I was very nervous about this cruise based on the reviews I had read and a 5 night cruise we had taken on the Fascination 2 years ago. But, the dates matched our schedule, the price was amazing and we were able to get an Aft balcony which we'd always wanted to try. This was my 16th cruise (between Carnival, NCL & Celebrity, my favorite) & I traveled with my husband & 7 year old son. We got to the port in NYC early (around 11:30) and were on the ship & in our cabin by 1pm. We had an "extended aft balcony" on deck 6 with a sofa bed converted to a twin for my son and a large king for us. Cabin was the normal size with adequate space. Not so much in the way of toiletries (just shampoo & shower gel). Everything was clean and our cabin attendant did a good job of keeping it that way. LOVED the Aft balcony - lots of space & even had reclining chairs so you could lay flat.
My biggest concern going in was the food. On the Fascination, it was below par with a horrible selection of buffets and dinner in the main dining room offering "Spinach & Artichoke Dip" as an appetizer (which is great if you're at Fridays but I expect a little more than that on a cruise). This ship was the complete opposite. The buffet selections were great (and spread out so the lines for lunch weren't too bad - breakfast was another story). They had a daily theme and then there was a Rotisserie, Pizza (more gourmet than on other ships which was nice), Indian, regular grill with hot dogs/hambugers and deli & sandwich grill in the aft, a stir fry station and a made to order Burrito Bar. All delicious. We did the any time dining for dinner and usually arrived between 7:30 & 8pm, having to wait for anywhere from 5-20 minutes. They give you a beeper that works anywhere on the ship so it really wasn't a problem. The dinners were delicious - I honestly loved everything I ate (and I'm a total foodie so I'm not always easy to please). The lobster on the formal night was one of the best I've had. And most of the staff were great - we ended up requesting the same server (Coco from Indonesia) for every night but the first 2 - she and her assistants took great care of us. Did not try the optional Steak House but heard it was amazing. Another pleasant surprise was the Brunch they offered on each sea day - it was from 8:30am to 1pm and the menu had a variety of breakfast and lunch items - all delicious. My husband had the steak & eggs every time and the steak was actually a very decent little filet mignon. I enjoyed the Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict, Huevos Rancheros and Macaroni & Cheese with bacon. My son loved the chocolate chip pancakes and the sugary cereal crusted French Toast. Again - I found all the food to be top notch & delicious.
Our son went to Camp Carnival at least once a day and seemed to like it. They did several craft projects, a talent show, lots of video game time, played board games, etc. There are a lot of kids so they don't venture out with them as they do on some of the other cruise lines. We love the kids club on Celebrity because they actually take them to different places on the ship. Here, it's sign them in & sign them out - you can only see them on a video screen and it's often hard to even find your child. But he liked it so it did give us a few breaks.
We didn't go to any of the shows as we had to get my son to bed. We spent a little time in the casino - regular assortment and lots of smoke. :( My son enjoyed the arcade but it was easy to drop $20 every time you stepped in there. We didn't book any excursions thru the ship. We had very rough seas and weren't even able to dock in Nassau. In Freeport, we had booked an independent snorkeling trip but that was also cancelled to due high winds but we did still enjoy a nice day at Taino Beach. We met my parents in Port Canaveral for a few hours and went mini-golfing at "Golf n Gator" (cute place) but it didn't look like there was was really too much to do there. There is no where to walk to from the port so you'd need a car, taxi or excursion. Possibly try the Kennedy Space Center - we did meet a couple who went there and thought it was fantastic.
The main pool area does have a retractable roof so that was nice on the cooler days. The pools were very cold and the hot tubs were all luke warm and filled to the brim with kids. Not very inviting. My son LOVED the huge water slide and they also had a separate splash park for the smaller kids. The mini golf was better than some I've seen on land so that was a nice surprise. We had tons of pictures taken every night and did get a few nice shots. They are ridiculously priced however - over $20 for each 8x10 and no package deals.
We brought aboard our allotted 2 bottles of wine, a 6 pack of diet coke and bottles of water. That's one thing I love about Carnival. And it was very easy getting on and off the ship. The ship is big and not always so well marked but overall the decor was fine and they seemed to have everything we needed. The service was good, not amazing but no complaints. Some staff members didn't seem too happy but then you'd find one who seemed to go over and above. We enjoyed our cruise on the Splendor would definitely consider Carnival again!