Subscribe today
Get Cruise Critic in your inbox
Your Ultimate Cruise Guide

Carnival Splendor Cruise Review by NJB_Cooper&Merrick: The Balcony room was the trip's salvation!


NJB_Cooper&Merrick
1 Review
0 Post

Member Rating

Cabin 5.0
Dining 2.0
Embarkation 5.0
Enrichment Activities 1.0
Entertainment 2.0
Family & Children Not Rated
Fitness & Recreation 4.0
Public Rooms 3.0
Rates 2.0
Service 3.0
Shore Excursions 5.0
Value for Money 2.0

Compare Prices on Carnival Splendor Mexican Riviera Cruises

The Balcony room was the trip's salvation!

Sail Date: December 2012
Destination: Mexican Riviera
Embarkation: Los Angeles

We sailed on the New Year's Eve cruise (7-night, Mexican Riviera) on the Carnival Splendor, leaving Los Angeles on 30 December 2012.

It had been 15 years since we cruised on Carnival, and since then, we've sailed with Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Raddisson Seven Seas. There were four of us traveling and we had two balcony staterooms on the Empress Deck (7).

This sail is notable because of the holiday, and because the Splendor is moving to New York. it was an extremely full ship and the most crowded cruise we've been on so far. We didn't have a choice of dates, due to our son's school schedule; needless to say, if we did have a choice, we would definitely have chosen a less popular time to cruise. This review will be based on a full-capacity ship experience, so bear that in mind as you read :).

The absolutely best thing about this cruise was by far the balcony room -- we were extremely happy we decided to upgrade. No matter how crowded the decks More got (and again, on this cruise, picture, literally, wall to wall adults and children, nary an empty deck lounge anywhere), the balcony was a lovely, beautiful place to sit and read, eat, or just look at the sea.

Food:

We did the YTD (Your Time Dining) and were seated almost immediately with the exception of one day, when we went at 7 p.m. on the last elegant night. I did notice that there was almost always a line when we were done eating (and we often ate early, by 6 p.m.)

Beef dishes were hit and miss, but the prime rib and chateau briand were very good.

The soups were often delicious -- the Thai soups, the creams soups (with the exception of the corn chowder, which was not).

A good go-to starter is the shrimp cocktail.

The best desserts were the two Creme Brulees. If they're on the menu, and you want dessert, get that. The low/no sugar desserts were almost inedible. Most of the time, our son (15) opted to go to Lido to get the Swirled Yogurt (there is also Swirled ice cream). I didn't try either, but my son and husband really liked the frozen yogurt.

The food really wasn't that great on the whole.

Remember, we were there when it was very crowded. When the dining room and buffets were closed, the only open areas: the grill for hamburgers and hotdogs, pizza and the deli had very long lines. It was hard to get through room service and service is, understandably, slow.

Some of the wait staff seemed disgruntled -- again, the hoards of guests may have something to do with that.

My family liked the burgers at the Grill, but not in the dining room. The pizza was good, but a challenge to get to -- the lines were often long, and the pizza guy was disgruntled.

I didn't like any of the Lido (Deck 9) food, with the exception of Special K cereal and the Rotisserie. The Rotisserie chicken was good (it looks dry, but it's not) and the mac and cheese there is very good, esp. with the provided bacon bits.

The Sweet Shop items weren't very good, frankly, but the two things I thought were good (and remember, this is only IMHO) were the carmel cheesecake and the key lime pie.

Three very helpful suggestions I found on this site that were terrific --

bring a clock (or use your tablet)

and a power cord. There is only one outlet in the entire room.

bring a bungee cord to hold the balcony door open.

Also:

The rooms do have a hairdryer, but it is stationary (attached) to the top right drawer of the room's credenza. The bathrooms have a pull-out, round, magnifying mirror.

The showers have body wash and shampoo dispensers (but no conditioner). The shower head does raise and lower. The half-egg sized knob on the left turns on the water. The one opposite it controls the hot/cold water.

The bathrooms do have kleenex and on the cruise we were on, there were also samples of Garnier hair shampoo/condition as well as toothpaste.

BEVERAGES

They provide coffee, hot tea, cocoa, iced tea (very, very strong iced tea), lemonade and water and, of course, ice. They've replaced glasses with pre-schooler, colored plastic cups. During buffet hours, there is reduced fat milk, fat-free milk, chocolate milk, apple and orange juice.

Bring a drink bottle (I have one of those screw-top 24 oz. built-in straw things). You can fill it with ice and make your own drinks with drink packets (we brought a bunch of Single-to-Go Snapple teas, drinks) or soda. I

Bring a stainless thermoses. You can make one with hot tea on the Lido deck, and bring it to your room and have tea. The hot-drink cups are very small. If you're trying to take it to your room, you will either be finished with it by the time you arrive or it will be cold.

You can bring two bottle of wine each and a case of sodas (12-pack). HOWEVER, remember to "carry on" these -- don't pack them in your main luggage that you handover to porters when you arrive (otherwise, your luggage will be delayed and they will open and dismantle your luggage. Less


Read more Carnival Splendor cruise reviews >>
Read Cruise Critic's Carnival Splendor Review >>

