First of all, I'd like to state that there seem to be two perceptions of the Carnival Splendor. One seems to come from experienced cruisers or people who have cruised before and feel let down by the Splendor. The other seems to be from people who haven't cruised too much before or have never cruised and they seem to have a great time. I haven't cruised before, this was my first cruise, but I am a cruise specialist for my job going on 3 years (some might be surprised at that, but honestly I never had an interest/desire/opportunity to go before now) and I did extensive ship research and read a million reviews before I went plus I have tons of knowledge about the industry in general.
Overall I liked the Carnival Splendor. Alot fo the reviews I read talked about the crappy decor, etc. but I liked it, I didn't mind the pink and the association of black throughout the entire ship was very nice. The main atrium is breath-taking, and I thought the Lido deck set-up was also very impressive. Some have complained about the way the main pool was below the waterslide and kiddie golf area but this didn't bother me one bit, even though at one point I went to swim in the mian pool and was discouraged, I went up to the other pool and there were so many kids I just gave up and went to the back of the ship were the adults-only area was, which shouldn't be too big of a deal for anyone to walk across one floor to the back to be away from splashing kids, like what the big deal? The itinerary I booked was originally JUne 14th to 21st but they changed that one to Canada New England and I refused to go there, so we rescheduled to the 28th of June instead. I originally had a balcony booked but when I rebooked I went with an interior because the price I originally booked at on the original date was more than the balcony on the later date.
Anyway, I wouldn't suggest an interior. Some people say "Oh the interior room si great because you're never in your room anyway!" But an interior was tiny, small, cramped and crappy and had no fresh air. It was in a good location though, 4e which was Verandah deck, so we were never far from any of the central locations and it wasn't a far walk to the outside area on Deck 9. We did have some friends in a cabin on the Riviera deck and it smelled funny down there, like sewage, and personally I don't care how cheap it is I wouldnt want to be down there. I was getting really anxious in my tiny interior room, talk about cabin fever. I get the same way on airplanes being cramped up, so if you get really uneasy being in a car, plane, etc for a few hours at a time, avoid the interior. Also, another reason for balcony was onboard many people saw all kinds of wildlife; we spent some time on deck just watching manta-rays drift by, we saw a whale, and alot of people saw dolphins. Going back to the ship itself though, it was very nicely designed! Very clean and even had that new ship smell. Some people complained alot about the smoke, but I didn't percieve this to be a problem for many people. There were only a few bars that allowed smoking and only one area of the deck outside that did as well and that was in the adults-only area so I don't know why it was such a problem.
Like I said the main atrium was very impressive as well as the Lido Deck, the pools all beautiful even though they were salty which I didnt like and they were also very cold and there was alot fo hair and debris floating in them, the dining rooms were nice and each bar and lounge was beautifully designed. We didn't see too many of the shows onboard, we just went to one comedy show in the Spectacular-Spectacular and I forget the comedian's name as he wasn't that memorable, but he had a good joke or two. He did a second show the following night that was adult-only but it reall revolved around fart jokes and old-people jokes and less adult comdy. Also each show was about only 15 minutes long which I was disappointed in, I wish they had an entertainer that had stayed on longer. The first night we went, we watched the Splendid Dancers or whatever for about 15 minutes and it was like a huge commercial with dancing girls and guys and we left shortly afterward as it was very very cheesy. The theatre also was nicely designed, but as some others have said in their reviews there were these two massive steel pillars which spanned the three floors of the Spectacular Spectacular and they did obscure the view from many points. We spent much of our time in the casino and we were maintaining gains and losses pretty well until about the 5th night fo the cruise when we were playing Roulette. At one point my boyfriend was under 400$. He took out another $200 and played red as the wheel had already spun black about 6 times- usually every 2-5 spins the color changes so it was only a matter of time. The wheel spun black again. After 12 consecutive spins of black my boyfriend walked away with a 1400$ loss and he swears after all his times in Vegas he has never seen that happen before. There is statistically a less than 1% chance that a wheel will spin one color that many times in a row. Boyfriend thinks its rigged... We saw this happen 3 or 4 more times as we were walking by in and out of te casino as well. My suggestion about the casino would be to only gamble the last night when you're ready to waste whatever you didn't spend on better things. Because he lost so much at the casino the night before Cabo San Lucas, we missed out on the shore excursions at that port because we still wanted to shop and didnt have enough for both activities.
