What a wonderful time on the Splendour of the Seas!
Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
My husband and our families (parents and sisters) traveled on the Splendour of the Seas on 10/20/12 and we couldn't have had a better time on our cruise. The ship was amazing. The refurbishment was well worth it and almost everything looked new or recently updated. The best part about it was our rooms. Our room and our sisters' room were located on deck 7 and they were full ocean view rooms, with floor to ceiling windows. Our room, 7066, was quite a bit larger than our sisters' room, as well as our parents' balcony rooms located down the hall. It almost felt like the size of a suite, without the hefty price. We definitely lucked out. We had a theory that these rooms were new (a row of 5 rooms, on decks 6 and 7) because they were the only window rooms on the entire deck (all of the others being balcony rooms) and they were so spacious. Just a theory though, not sure if this is correct.
The activities on the ship were so much fun, mainly due to all of the More
cruise/activity directors. We participated in British trivia, music movie trivia, the adult quest game show, the white party, the 70's dance party, and the battle of the sexes game show. All of them were so much fun! We also saw most of the shows in the 42nd Street Theater (very comfy seats!). We thought all of the performers were very entertaining (particularly the band covering ABBA songs and the gentlemen performing hits from the 1950's and 1960's).
The food was excellent on board. We ate in the King & I Dining Room every night for dinner (we had My Time Dining, but we reserved a table for 8 every night at 7pm prior to boarding). It all worked out great. The Windjammer offered a huge selection for breakfast and we mainly ate lunch (if we weren't exploring a town) at the Park Cafe in the Solarium or the hot dog stand. Both were delicious. Since my husband and our families had only cruised once before, and not with RC, we were surprised to see the variety of free drinks available. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, water, lemonade, iced tea, apple juice, orange juice, and fruit punch were always available, which we all loved.
The ports were wonderful. We stopped in Bari, Corfu, Mykonos, Athens, and Dubrovnik. We didn't do any shore excursions through RC because we're not a fan of large groups; instead, we planned private tours prior to leaving for the trip. The timing was nice for these ports too because for two of stops, we didn't dock until the afternoon, which allowed us to sleep in a bit.
Overall, I would highly recommend this cruise. My husband and I are in our 20's and we enjoyed it just as much as our parents who are in their 50's. We can't wait to cruise with Royal Caribbean again! Less
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Cabin review: Splendour of the Seas
Deck 7, room 7066: Surprisingly large room, with floor to ceiling windows. Small bathroom, but recently updated with new sink and countertop. All linens and drapes looked new and clean. The location was great - right next to the mid ship elevators. No noise issues from above, but on some nights we could hear the music from the centrum, but that always ended at midnight. I would highly recommend this room!
Port and Shore Excursions
We arranged a private tour through Private Greece tours with Nikos prior to leaving for our trip. Since we wanted to see as much as Athens as possible, a private tour was the best option for us because we got to tailor our schedule for the day. We met Nikos in the port terminal at 8am and immediately drove to the Acropolis before the crowds starting pouring in. We didn't have to wait in any lines and easily walked to the top in just a few minutes. We joke now that we basically had the entire Acropolis to ourselves. Our pictures are phenomenal due to this. By the time we headed back down around 10am, the line to get in was unbelievable. We really lucked out. It would have been miserable waiting in that long of a line, but luckily it was cool out. I can't imagine what it's like in the summer heat. We highly recommend that if you want to see the Acropolis, do it as early as possible. Next, we headed to the Temple of Olympian Zeus, then to the old Olympic stadium, then to the changing of the guard. We drove around downtown Athens for a bit before ending up at a lunch spot near the Plaka. We strolled through the Plaka, did some shopping, then visited the Ancient Agora. After, we headed to the new Acropolis museum, but my husband and I decided to walk around the streets of Athens given that we only had an hour before driving back to the ship. All in all, we had an amazing day in Athens thanks to our tour with Nikos. I personally would pay the extra money for a private tour because you get to see a lot more than the large tour groups through RC, and you don't have to deal with the subway or taxis.
