I just returned yesterday from my 6/2/13 Carnival Splendor 8 night cruise from New York to San Juan, Grand Turk and St Thomas. I had a perfect vacation and a wonderful cruise. I am 100% satisfied with the trip.
I was in a category 1A stateroom #2216. This forward room has two portholes, a sofa, a desk, and a comfortable bed. It was spotlessly clean and in excellent condition. The location was excellent because it was one elevator ride up to the spa, a swimming pool, and the water slide, it was one flight of stairs up to the dining room for breakfast and brunch, it was convenient to everything that I needed during my trip. I booked it again for my next cruise in September. The room stewards were Bernardo, Marianna, and Nenga. They were very friendly and detail oriented. I am especially happy with Nenga who went out of his way to welcome me and treat me specially. He was also an attendant in the Spa in the evening. Nenga was perhaps the best steward I have had in all of my cruises. Bernardo was the head steward and he was very helpful and extremely friendly. Mariana was a sweetheart. My stateroom and the stewards were the best.
The dining room was also wonderful. I was seated at table #534 for eleven people on the upper level of the rear dining room. My tablemates were awesome! My waiter team was Cirilo who was the head waiter and Made, the assistant waiter. The third person on the team assisted the other tables, I believe his name was I Ketut. They tried so hard to make sure that we were always happy. I know they worked very hard because we were all the way in the rear of the dining room by the windows, on the second floor. They would carry trays for the eleven of us from downstairs, up the escalator all the way to the farthest part of the dining room. And our hot food was always hot, our cold food always cold. They were amazing.
The dining room food was delicious. The selection was huge. The problem with the menu is that so many of the options looked good that I was forced to make a choice. That was often a painful choice because I missed out on some good food.
The Lido buffets amazed me. I have never seen so much food in my life. There was the regular buffet. The Tandoor Indian buffet. The Deli. The Burrito Bar. The Pizza. The Mongolian Wok. The Grill. Sushi. The Rotisserie. There was a menu of light lunches served at the bar on the Serenity Deck. 24 hour room service. The main dining room. The dessert buffet. The chocolate buffet. 24 hour ice cream. The late night grill. The Mexican late night buffet. The Punchliner Comedy Brunch. I am probably missing some options. All at no extra charge. The only extra fee food was for the Steak House and the Café.
I wasn't in love with the pizza; I think it needed a little more sauce. And one night in the dining room, the red snapper was a little dry. The waiter had warned me when I ordered it and he told me that if I didn't like it, he would get me another meal. But I certainly wasn't hungry enough to get something else. The main dining room was was very good.
I also enjoyed the entertainment on board. My favorite performer by far, by a million miles, one of the top entertainers in all of my past cruises, (can you tell I liked him?), was the magician/comedian Rakesh! He came around to the tables during dinner, he put on a show in the main showroom, he put on a magic seminar in the Boardroom. He is a magician and his tricks are amazing, but his comedy, his presentation and his personality won the day!
Another entertainer to mention is the solo guitarist named Jason. He is not a cover artist; he interprets the music and it all has his own style. And his voice fits his musical style. Most noteable about Jason is if you speak to him you will soon recognize that he is possibly one of the sweetest and nicest people in the world.
Domenic was a member of the entertainment staff. He ran many of the trivia contests and other activities on the trip. The staff were all very nice, but Domenic was my best. My experience is that the entertainment staff around the ship is usually young, cute, friendly and happy. They follow a script, they dance, they look good, smile a lot, and that's it. Yes, all of the above for Domenic, but he is potentially one of the upcoming cruise directors for Carnival. Or a television star. With his impovisational skills, his timing, his ability to work the audience, his knack for telling even corny jokes, Domenic is the guy to watch. He's going places. He's very talented and he treats his audience with great respect. He is not even in the same category as most of the other entertainers. I'm confident we'll be seeing a lot more of him in the years to come.
I had a problem during this cruise. It concerned the Internet. The system does not like to log you off. Even if you do everything you need to do, you might still be connected... and charged. Follow all of the steps, but then be sure to verify that you are not online. Try entering a website into the web browser. If you are able to see the web site, you are still connected despite doing everything correctly. Even if you see the message that tells you that you've disconnected from the satellite internet, you might still be connected. Please check and double check. It is very inconvenient. That being said, on my first day at sea, I used up 321 minutes of internet! Yes, I was upset. I found a man named Nebo, the internet manager, who was busy speaking to another guest reminding him how important it is to log off when you are finished. I told Nebo that I was almost out of minutes on day 1. He looked at my account, saw one charge of 321 minutes, and immediately credited my account for the full amount of time. This was right after he warned the other person to be sure to log off because the time is not refundable. There was no question, no arguing, no discussion, just a shocked look on his face when he saw my usage, and an even more shocked look on my face when he gave me the credit!
