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464 Splendour of the Seas Cruise Reviews

After driving from Dallas to Tuktoyoktuk (NWT, Canada, about as far north as you can go by road) last April, we thought it would be cool to travel the furthest south you can conveniently visit in the Americas, Cape Horn, in the same year. ... Read More
After driving from Dallas to Tuktoyoktuk (NWT, Canada, about as far north as you can go by road) last April, we thought it would be cool to travel the furthest south you can conveniently visit in the Americas, Cape Horn, in the same year. Royal Caribbean had the answer, 13 nights on the Splendour of the Seas, from Santiago to Buenos Aires. We booked our reservation with RC and paid a 50% deposit. That was before RC hit us with their "fuel surcharge", which may now be refunded. RC arranged air transport from Dallas to Santiago, returning from Buenos Aires. Their itinerary included an intermediate stop, with approximate one-way 17 hr transit times. Later checking through Travelocity discovered non-stop flights available, with only 10 hr transit times. A call to RC asking for a change to non-stops revealed that changes were possible, but only after paying a $75/person "custom air" surcharge. Arrival in Santiago was smooth, after an overnight flight from Dallas which permitted some sleep. We easily found the RC representative at the airport, and were led to a bus. Two hours later, we arrived at the dockside check-in counter, and were soon on the ship. We did talk to a couple later that stood at the check-in counter for an hour and a half trying to get the names on their reservation straightened out- a problem which dogged them for the rest of the trip. The Splendour is a little tired, and showing its age. Our stateroom (ocean view) was on deck 2, the lowest passenger deck, near the center of the ship. This was a good location, convenient to the central elevators, and away from thruster/anchor noise/vibration at the bow, and engine noises (very loud at cruising speeds above 21 knots) in the rear. Additionally, during rough seas, cabins near the low center of the ship have the least motion. Luckily, our cabin had no residual cigarette odor (an unfortunate circumstance for our dinner table partners), because RC will do nothing for you in the event of problems. A cabin neighbor complained about large blood stains on her floor- a situation resolved only by her leaving towels on the floor to walk on for the entire cruise. Internet is a staple in our life, and we found it available on the ship for anywhere from $.60/min to a package plan of $.40/min- RC's interpretation of a "nominal charge". Service is not fast- checking e-mail generally took a minimum of eight minutes. At all ports en-route, we found convenient and fast Internet service on-shore for a minimum of $.50 to a maximum of $1.25/HOUR. Our shore excursions began by gathering all available RC information, and heading out on our own. At all stops, we disembarked, walked past the RC arranged array of busses and guides, and found like-minded people gathering to share mini-van/taxi tours sponsored by local entrepreneurs. Language is a problem everywhere, but our ad-hoc groups always seemed to include a bilingual translator. Typically, we were able to find RC equivalent local tours for 1/3 the RC price (a substantial savings). We never felt taken advantage of, and generally observed local tour people to be hard working, honest, and sincerely interested in giving us (as best they could with limited English skills) a good impression of their homeland. Our excursion groups unfailingly included interesting people to talk with, and we enjoyed each of our stops. Minor gripes about RC and the ship, encountered from casual conversations and our own observations include: DREADFUL (not just bad) scrambled eggs on the breakfast buffet, NONE of the on-board pepper shakers worked- probably because someone bought a too-large grind, the Windjammer buffet was at many times hopelessly crowded- resulting in people milling around (with plates of rapidly cooling food in their hands) looking for table space for five minutes or more at a time, Trivia and other events being announced at one location but actually presented at another, the exercise room was much too small (a reflection of the ships age) for the demand and always crowded, all overhead announcements were repeated in five languages, room service was timely but always delivered with just approximately what you ordered, and the list goes on. There was a large measure (compared to our prior cruising experiences) of general low to mid level discontent with RC aboard ship- reflected in the overflowing survey collection boxes at cruise end. We did absolutely enjoy our on-board social encounters, the variety and duration of our destination stops, the friendliness and knowledge of the on-board port coordinator, a few of the shows, etc. If you haven't seen this part of the world, "get out there". Keep in mind RC's relentless determination to pass on every available cost outside their quoted fare as a minimally disclosed fee or surcharge. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
We have travelled near and far on Royal Caribbean and this was a great new experience to see Brazil with Splendour as our home away from home. First of all the ship was beautiful, the staff was attentive, and this cruise lived up to all ... Read More
We have travelled near and far on Royal Caribbean and this was a great new experience to see Brazil with Splendour as our home away from home. First of all the ship was beautiful, the staff was attentive, and this cruise lived up to all our expectations. Travelling to Brazil is not the easiest task you will embark on. First of all you need a tourist visa to go to Brazil. That costs $125 for US citizens and it needs to be issued 90 days or less before your arrival in Brazil. Also, it's summer there and winter here so you can run into travel delays here. There are few "gateway" cities here to fly to Rio or Sao Paulo and from Miami it is a 8 hour flight and 10 hours from Dallas. When you come back the flights leave late at night. We chose to fly in the day before and spend the night at the Grand Hyatt in Sao Paulo. This made the trip to Santos the next day easier. It was not without challenges though. It is 50 miles to the port from Sao Paulo and the cab drivers don't know how to find the cruise port. Outside of the hotels don't count on anyone speaking English until you get to the ship. There isn't a single country in S.A. where people speak english. Portugese is the language and if people are bilingual the next language is Spanish. 75% of the passengers on our cruise were Brazilian and the remaining 25% were from Europe as well as north America. The port was pandemonium. You don't see the ship when you get there and the signage is impossible to follow. You finally are bussed through the port to where the ship is docked. The Brazilians have a different agenda for their idea of fun. This prompted lots of schedule and activity differences.Early seating dinner was 7:30 and late seating was at 10 PM. Even so the Brazilians showed up 30-45 minutes late for dinner. We were originally scheduled for second seating but switched to main seating after the first night. The staff onboard was hand picked and hired to accommodate the Brazilian customers. Menus were in English on one side and Portugese on the other. There was at least 1 Brazilian entree on the dinner menu and the dining room served brunch instead of breakfast 2 or 3 times. The Windjammer was open until 5:30 AM for the entire cruise. The casino and the Viking Crown were packed at 3 or 4 am for the entire cruise but the mornings were very quiet. For the 8 days they only had Bingo 3 times and it was very lightly attended. Even for the final jackpot game! No one showed up for the "Quest". The Love and Marriage game show was held in one spot in Portugese and a different lounge for English. On sea days there was no problem getting a chair early. The Brazilians were not stirring until noon. The party around the pool was a sight to behold. No steel drums and Caribbean music. The entertainment was decidedly Brazil and the cruisers were into singing and dancing along to all the music! Thong bikini suits were the norm for the women and the men's suits were much smaller as well. It was not unusual to see teens running around the ship at 2 am considering that they didn't finish dinner until midnight. Brazil is a beautiful country and is much larger and has more people than most realize. It is about as big as the US and has 180 million people. Sao Paulo is the third largest city in the world with 18-20 million people. It goes on forever. Rio is large as well and these cities are very European. As you travel to the north the culture and population become more African. The big cities were very modern and the countryside was a little 3rd worldish. We visited Salvador, Ilheus, and Buzios and each had it's own unique culture. Salvador was a new city/ old town combination and we spent our time there in the old town seeing the old cathedrals and getting a taste of the culture. Ilheus was a visit to a cocoa plantation, where we saw how chocolate was made. In Buzios we visited the beach and had a relaxing day in the sun. Lots of great shops to visit as well. The focal point of the trip was Rio for Carnaval and it was our first stop. The city is one of great contrasts. The sights from the top of Sugarloaf mountain and Corcovado are truly spectacular. Just seeing the "Christ the Redeemer" statue was awesome. Great restaurants and beaches too. We had rain so the beaches were deserted but the street celebrations for Carnaval were amazing to behold. The Carnaval parade competition is unlike anything you will see in this country. The Samba schools spend an entire year preparing for the parade. There are floats, dancers, and entire percussion bands for each school. The number of people that parade by the judges for each school number in the thousands!! It takes more than a hour for each school to parade through the Sambodrome.The costumes are elaborate beyond description and the floats are handcrafted. This is not an amateur competition. The clubs are sponsored by the biggest corporations and the prizes are in the millions for the winning clubs. The whole country shuts down for 4 days and people party and celebrate non stop. The Super Bowl was our first night in Rio and about 20 or 30 people watched the game. The rest of the ship was partying for Carnaval. The excursion price to go to the parade was almost $500 per person. We hired RioPlus Tours for the two days we were in Rio and it was the best thing we have ever done. For the 4 of us it was no more than 1 tour to see Rio and we had the luxury of individual attention and touring at our own pace. We saw a lot that the ships tours would never see and picked the best places to eat as well. We were careful to stay on the safe places and our guide Valeria made sure that we saw everything of interest without any risks. When the cruise ended we spent the last day touring Sao Paulo before heading for the airport. It is like visiting NYC but without the tall buildings. It is the commercial center of South America and with so many people it has huge ethnic communities. Large Japanese and middle eastern groups have settled in Brazil. If you have "been there and done that" a South American cruise as a winter get away can't be beaten.Just remember you need to check the "American Ego" at the door because Brazilians do it their way and love every minute of it! As for RCCL, they provided the ideal venue to travel and experience it all. Just spend time and do what you need to do. Get Brazilian currency a couple of weeks before you go cause you just don't walk into the bank or currency exchange and get Reals. Learn to Samba and love it. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
My boyfriend and I just returned from this cruise and really enjoyed ourselves, the weather was great and the staff on the ship were very helpful and friendly. We also felt this cruise was a great value for the money spent. The pros are ... Read More
My boyfriend and I just returned from this cruise and really enjoyed ourselves, the weather was great and the staff on the ship were very helpful and friendly. We also felt this cruise was a great value for the money spent. The pros are the helpful staff, our spacious and very clean cabin (I have pictures if you'd like to see) and variety of activities including miniature golf and a great spa. The cons: the food was not so great - although breakfast was fantastic, dinner fell short - and it is clear that Royal Caribbean is still figuring out how to cruise in South America so things such as the port transfer may take longer than expected. (Santos, the port, is an hour and a half outside of Sao Paulo, but the bus transfer may take up to 2 and a half hours)We were in a suite, so it was quite spacious with a bar and pull out couch in the room and a bathroom that I am ashamed to admit is larger than in my NYC apartment! Our balcony was also much larger than expected with room for two chairs, table, and a lounge chair. Very quite with a great view, I highly recommend the suites on this ship. If you would like pictures I have some for review. The ports were great fun as well, but guests must keep in mind this is not America or Europe, so things run a bit different in South America. That is, you may have to be willing to converse a bit in Spanish, or find your way around the cities by yourself, and expect things to run a bit behind. A few brief examples: the port in BA puts you out by a bunch of taxis, you simply get in one and tell the driver where to go, but some Americans on our cruise found this confusing. You also have to remember where to ask the taxi to take you back to (Terminal des cruiseieros, they'll know what you mean) In addition, most of our excursions were cancelled, but this ended up being better. We had booked a schooner cruise in Brazil, but instead when we got off the ship we hired a local to take us out snorkeling on his sail boat. We even got to help sail the ship! It was a great experience and certainly better, and cheaper!, than Royal Caribbean's plan. The second important point is that most of the passengers are Brazilian, which means non-english speakers. However, all the staff, and most of the passengers, speak English quite well and we did not feel uncomfortable or awkward at any time on the cruise. In fact, we picked up some Portuguese and had some great cultural experiences. Overall, this cruise was great fun but definitely for more seasoned travelers who are willing to go with the flow and experiment a bit. This cruise is NOT NOT NOT for the typical American traveler who expects perfect English everywhere and spoon fed service, you will miss out but probably be dissatisfied with the cruise. If you are looking for some adventure and fun in a new place, this cruise is for you! Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
Splendour of the Seas Transatlantic cruise - 4th December 2007 Itinerary: Day 1 Lisbon, Portugal Day 2 At sea Day 3 Funchal, Madeira Day 4 Santa Cruz de la Palma, Canary Islands Day 5 At sea Day 6 Mindelo, St. Vincente, Cape Verde ... Read More
Splendour of the Seas Transatlantic cruise - 4th December 2007 Itinerary: Day 1 Lisbon, Portugal Day 2 At sea Day 3 Funchal, Madeira Day 4 Santa Cruz de la Palma, Canary Islands Day 5 At sea Day 6 Mindelo, St. Vincente, Cape Verde Islands Day 7 At sea Day 8 At sea Day 9 At sea Day 10 Recife, Brazil Day 11 At sea Day 12 Salvador, Brazil Day 13 At sea Day 14 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Day 15 Santos (São Paulo), Brazil Introduction: This is a fairly long review, but justified because it is the first Royal Caribbean cruise to South America since 2001 and is likely to be read with keen interest by both CC members who have a South American cruise booked and those who are interested in booking one. Any vacation, whether on land or on the sea, is essentially what the guests want to make of it. It is always easy to be critical, but that is just as likely to spoil the enjoyment of the occasion for the criticizer as for those being criticized. The unexpected will always happen, so the best advice is to "go with the flow" and not let any small inconvenience detract from the pleasure of a cruise - in my opinion the greatest holiday experience on earth, whatever cruise that may be. General opinion: I had been eagerly awaiting this cruise for many months, so expectations were very high. In reflection, it passed by too quickly as we enjoyed every minute. It was a holiday never to be forgotten. Departure port: Lisbon. Lisbon is a good port of call and has the facilities to be used as a departure port. It's closeness to the center of town makes it easy to get to, being only 20 minutes away by taxi from all leading hotels. Lisbon is a friendly city and the fresh, mild and dry weather made for a pleasant pre-cruise stay for those that took advantage of the opportunity. Embarkation: RCL's first South American cruise for 6 years and the use of an "occasional" departure port of Lisbon made this a difficult experience for most guests. Although we had priority check-in, being in a suite, it took us over an hour, with delays caused by having to fill in Brazilian immigration forms at the check-in desk, while the clerk and all other guests were waiting. Then there was the Port's own baggage check and passport control, with only two gates, causing a bottle neck and finally a queue at the only entrance to the ship for the photos on the seapass. The confusion was added to by a breakdown in the on-board computer system for printing seapasses. At check-in the clerk could not find our seapass so gave us a voucher that we had to present at the purser's desk later to exchange for a seapass. This led to a further queuing of one hour later that evening. As it happens, we should be grateful for the requirement to complete the Brazilian immigration form at check-in, because it saved us the need for presenting passports at Recife, the first Brazilian port of call. The passports were collected and only returned on the penultimate day of the cruise. The authorities stamped them in Recife in our absence. One suggestion to speed up the process of embarkation could be to require guests to complete the immigration papers and present them with their passports for collection at muster. Sail-away and muster: This went smoothly and on-time. The drill was conducted in Portuguese and English, for the benefit of the majority of passengers (about 70% Portuguese speaking, 20% English and 10% other). A thick fog spoilt what would have been a fantastic sail away view. General appearance of the ship and quality of service: Splendour of the Seas is one of the older and smaller ships in the fleet, but as they say, everything is relative and she would be considered the best and most modern in many other cruise lines. We were particularly impressed by the standard of the ship, beautifully maintained and looking as impressive as she did in her maiden years. The service on-board was good, with ever crew member trying their best to be helpful and impress the guests. Being the repositioning cruise before a winter season in Brazil, there were inevitably some difficulties caused by many new staff entering in Lisbon. Because of the language and Brazilian law, most new crew members were Brazilians, but they seemed to fit in well with their more experienced colleagues. Staterooms: All staterooms are of the highest quality on Splendour of the Seas, being slightly bigger than on other category ships. We were in a Grand Suite and our travelling companions in an aft balcony on deck 6. We were very pleased with the rooms and the attendance. In the Grand Suite, we were greeted with fresh fruit, a pillow menu, a card to enter the concierge lounge and bath robes and slippers. They had not yet replaced the old Video cassette player and TV with DVD and LCD, but as it turned out, we had little time to watch TV anyway. The grand suites are excellent sizes, square in shape to give plenty of room, including a large square bathroom. We have never had an excess of cupboard space on a cruise before, but we had this time, including the luxury of one clothes hanger per garment. It is a pity that there was no internet available in staterooms. I had to take the laptop to a designated "hotspot" to access the RCL "wi-fi". Dining: As on most Vision-class ships, dining is limited with no speciality restaurants, no Johnny Rockets and no Seaview Cafe. However, in my opinion, this was compensated by a fine selection of varied food and good service in both the main dining room and Windjammer. The 14-day menu has a few repeated dishes, but there was always a good selection of new items that we always enjoyed our meal in the main dining room. We went to the Windjammer for dinner three times. This was always good and fast, with the best steaks available, grilled to perfection while you wait. The Solarium bar had the usual selection of pizzas, hamburgers, chips and hot dogs. Their general aspect did not lead us to want to try them. Best here was the made to order pancakes. With new staff being taken on for this cruise, there were inevitable learning difficulties in the restaurant and the waiting time was erratic (some nights acceptable, others a little too long). I have never seen the head waiters working so hard