The Carnival Splendor is a spectacular ship! Sailed May 24, 2009 ~ May 31, 2009
Getting on board was painless, and the process was smooth even with a packed ship of 3500 guest (last minute "fire sale" resulted in a lot of locals on board)... funny that they still took photos at the pre-staged Mexico background (even though we went to Canada). We received an automated call the day prior indicating that the ship was diverted to Canada, thank goodness we used a great Travel Agency (Traveline) who kept us informed, as we ran into a few passengers who were not aware of the diversion until they received the call the day prior.
The ship was spotless and stable... even when traveling at 22knots against 40+ knot gale force winds. A very festive, art deco that reminded me of "carnivals" of the past, but with taste... speaking of which, the food was fantastic, much better than Celebrity and NCL. The service was great with top notch waiters as well as cabin stewards.
The sports bar did not have "VS" and could not show the Stanley Cup play-off hockey games. We only caught one of the 3 games played on Saturday, since it was shown on NBC. Other cruise lines had ESPN, ESPN2, VS, and other popular sport channels in their sports bars... so we were disappointed. We even brought our "Detroit Red Wings" jerseys and received lots of "Go Wings" comments... so I know we were not the only disappointed fans on board!
The cruise director told jokes that were cornier than mine, and at times annoying. The onboard activities, and Trivia were fun and frequent. The shows that we went to were outstanding (missed the ones where they were late showing only, and disappointed that they didn't offer early shows on all days). Seating and visibility was limited to only the premium seats, if you arrived less than 20 minutes before the show... expect an obstructed view!
Our cabin 8320 was located under the Lido pool area, and every morning, without fail, the chairs were moved for deck cleaning at 4:15am to 4:45am... we heard every movement and me being a light sleeper had to wear ear plugs in order to sleep. My ear plugs were "cleaned" away, likely knocked on the floor and swept up on the day prior to our last night, so I didn't sleep from 4:15am to 4:45am. The balcony cabin was well appointed and laid out very logically giving a spacious feeling. Our friends who were next door, requested that the balcony divider be opened, but the design would have obstructed our balcony door, so we were not able to share the space. Our "Sprint" cell phones found the roaming network but was not able to connect while at sea (same phones worked fine on other lines).
Victoria and Vancouver were great ports, and we did our own thing... in Vancouver we got a city transit pass $9 and went to the suspension bridge for a very scenic retreat to the Tempered Rain Forest and crossed a 300 ft gorge (something not offered as a shore excursion). Victoria was a great city to walk, toured the government building (free), walked along the bay and viewed local artist works, went to China Town and even stopped in a local pub. Astoria... well we walked off the ship, looked around for 15 minutes and got back on, the weather was WET, and didn't see anything to our liking. Others however found it interesting, but far from a highlight. The final 2 days at sea were nice, with wonderful weather and no wind (18 knot tail wind, ship traveling at 20 knots), on day one, lots of time to enjoy the pools and outdoor activities including put-put and the water slide. The last day at sea was cool and overcast, so we just relaxed and enjoyed the ship.
I would have given this cruise an 8 out of 10 had our disembarkation went as planned, however... the gangway was not working, and all 3500 guests sat around from 9am until 11am waiting to get off the ship, with a mad dash and chaos with a fist fight breaking out in an elevator. We ended carrying our luggage down from 8 to 3, and stood in line for 45 minutes to get off the ship. Handicapped passengers in motor carts and wheel chairs were disembarking through the same single door to the somewhat repaired gangway. The port was a zoo, and we missed getting our Enterprise rental car since their port office closed at 12noon. We were forced to take a cab to Long Beach airport for $30 to pick up a National Car (thank goodness I'm an Emerald member). This cut into our day in the LA area, as we didn't get on the road until after 1pm.