One thing I really didn't understand about the configuration onboard the ship was the teen lounge being located between the adult only nightclubs and the casino, as kids aren't really supposed to be in either fo these two areas. Most of the time I didn't even see the teens IN the teen lounge, but more or less lounging outside the teen lounge in the hallway. I wish someone would have made them leave or something, I hated seeing them there. Also many people in the adult lounges looked way too young to be there, but they weren't really carding or anything at the doors, whcih maybe they should have some easy way to tell how old a person is- multi-colored sign and sail cards maybe? They had a piano bar but we were very disappointed in it. We went after 12 because it said "Adults Only" Piano show, but I swear this guy was singing nursery rhymes and crap. Anyway he was lame as hell I dont recommend it. I did hear good things about the Love and Mairrage Gameshow, or whatever, even though we didnt see it, and we did do The Quest gameshow which was hilarious and alot of fun we got some good pictures htere, but it was a little racy so if you are easily offended may want to skip that one. I wanted to play Bingo but we were very drunk and forgot to go to that. The Adult Only comedy show was in the Morocco lounge and it was nice, but my boyfriend was disappointed because the guy barely interacted with the audience just made a few jokes and then left. We spent alot fo time in the Red Carpet lounge too which was more club-like. The first few nights it was dead and there wasnt much going on there, but later in the cruise it got to be alot more fun.
As far as the dining went I was extremely impressed. The buffets had a huge selection of food choices on the Lido deck for lunch and breakfast and if you wanted somethign specific you could go to the dining room for breakfast as well if you woke up early enough (we did not). Th Lido had a burger stand, 24 hr pizzeria which was great for late-night snacks, a vegetarian indian food stand, a deli, a fruit bar dessert bar ice cream bar burrito bar, mongolian barbecue stand, carving stations with turkey breast, prime rib, etc. My boyfriend ate about 2 burgers every day and he likes what he likes, so he didnt try much of the other stuff. I was usually so stuffed from breakfast I didnt eat much at lunch. For breakfast they had an omelette station and a buffet bar with meats breads potatoes etc. Room Service has limited options but its still really nice to order a snack from your room and have it delivered. One of the couples at our table though ordered room service and it took them 3 hours to get there- she fell asleep before they could get it and the guy was pounding n their door at 2 am! The options in the main dining room were really impressive on the first part of the cruise but kind of dwindled off after that, to the point where the end of the cruise last two days or so were pretty disappointing with more options such as chicken and pork or "seafood medley pasta" but still there were plenty of options so its not like there wasn't anything good. I did try the creme bruelle for desert which they only served once and that really suckewd as I wish it had been offered at least a few times,and the escargot one night for an appetizer and i recommend them both! even tho i only ate one of the snails and that was all, couldnt stomach any more than that because I just couldnt make myself eat a snail even though it didnt taste bad and very seafood-ish. We also went to the Pinnacle Steakhouse and paid 30$ per person for this and the portions there were much bigger than downstairs but still I wouldnt go there again, unless you want a really really good steak, my boyfriend got the porterhouse which he didnt even finish it was like 2 lbs of meat. Im not big on beef so I got the surf nd turf filet mignon and lobster, niether was too impressive, but iyou are going to do the Pinnacle do it later in the cruise instead fo earlier because dinner menu selections seemed less dazzling toward the end than at the beginning of the trip. Also, I definitely recommend the sushi bar! The sushi there was terrific. Theyare only opened sparingly, about 3 hours a day from 5-8 but its worth it. Other people we were on the ship with said the foods weren't as good on this trip as some of the other ones but I dont see how this could have been bad as there was so much food anyway and all of it was of good quality that you could probably eat for a year on the food selections they offer for just one week! So really I dont understand why people were dissing on the food there is plenty of it, all restaurant quality and higher.
