My husband and I were first time cruisers and as you can tell by my user name our daughter works on the Splendor at this time. She booked the cruise for us at the family rate (hint: urge your kids to get jobs on cruise ships--the family rates are great!) Sadly our start was delayed for a day due to engine repairs--this was not Carnival's fault, some idiots from a country of unknown origin left illegal fishing nets in Puerto Vallarta which got tangled in the ship's propellers during the cruise before ours, so the ship had to stay an extra day there for repairs. So our cruise was shortened at the last minute to a 5 day instead of a six day one which was disappointing, but Carnival did their best to make up for this with a refund of the cost for the missed day, help rebooking flights for travellers, and $200.00 for either rebooked flight fees or in our case, since we were going early and did not have to change flights, they gave us the $200 to pay for an extra night at our hotel in Long Beach.
The first day was a bit chaotic--arriving on a different day than scheduled meant that the "Splendor" had to bump the arrival of another Carnival ship, the "Inspiration" to the San Pedro terminal, so half the Carnival staff had to go there to process them, and the Long Beach terminal, where we were, was short staffed so lines were long and exhausting to get on the ship. However, I talked to lots of frequent cruisers on the trip, and they all told me that lines on most of the cruises they had been on with various cruise lines, were always bad, so be warned!
Once we got on the ship though, our cruise was fantastic! Since the cruise was not full and some people cancelled when it was shortened by a day, we were able to get an upgrade from our original interior cabin, with no windows, to a really nice ocean view stateroom with a big window. Clean, attractive, comfortable bed, plenty of closets and drawers--we loved it!
Accidentally cut my toe the first night there, guest services was super prompt with a wheelchair to get me to medical, the nurse was kind and very professional and doctored me up in no time.
All the staff on the ship were pleasant, polite, professional. Anyone with a crew name tag would do their best to answer any questions you had even if it didn't pertain to their particular job, or to direct you to someone who could help you.
Our dining room was the Black Pearl restaurant, it was awesome, service there was great. We liked our waiter so much, we asked to be seated in his area every night. The food was incredibly good. They have 6 or so special entrees every night, everything from lobster to prime rib to comfort food, plus a number of tasty entrees that are available every night. Appetizers are delicious and you can order as many as you want with no extra charge. Delicious desserts are included too! Their "Warm Chocolate Melting Cake" is the most "died-and-gone-to-Chocolate heaven" dessert ever!
We also tried out the Pinnacle Steakhouse restaurant the first night--you have to pay separately for this and it is pricey, but worth it.
Entertainment on the ship is plentiful and excellent. We loved loved loved the shows--amazing singing and dancing talent,musicians, costumes, lighting, and special effects including pyrotechics and confetti cannons! There are always musicians singing and playing in various areas around the ship, opportunities for different types of dancing if you like to dance. We especially loved the Splendor's Show Band which performed jazz in the atrium as well as playing for the shows. The comedy nights have very funny fly-in comedians, with both family-friendly and more R-rated shows. We don't gamble but the casino looked like it was great if you do. Bars are plentiful around the ship, drinks are pricey but good.
I forgot to mention that the casual dining on the Lido deck is good too, especially the free ice cream and, on the last day, the chocolate fountain!
We did not use the outdoor pools due to windy conditions on deck, but we did use the spa which is incredible! We got just basic spa privileges which included the greatest hot tub ever, plus steam rooms--with or without vapors, your choice--and two "cool down" rooms, one warm with heated "beds" and mellow music, another is cooler with mildly heated seats. Dressing rooms were clean and elegant with a very nice shower and lockers. The fitness room looked excellent too although we didn't use it.
We were originally scheduled to visit two ports, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas, one day each. Due to the shortened trip, we were able to only go to Cabo San Lucas for a day and a half, but we loved Cabo and it was warm and relaxing and fun! (see port rating below)
On the last day of our cruise, my husband went on the special "Behind the Fun" tour and got to see all the work that goes on behind the scenes, including in the galleys, other crew areas, engine rooms, even on the bridge--he got to chat with the captain! This is a special tour and only a limited number of people can go, but worth it if you can. I didn't go because it is a 3 hour tour with a fair amount of standing and stairs.
Every night we had turn-down service in our room with really cute towel animals left on the bed for us (except for the monkey which hung from the ceiling!" Housekeeping did a great job keeping the room clean. All the gratuities are charged to you in advance, 11%, but I think the staff deserves every penny, they all did a great job. BTW, the ship is "cashless", so any purchases you make in the shops, any drinks you buy, etc., are all paid for with your "sail and sign" card, which you put money on from your credit card at the beginning of the trip, and can add more on at any time. Any money you don't use gets refunded at the end. And speaking of the end, debarkation (getting off the ship) was much easier and with shorter lines, than getting on!
We truly loved this cruise and only wish we could have stayed on longer--there were still many more things we didn't have time to enjoy! Thank you,Carnival, for a great time!! We will be back!
One final note: although our daughter works on this ship, I would not have hesitated to be honest about anything I didn't like. Everything said here is the truth, since Carnival would not know who I am if they read this and it would not affect her job in any way!