Ports of Call: Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas (2 Calls)(Mazatlan was cancelled after an “Incident”.)
The Carnival Splendor is a beautiful ship. Very vibrant and colorful, which adds to the overall “Fun Ship” atmosphere. When we arrived early at check in, we found we were already half way back in line. Normal scheduled entrance to the ship is 12 noon, but we, along with everyone else, figured we could get on board early since no one was leaving. Well, we understood that about 1,000 people, Including John Heald and Gerry Cahill, needed to depart and rooms to be cleaned, from the party the night before. Thus getting on at a time closer to normal was what we experienced. But it was odd to stand in line to check in, then be pointed to another line to wait for entrance to the ship. Embarkation here seems quite unorganized, at the port of Long Beach.
|Carnival Splendor Balcony Statroom|
When we arrived at our Balcony Stateroom, 8358, Here were my first impressions:
· Bright room with a large window and a swinging door that goes out to the balcony.
· Colorful Piccaso-esque artwork on the walls.
· Nice sofa to view the, be it small screen, flat panel TV mounted on the wall, also facing the bed.
· 3 large closets providing hanging and shelf space for clothing.
· My wife and I disagree on this, but I felt the layout of the bathroom was very nice and roomier than others we have experienced with other cruise lines. His and hers glass shelves on either side of the large bowled sink. And a shower that felt bigger to me as well. No more shampoo bottles, but a convenient shampoo and shower gel dispenser mounted on the wall in the shower. (NOTE: No Hair Conditioner provided, which was a surprise. Buying a bottle in the shop on board was 4 times more expensive than Walmart. Bring your own.)
· The Safe is located in the cabinet below the desk area. This is not easy to access, as it is positioned low. You have to be on your knees to read the instructions on how to use the safe. Other cruise lines position this in the closet up higher, so you are standing when you use it.
· The desk area is wide and has a mirror that covers the wall for most of its length, making the room feel more open. (Note: As has been mentioned before on John Heald’s Blog, there is only one power outlet at the desk and one very high in the bathroom. That’s it! No more! If you have a computer, cell phone, curling iron, camera chargers, or any other electrical needs, you will find it difficult to take care of them all.)
· The lighting in the room is brighter than any room I have encountered in the Princess, Holland America, or Norwegian fleet. At night, you can see very well, with the florescent lighting around the edge of the ceiling from the doorway to the Balcony door. VERY NICE! There are also bedside lamps, a wall lamp beside the couch, and additional lighting at the desk area.
· The biggest downer of the cruise was the location of our Balcony Stateroom, which of course costs more. Our room was right under the Splendido Lido Restaurant. Walking on tile and rolling carts were bad enough. But when the crew decides to clean the carpet at 3:30am, I was up for the day!
AS I sit here in the Atrium with friends, playing cards, listening to Cartoon Trivia, drinking a Pepsi from Walmart in Puerto Vallarta, I still believe there is no place better on earth than on a cruise ship!!!!
Attending the shows has always been our favorite activity while on-board a cruise ship. The Spectacular Spectacular is a fabulous show lounge. Three comfortable levels put you close to the stage. I honestly have not seen a more beautiful theater. There were 2 major shows put on by the singers and dancers, Vroom and Musica Latina. The costumes were excellent and the band was awesome. The music was very loud, compared to shows on other ships, which those who are hard of hearing may appreciate. I for one had ringing ears for quite a while afterwords. The stage is smaller than other ships, but that makes for a very large seating area. When sitting in the balcony areas (Level 4 and 5), the railing in front of you can tend to block your view of the stage. While watching the comedy/magic show last night, I had to slump in my seat to see the entire stage. If you are taller, it would be even worse. NOTE: This is a Vegas style show and the female dancers were always wearing thongs. This show may not be for all family members.
We were originally scheduled Jan 30, 2011, and we requested “Your Time Dining”. But because that sailing was cancelled due to dry dock and repairs after the fire, we rescheduled for Feb 20, which is the first sailing after coming out of dry dock. Because we rescheduled, “Your Time Dining” was full, and only “Late Seating” was available. This was our first experience with traditional dining, and more especially, dining at a late time. We found this was too difficult, for our bodies, especially on “Elegant Night”, when Lobster and Prime Rib were served on the same menu. I had to have both. I have never eaten that much in my life, and resorted to Yogurt the next morning for breakfast. Also, this time interfered with earlier show times, which we have always preferred. Our waiters, Jose and Vlatko had a challenge with our table for 10. This table was situated at the very back of the ship, on the upper level of the Gold Pearl Restaurant. Three of our seats were between window partitions, making serving us difficult. The first night at sea, we encountered rough seas, and 2 of our party could not handle the motion very well and had to leave. The Maitre d’ was really fun in the dining room. Here, nightly entertainment was provided by the dining room staff, either by singing or dancing. Last night, my 17 year old daughter was up and singing and dancing with our waiters and having a great time. I would have to say that the food itself was average, except for the Prime Rib, which was absolutely intoxicating. It could have been our wait staff or maybe generally speaking, but the transition from one course to another was not as elegant as I have experienced on all other ships. Such as, cleaning the crumbs from the table and cleaning off all dishes before serving dessert.
