My husband and I sailed on the Splendor Dec 6th thru Dec 13th. This was our 4th cruise 2nd with Carnival. Have also done 2 with NCL. We are budget travelers and watch the web for great inside cabin deals. To avoid hotel charges, we flew into LAX on day of departure from Kansas City, and found primetime shuttle to be very convenient from LAX to Long Beach. Arrived at cruise terminal early afternoon approx 1:00pm and it was pretty chaotic until we figured out the system. There were too many zone groups/lines overlapping each other, but once zones started boarding it moved very smoothly. As my husband would say, he was bellied up to the buffet by 2:00pm.
Food: We feel carnival does have much better food than NCL. Choices are more varied and portions are larger for evening meals. We went with the buffet every day for breakfast and hubby always had omelette without much of a wait. Went to Gold Pearl for lunch twice and enjoyed it more than buffet lunch. Evening meal was fantastic at Gold Pearl every night. We were given the late seating but went to maitre d' upon boarding the ship and changed to table for two on early seating without difficulty. Enjoyed the Prime Rib and St. Louis Ribs. I tried the spa choices several times for appetizers and really enjoyed them. Desserts are all wonderful especially liked the apple pie and warm melting cake.
Service: Fantastic head waiter and helper. Anthony and Pardemean. They had our table of two plus table of 6, and table of 8. Anthony would give suggestions every night about what to eat. One night hubby asked which would be better and he said "I'll bring you both." That started a nightly trend of two entrees for my hubby and we were able to share so many different meals. One suggestion is to arrive to dinner as close to seating time as possible. It makes their job harder if they are taking partial orders or waiting on stragglers. Your wait time will be longer for your meal and more difficult for the servers to coordinate. Evening song and dance routines were quite fun to watch and participate in. Our room stewards were great as well. Love the towel animals and chocolates on the pillow. Room was always very clean.
Ship: We did not get off the ship as we like the peace and quiet when everyone else is on shore. We loved relaxing on the serenity deck when we were the only two people there. Also played mini golf a couple times and used the water slide without any lines. There are so many places to get away, read a book, and just unwind. I did use the fitness center during off hours. They have tons of equipment, but on busy times (morning hours)every treadmill, bike, and elliptical was in use.
Entertainment: Revue shows are fantastic and we really enjoyed them. Do not miss either one. There are too many activities to mention, but there is absolutely something for every person on board whatever your interest. We did the behind the scenes tour on the last sea day. It was a very good tour, but not sure it is worth the $95.00 charge. If you want to do this tour it is a lot of walking and you need to have tennis shoes or other shoes as they say no flip flops.
Debarkation: We did self assist and were off by 8:30. Took a shuttle bus back LAX, and had no problem making our 12:05pm flight. Overall had a great time with carnival and would recommend them to anyone.