OK let me make this easy by bullet pointing the highlights and low-lights of the cruise and sharing our experience of common complaints aboard the Splendor:
1. Embarkation and debarkation were both very easy. Yes, it was very crowded, but they are boarding 3500 people!! There was no confusion or Carnival employees yelling as others have stated. It was very organized and we were on the ship in about an hour. We did self assist to debark and that was very fast and efficient.
2. Food: If you can't find something to eat on this ship, you are a major food snob!! I would describe myself as upper middle class, highly educated and a well-rounded traveler. I enjoy the finer things but am unpretentious and can enjoy just about anything. None of the food was amazing, that is to be sure. But there are a TON of options. There is just food everywhere and most of it is at the very least acceptable. Some of it is very good. The pizza was great, as was the Indian buffet. We were never hungry or unsatisfied to be sure!!
3. Ports: Great!! We spend the day at The Sand Bar on Medano Beach. It was very laid back and the food was great! The kids LOVED it! We also went parasailing from a friendly vendor on the beach. All vendors are pleasant and non-aggressive. The 2nd day we did a whale watching cruise with Pez Gato. HIGHLY recommend this company!!! Then my daughter and I got massages at this little parlor b the Wyndam for only 25.00 for a full hour! I am a massage snob and this was one of the best in my life!! Spa LuLu I think it was called. They were GREAT. In PV we went to the zoo so the kids could feed animals and hold baby tigers. It was a very neat experience. We ate lunch at the River Cafe, a favorite of DH and mine, and walked along the Malecon. Great day.
4. Entertainment: Great entertainment staff. Lots of activities and shows every day. My middle daughter LOVED Circle C, my youngest liked Camp Carnival and the oldest (17) refused to go to the teen club. Overall, Carnival does a really excellent job with the kids clubs. I was impressed.
5. Service: Great!! Every once in a while you encounter someone who is busy and doesn't smile at you, but seriously, get over it. Most staff and very friendly and accommodating. Our room steward knew all 5 of us by name on the first day. He was phenomenal.
Here are a few other tips: the soda cards (bottomless bubbles) is a HUGE rip off!!!!! 220.00 for my family of 5. We drank maybe 20.00 worth of soda tops. I can't imagine anyone drinking enough to make that worthwhile. Don't do it!!
My husband and I LOVED the spa. We had unlimited access because we had spa rooms. I'm hooked and we will only do spa rooms from here on out! Well worth the money! We also did the Rasul mud room and it was really neat.
And now for the Caveat: This ship rocked incessantly from the time we turned north at Puerto Vallarta. The last 36 hours were BRUTAL and I was bedridden and vomiting the last 12 hours. The staff said this is normal for this itinerary, which will keep me from ever doing a MR cruise again. It was my 4th cruise and 1st time ever being sick. LOTS of passengers were sick that last day. It was truly awful.
In closing, I would sail Carnival again, but only with my family. The clientele is mostly families with kids, and obnoxious young adults there to get drunk and be rowdy. If you fit in one of those categories, you will have a great time. If you want something romantic or relaxing or a little upscale, this is not the cruise for you.