We traveled on the Splendor over Labor Day. Embarkation in Los Angeles was a bit chaotic given a delay for crew change and a requirement that all crew go through Customs. Everything was orderly except for the people who seemed to think the ship was going to leave without them (at 10:30 in the morning) and pushed and maneuvered to get ahead even 6 inches. We were able to go to our room as soon as we boarded, which is unusual, but we were glad to dump off our carry ons. This is the first time they have shaken the water bottles in Los Angeles, but we have had that done in Galveston. Interestingly, they did not seem to care at all about the two wine bottles. We enjoyed our lunch and the beautiful day on the aft deck. Noticeable changes in security procedures and muster drill. They actually checked to make sure all of the kids had wristbands, which we did not experience on our last cruise.
We booked a spa balcony, mostly because the price was the same as a regular balcony. We enjoyed having access to the spa areas, but not sure we would pay extra for it. The room had some different decorations and a few travel bottles of "spa products," but nothing special or worth an additional fee. The best thing about our room was Edwin and his outstanding crew. They took great care of us and made some of the best towel creatures I have ever seen!
This is the first time we tried "my time" dining, and we actually loved it. We had absolutely no problem getting a table within three minutes of arrival at the Black Pearl. The food arrived quickly and was always hot. It's not the greatest, but having cruised on Carnival many times, we actually thought it was better than other cruises. What did surprise us, however, was the inferior food and service in the steakhouse. The steakhouse is usually a highlight of our trips, but this time we felt like the steak in the main dining room was better.
The Captain made a schedule change and went to Puerto Vallarta first. It turned out to be a brillant decision on his part because we ended up with great weather in both PV and Cabo. We highly recommend the Puerto Vallarta Las Caletas beach excursion and would definitely rate it as one of our top 3 cruise excursions of all time. The tour staff was absolutely outstanding and entertaining. The location was fabulous. Great fun and great food too! We are not too thrilled by the two days in Cabo, particularly since the second day was shortened quite a bit. Given the time it takes to tender on and off, we never even left the ship on the second day since I believe the last tender back was around noon or 1 o'clock. I really wish they would consider a day in La Paz instead of two days in Cabo.
We had a great time listening to all of the comedians. We also enjoyed the Vroom show. And, of course, we love our bingo.
A lot of people complain about the Splendor, but other than her choppy layout, it was really quite fine. The pool temperature was great. They would close the skylight roof over the Lido pool at various times to make it more enjoyable. I also noticed that lounge chair management and unauthorized children in the adult areas had improved a lot since our last time on Carnival.
Debarkation was a breeze. Our large suitcase was waiting for us in the designated area. Tricky to get an elevator in the parking garage, but we were not in a huge hurry to get on the freeway. We definitely had a great vacation.