I had read dozens of reviews of the Carnival Splendor before embarking and having sailed Carnival twice before - both mediocre experiences, I knew what to expect. However, I was cautious nonetheless having read several negative reviews.
And, I am glad to report I was very, very pleasantly surprised. We had a very nice and relaxing cruise. I have sailed on 15 cruises with various lines - some worse, some better - but for middle of the road, the Splendor was fine.
EMBARKATION: A snap. From curbside to having lunch on the lido - 20 minutes top. Everything was all smiles, politeness and efficiency. And we received our bags within two hours of boarding.
THE SHIP: I had read several reviews of people complaining about the decor and I studied dozens of pictures. First - remember it's Carnival. I am not a fan of Farcus, but he definately makes a decorative statement. The pink pallet throughout the ship isn't bad at all. I was concerned I'd be overwhelmed, but not at all. The ship is large, which was shared with 2,500 other passengers and the only time it felt crowded was on the afternoon of embarkation when everyone was eating at the lido, at the Chocolate Buffet and during evening's at sea when portraits were being taken along the promenade. Yes - they take a lot of pictures, but you don't have to have your picture taken nor purchase any. Yes - the sell drinks, but all you have to do is say "No, thank you." We didn't feel hounded at all by crew trying to sell us things.
THE CABIN: We had an outside balcony cabin. A must. It was enough room with plenty of storage space and we enjoyed propping our door open and listening to a distant storm at sea. Shampoo and body wash are provided. And we received a sample of toothpaste the second night out. The bathrobes are very comfy as are the beds. We slept very well and weren't disturbed at all by either of our neighbors. Room service menu is sufficient and delivery was quick. Our steward did a great job of keeping everything nice and neat.
FOOD: The Black Pearl was fine. Several reviews complained about the food, but it's Carnival. It's not Cunard or Crystal. It was fine. You don't pay $900 a week for a balcony cabin, transportation to ports, entertainment and lotsa food and expect haute cuisine. One evening we dined at Pinnacle, which we found very disappointing. My entree had a great deal of fat and a few of the sides were just inedible. If you bring a bottle of wine on your own, there is a $14 cork fee, FYI. Lotsa people raved about Pinnacle, but not so much here.
ENTERTAINMENT: VROOM and Fiesta Latina were both EXCELLENT. One night a singer gave a one man show, and he was very cheesy and kinda ridiculous and reminded me of the SNL lounge singer skits Nice voice, though. We enjoyed the trivia games but didn't venture to the disco. We gambled a bit, but payout on ships is notoriously bad.
PORTS: Two days in Cabo is TOO much. Oh - we went into the side streets looking for some deals and discovered the huge souvenir shop right at the pier was MUCH CHEAPER than any other place. MUCH! Puerta was nice - the downtown is beautiful with a great walk along the ocean. We had a nice little lunch before heading back to the ship.
So - overall, a nice trip. Nothing really to complain about. So there.