My boyfriend and I traveled to Venice for the Greek Isles and Turkey cruise beginning October 25th. This was my fourth cruise (all with RC) and my boyfriend's first cruise. We had no problem taking the Number One bus to Venice, then ... Read More
My boyfriend and I traveled to Venice for the Greek Isles and Turkey cruise beginning October 25th. This was my fourth cruise (all with RC) and my boyfriend's first cruise. We had no problem taking the Number One bus to Venice, then we walked to the port from the bus station. Other members noted that there is a free shuttle that will take you from the bus station to the ship, but we never saw any such shuttle and weren't the only ones searching for it while we were there. The walk is fine - about 15 minutes - assuming you packed lightly. We had the same problem when we disembarked. I even asked an employee at the pursur's desk how we would recognize the shuttle after disembarking and she said it would be clearly labeled, but again, we never saw it and walked back in a light rain. Check-in was a little chaotic. Lots of personel standing around not really directing anyone where to go. I did notice that most of them were happy to get you signed up for the on-board soda program or cabin extras like champagne or robes, which of course is at an extra expense to the guest. Since I had printed my SeaPass in advance we had a very quick check-in once we located the correct line and were called up. Another reviewer mentioned that after you go through security there is another line (usually long) that turns out to be for your embarkation photo. This is the first of many, many times the RC photo staff will try and pull you aside to take your photo, which will cost you anywhere between $10 and $20 if you decide to purchase it later. I want to add here that I am generally very pleased with RC - hence the 4 cruises I have taken with them - but I find this constant photo jockeying to be extremely annoying, especially after a 14 hour flight. We opted out of getting the embarkation photo and walked right past all the other people waiting, then boarded the ship.
Departing from Venice - You really must be sure to go up on deck and watch as the ship leaves the city. This is an excellent way to view beautiful Venice and is particularly nice as the sun is just beginning to set. I have been to Venice before and we were fortunate enough to be able to stay in the city two days following the cruise, and I would recommend this to anyone with the warning that November is "flood month" in Venice, so you are likely to experience the effects of that. This cruise offered a one hour basic Italian class on the last day of the cruise, which is very helpful if you are going to stay in Venice. As with any cruise (especially overseas), it's also a good idea to fly in the day before and spend the night in the city. I say this because you never know when you might have a delayed flight, miss your connection, or as has happened to me before, the airport workers in your embarkation city could go on strike for a day and then you've missed your ship because you couldn't get there in time. Then you are responsible for getting to the next port to meet the ship. This is about as bad as you are imagining, so do yourself a favor and get to the city early if at all possible. Our stateroom - Our cabin was on Deck 6, which I think was a really good choice because it's about midway up the ship, with no loud clubs or running track above the middle section. We had an inside stateroom which was "large". I did notice it was larger than the regular staterooms on the ship and I thought the bathroom was adequate. I think it was worth the extra money to get a little extra space. If you've never cruised before, be aware that if you get an inside stateroom you will get NO natural light in your stateroom. This is great if you want to sleep like the dead, not great when you need to wake up and get going. Our stateroom attendant constantly kept the cabin clean. Every day he saw us and asked about our day and was generally very nice, and of course he made the "towel animals" for us. He took special care to notice which pillows we used or didn't, and left them on the bed accordingly. Now is the time I want to state that I have read several reviews on this website about the ship being dirty or messy, and from my experience this was completely untrue. Besides our room being kept so clean, I felt the dining areas were all well maintained and many times spotted crew members cleaning decks, the pools and other public areas. I also want to say that all of the crew we encountered were very nice, going out of their way to ask us if we needed anything, greeting us and smiling. This is typical of the cruises I have taken with RC. The ports - We were blessed with exceptional weather for late October, with the temperature ranging from 65 to about 73 degrees. Dubrovnic was nicer and more resort-like than one would suspect. We took the Trestno Gardens and Old Town excursion tour and enjoyed it very much. Our tour guide was personable and gave us enough time to enjoy the botanical gardens, which were fresh, cool and pleasant and a nice choice for a 10am excursion. Afterards we were taken by bus to Old Town and were given a tour of one of the goverment buildings and an old pharmacy before ending at the famous fortress walls. At this point you can either return to the ship with the bus or take another bus later for $5 per person. We chose to spend more time in Old Town and it was definitely worth the price. There are several nice little restaurants right in the center where you can enjoy decent seafood and relax. We also took a self guided tour of the wall for $10 each, which provided great views of the city. No problem catching the bus back. Kusadasi - We took the Ancient Ephesus tour and lucked out with a simply beautiful day of blue skies and a breeze. If you are interested in architecture at all this is a must. Again, fantastic tour guide and an audio tour complete with all the historical facts one could desire. It ended back in Kusadasi with a demonstration and explanation of the famous rug making process and opportunity to buy rugs if you can afford one, as well as some Turkish tea and a scone type pastry. I thought this was interesting, but although the rug store owner said they wouldn't pressure you to buy anything afterwards I had at least 3 employees approach me before making it out the door. This tour is also offered with lunch included for an additional charge. I have no idea what kind of lunch is included but we asked our tour guide if he could recommend a restaurant nearby serving good, authentic cuisine, and we took his recommendation and at at a place called Ikinci Bahar Cafe, about a 2 minute walk from the rug store. We had a fantastic meal complete with Turkish beer for about $30 for both of us. The restaurants and many shops accept credit cards and some accept euros (their currency is the Turkish lira). Afterwards we walked around in the bazaar area and purchased souveniers before returning to the ship. Santorini - OK, you know all the pictures you've ever seen of the beautiful Greek isles showing blue Mediterranean sea water (actually Adriatic) and white stucco