Carnival - Circus on the Sea: Carnival Splendor Cruise Review by skimock
Overall Member Rating
Carnival - Circus on the Sea
Destination: Mexican Riviera
Embarkation: Los Angeles
Embarkation: First off, Carnival does not have enough shade for this process as the boarding groups are all standing around in the sun for hours. Suggestion, Sit down in the shade and simply join your boarding group as it enters the terminal. Secondly, if you are traveling with children find an employee and they will let you board early. After finally waiting around for hours, an employee noticed us and escorted our family inside. IMO this should be standard procedure from the get-go.
Entertainment: Right off the music was ghastly and way too loud. Carnival does not realize that all their speakers are BLOWN and the levels are clipping the entire time (is there a sound engineer on this ship?). There is no real music to speak of, as it is all background drum tracks with a guitar More and keyboard on top. I heard Margaritaville 3 times before we even left port! The stage shows were terrible, this includes VROOM! The 'jazz club' had no jazz etc. The only good music will be the Mariachi band that gets on for an hour in PV. Carnival, you should be EMBARRASSED with the quality of music and entertainment on this ship!
Food: Wow, another completely embarrassing category for the carnival crew. First of all, avoid the buffet. Everything is just sitting around under heatlamps stewing in oil. Picture the cheapest vegas buffet that you have ever been to, then imagine eating there for 7 days! The main dining room is barely any better, and the cheesy shows they put on nightly are cringe-worthy and stretches the meal to almost the 2 hour mark. Also, it is obvious that there is one main kitchen between the two dining rooms as everything comes out covered and then sits around for a few minutes until it is served, producing a luke warm steamed meal. If you are even a slight foodie, stay away from this ship.
Mongolian: Ok only because it is cooked fresh but be prepared to wait upwards of 45 mins. Unfortunately the Mongolian and Indian are only open for a few hours mid day. Once dinner comes around, you are SOL.
Indian: Decent but way too salty, as is most of the food on the ship. Naan was good, and the pakoras and sauces were good.
Rotisserie: The chicken is ok, but again over salted. As for the mac and cheese, I have no idea what people are raving about here. It is dry, sitting in crusty cheese for who knows how long. (But OMG, it's made with Brie) Inedible IMO (kids wouldn't eat this either).
Sushi: I wouldn't even call this sushi. They serve some really mediocre rolls with either salmon/cream cheese or the strangest tuna combination i've ever had. (They take hamachi and mix it with some sort of filler).
Pizza: Only edible when hot, service with a scowl.
Deli: Reuben was ok, Ham wrap was decent (the lunch meat is slimy and watery everywhere on the ship). Grilled cheese was about all the kids would eat (this includes desserts and choc buffet ... I have never seen my kids turn down sweets). Very nice woman working the deli who was willing to make things to order, open til 11.
Time Zones: Carnival sucks at Time zones. They don't set the ship ahead to Cabo time, then when you leave cabo they set it ahead an hour even though PV is yet another hour ahead. Everyone was totally confused, including the staff. The only mention of the time changes was a tiny blurb in the Fun Times. I'm sure the staff has what they consider to be a good reason for this but trust me, it's not a good enough reason. Set the clocks to local time carnival!
Alcohol: 2/3 of our alcohol made it on board .. they are obviously checking more thoroughly than in the past. Also, they check everything but your pockets getting back on the ship in port. I saw water bottles being given the 'shake test' and or smelled so pocked your booze kids. It is much easier to smuggle illegal drugs or weapons on board than alcohol, which shows you what Carnival really cares about ... SELLING YOU LOTS OF OVERPRICED BOOZE!
Camp Carnival: The only redeeming aspect to this cruise for our family of four. The staff was great, they loved the kids and luckily there weren't many on board so we got a lot of attention. They provide phones on a 1st come/served basis which makes contacting your party so much easier. Usually checked them in for dinner @6 and out by 10pm (we had to leave dinner early ever night to get there by 10). Thanks to the Camp Carnival staff, you saved our vacation!
State Rooms: We would have gone crazy without our nice 6th floor Balcony cabin. It was larger than expected, and fit our family of 4 comfortably. Some of our fondest memories were spent on the balcony when the kids were asleep. Our Cabin Steward was helpful and brought anything we asked for. Tip: Don't bring a cooler, simply ask for a champagne bucket and keep it full w/your beverage of choice, your steward will ice it down twice daily.
Shopping: I feel like I have to mention the shopping recommendations given by the staff (tiffany, shopping director). Everything was for diamonds sold by the same conglomerate. There were no local business' on the list. In PV Tiffany was there in the flesh as we disembarked, handing out coupons to .. you guessed it .. BUBBA GUMPS! Come to mexico and visit bubba gumps? That pretty much sums up the vibe you get from the Carnival staff.
That's my review. For those of you that loved this ship, I'm happy you enjoyed your trip. I understand that their are a lot of people on these ships and it must be a monumental task for the crew to get things done on a daily basis. The staff deserves props for going through this for 6 months at a time without a break. That's right, 6 on 2 off! I don't know how they do it (I have heard some of the lower level employees make $75 a MONTH!) Tip them well!
In addition, after the fire the staff was sent home without pay and forced to pay their way back to the ship if they wanted to return to work. There is a reason these cruises are so cheap, IMO Carnival is taking advantage of these people who are unable to unionize or bargain for wage increases.
Thanks to all your prior reviews as they really helped prepare us for the trip, and made things more tolerable as we new what to expect. Less
Port and Shore Excursions
Cabo is a dirty, dry tourist trap. After traveling extensively in mexico, we were not prepared for the big onslaught of people swarming from all angles. When you come in on a cruise ship, you pretty much have the words "CUSTY" tattoed on your forehead.
Most passengers seem to pay for Carnivals dumbed down excursions instead of venturing out and finding mexico. The first day was really hot so after lunch we hit the Melia pool which was nice but pricey.
The kids did the dolphin tour on day 2 for $68 and loved it. Carnival wanted around $200 for this event. We also had a great meal at the Hacienda but it was pricey, same price you would pay in the states.
As for the tenders, just go down when you want and get on. Ignore Carnival's pleas to get a tender number and wait in line yada yada. The truth is you have the same right to get off the boat as the people that booked tours and get priority. Tender #s are never checked, just come and go as you please and ignore Todd's (cruse director) incessant rants on the subject.
Two days in PV would have really changed this trip for the better. I have no doubt that Carnival chose two days in Cabo because they make more money there on 'excursions'. As a result, we found ourselves sailing away from PV thinking "is that really it, one day in Mexico?" Kind of a shame to come all that way for 12 hours ashore. *sigh*