I found a great deal on The Carnival Splendor and thought we would go for it. We have cruised on RCCL, Oceania, Disney, NCL and Carnival before so I was aware of the different levels of service and quality. Even though I thought I knew what we were in for I had another thing coming.
Embarkation and debarkation went very quickly and smoothly. The cabin was fine and the ship (although very pink) looked lovely but was badly designed. The layout was a pain to navigate. Even by the last night I couldn't quite figure out how to get to the deck areas I wanted. So many of the floors wouldn't go all the way though the ship. To go to the 5th floor to get to the 4th floor photography area! My husband felt claustrophobic because you couldn't move in any of the public areas without being bumped into.
One of the reasons we chose this ship was because of the children's program which turned out to be a dud for our daughter's age group. She was to be with the 9-11 year olds. She turned 11 the day after the cruise ended so she was not the oldest kid in her group. The first day they played balloon tag! She didn't want to go back because they "were baby games". I convinced her to try again and they colored a t-shirt with a picture of the "Fun Ship Freddy". She refused to attend again which put a damper on our grown-up time. I asked to put her in the next age group 12-14 year olds but was told no she had to be 3 months away from turning 12. Our daughter usually goes to children's programs with great enthusiam but not this time. We spoke to other parents with children the same age who had the same problem.
SMOKING!!!!!!! It was everywhere! I had no idea that you could smoke on the balconies! Our neighbors beside and underneath us smoked cigarettes and cigars constantly! We complained and were told they could do nothing about the cigarette smoking but that the cigar smoking was not permitted. They never stopped it! We could not use our balcony because of the smell. I saw the guy beneath us throw his lit cigarette butt over the balcony and still Carnival did nothing. Do they not remember the fire started that way just a few years ago? You had to go by the casino to get through the 5th floor and it reaked of smoke. We were unable to use the casino because of it. Several of the bars were also smoky! With over 1,000 children onboard I can't believe that in this day and age we (or there staff) would have to put up a smoky ship!
Dining in The Black Pearl Restaurant was a disaster. We had requested and been confirmed on the early seating and had requested a small table, neither of which happened. The first evening when we were seated at a really bad table (top floor shoved in the corner, view of nothing). When we were seated at a table for 8 the others had situated themselves in such a way my family could not sit together. The other passengers refused to move even when the waitress asked them to! We were told to sit there anyway! When I refused we were told to sit in the bar and wait until all the passengers were seated and they would try to find us somewhere to sit. We did not have assigned seating for the entire cruise and had to wait every night until everybody was seated (30+ minutes) until they found us a table one worse than the next. Our last evening they forgot (even though I reminded them) of our daughters birthday cake!
The Tandoori and pizza stations were very good! The long lines on the Lido deck for breakfast were ridiculous (sometimes 20 to 30 minutes to get an omelet)
One evening we went to their "Fine Dining". We each paid an additional $30 for an evening of excellent service and dancing. The food and service was fine. When I enquired when the dancing would start (as the advertised on the Carnival channel and why we went) we were told they didn't have it anymore!
Bingo, art auctions and outside movies started very late and we gave up more than once. Vancouver and Victoria were beautiful! Spa services were much shorter than advertised!