Little background about us. Married couple in our late 20's early 30's. No kids, and love to vacation on the younger generation atmosphere.
My wife and I went into this cruise with our guards up at all time. We were reading reviews for the last three months, and a big majority of reviews were not very great and left us almost not wanting to go. Plus those cruisers in Puerto Vallarta that got robbed got us very scared of not wanting to even get off the ship. We were actually very bad misinformed and I personally found out why a lot of bad reviews from prior cruisers (I will get into that ahead). It turned out to be the best experience ever.
I'm gonna give you the only bad comment right now, so you can decide if you should even continue reading this review and not waste your time. The only bad thing we can say is that this cruise is very ROCKY!! Everywhere you go you feel this ship move very bad. If motion sickness bothers you, I personally recommend you to DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY IN THIS CRUISE. Fly and vacation on land instead. Don't get me wrong, we hated it moving like that, but we used the patch and we were fine the whole trip. I'm sure you out there will be fine too, but we highly recommend you to either take stuff for sickness or the patch. After all, it's a cruise and they all move, right? Now, if this is not at all an issue for you, keep on reading because I got the bad comment out of the way.
It was not bad at all. Like I said earlier, I was very prepared to expect the worst due to last reviews. Everyone agreed on a long waiting to get checked in and a big hold up. WRONG!!! We did not even take 20 minutes and we were on the bar at the Lido Deck drinking Foster Beers. Here is something you need to know. You have to prepare all you paper work before you come in. You can get you boarding passes online and luggage tags online. Trust me, that will save you the hassle and pain in the butt that everybody is talking about. If you prefer to get all your documents and tags in the port, trust me, all the bad reviews you read about embarkation will be true and you will be asked to move from area to area, then to get the room keys, then to get this and that. You can leave your luggage with the porters, and everything will arrive at your stateroom. Just tip him/her 1 dollar per bag. Nothing will be stolen. Those porters have tons of luggage to load for them to worry about robbing just yours. And believe me, we packed very valuable stuff in our luggage, and I would had been in a lot of trouble with my wife if anything was missing.
We got a Spa Ocean View Room at the very front of the ship. To be exact, our cabin was the 1003. Panorama Deck. If you are one of those people that demands a lot of space and storage, this is the room for you. When we came into the room, everything looked very clean. However, I'll give you a little tip. Even though the room was very clean, I would recommend you to bring some Wipes and a disinfection spray (1 dollar at Wal-mart) to do your own clean up at the beginning our your trip. Don't get me wrong, you don't have to do this, the room is spotless already. That's only if you are one of those people that rather make sure to kill germs your self. After all, that's going to be your house for 8 days.
Our steward "Edwin" did a great job from the beginning to the end. He learned our names right away, made sure we were having a good time, if we were able to sleep well, etc. He was supposed to clean this room twice a day, but we only needed him to clean it in the AM, and he was so kind that he asked every night if we needed at least clean towels, fresh ice cubes and clean wine glasses. Plus he insisted one night to let him clean our room so he could make animals with the towels. That was very nice of him. I would recommend you that even though you already paid gratuity, give your steward like 15-20 bucks at the end of your cruise. Trust me, we are not rich people, but those guys go the extra mile if you treat them nice. However, make sure your steward is being nice to you the entire time and going the extra mile.
It sucks that you don't have your own balcony, but the cool thing about it is that you can go around your room and you have a sun deck pretty much for yourself. It's not a private balcony, but nobody really walks around there. I couldn't sleep one night, and I went out there to look at the stars. It was like having a balcony for myself.
The room has two HUGE windows, compared to other ocean view cabins. I even sat in the window a couple of times.
Did I mention storage everywhere? Yes, yes, yes. This room has a very spacious closet with a lot of cabinets to put your stuff. The bathroom here is very comfortable too as far as space. It was well worth it investing in a spa room, since you have a different robe than everyone else, plus you get to use the Spa facilities every single day. I liked it too that they give you Spa products in your room everyday. I believe they charge like $35 a day just to use their facilities if you do it that way.
It also has the typical mini bar, small safe, and more storage cabinets anywhere you look.
It also has a Vanity very comfortable with bright lights for the misses' to get ready. My wife did appreciate that one.