Cabin review: Carnival Splendor Balcony Empress 7358

Review of Stateroom 7538 Carnival Splendor (Category 8C) This was an absolutely wonderful room. My father and son had the mirror image room in 7344 and everyone preferred our room (it could be because we kept it very near and rarely used the all-lights feature). The balcony is a very comfortable size. There are two deck chairs and a small metal table. If you have traveling companions in rooms directly adjacent to you (we didn't have that option available by the time we booked), they can open the divider between the rooms, creating an even larger deck. Stateroom 7358 can accommodate three guests, and if there are only two of you, the third bed serves as a very nice leather couch. There is a reading lamp at each bedside. Also at bedside are cute little nightstands that have a small door and is great for storage (I kept my cel phone, laptop, iPad and purse in it). There are three closet doors right at the entrance to the room, opposite the bathroom door. Two of the closets are for hanging clothes and are very roomy. We asked for extra hangers, which weren't available immediately, and were a hodgepodge of "leftover" "regular" (i.e. non-wood like ones that are standard in each close); they were totally fine and we were able to keep all our clothes hung. There is a shelf at the bottom of each of the "hanging closets," designed, I believe, for shoes. If you only bring a couple pair, it would be fine, but to more pairs than that, you'd have to get on your knees (and it's a fairly dark). I used it to store folded dresses I'd already worn. The third closet, closest to the desk/credenza is shelved. We used it for folded clothes. I stacked my small cross body purses and shoes here -- I brought (too many) pairs of shoes I wanted to be able to see and access easily. There are four stacked drawers to left (right next to the shelved closet). The top drawer is designed for the hairdryer (they provide one, but since it is connected to the drawer, it can only be used in that area), and is split in two, the second open area is a tray -- you could put change and keep your key cards there so you always know where they are; we used it to keep our Singles-to-Go Snapple Tea packets. There are two very large mirrors framed with two long lights and one modern glass wall lamp attached directly to the mirror. There is a single drawer center, which is great for makeup, or for what we used it for, various and sundry items. The next cabinet is the mini-bar. They cannot take the items in the mini-bar away, but if you want to use it, you can ask the steward to open the mini-bar, remove the items (which they'll put on the open shelf to the credenza far right) and use it for your own drinks. There is also a small, upholstered stool under that single drawer and a stainless steel trashcan under that. There is also a small safe in the next, double-door storage area -- you won't be able to put your laptop in there. I have an 11" Macbook Air and it wouldn't fit, but my iPad mini did. We just used it to store credit cards, cash and our passports. The bathroom is very serviceable. There are three glass shelves of varying sizes on either side of the mirror. There is also a faux shell porcelain corner dish that they put toothpaste and Garnier sample shampoo in -- I removed those and used it for my makeup and it was perfect. I was able to use it in the bathroom and carry it to the mirrored credenza area, too. The TV is a 19" and we had it on mute almost the entire time, with the ship's information (meaning the map to show where we were) on. They show one free movie daily, I believe, and have other channels (on our sail it was a Florida feed), but I didn't really watch any television. There is also a small, easily moved oval coffee table, which is generally kept next to the couch. Three very helpful suggestions I found on this site that were terrific -- bring a clock (or use your tablet) and a power cord. There is only one outlet in the entire room. bring a bungee cord to hold the balcony door open.

Port and Shore Excursions


This is a curious port for two days. Even though it has been (over) developed since we were there last (in 1995 and 2004), there's not all that much to see. It's often very warm (and unbearably so in the summer). There is a busy Marina -- by busy I mean lots of hawkers, just on the street and in shops as well as restaurants. There is a luxury mall which features a Saks Fifth Avenue. Our first day of port was New Year's Day, so it wasn't open and I didn't disembark for the second day. The mall is high end without any bargains or anything that couldn't be purchased in the U.S. for a good deal less. The highlight for me was a massage at a place in the marina, a two-story building right behind the restaurants and shops. It was only $20/hour in a salon/mani-pedi shop (with four locations). The massage therapist's name was Gloria and she was terrific. Given that a massage on the ship is $119, this was a great deal and it was perfectly nice and safe. We didn't do any excursions, since we'd spent a week in Cabo on a previous trip.

We'd been to Puerto Vallarta in 1995 and it left little impact, I couldn't remember much about it, even though we'd done a Carnival excursion. This time, however, we did an independent tour. When you get off the ship (harassed by photographers -- not just one, two, but three different 'poses'), there is a walkway between the ship and the city (a parking lot that leads to the city, actually). I spoke to the official PV Tourism board desk and they said that the men in all white were sanctioned by them. I approached one of them (they also wear straw fedoras), Pedro Villasenor, and he told us that the tour was $25 for each person, in a van that holds 10 people. I asked how much it would be to be the only people on the tour and it was $35. It was TOTALLY worth it. He was a great tour guide, low key, asked us often if we were interested and wanted to stop and accommodated my father's interest in finding a good Chili Relleno. He did stop at scenic locations that had little stands (as did the other white-clad men), but he never gave any kind of sales pitch (they're the best, cheaper, etc.). Very low key. We stopped at the Rain Forrest eco stop. There's zip lining ($65) and a restaurant and tequilla tasting (which was very fun, and free, but to buy the bottles of tequila was a little pricey; the pomegranate and cream flavors were the best). We stopped in downtown, ate lunch and shopped at Rudel's Boots (the salesperson, LuzElena was very nice and will bargain with you -- I got a gorgeous tooled and stamped leather handbag). BIG TIP -- AVOID AT ALL COSTS the "Flea Market" that is directly across the cruise ship. There are all kinds of signs boasting it the best shopping, etc. It's horrible, all the shops sell the same stuff and they completely HARASS you, really really awful. ANOTHER GOOD BIG TIP -- there is a public beach right next to the "flea market" and only a very short (about two block) walk from the ship. It's crowded and there are hawkers, but it's actually pretty and scenic. I did get my hair braided (look for the women in all white, they sell and braid) and I bought two blouses I really like for $10/ea. There's a lot more to do in PV than in Cabo. There is also a big mall across the street from the ship (most will want to take a cab there), but we didn't go in there.

Thank You For Signing Up!

Please Note: To ensure delivery of your free e-letters, please add news@cruisecritic.com to your address book.
We're committed to protecting your privacy and will not rent or sell your e-mail address. By proceeding, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.