This was my 11th cruise since 1987. 3rd on Carnival. We chose Carnival due to cost and departure port and because most of our group had never sailed before. We were 13 total including 3 children ages 3, 5 and 6.
If you have read any of my previous reviews, I always start by saying "There is no such thing as a bad cruise". I mean this sincerely. Put me on a ship for 7 days in warm weather, feed me, clean for me, offer me drinks with umbrellas..... It's hard to complain.
Having made that disclaimer.. I will give you my opinions of the Carnival Splendor.
We arrived late because our Payless Shuttle from our Long Beach hotel scheduled for 11:30 arrived 2 hours late. Fortunately the weather was dry. Arriving at 2:00 pm the line was long and we were outside about 30 minutes before getting under cover. Checking in was pretty efficient. We had 5 side by side cabins on the Empress Deck #7 Starboard side. Everyone had their documents ready and their Funpasses completed ahead of time.
Carnival has a policy that you can carry on 1 bottle of wine or champagne per person in your carry on ONLY as well as up to 12 soft drinks up to 20oz per person in your carry on ONLY and only on the day of embarkation. One of our adult guest drinks soft drinks only and we had 3 small children. We loaded up. Actually we overloaded. At the end of the cruise we had a lot of extra soda which we gave to our cabin stewards or off loaded home. We brought 1 bottle of nice wine for one of the formal nights. They were supposed to charge $10 corkage fee, but they never asked us for our sail and sign card. I have a feeling it would not have gone overlooked in the Pinnacles dining room.
Once onboard we went directly to our cabins and asked the steward BERNARD - to unlock all the barriers between the 5 staterooms. This was really fun. We had one really long balcony along one side of the ship. This way we could visit with family and never get locked out of our cabins for forgetting a key! (Ever forgotten a key while your spouse sits out on the balcony? They will never hear you knocking!)
It's Carnival, so we were expecting it to be loud. Most rooms were. We were just on the Carnival Liberty in February. This ship is laid out nearly the same. Deck 5 is the way across the entire ship. I found the inside temperatures to be comfortable. Often they are too air conditioned. We were on a family cruise so we did not partake in many things we would normally do. The library is very small and has only 1 large table for card games. There needs to be both a library (quiet) room and a game room. We often wanted to play cards and there is no place on the ship other than the library that you can play cards on. On the Lido Deck you can push marble tables together if you are Hercules (very heavy) but the cards slip between the edges.
The west coast used to be known for above average entertainment. Our last Carnival cruise on the Liberty had far better shows, singers and dancers and it was on the east coast. We went to the first show and the dancers were off and the singing was very mediocre at best. We never returned. If you cruise solely for entertainment, try NCL (Jean Ann Ryan Company) - I hear Princess is a cut above as well.
We did like the adult comedy shows on the last 2 nights. The comedians are contracted for short periods of time.
The poolside music was unbearable. Talking, playing cards, forget it. Every announcement the cruise director made (Todd) was blasted through the ship at ear piercing decibels.
And while I am talking about entertainment - I will throw in the so called entertainment in the dining room. Again... I like having a little fun. But the cruise lines (nearly all of them) have some how gotten the idea that we passengers love to see waiters don silly costumes and jump up on the pedastals they use to rest the dining trays and dance to REALLY LOUD music. The maitre' d (female) would, nightly, announce .... it's SHHHHHHHHOOOOOOOWTIME. Sometimes twice a night if you happened to be arriving to ANYTIME DINING a little late. Right in between your soup and your salad, all waitstaff disappears for 10 minutes of dancing and carrying on.
This section in itself is the reason this was our last Carnival Cruise. They boast something for everyone, but it's not true.. you cannot escape unless you want to spend $30 extra for dinner each night.
The room service menu is too limited.
The dining room menu is adequate. Again.. I cannot complain - I am going out to eat 21 times in 7 days. If I don't like it, I don't eat it. If I like it I order 2! I think Carnival does a decent job on the food. I miss the days of finer food. Every cruise line has cut corners and now charge for the really good food.
We had some very delicious chilled soups, dainty salads and appetizers. The meats were ok. Prime rib was thin and the Chateau Briand was tough. There was lobster one night, pork chop the next. Every night they offered "comfort food" .. I know many people will like this who are not accustomed to small plate "fine" dining.
One of our waitresses Beeza (spelling?) at the back of the Black Pearl did an outstanding job taking care of us. We had 13 people at the table many nights including 3 toddlers who were tired every night. She gave them crayons and coloring books and helped accommodate us in every way.
Lido food is also good and ample. The line for the mongolian BBQ is very very slow. 45 minutes in line to get a noodle bowl. Never had pizza, never had sushi (although one of our party ended up with food poisoning or a 24 stomach flu after eating there. No way to pin point where it happened. We were also in Cabo that day and she ate on shore. She was attended to very well by the medical staff, given meds to get through it and even quarrantined to her cabin for 24 hours until they could determine it was only a bug and not something communicable. She was feeling better by the time we got to Vallarta and able to enjoy a day at port. Surprisingly, no charge for the office visit or meds.
Our Cabin was perfect. Bernard was patient and accommodating in every way. We had 3 kids who were on paper supposed to be in 3 cabins but all wanted to be with their parents. Bernard made up each room each night and although we asked him to make up a bed for 3 little ones in their parents room, he could not. We totally understood and took it upon ourselves to move the little mattress over to the parents room each night and back each morning. The kids created an explosion of mess in the cabin every day and every day they went in and cleaned it up multiple times. Nightly towel animals are always fun, but it's a pleasure arriving to a well kept room. Thanks Bernard .... ask for a raise!
Non existant - Try Holland America for that.
Fitness & Recreation:
Two of our group used the SPA and got the week long package of the thermal suites and the mud treatment for two. They really enjoyed it.
I was very disappointed there was no steam room for the general public like there usually is. There was a dry sauna with a window facing the ocean but no steam room.
There are 5 hot tubs on board. 2 aft adults only (never hot enough) and 2 on deck 10 enclosed by glass above the Lido deck and 1 at the base of the slide. Needless to say, we did not get in these hot tubs as they were bubbling over with toddlers most of the time.
Around the ship:
Here's a challenge.... try finding a garbage can. Anywhere. They had many recycling bins around but nothing for garbage.. you know... ice cream cones, paper etc.
Value for the $$$:
Cruising is still the best value for any vacation. Carnival costs a little bit less than others.
Lido area and cruise director TOO LOUD
Bath towels TOO SCRATCHY
Everywhere NO GARBAGE CANS
Serenity Deck - Should not be below flying golf balls from above & needs more bar service
Attentive wait staff
Fabulous cabin stewards
Complimentary espresso and cappuccino in the restaurant
Serenity Deck very comfortable. All chairs should be like this.
We had a wine package for $130 for 5 bottles. Decent table wines and a good price.
FYI: If sailing out of Long Beach Harbor and it's raining on departure or arrival day ... YOU WILL GET WET
If you have any other specific questions feel free to email me.