For breakfast the first three days, we did room service continental breakfast. Since we are adults into fitness, we woke up early to get our workouts out of the way. We brought our pre and post workout supplements, so we calculated to have our pastries and coffee in our room by the time we were done with the gym, spa pool and sauna time. Anyways, we are talking about food. I'll get into gym and spa later. Prior reviews said the food wasn't good. I though the food in this cruise was very good. Not the greatest top of the list, but it will do for 8 days. The room service foods are mainly sandwiches and salads. They are not the greatest, but they are not bad either. If you go to the Lido Deck breakfast buffet, it's a hell to try to grab food. TOO MANY people at once trying to get food. We never went there since we decided to have breakfast at the Gold Pearl Restaurant and in our walk to the restaurant, we had to see how the buffet Chaos was. I'm pretty sure the food was good too. Now, on the Restaurant, the food was good. They let have as many bakery as you want, and even main dishes too.
Many people complained in prior reviews about the waiters being jerks, but I personally saw why some of them can be very unpleasant. This Chinese group of old people were very demanding, talking to the waiter any way they wanted and pretty much telling him they were better than him. Off course the dude was a total jackass to them. The same dude was our waiter, and he was cool to us. Off course, we joked around with him, and we were not being a$$holes to him. He gave us very good service and was not feisty to us. So, I will recommend you out there to respect those workers. Don't be a Jack hole demanding Bitch. They are human beings too and have to do the same job over and over without a day off. I'm not gonna tell you here that I'm Jesus Christ and I never break the rules. Just have some consideration and treat those workers nice. Leave your grumpy attitude at home. And trust me, the way you treat them, they will treat you. Like I said, we saw it happen in front of me.
Lunch at the MDR is good too. I got the Philly cheese steak sandwich and that thing was very good. Not the healthiest thing I'll be honest with you, but it was DELICIOUS!! I couldn't finish it, and I'm a big eater dude.
Lunch at the buffet was good. We did go to the buffet for lunch twice, and they had a big variety of food. We mainly wanted french fries and hot dogs, so I can't deep comment here too much. It's cool to eat here if you don't feel like wearing your t-shirt.
Moving on, we dined at the Gold Pearl Restaurant early dining (6:00pm). Man!! do I keep saying good food. Yes!!! food was great. You go there to EAT!!!. Three course meals every night. Plus the waiters and waitresses sing and dance for you at the end. Not the great thing, but it's just funny. We sat with 2 other couples celebrating their anniversaries and another couple on their honeymoon. We were glad they sat us with young couples and not with families with kids and grandparents. Nothing against them, it's just not for us.
Elegant nights were on Monday and Friday. The restaurant looked very pleasant to be in.
Jonathan was our waiter. I forgot the other guys names. They treated us great. By the second night, he knew what was our drinks, and he didn't even have to ask again.
Like I said earlier, don't be a demanding A$$hole. Treat those guys with respect and put a smile to them and you will get it back. If you wanna have your shitty attitude, just go eat at the buffet.
I forgot to mention. This cruise was for my wife and I 5th anniversary, so we decided to give it a try one of the nights to the famous Pinnacle Steakhouse. Previously I read the reviews and they all said it was worth it, and I thank all those people because they were not wrong. It's $30 per person, but it is the best. 5 course meal here people. I wanted to try the lobster, but I had lobster almost every night at the MDR and in Puerto Vallarta, so I tried to the Cowboy Steak. That thing was huge!! 18oz. My wife had the Ribeye steak also 18oz. I tried a little piece, and it had even more flavor than my steak. Both of them were delicious though. It was pretty cool also that the waitress comes and give a little live show of their entries uncooked (they are in plastics) in a rolling cart before you order. They make sure you are making you extra money worth it. The last waitress knew that it was our anniversary, so he brought us our dessert with candles, and demanded for my camera because she wanted us to take a bunch pictures home. I didn't get her name, but she scored a 10 with us, because it is very difficult to be bothering people to take the picture for you. And she was on top of that telling us how to pose for the photos.
Anyways, YOU HAVE TO COME TO EAT AT THE PINNACLE STEAKHOUSE. I'll recommend you to make reservations before you get on the cruise. Just e-mail them, and they respond very fast.
On previous reviews, everyone concluded that this cruise is bathed in Pepto Bismol. Well, it is very true about the walls and almost everywhere you look is very Pink. Pink dots everywhere. We didn't get upset or bothered by it. We went to a cruise to have fun and do lots of activities, not to be in time-out like a bratty kid looking at the wall. Don't let this PINK SITUATION bother you. It's ok that you are an Art critic but whatever, four hours later you will ignore those pink dots.
This cruise have lounges and bars for every occasion. If you want to smoke a cigar, there is a lounge for it. If you want to watch sports, there is a sports bar behind the casino. If you want to sing, there is the piano bar. I can't really comment too much on the other ones because we just didn't go there. But as far as cleanliness and pleasant to be there, you won't regret it. I will not comment on public places on the cruise if you have kids, because I did not bring kids with me.
