Quick introduction; my wife and I are avid cruisers in our 40's. We have two sons ages 17 and 14 and this particular cruise was our first with Carnival. We have sailed Celebrity, RCCL, Norwegian, Disney, and Princess and this was #20 for me. Hope this evaluation helps:
Embarkation and Disembarkation: It was a breeze, we were on the ship by noon and first photo was optional (hooray), Two words for disembarkation; Self Assist. It took us 10 minutes to get off ship, through customs and out in the City.
Cabin and Ship: We had a balcony cabin on deck 6 and it was well appointed. Bed was super comfortable, and lots of storage space...especially bathroom shelves which you don't get on other ships. Shower was tight but we are not on vacation to sit in cabin. Hint: try to book a Port side cabin or even # cabin. We were blessed with beautiful sunsets for 5 evenings and it was right off our side of the ship. I read alot of complaints about the ship layout and confusion, if you are experienced you figure it out in a day. Walk on Deck 5 because decks 3 and 4 are not accessible to all venues. No big deal in fact deck 5 is where most of the action is anyway other than deck 9 "Lido." The pink is not to gaudy and your staterooms have other colors. I liked the uniqueness of the Splendor.
Food: I am a food junkie and I love to eat so I will give you my opinion. Celebrity has the best food hands down, but the food in the main dining 6PM Gold Pearl matches up and often surpasses Norwegian, RCCL, and Princess. It was so long ago on Disney Wonder I cannot remember lol. We did not eat at the Pinnacle and we were glad, Norwegian pushes Specialty restaurants because their selections are limited and food is mediocre. Norwegian Jewel had good food but the other ships? Anyhow I digress, Steaks, Lobster, Red Snapper, Crab cakes, soups, bread and chocolate melting cake was delicious. Other reviews mention that food came out lukewarm, not ours, hot and timely 75 minutes tops from start to finish. Waiter Kenneth and assistants were great and Drago and "Showtime" is a nice touch. Briefly some other eating reviews: Pizza and deli are very good: recommend a hot pastrami sandwich on ciabatta roll. Go to the Punchliner's brunch for breakfast and get Steak and eggs, or French toast, or Mac n Cheese it was excellent. Only complaint about food was the breakfast at Lido buffet, one day and that was it, you will see.
Service: From room steward to dining staff, Carnival made you feel like family. Shout out to Gilbert our room steward just an awesome guy. Only slight criticism is bar staff, not the swiftest at times. I was amazed at how clean the ship was and how hard the employees work to keep it that way. I forgot to mention the only flaw on the ship and maybe others can chime in: I could not find any garbage cans in public areas to throw away even a napkin... Photo staff also is top notch and you will see...
Entertainment: Here is where I was most proud of Carnival and hands down whipped all the competitive cruise lines... Our days and nights were filled with fun; nonstop when not in port. Constant games of trivia, golf challenges, interactive and team games, shows, you name it and Splendor has it. My wife and I loved the fact that at night there was always a party or live music playing. DJ Elecktra was great and 70's and 80's night in Red Carpet rocked. There was headliner comedy and family friendly comedy; which was great. Sheila was raunchy so warn Grandparents and others who are sensitive. We did not care for her but the others were terrific. The cruise staff was sensational with a shout out to Dominick and Graham (superb). Dominick actually has a Ben Stiller look to him especially from side view. All you RCCL enthusiasts with ice rinks, rock walls.... that ship is asleep at 11PM with nothing to do, this ship rocked until late in the evening. Casino was alot of fun also and enjoyed the interaction with card dealers. Actually finished up $70 for trip.
Ports: Sorry review is so long; Grand Turk is nice and the pool at Margaritaville is provided at no cost. We enjoyed it until the Carnival Liberty pulled into port and it became too overcrowded, we went back to ship to relax. Half Moon Cay is the best, I love Labadee; but the sand and water is pristine here The island is so clean that you will be amazed and the BBQ setup and food was great. Burgers were sensational. Tender was an issue, but sometimes you have to take the bad to get to the good. Get up early and don't miss a minute of this beach. We have been to Nassau many times so we shopped briefly. I may recommend a cab to the Sheraton (Cable Beach), inexpensive and very nice.
Kids clubs: Circle C for 14 year old and Club O2 for 17 year old, both our boys had a great time and met some wonderful people. Overall the crowd on the ship was respectful, diverse, and fun. Wife and I also met some awesome people. Carnival, despite all the negative press in the last year, you did very well and my wife began researching for our next cruise as soon as we arrived home. Thanks for the Memories...