Carnival Splendor January 8th -- 15th
After many months of anticipation and planning, it was finally our time to sail on the Carnival Splendor to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary! Since they say a picture is worth 1,000 words, I have posted a link to our pics! Enjoy :)
Day 1- Embarkation
We arrived at the Port of Long Beach at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 8th. After dropping our luggage with the porters, we stood in a very short line of no more than 10 people and proceeded through the entrance of the building. Once inside, we quickly went through the security check set-up our S&S account, got our picture taken and were on the ship by 1:50 p.m. Out of our 4 cruises, this was by far the easiest and fastest embarkation process.
As we boarded the Splendor, we were taken back by her grandeur and beauty. Yes, the main theme of her dÃ©cor is pink circles with zebra; however, it never bothered us whatsoever! Once on board we took the main lobby glass elevators up to the upper deck and to our surprise, they had just opened the doors to the staterooms.
As we walked to our cabin, we realized how big the Splendor was! After walking, for what seemed to be forever, we arrived at our far aft extended balcony cabin # 6448. This cabin is amazing. The L-shape design gives this room a super spacious feel and the extended balcony was awesome! The only negative thing about this cabin (at least for me because I am extremely prone to sea sickness) is the direction of the bed and the movement of the aft. Every other balcony cabin we've had, the bed faces front to back, thus, you roll side to side in bed. This bed faces the balcony, thus your head is constantly going up and down and what I would describe as "around".... which I am guessing is due to the aft location! Since I start taking my meds 2 days prior to sailing, I did not get sick; however, the movement was a little difficult to get accustomed to.
We quickly unpacked our carry-ons and headed up to the Lido deck to grab some lunch. The Lido deck was crowded, so we opted to try the Rotisserie (up from the main Lido buffet area). This area was actually quiet and the food was absolutely amazing! This ended up being one of our favorite places to eat throughout the week. After eating, we headed down the main pool area, where I got a henna tattoo for $10.00. We then enjoyed our 1st drink of the day and set off to explore the ship. The ship is beautiful, well maintained and very clean!
Note: Just as we had read, the layout of this ship is somewhat tricky to maneuver (especially when compared with the Spirit, where every floor goes front to aft). It does take some getting used to, especially getting to the bottom floor of the Black Pearl Dining Room for anytime dining. Many times, it felt like we were in a maze, going up, down and around; however, by day 3, we found a way to eliminate the hassle and simply just walked the upper deck hall to the Splendor lobby elevators.
Once we were done exploring the ship we headed back to our cabin where we found our luggage had already been brought inside by our cabin steward (although we had not met him yet). As we unpacked our clothing, a chocolate cake was delivered by the bon voyage department. Even though we were still full from lunch, we figured what the heck and took a little bite. It was very good.... my only complaint was that it did not come with a cover and although I left our cabin steward a note requesting one, it never arrived. So on the afternoon of Day 2 we ended up throwing it out ?
As we finished unpacking our suitcases it was now time for the safety drill~ this was the first of the 3 times that we saw our cabin steward the entire trip. As we stood in Zone H, we noticed that our zone was quite small, in fact there were less than 20 people total, compared to the massive amounts of people in the other zones. The drill went smooth and was very fast and it was finally time to set sail!!!
Not long after the Splendor set sail, the sun was setting and the view of Long Beach was breathtaking. In the distance we could see Catalina Island and a Disney cruise ship (I think it was the Wonder) that actually ended up cruising close to us all the way down to Mexico. After checking out the remainder of the ship, we got changed and headed up to the Black Pearl for our first experience with anytime dining. Upon arriving for dinner, there was a small line, maybe 10 minutes. Once we checked in with the desk, we were then asked to step to the side where we waited another 15 minutes. Finally, we were directed to our table. All in all the dining process took about 2 hours that night.... we just figured it was due to embarkation.
