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Carnival Splendor Cruise Review by rayman2000: Excessively long review?


rayman2000
1 Review
Member Since 2010
0 Posts

Member Rating

Cabin Not Rated
Dining 4.0
Embarkation 4.0
Enrichment Activities Not Rated
Entertainment 1.0
Family & Children Not Rated
Fitness & Recreation 5.0
Public Rooms 3.0
Rates Not Rated
Service 4.0
Shore Excursions Not Rated
Value for Money 4.0

Compare Prices on Carnival Splendor Mexican Riviera Cruises

Excessively long review?

Sail Date: October 2009
Destination: Mexican Riviera
Embarkation: Los Angeles

Hm, so this will be a looong combination cruise review, with a summary of our entire trip along with some tips and commentary sprinkled in.

We flew into LGB airport around 11AM and found the cheapest transportation option to be a shuttle that took about 25 mins to get to the Long Beach Terminal. Embarkation went smoothly, total time spent in line was 30 mins. The earliest people were able to board the ship was 1:30pm.

Once aboard, everyone could visit the buffet for lunch and explore limited areas of the ship. Rooms were available after cleaning at 2:30pm. We personally carried our luggage onto the ship and just kept it with us the entire time, but I think those who checked their luggage received it at their rooms throughout the afternoon. The muster drill (mandatory life jacket testing) was hot and crowded, but the key is to wait until the last minute before heading to the assigned areas. That way you can avoid being the unlucky eager beavers that are crammed up More against the wall wearing a clunky life jacket.

Rooms We got an inside cabin room on Lido deck 9. This location was a little noisy at night, because it shared a wall with the busy hallway to the indoor pool, buffet, and outdoor movie area, but it was super convenient for food/drinks at all hours. This deck has all of the late-night food options and the adults-only pools, so I would highly recommend this deck to avoid having to wait for elevators or treking up many stairs.

The room was nice overall for two people. I would not recommend this size room for a family of three/four. The beds were comfy and there was more than enough closet and storage space. The bathroom is a tight fit, and the lack of an exhaust fan was annoying, but everything was laid out efficiently.

There is a nice mid-sized flat panel tv in the room that gets a few basic cable channels and three free movies at night. There is also a small fridge and a small blow dryer.

Sea Days These were a bit long and tedious, but pretty relaxing. There's a whole day of activities planned out in the daily Capers and dance and comedy shows at night. Kids seemed to occupy all of the pools, which are small to begin with, so most of the adults just lounged on the deck. The gym has some nice equipment, but if you go during the middle of the day (peak hours), expect it to be crowded.

Tip: For the long sea days and nights where you decide the shows just aren't that entertaining, you should definitely pack something fun (cards, books, etc) that will keep you occupied for more than a few hours.

Puerto Vallarta First port of call, and the longest time you'll be able to stay at one port (8am-8pm). We booked a tour from one of the guides on land. Some of the guides will be willing to bargain on the price, and you don't have to pay them until you return. I would stick with licensed and certified tour guides, rather than regular taxi drivers because they are usually fluent in English. Most tours seem to take you to the same spots, where a swarm of vendors will try to peddle things. We requested that our guide take us to a good place for tacos, so we ended up tasting some decent tacos from a taco cart. If you do some research, you might be able to find some night time activities as well.

Tip: Bring an empty water bottle (32oz or bigger) from home and fill it up with ice/water before you leave the ship, so you can avoid having to purchase unwanted beverages. The best tasting and safest beverage on land has to be a Corona or Pacifico beer.

Mazatlan The port is in an industrial area, where you have to take a little 5-minute golf cart trolley thing to get into the main area, where there are some overpriced shopping vendors. Again we decided on booking our own tour with a certified tour guide. We managed to bargain a price of $20 per person, which included an air-conditioned van and free beer/water.

Again, the tours take you to all the same locations it seems, where vendors try to peddle you junky things. The best/cheapest shopping for useless souvenirs seemed to be in the downtown market area. We asked our tour guide to take us to some real local food, and we ended up at another food cart. This cart served seafood ceviche almost exclusively (some cocktail shrimp was available). Our tour guide said he eats there multiple times a week, and seeing that Mazatlan is one of the largest seafood exporters in the world, the freshness was not really questioned. We got two large platters of seafood and a big Pacifico beer from the store next door for about $16. It was probably the best meal of the entire cruise.

Tip: The best way to avoid being hassled by vendors is to show absolutely no interest in anything, unless you are looking to buy. That means no 'window shopping'. Don't bother looking at things you're just interested in seeing, otherwise they'll just insist on bothering you until you have to leave. I found the nod and wave of 'no thanks' worked pretty well.

Cabo San Lucas This port is the typical sandy beach port you picture when you think of Mexico. Unfortunately Carnival only stays at this port from 7am-2pm, so you should definitely get an early start on your day. I would've glady exchanged a few hours from Mazatlan or PV to spend more time in Cabo.

After taking the 10 min boat ride from the ship to the dock (the only way to get on land), we chose to walk to the beach. This took about an hour (ridiculous because the beach is literally 1000 feet of water away from the dock). The walk is a huge loop, which takes you past bars and shopping malls, is decent sight-seeing, but a one-minute boat ride could've taken you directly to the beach. Your choice. Walking to the beach took us to a really nice and quiet end of the beach, away from the resorts, where we lounged for an hour or so. Then we took a bumpy boat tour of the area (Lover's beach and the hole in the rock thing) and headed back to the dock. Total was only $8 per person.

Debarkation was surprisingly fast and efficient. We chose to do the self-assist debarkation (highly-recommended), which requires you to be able to carry all of your belongings off the ship yourself. But this allows you to get off the ship as early as 8am. We took our time and had breakfast before leaving the ship and were on land past Customs at 8:30am.

This allows you to easily make a flight at LGB airport as early as 10am or a flight at LAX at 11am. I wouldn't recommend booking a flight any earlier than that. I had gotten advice that said not to book a flight before 1pm, but they must have been doing an assisted check-out (which still should get you off the ship no later than 10:30am). Assisted check-out also forces you to search through rows and rows of luggage to find your own. Everyone must be off the boat by 10:30am, so they can clean everything before the next round of passengers arrive.

Food The breakfast buffet has the same food that is served in the dining room, so it does provide more flexibility if you don't mind getting the food yourself. Standard breakfast items: custom omelets, toast, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, eggs benedict, sausage, bacon, pancakes/waffles, various melons/fruit, and yogurt. The options are practically the same everyday, so they get pretty tiring near the end of the trip.

Lunch had a wider variety of food and more variance day-to-day. The standard buffet offered a decent range of food from the cuisine-of-the-day (Mediterranean, Mexican, Asian, etc) that usually featured some sort of chicken, potato, and unidentifiable fish fillet. They also open the deli (custom sandwiches), the american grill (burger/fries, hot dogs/beans, and fresh tortilla chips/salsa), mongolian grill, custom burritos, and surprisingly tasty Tandoori grill. The deli is a nice change of pace, but I went there more for snacks. The american grill and mongolian grill usually had the longest lines, but the food was good. The burritos were not that great and way too filling if you planned on trying other things. Of course the 24-hr pizza place is also an option, though I always found something to be lacking from all of their pizzas.

We always had dinner in the dining room (Black Pearl), but I did wander through the buffet afterwards and noticed that they served a lot of the same items there. The dining room does offer a wider variety of food, while they maintain a list of classics (cocktail shrimp, chicken, flat iron steak, etc) everyday. I found their food to be on-par with something you'd expect from a generic chain restaurant like Applebees or Dennys. Portion sizes were not bad, but multiples orders are readily accepted, so feel free to try all of the appetizers and have multiple entrees if you so desire. One cool feature is that you can view the breakfast/lunch/dinner menu from the Carnival screen on your room TV.

The sushi place (California Roll) was open for dinner only on three nights and is located near the casino. The portions were small and the selection and taste weren't great, so I only sampled a roll once. The american grill, deli (though they closed at midnight), and pizza place were the late-night food options, although they did open the buffet once for a Mexican theme. Complimentary drinks were rotated for breakfast (Orange or Grapefruit juice), but they usually always had unsweetened iced tea, lemonade, hot tea, coffee, and hot chocolate.

Overall, I would say the food was about average. Like I noted about dinner, everything is about what you would expect to get from an American chain restaurant. More than edible, but far from amazing. Usually it was their seasoning and execution (over or undercooked) that missed. Breakfast would most definitely be the low point of all the meals, especially because they didn't offer a real rotating menu. The variety provided at lunch and dinner was good, but even then I found myself craving other types of cuisines near the end of the cruise. Go in with the right expectations and you won't really be disappointed. If you are, you can't go wrong with another ice cream cone!

Service Pretty much what people described in their reviews. Friendly and helpful staff. I didn't really come across anyone that was inordinately friendly, nor was anyone useless and rude. Our room steward was nice and efficient. He greeted us by name and had our rooms clean when we returned from lunch and dinner.

Our dining room wait staff was also very good. They didn't hesistate to provide any extras and memorized our desert/beverage choices. Personally, I could've done without the awkward entertainment (dancing/singing) forced upon the wait staff, but the kids and older folks seemed to enjoy it.

Tip: If you want to change your table assignment (placement or size) be sure to visit the maitre'd on the first day at the times listed in the Caper (think it was around 4pm). We were able to switch from a four-top to a table that sat six with a better wait staff.

Ship/Activities The Splendor is a pretty big and daunting ship when you first arrive. I was able to familiarize myself with the locations of most things pretty quickly, but you'll probably want to walk around with a map on-hand for the first two days. The key is to remember which floor does not completely span the entire ship, and where the front and rear of the ship is. If you can easily determine which part of the ship you are facing, then you can use it as your point of reference on whether you need to walk forwards or backwards. Its pretty easy to remember that the pools and buffet-food is near the top, while the entertainment and dining room is on 3/4/5.

One major gripe I had is that wireless internet was not complementary. This is not standard on any cruise lines that I know of, but it seems like such a cheap feature they could provide, that would be a huge convenience for everyone. They are already receiving a wireless internet signal (which you can pay a ridiculous fee to use), so it wouldn't take much more to setup wireless access points around the ship for people to use for free.

Overall, this was an above-average trip and most everything easily met my expectations. My family seemed to enjoy everything and have a pretty good time. I don't think I would visit these ports on a cruise again, but I wouldn't mind cruising with Carnival to the Caribbean or another destination. Just remember to relax, take your time, and enjoy any ups and downs you might encounter, because you're on vacation! Less


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Port and Shore Excursions


This port is the typical sandy beach port you picture when you think of Mexico. Unfortunately Carnival only stays at this port from 7am-2pm, so you should definitely get an early start on your day. I would've glady exchanged a few hours from Mazatlan or PV to spend more time in Cabo.

After taking the 10 min boat ride from the ship to the dock (the only way to get on land), we chose to walk to the beach. This took about an hour (ridiculous because the beach is literally 1000 feet of water away from the dock). The walk is a huge loop, which takes you past bars and shopping malls, is decent sight-seeing, but a one-minute boat ride could've taken you directly to the beach. Your choice. Walking to the beach took us to a really nice and quiet end of the beach, away from the resorts, where we lounged for an hour or so. Then we took a bumpy boat tour of the area (Lover's beach and the hole in the rock thing) and headed back to the dock. Total was only $8 per person.


The port is in an industrial area, where you have to take a little 5-minute golf cart trolley thing to get into the main area, where there are some overpriced shopping vendors. Again we decided on booking our own tour with a certified tour guide. We managed to bargain a price of $20 per person, which included an air-conditioned van and free beer/water.

Again, the tours take you to all the same locations it seems, where vendors try to peddle you junky things. The best/cheapest shopping for useless souvenirs seemed to be in the downtown market area. We asked our tour guide to take us to some real local food, and we ended up at another food cart. This cart served seafood ceviche almost exclusively (some cocktail shrimp was available). Our tour guide said he eats there multiple times a week, and seeing that Mazatlan is one of the largest seafood exporters in the world, the freshness was not really questioned. We got two large platters of seafood and a big Pacifico beer from the store next door for about $16. It was probably the best meal of the entire cruise.

Read 290 Mazatlan Reviews

First port of call, and the longest time you'll be able to stay at one port (8am-8pm). We booked a tour from one of the guides on land. Some of the guides will be willing to bargain on the price, and you don't have to pay them until you return. I would stick with licensed and certified tour guides, rather than regular taxi drivers because they are usually fluent in English. Most tours seem to take you to the same spots, where a swarm of vendors will try to peddle things. We requested that our guide take us to a good place for tacos, so we ended up tasting some decent tacos from a taco cart. If you do some research, you might be able to find some night time activities as well.

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