I sailed on Carnival Splendor from 3/1/14 through 3/9/14. We visited Port Canaveral, Nassau Bahamas, and Freeport Bahamas. I was in a balcony #9264 on the Lido Deck 9. I have Platinum status with Carnival where I have sailed on Carnival Splendor, Carnival Glory, Carnival Miracle, Carnival Victory, and Carnival Pride.
I had a wonderful vacation. The ship was beautiful. Staff were amazing as usual. The food was better than ever. I was treated like a prized and valued guest. The service was exceptional. There were improvements in a number of areas. And they had a new special exciting treat. I have MUCH to compliment, one complaint, and one what-the-heck-were-you-thinking?
First was my room. Balcony stateroom 9264 is in the most ideal spot. Not only was it near everything, near the elevator, the pools, the buffets, and much of the entertainment, the position of this room is such that few people will walk past it. It is the only room between two entrances to the stateroom hallway. I would be the only person to walk past this door most of the time. All of the balcony rooms themselves are similar. This room was spotlessly clean, in perfect condition, and my stateroom stewards, Nokilito and Mie were wonderful. They quickly learned my schedule. I never had to wait for service. Like magic my room was perfect two times daily. They were very friendly. And, after all of my cruises on all of the lines and ships I have sailed, on the last night I got a brand new towel animal — one I have never seen before! On Carnival I have always been 100% pleased with my stateroom service (not always the case with one of the other cruise lines). This time, too, I received perfect service.
I was assigned to the table 632 on the upper level of the Black Pearl Dining room in the middle of the ship. My wait staff was Wilmer, Alfred, and Punduh. Again, as always, the service was impeccable. Wilmer was the Head Waiter. It is my belief that he was the best waiter I have ever had on any cruise, or in any restaurant. I was seated at a table for ten, but only a few of us ever ate there. The rest of the chairs remained empty every night of the cruise. The maître d’hôtel explained that people were assigned there and that they had never requested a change, but that they simply never chose to eat in the dining room. Despite some, in my opinion, unreasonable requests from one of my tablemates, Wilmer was helpful, and fulfilled everyone of their demands with respect and courtesy. Punduh liked to dance. At showtime, he would really impress us with his skills. Alfred was very hard working, polite and got all of our food to us hot and quickly. The food was excellent. Should I mention the Dr Seuss Breakfast here? No, I’ll wait until later... I give the dining room and waiters and food 100% rating. That 100% includes the bar server. I am so ashamed that I have lost his name. I believe it began with the letter “W.” Wayan perhaps???
Then there was the casino. The casino was very nice to me, but I think they are happy that I went home. I played Roulette. Remember these numbers because the casino might just want to remove them from the Roulette wheel: 13 — 15 — 17 — 27 — 28. I was able to pay off my Sign and Sail charges, go out to lunch in Port Canaveral, and bring home some ‘extra’ cash. Mithun and Daisey, among others, were some of the friendliest and most helpful dealers I have met. And they seemed happy to see me win. Oh, and we also had a “Slot Pull.” People from the Meet and Greet decided that on the first sea day we would all get together to meet each other and all pool some money and play a slot machine. We won! We all got extra money to split among us. Actually, the casino staff was indeed very nice. Even if I had not been so lucky they would have made the games very enjoyable and the casino a fun place to play. But I will go back to Roulette on my next Carnival cruise. And I’m keeping those numbers. If they let me ;-)
OK, let me talk about the Dr Seuss Breakfast. On a scale of 1 through 10 I give it a full 10. Here is why. Most of those points go to the dining room staff. This was the very first Dr Seuss breakfast. The opening act, the premier. The waiters were almost giddy with excitement trying to present this treat. It was as if they had been practicing and waiting and they were so full of anticipation that by the morning of this breakfast they were ready to shine. Their excitement and anticipation and thrill were contagious. They were so proud of what they worked so hard for. And rightly so.
The meal was fun. I ordered.... Green Eggs and Ham! The presentation of this was right out of the story book. I do like Green Eggs and Ham. I do like them Sam I Am! The plate was beautiful. I looked at some of the other meals that people received. Waffles — the waffle dents — what do you call those square dents in the waffle? The pressed-in parts? The marks that make it a waffle? Well at this breakfast they were served with dollops of yogurt in aqua and orange and white — the very same colors from the Dr Seuss books. They used Froot Loops to build a chimney garnish for another item and the Froot Loops were stacked jagged just like in the illustration of a Dr Seuss book. The food was so craftily presented as to bring back waves of memories of growing up and reading these book. I learned how to read with these books. And the menu and the food were identical to my memories.
The food was fun, the wait staff were fun.
And all of the tables were decorated in Dr Seuss Cat-in-the Hat style. Colorful table clothes, napkins, centerpieces, special menus, coloring books. I can’t say enough about it.
All of the wait staff were dressed in costume. And there was a Character meet. All the favorite characters from the books would come to each table, greet each person, take their picture individually and with the group and allow you to use your own camera as well. They would then put on several shows, play music, dance and truly entertain. Did I mention how excited the waiters were? They were so happy and it was real. They waited for this day and were so excited to present it.
I hope I didn’t miss anything. The food, the staff, the presentation, the character meet, the decorations, the menus, this is one of the highlights of my cruise.
OK, let’s continue with the rest of the review.