before - they are usually just people you see around in red coats who only talk to the clients on the last evening when the tips are being distributed. On this cruise, our head waiter, from Germany, spoke to us every evening and helped the waiters with everything from serving bread and water to collecting deliveries from the kitchen to clearing away dirty plates. I was impressed by this spirit of co-operation. The Lattitudes cafe was one of favorite haunts. My wife had to have her morning "espresso" there and I loved the cookies and muffins (better than in the Windjammer) and the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. There were two special nights, one by the pool with a buffet and BBQ, the other the inevitable midnight buffet in the dining room. Concierge lounge: Set up in the "card room" on deck 7 (centrum) this has to be the prettiest concierge lounge afloat, with magnificent sea views. The evening canapes and drinks were very good. They were always the same every day, but we didn't complain about that. It was very thoughtful of them to add an additional overflow lounge in the deck 3 conference center. We used this on several nights as it was far less busy than the main CL. The concierge, Giovanna, from Brazil, deserves maximum praise for the efficient way she managed the lounge and for her helpfulness in trying to resolve problems. Entertainment: The Splendour of the Seas singers and dancers were very good, particularly the two feature dancers, a couple from Utah. As they were accustomed to doing two production shows per week on the normal routines, on this cruise we saw them only twice in 14 nights. However, they made up for this with some very good invitation acts, with only one night being repeated. Cruise director, Leo Papa did a good job. Away from the main theatre, there was also plenty of live music in the centrum, Top Hat Lounge and Schooner Bar at night and by the pool during the day. Spa and gymnasium: Although the gymnasium on Splendour of the Seas is small, it was just about adequate for the amount of use it got. Perhaps it was the enthusiasm and professionalism of the staff in the training center that led to more people joining the classes as the cruise went on. The lectures and classes in the gym were the best on the whole ship and the only "intelligent" activities available. The training center staff were all from Brazil and deserve maximum credit. The spa staff were also excellent, very friendly and never pushy to sell their products. The pools were heated to a decent temperature throughout and very well maintained. Activities on board: Considering that this ship normally runs a seven day, port intensive itinerary, it was to be expected that there would be a lack of decent activities on board. Apart from the lectures from the fitness center and spa, there was nothing intellectual at all, just the usual belly-flop, men's sexy legs and marriage games, plus the bingo, casino, art auction etc. and a most pathetic ceremony when we passed the equator. Notwithstanding the above comment, it has to be said that we were never bored at all and the wonderful sea days passed by so quickly. The weather was good and the seas calm all of the time. The ports and shopping guide and lectures were the most pathetic I have ever seen. Out of six ports of call Helene from the USA could only manage to recommend two stores, one lacecraft shop in Madeira and an "oversell" jewelers' in Rio de Janeiro. At least the jewelry shop did a good job for Royal Caribbean in Rio by offering the shuttle service free of charge. Shore excursions: Excellent shore excursions were made available in both Madeira and Santa Cruz de la Palma. The ones we chose can be highly recommended. They were "A taste of Madeira" and Volcano & Wine" respectively. Considering that both Mindelo and Recife are seldom-used ports, RCL made little attempt to offer decent shore excursions here. Indeed, in Cape Verde it is difficult to find anything for a tourist to do. We took a taxi out to a local beach area and walked around the town a bit. After two and a half hours, we were back on the ship. In Recife, we booked a private excursion to Maragogi, a beautiful beach area 120 km away. It is a pity that RCL only offered excursions to the run-down old-town when there is so much to see away from the town. In Salvador, we did not need an excursion, as the ship docks in the historic center itself and everything can be seen on foot. In Rio de Janeiro we took advantage of the shuttle to go into the Ipanema district where we spent a pleasant day shopping and eating a spectacular "Rodizio". (We have been to Rio several times before, so we did not visit the tourist sites again). Debarkation: This was a slow process, as had been embarkation. We had a "preferential" time of 8:30 marked, but were only allowed to leave at 10:00. Once inside the terminal, there was plenty of queuing to hand in customs papers at a single exit. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
We cruised on Splendour of the Seas from November 17-24, 2007 and were very happy with all aspects of the cruise. This was the first time in quite a while for us on a "smaller" ship and any concerns we may have had regarding the ... Read More
We cruised on Splendour of the Seas from November 17-24, 2007 and were very happy with all aspects of the cruise. This was the first time in quite a while for us on a "smaller" ship and any concerns we may have had regarding the activities and amenities of this ship soon proved to be groundless. Splendour is an excellent ship and one that we would cruise again. We flew into Venice one day ahead of departure and spent one night at the Best Western Hotel Ala, just a short walk from San Marco. As we had to connect through Brussels, and the original morning Brussels Airline flight had been canceled, we were placed on a 2:30 pm flight to Venice, giving us a 7 hour layover in Brussels and a 4:30 arrival in Venice. We took advantage of the layover to go into Brussels and visit the Grand Place and walk about a bit before returning to the airport for the flight. Upon our arrival in Venice we made our way to the Aliguna Water Bus pier and took that service to San Marco. This took about one hour and 15 minutes total, meaning that we did not check into our hotel until about 6:30. Following check in we walked about a bit, had dinner, then off to bed. Hotel Ala is a very nice 3 star hotel and we got the one night for a very decent rate of 110 Euros, a bargain for Venice. The included breakfast was substantial and included hot scrambled eggs, a rarity in Italy. After spending some time in Venice, we boarded the Vaporetto Number One for the ride to Piazza Roma, arriving there about 2:30 pm. This was the only part of the whole cruise where we felt that RCCL really dropped the ball. Once at the bus stop area there was no one from RCCL to direct you to the proper bus and the bus itself had very poor marking as to being the shuttle to the ship. There was a large crowd of cruisers trying to find the right spot and the right bus and many were becoming testy. Once the bus arrived each of us had to load our own luggage into the hold and find a seat. This was a very unorganized way to do this and RCCL should address this. However, the transfer was free and one should appreciate that, as people that became impatient and used one of the taxis were being charged an outrageous 70 Euros for a 3-4 minute ride. Checking in at the dock and boarding was very quick and painless and we were on the ship within 10 minutes of reaching the dock. We found our stateroom and proceeded to explore a bit. We departed right on time at 4:30 and luggage was delivered to the stateroom shortly afterwards. We were in a window stateroom on deck three. The room was in very good condition and the new bedding was quite nice. The room had plenty of storage space and adequate room for the two of us. The bathroom was smallish but adequate. The shower had a curved curtain rather than a door which made it a bit easier to take a shower. The only thing the cabin did not have as standard equipment was a fridge, but there was really no room for one anyway. The weakest point of the cabin was the very old TV set (not a big deal as we seldom watched it anyway). It seems that they would have upgraded to small flat screens by now. We found the food to be quite good in the main dining room. We were in the late seating and had excellent waiters and very nice table mates. We became quite friendly with them and ended up spending time together on shore as well. We prefer to avoid the buffets when possible so only had breakfast once in the Windjammer and it was quite good. We had room service breakfast twice, and both times it was delivered on time and was exactly as ordered. We had breakfast in the main dining room the other times and it was always quite good. Lunch was taken in the main dining room or on shore during port stops. We had no problems with the food and service. The only thing that we felt could be improved is for the Latitudes Coffee Shop to have regular coffee available as it is on the larger ships. On Splendour one had to buy all coffee drinks in Latitudes and to get regular coffee a trip to the Windjammer or the pool deck was required. Not a big deal but one worth mentioning. We only made one show and it was good. The ship has a very nice single level theatre with extremely comfortable seats and good sight lines. We did contribute a small amount of money to the casino each evening - the payout did not seem to be set very high on the slot machines. We also played bingo one time (first time we had ever done this) and were not winners! Overall the ship was in excellent condition, extremely clean and well maintained. The crew and staff were to a person very cordial and polite. The gym was well equipped and offered a nice array of equipment. Early mornings were the best times to use the gym as it became busy later. We did not use the pools as the weather was cool and also did not use any of the hot tubs. We booked this ship mainly for the itinerary and we were very happy with it. We only booked one excursion, that being the tour of Ancient Olympus. All other ports we did on our own. We enjoyed each very much. We found Athens to much cleaner and nicer that we had expected. A big busy city yes, but overall very clean and everyone we interacted with was very nice. It was an awesome experience to visit the Acropolis. In Mykonos we just walked about a bit and enjoyed the scenic homes and windmills. The visit to Olympus was very interesting and we were lucky to have an excellent guide. This could have been done alone as well but we are glad we had a guide to explain many of the ruins. In Corfu we hired a taxi (along with another couple) and had a nice tour of the island for 3 ½ hours for 100 Euros. The driver was very nice and spoke excellent English. This turned out to be a great thing to do and one that we would highly recommend. Corfu turned out to be our favorite port. In Split we again just walked about on our own and explored the old city - very interesting and neat place. As we had a car reserved in Venice we had requested an early departure. We were off the ship and aboard the free shuttle back to Piazza Roma by 800 am and from there it was just around the corner to the Hertz office for the car pickup. Overall we give this cruise a big thumbs up. The ship, the cabin, the food, the crew and staff, and the itinerary were all top notch. We were quite happy with all aspects and have nothing to complain about (except the minor glitch mentioned above with the shuttle service). We are frequent RCCL cruisers and while on board booked our next cruise. We are ready! Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
We enjoyed our week on the Splendour of the Seas. I think I have been spoiled by the size and impressive facilities of the Voyager-class ships, but the Vision-class ship is very nice. Our stateroom, 2nd deck forward, had a porthole but was ... Read More
We enjoyed our week on the Splendour of the Seas. I think I have been spoiled by the size and impressive facilities of the Voyager-class ships, but the Vision-class ship is very nice. Our stateroom, 2nd deck forward, had a porthole but was still light and comfortable. In the future, though, I would be reluctant to have a room that has an interior adjoining door, as it means you have a chair instead of a divan, and our neighbor opened the door one or two times - though we had asked that it be locked. Another caveat: RCCL puts a six-pack of soda and two bottles of water on the room desk and charge ($8.60) for it if used. We didn't want it and stowed it in the closet. Of course, when they saw it was 'gone' we were charged for it on the final day and there was no time to do dispute the charge. We stayed at the Marriott Courtyard at the Venice airport the first night, and a week in advance I was able to arrange a trip to the port for 33 Euros through the hotel. We were at the ship by noon for the 4:30 sailing and there were no lines - we just walked aboard. Even though we were among the first to board, our bags weren't delivered until after dinner - which bugged my wife but didn't bother me at all. We had great table-mates: a chef at the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando and his wife, who worked for the Orlando Visitors Bureau, and a fellow in the construction business whose wife is office manager for a Houston plastic surgeon. Fun people to get to know, and I'd sail with them anytime! I do think that the declining dollar has hit the dining room: Meals weren't as nice and the portions weren't as big as earlier cruises. The lobster was a couple bites. More chicken and pork chops as 'featured' entrees, yet still tasty and with good service. I've read some reviews that indicate the waiters on RCCL's smaller ships are not as good as on the new vessels, but I certainly didn't see evidence of this. One humorous discovery: The singing waiters don't sing! Learned this when they used a scratched CD to play "O Solo Mio" and it skipped. Wow, and there ain't no Santy Claus, neither! The Voyager had its 'best places' and so does the Splendour. After the evening show, we'd go to the Champagne Terrace on the ground floor of the Atrium, where they had various musicians every night - the best was a Latin group. The Viking Crown Lounge, which was a nice evening venue for jazz on the Voyager serves as the disco on the Splendour. The Schooner Bar - which we didn't think was interesting on Voyager, was like an English pub and popular on the Splendour. Entertainment was not bad: average to really good lounge acts, and in the showroom the RCCL Singers and Dancers always are good. Had an Elton John impersonator so one very good show, and a Four Tops-like group do another. One act I didn't care for was Mysterique, but that was just not my taste. The ports were great, had a couple of interesting excursions and nice weather. Corfu is beautiful, as is most of what I saw in Greece. I'd go back. We didn't get off the ship in Croatia. The weather had turned bad and the night before we were advised that Natalie would need a $40 visa - assuming that they could even arrange one. We canceled the excursion and enjoyed a restful day on board instead. Not a huge disappointment - heard no stories from anyone later that would lead me to regret the decision - mainly due to the weather. Back in Venice, we had a post-cruise excursion to Padua, and I had booked a room at the Best Western Premier on St. Elena island. From the airport (where our tour terminated) we checked our bags into the Left Luggage room and took at bus (No. 5, EUR 2) to Plaza Roma, the transport hub for buses and boats. The boats cost EUR 6 per person without regard to the length of the trip, and took us to St Elena island, a residential and park district. The hotel was only a couple blocks from the landing. The hotel is a former convent, but the sisters never had it so good: we had a two room mini-suite, very bright and comfortable, which overlooked a canal (Then again, in Venice there are probably only two hotel rooms that DON'T overlook a canal!). The hotel is only a 20-minute stroll (over countless footbridges) to the famous St. Marco Square. That afternoon, we reversed course (boat and bus) and returned to the airport for the flight home to Kyiv. Returned to 2 feet of snow after a blizzard earlier in the day, and our cold Ukrainian winter. All in all, a very good trip. We're already counting the days til February and our Mexico cruise on Vision! Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
We spent 7 days on the Splendour of the Seas on Nov. 3rd until the 10th. We flew into Venice on Thursday morning and spent 2 nights at Hotel Panorama on Lido. 245 Euro for 2 nights with a view of the Lagoon facing St. Marks Square was a ... Read More
We spent 7 days on the Splendour of the Seas on Nov. 3rd until the 10th. We flew into Venice on Thursday morning and spent 2 nights at Hotel Panorama on Lido. 245 Euro for 2 nights with a view of the Lagoon facing St. Marks Square was a wonderful experience. We took the Free shuttle from Piazzale Roma and boarded at 12:30. The sign in and boarding process took 5 minutes. Very smooth and efficient. We enjoyed a great Meet and Mingle in the Viking Crown Lounge and got a chance to meet most of the posters on this site. So nice to finally put faces to screen names after all these months. The view from the port side on the sailaway was unforgettable. It was as good as a sailaway can possibly be. As a bonus, we also had a wonderful sunset and clear view of the alps during the departure. Breakfast in the Windjammer was very good, especially the made to order omelettes and carved ham. The only difference with having breakfast in the King and I room was a very bland Eggs Benedict on the menu. Lunch was decent, normal cruise food. Dinner in the King and I room was very good. Except for a dry Duck and an undercooked Pasta and (very mini)Scallops dish, everything else was very tasty. Appetizers and desserts were outstanding. The staff at all food location were very friendly and helpful. We found the 1800 person capacity of the ship to be a very nice size. There were only a few kids on board and they were hardly seen. Sure beats our last kid-filled Carnival cruise. The covered Solarium pool only allowed kids in between 11 and 4. There were always seats or lounge chairs to be found in the Solarium for readers or sun worshippers. Mykonos is a quaint town that is packed during the summer, so we saw it at a relaxed state, which was nice. Walking to all the sites was no problem. The very narrow streets/walkways were amazing to get lost in. Our 9 hour Athens tour started with the Acropolis/Parthenon area. What a great piece of history! The rest of Athens was alot less scenic, but was very interesting. The motorbike riders are INSANE. Zipping in and out of traffic at high speeds. The town is very crowded and full of traffic. So plan on plenty of drive time between sites. Katakolon was very relaxing little town with nice waterfront restaurants to have a long lunch and recover from Athens. The people that went to Olympia were split as far as liking the site. They recently added a train for 3 Euro that goes the 40 minutes to Olympia. That is the option we would do on our next visit. Corfu was the favorite port for us, as well as many of the others on the cruise. We rented a scooter and went up and down the East coast and to the Achillian Palace. We stopped at a little Taverna along the way and had a pleasant lunch. Split was probably the least favorite port amongst the cruisers we spoke with. It is a congested city with only a few sites of mild interest. It also rained that day, so maybe that took away from some of the charm. We were then offered a tour of the Bridge. The 1st, 2nd Captain and an engineer, took their time to show us how the ship operates and what really happens when the ship is sailing and docking. A wonderful experience. Our room was adequate, but the shower was weak on a few days. Tip: use the shower by the workout room. 3 times the size and excellent water pressure. The Motown group and the Elton John tribute were both very good shows. The others were basic cruise entertainment. The bands playing in the Atrium were very good, especially the Latin guys. Leaving the ship was also very easy. 5 minutes and we were at the spot for the shuttle back to Piazzale Roma. Taking our time we still arrived at the airport before 9:00. Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
We enjoyed the trip. It was two adults and a 16 year old. The cruise left Venice in high winds and waves. The captain the next day told us it was gale force winds of 55 knots. While the ship rocked a bit, we noticed it, but it wasn't ... Read More
