This was very, very easy. I had read mixed reviews on how hard/easy this was. When we arrived at the port, we put tags on our luggage, and we were off to check in! For some reason, decks 7 & 8 were to check in at the Queen Mary next door. I don't know if this is standard? Anyway, the line was very short and we were asked a couple questions and then given our Sail and Sign cards. We then lined up to go through security, which was also a breeze. While waiting, we noticed all the other decks standing in line for their Sail and Sign card; those lines looked long! Once we went through security, our pictures were taken and we were able to walk across the bridge that allows us to get on the Carnival Splendor! The total process with waiting in line and getting our cards was probably about 40 minutes total.
I again had read mixed reviews on their food. However, I didn't find it that bad or that good. I've had better food elsewhere, but I've also had much worse. Some was really flavorful, and some was bland. At least I did not get sick! They offered some healthy options at all meals such as salad, tons of fruits and some veggies and 'diet' cakes. The chocolate chip cookies were very good, and they seemed to go very fast (they weren't offered on the second to last day, so we assumed they ran out)! The hot dogs and fries were probably some of the best food I had on the ship! However, hours for that were weird. In fact, hours for all the food seemed to be weird. While the pizza was open 24/7, it was 'okay' and not something I wanted for every meal. If you tend to sleep more during the day and party at night (10 PM and after) then you might struggle to find places that are open. There was one night where they had a 'Mexican buffet' which lasted until 1 AM; that was pretty good. I did not try the Mongolian wok or the sushi bar (I don't like those types of foods...). When the sushi bar was open (it didn't look open often), it was pretty busy. Room service was okay as well. If you can get up and go somewhere else, then you'd probably benefit from it. The sandwiches were served with chips which were good, but the sandwiches themselves were not the best; at least they were edible. Room service breakfast was nice, easy and delivered on time! I would highly recommend it if you want to wake up later or eat in your room. On the very last night, and for our first time, we ate in the Black Pearl dinning room. We got there early enough where we got a pretty good seat, but we were very close to the people next to us (we expected this). The food was okay. We could get better or just the same upstairs. The service was not good. My mother had asked for a glass of wine while eating her appetizer, and she didn't receive it until three servers later after she had finished her main course. Instead of apologizing or offering to make it free, or at least take away the gratuity, we paid for it. However, we weren't too heart-broken about it because we expected it. We are glad we only went there one night. If new to cruising, I would go and check it out for yourself!
Lemonade, tea, coffee and water (not bottled) are always offered, 24/7. Sadly, you have to pay for the specialty drinks, sodas and juices. However, we knew about this before going on the cruise. If you can, bring a Rum Runner (which was VERY helpful and it made it through airport and ship security), bring one; you can find them on Amazon. Also, you're allowed to bring soda on the ship. I regret not doing so. The specialty drinks (wine, beer, cocktails) were pretty good. They are "reasonable". You pay as much for a specialty drink on the ship as you would going out to a nice restaurant ($5-$9). Don't expect to find 'happy hour' on the ship, because they're all the same price, no matter where you go. I found it very interesting that they say the drinking age is 21, but they do not in force it whatsoever. I (19) was able to drink strawberry daiquiri's while on the ship.
Our aft balcony was amazing! We were on deck 7, which means there's one more aft level above us, and one or two below. The people above can see you if you stand next to the railing, and, you can see the people down below if they stand next to the railing. We were right next to an extended aft balcony and we wished we would have booked it for ourselves! Our steward, Manuel, was very nice and helpful. We didn't require much service from him, but he came by every night (and morning when we were there) to see if we wanted ice. He made the cutest animals out of the towels too. You can expect this from all the stewards, no matter what room. I had called for scissors to cut mole skin for my foot and I never received them. When I had called, I couldn't understand the lady and by what I could make out, she said he'd be there by 6 PM to deliver them (I called around 3). They were never delivered. This was the only problem we encountered. The room size was average. Both my mother and I agreed it was like living in an RV for a week; manageable, but tight. It was nice that they offered three movies a day/night (family friendly too) that were free. Otherwise, you pay the 8.99+ for a movie. There are 27 channels on the television, and about 20 are dedicated to the ship itself. Some of the 'ship' channels were very helpful, talking about fun things that are going on, and other were plain pointless.
It was very nice to go to a casino where they allowed people under the age of 21. The had slot tournaments almost daily, as well as poker tournaments. We mainly stuck with Roulette, where we had a good time. On Tuesday, one of the Roulette things broke, so it did not display the numbers that came up. That was annoying, but manageable if you're desperate to play. The dealers were very nice and reasonable. There was one that I encountered who seemed to have something up his butt. I always cashed out when he became my dealer. One machine took my quarters twice, and the people on the floor were very helpful when getting it back (it must happen often). There's also Bingo on the ship, but that does not happen on the casino floor, it happens in the spectacular theater. It's around $20, depending on the day. In the end, it was probably only worth it to play once during the whole week (we played three).
