I will preface my assessment with the statement that I cruise 6-8 times per year depending on my business schedule and am always concise in my reviews and paint the complete picture (not just all bad or all good). Additionally, in the interest of full disclosure, I am a stockholder in CCL and do my best to convey my experiences in a neutral light.
I began writing this as a chronological travel blog but decided that was far too lengthy and that my 'Good vs. Bad' points would be lost in the details so I opted for that succinct format:
1 - Embarkation process: This was very organized and while the ship was delayed in boarding due to a USCG exercise, the Captain's Lounge was full but once boarding began, weddings went aboard following by us (Diamond and Platinum), then suite guests, followed by FTTF, then general boarding. Nice job done by the organized NYC Carnival port staff.
2 - Bar and Wait Service: Many times this is an area that Carnival is lacking but this cruise was exceptional. Back in March aboard Liberty the service was lazy and atrocious but Splendor is 180 degrees from that. Excellent job to the bar and wait staff for being incredible! Kudos also for Carnival allowing the food waiters to be able to take wine orders instead of having to wait for the bar waitress to come around!
3 - Half Moon Cay: This is my favorite port and one of the reasons for booking this cruise. I had Cabana #13 and loved every moment of this precious island!
4 - Food: Carnival has really improved the quality of the food aboard its ships. Every dish I ordered was prepared perfectly and was always hot!
1 - Entertainment Staff: I am surprised that Malcolm 'Woo Hoo' Burn has been with Carnival for as many years as he reminds the guests (it gets repetitive after the 5th time, Malcolm). He seemed to be a brand new cruise director and made mistakes almost every time he addressed the ship. The ACD 'Donkey' was the saving grace of the entire entertainment staff and I am looking forward to him being a CD in the near future. Antonette (karaoke host) was kind but boring and did not know how to operate the equipment (the DJ 'talkover' setting was in place half of the time during the shows so when people tried to sing, the music would reduce when the mixer sensed a voice). Fluffy (Punchliner Comedy Hostess) was OK but seemed like she was simply 'winging it'. While the comedians were funny, the whole experience seemed thrown together at the last minute.
2 - Night Club Closed for Crew Party?!?!: I found this to be a travesty! On the night of our Grand Turk day we returned to the ship to see the maintenance staff putting paper over the external windows of the Red Carpet Night Club (AKA the disco). a half hour later a sign was placed in front of the door reading "Private Function". When I inquired if the club would be open later that night I was told "No, I am sorry but it is closed due to our Crew Party." WHAT? I thought for sure this would be incorrect but after dinner and the Quest Game that evening, the doors to the club were closed, the music was pumping, and the security staff was outside the door and confirmed that only crew were allowed in. As a passenger, this upset me heavily, as we tried to go to the Piano bar but it was also closed (the piano player was at the crew party). Then we tried to go to the Robusto Lounge but it was also closed. The only bar on the ship that was open was the casino bar and there was no entertainment. This was before MIDNIGHT in the middle of a cruise! As a stockholder, I find this practice unacceptable given the lost revenue of all the drinks that would have been sold that night to guests (crew members pay a far reduced rate). Additionally, the casino bar became overwhelmed and only 1 bartender. Many first time cruisers that night at the casino bar said they would not cruise Carnival again because they felt as if they didn't matter as a passenger. Shame on you, Carnival - crew parties should not closed down the main night time area. Use the Robusto or El Morrocco for your crew parties... OR AT LEAST HAVE SOMETHING ELSE OPEN TO OCCUPY THE GUESTS WHO PAID MONEY TO BE THERE!
2 - Cabin Steward: While I can only speak for myself, this is one are that Carnival usually excels in. Unfortunately this time I was unlucky as Santiago was the worst CS I have had in the 31 years I have been cruising. 2 days of the cruise my cabin was not serviced until after dinner. I left my Wash & Fold bag in the cabin with the slip filled out and went ashore at 8:30am on HMC. When I returned at 4:35 that afternoon, the cabin hadn't been touched and the laundry was STILL on my bed. I called Santiago and he did not answer. I had to find another CS to give the laundry to. The following evening just before dinner (elegant night that I needed my white shirt for) I had to call Santiago to have my laundry delivered so I could press my shirt and get dressed. TERRIBLE service, period.
All in all we managed to make a good time out of it but I will say that this was one of the most disappointing cruises I have been on. I wrote a full review in much more detail and mailed it to the Carnival's 'Beards' (leadership).
If you cruise Splendor - do not judge all cruises by this ship.