We enjoyed the trip. It was two adults and a 16 year old. The cruise left Venice in high winds and waves. The captain the next day told us it was gale force winds of 55 knots. While the ship rocked a bit, we noticed it, but it wasn't bad. I get sea sick and so does my son and we did fine. Actually, knowing how bad it was built some confidence I did not have before regarding motion sickness. I used the arm bands and they must have worked because I was fine. They ports are very nice. We did Mykonos, Corfu, Athens, Split, Olympia. Mykonos was beautiful and everything you image when thinking of Greece. Corfu was a pretty island. Athens is a huge city, but the acropolis was magnificent. Split is very old and we preserved and we enjoyed walking around. There is a huge open market just off the ship and lots of fine crafts, leather goods, etc. Boarding the ship was easy once we walked from Plaza Roma to the ship. Its about a mile up the road. We never did find the Royal Caribbean buses. We got on board about 1:30 with no wait at all. Departing was easy too except it was raining and the buses to Plaza Roma are a long way from the ship. Overall it was a nice trip especially for my son. He truly enjoyed all the history and Greece was really wonderful. It was warm in Greece, but very cool in Venice. Many of the shops and restaurants in the ports were closed because of the off season. I think that it was actually the final ship of the year for Mykonos or at least that's what they told us. We went on the Splendour in 2005 in the Western Med. It is a nice ship, showing a little age, but not enough to matter. We had a nice time and enjoyed the trip. Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
Background Information: We are 27 and 29 and have been to Europe several times. This was our first RCCL cruise, having cruised on Carnival and NCL in the past. Travel to Port: We flew delta. The flight was fine. We took a water taxi from ... Read More
Background Information: We are 27 and 29 and have been to Europe several times. This was our first RCCL cruise, having cruised on Carnival and NCL in the past. Travel to Port: We flew delta. The flight was fine. We took a water taxi from the airport to hotel and from hotel to port. The first was 90 euros and the second 65 euros. Expensive, but it was worth the convenience factor to us. Hotel Info: Before the cruise we used starwood points to stay the Hotel Danieli and post cruise points at the Westin Europa and Regina. The Westin upgraded us to a room with a balcony overlooking the Grand Canal which was a treat. Both hotels are very nice. Stateroom: We booked a junior suite. There was some noise when carts were being pushed in the solarium. That was slightly annoying. In retrospect, we would have booked a lower category stateroom. The extra space wasn't worth it to us on this cruise. Ship Info: We loved the solarium. The ship felt small. Dining: The food was okay. I would have preferred them to change the menu based on where we were cruising. My memorable meals are in port; not on the boat. Entertainment: We went to one show, and we didn't think it was very good. In general, I have not been impressed by onboard entertainment ever. Shore Excursions: We did Olympia with a RCCL shore excursion. It was fine; but I would have preferred to do it at my own pace. In Athens, we walked to the metro (30 minutes walk) and went to Acropolis and the Archeological museum. Navigating the metro was easy. The Acropolis was amazing. In Mykonos, we just walked around town, walked to the windmills and had dinner. In Corfu, we walked to town, and had lunch and did some shopping. In Split, we walked around town. The best part of most of the ports was having some local food and wine/beer! Disembarkation: Easy! Summary: The cruise was fun and a great way to see a lot of places in a short amount of time. I was less exhausted after the cruise than I am after a typical Europe trip. There was enough relaxation time worked in. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
We have recently returned from a 7-night cruise to Turkey and the Greek Islands aboard 'Splendour of the Seas'. This was our first cruise on this ship although we have cruised with Royal Caribbean before. The ship is older than ... Read More
We have recently returned from a 7-night cruise to Turkey and the Greek Islands aboard 'Splendour of the Seas'. This was our first cruise on this ship although we have cruised with Royal Caribbean before. The ship is older than others we have been on and it is beginning to show and the ship is a little tired, Whilst the cabin was comfortable, the shower curtain in the en-suite was grubby and the bottom of the door to the en-suite was badly scored and looked dirty. Also the duvets on the beds were unusually heavy although the mattresses were comfortable. The public areas were bright and airy and in most cases it was pleasant to listen to the music in the lounges and this was not too loud to prevent conversation. The exception was the Greek group who did not seem to notice passengers fleeing from the Centrum to quieter areas! The service in the dining room varied from excellent to very poor, depending where you were seated. We deserted our designated table for the Windjammer after frustrating service at dinner on two evenings when it took 40 minutes from being given the menu until the order for starters was taken. Open sitting at breakfast provided better service in the main but there were still differences which should be improved. The choice of ports-of-call was excellent and going ashore for excursions was hassle-free and well organized. The guides on the 2 excursions which we went on were excellent, very interesting and informative. We will probably cruise with Royal Caribbean again but perhaps on another ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
* Background Information This is our 3rd cruise on RCI, and our first cruise in the Mediterranean. We booked it online about 6 months in advance and booked our own air. We live in Western Germany and flew out of Dusseldorf on Swiss Air to ... Read More
* Background Information This is our 3rd cruise on RCI, and our first cruise in the Mediterranean. We booked it online about 6 months in advance and booked our own air. We live in Western Germany and flew out of Dusseldorf on Swiss Air to Venice. * Hotel Info We also booked our hotel online, directly with the hotel Locanda Novo in Venice. It was 115E for 2 adults and 1 child. A light breakfast of breads and jams was delivered to our room. Bed was decent and room was quiet even with the air conditioning running. Hotel did not have an elevator, but this was publicized on their website. Staff did offer to help with our luggage. Also, we were allowed to leave our luggage in corner of lobby while we explored more of Venice before showing for embarkation. We would recommend this hotel to anyone looking for a low priced hotel in Venice. * Ship Info The Splendor is a great ship and is a decent size. Everything seemed to be in good order. The only part that could have used some maintenance would have been the mini-golf course, but even it wasn't horrible. * Activities There were many activities to participate in, but one of the days at sea there was a large block of time where there was nothing that interested us. Overall, the activities were good and of the same standard we have come to expect from RCI. One petty complaint, the pool was very cold. The TV in the room would say the pool temperature was 76F, but there was no way it was even close. * Shore Excursions Dubrovnik - We did a DIY walking tour. We were unexpectedly tendered in, but we believe this worked out better, since the tenders delivered us directly into the old city with no need to shuttle bus. Kusadisi - We took the ships Ephesus and Virgin Mary's House tour. Ancient Ephesus was worth the trip. It was very hot, but our guide was very knowledgeable. Only drawback was the stop at carpet store where they try to sell you Turkish carpets Santorini - Had to get up at 0610 to get tender tickets, since we didn't purchase a ship's tour. We arrived at the top of the cable car at 0930 and ended up renting a car for 40E. Saw most of the island in about 5 hours, from Oia on northside, to lighthouse in the south. Highly recommend skipping ship tours and seeing island on your own. Corfu - Took the ship's tour of Achilleon Palace and a Monastery on western coast. Could have probably done this on own renting car, although tour guide was highly knowledgeable. We felt a lot of our day was wasted, because ship docked at 1230, but our tour didn't begin until 1400. There wasn't enough time to leave ship and get back and then in the end, there wasn't any time after the tour to walk any of Corfu town on own. * Stateroom Attendant Rosa was great. Towel animals were always there and room was always clean. * Dining Alejandro and Victor were great team. First two nights were a little rough, but they got it together. Of course there were small mistakes, but they worked hard and always had a smile. The food was a let down, compared to the other RCI cruises we have taken. Another disappointment was that lobster has been taken off the menu on RCI ships. * Children's Clubs This is has sold us on Royal Caribbean. OUTSTANDING, we cannot say enough good things about the Aquanauts program. Our son, after discovering the program, did not leave the ship until we were back in Venice. He loved the program. We would give him a choice and each time he did not choose to go wondering around with Mommy and Daddy. If you have a child, RCI is the way to go, we were able to explore each port without worrying about our son. * Entertainment Not the best we have ever seen on a RCI ship, but is was OK. We made it to 3 of the shows. None were remarkable, but all were somewhat entertaining. * Disembarkation Went very smoothly, except when we arrived in the parking lot, waiting for the shuttle to take us to Piazza Roma. The line for the shuttle quickly devolved into a free for all. It would have been nice for RCI to setup some sort of structured line. Overall this was a great cruise and would recommend it to anyone! Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
My adult daughters and I sailed on Splendor of the Seas on Aug. 11. Our port calls were Mykonos, Athens, Katakolon, Corfu and Split. My younger daughter recently graduated from college and wanted to go to Greece. Cruising was an excellent ... Read More
My adult daughters and I sailed on Splendor of the Seas on Aug. 11. Our port calls were Mykonos, Athens, Katakolon, Corfu and Split. My younger daughter recently graduated from college and wanted to go to Greece. Cruising was an excellent way to see Greece, especially in August. First of all it was HOT. There are probably better months to cruise to Greece, but we didn't have a lot of choice. It was great to be able to unpack and come and go from the ship. It was especially great to have adjustable A/C! The ship was in very good condition. Usually we cruise on newer ships and we found it hard to believe that this one is 11 years old. The food was much better than we had previously had on Grandeur of the Seas. Our waitstaff was excellent. The rooms were pretty standard ocean view cabins - nothing special but nothing wrong. Our cabin steward was better than most. We especially enjoyed the champagne bar in the Centrum and spent most evenings there with our table mates. The two bartenders, Dimi and Dejan, were great! The port calls were lovely and we felt like we had enough time in each port. Possibly Mykonos could have been a bit of a longer stay. We hired a driver in Athens and were able to see far more than anyone who took ships tours. In the 9 hours that we had with our private driver we everything we could have wanted to see, plus some! Katakolon was our least favorite port and while we enjoyed the drive to Olympia, we didn't particularly enjoy that site. I don't think I'd be in a hurry to go back. The town was fine, but very touristy and most shops had the same merchandise. Corfu was awesome. We took the ship's tour that included a wine tasting. The drive was scenic and the boat trip to the caves was really fun. Our only complaint was that the tour bus took us back to the ship and then we had to shuttle to the downtown area. We had been told by the shopping expert that Corfu was the least touristy place on the schedule but we found the opposite to be true. In fact, August is holiday month in Europe and Corfu was slammed with European tourists. Trying to shop was a mob scene and we ended up returning to the ship after about an hour. Split, Croatia was a nice surprise. Though they don't use the Euro, and we had to exchange money, the prices were very reasonable and the town was lovely. I would highly recommend this cruise on Splendor of the Seas. The ship is in excellent condition and the entire crew seems to go about their jobs happily. Seeing Greece on a cruise ship gave us a nice overview, while still having the comforts that we appreciate. Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
Background Information We are a couple in our mid 20's who boarded the Splendor of the Seas for our honeymoon. My husband had cruised 3 times before, but this was my first cruise. Hotel Info (if any) We spent 3 days in Venice before ... Read More
Background Information We are a couple in our mid 20's who boarded the Splendor of the Seas for our honeymoon. My husband had cruised 3 times before, but this was my first cruise. Hotel Info (if any) We spent 3 days in Venice before going on the cruise, which was the best decision we could have ever made. Venice is a city that needs to be explored and three days was just enough time to take a tour by foot and boat, tour Dojas Palace, ride a gondola and eat some amazing Italian food! We stayed at Hotel Antiche Figure, which was on the opposite side of Venice all the sites, but an excellent choice because it was a very short walk to the bus station where we picked up our free Royal Caribbean shuttle to the dock. Venice is very walkable too, so even though we were on the other side of the city, we could easily take a scenic walk to get to St. Mark's Square (about 20 minutes) or hop on the water bus, which stopped walking distance from the hotel. After touring Venice for 3 days, we were ready to embark on our Mediterranean adventure! Some people on our cruise stayed in Venice after the cruise, but we both were glad we went before, as the cruise is a very active one and we were tired out! Ship Info The ship was in excellent condition. Clean, welcoming and friendly staff, a lot to do. The staff looked like they were having the time of their lives and were extremely hospitable. They always had smiles on their faces and seemed to be having as good of a time as the guests! Shore Excursions Piraeus (Athens), Greece - Definitely go on the longer tour to the Acropolis. Our tour guide honestly wasn't good (she barely talked), but the Acropolis was amazing - something everyone should see in their lifetime - so that made up for it. The longer excursion added two hours of on our own time, which was definitely needed. Even though it was more expensive, we would have felt rushed if we had gone on the shorter tour. Plus we got to see more ancient temples and ruins that we didn't see on our tour. Mykonos, Greece - We booked the excursion to Delos and missed it because we missed the part of the cruise compass that said the time had changed to an hour ahead. We were really upset that there was no sort of reminder about it, and read our cruise compass carefully from then on. While we were sad we missed seeing more ancient ruins, Mykonos provided more than enough scenery to see during our stop there. We walk around town, saw the windmills, and hiked up the mountain to get a spectacular view of the port (a MUST). Mykonos is the what you think of when you picture Greek islands - the bluest sky you've ever seen contrasting against the white buildings. So beautiful. Split, Croatia - We weren't sure what to expect in Split, but we were pleasantly surprised at how nice it was. It's a city built inside an ancient palace's walls. The tour was excellent - our tour guide was a local and was packed of interesting information. After the tour we had fun just walking through the tiny street, stepping in and out of shops, taking in the old buildings. Travel To Port of Embarkation We picked up the bus shuttle in Venice. Very easy! Stateroom Stateroom was a good size for the two of us. The bathroom was tiny, but as to be expected. The shower was a little hard to bath in though, as it barely fits one person standing and the shower curtain is constantly clinging to you. Women will have a hard time shaving their legs! We realized once we got on the ship that we were low on shampoo and soap and would probably run out before the end of the cruise (we weren't sure if there'd be opportunities on shore to get any either), so we called housekeeping and they directed us to guest services. We called the guest services desk to ask if there was somewhere to buy shampoo on the ship and the lady on the phone said no, but I wasn't too sure, so we went to guest services and the only answer we got was, "Check the stores." We spent a long time going in an out of the stores to find a place that sold shampoo and all we found was a fancy body store with perfumes and hair products that were extremely expensive. We asked all the store owners of stores that looked like they could sell shampoo. Finally, on the last day of the trip we found a shelf of shampoo and other toiletry items in the liquor store (a store we had not checked). I couldn't believe no one at guest services would no where to get toiletry items on the ship! There was a girl at guest services behind us whose luggage got lost at the airport, so all she had was the outfit on her and her purse. She asked them if there was somewhere to buy soap and such and they told her the same thing! I felt so bad for her! Besides that, our stateroom attendant was great. Very friendly and helpful. And his towel animals were excellent! Dining Food was excellent! The buffet at the Windjammer Cafe always had a lot of choices. It was perfect waking up in the morning and grabbing breakfast there before leaving for an excursion because it was quick and easy. We had breakfast one morning in the King and I, which was nice; however, it certainly wasn't as filling as the Windjammer. We never did breakfast at the King and I again. The King and I was great for dinner. We booked the cruise long in advance and requested our own table since we were on our honeymoon. However, when we sat down for our first meal, we were seated with another couple. We brought up the problem to one of the hosts, but he informed us that unfortunately, there was nothing they could do. However, the next morning, we went back and talked to the manager there, who immediately found a table for the two of us - at the earlier dining time. It was good that the mistake was made too because we ended up loving the earlier dining time because after walking around all day, we were starving by 6:30! Waiting until 9:00 would've been awful! We couldn't have asked for a better waitstaff. By the end of the cruise, we felt like they knew us (our drink waiter knew our usuals and by the end of the week we didn't even have to ask for what we wanted to drink). Our waiter seemed like he really cared and felt honored to serve us. During the first formal night the waitstaff performed a song, which was awesome. They did a great job! Entertainment/Activities Entertainment far exceeded what I thought cruise shows would be. The Royal Caribbean singers and dancers were on par with broadway. Great shows! The magician was neat too. There was always fun to be had in the theatre. Also, take part in the fun game shows the ship offers. We had fun playing the battle of the sexes and watching a form of the newlyweds gameshow (one newlywed couple, one married couple of 25 years, one elderly married couple all from the audience). Both were hilarious and so much fun! Dances at the clubs were a bit lame - no one really went. However, the ship offered a newlywed/anniversary party where they provided champagne and cake. Very sweet of them, but no one stayed too long. The pool games were also fun to watch. And at many of the stops there would be a party that night relating to the port (for example Greek Night complete with a pig roast and the works and Greek dancing!). The band on board the ship was excellent too and provided great music for salsa dancing! And if you're bored for some insane reason there's always rock climbing and mini golf! Disembarkation Everything went smoothly during every disembarkation. No waits really. They were very organized! Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
Flew in a day early to meet up with my travel companions. I live in atlanta so i was lucky enough to get a direct flight via Delta to Venice. 22 June, Fri, Venice Spotty sleep and arise to a warmed croissant in my face but it was ... Read More