The one thing I thought was lacking was the service- everyone seemed kind of lackadaisical about their jobs and the drink servers were extremely insistent that we drink, wich we do plenty of without them forcing drinks on us! God we couldn't drink fast enough for these people! Our room stayed pretty messy most of the time, the room attendant woul leave alot of empty bottles and trash lying everywhere. Also toward the end of the cruise I think they may have just picked up towels off the floor folded them and put them back on the towel racks instead of putting in fresh ones because my boyfriend noticed a smear on one of the towels. It was my makeup and I used the towel to wash my face so I wasnt too disturbed by it but still fresh towels every day should be necessary! Also the public restrooms were always really messy with urine spots and poo smears and they were pretty gross and smelly so I tried to use my stateroom bathroom as much as possible. Like I said the room service was taking a long time for many people and they put me on hold alot and it took them a long time to bring stuff. I felt the service could have been better, not that it was bad though, and other people onboard said other cruises had better service also. I think maybe it's a newer staff shince the ship is only a year old, and many of them were on 6-month contracts wich means they were probably kinda new to their positions. Our dining table waiter was okay, but everything took a long time. It was about 15 minutes before he would bring the next course and ordering a drink with your meal, like wine or something, was done by a drink waiter and they would take a long time to return with your drink. Our dining waiter handled about 2 other tables as well as ours so he was gone alot. We were at a table of 8- 3 other couples- and they were all really cool people and stuff, we all got along well, but I think I may do a smaller table next time because then maybe the waits wouldnt be too long.
This cruise was also during fourth of July and there was little celebration onboard for it- I thought they'd do something cool- pyrotechnics in the theatre or something- but they didnt they barely mentioned it. I probably wouldnt book in June again either the ship was sold out- completely full- and this resulted in long lines everywhere- long lines to get onboard, long ines to get offboard- long lines for meals long lines for bathrooms packed shows etc. Also kids everywhere, I was hoping I'd see less children. Everywhere it seemed crowded. Embarkation went pretty smoothly and getting on and off the ship was surprisingly easy- I thought they would do alot of bag searching, ID checking, etc but they were pretty lenient- all you had to do was show you had no foods if they even asked and wave your sign and sail card and it wasnt a problem. Debarkation took alot longer- the line to get off the ship wound all through the ship and it took us about an hour to get off alone. We didn't get transfers before we left so we bought them at te airport and bewar doing this- they overcharged us about 25$ per person and signed us up as "scneic transfer" where the bus driver points out local attractions along the way wehn you can get a transfer for less without the "scenic" part attached. If there are more than 2 of you it is just better to take a cab, as a cruise line transfer is a per person charge and more than 2 people your just better getting a cab. I recommend booking a late flight- 2, 3, 4pm, that way you can slack and wait til mostly everyone leaves the ship on the last day. Also we missed breakfast that morning because they close the breakfast bar down early- 10 am- so if you want breakfast you need to go get it soon! Other couples on the cruise with us who had gone before also said charges for drinks and extra items etc were priced much lower on prior cruises, and yes everything onboard is really expensive so try not to buy onboard if your dont have to. Save any onboard shopping for the day before you return because the shops inside will slash prices.
The only things I cant really comment on are the spa and the gym. I checked them both out, but the spa prices seemed really high and I didnt even find the gym (in the spa) until day 5 so there werent too many exercise classes left at that point. I would have spent more time in the gym earlier.When I went in and asked thought he spa people and the gym people seemed really snotty. I did jog around the track the 2nd day of the cruise and that was nice, being at the top of the ship running around ith agood ocean beeze- but it was way too small and the basketball court was right there so there was a ton of kid-traffic and alot of other people. There should be a slow lane and a jog lane because the walkers were getting in the way of us joggers. Also the track was right below the engine pipe on the back of the ship, which was kinda ironic, I mean why put a track right below where all the smoke/gas was coming out? Anyway I cant think of much more to put on here other than I had a good time met some cool people and thought the trip was a success overall.