My husband and I sailed on the Oct 18 sailing of the Splendour for our 25th wedding anniversary celebration. This was our first European cruise (although not our first trip to Europe) but our 8th cruise overall, including sailings on Celebrity, Princess and others. This ship and itinerary was not our first choice, but the best option available for the dates we had available for travel.
We booked through our long time cruise travel agent and did our own air/land portion, using FF miles on Swiss and Lufthansa through United's Star Alliance. These flights were excellent, with connections in Zurich and Frankfort to/from Chicago. Unfortunately, we arrived on the day of an transportation workers' strike, which delayed our flight into Venice, but gave us a great opportunity to sightsee in Zurich.
We stayed pre-cruise at the Molino Stucky on Giudecca Island, which was a luxurious way to start our trip. Had I not been able to get the hotel for free, using HHonors points, I would have chosen to stay at a hotel on P. Roma, even though the price for those hotels was over $300 night on this date. We took a vaporetto to the P. Roma and the free shuttle bus to the port. Once off the bus, you have to walk a long way with your luggage to the terminal building, dropping it before you check in under a tented area.
Our cabin, 2552, midship ocean view was in rather disappointing condition. The drawers were almost non-functioning. The closet door slammed upon opening (sorry neighbors). The bathroom mirrors were showing the metal behind, the shower seams kind of moldy looking. However, the showers had a great high ceiling and a detachable shower head. Bars of soap were provided but no shampoo and conditioner (except for the wall mounted dispensed product), which I was prepared for thanks to this board. Ample storage space behind the bathroom mirror as well as below. Nice fruit basket and bottle of wine for the TA was in the cabin upon arrival. We left the ship to sightsee in Venice prior to sailing. We found sleeping in this cabin to be the worst we have ever experienced on a cruise ship due to noises from adjacent cabins, morsecode-like tapping at periodic intervals during the night, and a really heavy duvet. Cabin attendant satisfactory. Told him not to waste his time on the towel animals. For some reason, he took our fruit basket even though we still had several pieces of fruit left.
Entertainment: We went to all the shows in the main theatre and several of the games/parties in the main lounge. The dancers were very good and an acrobat from Argentina was amazing. Don't miss the string quartet from the UK if they are performing. The cruise staff worked very hard to keep the passengers involved and having fun. We found Jill, the cruise director, to be consistently irritating. We really were disappointed to miss the activities in the Schooner bar, where all the trivia type games are played, because of the smoking passengers. You couldn't even walk through the bar without ending up smelling like smoke until your next shower. The smoking on this ship bothered us far more than other cruises we have been on, possibly because of the high number of Europeans on board. We missed the multiple entertainment options of the larger ships we have sailed on.
Food: Not as bad as previous reviewers have stated. Nice presentation, very good service in the dining room. We had a 5 bottle wine package which was nice, although it is difficult to access your opened bottles of wine if you choose to dine in the Windjammer. We chose to dine there for Greek night (nothing in the main dining room was Greek except for the baklava) which was the worst I've ever tasted. We chose to duck into the dining room for dessert (we had a table for two) just to grab the baklava, which was also very bad. Served with pistachio ice cream? Really!
Ports: Did Athens on our own, using the shopping guide's direction to the Metro - a half hour walk. Toured Ancient Agora and found our way up to the Acropolis. Wished we were on a tour to hear all the little details we missed with our guide books. Katakolon with ship's tour as the train would have only given us 2 hours to the site, which was great and we lucked out with a wonderful guide. Corfu on the ship's Paleokastristas Lakones and Wine tour. Be forewarned that the items you can purchase in the little villages can be had for significantly less $$ in town, which is not part of the tour. Just loved seeing this lush island and the gorgeous bays and mountains. We sailed between Corfu and Albania which is only 1.5 miles away at it's closest point. Our guide said that Albanians tried to swim to Corfu during WWII. Mykonos on our own. Just shopping and seeing windmills. Incredibly windy which the captain told us was just average for Mykonos - that it is not windy only 2 months out of the year. The people who saw Delos got a bit seasick on the boat ride over, but enjoyed to tour. Split was our final stop and we took a walking tour offered by the ship of the old town and Diocletian's Palace. Very interesting as people live in the palace. Not just a museum type of site. Wandered the town and had lunch at one of the cafes.
Arrival in Venice predawn. Left the ship last since we had a extra day here. Much confusion nd long lines waiting for the shuttle bus. Some people took off walking and we saw them struggling as we passed as it is really a long way. There was only one shuttle bus to P Roma which meant people had to wait a really long time. Lots of confusion and no RCCL staff to assist. We all commented how once the cruise is over, they really don't care what happens!
In the end, we had a very good time. However, we will not sail out of Venice again, nor on the Splendour.