Red Carpet nightclub=
This is the famous adults nightclub. We went there one night, and it was a lot of fun. We only stayed there for like 30 minutes because we wanted to have energy for Cabo San Lucas the next day. I have to tell you this: put your parents and kids to sleep and come out at 11pm. We saw a lot of single people here, men and women. The cruise director (Todd) comes here to mess and interview people. Don't get too excited about the Red Carpet being a huge night club Studio54 style. It's very small, but it will keep you drunk and having a good time with other cruisers.
The layout is pretty cool. Not that big of a floor but it does its thing.
Let me tell you this, we are gamblers and Vegas goers. Get this in your head, THIS IS NOT LAS VEGAS!!! and those tables and slot machines are loaded. Carnival regulates the Casino, so don't think you are going to come here to make money or encounter fair gambling.
Don't get me wrong, we played here a couple of nights and it was fun. We just didn't play a lot of money, and we were willing to lose what we brought downstairs.
They have this machine called the "CASINO VAULT", and it's like those arcade games you find outside of Denny's to get stuffed animals. With the difference that what you find here is straight cash, and an Ipad2. It's just funny because you play this thing, and everyone is watching you but don't dare to put their dollar in it.
Ohh, I have to warn you about this: If you have kids (minors), leave them in the pool or in the room. You don't see it, but Carnival workers are watching every move and they will ask minors to get out of there. We had to see this dad playing the Casino Vault and his daughters got involved in the game, and next thing you see is a Carnival worker kicking them out.
So my advise for minors trying to play with the adults is to still try it, but be willing to be embarrassed by a Carnival worker. And they won't ask you nice to leave, so I'll leave it up to you. =)
Like I said, it's just a Casino. Don't be too excited about gambling here. I played craps and was broke even. Nothing special about the casino in this cruise.
If you are not staying in a Spa Room and have to pay the 35 dollars it's not worth it. Just use the dry sauna in the gym. They are free for everyone.
Like I said, we had a Spa room, so we were entitled to use their TalazoTherapy pool, relaxation rooms, and two private steaming rooms. They are nice. After a good workout session, it's a good idea to take a very cold shower and get in the TalazoTherapy pool. I used the steaming rooms every single day, then showered, then went into their hot tiled relaxation rooms. Man, what a way to cure hangovers also, lol.
Ohh, as a cruiser staying in a Spa Room, you are entitled to a Yoga class and an ab conditioning class. We passed on this since we are not yoga people, but just so you know.
If you are a spa person, I would recommend you to book a Spa room, that way you don't have to pay the extra $35 a day to use it, nor need to get a massage.
Talking about massages, wait until the very last day at sea. If you decide to get them, they charge over 200 dollars normally. But the very last day at sea, they drop it to $129 for like a 110 massage. It's a full package, then they start dropping down the prices even more. I would recommend you not to book any massages prior to getting on the cruise. Just do it there.
Go first thing in the AM or late at night. It gets packed!!
Their gym is actually a good size gym. The ceiling is pretty low though, so be careful if your workouts included jump squats, jumping jacks or burpess. You will not hit your head, but you can easily hit the ceiling with your hands every time you jump high. Talks a guy that is 5"10". Imagine if you are taller.
I can say it has easily 12-15 treadmills, 8 elliptical, and 10 stationary bikes. It also has a good variety of weight machines, I can easily say one for each main muscle group. Can't complain about that. On the weight area, their biggest dumbell goes up to 60 lbs only, so don't expect this gym to be World Gym or 24 hours Sports. No cable machines either.
In the AM's of sea days, it's just like every other reviewer said; very hard to get on a treadmill. On Friday (Sea Day) we actually went at 2pm and it was pretty empty by then.
But like I said, the gym has enough stuff to burn a good amount of calories and wear out muscles before the 3 course meals and all the junk food you will eat later, because you will, trust me on that one.
Their shows are OK. I can't complain too much about this because they are just free shows to entertain people while cruising. Don't expect either a Las Vegas Cirque Du Soleil, or a Broadway show. Other reviewers were really deeply criticizing these shows but I don't understand why, they are free.
When we ported in Puerto Vallarta, they brought Mariachis from there into the cruise, and folkloric dancers. That show was pretty good. We did enjoy that one.
And the typical of Carnival, on every show the host and performers interact with the audience and make fun of them.
