My wife and I recently returned from a 12-day Baltic Sea cruise on the new Carnival Splendor which, largely because of the ports of call, we quite enjoyed. But the ship itself left me with decidedly mixed feelings.' Firstly the embarkation as well as the disembarkation went very smoothly, really flawlessly. Moreover the tours, from the standpoint of getting off the ship into waiting buses, were very well organized. I have to give them kudos. Unfortunately, as others have commented, the decor is on the wild side, garish is the one word that comes to mind. Mind you, I can't honestly say it was all that off-putting and after a day or two I hardly noticed.
As to the food, we found that quite good, better than some reviewers would have you believe. Strangely the only meal I did not enjoy was in the alternative Pinnacle restaurant ($30 surcharge per person). The food was cloyingly rich; even the porterhouse steak had a veal reduction glaze that gave the surface an oily, butter-like taste. The lobster bisque soup must have been made with pure creamrich beyond belief. But otherwise, the food especially the variety on the lido deck for lunchwas more than acceptable.
I must also give them high marks for the cabins, at least the one we occupied (a category 11, 275 sq.ft. plus 65 sq.ft. balcony) which was quite spacious and nicely configured as well as decorated (except one wall painting). The bathroom was by far the nicest I've seen: a vanity area before entering the bathroom, double sinks and a generous size tub.
Not to be overlooked was the high level of competence of the staff. Both our cabin steward and dining room waiter were excellent, friendly (but not too) and very professional. I must say that for a staff that had only been together only a few weeks, they really made a great team and I'm including virtually everyone we came in contact with.
Now to the downside. The entertainment, such as it was, could only be described as pathetic; amateurish might be more charitable. If you're of an age that enjoys the big band sound or even a nice trio or quartet for dancing in a civilized setting, or seeks some onboard enrichment activities (e.g. lectures) as opposed to karaoke or bean bag tossing,
I would hesitate to recommend this ship, particularly if there are many days at sea. Fortunately we enjoyed the privacy and comfort of our spacious cabin, yet it would have been nice if there had been more (adult) activities in a sophisticated setting. But of course the typical Carnival "fun ship" patron would rather participate in, or observe, a hairy chest contest than listen to a renowned expert discuss the world geopolitical situation. I'm not unaware that sounds terribly snobbish, but I nonetheless feel compelled to forewarn those cruisers that might be of a similar mind. Overall, my negative comments notwithstanding, we enjoyed the cruise. But had it not been for ports of call like Tallinn, Estonia, St.Petersburg and Helsinki, which we had not previously visited, we might have been bored to tears. H.W. Hallman, Denver, Colorado