For my wife's 40th birthday in December 2009, we spent 12 days cruising aboard Explorer Of The Seas around the Caribbean and have been itching to get back on another cruise.
We both had some holiday in early July and spotted a great deal on the Royal Caribbean home page at the end of May, for a guaranteed inside cabin.
Rather than booking online we decided to call the UK offices as we wanted to check that if prices for balconies were reduced in the future we would be able to upgrade.
We were immediately offered the same deal as the web price for an guaranteed inside PLUS $100 On board credit. We bit their hands off and were chuffed until the confirmation email came through and the final price was over £1600!
As soon as we received this we called straight back and sods law, the office was then closed and my wife was sat in floods of tears.
After a nervous nights sleep we called the office again and eventually, after a few calls back and forwards we had a refund and a new invoice.
I would implore anybody to get a final total price before giving any credit card details.
All was now sorted however, and we only had 4 weeks to wait for our 2nd cruise to start.
Embarkation & Flights
As we were embarking from Venice we used Ryanair for our flights, which is a cheap no-frills airline. They advertise flights to Venice, but in reality fly to Treviso, which is 20 miles from Venice.
ATVO Eurobus service runs from the airport directly to the Piazzale Roma (where you can pickup the shuttle bus straight to the ship) and takes about an hour.
The cost is 9 Euros return (valid for 7 days), or 5 Euros single. There is a ticket machine directly behind the luggage carousel and I strongly advise you to get the ticket from here, or you may face a queue at the main ticket desk in the hall.
Once you arrive at the Piazzale Roma the Royal Caribbean shuttle buses are directly in front of the drop-off point and take 10 minutes to reach the ship.
We arrived at the embarkation desk at 11:30am, dropped our luggage off, and within 5 minutes were sat by the pool with drink in hand. Fantastic.
We were assigned room 6591, and although compact was perfectly clean and spacious enough for the little time we intended to use the room. A balcony would have been nicer, but at 3 times the cost not really viable.
As we had booked the Romance Package we had chocolate covered strawberries and a bottle of Champagne awaiting us in our stateroom, which we took up ondeck to watch the fantastic sailaway from Venice.
The Splendour is the smallest ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet, and one of the oldest. However the ship was clean and well looked after, but did lack some of the WOW factor of the much larger Explorer we sailed with before.
I did think the smaller size of the ship to be plus, especially at embarkation and dining. However my wife missed the glitz and size of a larger ship.
We chose to book My Time Dining, and were always able to get the time we wanted. The menus however were exactly the same as some of the ones we had last December on Explorer.Which isn't a bad thing, but perhaps a local dish based on the last port visited could liven the menu up a bit.
The service we recieved in the dining room from all the staff was first class.
On our last night our waiter somehow managed to get the chef to create a special curry dish just for us, which made a good overall dining experience brilliant.
Activities & Entertainment
We tend to use a cruise ship as a moving hotel, so tend not to use the day time activities, however we did visit the show every night.
Ths shows ranged from poor, to average to very good indeed. The highlight being a Beatles tribute band, and the low point the ships singers and dancers.
During the week we also had a slight of hand magician and a Soul singer who were both a decent way to spend 45 minutes before dinner.
Throughout the ship we had great service from all the staff, and they all helped make a great holiday.
We chose to carry our own bags off the ship and were straight through customs by 7am. We had a late evening flight from Treviso so grabbed a taxi outside the disembarkation point to take us to the railway station so we could leave our luggage for the day. The left luggage point is at platform 1 and the cost to leave luggage is 5 Euros a bag for the first 5 hours, and 60 cents for each extra hour.
The railway station is a 2 minute walk from the bus station at Piazzale Roma where the return bus to Treviso departs.