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7 Night Mexican Riviera Cruise from Los Angeles

7 Night Mexican Riviera Cruise from Los Angeles

Carnival Splendor
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Carnival Splendor

Cruise Critic Editor Rating:
1,269 reviews
Why Choose Carnival Splendor?


Have fun and unwind with comedy acts, lively shows, a huge spa and great kids' programming


Pink-splashed ship decor can border on tacky, and staterooms could use an upgrade

Bottom line

This "Fun Ship" delivers with ample activities and entertainment, at great-value pricing

Cruise Reviews

Sail Date: May 2018
This was a 7 day cruise to Cabo, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta, MX. It was our Son's first cruise, with his fiancé, to have a marriage ceremony in Cabo, MX. It was a great trip! We left from the Long Beach, CA port ... Read More
This was a 7 day cruise to Cabo, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta, MX. It was our Son's first cruise, with his fiancé, to have a marriage ceremony in Cabo, MX. It was a great trip! We left from the Long Beach, CA port terminal. It was one of the easiest flow patterns we have experienced for embarkation & disembarkations. We were surprised they didn't use the big screen TV to show the zones that were being called off to disembark the last morning of the cruise and we had a hard time understanding the microphone announcements. Another improvement at disembarkation could be to inform passengers that porter service is available as soon as you go to pick up your bags. We struggled with three bags and as we made it through part of the line up until I noticed porters were taking in carts to help other people. I asked a line attendant about it and she immediately helped us move our bags back into the baggage area & had a porter come take them for us. Kudos to Carnival. Dining- We were told when booking that the wedding party (14 of us) would have tables near each other. When we each picked up our cabin keys, only 7 of us had a table together. I immediately went to see the Maître' D. Even after explaining this was a wedding party that had been told the seating was taken care of , the maître' d was not much help in sorting it out, telling us to gather that evening and see what would happen. It was a mess. A table for 8 but nothing near for the other 6! Eventually an assistant worked out a table across the walkway from us for the rest of the week. Very poor on their part. We did dining room at 5:45 each evening in the Gold Pearl upstairs. The food was okay but not up to par every night. However, there was a great selection to be had each evening. I could always find something that was great on the menu. Waite staff- Elmer was our head waiter. He was a great addition to the "family". Turns out he knows a bit about dancing too!! He and his amazing crew were very attentive to our needs at every meal and are the 'unsung' heroes of this ship. We were very impressed that he could keep track of us along with having to perform dance routines during our meal. One of us ordered milk with dinner the first night and from then on there was milk on the table at every dinner. Not to mention he remembered our names and called us by name while serving us. VERY impressive! We can't say enough about Elmer!! Entertainment - The "spectacular" stage shows were OK - some better than others. They were more fun than "spectacular". We've had better entertainment on 'newer' ships. The cruise director was "insane" (in a good way), his energy level cannot be duplicated on any other ship! Port at Cabo- It was a scare when the wedding party was not given priority off loading with the tenders as we were lead to believe. Made us late to the wedding location. We held the wedding in Cabo so did not do much sightseeing. Our wedding party had grown to 18 as some family members had flown into Cabo to meet up with us there. My wife and I sponsored the luncheon at the Hacienda Cocina y Cantina . The restaurant sits along Medano Beach near the Marina entrance and overlooking the cruise ship anchored in port. Wonderful setting. The manager and the 6 waiters that were assigned to our group did not miss a beat. Edwin was the Managers name. The food was outstanding. At the end of the meal Edwin asked me to have the group hang around just a few more minutes. I have to mention there were several levels of seating arrangements having steps getting into each level. Even a reflection swimming pool off to the side of the tables. Looking up a couple of levels we see several of the wait staff hauling a Hacienda vendor ice cream cart down the flights of stairs, heading to our table. It was full of fresh ice creams made there on site by the Hacienda staff. You could tell it was not the norm for them to bring the cart into the seating area. What a treat. I can't say enough about this facility and the attention they gave us. Thanks Edwin! Port of Mazatlán - I enjoyed the docking process as much as the city. The ship comes into a narrow channel and then docks in between the container ships. The ground team took only a few minutes to set up the receiving. We booked the "Deer Island Beach Escape with BBQ lunch" excursion. What a wonderful