After dinner we headed up to the Morocco Lounge where they had karoke and Superstar Live! After singing a few songs in Karoke it and hearing the same guy over and over sing Frank Sinatra.... it was finally time for Superstar Live.... I put in a song and was surprised when I was the first person called to sing with the band! Holy smokes was it fun ? We then headed to the disco where we ended up dancing until around 2 a.m.
Day 2- Sea Day
We awoke on Day 2 around 8:00 a.m. and got ready for the CC meet & greet in the Golden Pearl Dining Room at 9:30 a.m. Once we arrived at the dining room, we gave the code word "swordfish" which was what our group had agreed upon. When we said this, the staff looked at us like we were crazy. They told us we were more than welcome to walk around the dining room and try to locate our group~ Gee thanks Carnival! Needless to say, we did not find the CC group; however, we did enjoy breakfast in the Golden Pearl. The food was okay~ very continental. Service was a little slow. We decided that the buffet was a far better option for us in the morning.
After we ate, we headed up to the Lido deck, got some chairs and enjoyed cruising down to Mexico. Throughout the day there were plenty of activities going on and if you got bored, you could always go and hang out by the aft pools on the Lido deck and watch the drunken fools in the hot tubs!!!
Tonight was the first elegant night and we love getting all done up!! Since we were celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary, we got a little more dressed up than many and ended up getting some beautiful pictures! So worth the hassle of finding the right color tie to match my bright coral dress ? Our only complaint about tonight was again, the service for anytime dining. The entire process took just under 3 hours, which is way too long and frankly not acceptable. We noticed that once we sat down, our waiter did not arrive to take our orders until several of the other tables around us filled up. Thus, we ended up getting our food the same time as the other people who had waited nearly 1 hour less than us. To make matters worse, the bread was hard, my soup was cold and there were slivers of shell throughout my lobster, making it inedible. Rather than waiting for a different plate, I opted to advise the maitre d' desk of our dissatisfaction and grabbed a slice of pizza on our way back to the cabin.
After dinner we changed our clothes and headed out for karoke and the disco....... which ended up becoming our evening ritual, followed by a 3 a.m. pizza nightcap ? We met some really nice people, who we ended up hanging out with throughout the cruise!
Day 3- Cabo
We awoke early to make sure that we got an early tender and ended up with Zone 2. I can't remember what time the tenders started; however by 9:30, they were already at Zone 15 or so, thus we slipped into that group and were on shore by 9:45 a.m. (10:45 Cabo time). We headed straight to Senor Frogs for our pre-Pez Gato shot of tequila and spent the rest of the afternoon on the Pez Gato, where we went snorkeling at Santa Maria Bay. Being frequent Pez Gato sailors, we were pleasantly surprised when Melanie presented us with a nice bottle of wine for our anniversary. These guys really know how to have a good time and in our opinion, they are one of the best tour operators in Cabo! Once off the Pez Gato, we returned to the marina area where we strolled around and sat at Senor Frogs and people watched! Once back on the ship, we ate dinner on the Lido and then headed out for our evening of fun!
Day 4 -- Cabo
Today we opted to sleep in a little bit before heading into Cabo. We were onshore around 10:30 a.m. and had a nice relaxing day walking through Cabo and eventually to Medano Beach where we went to Billigan's and had a great lunch and some drinks. The prices were pretty good and the host was awesome. He really got the crowd involved with the contests, etc. We then took a water taxi back to the Marina for $2.50 per person. Once back on ship, we decided to give anytime dining another try and headed back to the Black Pearl. Tonight, the line was much shorter (maybe due to being in Cabo) and the service was much better. Since typically we never complain about anything while on the cruise, we have to admit that tonight's experience was far better than the others... whatever the reasoning, we were quite pleased that CCL took our complaint seriously and made sure the problem was corrected.
After dinner, we did karoke, the piano bar and the disco, followed by our evening ritual ?
Day 5- Puerto Vallarta
We awoke this morning to the boat shuttering, as the captain backed it into port in P.V. It's actually quite amazing that they are able to back this large of a vessel into such a tiny spot! Once the boat was docked, we enjoyed breakfast sitting on our balcony and watching all of the activity down in the courtyard area, including the sea lion picture opportunity that did not make me very happy ? We sat and watched them cart that creature back and forth to a truck (I am guessing for water breaks) in between photo opportunities for the tourists.