We booked our tour online through Get Your Guide and paid quite a bit less than the tour to Alberobello through RC. Our group (8 of us) arrived in Bari at noon on the Splendour of the Seas and met our guide, Catarina, outside the port terminal. We quickly found her and waited only for a couple minutes for another couple to join us for our day trip to Alberobello. With a total of 10 people on our tour, we really lucked out. The group size was very manageable and we had a nice small bus to ourselves with plenty of room (we saw the Royal Caribbean tours and they were 50+ people). We made it to Alberobello in about an hour and had a lovely tour around the town. Catarina was fantastic! She was full of knowledge about the Trulli and shared interesting stories while we strolled through the town. After the tour, we were left with about 45 minutes of free time which allowed us to eat paninis and gelato. On our way back to Bari, we took another road along the coast which was beautiful. We made a stop for those who wanted to see St. Nicholas' Basilica before the bus stopped at the port terminal. We decided to get off and see the church, but it didn't take long. Our walk back to the ship took about 10 minutes. Although we didn't spend much time in Bari, I'm glad we took a tour away from the city. It didn't look like there was much to do there.
My husband and I chose to explore Corfu by foot. Royal Caribbean runs a shuttle from the port terminal to the main town square and I would highly recommend purchasing tickets for this ($10pp round trip). The walk looked like a nice walk but considering our time constraints, we wanted to see as much as the old town as possible. We first decided to explore the old fort. It wasn't too bad of a climb, but I would recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes. The top of the fort offers excellent views of the ocean and Corfu's old town. After that, we decided to walk around the town and take in the sights. We were probably in Corfu for a total of 3 hours and it felt like we saw as much as we could by foot. We're not really into shopping and that's mainly what the old town offers (lots of souvenir shops). We did get a delicious chocolate croissant though! Our parents took a shore excursion through RC to the palace and monastery and really enjoyed it.
I had done some research before and found out from another cruise critic member that taxis were available for a panoramic tour (1 hour) of Dubrovnik for 50 euros as you exited the cruise ship. Fortunately, this proved to be right! Our group of 8 fit in two taxis and off we went. As we winded up a narrow road, we stopped at about 3 places to take pictures of the old town. It was absolutely breathtaking and the weather was perfect. We ended up at the very top of the mountain where the cable car drops people off. After, our taxi drivers dropped us off at the entrance of the old town. We bought tickets for the 'walking of the walls' once we were in the old town and started climbing to the top (BTW, when we were leaving the old town, we noticed a long line for the tickets, so the best advice would be to do this early). Fortunately, all of us are in pretty good shape, but we saw some people struggling to get to the top (we started at one of several entrances around the city, so maybe it's easier elsewhere). Just imagine two long sets of steep stairs. Once we were at the top, we had a blast walking the walls and taking tons of pictures. It was still pretty early (probably 9:30am), so they weren't too crowded. Also, as someone who is afraid of heights, it didn't bother me too much, but that's probably because it wasn't crowded. It would probably be another story if it was hot and packed with people. After walking the walls (it took us about 45 minutes), we walked strolled down the Plaka and checked out the harbor. The water is beautiful in Dubrovnik. We did some window shopping and gelato eating and grabbed a taxi back to the ship (cost was 10 euros) around noon because we had to be back on the ship by 1pm.
We tendered into Mykonos around 2pm and set off to explore the town by foot. We had a great time getting lost in the little streets and alleys with the beautiful white buildings and blue roofs. We walked to the windmills (not far, maybe 5 minute walk) and decided to walk up father to get a better view of the town. We ate at a wonderful gyro place, probably the best gyro of my life. I wish I remembered the name of it. We also indulged in gelato near the harbor. Overall, the city of very doable on your own. Our parents took a shore excursion through RC to Delos and very much enjoyed it. I think it's a great option if you like Greek mythology/ancient ruins. They arrived back in Mykonos and had plenty of time to explore the town.