Pre- Cruise: I was traveling with my DBF and DS (age 8). This was my DBF first cruise and my son and I's fourth cruise. Our previous cruises were on Celebrity Zenith, Golden Princess, and Carnival Miracle. We originally booked this cruise over a year ago and were expecting Mexico. However, when the Swine Flu came about and changed the itinerary, we decided since we never did this itinerary, we would go anyway. We drove from Peoria, AZ the day before the cruise. It was the first time that I had ever driven to California. For the most part the drive was uneventful; we did not hit any traffic until we hit LA. Unfortunately, we hit a road closure and since our GPS did not have it in its memory we were a little turned around. It added almost an hour to drive. The ride back was much nicer.
We had booked the Crowne Plaza from Priceline for $65 a night. We added parking for $10 a day when we got to the hotel. It included free shuttle service to and from the pier. When we checked in we asked when they shuttled to the pier. They told us that we were to meet at 10:30 am in the lobby and that the shuttle would run every 30 minutes after that. Although, we stated we were sailing out of Long Beach, it turned out the last shuttle to Long Beach leaves at 12:00. We had gotten the name of the lady (Tara) the day before so even though we were running late, they did give us the free shuttle to the pier. We had an ocean view room at the Crowne Plaza. We were able to see the Mariner of the Seas sail into port. The room was nice, unfortunately we got a smoking room, if we were staying more than a night I would have changed rooms. It was my mistake not requesting. We walked around the area of the hotel and found this great Greek Restaurant - Papadakis Tavern. It is a family run restaurant. When we got there it was empty but quickly filled up. The food was excellent. The owners were present and made it a very enjoyable experience.
Embarkation: We left the hotel around 12:30 and were onboard and in our room by 1:45. I would have to say that contrary to previous reviews our embarkation was painless and very organized. We did get a phone call from Carnival on Friday stating not to get to the pier until 2:00. However, since check out was at 12:00, we did not want to wander around until 2:00 with all our luggage. Muster drill was painless. It was relatively quick. I know it is something that we don't like doing but to me it is a sign that the vacation can begin.
Ship: We were on a Carnival ship prior so we kind of knew of what to expect. After seeing numerous pictures from fellow Cruise Critic posters, I was not surprised. I honestly was not too bothered by the pink. For some strange reason, it all seems to come together. The ship never seemed too crowded. There were plenty of places to be alone if one wanted to. My DBF who is taking summer classes used the quietness of the library often. We purchased the $55 internet plan and he said he had no problem getting service in various areas of the ship. It took him awhile to get used to the speed or lack thereof. I did find some of the Splendor's layout a bit troublesome. It took awhile to get used to going up and then down in order to get to the dining rooms. I am used to being able to get to one side of the ship to the other. The roof over the pool was closed most of the time. However, it was heated. We went in it many times and almost always had no difficulty finding a seat. We also enjoyed the hot tubs. We went down the slide a couple of times. My son enjoyed the splash park area; although in my opinion it was COLD. I guess kids can tolerate more. I did not feel the public areas by the pools were too crowded. The last sea day I thought the Lido area was crowded. Everyone taking advantage of the last day at sea, I guess. I found the ship to be very clean and well taken care of. They were replacing some carpeting on our floor while we were there. Unfortunately, it meant that an elevator was down so they could do the carpeting. Otherwise, the elevators were quick.
Room and service: We had a category 8C room 7334. I found it very conveniently located, it was by the elevator but we never heard any noise. We did not use the balcony as often as we used to due to the coolness of the weather. However, it was nice to have the extra space. We had plenty of storage for all our stuff. We had run out of hangers but our room steward gladly gave us additional ones. If I would leave a request on a post-if then it was completed. However, there were three days that are room was not made up in the day. Now prior to the cruise, my DBF worked a lot of OT and slept until 9:30 so I am not sure if after a certain time, they don't make up the rooms. However, it is the first cruise that I was on that the room was not made up. Normally, it seems that they had radar and knew when we left the room and when we returned from breakfast it was made up. This was also the first time that we did not receive a comment card the last day.
