Howdy Folks. Just a quick review here, nothing to detailed or special as I don't have the gift of gab as others do. We seem to have gone on cruises every mothers day for the past 3 years so this year was no different. This time we decided to do the Splendor and the Mexican Riviera. We were also taking some cruise virgins in the form of my brother in law and his fiancee and my sister in law and her husband and son. Combine that with my wife and I and our three kids of 9 (twins) and 5yr old son we had 10 total in our little group. Since we had a large group we decided to stay "local" and take this cruise instead of having to fly anywhere plus it saves us some money.
The wife and I had previously done this cruise on the Pride about 6 years ago so we were well aware of the weather issues on the first and last day of the cruise. Nothing Carnival can control obviously. But if you are reading this review and not aware of the Mexican Riviera weather let it be known that this cruise starts out cold and windy the first day and a half and ends cold and windy the last day and a half. If you know this little fact ahead of time it will save you some dissapointment when you cant suntan, use the waterslide or play minigolf due to high winds and cold temps. Oh yea...bring a sweatshirt or two as well.
So onto the cruise....Embarkation, super duper easy, quick and smooth. We got to the port at 1115am despite Carnival's official line not to show up until 1230 - 1pm. We did early check in and got zone 5. Once they started calling zones at around 12pm we were on the boat by 1230 and eating lunch. Real easy, get there early, I think we hit the sweet spot. I wouldn't want to have been any later as the lines grew very quick after we got there.
The Splendor, what can I say, it is Pink. I called it a floating half empty pepto bismol bottle. I ignored it after a while, but if you love pink this ship is for you. It was clean and the crew with the exception of the Casino Staff were polite and friendly. Casino Staff including the pit bosses all needed a good swift kick in the butt to remind them that the customers paid thier salaries. I am a huge fan of the spirit class ships, best out there in my humble opinion. After being on the Conquest last year, the splendor is far better then the conquest. What saves the splendor is the retractable roof over the main center swimming pool, without that, my kids would have been dissapointed. Lines, the bigger the ship it seems the more lines there are. You will be waiting in lines for everything, what we found was get there early or wait a little bit then goto eat/food/activities whatever to avoid the lines. Never like this on a spirit class ship but hey...I'm biased.
We ate in the Dining Room most nights, food was excellent and service was good. Unfortunately our main waiter grew ill after the first night and we didn't see him again until Friday so his asst waiter had to do most of the services and you could tell he was not quite ready for the step up but he did good. When our waiter came back service improved greatly. I can't hold it against him, poor guy was really sick and it must be horrible to be sick on a ship while you are working. Lido Buffet was good for buffet food, nothing stuck out. The Tandori Grill was awesome, you have to eat there, the Rotissieri was Okay, and burrito bar was good. Had room service a couple of times for lunch while relaxing, food was good but service is sloooooow. Cmon, 1 hour to deliver a sandwich, unacceptable. We ate one night in the Steakhouse without the kids. Awesome as usual, it's a great buy at $30 per person.
Activities around the ship were plentiful and typical for Carnival. If you been on one Carnival Ship you've seen them all already. No big deal to me, a cruise is what you make of it. The punchliner comedians were hilarious, don't remember any of there names but they rotated 2 out and brought 2 new one's in in Cabo. All 4 of them were funny, tear down the cheek gut hurting funny. Just a guess but with Splendor being out of LA I'm sure they have a wide variety to choose from, highlight of entertainment for me. The shows were all standard Carnival stage shows, we only saw VROOM and it was very good, I had seen it in the past. The main singers were very good. Felipe the cruise director was everywhere. He was the first CD I've seen on multiple times throughout the day. He's young and has a lot of energy, didn't make a ton of announcements but the "whoo hoo, ciao for now" got old after the first couple of days. I'm not one to rate a cruise based on CD's he did a good job and did not bother me at all.
I did mention the weather, the monday of our cruise the upper pool and the waterslide were heated to almost spa temp's, they were really warm thus the kids were swimming up there despite it being a bit chilly, had they not warmed the water to such a high temp no one would use it for sure, a nice plus. The spray park uses cold water, so unless it is super hot the kids get cold quickly in it.
Housekeeping was awesome. We had connecting OV (Cat 6C) cabins, my three kids were in one room, wife and I in another with the connecting door kept ajar. The second bathroom was a life saver along with adequate storage space. We had an issue of a smoke smell in our cabin, we complained. Within minutes the manager showed up, turns out that the cabins were not occupied by smokers the previous cruise but the ventalation system was piping in smoke from an adjacent cabin where a smoker was located. They refreshed our cabin, called engineering but nothing they did ever made the smell go away. In our 5 cruises with Carnival this is the first time we've ever been bothered by smoke in a cabin. This was a design flaw of the A/C system it appears. To bad Carnival allows smoking in cabins, wish they wouldn't. Our rooms were well kept though.
Camp Carnival once again proves to be a great service for us parents. One child was in the 2-5 yr old group which had over 100 kids on this cruise and my twins were in the 9-11 yr old group which only had about 30 kids. Our kids are on year long school (track system) so they have May off for a break which probably explained the low count in the 9-11 group. The counselors were great with the kids, plenty of activities for them all. Even though our 9yr olds were old enough to sign themselves out we were not ready to do that BUT in order for them to do a scavenger hunt one day we had to allow them to do it but the counselors understood our apprehension and grouped them with an 11 yr old and a 10yr old so we felt a lot better. After that activity we removed thier sign out privileges, no big deal. Again, Camp Carnival was awesome.
Disembarkation was good, a complete turn around for the absolute horrific and nightmarish experience of Galveston TX. We were fortunate in that our group was able to get zone 8 tags, they started with self assist at about 7am - 8am then started with zone numbers, we were called off at about 845am and we were off the boat and through customs in 30 minutes. Back in the car and I'm looking at the parking receipt time stamped at 927am. I've heard mention of nightmare waits in Long Beach but I think it depends on numerous factors outside of Carnival's control. Tampa was by far the best for us but this was a close second, maybe we were lucky but both embarkation and disembarkation were really easy and smooth, absolutely no complaints, great job.
We were on the modified itinerary for this sailing, they cancelled Mazatlan and replaced it with 2 days in Cabo and 1 day in Puerto Vallarta. Initially I was disappointed but I have to say we really enjoyed two days in Cabo. The first day in Cabo is crazy getting off the boat, everyone wants off, the second day, was much more relaxed. PV was great as well, I will detail in the ports of call reviews later.
To sum it up, it was a good cruise, not a knock your socks off,this was the best vacation ever like the commercials want you to believe but none the less, for the value, ease of getting to the port it is definately a good vacation value. Nothing beats a true caribbean cruise though, flat water, warm sun for 7 straight days this cruise is not but she'll do. Our cruise was 4 out of 5 stars and I would recomend it to friends and family with some caveats of course.