I just returned from the Carnival Splendor last Sunday, and I wasn't going to write a review, but we have a snow day today, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to do so. This was my first Carnival Cruise, and I think the old saying applies "You get what you pay for". I have cruised previously 9 times on Royal Caribbean, 3 of which have been Voyager class and 4 Freedom class, so I am used to the big ship, openess. One particular thing I missed which is unique to Royal Caribbean was the Royal Promenade. After this cruise, I realized how important it is, and how much I miss it on other ships.
Flight We flew the day of the cruise all the way across the country from Pittsburgh then to Minnesota, then to Orange County. I know the risk of that, and we took it. The flights on Delta could not have been smoother from the time we left Pittsburgh to Minnesota and then arriving early to Orange County. Our luggages were right next to each other in SNA and we went right outside to SuperShuttle, and straight to Long Beach and got there around 12:30.
Stateroom We always go inside stateroom, so we got an inside on Main Deck 2, stateroom 2452. It was in the aft, about 5 cabins down from the elevator. The room was very nice, flatscreen tv, very clean, and an overall nice layout. The closet space was huge in this cabin. The bathroom was also very nice. Overall, I think the room and bathroom are a little bigger than those we are used to on RCI. We did have a chair and a stoll in the cabin instead of a chair and a mini couch like on Royal. And the bathroom had a curtain instead of a door. One other thing I'd like to mention, I think the hallway outside the room had a sewage smell, but it might have been just me. And finally, a major point. When the ship starts, stops, or is going slow towards the pier, you can hear the engine so loud in the room, and the whole room just about vibrates. It feels like an earthquake.
Food I think the food was adequate on Carnival, but is Royal. The main dining room service was very nice, after we got switched to main dining the second evening. The only problem I had was the waiters would stop what they were doing every night and start singing and dancing. Not my thing when I want to eat. Our table was 502 in the Gold Pearl balcony. We were right by the door on the left side. The major problem we had and our tablemates was that it was so COLD in that area. We were constantly not even cold by freezing and the women often wore sweaters. Our tablemate asked the maitre'D to turn off the AC, and he did one night for 3 minutes, but it did not make a difference. As foor the food, they had an ok selection. I really did like the appitizers and desserts, especially the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake which they offered each night, but the main entrees were lacking in my opinion. I found that nothing jumped out at me many nights. As for the lido, I think it was a very good setup. It helped with the congession, and in my opinion, there was never congession in the lido. The tandoori and the sandwiches were all the way aft by the little lido pool, then you had two main areas. The one in the middle had an asian make your own bowl area, and the other further back had a burrito bar. I did try each of them, and I felt that the burrito bar was ok, and the asian area did not have any flavor at all, which was unfortunate because I wanted 20 minutes for it. There is also two sides for ice cream, many many beverage areas which is nice, and then a pizza bar and a grille in the main lido area. The pizza is good, but im a huge fan of Sorrentos.
Entertainment The cruise director was Stephanie Meads. She was always shining during the shows, she was funny, nice, and everything a cruise director is, but she did not participate in many of the activites on the ship besides the main shows. Daily activites included bingo, karaoke, and trivia, but I felt like the activities were never planned. That a CD staff person would just show up either right at the scheduled time or late, then set up, then get started. The revue shows were just a lot of singing and dancing, and while they were nice, nothing compared to the shows RCI puts on. Other activities such as Love and Marriage and the liars club pale in comparision to royal caribbean. The L&M was a huge joke, and I did not enjoy activities that were just thrown up on stage. Something that was different was the last nights show, Carnival Legends, which started fellow guests. I thought it was nice and most of the poeple were excellent, but then again it could be viewed as a cheap form of entertainment.
Comedians Seth Buchwald - He did the opener show and then a late night adult. He was ok, but nothing spectacular. Glenn Hirsh - Did another late night adult, and he was just ok as well.
Sea Days - Activities seemed to be few and far between. There was not much planned rather than your usual. The only main thing was Hairy Chest Comp the 3rd day.
Day 1 - Long Beach - Casual - Welcome Aboard show, only one at 10:15. Day 2 - At Sea - Formal - Revue Show the Beat at 8:30 and 10:30, as well as Fun Ashore Fun Aboard show with Stephanie, Abba Dance Class, and Captains Celebration. (Turn clocks forward 1 hour before bed) Day 3 - At Sea - Casual - Revue Show Fiesta Latina at 7:00 and 8:30, as well as Shopping talk, hairy chest comp,and rock n roll deck party at 10:00 Day 4 - Puerto Vallarta - Casual - Folklore show at 9:00. Some big screen shows, and mexican buffet at 11:00. Not much here either Day 5 - Mazatlan - Casual - Master of Hypnosis Show Jac Rene. This was an amazing show, best show I have seen ever in my entire life. Two shows at 8:30 and 10:30, then big screen shows such as Michael Jackson. Day 6 - Cabo - Formal - Revue show Vrooom, which was the best of the 3, very active. Two shows at 8:30 and 10:30, as well as late night comedy. (Turn Clocks Back 1 hour before bed) Day 7 - At Sea - Casual - Carnival Legends Show, one show at 10:30. Also love and marriage at 3, battle of sexes at 8 and liars club at 9.
Ship I thought the layout of the ship was horrible. It was very hard to get around, and many of the areas seemed so enclosed. I like a ship that is very open, and this ship is not. The main atrium was very open, but that was really it. The main pool area seemed enclosed even with the open skylight. The aft pool area was open, but the pool area was small. The gym did not provide any view of the ocean which I was disappointed by. You would have to look down to see as if you looked straight it was just a wall. The decor was awful...Many pinks, blues, greens, and nothing at all matched. The only area I thought had a good design was the lido food area.
Final Thoughts I tried to go on this ship with an open mind, and after a few days I did get used to it. We had a very nice time, very relaxing. The weather could have been better, but we had a relaxing week. You do get what you pay for on Carnival, which is why we went, because it was so cheap for a week. Airfare was even cheaper for us to to go California than Florida, so we went. If you are looking for a nice getaway with no expectations on the ship or activities, then Carnival is for you. As for the fun ships, im still not sure why they are called this as on RCI there is much more activities and things to do.