We did take a bunch of professional pictures all over deck 5 on elegant nights. There is no obligation to buy them later, but I would like to make you aware of the price. It's 22 dollars per picture, and they will not go any cheaper either. If you bring a good camera and a good tripod, you can take your own pictures on the scenario. The photographer will NOT take the picture with you camera, just so you know. Or you can have somebody come around to take the picture for you (that's kinda harder).
Ohh, and even at the last day if you want to purchase the photos, they are still $22.
Now the Adult Comedy Show. To be honest, this show wasn't really that funny. We thought it was very funny when we were there because we were very drunk and having a good time with other cruisers. That old dude comedian is just vulgar and interacts with the audience a lot. So for you adults out there that get bother easily by the F word, don't go to the Morocco room at nights.
I highly recommend you to have a few drinks before you come in here. Then it will be funny.
Cabo 1st day=
Pretty cool how you arrive to Cabo. For those of you who never been in a cruise to Cabo, there is no port for the cruise. Little boats (tenders) take you to the Marina. The cruise just stays out in the Ocean.
Now let me tell you a little about excursions and budgeting. We did not book anything through Carnival and we are glad we didn't. Nothing wrong with Carnival sponsoring activities, but they charge more than double for the activities. I understand that they have to make money for the convenience and lunch provided, but that was just too much for us.
We did para sailing, wave runners and off course drink beer the whole day (2x1).
Carnival charges $90 for para sailing activity per person. I wanted to do it, but my wife didn't due to being afraid of heights. We went with Sky King on the Marina, and they charged me $35 and $10 for my wife just going for the ride. I figured I should share this info in the review since people want to know how much to expect to be charged. When you are done with the para sailing, you can tell those guys to drop you off at Medano beach, and they leave you there with no problem.
When we were done with parasailing, we walked to a bar next to "the Office" and drink a bucket of 5 beers for 11 dollars. This bar is not roped off, so all the vendors come around here and try to sell you stuff. Tip: Just be firm and tell them NO GRACIAS. They'll leave you alone.
From that bar we rented a jet ski for an hour. All those vendors try to ask you for $90 an hour. As you walk away they follow and follow until they drop the price to $60 an hour.
Tip for wave runners: Make sure to take a little video of the jet ski with your camera and inspect it very well of any chips and defects already there before you take off. A you make the little video, record the guy that is inspecting it with you and make him confirm everything you say. Just for your protection.
I heard that those guys try to pull a fast one often to people claiming about damages that you "supposedly did" and they even threat you with calling local authorities to make you pay. I was aware of that before I did this thanks to prior reviews on this website, so thanks to all of you.
From the Jet Skis, we wanted to eat at the famous "The Office", but they were with wait list so we decided to leave. Instead, we went next door to Baja Cantina (restaurant bar owned by Cabo Villas). This bar is roped off (no vendors bothering). We ate here and drank 2x1 margaritas for the rest of the afternoon. Another thing to share: I know you are in Mexico, but you spend dollars just like if you were in the USA. Food is kinda pricey here, but it's very good. Moving on, some guy from the water activities at this hotel came over to offer a timeshare presentation. Let me tell you this, if you want freebies but can't handle selling pressure and being called names just don't do it. We went ahead and signed up for the next day to do it, and they offered us a lot of good stuff. If you do this, get as much stuff as you can from the guy. Example: Massages at the spa for two people 100 minutes for 80 bucks, 60 dollars credit for food and ALCOHOLICS DRINKS on Baja Cantina, and the future staying there. You can even ask for more stuff, like ask him to rent you jet skis for $45-50 an hour if you sign up. He'll ask you for a $20 deposit, but you DO get it back believe it or not.
Cabo 2nd day=
First thing we did was get that stupid timeshare presentation out of the way. It didn't go that bad at all. The seller called me names, got so frustrated that had to just let us go with our freebies. hahahaha. After that presentation, OFF COURSE we went back to Baja Cantina to drink and drink more with our credit at the bar. We did not spend a penny here. Only what we paid in tips for the waiter which was like 10 bucks, and that was actually too much, but whatever, he deserved it.
We decided to do massages at the beach in this resort, so we paid 60 dollars a person for an hour. We actually paid a lot for this, but we just didn't feel like going to the Marina to Lolo's to pay $25 dollars an hour. Plus we were kinda scared that the seller from the timeshare had buddies outside waiting for us to harm us. lol. Let me tell you, I frustrated that man so much that I was kinda scared of our safety. Anyways, the massages we did here at Cabo Villas were THE BEST. I'm not a massage person and actually didn't want to do it, but my wife loves getting massages so I went ahead and did it too. I did it for her. What the heck, I'm on vacations and I didn't spend any money today by doing a timeshare presentation. lol.