Staff around the ship in general were all very friendly and helpful. I was even impressed by one of the deck workers who swept, mopped, set up chairs and in general made the outdoor experience a pleasure. I believe his name was Putu, on Deck 10. He always greeted me with a smile. He was always working hard. It's not his job to entertain guests, but he understood that by being helpful and friendly, the guests would have a very nice experience. One of my favorite places to sit and relax was the bar on the Lido Deck 9 aft near the Grill and Tandoor Buffet. In the afternoon the bartender Nyoman took care of us. He was friendly, soft spoken, polite, and warm. He worked very quickly but never seemed rushed. He knew how to help people relax and enjoy themselves. Another favorite bartender was Sylvia who used to work at the Serenity Bar, but I understand she is now working in the Casino bar.
On one occasion staff wasn't perfect. One night they closed the swimming pools an hour and a half early at 10:30. They just waved us out, said, "Get Out, the pool is closed." When I asked why he said, "they don't tell me why, they just tell me to close it." We all got out. It was no big deal, but they could have been more polite when they did this.
One of the highlights of my cruise and a big reason why I chose this ship/itinerary was to use the Cloud 9 Spa. Ahhhh! I purchased the pass for the Thalassotherapy pool and treatment rooms. Access is included for guests in a Spa Cabin, but there are limited passes for the other guests. I hope that Carnival doesn't tell anyone else about this for my September cruise because I want to be sure a pass will be available for me. I do recommend the Thalassotherapy pool... but not if you are cruising this September.
I had one haircut and two massages during this cruise. They were expert and well done. On day 2, Mary June gave me the hot stones massage. Right away she pin-pointed the spots that were giving me so much trouble. On day 6, I had the seaweed wrap and hot stone treatment by Shandra. This was an intensive top-of-the-line 2 hour treatment. I was barely able to speak at the end. It turned me to jelly. I want this one on every cruise. The entire staff at the Spa was wonderful. Even though only Mary June and Shandra treated me, everyone was very friendly and warm and welcoming. Again, I must mention Nenga who was also my room steward. He recognized me from the stateroom and he always greeted me warmly and helped me a great deal on this vacation.
The ports were also great, but I must criticize Carnival for one thing. The port of San Juan is beautiful. There is so much to do there. But there are too few ship excursions. I hesitated going to San Juan until I found an excursion on my own on the internet. I wish Carnival would add this to their excursion menu. At the pier directly next to the pier where we docked is a place where you can take a Segway Tour of the city. It is called Segway Tours, PR. It is a 2 hour tour of the entire old city including the fort. You ride the Segway all the way up to the entrance of the fort. You see everything. My tour guide was Jose. He was fantastic and knowledgeable. The trip is very safe. It is very comfortable. Carnival offers a walking tour, but with the cobblestones and the uneven walkways, it can be difficult for some people. On the Segway you simply zip around easily with little effort. A family I met also wasn't thrilled with the excursions offered. They found a cab and asked to go to a nice beach. There are nice beaches within 10 minutes of the pier by some of the hotels. There is enough daylight to enjoy a couple of hours of beach time. I want to do that on my next visit. People looking at cruises visiting San Juan in the evening need to know that there are many things to do there.
In St Thomas I took 2 Carnival excursions. The first was a cruise on the Kon Tiki, a beautiful boat which visits Water Island and takes you to Honeymoon Beach. This is a quiet tropical easy beach, gentle waves, palm trees, warm water. You can purchase food at this beach. There are rest rooms. On the Kon Tiki you can buy mixed tropical drinks. The boat had a 5 piece steel drum band. At one point during the trip, they lowered glass panels into the water making for a glass bottom boat tour. I highly recommend this excursion. The second excursion I went on was the Screamin' Eagle! Bottom line, the boat goes fast and you get wet. And it is thrilling! Quick turns, stopping short, racing speeds. And wet, wet, wet. This is not for the faint of heart, but when the excursion is finished you realize it is perfectly safe, just exciting.
Grand Turk is one of the best cruise ports I have visited. By this I mean that the ship docks, no tenders. At the pier is a beautiful beach. At the end of the pier is Margaritaville. There is a HUGE freshwater pool. Carnival offers their Flow Rider. Even though you don't NEED to take an excursion and you can spend the entire day swimming at the beach and enjoying the pool and Margaritaville, there are so many tours available.
The weather was great. I have been to these ports before at a later time in the year. And I am returning in September. I know how hot it can be. But this early in the season, while it was certainly warm, it was quite comfortable. The water was warm enough to just jump right in, but it was not hot. It was perfect. Refreshing. Early June is a good choice for this itinerary.
The ship itself is beautiful. It was spotlessly clean and in good condition. But I noticed that there are no wooden decks, even by the pool. They are all steel. In some places the steel is hot so you need to wear something on your feet. I liked the layout of the ship. The lounges were decorated nicely.
All in all, the cruise was wonderful. I am completely satisfied. I am glad I chose the Carnival Splendor for my vacation and I am happy I will be going again in September.