Lets start out with saying I have cruised Carnival 3 other times and the last time was going to be a last time with a photographer in Port of Miami baring me from coming on board ship before I would stop with my family and take a photo.At this point I had all but washed my hands of them.
I believe Carnival is really wanting to lose the moniker of being the Walmart of cruise lines and still over a great cruise for a great price.I had originally wanted to do this route with the Disney Wonder on their last sailing because I love the ports. But at the last minute Disney jumped their price up over one thousand dollars for a balcony cabin. I got the Carnival cruise for half the price going spa balcony.We sailed with two first time cruisers my daughter in law and granddaughter who is 13.
Carnival executive assistant Kay set us up with VIP embarkation which was very nice we were personally escorted with the other VIPs past the lines and were on the ship at 11:30 am.Very smooth and organized. Also had some goodies in the room champagne and a fruit basket as well as some chocolate covered strawberries. Thank you Kay. This was for my bad experience with Carnival.
Let me go over the great stuff first.
I have sailed only Fantasy class in my past cruises with Carnival and they were ok.
This ship was big and beautiful. I am NOT a fan of Joe Farcus and glad to see he is going away from Carnival. Nothing against Joe personally I just think his designs are bad and gaudy.
Not so with the Splendor. I have heard people call it the pink nightmare but its really not that. Its not hot pink but rather a subtle salmon. Every nook and space of this ship is really splendid. The retro floor to wall pictures between cabins is a very cool touch and we spent one day just looking at the pics and stuff on the wall. Very cool. Cant figure out the naked statues by the bar areas but a lot of people were taking pics of them.
Photographers were great on this ship the cruise elegant night pictures we had taken were the best we have ever had on 10 cruises.
To bad Carnival still does not enforce the dress code that even the Maitre D stated would be enforced in the dining room. O well
Our cabin was great (I posted a video tour on U Tube). A little small for four people but still good. Balcony was small plus on the down side people that are on the Serenity deck can see right down on you if you are not flat against the wall. Amenities were great with lots of cool Elemis stuff and beige towels. Oriental decor is great as well. On the downside only two people get unlimited use of the Thasso pool and steam rooms not all people booked in rooms.Plus it is advertised you get two free fitness classes (only two people get this as well). You get two free yoga classes and it is only on Mon,Tues or Fri.
The cabin is up high on 11 deck but the rocking was not bad except on the last day back when the whole ship was rocking pretty good (and such is the Pacific).
Worst thing about the room though was that people tend to congregate over the edge of the Serenity deck and you can hear them down in your room. We were in 1103 and even though we were near the entrance to the spa and the elevator there was not an excess of noise here.Found butts on my balcony one morning which was bad from people flicking their butts so make sure you don't leave stuff drying out here.That really could cause a problem.
Nan our room steward and Luis her assistant were the best we have had at sea. They remembered our names and used them every time.
You always here this talked about but these folks (except for Disney) used them.
Cruise director Todd Wittmer was great very good and congenial host. His staff however for the most part was rude and acted like they didn't want to be there most of all some blond lady from Atlanta.All this was odd to me because Todd was such a great guy but your staff always reflects a leaders leadership. So ???
Shows were great still some of the best at sea.
Food choices were also very good from the sushi bar which also served tapas on some days, to Indian, burrito bar, grilled food, and many other choices. Plus Carnival bought back the Chocolate buffet which was laid out and looked great. No ice sculptures but still some great presentation.
Food was good. There pumpkin soup is still the best at sea.
Plate presentation was a zero here literally none at all. But the food still tasted very good and there were lots of choices.
The opportunity here still is the staff. The buffet staff were just glorified busboys not bad people mind you they would say hi back if you said hi. But they just kind of hovered in the background waiting to clear the table. Not once was I offered by them to refresh my drink.
We did Anytime dining which was a nightmare the first night. Got a waiter that actually acted like we were an inconvenience to him. I then went to guest services and pulled all our tips for dining staff for the entire week and requested envelopes.
The second night was better and kudos to Lucio and Eduardo who were great. I found that even with anytime dining you can request the waiter every night which we did.
The Matre D Larissa from Lithuania was the best and most engaged of any Maitre D we have seen in our 10 cruises and we have had good ones on Disney and Princess. She was fun and even stopped at our table to chat a bit and see how things were going. I really liked how Carnival seems to be taking guests complaint seriously now.
Disappointed that the dress code was not kept on Elegant nights but O well.
Our 13 year old daughter has a bit of a hard time the first day out getting her sea legs but after that we were fine.
The ship was very easy to get around in and all the pools and water slide was great. Our 13 year old decided to to use Circle C because there really was not a lot going on for here age group and you could tell this by a almost zero lack of participation from this club.
Punchliner Comedy club was great. Family shows were better than the adult shows. One comic almost seemed uncomfortable with his own gratuitous cussing. Didn't seem to fit him.
Couple of things that stuck out that need improvement.
Movie selection on the big screen on deck was awful.
No current run movies.
Now of course I don't cruise just to watch a movie but after a long day at shore its cool to sit back on deck and watch a movie. But "Field of Dreams"? Hey I like that movie but how about something current that you are charged 10.99 in your cabin for.
Besides the shows and Comedy club the music was very good Jimmy's band on the main stage was great as well as the Latin band. Not a whole lot to do on the ship besides that and Skippy the shopping guru was not as engaged or nice as you would expect.
The one big downer was coming on board and finding nothing-zero-to recognize you as a past guest. Not even a welcome back card written in your room. We had some goodies because of past problems but there was nothing to recognize us in our cabins for being past cruisers. Well let me correct that there was a free 45 minute party for past guests with free booze. But what happens if you don't drink?
The captain here was probably the only one I have seen in past cruises that was not at all engaged with his guests. At the Captains party I could not even find the Captain plus no pictures were taken with him at all that I could find. And when I asked guest services they said no the captain would not take picture with the guests. That's the first Ive seen this on any ship including Carnival.
And the captains lack of guest engagement will always reflect on the crew which he commands.Big disappointment. Plus a really rough ride back home on this ship.
Last thing was the mattresses in our cabin. Not sure where they got these or if Carnival is cutting costs but there is no way these mattresses were the same as we have experienced on past Carnival cruises.Not even very comfortable at all. And this is a category where Carnival surpassed any cruise line I have ever sailed with from Disney,Princess,and RC.
Whats up here?
All in all though great cruise at a great price.
I do believe Carnival is starting to really listen to guests complaints and doing something about it.
I will cruise them at this point again.
Most of all because of their price point.