A little about us - we are professionals in our early 30's - no kids yet - 2 prior cruses in the Caribbean on Celebrity. This was also our first time to Europe. With frequent flyer miles we arranged a free flight into Venice.
We boarded the Splendour about 11am on the 26th. We had every intention of checking in, dropping off luggage and going back into town but since we love cruises, we found ourselves by the pool bar and meeting friends from San Francisco. First impressions of the Splendour - nice, but no Celebrity Galaxy or Century. Not as clean or nicely maintained as the Celebrity ships. We quickly made friends with our pool staff bartenders - Lukas from South Africa, Allan and Marcio. We met another couple and looked forward to the next week ahead!
We were seated at the late seating - 9:15pm. We prefer the late dinner so when we get home from the day ashore we can relax or have a drink before rushing to dinner. One note, all the brochures and info stated 2 formal nights, 4 casual and 1 smart casual. There were actually 2 smart casual nights, not 1. Dinner was OK for the week. Again, hate to compare but not nearly up to the standards of Celebrity. We had to hail down the drink server and always ask for water instead of the ass't waiter just re-filling. This was the only disappointing part of our trip and because of it, we will probably not sail RCCL again. To give a glaring example, my husband ordered two appetizers on the final night of the cruise: risotto and soup. Only the risotto came. I'm sorry, but if you can't get the orders right ON TIP NIGHT, something is very wrong.
Anyway, we spent most of the evening in the casinos and exploring and making friends. There is no craps table but we were more than happy with the slots, roulette, blackjack and Caribbean poker. We did purchase the RCCL 12 drinks for $39.99 card which was very easy and a good deal. Also, we found MANY Americans. We thought it would be mostly Europeans and were pleasantly surprised. The ship is considered an American ship and accepts USD in the casinos. You can cash in Euros for USD but you cannot exchange USD for Euros as they are not allowed to carry. All tipping was in Euros for the tours so be sure to get some at one of your ports or before embarking. The tours are all day and long and barely time to find a cash machine.
Headed home from the ship. We decided to get transfers from the ship to the airport at the last minute through our travel agent - what a GREAT decision! I am amazed at the organization and speed at which we were taken off the ship and onto the waiting coach buses. So worth the $19/per person cost. We checked out bags at Venice and since we were connecting in Heathrow, they actually checked our bags through to Newark! This was British Airways and we were then getting on a Virgin flight. Apparently, that is standard now to avoid having to re-claim your bags in London and then re-check. Saved so much time since we had to get from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3. Our flight from London was delayed an hour but they upgraded us to Business Class for no good reason so no problem with that!
All in all, the trip was beyond our expectations! We made some wonderful friends and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Unfortunately, having cruised in Celebrity a few times, we are spoiled and RCCL did not even come close to the service and cuisine that Celebrity provided. We are very, very 'low maintenance' people but in the future, will spend the extra couple of bucks and sail on Celebrity. We heard too many complaints from other people about the dining room so it was no just 'us'. Our stateroom attendant was EXCELLENT! The bar and casino staff were wonderful and really made this an adventure we will never forget!