set up they have. A newer bus ride with A/C north to the dock where a 50' trimaran took us out into the bay and over to the island. A couple of us also added the kayak portion of the outing. Lots of music and all you can eat or drink! The only drawback to this set up is the difficulty getting in and out of the trimaran at the beach area and then back in at the end of the day. You have to get into a smaller runaround boat which sits in the water a lot lower than the trimaran with no stool to assist you in dropping down into the smaller boat. So, when stepping back up into the trimaran they used an ice chest with a broken lid which we had to hold on to so others didn't slip. Really need a sturdy step stool to assist with getting in and out. Other than that it was a great venture and the staff were very attentive. Port of Puerto Vallarta - I loved the way they slipped into this port. Its a small docking area but can handle 3 ships at a time. They came in bow first then turned the ship a 180 right up to the dock! Impressive. Churned up the water & the birds went wild catching the fish that came up from the bottom. Puerto Vallarta was the cleanest port and city we visited. Easy off, and the tour buses were right there waiting for the excursion crowd. We booked the "Top Ten Best of Puerto Vallarta" excursion. Victor was our tour guide and did an excellent job of describing the sights as we moved along. Victor was born and raised in the old town area of Pitillal so knew the history of the area. Two churches, previous vacation home of Elizabeth Taylor, lots of local history. Lunch was not included but offered at a reasonable price at the El Set, a cliff top setting above the Bay of Banderas. What a wonderful view. I would return and stay there to enjoy the snorkeling and small beaches. Last stop was just up from the beach where "Night of the Iguana" was filmed to take photos "with' the live iguana for $$. The last stop was at a replica of a tequila distillery They covered the history of the small distillery and samples of their product were poured - excellent tequila. Attached was the retail shop. Our bus was modern with A/C and with very comfortable seats. There were several short stops to offload and then back on to move onto the next stop. We would use Victor to show us the area again! With that being said a few things that could be improved upon for this tour; water was not an item provided but should be as many of us are not used to the heat. There was not enough time to be "strolling" the market places before moving on to the next stop. The "walk the famous Malecon (boardwalk) " was no more than stopping in one spot to view a sculpture, then move across the street to see city hall and one church. The group was told to stay together so no one could venture out to find water or snacks. A few of us broke ranks and bought water, then rushed to catch up with the rest of the visitors. Of course, the most time was dedicated to visiting the "Taxco Exporta" a very high end, (great items,) silver jewelry store. From there we thought we were heading to a Market place, which turned out to be a gift shop attached to another "Taxco Exporta". Through it all we still had a great time. Ship "Photos, photos, photos" - Did we mention photos!? There are some great photographers located in every corner of the ship and at every port. We bought some of the pictures and would have bought more if the pricing was not so steep. I'm still amazed they don't tie the pictures in with your cabin number or have some way to gather the photos together from day-to-day and store them so at the end of the cruise all your photos are together in one spot. We overheard one couple ask "where are our photos" on the last day not realizing they were required to 'hunt' for them every day during the week, etc. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
This was my fourth cruise on Carnival, but I have also been on Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Holland America in the past. People talk about how Carnival kind of has the "party" ships, and that maybe the clientele is a little ... Read More
This was my fourth cruise on Carnival, but I have also been on Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Holland America in the past. People talk about how Carnival kind of has the "party" ships, and that maybe the clientele is a little more blue collar. That's perfect for me! Yes the decor on the Splendor is gaudy and seriously pink, and probably is due for an upgrade. But I kind of expect that sort of craziness from Carnival. Makes you feel like you're on vacation! The beds were different on this cruise in a good way. When I sat down it felt kind of like an air mattress, and I thought oh no. But somehow they were some of the most comfortable we've ever experienced. Yes the food is not as good as a 5 star restaurant. But for Pete's sake, they're cooking for literally thousands of people. It's pretty amazing to me that they do as well as they do. To me, it's great and there's tons of variety from burgers and pizza to steak and lobster. The lunch options are especially great because they add several specialty places. The BBQ was wonderful! People complain about the shows. Are