We cruised on Splendour of the Seas from 5/3/08 to 5/10/08. Our last cruise was on the Voyager of the Seas which was a larger ship so we were a little worried that sailing on Splendour of the Seas wouldn't be as good. Even though the ship was smaller and lacked a few things that the Voyager had we were still pleased with the ship overall.
We elected to have first seating at dinner and were glad we did. We were a party of eight (2 families) with the youngest being 20 and the oldest being 60 something. We had a table near the window which was perfect. Our waiter was Jacquelina and the asst waiter was Williams who was great, very polite with a winning smile. The food was OK, it is about time that RCCL changed the menu. Also, the food of last resort at the Windjammer was just gutfill. Your best option if unable to get into the main dining room, is to get a hot dog or burger at the Solarium bar area. The breakfast buffet had the worst sausage and eggs that must have come from powder form. The omelet line was usually at least 6 people deep if you wanted a real egg.
Our cruise director Jill Tasker kept the ship jumping, always something to do. We did go to a few shows at the 42nd st theater and for the most part they were good. The dancers and singers were outstanding. The magic show was disappointing but the casino and the Viking Crown Lounge Bar kept us entertained from port to port. The dance music was great and welcomed all ages. We had an inside cabin and our room attendant (Abdul), was great at making the towel animals and keeping us neat and comfy. I (the wife) used the spa one time to try out the Alpha Capsule. The wait to book it was convoluted at best: there were 3 staff members at the one small desk trying to schedule appointments for one guest for at least 15 minutes. In the meantime the line behind me grew. When I did get my turn, I was told to wait while someone could check the schedule with a trainer!? That lasted 10 more minutes. I was finally able to get an appointment for the next day and was told to arrive at 1:00 for my session. When I arrived for my session the next day I waited again behind people who were making appointments and was told to go sit down and someone would be with me shortly. I had arrived at 12:50 for the appointment and was not taken back until 1:20. The capsule itself was very helpful for stiff joints and jet lag, but there was no music (as was advertised, the girl said they don't have it even though I saw a cd player in the thing) and the capsule sat in a room where a seminar was going on not 12 feet away. My relaxing spa experience was dampened due to the constant talking of all the people in the room. Also, my coupon from the room was not honored. Oh well! While we would absolutely sail on Splendour of the Seas again, it would be only short cruises
We flew into Venice the day before and stayed in Mestre at the Hotel Altieri. We were quite pleased with the hotel and the staff. The bus to Venice was right down the street about 50 feet away. The only problem with the area was the lack of restaurants. The hotel had a continental breakfast but that was it. A pizza shop a few doors down was open and you could get the pizza and take it back to the hotel, (it has an American menu) but for a sit down and relax dinner the choices were not there. We just relaxed and got ready for the cruise the next day. The next day all of us and our luggage made the trip to Venice on bus #19, great trip but no place special to put your luggage. Getting off at Piazza Roma which is the last stop, we decided just to walk to the ship. Slightly uphill and about 15 mins we were at the ship.
Checking in at the dock and boarding was very quick and painless and we were on the ship within 15 minutes of reaching the dock. We found our stateroom and proceeded to explore a bit. The ship departed on time and all our luggage was delivered to the stateroom shortly afterwards.
Overall the ship was in excellent condition, extremely clean and well maintained. The crew and staff were very cordial and polite. We only had one gripe when at the Viking Crown Lounge we asked for coffee and were told we needed to go down 2 levels and get our own instead of the server saying he would be back in a few minutes with the coffee. But no big deal. We decided not to do any tours but to do everything ourselves.
Day 2 - Our first day was at sea. Took advantage of the pool area.
Day 3 - Piraeus, Greece. We walked to the train station (20 min) and took the train from Piraeus to Athens (quite easy), then exited the train and walked up the hill to the Acropolis. The walking is uphill on slick surfaces and we got lost on the way up, but finally saw folks we knew and got back on track. On the way up the hill we passed several quaint sidewalk cafes, and the one that let us use the toilet got our lunch business on the way back down. The Acropolis was amazing with so much history. We took lots and of pictures. The cafe where we had lunch was outdoors and had very fresh food with no cover charge or surprises. Also, the shopping at the little stores in Athens has very different items than the shops in the other ports so DO do some shopping on your way back to the train station. At the train station you will need coins or small Euros to get your ticket at the automated Kiosk. Their metro system is very easy to use. Most people do speak English, especially if you offer them a smile with your question.
Day 4 - Mykonos, Greece. We decided to walk to the main part of town. Beware, it is a long walk with out a sidewalk and cars, busses, and trucks have the right of way. We found out later that we could have taken a shuttle off the ship for free. The town was cute and set up for tourists. We did a little shopping, ate and drank again at a sidewalk cafe over looking the water. What a great way to spend the day. This port is as close to what you would expect to see at Santorini if you were going to port there. We walked back to the ship and looked forward to the next port.
Day 5 - Katakolon, Greece. The main attraction here is Olympia. The ship did not get in until later than it was supposed to and was leaving at 6:30, so time was a large factor. We did some homework and we could have taken the train and bus to Olympia but we would only have had about an hour to spend seeing the sights. We opted not to go. After talking with some folks who did go, we were happy we didn't. Again, we did a little shopping and ended up at a sidewalk cafe overlooking the harbor. The food was good and we were introduced to Uzo. You have to be careful with that. Back to the ship.
Day 6 - Corfu, Greece. We took the shuttle into downtown Corfu. It was a long ride, and walking is out of the question. It is a very large metropolis and fast paced. There was an important historical fortress at the Shuttle stop, so we paid the 4 Euro each and went through. Another long climb, up another high hill on slick surfaces. We got plenty of exercise and some excellent photo ops. After a short trip around the city, we caught the shuttle back to the ship for a late lunch. The shuttles were there every 30 minutes.
Day 7 - Split, Croatia. We tendered off shore and had to exchange some Euros into the local currency which is the Kuna. The prices were about what we expected. It was 7.14 Kuna for 1 Euro and we spent 7 Kuna for a small gelato. We were quite surprised at how pretty Split is. Walked along the harbor taking pictures and looking at the local markets. A nice relaxful day, Back to the ship.
Day 8 - Back to Venice. Getting off the ship was painless. We once again walked to Piazza Roma once again, the lines for RCCL buses to the Piazza Roma were long. Took bus #19 back to Hotel Altieri for we were staying 2 extra days. We dropped our luggage and back to Venice for some sightseeing. We walked from Piazza Roma to Piazza San Marco, wandering down the side streets and window shopping. Took in all the sights. What a beautiful city. The next day we returned to Venice but this time we took the water bus from Piazza Roma to Piazza San Marco. What an adventure. The bus was standing room only, I was sure that it was going to tip over and that we all would be swimming. But it didn't and we made it to Piazza San Marco. Did sightseeing, ate and drank wine at a sidewalk cafe overlooking the grand canal, went down the side alleys till we found a gondola at a good price. How could we go to Venice and not go on the gondola. What a way to end the perfect vacation. The other members of our family that chose to get off the ship and go directly to the airport used the optional ship express shuttle and made it in time for their 11:00 flight back to Philadelphia. We hadn't the heart to tell them that the best part of the whole trip was our 2 days in Venice. The shopping, the history, the cafe's were outstanding. While we would surely cruise Royal Caribbean again, and we would absolutely go to Venice again, I would stay at the Hotel Alteri, but bring an extra pillow. The bed was so hard but the staff was fantastic.