I had been planning this Cruise for a year and was looking forward to not only the 5 days in Hawaii, but the 8 days at sea, sitting back, sun bathing, and relaxing with a good book by a pool and refreshing water to take a dip in once in a while. I was especially ready for that pool considering how this cruise started off.
The first let down was arriving to the terminal. I had priorly used Carnival for a Mexican Riviera cruise and arrived around 1030 that time and was waiting indoors, seated for 3 hrs before being able to board so this time, i arrived to the terminal at 12:30 expecting to be able to step right up and board...not so!! This time, instead of sitting in cool AC for 3 hrs., we were cattle lined in 6 different lines, and outdoors even for 3 hrs with no where to sit! When you are draging 2 large carryons and a 6 yr old in tow and wearing your still winter weather gear from Washington in the hot sun, it is not a pleasant experience. Eventually though, 3 hrs later, we did get through line although i was concerned we would be not able to get lunch as it would be nearly dinner before we could board at this rate! This was by far the worst boarding i've experienced and we have in the past actually have been able to arrive and step right on board before with Royal Carribean. So needless to say, we were ready to settle in and go swimming! Finally we get our cards and are actually boarding the ship...lucily, we were able to get to our room which was a WONDERFUL room on the 10th deck, right around the corner from the lido area/pool/dive in theater and was a handicap accessable inside cabin with a huge bathroom/roll in shower that two could literally stand in!! WONDERFUL! It was quite a spacious room for a bunkbed indoor cheap sleep ;) Ok, so, now that we are dressed and ready to go swimming, we go to the main lido pool and see it is empty and roped off. Ask an attendee if the pool was going to be open soon and they said maybe tomorrow....went looking for another pool, found the "Thunderball" pool to be empty and roped as well....now by now, i'm really getting pissed...and the third pool available is the adult only pool. It though has water but they don't allow kids to swim in it!! I ask an attendent where the children are suppost to swim and he could answer me. We did find the splash park and luckily for her, it was open but it was the only day that we found it to be open the whole trip!! Another bummer....So, no real swimming for me nor her because i didn't think it would be fair for me to swim when she could not....This wasn't the only time we had problem with the pools. The entire trip this was an issue. You would think, of all the pools, the indoor main pool should at all times be available for use but instead, 90% of the 15 night cruise this pool was either roped off, all together empty or open at the most in appropriate times when no one would want or be able to use it. Being that this cruise ended up being a very cool and windy cruise, having an indoor pool was a neccesity. The outdoor kids pool was litterally ICE cold and unswimable especially with 30mph winds blowing down on it all the time. The slide was open only one day the whole cruise, a real bummer!! Lucky for us, we went down once that day!! Same goes for the Mini Golf!! Only open one day and we got lucky to play that day as well! Not to mention the "Serenity Deck" that was rarely open due to "high winds" and i never did get a chance to use it once i figured out it was there as it was always closed.
Now on to the poor wait times and quality of the food in the dinning room. We are used to high quality foods and flavorful meals. This area was quite a disappointment and I wasn't the only one to notice the lacking in this area. Things that were described which should of tasted great tasted mediocra at best.
Now, it was only my daughter and I sitting in a table for two during "My time dining" right as the dining hall was opening so that we could be sure to get done with dinner to go to the children's carnival camp at 7. Well, most of our meals took 2hrs to get all three courses, often having to miss dessert so we could get to the camp on time!! One day, it took 40 minutes to get the appetizer!!! I couldn't believe though that the last day of the cruise i actually had my whole meal in less then 45 minutes! Why couldn't all the other days have been so quick? Most of the appetizers were not as described. When they state something has salsa with it, i don't expect to see a pea size tomato and a leaf to be called a "salsa" that i worth anything of flavoring to the appetizer. Same goes with "dips" that things like egg rolls were suppost to come with. These "dips" was A DRIP of something that was so little to provide no flavor to anything at all. This happened ALL the time...the description sounded wonderful then you got it and it did not live up to it...dessert was the same at times as well...things that were suppost to come with ice cream didn't...even the Chocolate Melting Cake which is normally a always favorite was always well undercooked and barely had a hard top layer and was fluidly liquid all through out the dish instead of only in the center like it is suppost to be.
It was like the oven wasn't hot enough or wasn't cooked long enough or something because this was the case each time I had it...not good!! The staff was very friendly but there were many times i would watch as the head waiter brought out the huge tray of dishes and set them down where they would stay for another 15-20 minutes being untouched as i'm waiting there looking at it! And don't get me started on the shows that would interupt the servers from doing their jobs!! That put another 20 minute delay on things too!! URGH!!!! And to top it off, never once did the Matradee ever come to our table and greet us!! The whole 15 nights! The staff were nice though, they offered to bring out other dishes when the one ordered wasn't up to par and one even made a rabbit from a napkin for my daughter...alot of people complained the food was either hot when should be cold or cold when should be hot...and just not flavorful. Also, of the 2 elegant nights, only one served lobster!! Not cool!! Also, there is no room between chairs and walkways in the dinning room!! When trying to exit the full dinning room, squeezing between to backs of seats with people in them is not cool!! Unless your a stick figure and 100 lbs, you aren't going to fit! And this happens over and over as your making your way from the back to the front of the room...Now, the breakfast was always pretty good with the same fare every day mostly with a different type of "eggs bennidict" each morning or other different egg dish along with the omlett station and they alternated days with french toast and pancakes which were always good. I just wish the lido would provide the toppings for the waffles/pancakes like the dinning room does. Seatting was always a problem for every breakfast we went to in the lido...by the time you would find a table (which we often had to go out on deck 10 by the hot tubs to get a open table) the food was cold. We mostly just had ice cream/dessert for lunch/snack then our main dinning room for dinner which we mostly just took a couple of bites of each course as the food was mostly fair to mediocra at best. One of the best meals was the apple wood macaroni and cheese the last night which is saying alot of the "gourmet" food that i typically normally enjoy eating in comparrison to "comfort" foods which i typically avoid as too common place. And how do you screw up a meatloaf?? But they sure did!!! My daughter said it tasted like alpo dog food (not that she would know what that tasted like!) and sure did look like it!! The desserts were ok...some that were suppost to be cold were till frozen (Tiramissu) in the middle and some that should be cool were warm like all the cheese cakes that i had this whole cruise...
