We wanted to take our teen daughters on a vacation over Christmas that would give them as well as us a lot of activities and entertainment. We decided on a cruise because the website boasts about all the activities in the kids clubs, pool and waterslide so thought that would be a safe bet and the kids would be on the go nonstop. We were excited about being on the Splendor as it was one of the newest ships, but found that it was really not much different than the Triumph. We chose the Mexican Riviera cruise because it is only a 4 hour flight to go to California vs. 6 hours to go to Florida, and left from the Long Beach pier. If you leave the airport via a shuttle service like Prime Time or SuperShuttle you will pay approx. $64 per family of four vs. $100 using the Carnival transfer service. My husband and I have cruised before on Carnival so knew that there is not much on the ship besides the food and the nightly shows that is free. However we did not expect that our kids would be wanting to hang out with us as much as they did from sheer boredom.
The Circle C club spent a lot of time locked and not in the spots they said it would be on the schedule. The library was open only 1 - 2 hrs per day, one hour in the am during peak port times, one hour in the evening during our dining time. The family pool is very small, and the waterslide is not fast enough to provide any real excitement. If you wanted to bring a bag of money to keep your kid entertained, you could let them go hog wild in the video arcade, or play laser tag at $5 per game. Considering the price we paid to get a balcony room, I don't think Carnival should be taking further advantage! The focus of the cruise is definitely to see how much more its patrons will spend, either on the ship or at the recommended shops. Whether it is the soft drinks, bar, the casino, the gift shops with their "sales", or the shopping talks, the focus is on getting every last dollar from you. Even the tips are pre-charged to your boarding pass/purchase card...and how do we know that they are all getting to the service staff? Does Carnival take a percentage off the top? I sure hope not.
Unfortunately during the cruise I sprained my ankle on the balcony - there is a small ledge all around the ship that runs between the end of the floorboards and where they allow water to runoff and my ankle twisted when my foot rolled off. It was pretty bad..enough that I almost thought it was broken. Bandages were $5. Wheelchair rental and deposit, $100. Crutches, $50 deposit and rental. By the way, Carnival isn't as wheelchair accessible as they might like to think they are, which I had to learn the hard way. We had a balcony stateroom that provided a king bed and two bunk beds. The room steward and housekeeping staff cleaned our room perfectly.
The best parts of the cruise, without exception, are the food and the service by Carnival's dedicated and hardworking staff. They make such a sacrifice to make a better life for their families and I hope that Carnival appreciates that. Our dining room staff, "Mr. K" and Budi were kind and attentive and made our time there most enjoyable. The shows that we did experience was the comedian Jerome, and the Vroom show. Both were very entertaining. No, I am not one of those people that have to find fault with everything, but for the money I spent to be able to bring my family to be on a cruise, I had expectations that were not met so they won't get full points from me. I'm doubtful that I will do another cruise, as it ends up being triple the cost of an all inclusive!