ALOHA. First let me start by saying I LOVED this Cruise! I have been on almost 20 cruises and this one was one of the best. What made it one of the best for me was of course the destination (HAWAII) and it was even better going during ... Read More
ALOHA. First let me start by saying I LOVED this Cruise! I have been on almost 20 cruises and this one was one of the best. What made it one of the best for me was of course the destination (HAWAII) and it was even better going during the Christmas holiday and of course the ship was decorated for the holidays. Carnival Splendor had a Christmas show on one of the last nights and three formal dinner nights, although we were told before the cruise there would only be two so this was an added bonus. I have been to Honolulu, Hawaii, by flight, before for a one week stay years ago and loved it but have always wanted to see the other major islands so when I saw this cruise I just had to book it. Also, another one of the sailing points for me was the 4 sea days going and coming from and to LA. I love being on the ocean, I believe it’s the Cancer in me. My first cruise was 4 days just to see if I liked it, and to see if I would get sea sick. Since then I have been increasing the days with this one being 14 days, the longest I have ever been on. I realize that I am lucky because not matter how rough the seas I have never been sea sick. So my advice for those who have never been on a cruise but is curiosity is to take a short 2, 3, or 4 day cruise to see if they like it first, and/or don’t get sea sick.
Now back to this cruise. I have always enjoyed reading reviews of those who have taken a cruise I am interested in or one I have gone on myself. With this cruise there were a number of negatives reviews that I read that I disagreed with but I will only focus on only a few. First, was the color of the décor on the ship. Pink. People actually complained about the color of the ship having a lot of pink in it. I didn’t find this to be a problem at all and thought it was a nice touch which didn’t upset my eyes at all. I even waited until the 3rd day to bring up to my friend if the color bothered her which she said until I mentioned it she never really notice.
Next, was the complain of the 8 total sea days which really caught me by surprise because unless someone kidnapped you and took you on a cruise without telling you how long and how many days it would take you to sail from LA to Hawaii didn’t you know how long and how many sea days there were before you booked it. They complained that there were not enough things to do on the 8 sea days which is crazy because anyone who’s been on a cruise know that there are a lot of things to do on a cruise. I believe that some people feel the needs to have someone else entertain them 24/7 and if they are not then they get bored. Me on the other hand, I can entertain myself. Give me a good book and the view of the ocean and I’m good to go. There are plenty of activities every hour, the pool, a gym, shows, comedy, gambling, shopping, meeting new people, etc, and of course there’s the none stop food.
And as for the food complainers, if you order or get something you don’t like just get something else until you find something you like, it’s all included in the price. Two of the highlights of the ship were the Punchline Comedy Club and the Dive in Movies under the stars. There were 4 comedians who were all very funny and had a standing room only crowd every night. Word got around pretty fast that if you wanted a seat to get there very early. At night if the weather was cool or raining they would close the roof on the 9th floor pool deck when showing a movie, which also was a big hit with the guest. So I never understood how people say that sea days are boring especially on this ship. You are on vacation so just relax because many people can’t take a nice vacation such as this and enjoy a nice slow cruise around the holidays to and around the Hawaiian Islands.
Finally, the short stay on the four Hawaiian Islands. Once again, didn’t you read the itinerary when you booked the cruise? A cruise is like a nice buffet where you get to taste a little of everything and see what it is that you love the most. That’s what this cruise was. A little taste of Maui, Honolulu, Kona, Hilo and Ensenada, Mexico and if you like one you can always come back to stay longer.
The only problem I had with the ship or the cruise was 1) the placement of the casino and 2) our last island stop in Ensenada, Mexico. I never understood why many cruises place the casino in the middle of the ship where to get from one end to another you have to walk through the smoke filled casino or go a level up or down just to get around the smoke. Also, there should be a second smoke free casino on the opposite side of the ship for those who don’t smoke and want to gamble. Smoke free sections in a casino fill with smokers don’t work because smoke travels. As for Ensenada, Mexico I read the itinerary as to why they have to stop there on the way back to CA but just wish the stop was longer because we didn’t get there till 3pm and had to be back on the ship by 7pm. It would be nice if there was a way to get us there earlier without taking any time away from the last Hawaiian island. It didn’t leave much time to enjoy the island but we were on vacation so we made the best of it.
I realize that people are different and that there is “Different Stokes for Different Folks” but I do believe that some people are just complainers, no offense, but you are on vacation on a nice cruise relax and enjoy. My motto is if I didn’t get sea sick, food poisoning, my room was kept clean; the weather was decent most of the time (which this one was), the showers work, the toilets didn’t over flow and the ship didn’t sink, then it was a great cruise. Everything else is icing on the cake. I would definitely recommend this cruise if you don’t have a problem with the 8 sea days, which I loved. Carnival Splendor is smaller than some of the newer bigger ships but it was well kept and the crew did a great job of keeping it up and taking care of the passengers. The staff was great and I even noticed that the crew director (Lee) gave extra attention to a special needs child though out the cruise. Also, they had a Naturalist onboard that gave a few lectures on the culture, history and nature that makes Hawaii unique who was very good and hula dancing lessons.