buildings making up gorgeous towns? Those were very likely to have been taken in Santorini. Truly, it was beautiful. From the ship you are taken by tender boat to the shore, then you have to get up to the town itself, either by skylift at 3 or 4 euros each or walking or riding a donkey up a long, winding trail for free. We took the sky lift up and walked back down. I am very glad we didn't try to walk up - I am in good shape, but it's pretty steep and you will take at least 500 steps over 250 stairs alongside donkeys which (naturally) don't smell great and poop everywhere. Once you are up in the town, there are lots of shops and a decent archeological museum that we visited. We drank ouzo at a simply beautiful place right on the edge called Vertigo bar. No credit cards accepted here, but a great view of the ocean, your ship, more of the town and a nearby volcano. If you want to shop for jewelry this port had tons of beautiful items, not necesarily cheap though so be prepared to spend. I would love to return to Santorini, although it was fairly crowded and I can't imagine the heat and crowds in the high season. Corfu - We took the Achellion Palace and Old Town excursion. Achellion Palace is cook, worth the trip although our tour guide was only fair. Old Town is nice. Like Dubrovnik, there are lots of restaurants and places to shop. We had some great kabobs at a local restaurant, apparently typical of the island. There's also a nice park in front of the main area. We were left with enough time in Old Town to eat a nice lunch and shop around a view the city, which was nice. The food - I was pleased with the foods. The windjammer is good, about like a Chili's or TGIFridays as far as quality and offers plenty of selections. We ate in the dining room every night. A few nights they offered steak, but never lobster. Also, there was an Indian vegetarian offering every single night, so if you like Indian food you will enjoy this. I especially enjoyed the cold soups. For experienced cruisers: I noticed right away that they don't offer as many courses at dinner as I have previously enjoyed. There's an appetizer, entree with side dish and dessert. RC used to offer a salad also, but now the salads are in the appetizer section of the menu, not their own separate section. I have mixed feelings about this. Let's face it - no one ever starves to death on a cruise ship. Even with only 3 courses you will be full of food and have enjoyed a long leisurely dinner. However, some nights I wanted a salad and another appetizer and felt strange ordering both. Of course, they will bring you whatever, however much you want if you ask, but you will probably feel like a neon sign advertising gluttony if you order extras. Our service in the dining room by both our waiter and assistant waiter was great, as it has been with my other RC cruises.
Ship notes - I feel like I noticed more smoking areas on this ship than on other ships. For example, in the Schooner bar there are both smoking and non-smoking sections but they are literally about 1 foot apart, so you will definitely stink of smoke if go there, and of course the casino is smoke filled at all times. I don't know if the difference is that smoking in Europe is a lot more common/prevalant than in the U.S., and all my other cruises have departed from the U.S., or if this particular crowd of cruisers were just majority smokers, but if this bothers you then be prepared to deal with it. Also, I think the crew was only somewhat conscientious about keeping the adult areas child-free. This is in reference to the Solarium pool, where there is a sign posted that no children under 16 are allowed, and the Viking Crown Lounge, which is supposed to be 18 or up. One night we were in the lounge during "romantic hour", and had to deal with several little kids playing around in the dance floor while we were trying to slow dance. I think RC is a little too kid-friendly for those of us who are hoping for a romantic, majority adult cruise. I was told by an English cruiser that the week during which we cruised was a holiay week for most of Europe, so that might have explained the greater than expected number of children onboard. Sorry for those of you who have kids and are taking offense at this. Please understand that there are plenty of cruisers with well-behaved children in the appropriate areas onboard, and there are other parents who let their children literally run free all over the ship, cannonballing in the adults only pool and showing up on the dance floor at 1am. As at all other times, please be considerate of others and mindful of your children, for their safety as much as everything else. RC has a great children's program for multiple age groups that can be utilized almost anytime. Entertainment - We didn't see all the shows, but we enjoyed John Cristie's musical show and the Motown group. If you like Motown at all you will really like this. We also saw the final show featuring the RC singers and dancers and I thought they were pretty talented, although the costumes were a little much. Another bonus is that the theatre has really comfortable seats, but the bar service is quite slow there. You could wait anywhere between 5 and 25 minutes to get your drink. Spa - I didn't use the fitness center but I did have a great massage in the spa. I would recommend this for the last day of sea because then you end your cruise completely relaxed and happy. One more note on the excursions - While I enjoyed all 3 of the excursions I wasn't super pleased with getting to them. By this I mean that you are supposed to meet in a large area on the ship (such as the theatre)to meet your group and head to the port at a certain time. When you arrive at the meeting place, you should expect to see all of the people who registered for any excursion during that time of day, and it will take the two poor crew members a while to organize you all into specific groups. One morning we waited a full hour for our tour/group to be called, time which we would rather have spent eating breakfast, sleeping, you name it. When I have been on other RC cruises they had each tour meet in a different area, but I guess this demanded too many crew members for RC to use this practice on this ship. To wrap it up, my boyfriend and I really enjoyed the itinerary, the food and the ship. Splendour is indeed an older ship but she really is in good condition for her age, and we didn't choose the cruise for the ship, we chose it for the ports and my past experience with RC's good service. We were not disappointed with those things. We met several really nice travelers and generally everyone seemed to be having a good time. One of the couples we met said they have been on 20+ cruises and felt that this cruise met all their expectations. I guess I can understand hoping for a little better food or prompter service in some areas, but considering what you pay for this cruise, especially during the time of year in which we traveled, I think we more than got our money's worth. If you are going to be snobbish about it then shell out about twice as much (or more) for what you paid for your RC cruise and you'll probably be happier. As far as we are concerned, we had a great time. Read Less