Here is a brief review of our 10/24/13 Halloween cruise on the Splendor. This was our (me, DH and 3 yr old DS) first time on the Splendor and after a so-so experience on the Miracle last year, I admit I went in with low expectations. I'm happy to report that we really enjoyed this cruise and even booked the Splendor again for next year.
Embarkation: we arrived at the port, parked and were in the Platinum lounge waiting to board shortly before 11am. Going through security was a breeze--hardly any lines and good job by the port staff directing people. We had a small carry-on with water and lots of juice boxes and we're never asked about it at all. The Platinum lounge had couches and lemonade and water and wasn't very crowded. We didn't begin boarding until about 11:45 which was later than usual, but I think there were some wedding parties. Still a great, easy embarkation. Best part was that when we went to our cabin to drop off our carry ons, our checked luggage (2 bags) was there waiting for us! That's the fastest ever! We decided to unpack before going over to the lido for lunch which was a mistake. By the time we got there at a little before 1, it was already a madhouse and it was that way for much of the cruise. We went up to the rotisserie on deck 10 which few know about so it was way more relaxed up there.
Cabin: we had a balcony on the lido deck (9) close to the elevators (not all the way forward) and while we loved the location, only draw back was the noise. We've had cabins near the elevators before which never bothered us, but this time it was unnecessary noise like people talking loudly right outside our door at night and an actual fight that broke out about 1:30am. Our steward was Nolito from the Phillippines and his assistant Mei. They were wonderful!
Food: we enjoyed the majority of the food on the Splendor. We felt it was way better than our last few cruises. We ate dinner in the Black Pearl Pearl (anytime dining) every night. The waiter team we were served by on night 1 left a lot to be desired. (Slow, never introduced themselves, had to leave dining room and go to bar in atrium myself to get drinks because we were ignored, etc,) So, next day we asked for a different section and were seated with Leslie from the Phillippines and his assistants Edgar and Thanichot. They were amazing! We were with them the remainder of the cruise and it was a great experience. They were so efficient, friendly, genuine and really went above and beyond. We would see them sometimes in the morning passing through the lido and at lunch and they always took time to chat with us and help with anything we needed. Leslie's wife was also a waiter on board at the other side of the dining room. We ate breakfast in the MDR most days and she took great care of us too. We also had a great bartender at dinner named Hery. He had our drinks waiting for us nightly and made origami boats out of the fun times for our son complete with drink umbrellas. Really great service. Breakfasts in the MDR were also good. The times we went to the lido I had omlettes which were good and all the breads and pastries were very good on this cruise. The have separate sections for omlettes and bacon which cuts down on some of the lines. I do wish they would put fruit and things like butter, yogurt and milk in the middle section to make it easier to get. I really didn't enjoy most lunches on the lido. The crowds and poor layout were big negatives for me. The grill and pizza guys are worked really hard and at points during the cruise the lines were wrapped around corners. There were those that took obnoxious amounts of food and pushed there way around like it was their last meal. This isn't unique to the Splendor, but present there nonetheless. I think the desserts on this cruise were some of the best I've had. The new pizza is ok, had it twice the whole cruise. We only went to the taste bar once which is in the location of the sushi bar, but no sushi. Not sure where the sushi was or if they had it somewhere at all.
We didn't see any shows in the main lounges can't comment there, but we saw 2 of the family friendly comedy shows which were pretty good, played trivia and bingo a couple of times and that was about it. Did notice the entertainment staff was out and about for a sail away party even though it was pretty cold. I found the entertainment staff to be fine and Malcolm too. He seems to get a lot of criticism in reviews, but I thought he did a good job. Since we didn't partake much in entertainment, most we saw of him was at the past guest party and we thought he did a good job. On the first elegant night the officers all congregated at the front of the casino on deck five between the slot machines and casino live music which was so incredibly loud. We passed on saying hello because it was so loud, crowded with traffic and photo set ups. People could barely get by. Deck 5 was always pretty crowded. Definitely think they should have greeted guests in the atrium instead. Did take some decent pictures throughout the cruise and found the photographers to be pleasant, not pushy. Wish they would implement an online system for viewing and purchasing them. Halloween fell on the last sea day, but the ship was decorated from the start of the cruise. Mostly with inflatables. We did the kids trick or treat scavenger hunt which was cute and lots of people were dressed up. Can't speak to the adult activities, but it looked like people were having fun.
Crew: we found the crew to be friendly and very hard working overall. Many offered hellos and help unsolicited. Can't say enough about our stewards and waitstaff...really top-notch.
This sailing was SanJuan, St.Thomas and Grand Turk. We had been to each before a few times. This time in San Juan we did the walking tour of the forts and city history. Tour guide was great and so knowledgeable. We had been to the forts to take pictures, but having someone explain the history was great. Those forts are amazing. Only downside of the tour was that it was long. We didn't get underway until close to 4 because we were waiting for a couple of people to join and it was already dark when it ended. Would still recommend it though. In St.Thomas DH went scuba diving and we met up later for some shopping in the port area. Favorite store there for t-shirts, souvenirs etc is Southern Exposure. Bought stuff there 2 years ago and it's good quality and fairly priced. In Grand Turk we rented a cabana in Margaritaville and decided to have something to eat there after the beach. 2 large piña coladas in the souvenir glasses, an appetizer order of conch fritters and a cheeseburger in paradise with gratuity auto added came to a whopping $70!
Debarkation: we opted for Platinum self assist and met in one of the dining rooms at 7:30. We were off well before 8 and it was probably the smoothest debarkation we ever had.
Overall we really enjoyed our cruise, so much so that we booked it again for next year. Any questions, please ask!