Carnival Splendor Cruise Review by Winterstale: Splendidly Surprised
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We had zero problems with embarkation -- we had a private car bring us down from our homes in Burbank and Sherman Oaks and we got to Long Beach around 10:15-10:30am -- we checked in, got our Sail and Sign cards, we were given Boarding Zone 1, and we headed over to roam around the Queen Mary. I've done it before so no huge excitement there. It was just fun to keep walking down the deck to check whether or not anyone was trekking up the Splendor gangway yet . Around 11:30, we decided to trek back over to the Splendor and voila! There was Boarding Zone 1 heading in to security and the ship! We were through security with NO issues -- easy peezy. Here's where I can offer a wee bit of advice -- if you can manage taking out the cash and withdrawing from the ship ATM if/when you need more, we used cash for our Sail and Sign and managed the finances MUCH better than we have previously when using a credit card. It just kept us honest . I recommend this highly. More
We had a "spa interior cabin" -- number 1050, first one on row on Deck 10 Panorama. FANTASTIC area of the ship -- we LOVED it. Very VERY quiet for the most part (no kids) -- very clean (no smoking) and the spa access was well worth it. We were barely in the cabin so we did not notice the cramped feeling of being in a small interior -- they are not particularly large...but they're not miniscule either - we were happy. It was always clean and cozy and Ekhart our room steward took FABULOUS care of us and we tipped him extra accordingly, bless him. He left today to go back to Thailand for three months and marry his fiance, also a Carnival Splendor employee. He was super. Bathroom was small but well appointed and had plenty of storage space, always nice, fresh clean fluffy towels and the shower was hot and strong -- it even had a wall makeup mirror.
The ONLY "con" to this cabin....the last sea day. I sail -- and when I say I sail, I mean I sail sailboats - in the Caribbean -- never have I been seasick -- but that last sea day was a CORKER. LOTS of motion where we were up top and Forward. I was down for most of the day on Saturday and all of the night - if I was horizontal, I could manage with some dramamine but if I stood up? FUGGEDABOUTIT. I think it's the size of the ship and the type of motion -- just wasn't working for this gal! It's probably because I spend most of my time up top on the sailboat and we not in open water like that at all in the BVI -- although I have spent some rolly nights trying to sleep below.
We spent all of our time at the Adult pool aft -- you couldn't have PAID me to spend time in the zoo that was the Lido area - no thanks. But - different things appeal to different people and both areas were always hopping. I still don't quite understand the idea of putting the hot tubs inside, upstairs, in the middle of tables for people eating. VERY odd placement in my opinion but I don't design ships so there you go.
We went to see Ron in the Piano Bar - yes, it was a bit smokey but nobody seemed to care and he was FANTASTIC. The Karaoke bar was fun - we went there a couple of times and enjoyed it. Our buddies traveling with us went to the Robusto Bar and said the calypso band there was quite good but it was very quiet -- that was the last night, so I guess that makes sense. We really weren't hopping around all that much at night -- we're not nightclub/show types and we crashed most nights after dinner - we had late seating. Or we'd opt to hang for a bit outside at -- you guessed it -- the Lido Liner bar . We also did go to "Our House" sports bar for the World Series games and some football on the first night! My only complaint there is that they should offer something beside goldfish to snack on - LOL. People got HAMMERED in there with nothing to eat!
We made some GREAT new friends -- we ran into Becky and Rick from our Cruise Critic roll call and hung out with them quite a bit - Becky was a HOOT and a half! Saw a lot of JJ and Suzanne as well -- JJ, if you read this, I heard you were a bit green on Saturday as well! Special thanks to Linda for bringing our cruise critic mardi gras beads - it was so much fun having our little meeting the first day! We met two gals traveling together from New York -- Alisha and Missy -- and another gal traveling by herself from New York - Lilly - and we kept all running into each other in the exact same places!! Even in the ports! LOL. It was pretty funny.
Pinnacle Supper Club:
Run, do not walk, to the Pinnacle Supper Club. Food was fabulous -- I mean, was it Mortons??? No. Was it Ruth Chris? No. BUT...it was EXCELLENT. And for $30? You really can't go wrong.
The Rest of the Food:
I'd give the buffet a C, the dining rooms the same --- netiher impressed me. Sorry, but it's the only thing I truly didn't like. Now...the Tandoori on the other hand??? FANTASTIC!!! It is outside by the adult pool and it's just delish! The deli was great too and yes, I DID enjoy a little bit of pizza. The sushi? That is NOT sushi...but then, it's kind of hard to do the fresh fish thing on a ship that holds over 3000 people so I'll cut them some slack there! Never got to the Mongolian but my husband said it was just so-so and neither of us did the Rotisserie.
