After many cruises under our belt, we thought we knew what to expect. Usually a jaw dropping Broadway type show the first night,2 or 3 dining rooms, rows of photographers set ups, several dance floors/music venues, noise in the hallways and of course lots of food and crowds.
We were pleasantly surprised that we loved the smaller ship. It only took us a few hours to see the difference. It was certainly less travel time to move around the ship. There wasn't the barrage of photographers asking for pictures every few steps. Instead, they were just there and available if we wanted a picture. How refreshing. The cruise directors were involved in the entertainment. Since we were able to meet them personally, we thoroughly enjoyed the shows. The Magic Rush show was exquisite. It wasn't your average magic show. The couple were champion ballroom dancers that incorporated amazing costume changes throughout the show. Don't miss it. The aerial performances were spectacular. All in all, less quantity but much more quality. They did so much more on a small scale.
Our room was quiet and we love the interior room because it allows us to take a nap during the day if we want. There was plenty of space and large closet. The mirror and lighting over the desk was great for me to get ready while DH was in the bathroom. The room was clean and comfortable and the steward right on top of keeping the room neat.
We opted for anytime dining, but soon discovered that we needed to make a reservation for dinner time for the rest of the cruise. We were always seated at a table of 8 for a 7pm dinner with our other traveling couple. We enjoyed meeting new people and most nights had great conversation. If you prefer seating alone, I would recommend just booking your dining time before the cruise. Another great point is that the menu listed the Gluten Free and vegetarian options. Since GF is necessary for me, it really took the worry out of the meals. I was able to always ask for the GF options at the buffet as well. I never got sick and there was plenty to choose from.
Our only disappointment was the music. We are dancers. We like everything from two step, Latin to ballroom. There were 3 bands. Two only played Latin music. They sounded almost exactly the same. The other tried to play a variety, but the play list was limited and they played exactly the same songs every night. There was not enough variety. Also the only dance floor used was the Centrum (Atrium). The floor there was extremely sticky and limited space. The Top Hat lounge had a dance floor really...with wood but they never used it. It didn't stop us from dancing at the Centrum every night, but we would have enjoyed a great band on a real dance floor.
We did not take any excursions through the ship. We like small personal tours. My DH did buy the soft drink pass at 50 Euros. Not that pricey for him since is a Coca Cola addict. I did not purchase the drink pass. I just purchased a drink when I wanted it. A glass of wine or bottle at dinner when we wanted. We did not dine in the Chops dining room.
Regarding the port and transport: We stayed in Venice in the Dorsoduro District for 2 nights before the cruise at the Locanda San Barnaba B&B. Wonderful area, hotel everything. We used the Al Laguina boat there but opted for a more expensive water taxi directly to the ship for embarkation. It was awesome and worth the money. We pulled up right to the pier and a Royal Caribbean attendant was there to take our bags. After 10 cruises, this process was the easiest. Plenty of personnel, hardly any waiting. So easy. I think our taxi dropped us off about noon and we were on the ship about 12:15.
Also leaving the ship was quick and easy. We walked right off at our time, found our bags and left. Took the people mover. That was a little bit of a bottle neck to get tickets and get on with our luggage and navigating around other passengers with their luggage as well. It still moved fine. When we got off, we went downstairs and around the corner where we stored our luggage for 7 Euros a bag for the day (till 9 pm). It was directly across from the buses. Don't cross the bridge.
We bought a 1 day Vaporetto pass and went across the street to catch the boat. One more lovely day walking the streets of Venice.
Looking back, the well worked staff was always very friendly and helpful. My DH enjoyed the tease from Enzo, one of the cruise directors who was a fun character. He also had fun dancing with his partner, Alsy (not sure of the spelling). That was also the cause of the teasing. We joined a few on deck exercise/dance routines. We loved the dance class from Magic Rush. Would have loved to paid for private classes from them.
Overall, the Splendour of the Seas gave us great memories of a wonderful cruise!
We rented a car at the terminal for 55 euros plus 5 extra for GPS. We had reserved one from Top Cars over the Internet before we left and wasted 30 min looking for them. No deposit at least. It wasn't necessary to book ahead.
We drove to Lakones about 30 min northwest. Beautiful little village, narrow streets. Watch out for the buses but my husband loved the challenge. Drove to the castle and walked up some of the steps. Then Monastery of the Virgin Mary. Wonderful. Then down to Paleokastritsa. Too cold to swim but beach was nice. Ate at the nice restaurant overlooking the beach. Would have like to do the yellow submarine but outvoted. Drove back through Corfu. When we saw how crowded it was and no parking space, was glad we rented the car. Would have spent more time in Lakones.
We were two couples who caught a taxi across from the ship for 50 Euros. He drove us around a little, we went up to the top of the mountain where we got a panoramic view of the old town Dubrovnik. It was a great way to see the city from above and know where we would be walking later. The views were awesome, lots of pictures taken. The mountain was where the cable car came up. I think the drive was better as we were able to stop and take pictures along the way. He then dropped us off at the top of Old Town. I think it was called the Ploce gate, not the one where all the buses drop everyone off. This way we wondered through the city making our way to the front gate. We almost said no to the taxi in favor of the ship's shuttle bus. We had already bought a ticket 12 euros each. So glad we didn't though. The taxi gave us a great feel for the place and no waste of time. We caught the Royal Caribbean shuttle back. I would recommend just taking a taxi back. It would cost less and no waiting in line.
Don't stop at the first restaurant you see. Much more and I am sure better further inside the city. Do stop for gelato!
We were probably too tired to make plans by this point. We took our time getting off the ship and only wandered through the streets of Katakolon. We bought a few gifts for family and visited with shop owners. We ate lunch at the larger restaurant at the end of the street that overlooked the water. Great gyros, mouth watering tomatoes! Service was less than ideal. They just kinda threw the food at us, but they were very busy. If you catch it right, the musicians serenaded you. Our friends took a taxi to the beach and enjoyed their day as well.