Just returned from a 7 night Mexican Riviera Cruise. I was looking forward to a relaxing easy time, a break from the normal day to day running of my family. I managed to get my girlfriend to run-away with me...we packed our bags, and left our husbands in charge of the kid's and off we went. I have sailed a bit in my past, over 15 cruises, and while mostly with HAL or Celebrity, my first cruise was with Carnival on the Tropical over 27 years ago, and I was looking forward to some relaxation and fun on Carnival.
I had preregistered via the computer, and had my Boarding Pass in hand. I had everything ready to go...and I made my way to the Carnival Boarding area, I was directed to a long line that wrapped around (all the way around!) the Spruce Goose! I asked not one, but two Carnival employees, I have my Boarding Pass, and I have pre-registered on line, are you sure I am supposed to be in that line? "Oh, yes, ma'am. Everyone has to get in that line." As I approached the security screening area, having gone through that line, i was then told, "you should have been in this line over here...we've been looking for our cruisers, all the lines have gotten mixed up..." I was floored! A 2 hour wait only to be told it was for nothing! Geez! Get me on this ship, I think I need a drink! Our onboarding experience was chaotic and filled with lines and noise. We were hoping this wasn't the way our whole trip was going to be run!
We made our way thorough the ship to our forward cabin. It was just lovely! We had the best cabin Steward, Vida, ever. She was kind, competent, and remarked upon likes and dislikes and remembered to follow them. She was excellent. My girlfriend and I then proceeded to walk around the ship to get acquainted. We found the Lido pool and the buffet lines. Lots and lots of lines!
Goodness! Lines were everywhere! Another chaotic environment! It was noisy and clumsy. There were stewards filling up plate warmers from plate trolly's, which the stewards left in the middle of the aisleway. The stewards were replenishing the coffee mugs, and then the sewards were blocking the coffee makers. It was a challenge to get a cup of coffee to refresh ourselves from the embarkation procedure. We decided to take our coffee cup out on the deck to relax for a minute before exploring the ship some more.
Relax? Did I say relax? The jumbotron was playing quite loudly, and we couldn't hear ourselves think, let alone hear any words between us. Ok, let's try the back of the ship...perhaps there? Nope, loud music. The kind of loud music where you have to shout to be heard. It was intolerable. Hmmm...a quiet place, let's try inside again. So we fought our way past the hordes, found a table, and sat down. After we sat down, a door opened, directly from the galley, where there was much clanging of dishes and pots. We looked at each other in surprise, and didn't know whether to laugh or cry. It was just silly. I was beginning to think that this whole relaxing vacation was a mistake...sigh.
I then remembered, that most things are what you make of it...so we decided to change our attitudes and drop our expectations down a few notches. There, that was better!
The next day at sea was uneventful...loud on deck, but uneventful. We sailed into Cabo, the day after that. We went up on deck to watch the tendering process. The Splendor used the "Cabo Tender" for their tendering. It was a long and arduous process to get that many people off the ship. Especially when it appeared that they were training several of the tender's captains. It was rather funny, watching them attempting to get the tenders up next to the Splendor. We started humming the theme song from the "Benny Hill Show", it was that funny! The Clown's at Carnival did it again! The tender's were being piloted by "Larry, Curly, and Mo", and the theme song was perfect for the picture they presented. We decided that we could have an early morning drink. Ah, that was better.
The food of the Splendor was wonderful at the Indian Buffet. Absolutely delightful. Fresh, tasty, spiced beautifully. Yipee! My girlfriend enjoyed the traditional fare presented in the Gold Pearl Dining Room, and I was happy that they had a Gluten-Free Menu for me. Was the gluten-free dining wonderful? No. But, it was good, fresh, filling, and safe. I like that! The service in the Gold Pearl Dining Room was very good. Our waiter, and his assistant were easy to get along with, and they had good attention to detail. They never once messed up my order (it can be challenging being Gluten-Free, but they did a very good job). Each evening, the Hostess would come and make sure that my dinner for the next night was adequate for my dietary needs...she did a fabulous job! Excellent attention to detail...Thank you, Yvonne!
My girlfriend and I, had by this time, agreed that a vacation is what you make of it. We were not going to allow the loudness, the constant hawking of pictures, the lines, and the general non-deference to passengers, to affect our cruise. We decided to enjoy our cruise, no matter what. As so we did!
That said, there is much to commend the ship: Wonderful Layout (deck plan), absolutely easy to find your way around. We found rest and quiet on the Serenity Deck (we also found a bunch of wind, but so what...it was quiet). The entertainment was wonderful. We enjoyed the comediens and loved the latin dance show...Great!
We made the most of our cruise...and had a good time. Largely because we decided to have a good time.
However, given the challenges that the Splendor held for us, we most likely won't sail with Carnival again.