We arrived at the Carnival port by 11 a.m. (much earlier than we expected). Now I understand why Carnival calls to say don't arrive until 2 p.m. It sure was busy with departing guests when we arrived at 11 a.m. So we just found a porter to drop off our check in luggage then drove back to downtown Long Beach to visit Walmart for a few last minute provisions and to drop off the rental car. We didn't want to go to the aquarium, and we didn't see much else to do in downtown Long Beach, so by 12:30 p.m. we were ready to try to head to the ship. We easily jumped on the free bus that dropped off at the Queen Mary - right next to the Splendor.
At the port by about 1 p.m. there was an average amount of people trying to check in. We saw a fairly long line outside so stood in it. After a few minutes, a Carnival rep let us know that this line was for guests on decks 1 & 2 only. For our deck (7) we were directed to go inside the dome to check in. There was no line at all for the dome security check in. The line inside the dome to check in for your keycard was fairly long. We probably stood in line about 30 minutes. It is fun to people watch at this point.
We were on board the Splendor by 1:45 p.m. and by the time we walked through the pink lobby area and found our way to our deck, the rooms were open for us. We had 2 aft balconies on deck 7. The rooms were as expected. However, what was nice was that the ship appeared newer and cleaner than any other ship we have been on in the past. When we saw our room steward later that afternoon, we asked him to take down the partition between the 2 connecting balconies and for a lounge chair. At booking, our PVP said that the partition between the balconies totally opened up to make an extra large balcony. This was not the case. A door opened, but the main partition was still there.
For a late and light lunch, we headed to the Lido buffet. My husband and son had the rotisserie. They said it was "okay" but not as good as they expected. My daughter and I had the Mongolian stirfry and it was awesome. It was well worth the wait.
We had early seating dinner at a booth table for 4 in the aft dining room. Our waiter and assistant were very nice. However, they were always extremely busy and we didn't have the chance to develop the relationship with them that we have with previous waiters. We were shocked at how busy they always seemed and in a rush. Perhaps it is due to this ship being bigger than any other one we have been on. More guests means more people to rush through the dining room I guess.
We knew this Carnival menu, as it was the same as the one we had on the Victory 7 months ago. What surprised us was that the same menu could be made or presented differently on this ship. I enjoy fruit and salads. I found the salads to be lacking and the fruit was mainly chunked, rather than displayed in fancy fan shapes as it was consistently on the Victory. The crème Brule was runny and the Grand Marnier soufflE tasted like egg beaters. Our waiter also got our orders wrong on at least 3 or 4 occasions. Once again, perhaps this was because of the larger number of guests on this ship. We also found the dining room very loud. We wanted an entertaining and relaxing dining experience, but instead we felt that this ship was more canteen "rush them in and loud talking" style. There was a large family sitting at 3 or 4 large tables in the middle of the room, and their loud talking seemed to take over the dining room each night. But, they have the right to have fun and experience their cruise and dining experience the way they want to, so we shouldn't (and didn't) complain or be upset by it. It was just different than other cruises we have been on. In fact, we found the whole cruise to be a bit louder and more party style than previous Carnival cruises. I have always defended Carnival in the past, arguing against people who say they don't go on Carnival because it is too much of a party ship. We did not experience that with our 2 previous Carnival cruises. However, this cruise was a bit more rowdier than is my family's style.
Nevertheless, we enjoyed the sea days on the Splendor more so than other cruises we have been on. I think it is partly due to the large size, newness, and cleanliness of the fabulous Splendor. My husband and son enjoyed all the activities, while my daughter and I enjoyed spa treatments and lazy days reading in the fresh air. Our room steward was able to squeeze one lounge chair onto our balcony, so I enjoyed sitting out there or on the cushiony chairs on the adult only, Serenity deck. My daughter and I even saw 3 small whales on Tuesday afternoon. And we quickly lost count of the number of dolphins and flying fish that we saw.
The Splendor also pleasantly surprised me about how little motion I felt, even with an aft balcony room. I suffer horribly from seasickness but never experienced it once on this cruise. Was it the size of the ship or did we just luck out with smooth seas? I took one bonine pill before dinner each evening, and I was fine. The weather was very cool on Sunday evening and most of the day Monday. But by Tuesday it had warmed up enough to sit out in the sun and even get a slight sunburn. We enjoyed seeing Cabo off in the distance as we passed by it on Tuesday afternoon. By Wednesday, the weather was quite warm and humid and a few rain showers greeted us in Puerto Vallarta.
Disembarkment was very easy on Sunday morning. Even with a late flight, we were off the ship by 10 a.m. and had picked up our rental car by 10:30 a.m.
We enjoyed the cruise for its value for money and relaxing qualities. We were impressed by the ship and the service. The food and the rowdiness of some of the guests disappointed us in comparison to other Carnival cruises we have been on.