Flew in a day early to meet up with my travel companions. I live in atlanta so i was lucky enough to get a direct flight via Delta to Venice. 22 June, Fri, Venice Spotty sleep and arise to a warmed croissant in my face but it was better than those lil crackers. Opened the window and looked down to an amazing site - the Alps going by. That was truly amazing to see the peaks rising so close to us, especially when contrasted with the little villages nestled in the valleys. On approach to Marco Polo saw what looked like an old-towne square and remnants of a walled city - of course down the street was an Ikea. Le sigh. We land, disembark and head to immigration which was a joke, just a lady stamping passports as fast as she could, no computer swipe or anything - and no customs stop at all. Got out and searched for an ATM as i don't like to travel with cash and find it easier to just pick up local currency in this manor. They did a great job of hiding it but finally found one tucked into a corner (to the far right of where you exit) with no signage at all. Once i was cashed up i got in line for the Alilaguna water bus behind this old couple. She obviously wore the pants in this family cause the poor old man couldn't find his head if the old woman didn't tell him where to find it. First it was what to do, then how to do it cause his was was wrong. "And why doesn't AVTV take credit cards cause in the book they took credit cards and why does it cost 12E when the book said 11 and do they just change it everyday?" Oh my, she was something. Anyway, i got my ticket and walked out to the boat dock to find another line waiting for the boat. Here i saw another ticket stand with absolutely no wait so if you are looking for tickets skip the booth in the airport and just go out to the docks and buy passage from the stand there. The second line found me once again behind the loving couple. She kept up her antagonizing pressure on her husband. "Harold which boat goes to Lido, where does this go? Ask this guy, ask him again!" Eventually the boat shows up and we load and slowly and bumpily make our way toward Venice stopping at Murano and Lido. After over an hour we finally arrive at Zatterre, the final stop which was perfect for trekking to my hotel in Dorsoduro. I was a little unsure where i had landed but was able to wander until i find a familiar street and then make a line for the hotel. Thankfully the map i had was both detailed and accurate and delivered me perfectly to the Hotel Messiner. Here i met up with my travel companions who had arrived a day earlier. After a quick shower for me to wash off the airline crud we set out together for the Campo de Marhahrita. Picked up my first shot of gelato in Italy - a scoop of pistachio and melon for 1.8E. It was great, especially the melon, but not very filling. Once we got to Campo we found a little pizzeria that was too much to resist. A huge slice for 1E80 was just what the doctor ordered. In the Carpo were a few cafes where the locals were sitting enjoying drinks. They have these orange and red drinks in tumblers with a slice of lemon looks very interesting - of course i am dehydrated too so who knows? We walked around and at the Grand Canal crossing i got a green slushie that i was expecting to be sweet lime but imagine my surprise when i got mint! It was still really yummy though and cooled me off a good deal which is what i needed. At the same stand they had fresh coconut which we got a piece of to gnaw on. While on our way to San Marco we passed a patisserie and i found a pistachio cake that i couldn't passup. And eating it did not disappoint as it was delish. White cake with a pistachio creme filling and pistacio frosting...YUM! San Marco was up next and it did not disappoint. The space reminded me a lot of the square in Brussels..a really big open space with 2 story buildings surrounding but at the far end is an old church and beside that the doges Palace. Also here is the famous campanile which, with its fresh brick, seems strangely out of place with the surrounding marble facade. Also there were no street vendors and few artists inside the square itself which surprised me. possibly it was just too late in the day? What they did have was plenty of pigeons though, but i found out that was no accident. There are lil vendors selling what i thought was ice cream but turns out to be bread crumbs. So the thing is to hold these crumbs in your hand and have the birds essentially attack you. Forgive me if this does not sound like a good time. We walked to our restaurant in the same area next and had a so-so meal. I got a pris fixe of old lasagna, dry pork and peas. The peas were really good, the pork could have been OK with a mild amount of sauce. Add in the fact i was already dehydrated and you see this meal was not high on my list. After dinner we headed for the canal to take our obligatory gondola ride. We found a guy who gave us 30mins for 80E which i think was a ripoff but that is hard to authenticate from here. It did traverse a bit of the Grand Canal, which was rough and choppy due to all of the water taxi and vaporetto traffic. Once we got off that and into the smaller waterways it was calm and quiet and peaceful. Really it was almost creepy as we navigated these back channels with out any sound and just a little light reflecting off the water. They guy did not sing so we didn't have that romantic vibe but that was for the best since i was travelling with friends. Walking back to the hotel we got a bottle of wine and drank it on a bridge that crosses the Grand Canal. Then it was back to the hotel for lights out and i didn't move an inch. 23 June, Sat, Venice Woke up stupid early, like 620a and didn't go back to sleep. The breakfast at the hotel was quite diverse and good. The coffee was great and this bread with some chocolate chunks in it was amazing. And i met Romeo, the hotel cat who was friendly but not overly affectionate. After checking out and storing our bags with the front desk we headed down to a nearby Traghedero to cross the canal but the guy wasn't working yet so we had to truck back and find another less convenient one. Our plan was to go inside San Marco but after seeing the line we opted for a trip up the campanile. After a swift elevator ride we were at the top with an impressive view of the island. A stiff breeze make it all the more pleasant so i stayed up there awhile. Coming down we did some window shopping around the Piazza. Found a really cute lace store tucked away that will probably receive a return trip. We came back and had lunch at a lil cafe a block down from the hotel. I tried out one of those colorful drinks, called a spritz, which was not sweet and refreshing at all, in fact it was quite bitter. It wasn't bad though, just not what i was expecting. Picked up the bags and got on a vaporetto to the P.Roma where we had read a shuttle bus was to take us to the cruise dock. Of course P.Roma is a large bus station and there are at least 40 of them sitting around. We follow some other similarly lost and confused people and eventually find our transport sitting in the back left corner, unmarked. A short ride to the marina where we dropped off our bags (we had not gotten bag tags from our TA but they seemed quite prepared for this and quickly looked up our cabin and took care of things swiftly) and then walked to the checkin. The process was great, I had already filled out the info online before leaving home so a quick wave of the passport got my cuisecard. It looked like our dining options had not been set correctly so we talked to an attendant who was stationed right past the checking booth and got assigned to what was defined as the "greatest" table in the room...we shall see. Upon boarding we dropped off our carryon bags in the room, grabbed the daily ship report and went up to the buffet restaurant to grab a snack and read about what was going on. I was utterly amazed at how much stuff there was to do!! Being my first cruise i really had no idea what to expect, thinking maybe i would be bored a lot - that was definitely not to be true. We took a lil walking tour of the ship to check things out and orient ourselves a little with the ship. We dropped by the room, found our bags to have already arrived (how awesome was that?) switched to swimmies and headed for the Solarium to chill in the pool area. Got a surprise at the pool as it was filled with salt water which i was not expecting. The pool was a little small but it was neat cause each side had a 4" shallow area where you could lay in the water and look up to the sky through the clear glass roof. We stayed in the Solarium as the ship sailed off and got great views of Venice as we moved out of town. From the ship we looked to be at least as high as the top of the campanile. It was neat watching the island roll by and the people on the shore stopping and waving as you went by. Looking down i could see manta rays that were swimming near the top of the water - neato. Eventually i went back down to the room to shower before dinner. Entering the dining room the first time was something - it was exquisite and fabulous. A 2 story room well acquainted with a marvelous stairwell and flowers everywhere. We ended up with the largest table, a massive circular 12 seater in the middle of the lower dining room which lived up to the billing. Our tablemates were an awesome British couple and an american couple with their 3 college-age daughters. The dad was one of those boisterous people used to getting everything his way but maybe it was just the initial travel grumpies? I was seated closest to the British couple and we had pleasant conversation about travel and work and home and such. I had a tomato soup to start which was good. Cod as my entree which was OK and savani(?) for dessert which was like a sponge cake soaked in rum with some creme filling. After dinner we strolled around the ship a little, tried out the casino but eventually tired and had to call it a night. Heading back to the room i found an amusing surprise, a towel had been left in my bed in the shape of an elephant! This amused me to no end, it was SO CUTE. Being my first cruise i had no idea about these things and it was really a nice touch. My room mate, who had stayed at the casino, came in around 1245a and said she won 350...not bad for a nights work. 24 June, Sun, Dubrovnik Awoke this morning to the toilet flushing...ahh the pleasures of travelling in a closet. That was a little after 8am so i went back to sleep and later awoke to a rapping on my chamber door by our friends. I found the bed to actually be quite comfy and having a cabin on a low deck and in the rear by the engines is not a problem at all. Actually it is almost relaxing to have a soft vibration and light humming in the background. I went and grabbed a quick breakfast in Windjammer and disembarked for our day at Dubrovnik. We grabbed a taxi with an awesome driver and left the cruise provided cattle bus in the dust. The driver had grown up in America but moved back to Croatia when he was 15. He told us the schools taught classes in English and Croatian as well as a 3rd language in the middle grades. Dropped us right outside the old city walls and we went up the walls first. Amazing view but hot hot hot and quite tiring in a few places that had a lot of stairs. About 3/4 of the way around we found a little cafe that might have saved me. I downed a bottle of water while enjoying a nice breeze though the window. We climbed up to the highest point and met a nice couple from Wyoming. They had done a sailing cruise out of Split and came down to Dubrovnik for the day. As we were walking back down the stairs the father and son started playing jazz flute and harmonica in one of the lookout stations. After finishing the wall my companions had enough so they took off back to the ship. I stayed, checking out the church and the monastery which had a cute cloister but was kinda small and a little disappointing. I walked around the old city a good bit, finally finding a bathroom - which was really nasty - before i burst. Found some kitties lying in the rain gutter being lazy - like they do - and another stretched out on a wall. I pet the one on the wall and it barely moved - I guess it was even too hot for cats. I walked around for awhile looking for the perfect souvenir or gift but couldn't find it. There were some nice drawings near the system done in blue ink but i didn't feel they were worth 30E. I ended up just getting a fridge magnet for my collection. I headed out of the city and was dreading paying for a taxi by myself but i found a lady with a RC sign pointing to a bus. I went ahead and hopped on board since it didn't seem like anyone was checking for tickets - WOOT - free ride!! Got back to the ship, ate lunch and met up with the kids around 5pm. We chilled out in the solarium to watch us pull away from the dock. We really couldn't see the old city very well as it was miles away and a little hazy. It was at this time that i discovered they make crepes at the pizza station though - my little slice of heaven onboard. This was one of the highlights of the trip!! Crepe suzette was the crepe 'o the day - baby oranges with an orange sauce - TANGY! The crepe station would become one of my favorite hangouts. We hit the casino for awhile where my roommate racked up another load and chilled out for awhile before dinner. This was formal night so we all had to get gussied up. We had filet though so i guess it was worth it. For dessert i had Grand Mariner souffle with ice cream which was only OK - still has nothing on Roys chocolate souffle. After dinner i shuttled off to the show in the 42nd St theatre. A motown show playing things from the 4 Tops, Nat King Cole, Sam Cook, Otis Redding, Temptations, etc. They were really good and 2 of them were from Atlanta. After the show we changed and got in some quality hot tubbing and i tried my hand at some shuffleboard. Must have been beginners luck as i won 28-21 WOOT!! By this point it was 3am with a time change so definitely time for bed... 25 June, Mon, Sea Day Had hoped to get up and go for a jog this morning but the late night and the realization that i was on vacation made that a nogo. About 930a headed up to the main restaurant for a breakfast. Had an awesome time, they have a menu based service and they seat you as you come in with other random diners. I like this a lot actually, we had great tablemates from both the US and UK and we all had a great time getting to know one another. This was our sea day so after breakfast we just chilled on the deck, i read the little pseudo news papers they have in the library and did the daily suduko. We attended the shopping discussion for our next port of call, Turkey, which was essentially a talk about rugs. and then went to the art auction. The auction was kinda neat, never been to one before and i found the proctor to be both funny and informative. We opted to partake in a wine tasting that afternoon which was ok but not overly informative. The main show that night was a swimming and dancing troupe which was entertaining. had some grilled lamb for dinner which was quite good. THe dessert menu had baked alaska which i had heard of but never seen offered before so i had to try it. It is chocolate ice cream and strawberry ice cream surrounded by yellow cake surrounded by a white creme that had been baked slightly to give the outer layer some firmness and texture and then the whole thing covered with a strawberry sauce...WOW...it was awesome. 26 June, Tue, Kusadasi Today we were sailing into Kusadasi. We had booked a private tour through Meander Travel to tour Ephesus. Upon landing we disembarked and found our tour guide waiting for us. He quickly showed us to a van and we were on our way. Upon arriving we were surrounded by the locals yelling at us and trying to sell us guide books, lemonade, souvenirs, etc. Really terribly annoying. In any event we were led into the site and whisked from tree to tree as it was a hot day and apparently our guide was more interested in keeping to the shade the properly showing us the site. After blowing through the site we were taken to the obligatory rug factory. They were pretty nice there, gave a quick talk about how the rugs were made, gave us some tea and showed us some of their wares. We were not that interested and we headed off with no problems. We got dropped off in the town center were we found a place for lunch and i had a yummy doner platter and some AWESOME baklava. Our tummies satisfied we headed out for some shopping. First stop was Bellas as it was a "recommended" store which probably means jacked up pricing to pay for the RC commission. I didn't find much of interest but bought a couple bars of foofoo soap as gifts. In the traditional carpet stores we found the salesman were generally nice and they gave us apple tea which was refreshing on the hot day. They seemed to derive great pleasure of throwing a rug on the ground, then picking it up rotating and throwing it back down so it catches the light in a different way. Quite simply though the rugs are just too expensive. The silk ones are just ridiculous, several thousand for a 4x6 rug is just too much for me. I was hoping to pick up one for 150 or so but i had no chance. The closest i could get was a 3x5 for 400 which i was not willing to spend. I wandered around the back streets for awhile and dove into a small shop a few blocks off the main drag. I ended up with a nice 2x4 for 100 and a 1x1 for 25. Probably not the best quality but i can live with it. We headed back to the ship and rested for awhile before dinner. We realized the menu offerings were the same in Windjammer as the dining room tonight so we opted for something less formal. The coq au vin was good as was the steak and the bow tie pasta. The hazelnut torte was a bit too rich but the custard i had was good. They also had Greek havalarti which reminded me of those lil brown and white stripped candies i used to have as a kid. YAY! 27 June, Wed, Santorini My companions were up early today for the Volcano and Hot Springs tour. I slept in a little longer but only til 830a. went and got some bfast at Windjammer and then took the tender ship over to Fira. The island is essentially the crater rim of a volcano explosion and the city is built on top of the rim, or caldera. So there are 3 ways up the slope, cable car, ride a donkey or hike. I chose the later - and paid for it. It was very hot and humid that day and i was soaked when i got to the top and probably smelled as bad as the donkeys did. The donkeys were funny though, they would just stop for no reason leaving the rider helpless until the handler came to help them out. Lots of droppings to watch out for all along the route but also the donkey being led back down as they would aim right for you sometimes. Upon reaching the top you are rewarded with a spectacular view of the volcano and the harbor. I had originally planned to take a hike along the foot path around the rim to the next city over but after my hike up i was already hot and sweaty so decided to skip the trek. The city itself basically consists of shops catering to the tourists which was typical and a little disappointing. For some reason none of the famous domes were painted blue as you typically see in the pictures..GRRR. I walked around a good bit looking into the shops but essentially just became frustrated due to the lack of diversity and heat. Funny though as i was walking down the main shopping street I ran into my friends walking the other way. They were headed to lunch at a spot their tour guide recommended. The restaurant was amazing, a rooftop canopy with an amazing view out into the harbor and a great breeze which was much appreciated. Food was good, we started with saganaki - fried cheese- which was great great great. My entree, houndaas(?), was like a mince meat pie. It was ok but i grew tired of eating it. After eating we split apart, i continued my search for something to buy. I got a small painting and headed back down the donkey path to the ship and took a nap. Upon waking i went to the Windjammer and got some more of the hazelnut torte that was yummie and then wandered back to the solarium for the crepe o the day - citris cooler - essentially a orange flavored ice cream melted - YUM. I watched us pull away from the island as we picked up speed on our way to Corfu. The nightly show was a musician that played multiple instruments: harmonica, piano, electric guitar, violin and mandolin. He was really good and got a good laugh out of having an Englishman perform 'The Devil goes down to Georgia.' It was again formal night so it was back into the spiffy clothes for me. Lobster was on the menu but i started with a duck consomme, then the prime rib, which was great. Had the sampler for dessert - a piece of chocolate tart, cheese cake and a creme puff. Got back to the bunk about 1am and am shaking as i write. This is the first time i have actually felt the ship. I guess it is the speed as the captain said we would be going 22 knots to make it to Corfu by noon. 28 June, Thur, Corfu Up at a reasonable hour to grab some bfast at the Jammer - just some granola and yogurt. Went to the "Corfu destination seminar" which was basically the annoying shipping lady telling us (again) to only shop at the "approved" stores. She really gets annoying. We left but were walking by the main bar where a little art seminar was starting up. I stopped and listened to a discussion about different styles of art which was a good intro into the difference between editions and original pieces of art saying liths and pressings were a good way for artists to get their work out and gain exposure. Plus i got a free print and an invite to a special VIP session later, ohh lalalalala. We headed out to Corfu town after i got a quick burger from the Solarium. disembarking was no problem and there was no immigration at the port. A quick 10E taxi ride took us into the old town were we walked around and grabbed a pastry from a vendor. Walked by the Royal palace, down by the water were we stopped and dipped our feet in the Ionian sea. Back into town for lunch at Rex where i had a veal steak with a mushroom gravy which was awesome. really the food was just as good as Santorini but my entree was WAY better. I bought my requisite magnet and we made our way back to the ship. We went to the solarium for our daily hot tubbing and i got my ante of crepe. Took a short nap on the chairs but got up in time to shower and make it down to my art showing. They served us champagne and talked about works by Marko, Piccaso, Rembrandt, Dali and Max. A short film was shown which was done as a collaboration btw Dali and Disney back in the 50s which was really out of this world. They had some liths from the film for sale which were pretty cool but not really in my price range. At dinner the family decided to skip out on us so we had a pleasant dinner with the British couple. I started with a caprese and a strawberry soup (which was amazing!!), followed by tiger shrimp and penne something (a white sauce with corn, peppers and sausage). Dessert was a tiramisu - and holy @)#($, this was some of the best stuff i have ever put in my mouth - it was amazingly light and soft and perfect. I went off to the casino with the friends and watched how easy it was to lose $100. 