We got to the dock at around 11am on the Sunday of our Sailing, and walked right into the pre-registration line, showed our ID, got our sign and sail cards and were assigned to boarding group #3. They did not start boarding till around 1pm but I was very thankful we had got there early as the line for preregistration got really long. We were eating on the Lido by 1:30, boarding was a snap and our bags were at our room and the room ready by 3:00 when we finally wandered down to check on whether the room was ready for us.
Very early in the trip we met two couples from the Detroit area who were so much fun and really added to our trip. King James and Country Jim and their wives Kim and Marge, really I can't tell you how much hanging out and playing with these extremely fun people added to our trip. The King is no little man, and his belly flops and cannon balls were legendary on our end of the boat. We haunted the adult pool area much of the first two days as cold beverages, food, sun, & quality people watching were abundant.
I know this guy who was able to get a 1.75 of Bourbon and (2) quarts of Rum on via his checked luggage. I hear he used a couple of thick books to cover the carefully wrapped plastic bottles and this may have prevented the x-ray machine from clearly seeing the bottles. It is possible the $20 given to the Porter helped but there is no way to be sure. But I will tell you this drinks are very expensive and if you love fun like us the bill adds up very quickly. I was told by many that their smuggling attempt did not work out and their booty was confiscated. Oh to live the pirate life!!
Monday night's formal dinner with Lobster was very nice. Overall the food was nothing to jump up and down about but there was a wide selection and we could always find something we liked. We never ate breakfast or lunch in the main dining room but enjoyed the other choices like Mongolian BBQ or the Sandwich Deli. Breakfast was decent, the Omelet Bar was my favorite. I should comment on the sausage surprise dish that was served for breakfast on the last couple of days. It did not look good, yet was greasy enough to make you wonder??? Bottom line is it did not taste any better than it looked. Again the food was not wonderful, but it was OK!!! We did not starve....
We booked all our excursions prior to trip with independent vendors and had no issues. In Vallarta we went on the Los Veranos Canopy Tour and all I can say is OH MY GOD it was simply amazing. We meet at the Collage Disco which is down the street from the boat and can be walked but for 40 peso's (4 bucks) we got there by taxi without incident. Right when you walk off the boat they will try to stuff you in a taxi but go outside the compound to catch a ride its less expensive. Walmart is across the street and we went there to get some essentials like a watch. I am so cell phone dependent it did not dawn on me that I would not have my phone to keep time. They converted from Peso's to dollars at the register, very helpful. I cannot stress enough how great the Los Veranos Canopy tour was!! We even bought the pictures and the video they offered. If we ever go back Vallarta they will see us again!!!
In Mazatlan we went to Stone Island, which really should be called the beach on the other side of the bay from where you dock the Splendor. I saw nothing Island about stone lsland. We did horseback riding not bad but the saddles were wooden with little padding. I could have done a shorter ride, we went an hour up the beach and an hour back. My backside was screaming by the time we got back. Our tour was done by the Playa Sur tour group. They take you via boat to a dock right across from the ship, I was a little confused my wife was even a bit nervous. We had envisioned an island, again no Island...upon arriving at the dock you board trailers pulled by tractors and enjoy very rustic wood plank seating. We were taken to a compound on the beach that housed a big thatched roof hut which had a restaurant and bar over looking the beach. They had many activities, ATV riding, swimming, Horseback riding, and banana boat riding, along with sea Kayaks. When we got back from our horse riding trip we were offered a ride back to the boat but decided to stay and have lunch. Jorge the host and director of the activities took good care of us and made us feel at home. The shrimp were very good, the beer was cold.....how can you go wrong? What I liked most about this place is that it was an obvious vacationing Mexican destination. Many here were real local Mexican's simply on vacation enjoying a day at the beach with family. You see I feel when I walk into a Chinese restaurant and it is filled with Chinese people the chances are pretty good I have found something pretty good. There was nothing fancy about stone island but for an authentic Mexican beach experience I would recommend it.
In Cabo we did para sailing, an amazing boat launch experience. We walked from where the tenders let you off to the Purerto Paraiso if you do nothing else take this walk it is beautiful Cabo is nothing like it was 20 years ago it is like someone dropped Newport Beach California in Cabo. After our adventure we grabbed some lunch on the water front and made our way to the Cabo Wabo, the Giggling Marlin was closed but Sammy's little hot spot did not disappoint! After having a few we decided it was time to move on, and headed for Senior Frog's which has brilliantly been placed right across from where the normal people line up to wait in line for the tenders. If your not exactly normal and enjoy life like us, pull up a chair enjoy a cold one and watch the entertainment or if your really like us, then do as we did and become the entertainment!!!! One of the boats officers was wandering around during the boarding process and I made sure he knew we were with him and not to leave us. He even came over once the line had cleared and told us to saddle up!!! Nothing like a carnival officer watching out for the party people on the boat!!
We made new friends for life and so many other acquaintances that made our trip very meaningful and special. Trips and cruises to me are not so much about the destinations as the journey itself. I am happy to say we had a marvelous journey!! The staff on the boat were all very pleasant and went out of their way to accommodate you. Our cruise director John Hearn was a gas very funny and entertaining, he has been around so long he may have been on the one of the first cruises ever taken....sorry John could not pass that one up. It was an honor to get to cruise with a legend, like Mr. Hearn.
So there you have it. Our trip is over and like me for so many months you may be sitting there reading this and your trip is coming soon. Know that the Splendor is an awesome ship full of fun and excitement and that it will deliver a great vacation if you work at it and go the extra step to get involved with the fun that is available to you at every turn!! I read a number of negative reviews and was a bit concerned. Everyone has their opinion but ours is a very positive one. We never wanted to get off the boat and would go back in a second!!!