I'd just recently sailed on the Carnival Splendor on 01/19/2013 for a 15-day cruise to Hawaii with my girlfriend, Sylvia. There were some positive things and there were some negative things about the cruise. So, I would like to start off with the positives then the negatives.
Cabin. Our cabin (8205) was a typical interior type that one would normally find throughout Carnival cruise lines. However, our cabin was a little bit different this time with decorations along with a fruit basket, two bottles of wine, and two bottles of vodka all purchased before the cruise through Carnival's Bon Voyage department. Our cabin steward, Suhardi from Indonesia, was one of the best cabin stewards were ever had. Everything we had asked of him he responded positively in a timely manner and always greeted by our names. He even greeted my girlfriend as "queen" because I suggested he should. I sincerely hope that one day he gets a promotion because he truly deserves one.
Steakhouse Dining. On 01/20/2013, we ate the Pinnacle steakhouse dining room located at the aft of the spa deck. The food was delicious and the drinks were good as well. The service was great and even though our bill was $88.00 ($35.00 per person; 8.00 for alcoholic drink; $10.00 tip), the experience of enjoying a well prepared meal there was well worth the money.
Bartenders. I've met a few bartenders throughout the cruise, but there was one particular bartender who stood out in mind. His name was Christo from Bulgaria. He worked at the Our House sports bar located in the promenade deck right beside the Royal Flush casino. One night, I'd ordered a margarita because I figured it wouldn't be strong as a drink like a long island ice tea. Man, was I wrong. He made the margarita so strong that I had to go my cabin just to sleep it off. I know that Carnival cruise lines have received complaints about alcoholic drinks being watered down; but with Christo one would need not to worry about that ever to happen. I can say with confidence that he will give you your money's worth in drinks.
Deli. As Sylvia and I settled in our cabin, we went to the lido deck to get something to eat. So, I went to the deli to grab a sandwich. There was this cute petite brunette named Susan from Peru who was working there at the time. I ordered a pastrami and rueben combo with toasted rye. The sandwich was so good that I kept coming back throughout the cruise. In fact, during lunch time there was a long line at the deli especially when Susan worked there.
Main Dining Room. Even though Sylvia had chosen not to eat there, I decided to dine there despite having concerns about the Gold Pearl Restaurant. I had read some negative reviews about the service there as being slow. However, to my surprise, I'd found that the Gold Pearl wasn't bad but enjoyable. I was assigned to a table with 4 married couples who were all friendly. My waiter, Tomi from Indonesia, always greeted me by name, knew my particular seating preference at the table, always refilled my drinks, and he always knew I wanted to have dessert. There were times when he was a bit slow in service but he more than compensated with communication with me about what was going on at the time. As for the rest waitstaff, they were courteous and entertaining as well especially Lucilo from Indonesia. Almost every night the lights would dim and the Maitre'D would announce "Showtime". After he made announcements about what is going to happen the following day, all the waiters and assistant waiters would perform a dance to the latest hit songs. On one night, I'd seen my waiter, Tomi, danced to Psy's "Gangnam Style". I really did enjoyed myself at the Gold Pearl Restauant.
Debarkation. Sylvia and I had chosen to use the self-assist option when leaving the ship. With the self-assist option offered by all Carnival cruise ships, one can leave the ship early if one can carry all of his or her luggage. You just have to wait for deck number to be called. I found this to be much faster then the embarkation in which I will explain later.
Rough seas. During the first four days of the cruise, we encountered rough seas as headed towards Hawaii. It felt like the ship kept jerking back and forth. There were times that I thought the ship had hit a whale because the ship had jerked so hard. One could have imagined that they were people who couldn't get a good night of sleep because of this.
Embarkation. Sylvia and I arrived at the Long Beach, CA cruise terminal at approximately after 10:30am. It took about 10 to 20 minutes to check in which is not bad when one considers the fact the line is consistently moving. After we checked in, we were given a boarding zone number (5). Now, this is the part of embarkation that we didn't like. We waited at least one hour for our boarding zone number to be called. In past cruises, we would check in and proceed to the security check points and head towards the ship. However, that was not the case in Long Beach, CA. I know Carnival wanted to control in the incoming flow of traffic to the ship and that they have to obey regulations set forth by Homeland Security through Customs; but I would suggest to Carnival to work with Homeland Security and Customs to find a much quicker way to embark especially for people who don't have a lot of patience like my girlfriend.
Cruise Director. Our cruise director name was Malcolm "Whoo Hoo" Burns from the Bronx in New York. I had heard several complaints about him, but I would like to discuss two particular complaints about him. 1). It appeared Malcolm had scheduled most of the activities before 11pm. After 11pm, there were little activities scheduled. So, the only things you could do after 11pm were gambling at the casino, watch a late night movie on the big screen located at the lido deck, or go drinking at the bars. My girlfriend, Sylvia, is a late night person who likes to have fun. So, I would particularly suggest to Malcolm that he find a way to schedule more late night activities. 2). When we arrived in Honolulu on 01/27/2013, there was this luau called the "Paradise Cove". This particular luau was sold by Carnival Cruise Lines. It was cancelled by the tour operator probably because of the weather. That is understandable, however, it appeared Malcolm poorly compensated those who purchased that particular shore excursion. Yes, a refund was offered but there
should have been a scheduled activity just for those people who missed the luau.
Lido Deck Food. The lido deck food was either a hit or miss. The frozen yogurt, the deli, and the carving stations were good. The misses were the pizza and the dessert stations. I have heard one particularly harsh criticism of the lemon meringue pie. One man described it as being a "super ball". In other words, the lemon meringue pie was so hard and tasteless that you could bounce it off the floor. Definitely need more consistence in the lido deck food.
Direct TV. I know every ship in Carnival has Direct TV. The problem with that is that when the ship moves away from certain areas of the world one cannot received all the channels that being offered through Carnival. And, you could only get to see a sports channel like ESPN at the sports bar. Carnival must figure out a way to provide better television viewing than what they have right now.
Billing System. Carnival's billing system seemed complicated in my honest opinion. During the first four days of the cruise, Sylvia had received three notices from Guest Services that she owed money. We didn't understand at first because we were told that we had $960 in on board credit ($530 for me and $430 for Sylvia). We even had to cancel our couples massage at the spa that I had pre-purchased before the cruise because we didn't have enough money in our accounts. We figured that the money I spent purchasing like spa services and shore excursions before the cruise would be set side for those particular items. Apparently, that did not seem to be case. It appeared that what were spending in gambling, buying drinks, and etc. was taking money away from the spa and shore excursions. Carnival needs to explain this more adequately when guests check in.
So, there you have it. Would I ever sail again on Carnival? Yes, I would but now I know how to be better prepared when dealing with Carnival.