29 June, Fri SEA DAY Went down to the main dining room for breakfast again, and gobbled up some blueberry pancakes and eggs benedict. After some bfast we went up to the sun deck and took in some rays. There was a gale force wind blowing through that kept things cool but yet was quite annoying while trying to read. The ship had a bbq on the pool deck for lunch so we grabbed some ribs, chicken a paella and headed to the solarium. we had some cocktails and played a round of scrabble which i won (helped by my disputed 7-letter word - 'floatie') Headed for our last chance at Bingo - which no one in our party won...HUMPH. Back to the solarium where we met up with Joao one final time for my crepe o the day - banana creme and strawberry + chocolate syrup. Into the hot tub and a dip in the pool to cool off but it was a little too chilly today, i guess we were back into the cooler northern med waters? Dinnertime rolled around but i had been snacking most of the day to i asked our server James (who was great great great, btw) for something light and he got me a grilled chicken salad which was delish. I had been feeling a bit under the weather so i had a few cups of tea this evening. Up for dessert was a pineapple/coconut cake which was quite yummy. We went for a walk after dinner and found a nice full moon and a great end to our wonderful adventure. Back in our rooms we finished packing, laid out our luggage and passed out. 30 June, Sat Was greeted at 6am by the captain announcing we had pulled into Venice. We had much later disembark times so we headed up to the pool deck to wait it out. Once we left at about 9a the crowds had cleared at the warehouse and our bags were pretty easy to find. The transportation back to the bus station was another story. There were lines of people everywhere and no one had any clue what bus went where - it was quite a mess - as had been trying to get here in the first place. Eventually we found the right line to stand in and then once a bus showed up there was a mobbing of it to try and get luggage on and a seat. Anyway we made it back to the bus terminal, stored our bags and headed back to Venice for one last day. I was feeling pretty sick at this point, i had a kinda high fever i think so i just followed as the kids wandered around. I know we went to the Rialto bridge and did some more general shopping and went in search for a Venetian mask. Early afternoon we were all kinda pooped and collected our bags and headed out on a local bus into the mainland and closer to the airport to find our hotel. It was ok, just a typical bed and a box. We walked down the street a little bit to a pizzeria and had dinner then back to the hotel to pass out. Took the local bus to the airport the next day and flew home. In all, this was right up there with one of the best vacations i have ever had. The lil surprises like the daily crepes and the towel animals were the small touches that made my first cruise a very special experience. About the only negative i can even think of about this cruise was the room size. we had an inside cabin, 3583, which was pretty cramped, especially the bathroom. but i thought being on the 3rd floor in the back was great cause it was just 1 quick flight of stairs up to the dining room and the theatre. Can't wait til my next vacation!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
Splendour of the Seas June 9 - June 23 2007 Travelled with my husband Day 1 Left home for an early morning shuttle from Glasgow to London, Gatwick. We booked our cases to go straight through to Venice. Arrived in London in good time and ... Read More
Splendour of the Seas June 9 - June 23 2007 Travelled with my husband Day 1 Left home for an early morning shuttle from Glasgow to London, Gatwick. We booked our cases to go straight through to Venice. Arrived in London in good time and flight to Venice left only a little late. Arrived in Venice to find that our luggage hadn't! Something to do with a broken conveyor in Gatwick. Joined a long queue to report our lost bags. Stood in queue for 2 and a half hours before reaching the desk. Filled out a form and were given a few toiletries and T-shirt pyjamas. Rush to bus and sped to pier arriving just in time for the muster drill and only 30 mins before sailing. After drill went to Pursers desk to report missing luggage. We were given some more toiletries and a T-shirt along with some vouchers for laundry.. I had packed a spare t-shirt each and a spare pair of underpants each so we did not have much to wear. We went to dinner in the King and I restaurant in our travelling clothes. Our table companions were an American family with 17 and 14 year old children and we got on very well with them. Our waiter and assistant were both from the Philippines and were very attentive. After dinner we went to the welcome show then had a couple of drinks before bed. Day 2 Our first port was Dubrovnik. As we had visited here before we took the local bus into the city. It was nice to wander the cobbled streets although as it was Sunday some shops were closed - mainly the ones where we might have been able to buy some clothes!! I did buy a hat but we couldn't find a single shop that sold sunscreen - very strange. It was nice to sit in the square and have a drink and watch the world go by. We didn't walk the walls as we had done them before but they are a must if it is your first visit although go early before it gets too hot and too busy. We returned to the ship for a late lunch in the Windjammer. Checked with the desk but no news on even where our luggage was. Later sat and read near the pool but in the shade. Evening as before but we also went to a Trivia Quiz which we won and got as a prize - wait for it ......... luggage tags! Day 3 A sea day. We sat in the sun for a while but had to retire to the shade. It was very hot especially as I had only trousers to wear. I had washed our T-shirts and DH managed to buy a pair of shorts in the gift shop and I got another t-shirt. The shop had very little to help out folks with no luggage. There was no underwear or ladies shorts/skirts and no shoes. All I had were Crocs and DH had leather shoes. We had breakfast and lunch in the dining room but as it was a formal night we went to the buffet instead. At the show we felt very underdressed with everyone in their finery. There were 46 groups of people with no luggage and it was like a club as everyone had a "Shipshape" t-shirt. Day 4 Kusadasi - great for us as we could go on a spending spree! We had visited Ephesus before so just went into town and shopped. After our shopping spree we sat and had a drink at the harbour. Prices for clothes in Turkey are very reasonable and many things are sold as "genuine" fakes! Leather goods though are great value. I would recommend a trip to Ephesus though if you haven't visited before. It's a long , hot day but well worth it. Checked about luggage and they have now found it in Venice and our best hope is getting it in Corfu on day 6. At least we have a proper change of clothes now. Day 5 Santorini where we had booked a ship's tour. We had to tender to shore and were taken by coach to do an island tour. It's a very pretty island and lots of photos were taken. We also visited a winery before being taken back to Fira. A ticket for the cable car was provided to use at your leisure. We sat and had a drink in a cliff top cafe which gave a great view of the 5 ships in port. We also saw where the cruise ship had sank a few months ago - it was very near the shore and there was a boom round the area as it was still leaking oil. There was an hour's wait for the cable car. I don't know how long it would be later on or the next day as there were 11 ships in port then. We returned to the ship to a lovely surprise - our cases were in our cabin. They had security seals on them and had been from Glasgow to London to Venice to Rome to Athens to Santorini. Well travelled indeed. Until we did our tour I didn't even know Santorini had an airport. This was the second formal night so we were able to dress up with DH in his kilt. We had a laugh with one of the waitresses about what was under it! Day 6 Corfu. As we had spent a holiday here a few years ago we just took the shuttle to town. It's a nice town to wander round with lots of narrow streets full of shops and bars/restaurants. We did some shopping - olive wood articles are good - and had a couple of drinks. There are some interesting places to visit in the town itself with a couple of fortresses and churches. The cricket pitch is a grassy area near where the buses leave and has lots of bars and restaurants to sit in. The ship's beach trip was actually to the hotel we had stayed in. Took the shuttle bus back. You could walk but it is quite a hike in the heat. Day 7 Sea day. Relaxed at the pool. Had a swim or two and caught up with some reading. I had intended to go to the towel animals demo but missed it as I didn't realize the time. Our last meal with our table companions was fun and I was given a red rose by the mum. Many folks turned in early as they were leaving the next day but we stayed up and listened to the group playing. Day 8 Venice again and many folks left the ship. In fact there were only 26 people doing a B2B. We took the waterbus into St Mark's Square and wandered around the sights St Mark's church, tower, Rialto Bridge, Doges Palace, Bridge of Sighs and lots of little squares and narrow streets crossing the narrower canals. At first we were pleased to see the place so quiet as we had arrived early but as the morning wore on it got busier and hotter so we returned to the ship late morning. They had provided a lunch in the dining room for the B2B folk which was nice as it was really busy at the buffet with the new arrivals. After the muster drill we got changed and then met with the folks from our roll call. We didn't have enough for a M and M so arranged our own. About 18 folk turned up and it was nice to put faces to the names. It was spectacular to watch the ship leaving Venice in a convoy with 2 other cruise ships. The view of Venice is wonderful. Then it was time for dinner and to meet our new dining companions. This time we had an elderly English lady and her Sicilian husband who didn't speak good English so didn't say much. While we were dining the Maitre D' appeared and crouched down between DH and myself. He asked if we would join the Captain the next evening for dinner at the Captain's Table. Naturally we said yes! Day 9 Sea day so relaxed, swam and read. Sent some clothes to the laundry. During the afternoon the Captain came on and said we were having to sail near to a fishing village in Corfu so a boat could come and take a young passenger ashore with his family. This happened though we didn't watch. Clothes back in double quick time and done for free with voucher. It was formal night and also Captain's reception. He told us there were 138 different nationalities amongst the passengers. Some countries has only 1 or 2 people while Britain was the second highest with about 300 and America was most with 1300 people. We met the Maitre D' outside the dining room and along with 3 other couples were taken to the Captain's table. There we had a photo taken and a special menu with wine. It was wonderful, especially the special dessert. The Captain told us that the emergency was that a lady had given birth to a premature baby. She was only 25 weeks pregnant so they needed an incubator for the baby. He was born on a Bermuda registered ship, in Greek waters to American parents so might have triple nationality! The meal lasted for ages and before we left the Captain invited us all to visit the Bridge the next morning. Day 10 Mykonos which was an afternoon arrival. We met 1 of the other couples for our tour of the bridge. One of the other couples had said they weren't coming but we were surprised to find the other Scottish couple were missing. After waiting for a few minutes we were security screened then taken onto the Bridge. It was much bigger than I expected and we were shown around by the first officer and even taken onto the outside section where there is a Perspex part to the floor where you can see the waves many decks beneath! The Captain arrived to meet us again and chatted for a while. They have 1 female officer from Canada who works on the Bridge. As we came off the Bridge we met the missing couple who were astonished that we had been as it was still not 11.00. Oh but it was! They had forgotten to put their watches on so sadly they missed out. When we arrived in Mykonos we took the free shuttle bus into the town. It's very pretty with narrow street and white buildings. There is an area called Little Venice with lots of places to eat and drink. We walked up to the windmills and had a great view from there. Then we wandered around the narrow streets and had a drink or two before returning to the ship. As the ship was in port until 23.00 dinner was open sitting as many folks decided to eat in town. The dining room was still busy though. Day 11 Athens. We had a ship's tour of the sights of the town and Plaka - shopping - district. As my broken ankle is still weak we opted not to climb the Acropolis and this tour just took us to the bottom so we got some good pictures. There are many spectacular sights in the town. We stopped at the Olympic Stadium as well as the Parliament and saw the soldiers with their funny skirts and shoes. After seeing the Cathedral we had shopping time in the Plaka. There are a great variety of shops and places for a cool drink. It was so hot - 100 degrees - we were glad of a seat and to find the fans sprayed a mist over you. It was very tiring as it was so hot. It was nice to be in the cool coach again and we waited 15 mins for 2 people who never turned up even though they had left their guide books on the seat. The coach took us back to Piraeus and the ship. Had got more laundry done and again returned in record time. We also received our photos from the Captain's Table along with signed menus. A nice touch. Day 12 Katakolon Again we had a ship's tour to Olympia. We were on the first coach and the guide told us all the history of Olympia as we drove there. When we got into the site she took us round but she went into so much detail that people just switched off. Luckily there were trees we could stand under or we would have been passing out with the heat. It was taking about 15 mins for each stop and the last straw was when she asked was there any questions and someone asked how many athletes ran in the Stadium at one time. Instead of saying she didn't know she took 15 mins to get round to saying that. We gave up and wandered off on our own as we knew to meet at the gate. It was the same in the archaeological museum. Great long explanations about everything. Then we stopped in the village for 30 mins before heading back to the ship. We were the second last bus of over 20 to get back and were so late we had to board the ship instead of walking round Katakolon village and having a drink on the seafront. We had a few laughs with some others in our group about how we could get her to stop talking including removing her chewing gum as she said she couldn't talk without it! When we went back to our cabin last thing we were surprised to find the "do not disturb sign" in our door. On opening the door the lights were off and the TV pulled out facing the bed and switched on. Very strange. However when we put the light on we saw our steward had made a figure in the bed with the towels and pillows complete with chocolate eyes and wearing my glasses. What a laugh. Day 13 Corfu again so we took the shuttle to town and had a wander and did some shopping. There were a lot of walking tours of the town which is good if it is your first visit. We returned o the ship for a late lunch and relaxed by the pool and had a swim later. It was quiet as many people were still ashore. Day 14 Split. This was our second tender port. It is a beautiful city with a lot of history. Again we had been before so explored on our own. Lots of walking tours here too. Diocletian's Palace is worth a visit and there is a good market with lots of stalls just nearby. The ice cream is wonderful and very cheap. Spent the last of our Croatian money - apart from Dubrovnik all the other ports take Euros - and returned to the ship. It was not a ship's tender but a bigger boat that took us back and it was a bit scary getting off onto the ship as it was rocking a bit. As tomorrow was our last day we packed after dinner. Day 15 Venice again. We were up at 6.00 and went for an early breakfast. Our group left the ship at 9.00 and were taken to the airport. It was mobbed and there were no seats so we had to stand around until just after 11.00 when we could checkin. Then we went through and the plane left about 20 mins late. On arrival at Gatwick we found all internal flights were delayed due to the horrendous thunderstorms that had been over England. Eventually arrived in Glasgow 90 mins late to be met by a friend and driven home complete with luggage!! Good points : Staff, all were so friendly and seemed to know your name after one meeting. Ship itself was lovely and there were always plenty of places to sit either in the sun or out of it. It never felt too crowded. Also plenty of space in the bars and lounges. I loved the towel animals too. The food was good with plenty of choice. Not so good points : The shows were the same each week. The brochure did say some might be the same but not all. I feel there could have been some that were changed. Lack of choice of goods in the shops especially for those with no clothes! There were too many jewelry shops. Would like : It would be nice to have a fridge in the cabin. Overall we had a good cruise in spite of our luggage problems. This was our first cruise with RCCI but I am sure it won't be our last! Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
This was my 1st time on this ship, my 6th RCCL cruise and my 9th cruise overall. I traveled with my sister who has cruised twice before on other lines. Overall our experience was delightful. This cruise began and ended in Venice Italy ... Read More
