We traveled on the Carnival Splendor on 6/6/20 - 6/13/10. What an AWESOME cruise! This was my 4th Carnival cruise (I ONLY travel Carnival) and my friends first cruise. We both loved every minute of it!
Friday and Saturday (6/4 - 6/5): We decided to visit Knottsberry Farm before our cruise. We stayed at the Knottsberry Farm Resort Hotel. Very nice and clean hotel...very little resort-type place. The room was comfortable, the view of the park was great, and the amenities were decent. The restaurant, however, was terrible. Service was bad, food worse, prices ridiculous. We did go to Huntington Beach (about a 15-20 minute drive from the hotel). We paid 15 dollars and were able to stay at the beach from the time it opened until it closed. We seemed to have the beach to ourselves, which was well worth the 15 dollar price.
After our stay at the Knottsberry Farm "Resort" Hotel, we moved over to Long Beach and stayed at the Best Western on the corner of Long Beach Blvd. and the PCH. Nice hotel, very clean, and affordable if you do the park-and-cruise special they have. We paid $179 which included the room for the night, breakfast the next morning, and a shuttle that took us to and back from the cruise terminal.
Embarkation (6/6): We arrived at the cruise terminal around 11:30. We had received the call from Carnival that said not to arrive before 2PM. Yeah, right! We wanted to get on board as soon as possible! Plus, we heard if you arrived early, the Queen Mary has a 2 for 1 discount on admission. Very good deal! We did the pre registration (do those Fun Passes!) VERY quick, VERY efficient. We were placed in Zone 3. We were in the terminal and on the ship in about 20 minutes flat. Our rooms weren't ready until about 2PM, so we were able to walk around and get a feel for the ship. Everyone complains that it is pink and ugly, blah blah blah. It is not that bad. Yeah, pink zebra circles are a crazy idea - but it worked. It IS a Carnival ship after all...
Muster drill was very quick as well (we were told not to bring our life jackets). We set sail about 30 minutes late. Fine with us, our vacation doesn't officially start until the ship leaves anyway! ;)
Dinner was excellent in the dining room. We had main seating at the Gold Pearl (table 340) and had Larilani and Kevin as our wait staff. Wonderful people and were always smiling!
Welcome aboard show was cute, but it can probably be skipped if it isn't your thing.
Fun Days at Sea (6/7 - 6/8): The two days at sea were cloudy and chilly. We like that kind of weather, so we didn't mind one bit.
The first sea day was our first formal night. Excellent food, and it was nice to see most of the people dressed up. The first production show was wonderful. The singers/dancers were great! Most of the time, this is where Carnival seems to slack a little bit. Singers are bad and dancers aren't that great. Not this cruise, singers were on-key and dancers were very good.
The next sea day was just another relaxing day. Carnival added a new show, Fiesta Latina. Most of the posts I have read said to skip it. We didn't, and were very glad we went. It was very well done!
Puerto Vallarta (6/9): Ah...what do I say about Puerto Vallarta. Take a shore excursion. We took the Tequila and Old Factory Tour. It was a very good price ($39.95 per person for about a 5.5 hour long tour). We sampled about 8 different tequilas and were given a tour of the area. If you choose not to go on an excursion, the best bet would be to go in town. They have a long stretch of beach with beautiful sand sculptures and statues with a bunch of great shopping deals and restaurants. Other than that, I thought the amount of time we spent in Puerto Vallarta was a little excessive (8am - 10pm).
Mazatlan (6/10): I, personally, enjoy Mazatlan. I know a lot of people think of it as a waste of time. Whenever I go, I usually travel to the Golden Zone and walk through one of the hotels to get to the beach. We did that on this trip as well. Buy a Corona and the hotel will let you sit outside in their chairs and use their umbrellas. You will be right in front of the beach and have all of the activities (jet skis, parasailing, etc.) at your fingertips. My only advice is beware of the jellyfish. My friend went in the water and got stung pretty badly. Apparently, a few other people did as well. Best remedy is to go to the infirmary where they will either give you a pill or spray your sting with vinegar. Lime also works well in getting rid of the burn, as well as pouring beer on it. Also, try to take an open air taxi. They are fun! Make sure you get the price of the cab before you get in ($10 plus tip)!