As for the Buffet area, knows as the Splendido Lido, which included areas:
· Splendido Pool and Bar
· Pizzeria and Grill
· Mongolian BBQ
· The Rotisserie
· The Deli and Tandoor
I have to say I was most unimpressed with the service in these areas. The most noticeable difference is the lack of food, except at lunch time. Everything closes at 4pm, except for the Deli, Grille, and Pizzeria. The only food served in the Splendido starts at 6pm, which is late for many people who want to have dinner at 5pm. The most popular of venues, the Mongolian BBQ, only serves at Lunch. The daily variety of food is almost non existant. With the exception of the main course, everything else is pretty much the same. Especially the daily breakfast menu here, the only thing I noticed, that varied from day to day, was the type of sausage served, which was mainly a couple varieties of Italian sausage. Yesterday morning, my impression was “Left Overs”. Some American sausage, Italian sausage, mixed in with some hamburger and chili sauce. The other thing I noticed was the lines at lunch time. The way this is laid out, causes lines that stretch down hallways. Other ships break up the items to be served into station areas, making lines almost non-existant. The only other service I really missed at breakfast in the Lido, was having wait staff come by and offer a drink. This happened only once, and only after I had sat in my seat for an hour talking with friends. On other ships, this is a constant and consistent service.
Children’s programs, especially Camp Carnival for my 9 year old are worth their weight in gold. My boy could not wait to get there each day, and we had to drag him from the ship on port days. Activities galore. Even eating dinner together. He loved every minute and made lots of new friends, which, as I always say, makes cruising even funner. My teens also enjoys time at Circle C and Club O2. At 13 and 17, they both made new friends who will, I am sure, be facebook friended as soon as we get home. There were approx 700 children under 18 on this ship. The counselor’s for the 9-11 yr old group were very enthusiastic and wished for even more than 23 who stayed out til 3am this morning. When those activities were done, they made sure each child made it to their cabin, with a parent present, safely. Thank You, Camp Carnival!
|Carnival Splendor Aft Lido Pool Adults Only|
From floor to floor, the Carnival Splendor and her Crew does a fairly good job of making a cruise vacation one to remember, and also one that is a great value. We figured this trip cost as much, or less, than a week at Disneyland, when considering hotel, food, and 5 days at the park. But on the Splendor, we got to see Mexico (Less Mazatlan). We got to enjoy warm sunny weather. We had a wide variety of entertainment to keep us busy. We could eat Prime Rib and Lobster like they were our last meals on earth. Felipe, the Cruise Director, did an excellent job keeping us informed and laughing (Thanks Mel and Herman and Alice). When Mazatlan was cancelled, Felipe was on the speaker early to let us know and make us feel safe. I honestly felt a sigh of relief that we were not going, only because of past incidents. Seeing the whales, jumping Manta Rays, and the beauty of Cabo made up for missing Mazatlan. One note: The people of Puerto Vallarta are stating there is more to see and do there than Cabo.
So overall rating, including the feedback of previous Carnival Passengers (This was our First Carnival Sailing), a 7! The Splendor apparently is doing things differently than the rest of the fleet, and I hope it is not a plan of migration for all the rest. Concerns for everyone to consider:
· Family Friendly is not altogether true. Though the children’s programs are excellent, the shows are not for younger kids, when considering the costume apparel which is way too revealing. Leave it in Vegas.
· The Captains reception was extremely lacking on this sailing. Past passengers felt that they were not appreciated, because of the down scaling of this event. Their perception is that Carnival is cutting back.
· Unless you are a Platinum Member, don’t arrive too early, or you’ll be sitting around.
So there you have it. As I now sit in my balcony stateroom, watching the sunset off the coast of Ensenada Mexico, I feel that I must try Carnival again, as past passengers have told us that other vessels have been better. I have to say my kids really enjoyed themselves, all 4 of them. My wife and I, for the most part, have been able to relax and enjoy ourselves as well. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is no better way to vacation. I wil recommend this cruise to the following: