I hope this review helps and answers many questions people have concerning sailing on the Splendor and/or other Carnival ships and the ports we visited.
First off, at embarkation they hand you a form to fill out stating whether or not you have been exposed to H1N1, flu, or suffer from any flu like symptoms. Since this was our 10th cruise, VIP Platinum treatment was great. Had our own special lounge to wait in. We were among the first to board the ship.
Next we boarded the ship with no problems and all went well. We had an inside cabin and noticed that with the bunk beds down for the kids, you could not see the TV. This was a first for us as on every prior cruise the TV was in the middle of the room and here it was in a corner being blocked by a bunk bed. no life jackets required for the drill. The safe did not require cabin key, instead it was digital and just needed a number to open and close it.
The days at sea had plenty to do for varied tastes of cruisers. The port days did as well, an improvement over past cruises. We went to Puerto Vallarta first, and since we had been there before, we decided to take an independent tour through Johann and Sandra Tours. We choose the Canopy Tour and it was awesome. The tour guides were very funny and even let us zip upside down. We got it all recorded and found a few other guests wanting to share the cost of the dvd. So, we bought one and made copies for everyone. (I brought a notebook with a dvd-burner and plenty of blank dvd's just in case). No problems getting back to the ship on time.
Our second stop was in Mazatlan. We booked again through Johann and Sandra and went to Stone Island. They offered Horseback riding, boogie boards, banana boat rides, kayaking, horse carriage rides and snorkeling. You got to choose 2 events and got free lunch and all the drinks you wanted. Cost was $36 per adult and $18 per child. Again, no problems getting back to the ship on time.
Our last stop was Cabo San Lucas. Unfortunately the day was a short one so that the ship could make it back to port on time, but nonetheless, we booked through Johann and Sandra for an ATV tour. This tour was for free styling on the ATV not follow the leader. We did a little follow the leader but had over an hour to ride on our own all over the beaches and hills. It was awesome. Best advice; buy the optional insurance for $10. You never know what might happen. All in all we got over 3 hours of riding for under $50.
As for the dining room, nothing has changed, they still do the silly "Showtimes". You do not need to get dressed up except for elegant night. Warm Chocolate Melting cake is the most popular dessert. There is also still the same Red vs Blue Color competition, mainly for the newbies as most people I spoke with didn't care for it. The Maitre'd in the Black Pearl was the best we have ever had. He even worked the Lido restaurant during Lunch and visited us often. Had a great personality and was a funny dancer.
The shows were good, not great, but good. However, the last show Vroom was cancelled due to the choppy seas we encounted on our last 2 days. There was a really bad storm that hit LA and we caught the end of it, it could have been worse. They had 2 comediennes on board and most were hilarious. The casinos no longer dispense money, you use your room key and deposit it to your card and withdraw as needed. At least if you forget your money, you can have a casino tech punch up the history and find out who cashed out your money and go get it from them. I came home $250 richer, so it was a good week for me.
Drink cards on this ship were not blue and white. Instead they put a small sprite sticker on your room key. I thought this was a great idea. I didn't have to carry 2 cards all the time. This is a trial thing they will be doing.
The Platinum VIP service was great. Had our own Guests Services line, priority boarding on the tender, first on and first off the ship. We had wash and fold laundry service offered every day for FREE. We used it 3 times. We got canapEs and petit fors on the elegant nights. Free tournament entries at the casino, free picture frames, monogrammed stationary and discounts at the SPA.
One last note, we flew out of Long Beach. We saved a lot of money in transportation costs to the port. LAX costs up to $80 per person and we had 4 people go from the port to LGB for $32 total using Primetime Shuttle. (Highly recommend them). The airfare costs to LAX vs. Long Beach were the same, so it was a win win. No to mention, that Long Beach airport has only 7 gates and no traffic. We had to lines to wait in. The funny thing is that the ticket agent was also our boarding agent. Kind of reminded me of Wings.