We have recently returned from a delightful 10 night Greek cruise on the Splendour of the Seas.
We have cruised four times, this was our second time with RCCL.
We originally booked a Junior Suite, but after quite a bit of research on the CC forums, we changed our booking to a Grand Suite (8008).
We took a BA flight from Heathrow to Venice.
Once we arrived at Venice we were whisked off in a coach to get our first view of the Splendour. As a Londoner, it was a thrill to be in the sun after enduring an appalling summer at home!
As suite guests we were shown to a desk to pick up our sea pass cards - there was no queue whatsoever - we saw the queue with what looked like hundreds of people as we passed through to embark. This was the first of many times we were thankful of the suite perks available.
We had no idea what time we were allowed into our suite, but we went straight to deck 8 and found our suite to the right of the lifts.
I had reservations about the ship as there are more negatives than positives on CC, especially as there are planned refurbished works going ahead in a few months.
As we opened the door to the suite, we knew all our reservations and concerns could be forgotten as this was a fantastic suite!!!
There were three fluffy towelling robes in the bathroom and two more in the wardrobe, along with three pairs of the 'one size fits all' slippers. The bathroom had plenty of towels for all of us. We found everything to be clean and tidy, with no more wear and tear than would be expected. The balcony was extraordinarily large with three chairs and a table.
More than enough wardrobes, drawers and hangers for the three of us.
As we were leaving the suite to look around the ship we met George, our stateroom attendant. He is such a lovely chap, friendly and professional and he will be the person I will miss most now we are home as everything was perfect each time we went back into the suite!
Each night we all had chocolates on our pillows. A bowl of fruit and a complimentary large bottle of Evian water was left for us. Another day a cheese plate was on the counter. The next day a bottle of champagne. My daughter loved the cookies that she found that had been left for her on another afternoon.
Walking around the ship I kept wondering how so many people found fault with it. I could see no more wear and tear than we did with the Brilliance last year. One does not expect the ship to look as if it's just come out of refurbishment as you step on as people are using it. Each time we were in a port something was being painted somewhere inside and out. The cleaning was a continual job. The only mess that could be found was what was left by diners in the Windjammer - it does amaze me how much food and mess each guest can pile up in such a short space of time!
Once we had finished with the Muster Drill (which coming from a grey and colder climate was almost unbearable in the Venice sunshine) we went to our suite and unpacked and started our holiday!
For a smaller ship, we were surprised at the larger swimming pool compared to the Brilliance. It was at this point we all decided we preferred this ship to last year. The overall feel of the ship was more to our liking. The Brilliance (in our opinion) was a small ship trying to be bigger. The Splendour was just perfect for us. Apart from sea days around the pool (which is crowded on most ships), we never felt crowded.
After a fun afternoon we got ready and went to dinner. After last year crammed into an ocean view stateroom, the space in the suite was fantastic. At allowed my daughter and husband privacy from one another. Much better than last year where one of them always seemed to be in the bathroom!!!
We had booked MTD and after many attempts (the RCCL website is sometimes slow and unresponsive) we booked dinner on a table on our own for 7.30pm each night.
Booking a set time each night in advance was much better than last year where we just had MTD and tried to get a table for a particular time each night. This year there were nights when we wanted to eat later and as we already had a table booked for 7.30 there seemed more flexibility.
We chose to sit on our own as we like to eat at our own pace and sharing a table sometimes means rushing or waiting when we do not want to. In addition to this, some nights this was the only time we saw our daughter! We had a lovely table and found the dining staff to be attentive, humorous and friendly. Again we preferred every aspect of the dining experience on the Splendour compared to the Brilliance.
Some posts had made us nervous as the suites are under the Windjammer / pool deck and there were complaints of chairs scraping noises etc. I am VERY noise sensitive and cherish peace and quiet. Apart from the white night / pool party evening (a late night for everyone and noise ended at 1am, which was to be expected), we did not notice any night time noise whatsoever. By the time we went to bed, the sea was the noisiest thing out there. Every morning I woke to see the sunrise (so beautiful it moved me nearly to tears some mornings) and was on our balcony (so handy having the Windjammer and pool deck above, so I could nip up for a coffee and sneak it onto the balcony without making it in the room and waking up my husband and daughter). In the mornings there was a certain amount of noise but not so much if you were in the room with the balcony door closed. It never woke my husband or daughter once.
We ate every night in the MDR. We ate lunch every day in the Windjammer. One can always find something to eat in the Windjammer, a table is usually the hardest thing to find. For lunch the food is great, we do not like buffet evening meals, so could not pass comment as to what they serve as we did not see. Other guests we spoke to had tried there for dinner and had not liked it. But that is their opinion.
I like peace and quiet for breakfast, but our daughter loves the hustle and bustle of the Windjammer, so we did have a lot of breakfasts there. The whole idea of grabbing food and waiting for each other to arrive back so we can eat together is not for me. I don't like hot food going cold, so each time we had breakfast there I ate the cold choices.
One morning we tried the MDR for breakfast. My husband had French toast, which he said was far better than the Windjammer and even my daughter had to admit that the hot food was better in the MDR.
A few mornings I got my own way and had breakfast on our balcony - now THAT was five star. As suite guests you can order anything from the MDR menu as long as the MDR is open at the time. My husband said the eggs Benedict was superb and I had a mushroom omelette on one occasion that was simply perfect. Each time the food and drinks were perfect and as ordered and nearly to the minute on time.
Very early on we met with Rahim, our concierge who was such a nice man. This was to be his last cruise on the Splendour as he has been promoted to one of the two concierges on the Allure.
We took advantage of the concierge lounge before dinner and was thrilled when we had a galley tour in a small group and a bridge tour on our own. My daughter and I also went on a behind the scenes tour of the stage and dressing areas, which we also enjoyed.
The priority tender was handy as was the personal escort off the ship on the last day. Basically no queuing as a Brit is always a bonus.
The other perk we liked was the guarantee of seats in the main theatre. We seemed to be constantly rushing everywhere, so at least we knew we could get into the theatre just before the performance and we would get a seat together. People started to take their seat half an hour before the show started and at that time we were still eating.
We preferred the entertainment staff on the Brilliance as we had the pleasure of Gordon and Cuddy.
This year the Gaucho and Crazeehorse acts were terrific.
My only complaint on this holiday was with the excursion department as there was a terrible mix up on our last port day and our trip was cancelled and not only were we not advised but nearly ended up in a winery rather than a beach trip!
We found this cruise to be one our favourite holidays and cannot wait to book our next one. But as they say - one you go Grand Suite - you never go back!!