Editor's Note: Splendour of the Seas will leave the Royal Caribbean fleet in spring 2016 and be transferred to Thomson Cruises, where it will sail as TUI Discovery.
Splendour of the Seas is packed with an endless supply of entertainment and relaxation options ... for a ship of its size. Close to 70,000 tons and housing 1,830 passengers (based on double occupancy), it's among Royal Caribbean's smallest and oldest vessels in a fleet dominated by humongous mega-ships that sport ice-skating rinks, indoor malls and onboard surf parks. Yet, a 2011 refurbishment has helped Splendour stay modern, adding more balconies, several alternative dining options taken from Oasis and Allure of the Seas, a pool deck movie screen and a new seven-story Centrum lobby featuring a made-over bar and aerial acrobatic shows.
The ship is also embracing 21st-century technology trends. Every cabin comes with an iPad (to borrow, of course) that passengers can use to check their bar bills, order midnight munchies to their cabins, surf the Web and make reservations at the previously mentioned extra-fee restaurants. New digital "Wayfinder" signage with large touchscreens is posted by the elevators, allowing the lost to get directions around the ship, the bored to find upcoming activities, the hungry to access restaurant menus and the "just drank one beer too many" to find the closest loo.
Other highlights include an 18-hole miniature golf course, RCI's signature rock-climbing wall, a family pool area, plus an adults-only Solarium, and various theaters and lounges.
One thing to note is that the ship has a split personality. Most of the year, the ship offers the quintessential Royal Caribbean experience, one aimed at fun-loving Americans and international passengers of all ages. But, when the ship repositions to South America for the winter months, the onboard ambience shifts a bit to cater to a majority of Brazilian travelers -- though still in RCI style.
Ultimately, Splendour has several things going for it: a good balance of size and amenities, itineraries beyond the standard Caribbean jaunts and updates to keep it from feeling old. Do you really need to cruise with 6,000 people to have a good time? Splendour says no way.