This was my 1st time on this ship, my 6th RCCL cruise and my 9th cruise overall. I traveled with my sister who has cruised twice before on other lines. Overall our experience was delightful. This cruise began and ended in Venice Italy and cruised to Dubrovnik Croatia, Kusadasi Turkey, Santorini and Corfu Greece. We flew in the day before our sail date and stayed on the island of Venice. This was a mistake, as we did not pack lightly. Venice is an amazingly beautiful city, but the transportation can be a real challenge. We took the direct bus to Venice from the airport for 5 euros each, then decided to walk to our hotel from the bus station. Once you arrive on Venice from the bus, taxi or train that is the end of the line for wheels. You have a couple of choices, gondolas which are outrageously expensive, water taxis, which seemed to charge 100 euros no matter where they were taking you, water buses for 6 euros for 1 hour or 12 euros for 12 hours or as we did walk. Our hotel which we booked on our own was not as close to the bus terminal as it looked, plus we had to scale 5 bridges which all have stairs, so the rolling luggage was little help. I would strongly recommend staying near the airport as we did when we returned or staying near the bus terminal. If you have your heart set on staying anywhere else, pack light and make sure your hotel is near the canal. After we checked into our hotel we strolled around the area and had a very nice dinner. The next morning we got up early and did some sight seeing, we had plenty of time to see San Marcos Square before we had to return to the hotel to get our luggage and make our way to the bus terminal for out shuttle to the ship. This was the only time I will complain about RCCL. When we arrived at the bus terminal there were no signs to tell us where to find the shuttle, no staff from RCCL. We finally asked enough bus drivers and we found our shuttle. There was a fully loaded bus ready to pull away and about another 50-75 passengers waiting for the next bus. By the time the same bus returned there were at least 200 passengers waiting to get on the bus. They swarmed the bus and the driver threw up his hands and began yelling, he made a phone call and the only word I understood was "unprofessional". The passengers began throwing their luggage into the bus and forcing their way on. It was pretty obvious we weren't getting on the bus anytime soon, so we located a taxi. Some taxi's were charging 40 euros per passengers, we found one that used the meter and took 4 of us for 15 euros. Once we arrived all was well again. I believe this was the 1st sailing for this port for the season, so I'm hoping they just needed to work out the kinks. This ship was nice, I think Americans were in the minority so we had a nice mix of Europeans as well as many Asian groups. The passengers were mostly mature, but nor elderly couples. There were a few young people and some children, but not many. We had a Jr. Suite with a balcony, it was really nice having a bathtub. The Service was excellent as usual, the food was top notch, great selection. I think they may have changed the buffet a bit to cater to the many Europeans, but there were all the American staples. I became a Platinum member on this cruise and enjoyed the reception they had. I didn't book any excursions from the ship, or go to any of the port lectures. I only went to 1 show and enjoyed it, it was a tribute to Motown. I didn't find the ship had the best exchange rate for euros and made sure I stocked up before I left. I booked a facial/back massage for the 1st sea day as soon as I got onboard. I was pleasantly surprised that I was also able to get a massage on the second sea day with only 1 day notice. I don't usually take the classes at the gym, but after Santorini I took a stretch class which was very enjoyable. The first port was Dubrovink Croatia, we didn't know much about the port and wasn't sure what to expect. I met a couple who visited the city last year by car and they suggested to walk the wall. The old city is surrounded by a fortress wall. When we got off the ship we walked to the end of the pier where there was a place to exchange money for Kuna and by bus tickets. It only cost a couple dollars to ride a bus for about 15-20 minutes to the old city. We looked around a little bit then went to the wall. It cost less than $10 and took about 90 min. to walk the entire wall. It gave us beautiful views of the city and the water, well worth it. We stopped by a little restaurant and had an amazing lunch. The Sea Bass was a big hit. The city has an amazing history which we learned about by using the audio guide while we walked the wall. The people were very friendly and the city was unique. The next day we arrived in Turkey. We had arranged a private tour and our driver met us at the terminal. He took us to the ruins at Ephesus which were amazing. This is the main attraction at this port. Turkey was nothing like I imagined, it was more modern and green. After the ruins we had our guide take us to a grocery store where we picked up some local canned foods, like grape leaves and spices. If you have any friends or family who like to cook make sure to pick up some Saffron, I couldn't belive how cheap it was here. Our driver also took us to a fantastic buffet lunch and we had the place to ourselves, the food was amazing, the produce especially. This would be a vegetarians paradise. We also went to a rug co-op. They demonstrated how they make the rugs and explained the differences in style and materials, they showed us how they get the threads to make silk, super interesting. If you purchase a rug at the co-op the Turkish government will pay shipping anywhere in the world. I should be getting mine in a few weeks. We returned to the ship and went back out to the port shops for a few more things. I found the shop owners to be very pushy, it was difficult to just window shop, they were practically dragging you into their stores. We tried some of the "ship recommended shops" and found them to be uncomfortably pushy. I purchased a leather purse in one of the recommended shops and had negotiated in dollars and he tried to ring me up in Euros which would have added 40% to my cost, so be aware. We did find a few shop owners they would just let you look without trying to force you to buy stuff, so we got what we wanted and got out quick. We also had to get a shish ka bob, so we asked our favorite shop owner where a good place was and his daughter walked us right to it. On our way we walked right past a Mosque where they were holding a funeral. The most memorable port of all was Santorini, I would highly recommend a ships tour for this island, make sure it is one that lets you off at the 1st port. If you have a tour that lets you off at the 1st port you get off the ship at noon and you get to take a bus to the top of the island. If you get a tour that lets you off the ship at the 2nd port you get off the ship at 1 and you have to wait in a long (1-2hour) line to take a tram to the top of the island. If you go on your own, you get off the ship at 1:30 and have a choice wait 2 hours for the tram, walk up the 1000' cliff, it is a gruelling 30-45 min. for someone in shape or you can do as we did and for 5 euros take a donkey. This may sound like fun, but I wasn't enjoying it at all. My donkey kept scrapping me against the wall and they all kept slipping on the cobblestone walkway, and running over the people walking. It was about a 20 death defying ride on a sweaty, stinky beast of burden. Once up to the top the city is beautiful. The white buildings with the domed topes were a dream to look at. We took a bus for 1.2 euros to the end of the island and walked around a bit then back to Fira for some shopping. Since I didn't want to deal with the donkeys or the hill on the way back we decided to go back at 3pm (all aboard was 4:30) I tried to find the end of the line for the tram, but it was at least an 1.5 hour wait, I never found the end, so I decided to walk down, which was exhausting, and my calves were cramped up for 3 days even after a massage. If I have Santorini as a port of call I will probably stay onboard and admire from a far. Our last port was Corfu, we took the ships shuttle to the town center and explored from there. We went to an archeological museum which had a lot of great artifacts and the Asian art Museum housed in the palace of Saints Michael and George. These were both within easy walking distance of the shuttle bus stop. We missed the Achilleion Palace, the streets and buses were more than I wanted to deal with and it is about 15km out of the city. The people who went to see it said it was so worth it. Corfu was much larger and had a more European feel. The island is covered with olive trees so this is a great place to pick up anything olive related. They make beautiful bowls and things from the wood. It was nice having a day out to sea to pack before we headed back to Venice. disembarkation was a breeze. With it being a smaller ship there didn't seem to be a heard of people leaving at one time. When we got off the pier there were buses to take you to the airport (prepaid on ship) or the bus station and taxis were plentiful. We took a large taxi mini bus taxi that dropped us off at the hotel on the way to the airport. It was 40 euro for the whole bus so it was about 5 euro per person. We had an early flight the next morning and the shuttle the hotel had got us there about an hour before out flight and the line was huge. fortunately Marco Polo is a small airport, so they just waited until everyone was checked in and onboard before they left. We were behind schedule about 20 min. Overall I really enjoyed it all. The ports were different and interesting the people were terrific. The ship was clean with excellent service. I was able to get everything I wanted, when I wanted it. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
This was our 25th Anniversary so we wanted to do everything right. We booked the air and cruise in Sept 06. We live in Cincinnati, so our air travel was from Cincy-JFK-VCE. We flew First class and let me tell you. It was worth the extra ... Read More
This was our 25th Anniversary so we wanted to do everything right. We booked the air and cruise in Sept 06. We live in Cincinnati, so our air travel was from Cincy-JFK-VCE. We flew First class and let me tell you. It was worth the extra money. We arrived in Venice on 10 may, our cruise started on 12 May. We booked the Rialto Hotel on the island. We booked the hotel thru AAA online travel. We also booked our transfers thru AAA, who used Travelbound INC. The flight went without a hitch, and Travel Bound had a rep meet us at the airport. His name was Luigi, and he went with us in the boat to the hotel. The water taxi pulled up at the Rialto pier and we got out and walked right in the lobby of the hotel. This was very convenient. I did not want to stay at a hotel where I had to drag my bags thru the alleys. The hotel was nice, staff was friendly, and they recommended places to eat, shop, and see. There is plenty of shopping within steps of the hotel. All shops will usually barter with you for a price. The hotel also included breakfast with price of the room. We had set up a noon transfer on the 12th. Travel Bound arrived at 11:30 just to make sure everything went smooth. The agent from Travelbound rode in the water taxi with my wife and I. We arrived at the port around 12:20. WE took a shuttle bus from water taxi to the cruise terminal. It took us a total of ten minutes to check in, get our sea passes, and pass thru security. We were on the ship at 12:30,and were told we could not get into the junior suite until 1300. So I went to the dining room to check on table assignments, then up to the Windjammer for lunch. The Windjammer was completely refurbished last Fall. Our waiter told us about how extensive the renovation was. There was always a good selection of food and the choices were plenty. Outside the Windjammer, the kitchen would set up a buffet by the pool. They would set up a lunch buffet everyday, in case people wanted to eat at the pool. They also had coffee, tea, ice tea, and soft serve ice cream by the pool. The solarium started their buffet around noon. The food in the solarium was the same everyday, and it ran from noon to 2am. Pizza, burgers, hotdogs, salads, and sandwiches. That's a pretty good choice and the hours were great. On deck six they have added a Ben and Jerry's and Seattle's Best coffee. You can also get Seattle's best coffee at the pool bar, and Top Hat lounge. The condition of the ship was great. Everything looked clean, and the maintenance crew was always working on things. The captain and his staff were wonderful. Everytime I ran into a crew member they would ask me if they could help and asked me if I was enjoying my cruise. Our cabin steward (Rogie), was very nice. He would do anything he could to make our trip enjoyable. Our wait staff in the King and I dining room were wonderful. On the first night our waiter and ass't waiter didn't seem to click. On day two the ass't waiter was moved and we received a new ass't waiter, who was excellent. The head waiter was at our table every night, he cut your food up, even though he didn't have to, and would normally chat at least five to ten minutes every night. On board entertainment was great. We saw magicians, motown review, oldies show, blues brothers, argentina gauchos, and a wonderful female singer from Scotland. The shows were professional, well done, and the cast enjoyed themselves. Our cruise director Leo Pappa, was great. Every day his number one concern was to make sure we felt at home. The difference with some cruise directors is: some do what they have to do to make your vacation fun. Leo actually enjoyed being a part of all the activities, and tried his best to include everyone. Our cruise was seven days long. When we arrived back in Venice on the 19th it took my wife and I five minutes to disembark. We stayed in our cabin until we heard our number called, then we took elevator down to deck two and walked right off. Again, Travel Bound rep met us as soon as we got off, and took us to our hotel. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott at the airport. I knew the airport would be a total mess, so that is why we left the following day. On Sunday we breezed thru the airport with no problems. Shore Excursions: 1. Dubrovnik, Croatia. Ship docks about two miles from town.A must see. This is truly a hidden gem. The wall that surround the city has some of the most breath taking scenery. Its a great picture taking opportunity. The people of Croatia love seeing all the tourists. 2. Ephasus, Turkey. You dock right on the edge of town. Touring the ancient ruins of Ephasus is well worth your time. If you have ever read the Bible, you will enjoy this tour. There are so many things in Ephasus, that comes right from stories in the Bible. Some of the best shopping on the trip was in town. All shops will bargain with you. 3. Santorini, Greece. Ship tenders in lagoon. There is no dock in Santorini. This stop had the most breath taking views. The best photo ops were here. Transportation can be tricky. The entire island sits very high, with the towns sitting up very high. The only way to get up to the top where shopping is, you have to take cable car, or walk, (which can take a long time), or you can ride a donkey up. You can actually ride the donkey up and down. The wait for the cable car can run up to an hour depending on how many cruise ships are in port. Shopping here is good. 4. Corfu, Greece. Ship docks about a mile from downtown,. The Greek Orthodox monastery, and Achillion Palace are must sees. They are on opposite sides of the island so it will take about an hour to get from one to the other. All and All I would rate our vacation and cruise a Ten. The ship was great, the crew was great, the airlines were great, hotels and transfers were great, and most of all the weather was great. We had wonderful weather for ten straight days. I will definitely be back on Royal Caribbean. Next time we will be taking our kids and grandkids. Cheers Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Splendour of the Seas May 26th 2007 Travelled with 5 others - age 25 -32 Day 1 Flew to Venice and stayed overnight at Casa Sant'Andrea Hotel.Hotel was 5 mins walk from Piazzle D Roma where the airport Atvo bus stopped.Very basic ... Read More
Splendour of the Seas May 26th 2007 Travelled with 5 others - age 25 -32 Day 1 Flew to Venice and stayed overnight at Casa Sant'Andrea Hotel.Hotel was 5 mins walk from Piazzle D Roma where the airport Atvo bus stopped.Very basic hotel but its only for the night before the cruise.went around venice and took the gondola.Make sure to bargain as the standard price which is 80 euro.We supposed to get the free shuttle bus from Piazzle D Roma to the terminal the next day but decided to walk.Took us 20 mins walk as some of us has big luggages.The check in building is right at the back of the terminal.But somehow it went very smooth..We also did the prior checked in. Went straight to our rooms.We booked stateroom on the deck 8.First impression, it was a bit too small .The bed is so comfortable.Our attendant Rogie a Filipino guy is such a sweetheart.He helped us a lot.He even tried to get a phone charger for us.He cleaned our rooms twice daily.Had dinner at King and I .Our main waiter was a dissapointment.He doesn't say a word.May be it was his first time.Our second waiter was much better.Food is always great there. Day 2 Our first port was Dubrovnik. We have to pay for the shuttle to city centre which a bit of let down as RC never mention all the hidden cost.Went around the city wall to see the whole city.Quite amazing spot,Went to the beach nearby ..There's a cool bar looking over the beach.Not to be missed. Day 3 A sea day. Used the solarium pool a lot as the main pool full of kids . Also did the rock climbing and the crazy golf..Breakfast and lunch at windjammer was great..But they seem not changing the menu through out the week.Had the formal dinner.Everybody was all glam up. Day 4 Kusadasi -Booked the Ephesus trip with Nejat Incedogan , a local turkish man who I thought very knowledgeable about Ephesus.So we had the tour guide for ourselves which is much better than a huge group.Nejat brought us to local restaurant which we asked for.Though the food was reasonable and nice there're loads of tourist buses stopped by.so its not really the local hang out.He also brought us to leather factory and pottery shop.very interesting. Day 5 Santorini where we had booked a car with odysseysRental. Definitely recommend it.we booked 2 cars and decided to change to a van the on the day.They were cool about it.somehow we had to tender to shore on the day of arrival.People who has booked tour with the RC has priority to tender which I felt a little unfair.The tender process wasn't organized and we were late arriving there.we saw the cable car queue was very long.End up taking the donkey while some of us walked up the stairs.It wasn't a pleasant experience.First of all its only supposed to be 3 euro and the guy charged each of us 5 euro each.No safety whatsoever.I recommended to take the cable car or walk up.Drove to Oia..It was the most beautiful place I've ever seen.Trip was quick as we have to be back to cruise Day 6 Corfu. Just a relaxing place to go..Spent most time swimming at beach nearby Day 7 Sea day. Used the sauna and steam room at the spa and played table tennis.went for salsa class.Weather starts getting breezier and we took the rest of the day chilling. Day 8 Back to Venice. We all put on at least a kg after the cruise Suggestions : -RC should take into consideration to organize the tender process a bit better -Entertainment was really good. But may be too much on musical side .It'll be good if add some stand up comedy or some acrobats show. Our cruise director Leo Pappa, was great and entertainment -Go to eastern med around end of May to early June , weather wont be pipping hot and wont be swamped with loads of tourists. -Crew are very professionals and polite - All in all we had a fun holiday Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
After a long day of traveling, we arrived home from Barcelona at 9:15pm, New Mexico time! We had a very large cruise critic group and let me say, we had an extremely wonderful time and a fantastic group! We arrived in Houston about ... Read More
After a long day of traveling, we arrived home from Barcelona at 9:15pm, New Mexico time! We had a very large cruise critic group and let me say, we had an extremely wonderful time and a fantastic group! We arrived in Houston about 10:20am, collected our luggage and had a short wait for the transfer to Galveston. We arrived at the pier about 11:45. RCI did a fantastic job with the transfers and check-in, and we were aboard by 12:15pm for lunch! The only complaint that we had was that they collected our passports at embarkation and would not be returning them until the end of our cruise. Being an American in a foreign port, it is imperative that you have a passport with you when going ashore. I would recommend that anyone doing a transatlantic or Med cruise to make a copy of their passport and carry it with them when going ashore. Many passengers, did indeed, collect their passports when we arrived in the Azores and the ship was very accommodating with this issue. Our cabins were ready upon our arrival. Our basic, category M inside cabin was very small and we did not have a lot of storage space. The new bedding was wonderful and very comfortable. We stowed our carry-ons and went up to the Windjammer for lunch. The food was plentiful in the Windjammer and very tasty. Choices ranged from cold cuts to pasta with plenty of hot and cold dishes and a wide array of desserts with many sugar free choices. Tea and lemonade were available for self-serve. We did a little bit of exploring after lunch to re-acquaint ourselves with Splendour. My first impression: they were lacking some help in the Windjammer, as the tables were not cleared very quickly. The ship showed every bit of her 11 years and is in need of a good refurbishment. I also felt that she was not as clean as she should have been and I told the hotel manager just that. At 3pm, we ventured up to the pool bar to await our cruise critic friends. Our sailaway party was a success and we met many of the people we had been chatting with for the months prior to the cruise. We seemed to be a well-blended group with very friendly cruisers and I am sure some long-term friendships have been formed. We had early seating for dinner, so we returned to the cabin to freshen up before our early seating. Still no luggage and I was worried that I would be called to the "naughty room"! Fortunately since were close by the aft elevators, I took a walk over and found the luggage! All were intact and still locked. No suspicious orange tags! At 6:10pm, we entered the dining room to meet some of our cruisecritic members who had asked to join us for dinner. We had a very lively table and our waitress, Erica, had problems getting us to listen to her recommendations from the dinner menu as we were having a great time getting acquainted! This became a nightly occurrence with our waitress, which I found highly annoying, as she would keep saying, "If you could please give me your attention". I never have a problem deciding what to eat and I did not feel like I needed a recommendation! Our assistant waitress, Trixie, was a true gem and we had very good service in the dining room. The food was a good assortment of fish, pasta, beef and chicken along with vegetarian choices or options for grilled chicken, steak, salmon and another pasta dish if one did not care for the main selections. Some of the steak selections were tough, I had the salmon twice, prime rib was excellent, steak Diane was disappointing, for the most part, the food was good, very flavorful, not what I would call great. Most nights, I ordered the sugar free desserts or low fat. These were very good, as was the ice cream! Many of the regular desserts that my DH ordered, I did taste and they were very good, but