We recently cruised on the Carnival Splendor on a 7-night cruise to the Mexican Rivera. The Splendor is a beautiful ship and everything was always kept very clean. I can’t be sure but it seemed as if the staterooms were a little larger than comparable ones on other ships. It is a fairly new ship and the décor is very lush throughout. As always with Carnival the staff was exceptional. One of the reasons that we like Carnival is that it seems the staff is generally pleasanter and happier overall than on other cruise lines. They really make you feel at home. I was surprised on several occasions to be addressed by name. There must be a lot of names to remember. The wait staff in the dining room was superb and the headwaiter, Miguel, was really enjoyable. Every night there was singing or dancing after dinner. The food was typical of Carnival – well above average and served very eloquently. We requested a table for two and were accommodated as the your time dining was full. We ate at the buffet for breakfast and lunch and were quite satisfied. They have a burrito station on the aft portion of the buffet and upstairs from there on Deck 10 is the rotisserie, which is a good place to find extra seating. There is also a Mongolian BBQ station in the buffet which we did not have the opportunity to eat at because there was always a long line. Also, the Mongolian BBQ tends to get really smoky in such a confined space. The shows in the main theater were superb. We really enjoyed them, as did the rest of the audience when there were standing ovations. Very entertaining and well done. The cruise director was great. He got hurt when one of the guests flipped him in a judo move on stage. I can’t give enough praise to the entertainment staff. The only drawback there was that there is a band playing all of the time in the casino area. The noise level along with the casino noise was so great that it became very distracting and irritating when we were trying to play in the casino.
The first Port of Call was Puerto Vallarta. Having been to this port several times we did not take one of the cruise lines shore excursions but instead booked a day cruise on the Pirate Ship, Marigalante, which we had booked through Puerto Vallarta Tours. This had to be the high point of our cruise! This was a 5 to 6 hour tour that started with breakfast and a 2- hour cruise to Majahuitas Beach, which is a little island close to the coast. On the way to the island they put on a pirate show and feed you breakfast. We had a great time. The beach at Majahuitas Beach was heavenly. They had snorkeling, kayaks, water sports, volleyball, and an open bar. The pirates become the lifeguards and entertainment directors. These people really put out for you! The beach was like a tropical beach out of a movie set and the water was clear, warm, and pristine. There is a small resort there that can only be reached by boat. It looked really great. We very, very, highly recommend this tour!
Next stop was Mazatlan. We had previously been there several times also so again we struck out on our own. We had read several reviews on this site and others about Stone Island. It was easy to get to. A three-block walk from the pier gets you to the water taxi, which takes you across to the island. Immediately off of the taxi we were greeted by an American named Eli, who told us that when we got tired of all of the vendors and peddlers on the main beach to come back to the landing and go to his restaurant at the other end of the island. We told him we wanted to check out the main beach and maybe we would be back later. The beach was practically deserted – and beautiful. There are quite a few small restaurants and bars with tables right on the sand. After hanging out there a while we discovered that we were being hounded every five minutes by vendors and decided to go back to see Eli. They took us on a golf cart out to his place, which is called Benji’s Pizza. Fantastic! We highly recommend this place. Great food, great service and Eli is one of the friendliest people ever! He would bring us drinks as we sat out in the water. There were quite a few other people from the cruise ship there also. We had a great time. Go to Pizza Benji’s at Stone Island in Mazatlan. Say hi to Eli for us. You will love it. Don’t be afraid of getting lost or anything. It is easy to get there. Turn left after you get through all of the shops and stuff at the pier terminal and go about three blocks. You will cross a main street and see a sign that says ‘Water Taxi to Stone Island.’ It’s $2.00 per person round trip and only about a 5-minute boat ride. Better than any of the other excursions at Mazatlan.
All was great until we reached the last port of call, Cabo San Lucas. At Cabo there is no pier so the ship tenders passengers to shore. Part way through loading the first tender boat they ordered the tendering stopped and the passengers who were already loaded were then unloaded from the tender boat. We were told that the sea swell was too high and that tendering would be dangerous. It was only a two-foot or less swell. We have been to Cabo several times on several different cruise lines and this was actually the calmest that I had seen the water there. The captain canceled the port and we sailed away. We did not go to an alternative port. We just had another sea day. They did not schedule any additional activities on board of any kind. I guess the idea was that we would spend more time in the casino. This was the port that we were looking forward to. It has the best underwater activities anywhere. We were really disappointed. It was worse because of the attitude that Carnival has taken about it of ‘oh well!’ We have since learned through this website and others like it as well as by talking to crew members that this happens regularly at this port for this ship so that half the time they cancel this port. I suspect the overly cautious attitude that carnival has was probably prompted by a lawsuit. Carnival is very aware that they have problems at this port, yet they continue to advertise this cruise and dangle this great port to attract customers knowing full well that there is a good chance that they will not get off the ship there. This is an ongoing problem and Carnival is doing nothing about it. They have a policy of no compensation for this type of thing. I think they should at the very least compensate passengers $100 to $200 of onboard credit or vouchers for this cancellation. We were on a Royal Caribbean cruise once when a port was cancelled due to the aftermath of a hurricane and no alternative port was available and they compensated us $200 each. If you are looking to visit Cabo San Lucas, don’t go on the Splendor.