On the way back to the cruise ship, I always stop at the Mazatlan Cruise Terminal. They have a nice sitting area (with umbrellas) set up and great music. Drinks and food are incredibly cheap, and there is shopping everywhere.
Cabo San Lucas (6/11): I have been to Cabo before, back in 2002 and 2006. I wasn't impressed. In fact, we were going to stay on the ship. I am glad we changed our minds. Cabo has built up a lot. They recently built a pier where the tenders drop you off. Great shopping area, BEAUTIFUL scenery, and if you look in the water you can see crabs walking on the rocks. We went to Senor Frogs. Being that it was right where the cruise tenders dropped you off, it was pricey compared to other Senor Frogs in Mexico. Still, it was a nice place to relax and drink.
The time in Cabo was short, and I will agree with everyone else when I say that we should stay there longer. We were told to be back on board by 2 and that the ship would sail at 3. We left closer to 4. The reason for this wasn't because people were late coming back on board, but because the line to get on the tenders is about 2000 people deep. We came back around 1, and had no problems whatsoever and no lines.
The way the ship is positioned in Cabo makes for a very rocky, windy, but fun ride. If you go up on deck, get to the starboard side when you leave. Yeah, the wind is crazy, but the view of the rock formations and the famous arch is a sight to see!
It was also the second formal night in the dining room. Dinner was very tasty, service impeccable. The production show, Vroom, was fantastic! I am from Vegas and have seen many shows. Although not as outstanding as some of the shows here, you can only do so much on a cruise ship stage. They did all they could. Pyrotechnics, music, dancing...it was wonderful! We enjoyed it very much.
Fun Day at Sea (6/12): We slept in most of the day and relaxed around the ship. Did some shopping in the duty free shops on board. Some of the prices they had were: 2 cartons of cigarettes for $49. 5 cartons for $100. Most alcohol 2 liters for $20 (some were only 8 bucks a piece). 2 for $20 on t-shirts, inch of gold for $1, etc.
It was overcast again, and chilly, and we even had a little bit of rain on the way back. Made for a great last day for me! Just remember to bring a light jacket if you like to go on deck like we do!
Debarkation (6/13): Debarkation was probably the best I have experienced. We woke up early to watch the ship dock in Long Beach around 6:30. By 8:00 we were cleared to begin debarkation. The people who carried off their luggage went first, and that seemed to go smoothly. They then called the rest of the people by zones. We were Zone 16. They called Zones 1-5 once, then twice, then a third time (no clue why). Then, they called all remaining zones. This was a little confusing to us, being that there were about 22 zones. Either way, leaving the ship and going through the cruise terminal and catching our ride took about 15 minutes. And that was including a bathroom break.
My suggestion would be to get to the Spectacular Spectacular theater and relax while waiting to debark. The theater is right next to the gangway and you will avoid all of those elevator and stairwell jams, and will be one of the first people off the ship when they call the zones.
As said before, I only travel Carnival. The price attracts me (being that I am a teacher and its a vacation I can actually afford) as well as the ships. I don't travel for the ports, but I like to go on a different ship each time. My friend enjoyed her first cruise and as already planned for the second one! The ONLY two things I would complain about would be the following: the lunch dining room staff was terrible. It is open seating and you do not have your normal waiters. The waiters you do have are unfriendly, ignore drink refills, and never smile. This was the case the few times we went there. Not that big of a deal, though. I don't let small things like that ruin my fun! The other problem we encountered was the room service. It is free, so I shouldn't complain, but the wait time from the time an order was placed until delivery was consistently 45 minutes to an hour. WHEN they answered the phone. Out of the 6 times we called for room services (yeah...we like to eat!), 3 of those times they never even answered the phone.
Still, we had a BLAST and will definitely go again!