We went to Millenium Massage the NH Krystal at Puerto Vallarta and got a couples massage for $85 for 75 minutes for two -- that's $42.50 each -- fantastic -- rivaled some of the spas I've been to hear in L.A. and even surpassed a couple -- definitely better than massages I've paid twice the amount or more for at Burke Williams. We were allowed to hang at the pool there for a while but we really wanted to go down to the Beach House in PV on the beach so we grabbed an $8 cab and went. Ozzie was our server and he was fantastic -- we had some of the best ceviche I've had -- the Poke was awesome!!! We also met some locals -- well, Canadian ex-pats -- who own a beach club there and they entertained us with jokes and stories and we had a great time. I got in the water and it was lovely. Yes, the vendors drive you crazy but you learn "no lo quiero, gracias" quickly and do not make eye contact and they pretty much leave you alone. Pretty much being the key phrase... We walked quite a ways from the Beach House, took some great pics on the beach, etc. and bought some tequila to bring home. Mazatlan -- Not much to say. We went to the historic district, found a funky little bar right across from the statues and the walkway and had a bucket or two (there were six of us) of cheap beers, watched the cliff divers, then headed back over towards the Splendor and got a water taxi over to Stone Island. At a little place about two "beach umbrella areas" down from Victors -- a guy named Rudy was the owner/waiter -- and he served us some of the best mackeral ceviche and some spicy mahi mahi -- delish - more cheap beers and back to the boat to hang at -- you guessed it -- the aft pool for the rest of the day. Cabo -- Well, let's just say I'll do it differently next time. I've decided Cabo is a place I really need to make a singular destination and stay at one of the beautiful time shares -- a friend of mine has one that she's been offering to us for a while now -- because the beach bars were just too packed and the vendors were WAY too aggressive on the beach -- I couldn't get down for a swim to enjoy it -- and I'm used to places like Jost Van Dyke and Cane Garden Bay and this just does NOT happen in places like that. So...yes, the water was nice and bluer than the other two places (but still not like the Caribbean) but I think I'd like it there better if I was more protected from the masses. Now - that said? I still had a good day and made the most of what it was -- a quick trip in a place that's probably very beautiful if you are not in the big "thick of it" -- next time, I'll take a water taxi and some bottled water and spend the day at Lover's Beach.
Okay -- here's a great secret about the spa! We really loved our spa cabin because we could use all the facilities whenever we wanted and the Thalasotherapy (however you spell that thing!) pool was great, terrific (and VERY hot just the way they're supposed to be) steam room -- the tile loungers were a GRRRREAT place to camp out and watch the sunset every night -- and...here's the great secret....one night I went up for the sunset watch -- and there was a massage therapist giving $1/minute foot and hand massages -- no big sell on products, nothing, - just a relaxing time -- she did mention something about a couples massage for me and my husband but there was not pressure to buy anything. We did not do any of the services at the spa as all of us are pretty much L.A. spa junkies and can find it cheaper here and no one tries to sell us nine million products we probably already have cabinets of!
I thought every employee I encountered was friendly, professional, helpful - top drawer - no complaints whatsoever. The only people who I found complaining were people who wanted something they couldn't have -- i.e., they wanted the hot breakfast to be open before it was time, etc -- and you'll get those everywhere. It's just the way of the world.
Gorgeous every single day except yesterday, our last sea day -- if you are weak when it comes to sailing, get thee to the pharmacy and just be prepared for the last "at sea" day -- the night leaving Cabo was a bit dicey as well but nothing like yesterday.
No issues here. Don't know what all the fuss has been about. We handled our own bags, planned accordingly, and we were off the boat by 8:30, home by 9:45.
All in all:
I give Carnival Splendor an A. I'd give it an A+ if I enjoyed the food in the regular dining areas a bit better -- but admittedly, I do a TON of entertaining for a living and spend a lot of cash in very nice restaurants...so you cannot expect the Splendido Lido to be Jean Georges. Less
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Cabin review: 4S1050
Spa Interior Cabin - Splendor - worth every penny to have the unlimited access to the spa facilities - smallish but not too tiny, quiet location, good closet space, easy luggage storage under the bed - all in all just perfect for the deal we got!