I found none truly outstanding. As usual, we avoided all the shows, but we were told that many were very good, some just ok. This is when we usually like to have a quiet drink right after dinner in the Schooner bar, right after a nightly round of trivia naturally! In the evenings, we listened to karaoke, then, we'd head up to the Viking Crown for some dancing and great conversation with our new friends. Unfortunately, I think someone forgot to tell the crew that many of the passengers actually wanted to stay up past midnight, as they would make a last call for drinks about 12:45 am, and then close the bar at 1 am. Many of the passengers found this highly irritating as with six days at sea, what did we have to get up for the next morning? Our first port of call was Key West, Florida. It was a beautiful day in Key West and we took a tour through the Mel Fisher Museum, explored some of the shops, and then, had a nice cocktail before heading back to the Splendour. Our crossing was very smooth and the captain opted for the more northern route into Ponta Delgada. Our weather during the day was in the 70's and sunny. We had lots to do during the day, trivia, dance lessons, art auctions, so the six day crossing went by very quickly. We arrived in Ponta Delgada, Azores at 7am. Since we had been there last year, we opted just to explore the town. I used my ATM card to get my euros. It cost me just over $136 for 100 euros. The bank fee was $1.36. Many stores in Ponta Delgada accepted dollars, so currency exchange was not a problem! We had a very nice day, spring like weather and as we were due to sail at 1:30 pm, we made our way back onboard about 12:30. The ship did not receive the fuel it needed to continue our voyage, so the captain extended our time until 4 pm! We now had 3 hours to make up to get us into Cadiz, Spain. The captain told us that we would be one hour late into Cadiz and that he was going to have to travel at top speed to get us there. This was not a problem for any of the passengers except for the fact that we were entering a storm outside Ponta Delgada! The near gale kept us rocking and pitching until we reached Cadiz, but it wasn't too bad, just a very heavy wind across the deck. We arrived in Cadiz at 2:00pm. We docked in the heart of the commercial district, but it didn't do us much good as the Spanish take a siesta from 1:30 until 5:30pm! We roamed the pedestrian district and stopped off at a couple of Tapas bars. We returned to the ship at 5:30pm to pick up Dad, then off to eat onshore. We had a very nice dinner at La Candela, then roamed the shops on our way back to the pier about 8pm. Our next day was calm and sunny enroute to Barcelona. We arrived in Barcelona at 5am and we were off the ship and on our way to the airport at 7:30. Disembarkation in Europe is better than anywhere else! Our bags were tagged and loaded on buses and arrived when we did at the airport! We had a bit of a wait prior to check-in for our 1:05pm flight. We had a great flight back on Delta, cleared customs in Atlanta and arrived back home in Las Cruces at 9:15pm. All in all, our cruise critic members made this a terrific and memorable cruise. To RCI, the ship could be cleaner, better maintained and service could be improved upon. Read Less
Sail Date April 2007
This was a really pleasant cruise, even though I think it was a training exercise for new employees! Check in was a breeze, as we were lucky enough to be directed to the diamond desk instead of standing in line, no photographers to hold us ... Read More
This was a really pleasant cruise, even though I think it was a training exercise for new employees! Check in was a breeze, as we were lucky enough to be directed to the diamond desk instead of standing in line, no photographers to hold us up, so in 20 mins we were aboard. The cabin was nice and spacious,but do not waste money on getting a cabin on deck 6 or 7, we heard there was much more movement and that the cabins squeaked all night! One passenger was told to turn his TV up loud so he wouldn't hear it. The ship itself is beautiful and well kept, except for the railings which desperately needed a coat of varnish. The cabin stewards were amazing. we never came back to an uncleaned cabin. Also the new bedding was the best we have ever slept on, very comfortable. Dining was OK, not the best we have had on RCCL, sometimes the food was cold, but perfectly acceptable, the buffet was spacious and never a line. Eat breakfast there, much more choice and eggs cooked to order. The only real complaint was the entertainment, every night was one entertainer, it would help if it was mixed up a bit. Since they were on board all the time, it would have been easy to do. The ships tours were a little hit or miss, the tour to Seville got there too late to visit the cathedral, and ran over by 2 hours. In the Azores if it is cloudy, the trip to the lakes was a waste of time. Taxis are abundant, but the day we got there they all jacked up the prices of their tours, I had been on the website the week before and knew what it should have cost. Duty free on the ship was the cheapest, except now you have to pack it in your luggage. There was no problem on carrying on soda and water, and even getting alcohol aboard didn't seem to be a problem, the inspections were very casual. Tipping was a breeze charging it to your seapass card, so much easier than worrying about having enough cash on hand. I have a feeling some people are still not tipping as they should, as everyone we handed the envelopes to were very grateful, in our cabin the last night, the towel sculpture was a big heart! Hope this helps. Read Less
Sail Date April 2007
We were traveling with my three children (10, 12, 14) and my husband and I... My favorite way to read reviews is by subject, so I wrote mine in the same fashion. Hope it helps with your amazing cruise planning! We flew Southwest from ... Read More
We were traveling with my three children (10, 12, 14) and my husband and I... My favorite way to read reviews is by subject, so I wrote mine in the same fashion. Hope it helps with your amazing cruise planning! We flew Southwest from Tulsa to Houston Hobby - stayed in Galveston for 1 night before our cruise sailing date so we could be sure to get there in time. A friend of ours from the Houston area picked us up and delivered us to our hotel - Harbor House. The hotel was across from Pier 21 - great location - great bay view - we could see the ships from our hotel window. No pool and the continental breakfast was very slim - but so close to the pier. Whatever we missed at breakfast was definitely made up on the ship. Embarkation - We left the hotel on foot around 10:30 pulling our luggage. Very short walk - all even ground. We arrived around 10:45 a.m. and a porter was there to greet us, take our luggage stack and direct us to the right place. We waited in a short line (one couple in front of us) and were completely checked in, photos taken, passports shown - in less than 10 minutes. We sat down in some blue chairs in this warehouse type building for just a few minutes. At 11:30 sharp the gangway door opened and we proceeded up to the gangway to embark on our wonderful cruise. We wondered around the public deck areas trying to learn the layout for a few minutes -took lots of pictures and then headed to the Windjammer for a buffet lunch. We snagged a window table and hung out there until 12:30 ish. Then we headed out to find the rock wall, put-put course and Solarium. Took lots more pictures and video (wanted to get this done so I wouldn't forget later). Our cabin was ready at 1:00 sharp. Cabins - We were in the Royal Family Suite 8032- amazing room. The verandah was huge. It had a small table with four chairs. The living area had a fold out couch (queen size, I think) and then the master suite area had a queen bed with a dressing table and its own bathroom/shower. The shower was in the tub - very nice - large area - no shower curtain sticking to you while you showered! The boys had their own room with twin beds and two nightstands. Also there was a Pullman bed above one of the twin beds but we didn't use it. They also had their own bathroom/stand-up shower - that was a life-savor with 5 of us in the room! There was so much storage we didn't even use it all - and we had quite a bit of stuff. Each person got their own closet space there were small closet nooks everywhere!! Our cabin steward was Lucky - he was from St. Vincent - the kids thought he was so cool! I would consider us a bit of a challenge with 3 children - he never missed a beat - we kept trying to catch him there - he was so good about coming in the moment we left. Our room was spotless. He made the most awesome towel animals - the kids looked forward to those each night. We tipped Lucky a $20.00 bill at the beginning just as a token of our appreciation for all that he would be doing for us. Our cabin (#8032) was located just below the pool deck. Yes, it was very, very noisy - until very late ( 2:00 a.m.) we heard chairs scraping and being pulled across the deck as well as people running. And then around 5:30 a.m. the morning deck crew re-organized each and every chair by pulling them back to their spots. It was annoying, however, we did get to enjoy the sunrise each morning because we were up. The cabin was very nice - but next time we may look into a couple of suites that are located under other cabins or a nice quite computer lounge or library. (: Oh yes and the Pillow Menu - I finally figured out what that meant! It was literally a menu to order pillows from. Everything from body pillows to posturpedic (sure I didn't spell that one right?!). Very, very cool! We let each of the kids choose one and then husband and I chose one too. We had so many pillows in that room - so much fun!! No free laundry service on this cruise (Holland America offers this for its suite guests) so we never used that service. Concierge's Lounge - Total disappointment. On HAL the concierge's lounge is a huge deal. A concierge was always on duty - foot was plentiful - they knew your name the first day. Hmmm.... We dropped by the concierge's lounge numerous times, no concierge - never met him/her the entire cruise. My daughter and I went at 7:00 a.m. one morning and picked up some fruit and hot chocolate but were told not to leave the room with the plates/drinks. Weird. The choices were slim (maybe three small plates of food/muffins) so we didn't return. There was a lady in there folding towels on the morning we went for the food. She was the one who asked us not to leave with the food. You can make a plate from the Windjammer and return to your room anytime - so we totally didn't understand this rule. Perhaps it was to get you to not come back?!?! If so, it worked. We were so disappointed in the concierge's lounge as we had high expectations - no big deal. We heard there were free drinks in the evenings but never went down to check. Pools - the pools were salt water - for some reason we weren't expecting this as they were chlorinated on HAL. My 10-year-old daughter didn't like it so she only swam a couple of times the entire cruise. The Windjammer Buffet (deck 9) - Great food - amazing view. They have several stations throughout the buffet area. Each station carried different foods. Never had long lines - so many stations throughout the buffet area - really cut down on lines. Very, very smooth buffet service! The waffles on the breakfast buffet are the fantastic! They serve those every day. They had all the normal foods - muffins, eggs, omelets, bacon, sausage, ect... Room Service - We ordered room service a couple of days for breakfast and ate out on the balcony. What a fantastic way to start our day together. We enjoyed eating outside and munch away while gazing at our ever-changing scenery. You could order muffins, eggs (scrambled or omelets), bacon, sausage or ham, hash browns, yogurt, cereal, juices, And coffee - a whole pitcher - it stays hot quite a while. We always tipped $3.00 because our orders were always so big - of course, this is optional. We really enjoyed the delivery guys. They were very nice! The King & I Dining Room - We had first seating (6:00 p.m) Table 114 right by a window. Carolina and Cliff were our servers (I can't remember their official titles) - they were very pleasant. They did a good job - not great but they seemed to want to please. Our experience on HAL set the bar so high. Had we not been on the Westerdam last May we probably would have been fine with the level of service. They don't put the bread in a basket on the table - they continually bring this huge basket to you and have you choose (from three different types) - while we seemed to have plenty of bread constantly - our drinks were left empty a lot. I would ditch the bread service - basket on the table works fine - and focus more on the other needs of the pax. Strange - the bread thing really annoyed me. Okay - I'll move on. Cruise Staff - We had a brand spankin' new cruise director. This was his first cruise. His name was Abe. He did a good job. You could tell he was a little nervous and getting his feet wet. But he was funny - same cruise director jokes as usually - and personable. The activities staff were great - funny group - they do love their job and it shows. As soon as they begin to mesh with Abe - they will be 100%! Adventure Ocean - We had one child in the 9-11 age group (age 9-11). Each night their itinerary would arrive with the main itinerary. She would sit down with her colored highlighters (each person in our group had their own color) and they would highlight the activities that interested her.. RCL allows kids 9 and up (either 9 or 10) to check themselves in and out. Tons of activities - strange time schedule: 9a.m. - noon. 2-5 p.m. and then 7-10 p.m. They had an after hours club - 10pm - 1a.m. but we never utilized this service. There were about 20 kids in this program. The counselors have food names - ours was Mashed Potato Marie - no I'm not kidding - my daughter loved her - we tipped her a $20 on the last night. The Optix Group (ages 12 and up) - Another huge disappointment. I have two that would have fallen into this age group. On our HAL cruise - sorry to keep referencing - the boys were totally plugged in and rarely missed. I add that information to let you know they usually enjoy these kids' activities. But I felt no effort was made to get them lured in. Teens are probably the most difficult pax to keep happy. We understand that. But, the two times they went to their Optix club either no counselor was there - no activities were carried out or it was so "lame" (their description) that they didn't stay. They may need to revamp this area - my husband and I checked the Optix several times throughout the week to try to get them back in there and they were right - no one was there - the room was either empty or being used by the younger group. So, this consequently left our 12 & 14 year olds romping around the entire cruise - hanging out and making new friends. Not a bad thing - but they have such good memories from other cruise kids' programs we were disappointed in this one. Weather - The weather was absolutely perfect!! 85 ish and blue skies!! Cozumel - beautiful - beautiful weather - about 86 degrees - with a bright blue sky - and warm sunshine. - Costa Maya - Excellent weather - partly cloudy with about 85 degrees. Ports of Call/Excursions Galveston - We arrived at Houston Hobby via Southwest Airlines around 9:00 p.m. A friend of ours picked us up and delivered us to the Harbor House. Beautifully renovated warehouse type hotel right on the bay. We had a bay view and awoke to the Princess Sun right outside our window! Spectacular. We walked out onto the pier to see our Splendour of the Seas right behind the Princess. It was a great sight to see - no delays from Cozumel - right on time! Cozumel - Cozumel was experiencing gorgeous weather so when we woke up around 6:00 a.m. and headed out to the balcony we were greeted with balmy weather, clearing skies and a beautiful start to a sunrise. The captain spun us around and we docked. We were the only ones at the pier; however, we could see another ship in the distance just down the shoreline. Never confirmed but think it was a Norwegian ship. We planned a couple of excursions for our Cozumel visit. First, our family of 5 rode Segways, aka The Segway Tour. What a blast. These things are amazing. On a side note - my 10 year old daughter was too young to go through the ship, the RCL age limit was 12 and up. So I signed the boys and my husband up for the excursion through the website. Then, when we docked we strolled up to the Segway guy and asked if he had room for two more that we would like to go along too. He, of course, said yes and we were on our way as a whole family Segwaying!! We put on all the safety gear, practiced riding in the parking lot and then we (and two other couples making our group 9) were ready! We rode our personal transport systems on a bicycle path toward the beach for about 20 minutes - led by our fearless leader, Darwin and followed by Jeep (holding all of our personal belongings) by Alan. Once we got to the beach we stashed our stuff at a Mansion/type house with a pool, Jacuzzi, shower facility and bathrooms and headed out across the beach to snorkel. The guides were excellent and we saw a ton of fish. After about an hour we headed back to the house and enjoyed the snack bar (for an extra fee) and showered and swam. Then we got back on our Segways and headed back to the shop where a taxi was waiting (thanks to Alan radioing in the taxi for us) to take us to our next excursion - Chankanaab Park for our Royal Dolphin Swim. Ahhhh - the Royal Dolphin Swim. This excursion was book directly through Dolphin Discovery (www.dophindiscovery.com) because we wanted to do the Royal Dolphin Swim - the ship only offered the Dolphin Swim and while it was cheaper - it did not include some of the activities we wanted to experience with the dolphins. This single excursion was about $800.00 for our family of 5 and yes, my husband needed oxygen when I told him. However, after the experience we all agreed it was well worth the money. There were 7 of us in our group. Our family of 5 and two women who were sisters. It was a good blend. We watched a 5-minute video before getting into the water to explain all that we were going to do and what would be expected of us. Then we got into the water with our guide. We then kissed, hugged, rode and were propelled out of the water (this one thing is why we upgraded to the Royal Swim) - you float on your stomach - arms and legs outstretched. The dolphins (2) swim to your feet and with their noses they push your feet down into the water - then get underneath you and then push you out of the water superman style. Unbelievable!! The most fun thing we have ever done. Then, after about an hour you are escorted back inside to watch the video that was made during your adventure. They sell these for $50.00 and then pictures for an additional fee. Ours were wonderful - we bought everything - great memories to take home!! After this we headed down the beach in Chankanaab and snagged some great beach chairs with umbrellas - awesome snorkeling and a platform out in the water for the kids to swim to. Dad and I relaxed (okay collapsed) and observed. It was about 4:30 p.m. by now. We hung out there until about 5:30 and then headed back (via taxi) to the pier to board the Splendour. The shower felt wonderful! We were so tired we skipped the dining room and headed to the Windjammer. Costa Maya - perfect relaxation day!! It was about 80 degrees when we docked - great pier - brand new - beautiful. The Costa Maya pier was very commercialized - just like I had read on the boards. There was an Olympic size pool (salt water) and restaurants as well as tons of stores with souvenirs. So we took the advice and headed to Majahaul or Mahahaul (Can't remember?) to the Cat's Meow. Barbara came out to greet us and we started our tab immediately - everyone was thirsty. We also rented 3 beach chairs ($5.00 each) right on the beach. George was our waiter and kept us happy the entire day. We drank cokes all day long, a virgin pina colada and strawberry/banana daiquiri along with two plates of nachos, chips and salsa and coconut shrimp - at the end of the day the total was only $48.00! WOW! How can you beat that?!? Costa Maya was a short day - we had to be back on the ship by 2:30 p.m. for a 3:00 p.m. departure. So, around 1:00 p.m. we headed back to the pier ($3.00 each to get there and then $2.00 each to get back) and let the kids swim with dad while I shopped for those necessary souvenirs for family and friends back at home. Great shopping - nice selection. Then, we boarded at about 2:00 p.m. We didn't get to leave by 3:00, however, some pax didn't seem to get the memo. The captain blew the horn several times, they finally got the message and they came running down the pier. Everyone clapped from the balconies. Funny! Entertainment - The entertainment was good - we made it to a couple of shows - typical ship entertainment. The cruise director, Abe, was brand new - this was his first week at sea - so that was interesting. Dress Code - On causal nights - the pax really went casual. A lot of men and teens wore shorts - most women were dressed in capris. On formal night most dressed up - only saw a few tuxedos - mostly shirts with ties - some jackets/sports coats. Women were dressed from everything from church-type dresses to formals. We had read that this was the norm and for once did not over pack. Disembarkation - We opted for the walk-off - carrying our own luggage - so did about 500 other people. Utter chaos! Unless you have an early flight - skip this mess! They said that only 100 or so pax could sign up for the early walk-off - but when we got to deck 4 at 7:00 a.m. there was mass exodus. Everyone with every kind of luggage tag walked off at the same time. No one was checking any departure tickets. Customs went uneventful - and we were outside ready for our friend to -pick us up by 8:00 a.m. We were at the airport by 9:00 a.m. - plenty early for our 11:30 flight with Southwest. To sum it all up here are some not to be missed items: 1. All you can eat ice cream cones and on deck 9 by the pool. 2. Board the ship early - snag a window seat and enjoy the view while you dine on your first shipboard lunch in the Windjammer. 3. Enjoy the solarium - this area is adults only - nice, padded chairs - very quiet - nice! 4. If the sea is rough - take the kids to swim in the pool - there is a magic wave machine - they had so much fun. 5. Get the all you can drink coke pass - worth it and very, very easy to get cokes - bartenders were pleasant and didn't seem to mind the kids. 6. If you were able to splurge for the balcony be sure and try room service for breakfast one day - it was great having a quiet start to our day on the balcony with the entire gang. Most of all have a blast - the cruise goes by so fast - participate in as much as you'd like - take long walks on the deck with someone you love and enjoy the sunset (and sunrise if you're an early riser). Great family vacation! Read Less