CABO & PV:
Both places were beautiful, but we agreed that Cabo was the best. The first day in Cabo, we walked around. There are a million little shops. If you see something you like, it's best to look around because chances are you'll see it down the road for cheaper. We stopped at Cabo Wabbo and ate a small lunch. Both were very good, and we did not get sick. The second day in Cabo, we did the Salsa and Salsa. That was lots of fun! I would highly recommend it for anyone (kids, adults, seniors). It was on a beautiful location that overlooked the water, and it was lots of fun to make seven different salsas and to make specialty drinks. Puerta Vallarta (PV) was nice because you could walk right off the ship. In Cabo, you had to take tenders. I did the sea lion encounter in PV and would highly recommend that as well! My mother was able to get a 'Watcher' ticket for around $36. It was a lot of fun (quick, but worth it!)and they offered lunch with it. The downside is, you cannot take your own pictures. Overall, I found it easier to get around in Cabo. I almost felt like there wasn't enough to do in PV, unless you took a taxi somewhere. We were VERY disappointed with Carnival and their maps. Carnival suggested places to visit, and nearly half were jewelry shops. If you're in the market for a ring or something, you're in luck. If not, you'll be bombarded with jewelry places to go to. We felt like Carnival should have provided more restaurants and shops to go to. In PV we went to a restaurant which was right off the ship, called Bucaneros. It was pretty good, but upsetting because they take your picture twice with a sombrero. When they come back, they say it's one picture for $7 or both for $10. We got the two for $10, and the table behind us didn't like their second picture, so the waiter said, "okay, you can have both for $7!" We sure felt ripped off! Again, try and bargain and look around!!
We're not early risers, but we managed to get up and get off. In the end, we were off the ship by 9AM. If you self-assist with your luggage, you are able to be the first ones off the ship. Because we had four bags, we decided to put our bags outside our room the night before. This was very helpful, but annoying because we had to keep any products we needed for the next day, out so we could use them. It was kind of a cluster when you got to the 'lobby' area, and you pretty much just lined up, no matter what your zone was. If it's a windy and cold day (it was for us!), then bring a jacket! You are stuck standing on the bridge for about ten minutes, and it got cold! Going through customs was easy, and they were very nice. There were no complications. When we went to find out luggage, zone 7 & 8 were mixed together (we were 8), so it was a bit difficult to find ours.
We only saw the 'adult only' shows, and we loved them! If you get offended easily then these are not the shows for you. If you get upset with gay jokes, or sexual jokes, these are not for you. Do not go and then complain about how bad they are; they are ADULT. They do offer family friendly, which we did not see.
Internet was very expensive on the ship, and I would recommend going without, if possible. Some places in Cabo and PV offered free wifi. Take advantage of the free things; comedy shows, karaoke, dating/marriage shows, swimming, etc. Also, I had read things about Todd and Brian and how many people disliked them. They have more of an adult attitude with adult jokes, but I enjoyed their humor and shows. The spa is 'okay' and we decided to get the teeth whitening. It was okay, but not worth the price for two people. If you can, book it at home for cheaper. The Gym was very nice and offered a lot of different machines and free weights. The pools were nice as well. However, on the first day, the 'everybody' pool was closed. I'm not sure if this is normal. Expect lots of jewelry sales. Again, if you are in the market, this is the place!! If you don't care, then be prepared to hear daily offerings and receive daily sheets of papers about jewelry. Also, it is cheaper to buy things OFF the ship than on the ship. I got the same Del Sol nail polish in Cabo for two dollars less than I could have on the ship.
Bring scissors. Bring alcohol in rum runners or other type of carriers. Bring aspirin/Advil, band-aids, etc., or other products like it; they charge a fortune on the ship. Bring an extension strip! They only have one plug-in in your room, so bringing one will be helpful! Bring soda, it is allowed. Bring DVDs/Movies because there aren't a ton of channels. Bring conditioner for your hair. They offer shampoo and body wash and that's it. Bring ear plugs! It can be very noisy! Bring a laundry bag or something to hold your laundry, they didn't have any. Bring a travel clock; there are no clocks in the room, you have to rely on the television. If you tend to lose key cards easily or are traveling with children, try and bring a lanyard to carry them in! It is much easier to have something around your neck than to hold a key card (which is your Sail and Sign card).