My husband and I just returned from a 7 night cruise to the Mexican Riviera on the Carnival Splendor.
Being a previous Carnival cruiser, an avid reader of Cruise Critic member reviews and an active Cruise Critic forum participant, I knew well what to expect of the ship in general.
The ship itself is very nice, once you get past all the pink decor. One of the the comedians on the ship aptly described it as looking as though a Pepto Bismal bottle was shaken and exploded all over the walls. One cruiser that I chatted with while waiting in line for dinner at the Black Pearl restaurant described it as "queeny" whatever that means. I certainly didn't mind the decor, although it wasn't exactly my taste, lol.
What I liked most about the ship: the cabin. We chose an ocean view cabin on the Main Deck (deck 2) on the border line of the mid-ship and aft areas, close to the elevators. It was clean, roomy, generous closet spaces, abundant counter space, had a mini bar and safe, and for the most part was very quiet. Our room Steward, Putra was wonderful. For the most part, he was invisible, but very responsive when I called to request a second laundry bag for our laundry. The ship has a laundry special - $15 a bag for items to be washed, dried and folded. It was a great deal - saved us big time!
I also loved the deck party that was held the night we departed Puerto Vallarta. Todd Whitmer, the cruise director is all kinds of energetic - he even sang!! The ship's entertainers, singers and dancers from the Spectacular showroom also came up on deck and gave an impromptu show to get the party started, dancing to fifties and sixties music. It was a blast!!!
What I liked the least - the weather at both ports, Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. Here it is late October, and the weather was in the upper 90s with humidity in the 90% mark. When standing in line just waiting to board a tour bus and you're dripping wet, it makes for a miserable experience. It was to the point where it was just too dang hot and muggy to do anything other than swim in the pool or ocean. If you are into water sports, then you're okay (we are not) if you want to shop or tour, it's very uncomfortable. At one point on the "Cabo by Land and Sea" tour, a few of us opted to sit in the bus when the tour stopped at the cactus farm. According to our tour guides, the best time to visit these two ports is from December through February when the weather is much milder and drier.
Second least favorite thing: the Splendido buffet. The food at breakfast was just ok (don't touch the scrambled eggs - they were made from the powder stuff, just not very good) and at dinner time the choices were even worse. Lunch time seemed to be the best time to go to the buffet - they had many more choices including the grill area, the tandoori Indian food and the Mongolian wok areas. If these areas were open at dinner time, it would have been nice. We ended up eating most of our meals in the main dining rooms - the Gold Pearl for breakfast and the Black Pearl for dinner (we had "Your Time" dining). If you are looking to have something other than powdered scrambled eggs for breakfast, the Gold Pearl restaurant is a good choice - we ordered omelets and fried eggs and they were custom cooked for us, arriving piping hot and delicious.
The food in the Black Pearl was also very good, however, the service can be somewhat slow. Since we weren't in a hurry, we didn't mind, but some other folks might find it too slow for them.
One other thing of note; while the ship has a passenger capacity of 3,006 passengers and we were told that the ship was sailing at full capacity, the public spaces never felt crowded except on the first day when everyone embarked and headed straight for the Lido deck for lunch. After that, I often wondered where everyone else was.
Overall, we definitely enjoyed the cruise, and will be cruising with Carnival again in the near future.