We decided to take this cruise because of the "newer" ship, and because we wanted to visit my grandmother in nearby Laguna Niquel because she was celebrating her 97th birthday. We drove to Long Beach, stayed at the Best Western at the Convention Center. It was clean and in a great location. We got there early and walked down to the Marina and enjoyed a simple steak dinner. When we had dinner the next night, we ate at a place called Utopia, that was just wonderful. Don't bother with the restaurants at the Marina, the Arts District in Long Beach has many great sidewalk cafes and restaurants. I am now a fan of Long Beach!
Embarkation was simple. We got there, parked, did pre boarding, got in line and then in about an hour we were on the ship. We went right to the Splendido Lido, bought the unlimited soft drink card and had a slice of goat cheese pizza....Ahhh, it was good to be back at Carnival! We then checked out the Tandori Grill, which was also very good. I read on many of the forums that many other cruisers felt that the ships decor was "too loud", but my husband and I thought it was art deco-ish and surreal. The pink color was soothing to us. To each his own, huh?
Got to the Cabin, it was a port side balcony cabin. Perfect! And for the length of the cruise, everything was perfect. Our cabin steward, Roel, was the most efficient worker on the ship. We tipped him well at the end of the cruise.
We were early dining in the Gold Pearl. We had a great upper balcony view in a booth along the railing. However, we kept having other couples come and go. This caused alot of turmoil for the wait staff, who were already a bit inefficient. We were disappointed with this having had such great experiences in the past. As a result, we only ate in the dining room for 3 nights. Oh well!
The two days at Sea were just wonderful. We hung out on the Serenity deck, reading our books, enjoying the wonderful Lido buffet and all the other restaurants, including the Sushi bar! The food ofcourse was plentiful, and for the most part, very good. I also recommend the Water slide! I screamed all the way down and when I got to the bottom, I realized I had an audience and everyone was laughing.
Nighttime entertainment was....was... was bad. Really bad. The only bright light is the Tequila Hot Shot (they played our requests!), the guy who performs an acoustic set with his guitar (he was really talented) and the Mexican Folkloric Band (an unexpected delight)that performed on the night we were in PV. That was it.
We love Mexico...in Puerta Vallarta we took a cab to Bucerias, a beach north of the city, later back to PV and we walked into the Old Town hilltop area, near the church, enjoyed tapas at Los Esquinos, then went down to the Rio Cuale riverfront, over to Los Muertos beach and watched an amazing sunset. Mazatlan, straight to the Old Town area, the mercado, did lots of shopping and sightseeing, then we stopped at a sidewalk cafe and had fish tacos, watched an Andean folk band, with a bunch of other gringos who were on a tour. Super! Cabo was surreal, the whole place is like Scottsdale Az on the water. We got off the tender and went straight to The Office, had a great breakfast, went swimming and then walked around, had lunch at Mi Casa, and headed back to the ship. I spent the early evening in the spa; steam room, whirlpool, massage and facial. I highly recommend it.
Back on the ship, and we enjoyed one more day at sea. It was cold and windy so we packed, ate at the grill and packed. We did have a fantastic dinner at The Pinnacle. I highly recommend it.
Debarkation was simple, we took our own bags off the ship and we were back on shore, got the car and on the highway back to Arizona...all by 9AM!
So what did we really like? The Lido buffet, the Pizza, Tandori grill, the Serenity deck, the Waterslide, the sushi, the who Splendido Lido deck with the jumbo tron, the Spa. And the cruise director? What can I say? Goose is a little annoying but I changed my mind about him after a couple of crew members described him as being very apporoachable and a "good boss." We took advantage of room service this time, choosing to stay in our room, our room was so nice!
Overall, we enjoyed the Splendor; the decor, the rooms, elevators and although it was a bit confusing to get around, you just have to use the stairs alot to get around. The best part of the cruise was coming into port. The Captain of the Splendor did a nice job; what with the great weather and smooth seas. All in all, it was a relaxing and enjoyable vacation.