise fare price are water, coffee, and hot tea at the buffet (possibly also juice at breakfast, I never went to breakfast to see what the buffet offers for beverages then). Unlike other lines, tap water is not offered at sit down meals and there are no included drinks brought to the table at all. I would imagine this would be a nasty surprise to somone accustomed to cruising the mainstream US based lines and assuming basic drinks like water, coffee and milk can be had at dinner at no charge.
That said, drink prices for cocktails, wine, etc were considerably lower than on other lines we've sailed and there are a number of packages available--all much lower priced than equivelant packages on other lines (all inclusive, or as much as you want at lunch and dinner, or just coupons for a set number of drinks anywhere, etc).
We were staying in the Yacht club, which includes a large selection of "free" beverages in the YC restraunt, in the YC lounge and by the private YC pool and also includes as much as you want out of your mini bar, which is restocked twice daily. Oddly, this ultra luxury booking does NOT include any drinks outside of YC area (other than the included for everyone water, coffee and tea at the buffet). It would be so easy to lable YC cards with the all inclusive package for use outside of the club, but it doesn't work that way. This is not a huge issue, but did feel a bit limiting and discouraged us from spending time in other lounges, listening to musicians spread about the ship very often, etc.
The wines included at dinner (and, I beelive on the packages on the main dining room) vary from ngiht to night---there is not an extensive list without an upcharge, but every wine we had was very good. There was always at least one white, one red and one rose.
Soda on the Splendida was Pepsi products. I only saw Pepsi, Diet Pepsi and 7-Up offered (no Fanta equivelant). There was also a bottled Peach iced tea available and many mocktails.
Every day there was a daily Special offered for a lower price throughout the ship----actually there was always one with alcohol and one without on offer.
Overall we were impressed with the drink offerings--though I am NOT a Pepsi girl and AM a Coke girl, so that was a con for me, though I know it would not be for all.
Here is also probably a good time to mention that bartenders throughout the ship and in the yacht club were all very friendly and helpful (in spite of the no tipping policy, more on that later). I might also note that while orders were always taken promptly in the YC lounge and by that pool, even when we were the ONLY people there, it was generally a good 5 to 10 minutes before we received our drinks (even when it was a glass of wine and a soda, thereby requiring minimal prep work). I never quite figured out why that was.
Entertainment and Activites:
Entertainment and activites proved to be the biggest let down for us with MSC. We tend to spend just a few hours in port and love to enjoy the trivia games. little competitions, etc run by the cruise staff on board and I love a good nighttime show--all of these were let downs in one way or another on MSC compared to every other line we have sailed.
The activites staff (or cruise staff as some are called) was friendly enough, but offered very little to do (and not one ever said their name or was otherwise really outgoing). The sea days (traditionally packed full of acitvites) offered about as many acitvites as any other line offers in port, and on port days offerings were virtually non existant. I think there was trivia a grand total of 5 times throughout the week---none of which lasted more than 15 minutes (and, oddly, there were notices all week about the need to sign up in advance for the "big brain buster" trivia on the final sea day---no idea why sign ups were needed for a 10 question quiz?). Three times there were arts and crafts---each time offered for a large chunk of time in the morning and again the afternoon, but just one craft to do---so while it was 6 hours of progamming it was really only 20 minutes worth of fun for any one person (if that). Most of what was offered was more serious dance classes---great if you want to learn the cha cha or tango---but only one of our group would do so, and not without a willing partner, so we found ourselves at loose ends much of the day. Luckily we had packed several card games and enjoy each other's company.
Another odd way of handling things was that many of the "when nothing else is going on things to do" (shuffle board, board games to check out, sports courst use, etc) that normally one picks up and enjoys in those off hours were ONLY available to be played by checkinig out the equipment during the times other major things were running with equipment due back before those off hours started up again (ie---you could not play shuffleboard at 8:00 pm, or 2:00 in the afternoon unless the check out desk was open, and if it was then other fun things were probably possible).
Similarly---there is a weird hole every evening. The later show performance was over by 10:15. Dining rooms close at 10:00 (the one night we showed up to dine on the later side, we were finishing dessert at 10:10 and they were setting up breakfast around us). Pools and hot tubs and the thermal spa all close at 9 or 10 pm. And yet the major evening staff run activity (or animation) never started until 11or 11:30 and the disco never had a DJ until 11:30 and often not until midnight.
The only thing to do in that hour was shop or sit in a bar (where there might be live music, but never good dance music), or if we were lucky the bowling lanes were not broken (I can't blame the line for this, people were awful about mistreating them). Either pools and acitvites need ot be open later, or the nighttime fun needs to start sooner.
I will add that the animation was very lackluster on the 3 nights we tried it. Never really any dance music and very minimal attempts to involve the audience, mostly limited to asking people to shout. The cruise director would stand at the edge of the dance floor and scowl silently throughout, which didn't help the feel at all.
And the disco? The venue was awesome and I would have loved to dance the night away up there. We dropped by several times over the week. There always seemed to be about 50 people up there but we never saw more than 3 dancing---which I atttribute to the awful music choices by the DJ. We never heard a sone we knew or felt we could dance to (and niether did our older teen----and we do live in Europe so I don't think this was just a case of us not knowing the prevailing culture of the ship--NO ONE was dancing). We missed a decent disco.
The main stage entertainment was better. I loved that every night the shows were at the same time (made planning easier) and an twice and that EVERY night was a real show with singers and dancers and sets as well as mixing in the various "special" artists into the show mix (ie, we never sat through an entire 45 minute show of just an arielest or just a contortionist, but these acts were worked into larger shows). That said, the level of talent was lower than on other major lines. This was particulary the case with the singers and the arielists. We found the shows got repetative and felt a bit ameteurish--so much so that by the third night we'd sit near the back and leave if the music was not enough to keep us more entertained as they were all largely the same otherwise. We were, however, impressed by the troop of four male gymnasts and found the shows featuring them to be the best.
There was live music in nearly every bar all afternoon and evening each day. THIS is a great feature. Unfortunately, with the exception of one pianist and a string duo, the bands and trios onboard were really low quality. Oftne out of tune, lacking energy, generally not enjoyable to listen to AT ALL. I am sure that had we had better music, sitting in that evneing hour would have been so enjoyable we might not have noticed an issue with the scheduling at night.
What we did find to be fun were the bowling (always open when the lines have not become tangled--which happened often as kids would literally throw balls and not wait for the pins (on some sort of pressurized rubber lines) to reset before throwing more and parents seemed not to care),
the 4-D cinema (with short, 5 to 10 minute shows) and the Formula One simulator. These things are very expensive for what you get at 6€ per person per game for bowling, 6€per person per show in the cinema and 8€per ride on the simulator.
However, the best deal on the ship that most people seemed to miss (it was printed in the Daily program once and posted on the wall by the simulator) was a package price of 35€ for the whole cabin to get to do all of those things as often as they wanted the whole cruise! We made out like bandits on that deal---seeing all six 4-D movies, bowling about a half dozen games and riding the simulator 2-4 times each per day. Both the cinema and the simulator have limited hours, but we were surprised to find there was rarely a line to use them. People often stood around there to watch but rarely participated.