Let me tell you this, those massage ladies resuscitated us I would describe. Forget the Spa in the cruise. Just wait until you arrive in Cabo and do them on the beach. Nobody will be around watching you. They have their little cabana, and they close it down when they are massaging you.
Expect to pay between 30-60 dollars per hour when you do massages on the beach. It all depends on where you go. Like I said we paid $60, but you can find on the Marina and even on the beach somewhere else for $30.
From there, we went back to the Marina. We didn't want to take the long walk aroud the whole Marina again (because is a LONG WALK), so we took a water taxi and took us right in front of our tenders to go back to the ship. It was just 4 dollars per person.
When we got to the MArina, we still had time to spend in Cabo, so we went to drink in sports bars close by, and found out is even cheaper than Medano Beach. They have little stores and vendors around here, and talk about BARGAIN!! If one vendor doesn't want to lower the price for you on hats or shirts, don't worry; the next one will work with you.
Ohh before I forget. I know you want to go drink and get on CABO mode, but don't over do it. Remember that the only way to get back to the cruise is in Tenders, and they move awful. In our tender, this chick was so DRUNK that she was just throwing up and spitting on the Ocean. We were off course laughing and taking pictures of her but it was just disgusting. So keep that in mind, lol.
I believe if you go even deeper in Cabo, you find even more cheaper restaurants and bars. But, I will find out about that one when we come back in our free stay.
I'm going to be honest with you in this one. We were very afraid of doing anything in this city. After what happened to prior cruisers about getting robbed at gunpoint, We were very unmotivated to even get off the ship.
We did anyways, we took a cab to El Malecon beach and messed around the beach. We were drinking beer for 20 pesos and doing shopping. We did not do any excursions due to what I just said, but everything seemed to be fine for other cruisers. I think security implemented after that horrible incident, that I'm pretty sure you will be ok doing any excursions here. A couple in our table did the tequila tasting, and gave us the best reviews about it. Like I said earlier, we did not do it but it looks like it's very worth it. They said they paid like us$60-70 a person with Carnival for like 3 or 4 hours, plus they give you lunch.
Ohh wait, we did go eat to a Restaurant called RIO GRANDE, and ordered the Mariscada for two. That thing had a big lobster, Red snapper, other fish (I forgot the name), oysters, shrimp rice, vegetables, bread, tostada shells, and other stuff for 55 dollars. Let me tell you this. At dinner that night on the cruise, they had oysters, fish and lobster. CRAP!!! they were very good, and we were kickin ourselves for eating that much at lunch the same thing. Don't get me wrong, the food at this restaurant in PV was great, but we could of eat the same for dinner without having to spend that much money and avoid the food comma for diner. LOL.
Lido Deck Bars=
Drinks at these bars are expensive. 8-9 bucks per cocktail and 6-8 a beer. Not that fancy cocktails like 7 and 7 is 6.25 after gratuities. Many new cruisers wonder how much is liquor in the cruises, so there it is. (All other bars have the same prices). It's pretty cool to hang out here bc it's just bars outside by the pool. And when you get a chair to lay there (if you can get one), you have someone from Carnival already on you making sure you need any drink, or having a good time. I like to mention about the pool on this deck because the buffet and Pizza Pirate is next to it. So if you get hungry and want to grab a piece of pizza or some little snack, just take a few steps. No need to go dress up like going in the MDR.
The Pizza Pirate is open 24 hours. The Calzones are delicious. You have to order those right there, but it's worth waiting the 15 minutes.
It wasn't bad either. We weren't in a rush to get out, so we went ahead and put our luggage outside of the room the very last night with our disembarkation tags numbered.
It was just funny that a lot of people were doing self disembarkation, and they didn't even realize that the luggage are already waiting for you outside in your zone.
When your zone is called, it moves quick. It's not that disorganized like everybody reviews it.
I saw also that it gets a little more complicated if you are coming with handicapped family members, but that's just like everywhere else. So don't panic.
Now, Like I said many times already, it was just two of us in this cruise. If you are coming in this cruise just with your girlfriend/boyfriend or spouse; it will be very weird if you find issues and problems.
If you come with a family of 25-50 members, you will find a lot of issues. Don't get me wrong, it's not your family size's fault. It's just extremely hard to accommodate big groups and coordinate every single one to be happy. Don't blame it on Carnival. They actually DO their best.
Enjoy the CARNIVAL SPLENDOR.