After reading several horror stories about the embarkation process at Long Beach, we decided to arrive early was the best bet. Out taxi dropped us off at 1020 and we handed our luggage to a porter. We were lined up at the checkin area at 1035 and by 1050 had a zone 4 boarding card. Zone 4 was being called from 1100 - 1130. Our zone started boarding at 1145 and by 1210 we were in the Lido buffet having lunch. Tip - as your luggage is not immediately accessible once you board, consider bringing some swimming gear in your carryon. We pretty much had the pool to ourselves until 2pm when we could access our room.
We had a forward balcony on deck 9, lido deck. This ended up being a great location as it was on the same deck as the lido buffet and pool. It was also quiet as there are no common areas on deck 9 forward and none above or below either. Our Indonesian room attendants were fantastic and did a fast and thorough job of keeping our room tidy. More
I tipped our main attendant $20 when I first met him and this guaranteed efficient service. If you enjoy the fresh sea air consider bringing onboard a small length of rope as the balcony doors do not stay open. There is a good amount of storage space in the cabin and we used all of it so we could store our bags under the bed. The room had a queen bed and 2 bunks.
We ate most breakfasts in the lido buffet, primarily as we have a 4 and 6 yr old and it was easier than eating in the dining room. Same goes for lunch but we always had a sit down dinner at our assigned restaurant, the Gold Pearl. We elected for the early 6pm seating so we could see the 830 shows. Our wait staff were really good and parents do not despair as a kids menu is also offered in the main dining rooms. Food quality and variety was pretty good and be sure to try the chocolate melting cake for desert. Highlight meal was the lobster tail and king prawns. Before purchasing a soft drink package be aware that lemonade, ice tea and chilled water are free of charge in the lido buffet as is orange and guava juice for breakfast.The mongolian grill was very nice but also very popular. One day I waited about 40mins however as you pick your own ingredients and they cook it fresh it is well worth it. I also enjoyed the Indian tandoori grill at the rear of the Lido deck.
ACTIVITIES / ENTERTAINMENT:
Camp carnival - Due to the difference in ages, our 4 and 6 year olds were in different areas due to their age difference. We did try and fudge the truth in order for them to play together however this was unsuccessful. We only had them at camp carnival for 1-2 hours per day and both enjoyed their time there however our 4 year old did more fun activities like face painting whereas the 6 year old activities were more based around computer type games. Be sure to catch the VROOM show in the spectacular lounge which was the highlight of the vegas style shows onboard. We saw one comedian in one of the bars but thought he was quite average. Pools got very crowded at times but our kids loved using the 2 storey slide. Parents note the height restriction for this is 42 inches. Gym equipment was good and i used the treadmill several times however it is very busy in the morning on "at sea" days. My wife did several spin classes at $12 each was really worked up a a sweat. For cruisers out there not travelling with kids, the pool at the rear of deck 9, the liner lido pool is adults only.
We disembarked the ship both days in Cabo and also Puerto Vallarta. Refer to more detailed info in the ports review section.
As we had an early flight we elected to leave our luggage out the night before departure and were allocated zone 3 (0830 - 0900) to disembark the ship. We were lined up to disembark at 0915 and were in a taxi by 0950. We did notice cruisers who elected to use self assist (carry your own bags off the ship) were allowed to disembark first around 0730.
We enjoyed our week onboard the Splendor and would definitely consider this cruise again. Staff throughout the ship were great and ship was immaculately kept throughout the cruise and both ports were great places to visit. Duty free spirits were also very cheap and get delivered to your room the night prior to leaving the ship. Less
Cabo - The first day we got a water taxi to a quieter part of Medano beach. There are locals everywhere trying to sell you stuff which can be bothersome at times. For the second day we went to Pelican beach, nears Lovers beach and this was a much better experience as there are no sellers there and on the day we visited the water was much calmer than Medano. For you divers out there I did a 2 tank boat dive booked thru Carnival for $99. We were given an early tender from Splendor and were met by the dive instructors upon arrival at the port and taken to the dive shop and suited up. It was a boat dive and they did everything for you ie setting up your BCD etc. The price also included all the gear. Visibility was not great however on the second dive there was an abundance of fish. Dive was thru Cabo adventures and was great value especially as it meant priority disembarkation from the ship and was well worth it. I was back onboard at 1100.
As were were not sure what to do in PV, we spoke with one of the tourism officials once we got off the boat and ended up getting a taxi for a flat rate of $100 for 4 hours. The taxi's at the port (cream colored) are specifically for cruise ships (so the driver said) and the driver was great to deal with and was very knowledgable. We were with him for a total of 5 hrs for $125 and in that time went into the jungle and had a swim at the waterfall where the movie Predator was filmed, stopped at a secluded beach and had a swim, had lunch at an authentic mexican restaurant where they made the dips for you fresh at your table and also stopped at a flea market. Considering some of the prices for excursions offered in PV the taxi option ended up being great value. Make sure he has aircon first as PV was hot when we visited. If you are into zip lining this is done up near the predator set. There is also a Wal Mart not far from where the splendor docks in PV where can pick up some snacks. PV is quite a big place with lots to see.