This was our 11th cruise and my second time on the Splendor. We have been on five different lines. They all have their strengths and weaknesses but are so similar I think it is ridiculous to think one line is very much better than another. My wife prefers Celebrity; I prefer Princess but Carnival is fine with us too.
My wife and I are in our later 40's and our children are from 12 to young adults. Everyone had a wonderful time as we knew we would since we have been on it before and let's face it, you have to try pretty hard to have a bad cruise!
Debarkation was one of the best I have ever had. We live about 1Â½ hours away so we drove to the port and parked in their structure; expensive but very convenient. We arrived about 10:30 and on board in about an hour. There was no line to speak of. We just had to wait for the customs clearance and the VIPs and groups ahead of us. We went to the lido for food. The cabin was ready ahead of schedule; you have to check because they won't announce it.
Food: probably the most important thing to me on a cruise.
Lido; Pretty good. Carnival has a good buffet selection so you can always find something tasty. If you don't like it, don't eat it. When someone complains that they ate something they did not like then that is their fault for eating it. Could any cruise line cook a dish that all 3,000 guests would like? No, so don't finish it if you don't like it. Try something else. On the Lido I liked the burrito bar for lunch, the steak meat for the burrito's was surprisingly good. The sandwich bar at the back of the ship was awesome; try the combo. The grill by the pool was just OK, the fries were better than McDonald's though. The pizza was average but you must try the goat cheese one. I don't remember what it was called. You have to order it special but it was worth the wait. I tried the Mongolian BBQ the last time and did not care for it (it is not Mongolian BBQ) so I did not bother this time. The Indian food at the back of the ship had a couple good things. I saw some Indian looking people frequent it so it must be good. The buffet always had something interesting. If you are willing to walk around you can avoid lines. One buffet line will be long but the same food on the other side of the ship may have no line at all. People tend to want to stand in a line if others are doing it so if you are not set on that particular food or line and can walk around, you can usually find one with little or no waiting.
Dining Room; beautiful, crowded, great service, and all the things you expect. We only tried breakfast and lunch there once. The food then was quick and hot but I prefer to eat on deck. We ate every dinner there though. We had late seating, 8:15. Normally that is too late but not on a ship. Eating late extends your day and the deck is great when all the early eaters leave around 4:00. Also when you get in Mexico the time is one or two hours earlier so it is not too late. Service was great, best water cup fillers I have ever had on a ship. We had three servers so service was quick. The menu seemed a little slim but still plenty to choose from. If you count the everyday items they have around ten entrees to choose from. I always get two entrees. Deserts were great. Carnival may not have the best food but it is always good. You would have to be a real food snob to not find something you like every night.
Room was fine, bed was good, and steward was fast. We got an outside portal for the cost of an inside room since we booked early. No complaints but we never care too much about the room on a cruise.
Entertainment: Carnival is strong in the production shows with very good singing and dancing etc. Comedians were funny. Always something going on somewhere on the ship if you want to do something. Late dinning time means sometimes the show is before dinner so you have to watch the schedule.
Kids Club: The teens went to the teen's club and had a blast.
In Cabo we just walked to Medano beach the first day. It was about a mile walk around the harbor but it was pleasant except for the persistent vendors. I was stung by a jelly fish at the beach but it did not hurt long. We took a water taxi back ($2 per person) which dropped us off at the local's beach. We had a short walk around the military base back to the tender. Kind of interesting but had no problem. The next day took a glass bottom boat tour with drop off at Lover's beach, cost $60 for eight people. Snorkeled at Pelican rock near Lover's Beach which was decent. It was low tide so we could walk to the Arch. Be careful swimming at Lover's beach area; someone dies every year in the weird tides.
Puerto Vallarta; we just walked to the beach in front of the hotels near the ship. You have to just go through the gift shops and the parking lot to an open gate by the rock jetty. Just ask information when you get off the boat. We tried to hang out at Krystal Resort Pool but they said they have new management and do not let the ship people do that anymore unless you buy a day pass for $25. That covers drinks and food so it is a pretty good deal but we were full already so we just went to the beach for free. Kids did parasailing and horse back riding on the beach.
Shopping; I seldom buy anything in Mexico, I can get the same junk in LA for cheaper but my family loves to shop. Remember you can usually get it for half of what they initially offer it for.
Kids on board. I read lots of reviews that complain about children on board. Carnival has lots of kids but I enjoy it. On this cruise, as usual, the only passengers we saw who were rude, cut in line, loud mouthed, foul language, and just plain crabby, were all adults. Kids enjoying life should not make anyone mad. They generally will not purposely offend anyone, the grumpy adults, who know better, will.
This cruise had special meaning for my family. Three years ago on the Splendor my 18 year old son discovered lumps in his lymph nodes. He was later diagnosed with Leukemia. (Not because of the ship of course) After three years of Chemo he is in full remission. We took this cruise to celebrate, on the same ship. I say if you fall of a horse you get back on!
A cruise is the best vacation for just a couple or a family, or for a couple to start their family ;) You will love it, unless you are grumpy!