Now, the ports were all great! I just wish the weather cooperated better! We stoped at Hilo, Kona, Maui, Honolulu, and Ensenada. We had our Luau rained out on Honolulu and our Missouri trip at Pear Harbor canceled too due to high winds which was a major let down...we did the chain of craters in hilo which was awesome, Kodiac Snorkle Adventure in Kona was top notch and the best of the excursions! We did the Ultimate tour in Maui going to the Halekaeala Crater, Ioa Valley Needle, City tour and shopping at Halo Hatties which was really cool...Pearl Harbor was cool but wished we could of gone onto the Missouri and then we were suppost to do the Paradise Luau which got rained out :(...We ended up doing the second day in Honolulu taking the bus down to Waikiki Beach and walking the boardwalk area after a quick and COLD dip in the water (it was about 60 and overcast and drizly and windy!! COLD!)...In Ensenada, i wasn't going to get off the ship but that morning decided I would go and leave the daughter in the camp...I ended up doing the "Blow Hole Adventure" which was ok...not a great tour but killed some time although after going to the blow hole, i was ready to go back to the ship and we still had to go to the convention center and it was already dark as the tour started at 3 and ended at 7 but was dark by 5ish...I was really pleased with the Polynesian Adventure Tour Groups that Carnival used as each of them at the end of the tours gave the guests suprise gifts!!! No joke, we got a free calendar/post card on the tour in Hilo and an AWESOME CD of the best Hawaiian music for free on the tour of Maui!!! That was one of my most prized souvineers!!
If you have children on any cruise, the Camp is a must do! My daughter had a wonderful time the whole trip and spent a lot of her day at the camp in the morning and evening sessions while spending the afternoon session with mom and early morning before 10 with mom as well..she got to do things she liked to do while mom got to go see the shows and relax by the pool (that was closed mind you!)...in the afternoons, she loved going into the "tepid tubs" that were anything BUT hot! She basically used it as her personal swimming pool since no other was accessable to her. So that was her afternoon ritual when were were at sea...Toward the end of the cruise, she even started eating her dinners with the kids which was nice as they got to eat and get done instead of having to wait the 2 hrs like mom did ;) But that ment mom had to wait till 6pm in stead of going at 5:15 and mostly meant mom would be late to get to the shows if they started before 8 which at times the did start at 7:30.
Now the Entertainment was always good! At times excellent!! The dancers performed 3 main shows with a teaser intro show on the first night. The second show was the best and the last one, a latin show, was ok...i couldn't understand what was being sung most of the time so didn't catch me as i didn't recognize most of the music. The live performers (especially a Hawaiian gentleman) were always great to listen to waiting before or after dinner and anytime they played . I never went to the clubs but that just is not my sort of thing...I do wish though that the Sushi Bar was closer to the 3rd floor atrium area as that was the main meeting place as people start to line into the Black Pearl for dinner and being able to have a "happy hr" of sushi before dinner would of been nice and only got to have it once while on board which was only offered on sea days as well!
Never played the Cassinos but i've been told that it was pretty good and some people won some but i know most probably lost more...which is why i ALWAYS never use the cassino.
The staff was always friendly, helpful and did try to do their best as able. I do believe they were understaff as rummers had it they were understaffed by 100 people due to they were going to a repossitioning cruise to NY right after Hawaii and were going to stop off at South America and there were many on ship who didn't have visa's to work in that area and had to be let go abruptly before this cruise started because of that...from what some said, they had never done a 2 week long cruise ever with the Splendor and this was the first cruise to Hawaii that the Splendor ever did and Captains first trip to Hawaii as well...and one room attendant stated he didn't know what they were doing that they hadn't even had a meeting yet to tell them how they were going to opperate, ect.
Well, the disembarkation was pretty good and as quick as can be with such a big ship...no problems with the cruise part except that it was such a long distance from the luggage pick up to where you had to drag it to be picked up by the shuttle buses...not cool to be dragging 3 large bags with a 6 yr old in tow ;)
Generally, I loved Hawaii...wished it was warmer and we had more sun but you can't control the weather...loved the idea of the 4 days at sea and 5 daya in Hawaii and then 4 days to recoup but by ensenada, i was ready to be home ;) The cruise was lacking and not up to expectations which is really a shame considered we spent $3000 just for the cruise alone and expect better quality for this money...luckily the excurions that we did do were excelent but also we paid high dollar for them which i actually prefer to prebook tours for the peace of mind and assurity of having a tour when and where I want it and the reassurence of a smooth excursion and fun packed to the brim which they never disappoint with. I'm not sure if we will do another Carnival cruise...probably will but will deffinatly think twice if there will be lots of days at sea in questionable weather if carnival is offering the cruise. We have done Alaska which is known to be cold and had a warm indoor pool under glass roof to swim in at all time! And it was awesome! Never was it closed or empty the whole trip with Royal Carribean....I hope this was helpful to those and I'm currious how others felt of this cruise if you were on it too....