Let me start by saying this was our first Carnival cruise. I've previously sailed with Disney, Royal, and NCL. I'd heard mixed things about Carnival but the price was right so we decided to go for it. It was a mixed bag.
Embarkation was easy with the exception of Carnival announcing priority boarding. This was meant for Platinum and Diamond level guests but since FTTF (which we had) passes also say priority boarding, there was some confusion. Carnival may want to clarify the announcement next time but no biggie. We were on the ship by 11:30, bags were in our room, and cabin was looking good. Except for the balcony. We had an aft wrap and had read that there would be some soot from the funnel. Not a big deal but the balcony wasn't cleaned prior to our arrival. We called the steward, Manuel, in and he said he did the best he could. We simply wet a towel with water and wiped down the floor & railing ourselves and it came off no problem. So...ok Manuel. Other than that he was great.
The ship itself is nice and the pink really isn't a big deal like it's made out to be. You won't notice it after a few days. It was spotless and we always saw crew cleaning various areas of the ship. The casino was smoky which is to be expected. What I didn't expect was that they also allowed smoking in Red's nightclub. I've never come across that on another ship. Usually it's limited to the casino and outdoor areas. Again, not a big deal, but surprising. The ship also felt very closed in. My last cruise experience was on the Breakaway so compared to all the open deck space on that ship, there was very little on the Splendor in comparison.
And the sports bar. WORST SPORTS BAR EVER! You call yourself a New York ship? No playoff hockey? Seriously? We were standing around watching the sports ticker on ESPN and cheering for that. When the game was on NBC, it was on 3 tvs on one side of the bar. We asked for them to put it on at least one more tv and were told no. No? Game 2 was back to watching the sports ticker.
Food was hit or miss, some things good, some things not. I'd recommend the Wok, we ate there twice, and the Pinnacle Steakhouse is phenomenal. Well worth the $35/person charge. We never had an issue with service except for one night in the main dining room where the waiter seemed downright miserable - but we all have those days! We had any time dining and found a favorite in Emiliano - he was outstanding! From then on we requested him.
Behind the fun tour was informative but probably not something I'd do again. I found it to be a little too long. Some things were very interesting and others were simply not. Darian was an awesome tour guide though - give that guy a raise!
Entertainment was just ok. The same guy with a guitar in the lobby every night and what's up with the DJ on the pool deck? What happened to steel drum bands and live music? I'm on a cruise, not at a club. I hope they listen to their cruisers and do away with the DJs, at least for part of the time. On some sea days it felt like there wasn't much to do except bingo and trivia. Seemed they had more trivia on port days than sea days which was odd. Only three deck parties on an 8 night cruise seemed kind of weak too.
We had a spa pass and that worked out well for us. Couples razul is great - your skin will feel so soft afterward! Never had to wait in the fitness center for a treadmill or elliptical so that was nice as well.
Malcolm 'woohoo' Burns is annoying. Promote Shane to CD. HE IS FABULOUS!
Rent a cabana on Margaritaville and half moon cay - it's worth it!!! Little slice of heaven.
Debarkation was a breeze. We were called off the ship at 9am and in a cab by 9:30.
Overall we had a great cruise with a couple of little hiccups. Would I sail Carnival again? Yes, if the price were right. I can see why they're the budget cruise line in comparison to others - you get what you pay for.