Unfortunately after taking such a great cruise and getting it for a price that can never be repeated AND having a balcony for the first time, well I am spoiled for any further trips. Rats.
My Husband I have been on several cruises each and now we have been on two together. The last one was on the Freedom last summer, which was a wonderful European trip.
This cruise was on May 10th. The Sunday before the trip we were not planning on doing anything, especially not taking a cruise the following week, but I took a look at some of the online agency listings and I nearly fell over. I knew that the cruise industry would have to make adjustments for the swine flu, but I didn't know what. The prices for the cruise on the 10th dropped to below what we could live on if we stayed home for the week. We live in LA so we have done the Mexico itineraries and Canada looked great.
By the next Sunday we were driving to Long Beach and praying that the traffic would let up and we would actually make it to the ship. Cut it much closer than I would have liked. Boarding was very easy and quick. The room which was on Upper deck was big and up to Carnival standards. Balcony not huge, but really how much space do two people need? You sit out there and drink coffee and watch the world go by, Blissful even on the chilly days, The only problem we encountered is that the room was directly above a lounge which had a band playing. Now on the deck plans it shows the casino lounge, but there is no indication of a band area. It just shows a row of seating. The first night we were slightly bothered by the sound, but after that we didn't really notice it. I know most of you reading this are saying "yeah right" but honestly it was okay. I got the feeling that most of our fellow passengers were pretty happy on this trip. Most of the people we met had just booked this cruise after the itinerary change and were thrilled to have a relaxing week with no pressure to get their money's worth as you sometimes feel on a more expensive vacation. Of course there are always a few people on any trip who think the ship belongs to them. They are rude and demanding and believe they are more important than anybody else. There were a few groups of these people on this cruise, We started calling them the barrel people for more than one reason. Mostly because they would roll over you to get what they wanted.
The food on the ship was mostly well done in my opinion. We ate in the dining room several evenings (Not for elegant night as we decided not to bother with all that for a casual trip) the food in the Gold Pearl was well prepared and you could have anything you wanted. One evening I wasn't as happy with my entree as I could have been. My husband's plate looked more inviting and our waiter Ismael noticed that I was eating with less gusto than usual and he offered on more than one occasion to get me something else. They really pay attention to your needs and likes. The food at the buffet during the day was totally edible. We are partial to Indian food and the Tandoori station is very good. There are lots of choices during the day, including the burrito bar, Asian wok area and rotisserie. Now in the evening if you choose to eat at the buffet the selection is much more limited as most of the alternate food stations are closed. What is open is the main buffet, the pizza station and the deli. The deli is very good, but I don't know if it's because I am originally from New York or what, but the pizza was horrible. Sorry. My only complaint about the food other than the pizza is that most of the desserts look beautiful but taste like, well, sugar paste. Sweet but no no real flavor. Very disappointing, especially on the last day of the trip when they had a chocolate feast. It all looked nice but didn't taste like anything. The warm chocolate melting cake is very good anytime you can get it but is like taking the express train to a diabetic coma. I LOVE chocolate but too much is too much. As for service and crowds, only the chocolate feast had long lines during the week. One thing I have trouble with in regard to other's reviews is that they say that they don't clean up the lido area. I never saw a table stay unkempt on either the Splendor or the Freedom for more a minute. As a matter of fact they wanted to take away your plates before you were finished eating. Hey don't touch my lox and bagels if you want to keep all your fingers.
As for public areas, we spent alot of time on the lido deck under the dome. A life saver. Without it on this itinerary that space would not have been very usable. It was nice and warm. People swam and relaxed. At night there were movies playing and you could actually enjoy them. Last year on the Freedom, even though it was summer, it got cold up there at night and also windy so we rarely stayed there. On other evenings there was music playing. One evening was a classic Rock and Roll party. Normally we never go to these things. We work in entertainment and my Husband has admitted to being a snob when it comes to that. We were up there however getting some coffee when we heard the music. We have been together for 17 years and have never danced together. Not even when we got married. That night on the ship he pulled me out onto the dance floor and we danced. I wasn't sure who this man was or what he did with my husband. He admitted that the music was much better than he thought it would be and after that we went to two of the evening shows in the showroom. They were very good and professional. We are not drinkers so I cannot comment on the bars and lounges. I did have a mojito one evening and must have picked the one bartender on the ship who didn't know how to make it. Like drinking Vicks Vapor Rub. The decor is typical Carnival. No rhyme or reason for anything, but I don't cruise for style. It's all good with me.