My 24-year-old daughter and I just got back from our first cruise to the Mexican Riviera on the Carnival Splendor. It left out of Long Beach and was very convenient for us. We had a lovely time.
We were on the top deck and had a Spa cabin with a balcony. It was quiet and nicely located near the Cloud 9 Spa where we used the gym, the large spa and hot water-heated "lounge chairs". We didn't use the steam room, but that was also a part of the spa package. The costs of facials and massages are way high, but we had them anyway. We loved sitting out in the balcony of our room.
The service was good, and we enjoyed our dinners at the Gold Pearl Restaurant. I don't think we had a bad meal (even at the buffet). Every meal at the Restaurant was beautifully presented and carefully served. There were some sides that I didn't care for, but they were a matter of taste, not of careless cooking.
Activities on the ship
There was something for everyone, and there was a lot to choose from. John Heald, the Cruise Director, was a super emcee and a gracious host. He made us laugh throughout some of the shows. The show Vroom was good, and our Legends talent show featured some of the most talented passengers I've ever seen.
Zip Lining in Puerto Vallarta
We wished that our zip lining at the Los Veranos Canopy would not end--it was so much fun. I recommend this excursion absolutely with no reservations. We had people in our group who were in their 70s, and they enjoyed zipping through the trees. We had lunch at the end of the line at a restaurant that overlooked the river. Their chimichangas are really good.
Mazatlan-Sierra Madre Colonial Villages tour
Our guide Milton delivered a little too much information. I would have been happy with some history of the area, but he talked a lot about the flora and natural remedies using local plants as well as about certain fauna of the area. I drifted off in parts of his talk. The quaintness of the towns and lovely churches were nice, but the poverty of the people was hard for me to take. Also, there was so much graffiti on the buildings on the outskirts of the city of Mazatlan. We got dropped off at a flea market near the ship where the vendors were kind of aggressive.
Snorkeling at the Sea of Cortez in Cabo San Lucas
The sea was a bit choppy, so the underwater view wasn't super clear, and it also made snorkeling harder. However, the crew of the catamaran,Sigame, were really helpful. We got to see some whales very near our boat, and that made the trip worthwhile. The vendors at the flea market in town were nicer than the ones we encountered at the flea market in Mazatlan.
Behind the Fun on the Carnival Splendor
This inside tour of the Splendor is something you shouldn't miss. The size of the group is limited (we had 16), and you can only sign up once you're on the ship. Our tour guide Dorothy (corporate trainer) knew a lot, and we got to see lots of people and places that are behind the scenes. We met people in charge of the stage, the dancers, the engine room, the main chef and the chef of the Pinnacle Restaurant, the Captain on the bridge, the laundry and photo people, and even the person in charge of the environmental section who told us what happens to all the garbage generated. We got a photo at the ship's bell and one with the captain. At the main galley, we got cookies and strawberries dipped in 2 chocolates and had a look at people preparing sauces that take hours and hours to make. (When we got back to our room we discovered some goodies sent up by our chef!) At the end of the tour we had drinks at the Pinnacle restaurant and got more souvenirs to take home. Our guide Dorothy made it a very special experience. I highly recommend this tour.