Food and Service: I found the food on the ship to be very good to excellent. I really can't say that we had a bad meal the entire time. We ate dinner every night except one in the main dining room. We ate breakfast and lunch at the buffet. One day, we at breakfast in the dining room. We were seated at a table for six. We were seated with another couple from LA who had a 7 year old daughter. My son and their daughter got along great. My DBF acted as if he just found food. He often enjoyed late night snacks at the buffet. My son and DBF really enjoyed the little acts in the dining room. My son and tablemate got and danced with the waiters just about every night. It is growing on me. For the most part, service in the dining room was relatively quick. Our head waiter was ok but our assistant waiter was very personable. He made sure we had iced tea and lemonade at the table. The only complaint that I had was the fact that after the first two nights we did not see the wine steward or someone from the bar. We are not big drinkers but there was a time we wanted one and never saw them again. We celebrated my DBF's birthday while on the ship. We went to the Pinnacle Steakhouse. I have to say it was absolutely worth the $30 per person. The service and food were unbelievable. We had a great time. I also had ordered a birthday cake online prior to leaving. We had it delivered to the dining room one night and it was great. We shared it with the table and everyone said it was wonderful.
Ports: Our first port was Astoria Oregon. The itinerary was cut by three hours and I can't say that I was disappointed. It was a quaint little town but it is a port that I would say that "I have been there done that". It is beautiful but not much to do. The weather while we were there was a bit overcast but no rain. We pretty much just walked around for a bit and then went back on the ship. Our second port was Victoria. I really enjoyed Victoria. We were in port with Pacific Princess and the Mariner of the Seas. We took the shuttle to the main part of the town and spent the day. The line to get onto the shuttle was a bit long. We went to the IMAX and did the tour at the government building. We did a lot of walking. We even went back on the ship for dinner and went back out after dinner. We had a great time. I found it very beautiful but my DBF found it old. Our last port was Vancouver, we had a great time there but did not feel we had a lot of time to do all that we wanted to do. We did the hop on hop off with Sightline. We did the aquarium and Stanley Park. While we were at the aquarium we saw the beluga whale that was born just four days prior to our arrival. We also went to Granville Island. The weather was absolutely beautiful. We could have gotten away with wearing shorts.
Camp Carnival: My son had a great time participating in the Camp Carnival activities for the 6-8 year olds. He did the build a bear activity (or Carnival's version). He did the late night parties and had dinner with them on one night. He never was bored. If he wanted to go, he went, if he wanted to stay with us, he stayed. He said the counselors were very nice and liked most of the kids. The only complaint that I had, which is not a major one was that on every other cruise, even the one on the Miracle, we were required to show photo id not just a sail and sign card. However, this time we were only required to show our sail and sign card. I think I am more comfortable with showing photo id. To me, even though the ship is a self contained area, it is like a small city. Sometimes, when it is pick up time, it is very hectic.
Entertainment: We enjoyed the most of the shows. We did not see the Legend show this time around. The first three shows were excellent. We did not really care for "The Beat". We noticed quite a few people actually walking out. We sat by the area where the Camp Carnival kids were seated and we actually noticed quite a few kids had fallen asleep. We did not see any of the comedians this time around.
Disembarkation: We did not rush getting off the ship. We had #9. We got up around 9 and went to eat breakfast. When we got back from breakfast we packed the last minute essentials. It was at that time that we realized that they had called our number awhile ago. We got off the ship easily. The one thing that I have to caution if you are taking the shuttle from the Crowne Plaza is that they do not pick up where the other shuttle services do. Since they have what is termed a bus, you need to wait for them in the bus area. We had a porter take our baggage brought over to the shuttle area only to be told when we called Crowne Plaza that we needed to go to the bus area. However, they did pay a porter to have our luggage brought over to the bus area, which was nice of them.
Overall impressions: Overall, we had a great time on the Carnival Splendor. I have to say I missed not hanging at the beach but I am glad that I took the itinerary since it is something that I would not normally have chosen for myself. I enjoyed the Splendor and would sail on her again.