Carnival Splendor Cruise Review by HappieJay: First Timers
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Travelers: Me, hubby, bro-in-law (BNL), and father-in-law (FNL). First time cruisers. Celebrating my FNL's 64th birthday.
Day 1: Boarded on the ship around 1pm. There were tons of people there waiting in line already. They checked all our bottles of water just in case we were bad and try to sneak some alcohol. Lots of peoples' attempt to sneak alcohol via bottle waters failed. Apparently, alcohol bubbles up when you shake it up. The guest behind us had a suit case of Bud Light, which was confiscated. Our rooms were not ready till 2pm. We lunch on the Lido deck. Our rooms were clean, but not to our expectations. Being a health professional and a clean freak, I sanitized our rooms. From pervious cruisers's recommendations we brought: Frebreze, all purpose cleaner spray, Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer wipes, walkie-talkies, bug spray, 16oz Styrofoam cups/lids/straws and downy wrinkle releaser. We hung majority of our clothes and utilized the closet space. We pushed our suit cases More under our bed. The room was more spacious then we expected.
Day 2: It was chilly and very windy. We stayed indoors most of the day. The gym was very busy from 8am-10am. There is a 30min time limit on the treadmill. The gym showers where fabulous. 3 individuals stall with wonderful shower heads and great steam ability. Per my hubby and BNL, the steam was only working in the handicap shower stall in the Men's room.
Day 3: It was HOTT! I am not the sunbathing type, but wanted to enjoy the view and feel the ocean breeze. I found that deck 3 was perfect for me. It was quiet, had plenty of shade, and some lounge chairs available. Being a nonsmoker, I avoided the area that that had a cigarette box to prevent second hand exposure.
Day 4: Puerto Vallarta. Hot and Humid. We decided to do a zipline tour. http://www.canopytours-vallarta.com/. My husband and I did the tour, while my BNL and FNL hung out and had lunch in their restaurant area. $5 per person cab ride to the Office. I can stress the importance of BUG SPRAY and bringing our own bottle of water that could be hooked on you or be carried by a strap. I was eaten alive by mosquitoes. I had forgotten my bug spray on the ship. Although they had water available in coolers, we were hesitate to drink "Mexico water" since so many people warn us not to. There was 9 people in our group. Instructions were quick and sweet and we were off. The hike to the first zipline was not difficult, but I was short of breath. For those who are out of shape, be prepare to break a sweat and fuff and puff. We had a great time and felt very safe. The staff was funny and very encouraging. They only took one photo during the zipline tour. I was expecting to get some great photo taken by their photographer, but it didn't happen. We bought our photos ($10 ea) and the video ($40). If you go in a large group, you should buy ONE DVD only. You can copy it give it to the others in your group when you get back home home. Our driver was nice enough to drop us off at port (saved us another $20 cab ride). We walked to Krystals and hung out on the beach/pool area. The staff there was friendly. It was not crowded at all, but they had limited seating with shade/umbrellas. We bought a bucket of beer and cooled off at the beach area. There were tons of vendors coming up to you one after another asking you to buy random things. It became super annoying after the tenth time. If possible stay in the pool area. Vendors can not come on hotel property. The pool was clean and spacious. People who were staying at the resort had different color wrist bands on. Not sure what they meant. Okay for food and drinks? Drinks only? We spent about 3 hours there. We checked out WalMart and Sam's Club hoping to buy some cheap souvenirs. No luck. My hubby and BNL hung out in what we called the "Green Zone" which was the port area. 3 Beers for $5.
Day 5: Mazatlan. We booked a City Day Tour through Frank. http://www.mazatlan-frank.com/ Our tour guy was Andres. It was just the four of us, so Andres was pretty flexible when and where we could stop. He spoke English pretty well. The morning was cloudy and foggy. Our view of Stone Island and the light house was crappy, but we made attempts to take some pictures. The clouds parted by noon. We first went to see the church and went to the market. The church was beautiful. The market is where you should by most of your souvenirs. The market have knock off Senor Frog stuff. Always check if it's better to pay in peso or in dollars. Andres then took us to see the old downtown, the cliff divers, the "golden zone" and other tourist areas. We saw some nice homes in the "El Cid" area where doctors, actors, and I guess where the well to do live. We did care too much about the art/jewelry gallery that we stopped at. We stayed there for about 15mins only. We had lunch at Tony's. The food was good and they were friendly. The view was beautiful. We had a few vendors come by here and there. I was craving for a cold drink and took my chances and ordered a coke with ice. My BNL ordered 2 Margaritas. We survived. We asked Andres to take us to where "normal and average" people lived. We wanted to see the "real Mazatlan". He seemed a little hesitate at first, but was willing. We went to the shrimp docks, the poorer neighborhoods, went into a local store, saw a local grade school, and eat some real "Chiccorones" from a street vendor.
