This was my DH's and my 4th cruise. We traveled along with his parents/sister (2nd cruise) and my parents(5th cruise). We booked in December 09 and decided on the Mexican Riviera because of the incredible...I'm talking amazing, deal we couldn't pass up!
PRE-CRUISE: We flew into LAX on 4-17-10 and stayed at LaQuinta Inn and Suites LAX (also due to the awesome online booked deal of $75. The hotel included hot breakfast, free hotel shuttle, spotless comfortable rooms, and was stop #1 on the Ocean Express Trolley route to Manahattan Beach. We caught the trolley ($5 r/t)to Manhattan Village shopping area and ate at Chili's. Nice little shops and plenty of eats. Next morning our Super Shuttle driver picked us up at 12:00pm and we were off to Long Beach.
EMBARKATION: We had gotten a call from Carnival the Thursday before saying to arrive at the pier no earlier than 2:00pm. Like anyone listens to that! There were already about 500 people in line and we didn't expect different. Nice and sunny but a tad chilly outside the terminal. The line moved quickly even when computers went down for a few minutes, and we were on the ship by 1:00pm eating lunch on Lido!
SHIP: Pink, Pink, ahhh, ahhh, whine, whine....You've probably already read stuff about blah blah too much pink. Ask yourself people...does the primary color on the ship ruin your cruise experience? NO! So don't worry about it. I didn't even notice for the most part and those that are putting all their focus on it need to get a life. The ship was beautiful but the decor was not on the beauty level that Carnival Liberty or Carnival Valor are. The Spectacular Theater left lots to be desired. Very plain, low key decoration and flair. The artwork around the ship was fine, nothing outstanding. Lido deck is set up differently than on other ships, due to the retractable deck cover I believe. The dancing space is not as large and deck 10 is not as open cutting down on some sunning spaces. We were in the Black Pearl dining room (aft) which was nice, not really different from others we've been in. General layout of the ship is the same as Liberty and Valor so we were right at home there. Cabins were same old same old for us although this ship has flat screen tv's. Warning Ladies: only shampoo and Shower Gel in the shower dispenser, NO conditioner, like some other ships have.
FOOD: Restaurant choices were excellent! Only complaint was the Mongolian Grill. Loooong wait and although the veggies/meat choices were great, the end product never has enough sauce, it's just plain bland! Soy sauce helps a little but after trying it twice we'll never try it again! Ate in the dining room every night as usual, late seating. Everything was delicious (lobster,prime rib, steak, pasta, chocolate melting cake...) 24 hour ice cream/frozen yogart is delicious especially the strawberry! Don't forget the Rotisserie on deck 10. The mac and cheese is award winning!! Breakfast on Lido was good but waffles weren't. Best bet is the cooked to order omelets. I'll include drinks from the bar in this category too. Every drink of the day was delicious and highly alcoholic so I guess you almost get your $7.50's worth in the souvenir glass or $6.75 for a refill. Buckets of BudLight (qty 4) came to just over $26 with the 15% grat. Checkout the 5:00pm-8:00pm drink specials at the Casino Bar (martinis, mojitos, margaritas) they were excellent and came with a $5 bet for a table of your choice. As always, we never waited long for a bar waiter to ask if we wanted a drink.
ENTERTAINMENT: All the shows in the theater were great. We especially loved Vroom. The Welcome Aboard show we had seen 2 other times but it was still good. The live entertainment such as the Highlights Band and other live music was ok but not on par with our past cruises. The Highlights mostly played 70's and some 80's. Each night it was mostly the same line up, very predictable. Liberty had Music Boardwalk Band which was totally awesome!! Didn't hang out in any of the lounges really except the El Morocco. The Rock and Roll Deck Party started out great until they let the Carnival Singers and Dancers move in on our dance floor and start performing a sock hop show. Some really enjoyed it but to us it kinda killed the night. We would've enjoyed more electric slide and cupid shuffle, not a Grease sing-along! Past Guest reception was a nice "drink all you can quick" with free drinks and fancy little snacks. Didn't attend the infamous Legends show since it's the same characters every cruise even though it's different singers, only a handful that can even do a decent job.
ACTIVITIES: We enjoyed the Cruise Director Goose. He's a young, good looking guy who kept us informed and laughing. There were many trivia games (sports, movies, music...) of course BINGO which we never play, and plenty of karaoke. I know there were movies under the stars too but we never went to them.
THE SMELL: Ok, you knew it was coming by the title of this review. We've only ever had a cabin on deck 1 Riviera on both past Carnival Cruises and on Royal Caribbean. Never have we smelled anything remotely like on the Splendor. From cabins 1427 to 1361 there was an absoultly reeking stench down the hallway and in the elevator area that could kill a T-REX!! It was a rotten fish/onion/death smell that knocked you into the next world. We had to hold our breath everytime we passed the area to get to out cabin. At times the smell came thru the elevator shaft all the way up to Lido (deck 9) aft. If the smell would've started towards the end of the cruise we wouldn't have wondered so much but it was the whole week! And I know ships have cold rooms for trash so wtf??