Finally, for anyone who thinks I must work for Carnival cruise line because of the rave review you would be wrong because although I love Carnival it is not my favorite cruise line, it’s my second favorite, but I have to be honest and say I Loved this Hawaiian cruise and can’t wait until I can do it again. But I have other places to check off my Bucket List first so the destination sometimes decides which cruise line I chose, and right now I have to change my Cuba cruise due to American cruise ships being banned from visiting there last month. But that’s a whole different story for another time…
Our first stop was Maui, which was great, a dream come true but my advice is to have a excursions planned with a pick up at the dock before you leave the ship because many of us, I guess to save money or to just to do something on our own, just decided to walk to a public bus stop (about a mile away) and take a bus ride around the city and find some place to go and do. There were hundreds of us storming off the ship with little knowledge of where we were going just happy to be on land after 4 days at sea. Once at the bus stop we learned that the buses ran every half an hour or hour and were small. We all must have made a strange sight to the Maui residents. The look on the face of the first bus driver when he stop to pick us up was priceless, LOL, and to make matters worse he had to write every bus ticket by hand. Of course the bus couldn’t take all of us so many had to wait for other buses. After four full buses we took the bus to the Kaahumanu Mall which was only about 2 miles away. We walked around the mall and did some shopping for a couple hours then made it back to the ship to have lunch before our Carnival excursion later that evening. The Drums of the Pacific Luau excursion picked us up at the ship for about a 45 minute ride to Hyatt Regency Hotel. The drive gave us a nice view of the island while the sunset on our way to the luau. For about $150 we saw a great Luau which included an all you could eat Polynesian cuisine with unlimited drinks, which is why I chose this one over the one the next day in Honolulu. Our group from the cruise ship wasn’t near the front, which was for the hotel guest, but we could still see and enjoy the show because our area and the stage was elevated. I believe the price was well worth it.
As luck would have it we arrived in Honolulu on December 7 which is the worst day to try to visit Pearl Harbor and the Arizona to pay our respects to those who died there if you are on a tight schedule, 9 am until 10 pm, in Oahu that day. Plus we found out the inside was close for remodeling. Traffic in Honolulu was awful and from the docks to Pearl Harbor it was really horrible which is too bad because I wanted to show my friend the historic monuments. But we promised to come back one day and spend more time seeing more of Oahu. So we decided to just go in the opposite direction towards downtown, walk around, shop and spend the afternoon on Waikiki beach which was only a few mile away from the docks. On leaving the ship Maui Diver Jewelry was offering a a free ride into the city if we just take a visit to their store and watch a presentation on how they make their jewelry. They are famous for their pearls. We took the ride to the store which was nice but we were not in the market for pearl jewelry that day so we finish the ride to downtown Honolulu and took the short walk to the beach. It was a perfect day to be on the beach, work on our tan, and take some great pictures of the ocean, Diamond Head and shop. For lunch we ate at Duke’s Barefoot Bar and Restaurant on the beach and just had a wonderful day. Once the sun set we took the public bus back to the ship which took awhile because rush hour traffic was still bad leaving downtown in that direction.
In Kona we had to take a tender (small boat) from the ship to the island because the ship was too big to dock there. It was quick and well organized and the great thing about it was as soon as we got off we were at Niumalu Beach, Kailua Bay which had a nice shopping area. So we just walked around sightseeing and shopping. Kona is famous for their coffee, something about the soil, so there were a number of stores offering it and a few giving free readymade samples to taste. I’ve never been a coffee drinker but my friend loved it and brought a few bags. There was a flea market, a number of stores and restaurants that we visited which was about a one mile walk but once again it was a beautiful day to walk. We stopped and had lunch, lobster, shrimp, and crab legs at the Waterfront Row’s Captain Jack’s restaurant which was good right on the ocean. There was a long line at the docks to catch a tender back to the ship but once again it was well organized and went fast.
At Hilo once again there was a few private companies offering excursions as soon as we got off the ship so we took one that offered a tour of the town with a few stops. The first was a black sand beach then the Big Island Candy Company which is famous for their gourmet candies which gave us free samples. Next we went to Mauna Loa Macadamia Company where once again we had free samples and bought a few bags. It was the first day where although it was still warm it was cloudy and rain a little. But still a nice day.
I read the reasoning as to why the ship had to stop at Ensenada on the way back to CA and had no problem with it because I saw it as visiting another island before arriving back in LA. My only complaint like many others on the ship was we wished the stop was longer because we didn’t get there till 3pm and had to be back on the ship by 7pm. It didn’t leave much time to enjoy the island. It would be nice if there was a way to get us there earlier without taking any time away from the last Hawaiian island. Still we took a cruise arranged excursion to the top of a mountain at La Bufadora to see Ensenada’s Blowhole which was nice but by the time we got there the sun was setting so we wasn’t able to enjoy it or take any good pictures. The guide and driver was going to stop at a famous Margarita bar on the way back but because of the traffic and a couple arriving late back to the bus, even though the guide gave us the time when to be back to the bus, at the blowhole we were late leaving. There was a shopping area at the dock and at the blowhole so we all were able to do a little shopping before boarding the ship for the continental U.S.
Mahalo Read Less