This was my sixth, my husband's fifth, and our daughter's third cruise - my third and their second trip on Carnival. Overall we had a very good time and would definitely sail on the Splendor again - but not in February out of NYC!
We drove down from Vermont on the day of embarkation (Friday 2/21). We left early - 5am - as there was freezing rain up our way that day. Our trip to Manhattan was uneventful and traffic wasn’t too bad. Before the trip I’d made a reservation to park the car offsite with Alliance Parking at their 560 West 43rd location. It was very easy – I dropped my husband and daughter off at the pier with our luggage and went and parked the car and walked back to the pier (about a 10 minute walk) – this saved us $168 over parking at the pier.
Embarkation was relatively smooth and didn’t take terribly long. Once onboard the ship we headed to the Lido for lunch – found seating in the usually empty Rotisserie area on deck 10 aft. We then headed to our cabin around 1pm and found it ready for us – we had a Balcony Spa cabin on Deck 10 Starboard Forward, #1049. This was an absolutely PERFECT location – close to the stairs and quiet, we loved it. The cabin itself was nice enough but not as immaculate as I would have liked – mirrors were smudged, bathroom shelves not sparkling. Our room stewards were very hardworking and kind men, but not the most particular in terms of attention to detail. For instance there were several times our used water glasses were not replaced, that sort of thing. Not enough to complain about really – but noticeably less than perfect attention to the cabin.
The Cloud 9 Spa was absolute HEAVEN!! I knew that sailing out of NYC in February we would be likely to have cold weather on the way down and back and I wanted to have access to the spa amenities during these times. I spent a considerable amount of time in the spa – and gym – every single day. It was easily the highlight of the trip for me. The steam rooms and Thalassotherapy Pool were lovely and the gym equipment was great. This is the only cruise I’ve taken where I didn’t gain any weight, no doubt thanks to the spa/gym!! I also did a yoga class (couldn’t work in more than one due to my family’s schedule) and several of the early morning Fab Abs classes. I am still kicking myself that I didn’t take advantage of the free body analysis that came with our spa cabin – never made the time for it, unfortunately.
The first sea day, I had a pedicure first thing in the morning. Unfortunately they couldn’t get hot water for the foot soak bath so I was freezing for the whole thing – and the technician was pretty rough with my feet, I squealed in pain a few times (which has never happened to me with any other pedicure I’ve ever received). I nicely mentioned that I was unhappy with the cold water situation and the spa manager graciously gave me a complimentary paraffin hand treatment the next day, which was great.
We had Anytime Dining and while the food was fine, service was usually slow because the poor waitstaff was incredibly overworked!! It was crazy busy in the Black Pearl restaurant every night and tables were practically on top of each other. We definitely had a better Anytime Dining experience when we were on the Carnival Liberty a couple of years ago.
We did the Sea Day Brunch a couple of times and other than the Flaming Tomatoes Soup (which was AWESOME) we were not super impressed and ended up at the Lido for breakfast every other day.
Our 10-year old daughter absolutely LOVED Camp Carnival – which we jokingly referred to as Camp Kid Jail, LOL. She would have been there 24/7 if they were open all day and if we allowed it. My one criticism of this program is that the setup for sign in and pick up was really poorly designed. It often took 20 minutes or more for this – Carnival really needs to reevaluate the process flow and staffing for this for weeks that a lot of kids are on board. One huge compliment I would give them is the "Night Owls" party they had one night - it was reasonably priced and my daughter came back with a drawstring bag and stuffed owl that she just adores. Also at the conclusion of the cruise they all did t-shirts (no charge).
Speaking of kids, with all the children on board not once did we notice any poor behavior from unruly kiddos, which was quite a pleasant surprise!
Casino – very smoky and very greedy, we didn’t gamble a ton but lost a few scheckels at the slots!
Piano Bar – that dude (Jeremy?) was awful. It’s one thing to put your own spin on music, it’s another to completely butcher a song to the point of making me want to cry at the abuse he heaped on the music of the esteemed Billy Joel and other artists. We left after three songs, I couldn’t stand it any longer than that. My ears were bleeding.
Band on the Promenade Deck – I forget what their name was but they were VERY good! Had people dancing in the aisles just about every night!!
I won my first ever 24-karat solid gold plastic Ship on a Stick at one of the “Name that Tune” trivia sessions – how exciting! LOL
Comedy shows – caught a couple of the comedians, very funny!!
Main lounge shows – caught the first night and one other, the dancers and singers did a great job, a vast improvement over the last Carnival cruise I was on. Well done!
Now here is one major complaint I have about the entertainment staff. The gal in charge of the karaoke program really needs some lessons in what she’s doing. The Legends auditions were supposed to all be one night but that gal kept inserting non-Legends songs and ended up running out of time to complete the auditions. Plus she kept having issues with the A/V equipment. It was a real drag.
Ports of call – we had decent weather in all three ports which was nice. The trip down and back were mostly too cold to use our balcony so I wish we’d saved $ and just gone with an inside cabin. I am thrilled that we splurged on spa access however – made the trip worthwhile in my opinion!
Debarking was a breeze. No lines, very simple process and I walked back to the offsite parking to retrieve the car with no issues.
In summary we really liked the Splendor, the pink donuts were an interesting décor but not quite as hideous as some reviews would indicate. The public areas were fastidiously clean and the crew was pretty friendly. Sailing out of NYC was a breeze and it was so cool sailing by the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I would love to sail out of Manhattan again but not until, say, April – February departures this far north just do not provide the HEAT I’ve come to expect and enjoy on a cruise! (plus the stupid Polar Vortex we’ve been in this year just made it worse)
A good value and we would definitely choose to sail the Splendor again!