Day 6: Cabo. HOTT and HOTT. We woke up early to eat breakfast to get off the ship asap. We were only in CABO from 7am-3pm. The boat ride to the port was just a few minutes. We were at port by 835am. We booked http://www.cabosanlucastours.net/Lands-End-Tour.htm. It was so NOT worth it. It did not start till 935am. The tour was not 2.5 hours. We skipped out on the tequila because they wanted us to drink prior to going on the boat. Tequila that early + rocky boat ride = baaaaaarrrrrrffffffff.....uuungghhh.... Apparently they are willing to drop you off on Lover's or Pelican Beach and pick us back up later. We thought that was pretty cool b/c you wouldn't have to pay for a water taxi later. The boat ride to see Land End was 45mins and we were dropped off at the port. RECOMMENDATION: Pack your beach items and if possible a small cooler with drinks and snacks. Take a water taxi and have them drop you off and pick you up later. It should cost you about $9/person. If you plan to stay at Pelican Beach, bring your own snorkel gear. NO lifeguards on duty. Wear a life jacket if you are not a strong swimmer. I had a 50 min massage for $25 at salon behind Solomon's Restaurant. I don't remember the name of the salon. The salon was: small, there were two areas that were sectioned off with white linens, light yoga music played in the background, and it was kind of clean. I think I was their first client that morning. The massage therapist took her time. She spoke no English. The massage was great. My only complaint is that I was in the section closest to the door and could hear people coming in and out asking about prices etc and they did not give you a clean warm towel so you could wipe the oil off you after your massage. I tipped my therapist $5. Overall...worth it. My hubby and BNL hung out a bar/restaurant. They ordered 7 beers for $10 and some chips and salsa. We did a little shopping at the outdoors market. Prices there were double the prices at the Mazatlan Market. We bought 4 custom name bracelets made of thread/yarn for 200 peso. The only bargain we found there. There is also a store near the restrooms that sell 3 t-shirts for 100 peso ($7). A very good deal. We waited in line for almost an hour to get back on the boat.
Day 7: Cold and Windy. Hardly anyone was on Lido deck or in the pool area. We stayed indoor most of the day. We were hoping that they would have a special on the pictures, but no such luck. We bought about $125 worth of pictures. The farewell party includes FREE selected drinks. Try and go if you have time. At our last dining room dinner meal, we had ordered a cake for my FBL Bday. They brought out the wrong cake. We ordered vanillin and a smaller cake... they brought out a chocolate cake that was double the size we had ordered. His name was not written on the cake nor was there a card included. MY FNL was happy, but only took one bite of the cake. We called to complain after getting back home...there is an open investigation. I'm not sure what that means...but okay.
Tips: We are not rich, but we are professionals with a decent salary. We could not help ourselves, but get to know the staff helping and serving us. Most of them are married, have kids, work long terrible hours, are from third world countries etc... I guess getting to know them at a superficial level make us feel VERY GRATEFUL for what we have back home and a little guilty for being so materialistic. So in addition to the $70 service charge per person, we tipped our dining wait staff and housekeeping team a little extra. We saw that most people tipped only the head wait staff member and did not tip the assistant. Please try to tip both if they are providing good service. . The cleaning team consists of 3 people. We personally gave them their tip individual. They were all very grateful and humble.
OVERALL: We had a great time. The Carnival staff was awesome. John was so funny and witty. He made the shows very enjoyable. Connie and Sunny (our dinning wait staff) was very attentive to our needs especially my FNL. We were able to order as many dishes as we wanted. There was one night when my hubby was feeling ill and did go to dinner. Sunny was able to get the main course to go for him. We meet two GREAT ladies from Texas. Less
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