I am somewhat curious why Carnival chose these ports for a winter cruise. Florida and the Bahamas are fine ports, but they are not very hot in the wintertime. The same ship sails to the Caribbean and Puerto Rico in the heat of the summer. I think I would have rather visited those ports this time of year. They can do it in the summer, you would think they could just as easily do it during the winter. But the ports were OK. It was warm enough. Just not beach weather. Yes, some people did go to the beach... But I think that was out of frustration following a really COLD winter and they couldn’t wait to get some sun. Overall, I was happy and the ports were just fine.
Bar service. Again, I have been on many many cruises so my bar service expectations are based on previous experience. I know that the servers will be friendly and helpful. My expectations are already high. This is a difficult standard to beat. However, there were some notable high points to the service. And when I say high, I mean exceeded my already high expectations. Nina and CC and Ketut and Alexander (spelled wrong) served at the casino bar. First of all Ketut. He was an artist. He would make each drink look like a masterpiece. His swirled frozen drinks looked better in real life than the picture on the menu. He took extreme pride in his work and was always smiling and happy and always had something pleasant to say. Nina and CC were very different but both exceptional. CC was nurturing and sensitive and caring and wonderful. Nina was exciting and fresh and vibrant. Alexander (spelled wrong) was there everyday. He was the straightforward friendly stalwart professional. The entire staff here were among the best I have met.
OK, my complaint. I paid $149 for the full 8 day Thalossotherapy Pool. On the fourth day the pool broke. The water was cold. It could not be used again after this point. I reported it to the staff at the desk. She told me that she would call for maintenance. That was my clue that this was a problem. The water temperature had been off on previous cruises and staff would simply adjust the thermostat. Why tell me she would call maintenance? Later that afternoon I returned. She told me nothing was done because maintenance had been eating lunch. I returned the following day and reported it to Luke, the Spa Manager. He told me that he would call for an engineer to come fix it, not to worry because he would handle it himself. Again, why phone an engineer if you don’t already know that it is broken? Why not tell me that you’ll check the thermostat? It was never repaired. The last two days I was told that pool was fixed but that the water was too rough for the pool to be used. It never re-opened. I have heard live reports from people on the current cruise which follows mine. They tell me that the pool is still broken and not open. I paid $149 for 8 days but only received 4 days of use. I am awaiting a response from Carnival as I wrote to them today now that I am home. I expect that they will be reasonable.
The What-The-Heck-Were-You-Thinking story is that because I have Platinum status on Carnival, one of the Platinum rewards is a ship pin with the name of the ship and the year. I received a ship pin this cruise as well. I brought it home all proud and happy, but when I looked at it with my eye glasses I see that it says “Conquest” and not “Splendor.” I’ve not yet been on Carnival Conquest.
Bad stuff out of the way, back to the cruise. I noticed significant improvement in the Past Guest party. This cruise had delicious hors d’oeuvres that I didn’t receive on previous cruises. One tasted like a marinated pepper wrapped around some soft cheese. Another was a cube of cheese mixed with something very tasty. The drinks were better this time, they were strong. Served in large glasses. The video was updated. Yes, the improvements were nuanced, but noticable. And I appreciated them.
The good surprise was that I had hesitated to book a winter cruise out of New York. To fuel my anxiety, when I left my home on the morning of the cruise the temperature at home was -4F or -20C. That’s cold. And I was going on a ship. I won’t lie and say that once on board in New York the sun came out and the temperature rose into the 80’s and I got a tan, but by the first sea day the temperature was warm enough to go outside with a light jacket. The ship had a covered pool on the Lido Deck. It was ALWAYS warm and comfortable. On the second afternoon, the cover was open and it was beautiful. The weather in Florida and the Bahamas was beautiful in the mid to upper 70’s. I admit that I am spoiled and a bit of a baby, so it was not beach weather for me, but many people used the pools and a lot of people went to the beach in port. I would not hesitate to book another winter cruise.
The cruise director was Malcolm “woo hoo” Burn who I love. He had done something very special for the guests during my previous cruise back in September and I will never forget him. There was a singer who was very sweet. She entertained at the Past Guest party. She took a moment to introduce two very special people in the audience: her parents. You should have seen the glow on their faces as they watched her perform. She also took a moment to introduce another woman. Her son is a dancer on the ship and he was seated with his mom at the party and she was very proud of her son as well. I really like personal touches like this.
The live music was excellent. One of the solo singers in the Lobby was very good. His voice reminded me of James Taylor.
What more can I say? The heat worked when it was cold outside and the AC worked in the Bahamas heat. I chose this cruise because school is in session and I assumed that there would be few children on the ship. Turns out it was spring break for the public schools in Canada so there were indeed many kids. But they were very well behaved and actually added to the enjoyment. How so? There was this very young boy and his sister. They spoke, or at least sang, in French. At Karaoke. This kid couldn’t have been ten years old yet, but he had an amazing voice and a style and a flair for singing in public on stage. I don’t understand french, but I was so enjoying his songs. His sister sang one song with him. Again, she is excellent. But this boy is something else. I might not know his name now, but I am confident we will all know his name in a few years.
I enjoyed this cruise a LOT! I am already looking for my next Carnival cruise. Even though I was happy going in the winter, I hope that my next trip will happen well before then. Overall I give the cruise a 99% The missing 1% goes for the broken Thalossotherapy pool.