Arrived Rome just prior to noon on the day of sailing greeted by storm clouds and rain showers. Embarkation procedure was fast and efficient. The weather did change however. It got worse! Outright downpours that would have made Noah a little frightful were the order of the day until we left the Mediterranean far behind. The actual crossing was accompanied by mostly fair weather. Days lounging by the pool were delightful. Many fair skinned passengers were broiled to a degree that matched well with the ship's décor. Some were camouflaged so well that they were listed as missing for several days.
Oh yes, the ship's décor. The first impression on entering in the Lobby was generally good. Lots of pink, my wife's favorite color and I knew right away that she would love it. She did love it and still clings to that somewhat misguided opinion. Slowly my view began to change. Pink, pink and more pink. Everywhere I looked, pink polka dots. Even a restaurant named PINK PEARL. You guessed it. Pink pearls everywhere. I could scream. Thankfully we were able to change to the BLACK PEARL with no hassle or problems encountered. Platinum does have it's advantages.
The ship, being new, was in superb condition. The only problem I noticed was the faux deck planking was starting to come unglued(?) in a lot of places and large bubbles were formed, making the footing somewhat uneven. Same thing on the jogging/walking track. The entire crew and especially the dining staff were very friendly and made the cruise an enjoyable experience. Maitre d Konstanttin was very visible and his singing, although off key at times was enjoyable and added to the good times. The food was generally very good but not great. Most of the beef, except that served by the Pinnacle Restaurant, was not high quality. Other menu selections were quite good. Combinations on a plate were sometimes weird … Mashed sweet potatoes with veal parmigiana. Yuk. What was the chef thinking. The Pinnacle Restaurant was truly outstanding. Excellent menu offerings that were presented magnificently. The staff was superb, informed and catered to your every desire. Live music for dancing on a glass dance floor was provided. $30 per person charge applied but was worth it. A really fine dining experience.
Tours at all the ports were adequate and covered a variety of choices but somewhat over priced. The same tour could be, and was in many cases, individually arranged with a taxi driver or a local tour company for much lower cost. Bus shuttles from the dock to local town drop off points were NOT FREE as in times past. As much as $6.50 per person was charged. In Madeira, one of the most beautiful places that I have ever visited, $4.00 got you a ride of less than ½ mile. If you like sweet wine, the Madeira Wine Lodge is a must place to visit and to taste the wines but don't buy any wine there. Go to local supermarket, it's half the price.
Entertainment on the Splendor was spotty. The ship's song and dance shows were awful. The lead female singer was bad, bad, bad. Shows were probably geared for younger audiences, not for the Gray Panther set. The other acts were for the most part pretty good. Lounge entertainment was good. Drinks are not pushed nearly as hard as before. A very good thing.
The gym is well equipped with about 15 state of art treadmills, elliptical machines, bikes and weight machines as well as dumbbell type free weights. The gym is too hot! I asked several attendants to have the temperature lowered with no results. Any lengthy runs are very difficult because of the heat and humid conditions. Sooner or later someone will be a victim of heat stroke. The Spa area is free only if you are in a cabin on the Spa deck. Otherwise a $35 per day fee is applied. My opinion: not worth it. The numerous hot tubs are OK but should be a bit warmer.
Camp Carnival is large and has it's own very nice 'water park" play area for the children. Parents are allowed in this area also. Very few children on this cruise. No opinion as to the quality of care provided. Overall opinion of this cruise is good but not as high as previous Carnival cruises that I have been on. Most changes enacted in recent years, because of new management(?), while perhaps temporally improving the bottom line, are not good. In the long run this will make the Carnival Cruise Vacation less desirable and reduce the bang for the buck for the guest.
Unfortunately, one of the bad memories I have of this cruise is of very rude guests. Often someone would push you out of the way to get by you or in front of you. I saw an older gentleman, with cane, who was walking properly in an aisle being bumped into by a man(?) who was cutting between deck chairs and then had the audacity to imply the man with the cane was in his way. Disreputable. On another occasion, in the main showroom, a woman with a purse knocked a drink over onto another woman who was sitting by the table. Not an 'I'm sorry' or 'may I buy you another drink' or even help in cleaning up the mess or to dry off the wet lady. The offender just looked backed, shrugged and walked off. Disgusting. A guest was ejected from the cruise because of a altercation over a saved chair. Disheartening. Never, ever, have I been on a cruise with such a large group of uncivilized idiots. I have asked myself, why such boorish behavior? I think that for the most part the answer lies in that the most of the populace of North America have a high respect and regard for others, are very considerate, kind and caring. While the rest of the world, the cultures being very different, do not have these same values. These people for the most part, view these traits weaknesses not desired qualities. The Ugly American, with some rare exceptions does not exist.