You definitely won't find a trashing review here. I find it amazing what "critics" are "critical" about when it comes to cruising. You don't take a Carnival cruise and expect "gourmet" cuisine, or 5 star accommodations. You get a nice vacation for a good price and get to see some really nice places, while spending a nice time with your family. I would say our experience was very good. It was me, my wife, and 4 year old, and let's say that as long as he's having a great time, we're having a great time.
Embarkation - a breeze. Took the train into Penn, $20 cab ride (lots of traffic that morning, otherwise it's typically $10-$12 for the 2 mile or so ride). Left bags with porter for couple bucks each, were handed as Group 4, were on the ship by 12:15PM. Very well organized and top notch service by the embarkation staff across the board. They made it a happy experience to get on the ship.
Ship - nicely appointed but definitely "Pink" as other reviewers have written, but you get used to it by the 2nd day. Not my taste, or that of many others. Not sure really what they were thinking with the way overdone kitschy art-deco. Picture the Flamingo in Las Vegas, but even more pink and deco than that. And frankly, the ship's beat up as the back to back cruises have begun to take toll. Scratches, worn out rugs in spots, clean but not the spic-n-span clean you're used to from the past, especially Princess. In fact, huge difference from Princess. Let's be clear...it's not FILTHY or DIRTY...just not the lustry clean you're used to or might expect from the past. More on that later. Figure a 3 1/2 star to sometimes 4 star experience throughout.
Room - nice balcony room, plenty of room and closet space. King bed with the sofa twin for the little guy. Little different set up of closet doors in the main "hallway" where entrance and bathroom door were, so a little tight at times. But not a big deal by any means. Balcony small, but nice to have, a little nerve racking with the 4 year old wanting to stand on the chair at times. Balcony also need TLC. This was kind of dirty. And it didn't help that the next room over smoked liked chimneys with foul language throughout the 8 days.
Public Areas - agree with all, not sure of the layout reasonings. Simply put...got to go to deck 5 to get across the entire ship, otherwise the main room decks. 3 or 4 are blocked in the middle. Get that in your head, youre fine. Trouble with deck 5 is that you have to pass thru the casino all the time. Nice for me, casino person, but not nice for non-casino people and especially non-smokers. The second you get off on deck 5 midship, you smell smoke and hear noise from casino. Pool areas typical, again, need some TLC. Pool was closed 2nd and 7th day for "cleaning", due to some pipe issue. I have to say...the first day the pool was downright gross. But was better and back to normal later. Water spray area for my son was terrific. Closed a couple of days due to cold and wind, but when open, just awesome for him. Lots of sunbathing available throughout, and for adults, Serenity area is really nice and quiet, no kids allowed. Mini Golf was cute and fun. Arcade for the kid (and me) was fun, but really expensive, $1 to $1.25 PER GAME!!!, some lasting only a few seconds. Big moneymaker for the ship, lots of fun but those of you with kids beware the cost. Opportunity to make that more reasonable, Carnival. Theatre was nice, shops were typical and good. $2.25 for 8 tums, $10 for a mini-fan with 15 skittles in it...you get the picture there. Dont expect bargains on essentials or sundries. Some decent deals on Tshirts, got a decent $100 casual watch, candy store where they sell candy by the pound was cute. Food - It's a cruise. Food is plentiful. Food is generally good. It is again not gourmet, and I didn't expect gourmet. You shouldn't either. Some decent meat dishes (beef tenderloin, turkey), decent fish dishes (tilapia, salmon), decent pasta dishes (lasagna, farfalle). Figure Olive Garden meets Applebees meets Longhorn Steakhouse (on occasion). WE didn't do it, but everyone was raving about Pinnacle Steakhouse, but $35 per person extra. Buffet's typical. Mongolian Wok excellent but expect to wait 20-30 minutes, very popular. Carnival, you need like 3 more chefs doing that if you're going to keep doing it. The guys doing it were swamped and not really that excited to be doing it after being beat up by so many people for 3 hours. More on that later. Breakfasts OK, skip the dining room, not that good same as buffet. Room service: breakfast twice, continental and OK, lunch once, BLT's, quesadilla, OK. Pizza was always fresh and OK. Burgers and dogs by the pool, always available and always great!
General thoughts - Cruise industry is taking a black eye, as of this writing it's 2 days after the RC Grandeur fire. No such issue on our trip, though of course there was in 2010. Bottom line - Cruising is generally a very safe, great value, excellent vacation. However, in the probably too rapid growth of the industry, and of course the desire to become more profitable, corners are being cut. I'm not stating that any of the issues of the last several months are directly due to anything(s) in particular. What I am saying is that the industry should take a step back and evaluate itself. The Splendor was launched in 2008, but it looks like it was launched in 1998, and it shouldn't. It's surface clean, neat. Under tables, windows, crevices on the balcony, bedspreads with stitching coming apart...need attention. Service was generally OK, but there are pockets of people who are not genuine, or sometimes downright miserable. The staff at the buffet was clearly overworked, tired, and it showed. Our waiter I Komang, the hostess Diana, and the coffee bar's Savina, and our two room stewards...they were EXCELLENT. But I could name you the excellent service people on one hand. Yeah we got serviced, but the "outstanding" service is lacking. Carnival is banking on using "first names", and smiles, etc. It's a little short on results right now, and needs a little more investment. One step back for two steps forward. I still recommend this ship, this trip. The prices now are terrific. Beware of what you'll spend on board, and have the right expectations. In the end, it's about family and a great time. The message to Carnival and the industry though, is that for only so long will you be able to continue in this manner before something falls apart, hopefully it won't be at the expense of something major.