We got off the ship around 11:00 a.m. and walked to the Mundo Nogalito office for our zipline adventure! The directions given were 100% accurate and the M.N. office was surprisingly nice. Once everyone in our group arrived, we hopped into this safari looking truck and headed on our journey across town to Mundo Nogalito! The grounds were breathtaking and the ziplining was awesome! 12 ziplines total..... including a tandum line where husband and I raced to the finish! The guides were very professional and informative. The tequila tasting was excellent and lunch at the restaurant was delicious! We spent the remainder of the day shopping in P.V. people watching, and taking in the culture. It was a very fun and memorable day!
We again returned to the Black Pearl around 8:30 p.m. and had a wonderful dinner as we set sail from P.V.
Day 6 -- Sea Day
Today we slept in and enjoyed breakfast in bed. We had a lazy day, relaxing watching movies in our cabin and laying out in the sun on our balcony. Tonight was the 2nd formal night and the past guest party. As we were getting ready we had an incident that I was, and am still, furious about as I type it. While sitting at the vanity, doing my hair and make-up in nothing but my anniversary suit, I heard keys (yes, they were actual keys like on a key ring) outside of our door. Since cabin #6450 is also off the little atrium, I didn't think too much about it~ until I heard the key go into the keyhole of our door!!! It happened so fast, that I couldn't even get words out of my mouth. As I jumped up from the vanity and over the bed, my eyes met an unfamiliar male's eyes. My husband happened to be walking out of the bathroom and was like "what the heck". We then heard a faint "I'm sorry ma'am". My heart was racing so fast and I was so furious that I could not see straight. Since when does any service member of CCL enter a passenger stateroom without knocking first!!!!
We finished getting dressed and headed to dinner. Throughout dinner, my husband was telling me to let it go, but I simply could not. Upon finishing dinner we went to guest services and made them aware of the incident. At first they told me it was impossible as this was a "keyless" ship and that there were only 2 people on the ship with actual keys. After I insisted they were keys and that I had heard them go into the key hole, I was asked to hold on and a different person came to the desk. After a few minutes we were asked if we had gone 2 days without our cabin being serviced~ at first I responded NO, because we had our evening turn-down service, but we were then advised that our cabin had been "red-flagged" due to the "Snoozin" sign being up 2 consecutive days in the afternoon. Thus, a CCL service member had reported it, at which time the "master of arms" had to clear the red flag. While I am thankful that CCL is watching out for our safety and making sure that we were still alive, for the life of me, I will never understand why they did not knock before entering. I found this to not only be unacceptable, but also humiliating. When I asked about filing a formal complaint, I was told by guest services that I could fill out the guest survey that would arrive via email within 7 days of our cruise. Really??
Despite the unfortunate events of earlier in the evening, we did manage to make our usual outings.... karoke, piano bar and the disco, followed by our pizza nightcap ?
Day 7 -- Sea Day
When we woke up this morning we realized that our vacation was nearing an end ? We spent today up on the Lido deck hanging out with our new friends, catching some sun and then played miniature golf and enjoyed the Serenity area. Still not sure what they were thinking to put the miniature golf course above it, but it is a very nice play to get away if you want to catch some peace from the rest of the partying fools on the ship.
After dinner, we packed our suitcases and set them outside of our cabin as instructed. We then headed up for our ritual of evening activities and exchanged contact information with all of our new friends! After dancing until 2 a.m., we headed for our last slice of pizza and off to bed.
It was cold and cloudy when we arrived back at Long Beach. We were Zone 3 and were off the ship by 8:30 a.m. and in the car by 9:00 a.m. Again, this could not have gone any smoother.
Despite a few small hiccups, overall this was one of the best vacations we've ever taken. We are already in the process of booking our next family cruise on the Splendor in January 2013 ?