they broadway quality? No! But for the price you're paying per day and getting a show included, c'mon it's pretty dang good. The dedication and enthusiasm of the performers was amazing! I'm really into live music, and have even complained about the quality of that in the past myself. This is one area where they have pleasantly improved. Stumbled across the "Make it a Double with a Twist" variety band early on, and made a point to catch them every chance we had after. Wow! Fantastic! Not to mention the Calypso music with a REAL steel drum player, a string trio and acoustic guitarist that also hit it out of the park and were easy on the eyes for both of us. The comedy is hit or miss. For me, this time it was a miss. Definitely got a few good belly laughs, but didn't need to go back to catch the second show from anyone on this particular cruise. There is always lots going on and my choices were always slanted by my own personal point of view, but I will say that it's shocking how great the movies are. They have first run movies that are literally still in the theater in some cases.I use the gym often and found it well very well equipped with a good variety and quantity of stations/treadmills/ellipticals, etc. Other highlights were the hairy chest and booty shaking contests! Carnival staff was wonderful as always. Don't know how they get a whole ship full of good people, but they do. This may be TMI, but there are a ton of restrooms easily available everywhere on the ship and they are kept impeccably clean! Ports of call were great. Have been to Cabo and Puerto Vallarta before, so knew what to expect and had a plan. We absolutely love the beautiful beaches, food and CHEAP drinks in these ports! They are wonderful places and the reason we knew them is we have chosen them both for stand alone vacations in the past. First time in Mazatlan. Explored the "Golden Zone", the malecon and the old town. All of it was beautiful and interesting. We found the people to be extremely friendly and helpful. Obvious that they really apprectiate the tourist dollars. We particularly had fun in the VW Thing open air taxis. The only disclaimer if you haven't been to Mexico, brace yourself to be completely assaulted by vendors if you're on a public beach. A polite "no gracias" will send them on their way, and maybe you want that Juan Deere t-shirt with a donkey on it without having to leave your beer and beach chair anyway. Embarkation and debarkation was pretty much as usual. Lots of standing in line and being patient. However on and off the ship at the ports was very fast and efficient. Oh and still no affordable wifi. *sigh* Carnival Hub app is a good start. I would recommend downloading it because you can access it for FREE to see all of the current happenings on the ship. However, we paid the extra $5 to allow chat which I thought would function like texting. Fail. My android wouldn't talk to her iPhone in different parts of the ship unless I messaged her first, and left the app open. Keep after it Carnival. You're close. Bottom line. Go on this cruise! Carnival Splendor delivers! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
Carnival needs to fire the head chef of this ship. I’m not even sure the food met the standards of a typical Denny’s restaurant. Bland and overcooked or undercooked or just plain stale, was what we found at every meal. ... Read More
Carnival needs to fire the head chef of this ship. I’m not even sure the food met the standards of a typical Denny’s restaurant. Bland and overcooked or undercooked or just plain stale, was what we found at every meal. The pinnacle steakhouse food (sides and appetizers) were done well but my New York steak, had so much gristle in it, it couldn’t be cut. The pinnacle steakhouse staff also has a very bad attitude. We made a reservation for two at 5:30 PM and arrived about 10 minutes early. We walked in the door and saw no one so we continued on into the dining room where we were met by a very rude female manager? who (non politely) told us to leave because they were having a meeting. She quickly ushered us out the door. When we were allowed back in and seated it was obvious that her attitude had set the mood with the servers who again were not friendly and polite and were obviously under trained. Everything they said was if it had been scripted. They knew the words but their actions showed it was forced. At the Lido buffet, other than the bussers and some of the servers, the staff was very mediocre at best. In the black pearl dining room, Even our headwaiter admitted that the food preparation was subpar. Entertainment. One of the song and dance shows was great but the other one (70s/80s/90s) was simply awful. It was so bad we were thinking that maybe there was something wrong with the speaker system which put the singing off key. It was a terrible production. Many of the staff on the ship left you with the impression they did not want to be there. Obvious very low morale. At this point I’m reconsidering ever sailing with carnival again. If it wasn’t for the fact that we have a family cruise coming up on one of their other ships Carnival would not be our choice. Read Less
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