Sail Date March 2007
This was our first 5-day family cruise out of Galveston to Cozumel and Costa Maya. It was Spring Break for many families like ours, but the overall crowd on our ship was balanced with college students, 20-40 somethings,and seniors. The ... Read More
This was our first 5-day family cruise out of Galveston to Cozumel and Costa Maya. It was Spring Break for many families like ours, but the overall crowd on our ship was balanced with college students, 20-40 somethings,and seniors. The organization and service on RCL was outstanding. The staff was helpful and friendly. This included check-in, services, daily itineraries etc. Activities started precisely as scheduled. The nightly entertainment on the ship was outstanding, including a comedian, magician, jugglers, dancers and singers. We ate breakfast and lunch at the Windjammer Cafe, and ate at the King and I every night. Formal dining was great at the King and I, the meals were five star quality as was the service.Tatjana and Wilder, our waiter and assistant waiters were great. Tatjana certainly catered to the whims of our 12 year old daughter and 9 year old son. She took care of us as well! There were plenty of activities on our ship. The cruise director, Abe on our ship was full of energy and quite a comical guy. His staff were all very much the same, which kept us busy and entertained. A key decision in choosing RCL was the Adventure Ocean program for our pre-teen and 9 year old son. They were kept busy with a full day of activities, hats off to the staff who did a great job keeping the kids occupied and entertained. For our 9 year old, we availed of the after hours (10pm) child care service so we could take in late shows and some dancing. Ports...Cozumel, we took a taxi to Paradise Beach and had a beach break all day. Had a great time, taking in some sun and beach. Kids entertained themselves with plenty of water activities. Paradise beach is free for the lounge chairs and umbrella. They make up free entrance charging for water sports, food and bar. All in all, pretty comparable to other beach breaks. Beach was pretty good, sandy bottom but as you got out to 5 feet plus, we could feel some rocks and seaweed. Water was very calm, perfect for swimming. Snorkeling was ok, saw some colorful fish. Costa Maya..we did the Chaccoben Mayan Ruins with Native Choice, David and Ivan run the tour, both of Mayan descent. Ivan was our tour guide. We booked with them based on many comments on the internet. Tour was well organized, took a taxi to Mahajual to catch the tour, met there by Ivan who loaded us in an air conditioned van. For 45 minutes, he told us about the area, stopped to show us species of birds etc. At the ruins, his deep knowledge of Mayan civilization and history was more than evident. He knows his stuff and kept everyone intrigued including our kids. He spent about 4.5 hrs with us, including a little shopping at the ruins. Afterwhich he returned us to the port. Costa Maya is beautiful, still relatively untouched by tourism. We boarded the ship and then set sail for Galveston. All in all, we were all very satisfied and pleased with our first family cruise on RCL. Absolutely fantastic! Read Less
Sail Date March 2007
Party of four: me, DW, DD6, DD4. This was my 7th cruise, DW's second, and the girls' first. If you're like me, you're trying to eke every last minute detail out of these reviews, so I'll do what I can to sate your ... Read More
Party of four: me, DW, DD6, DD4. This was my 7th cruise, DW's second, and the girls' first. If you're like me, you're trying to eke every last minute detail out of these reviews, so I'll do what I can to sate your appetite for cruise info. We flew from California to Houston Hobby via Southwest Airlines on Friday. The cruise departed on Saturday and returned Thursday. I'll put info on what we did before and after the cruise at the bottom, if anyone cares. DAY 1 - BOARDING We arrived at the Galveston Cruise Terminal at about 3pm via free hotel shuttle. As Platinum members, we got to jump to the front of the check-in line. It went very smoothly and we were processed in just a few minutes. Unfortunately, the freebie food table was being shut down already (looked like they had cookies, mimosas, and more). Also, there had been a maitre d' type who had a table set up to handle seating assignment issues, but he was packed up and leaving by 3pm as well. There was a separate check-in station for the kids. They each received a plastic wristband showing their muster station number which they had to wear 24/7 for the entire cruise. We had two connecting ocean view cabins on the 2nd deck aft. This turned out to be a great arrangement for us, with the parents in one room and the girls in the next. The difference between having 4 people in 2 rooms vs. in 1 room was only a total of $80 more, easily worth it. Our stateroom attendant was Dorla. We did not have much interaction with her, but she performed her duties sufficiently. The girls particularly liked the towel animals left on their beds each night (as well as the chocolates!). There are no clocks in the room (or in most parts of the ship). No irons either, for fire reasons. We were booked for main seating in the King & I Dining Room. We had asked for a table for just us 4, but were placed at a table for 10. It worked out fine. The other 6 were three generations of a family, including kids a little older than mine. Our waiter was Diaro from Colombia, asst. waiter was Sherman from Costa Rica, and head waiter was Geraldo (forget where from). We put a lot of demands on Diaro, and he held up admirably. Geraldo visited us daily, and usually cut up the girls' food. On Day 1, we didn't really do much activity-wise. We checked out Adventure Ocean's open house, had dinner, then went to an AO orientation that night. DAY 2 - AT SEA We slept in until around 10am, but the girls were pumped up for AO so we had them do the last hour or so. I participated in a ping pong tournament. We had lunch in the Windjammer, and were impressed by the selection. On our last cruise (RCCL 1995), the poolside selection was just hot dogs and hamburgers. Instead, Windjammer had a full lunch buffet with many options, salads, soups, hot foods, pastas, a carvery, etc. Definitely a viable option. After lunch, we went swimming in the salt water pool, then took the girls back to AO. DW and I took salsa dance lessons, which were fun. Unfortunately, we never ended up trying them out at any of the late-night dancing sessions. On at-sea days, AO runs from 9-11:45, 2-4:45, and 7-10:45. There is also a "Late Night Party Zone" from 10pm-1am which costs $5/hour/kid. Our girls loved the AO program and wanted to do activities whenever possible. We kept them with us for all meals (although you can arrange to have them eat with AO) and only did the LNPZ on one night. The counselors were all good. There seemed to be some changeover in the staffing during the cruise, perhaps picking up and dropping off some of them at the ports. All of the counselors have fun AO names: Superfly Sergio, Fishy Trishy, Cookie Claudia, Turbo (never found out her real first name), Jolly Julia, Lollipop Lucy. Our girls were in different age groups (3-5 and 6-8), but they played in the same room. In the afternoon, we did an informal meet-and-mingle at the Viking Crown. It was nice meeting people who posted in the Roll Call thread. 2nd night was formal night. We had pictures taken, which are later up for viewing and purchase in the Photo Gallery (no commitment). This again was an improvement over our last cruise, which had only one formal photo station so there was a huge line. Instead, Splendour had I think four photo stations (with different backgrounds) so we only had to wait 5-10 minutes. On past cruises, I always wore a tux on formal night. This time I wore a suit and tie. Other than wedding couples, I didn't see any men in tuxedos. We had one formal night and four casual nights. This surprised me, as I was expecting 1-2 smart casual nights. We were strict about following the dress suggestions. However, we saw many people in shorts, jeans, etc. For some reason, the Solarium is not crowded at night for swimming. We went a couple nights and were the only ones interested in the whirlpool. DAY 3 - COZUMEL We dragged the girls out of bed at 6am for breakfast in the Windjammer, then met at 7:15 for our shore excursion to Xcaret Eco-Park. Cozumel is on an island, so if you do a shore excursion on the mainland, you have to take a 30-minute tender to Playa Del Carmen first. From PDC, we had a 10-15 minute walk to the buses, then perhaps a 10 minute ride to Xcaret. We got to Xcaret a little before 9. It was already open, and not very busy. Note: RCCL says children 4 and under are free. Xcaret park actually regulates this by height, not age. Kids 40" and under are free. Keep this in mind if taking a tall 4 year old (or a short older child). I originally bought a ticket for DD4, but received a credit to my SeaPass account before the excursion at the Excursions Desk. Xcaret is awesome. Don't miss it. We only covered maybe 1/2-2/3 of the park in the 5 hours we were there. We may do a later Playa del Carmen trip just to go back. We started off with a boat ride through a river. It was nice, but I would say skip it because you have to walk for about 15-20 minutes on a windy jungle path to get to it. There are some nice orchid and mushroom greenhouses along the way. The highlight is the underground river. Took us about an hour to complete it. Watch out - the water is very cold, and there is no easy bathroom access along the way. Everyone is in lifejackets floating along. You can rent/bring snorkels and fins. Before you go in the water, you put all your gear into a padlocked plastic bag, which the park then transports to the end of the river for you. It is very well organized, efficient, and secure. The underground river passes through a waterfall, several caves, and some stick-tunnels. Very cool. It ends up in the northeastern corner of the park. We walked from there to the nearby lagoons to have lunch. pricey, but tasty. We had mixed steak/chicken fajitas, seafood ceviche, and grilled garlic shrimp. The lagoons are gorgeous sand and placid crystal water, with free inner tubes available. There are lots of beaches and inlets. After some beach time, we went to a large butterfly pavilion, then a Mayan village and ruins. Then it was time to leave the park (2:30pm). We got back to the ship around 3:45pm. The girls wanted to do the last afternoon hour of AO, so we dropped them off. DAY 4 - COSTA MAYA Another early wake up, Windjammer breakfast, and dropping the kids off at AO. We booked the RCCL-sponsored Chacchoban Ruins tour. Thought about David & Ivan's independent tour, but we didn't want to risk something going wrong with us apart from the kids. As it turns out, the early-morning AO program supposedly is only available to parents who are on RCCL-sponsored excursions. But nobody checked. The tour was very good. Our guide was Ariceli, who clearly came from an academic/historian background. It was a half-day tour, with about 1.75 hours actually on-site at the ruins. Most of the ruins are not fully reconstructed, but there are a couple large buildings up. You can climb a little bit. All in all, a good experience, but nothing breathtaking. Picked up the girls, Windjammer for lunch, then dropped them off again at AO. DW and I went up to the Viking Crown for drinks and watched the bellyflop contest and sexy legs contest from above the pool. Later on, we played cash bingo with the girls, but won nothing. At night, we had the girls in LNPZ. We did our first late-night activities: the Quest and Adult Late-Night Comedy. Both were very good. Don't miss the Quest. I hit the late-night Gala Buffet (12:30am-1:30am). DAY 5 - AT SEA This was catch-up day for everything that we intended to do on board, but hadn't done yet. I climbed the rock wall. We played mini-golf. We played blackjack. Watched an ice carving demonstration and a towel folding demonstration (how to make all those animals). More swimming on the pool deck. At night, we watched the farewell show featuring Luis Dalton. He's a juggler and balancer, good entertainment. DAY 6 - DISEMBARK We chose to do the Express Departure, meaning you carry your own luggage off the ship and get off first (7:00-7:45). The alternative was to wait in a lounge until our color code was called, projected to be at 9:30. You have to be out of your stateroom by 7am. Express Departure was very crammed and it looked impossible that they would get everyone off the ship by 7:45, but they did. Customs went smoothly, and we were free to go by 8:15. All in all, a good trip. BEFORE AND AFTER THE CRUISE Before the cruise, we stayed at the Holiday Inn On The Beach in Galveston. There are actually two Holiday Inns in Galveston. The other one looked nicer and is closer to the cruise terminal. We picked this one because of the name, but really they're both on the beach. Our hotel had a free shuttle to and from the cruise terminal, and allowed us to park our rental car at the hotel for free while we were gone. We had dinner the night before the cruise at the Blackeyed Pea, a chain restaurant that we love but do not have in California. The morning before the cruise, we went to Moody Gardens. They have three large glass pyramids, and we visited two: the Rainforest Pyramid and the Aquarium Pyramid. It's a good attraction, and manageable before embarkation time (we even fit in a short IMAX movie). After the cruise, we went to a mini-golf place along Seawall (the girls liked mini-golf so much on the ship, we went for a full-size course). We had lunch at Mosquito Cafe (highly recommend) then visited Bishop's Palace, one of the top 100 U.S. historic homes. We went to Stewart Beach Park, which was kind of disappointing. The sand is fine, but the water is brown (from sand and silt) and simply does not compare to the Yucatan waters. Dinner at Casey's, the casual sister restaurant of local mainstay Gaido's. The next day we had lunch at Rudy and Paco's in downtown Galveston, then drove to Houston for Johnson Space Center, home of NASA. This is a fun place, but the lines are huge for the most popular attraction, a tram tour of the astronaut training facilities. We skipped it because of a 2 hour wait. If we go again, we will get there right when the Center opens. Dinner in Houston at El Tiempo Cantina, an excellent Mexican restaurant (get the deluxe mixed grill). We spent all of Friday at the Children's Museum of Houston. It is supposed to be one of the best children's museums in the country, and we wholeheartedly agree. We have been to many, many children's museums and this is easily the best. If you have kids under 10, this is a must-see. Read Less
Sail Date March 2007
This was my 9th cruise, but 1st time with Royal Caribbean. I traveled w/ my teenage son, and four other female family members arranging from ages: 40-60. We drove to Galveston, and arrived at Port of Galveston around 11:30. We drove ... Read More
This was my 9th cruise, but 1st time with Royal Caribbean. I traveled w/ my teenage son, and four other female family members arranging from ages: 40-60. We drove to Galveston, and arrived at Port of Galveston around 11:30. We drove right up, and was greeted by porters, and we took the car to Park in Lot B. We rode the shuttle back, and went right up to the attendant and was on the ship within 15 minutes of arriving. Our last cruise was just about as smooth.. so ,,, Galveston has it down pat! The porters are very, very nice, and really take care of us! So...tip them well - They make it possible for me to wear a different pair of shoes every night to dinner along w/ a different clutch. ( why not pack what I want? ( I don't have to unload it or carry it! ) ( I will be comparing Carnival to Royal Caribbean most of the time) Upon arriving,, I noticed that I didn't see many staff members, and had to go to the bar to get something to drink. I hated that I had to get up and get something to drink,, instead of having someone come to me. This is fine,, but not the norm. Cabin: The cabin was smaller, and didn't have the huge shelves for all of my purses,, cover-ups, etc. The cabinet for toiletries was in room, instead of bathroom, which was also smaller,, but very clean and updated. I loved the fact that you could draw the curtain to change, or sit on the couch to watch the swivel television. This allows someone to sleep later without the light bothering them! Our stateroom attendant was very sweet and kept our room spotless. They want you to put a card on your door when you need your cabin cleaned.. but I didn't have one,, until the last day, but she always kept it clean, w/ fresh towels. Royal Caribbean does not provide a travel size dish of: toothpaste, razors, lotions, mints etc...like Carnival. So, don't forget your toiletries. Be sure and bring your own soap...the kind that was provided isn't that pleasant smelling. Dining: We had a table on the upper level: 5. It was next to the window,, so I really loved that. We enjoyed our table guest. Our waiter was LaVinia,, and was the most beautiful, soft spoken (too much so: couldn't hear her most times) most helpful person. She had great recommendations, and didn't hesitate to tell us to get two entrees if we were sure. I loved our Head Waiter!! Mr. Hans from Germany! He was most entertaining, and provided many magic tricks, and his jokes and short stories were really fun!. ( Carnival provided waiters, and busboys,, that sometimes, if u r lucky provides tidbits of fun, with a Maitre D' that "might" walk around for his .75 tip a day) I was disappointed that they did not have entertainment after dinner every night,, but that's o.k. we were able to eat within a two hour time range. I loved the food. The pasta are dry, which I notice is always the norm. The beef isn't up to par - a little dry! The prime rib was good,, although was a little to fatty for me. The desserts are good, and most of the time had something chocolate for us lovers! tip: order icecream w/ your desserts, and skip the apple pie. Entertainment: We always were able to get a front row seat.. because the ship does not play bingo before every show! ( Thank goodness!) The stage was small, the band was under the floor, in which I hated not being able to see the trumpet players, and listening to music before the show; although they did have these huge screens with great information) They had great dancers, but not many props at all. The shows were just o.k. and had only one comedian, which he was wonderful. I missed this most of all. ( Carnival provides a comedy show almost every night! ) RC did have another smaller lounge that had Karaoke where you were able to sing w/ the great live band. Carnival had the Entertainment beat ; hands down! I did not like Costa Maya! It was beautiful,, but the beaches were rocky.. the pool was dirty, and the prices were outrageous! The first shop was selling Maracha's for 10.00 a set. Around the corner to the back/ they were $2.00 a set! Don't buy from the shops in the front! She jewelry in the back, also were fair prices. If you don't take an excursion,, which most were cancelled! You only have to get off of the boat for about an hour... They did provide a shuttle, but the walk is really short to the Island from the ship. RC doesn't provide many props for outdoor pictures either. We had a great time. It is a very relaxing ship. They did not provide many little extras, for example: They do not provide hand held maps of the ship. They do not have chairs to sit in outdoor to dine in. The buffet had tons of stuff... but skip it! The pizza was horrible ( I was wondering why there was never ever a line! ) also, the little girl form China/// was soooo rude! The sandwiches were made in advance,, I really , really missed my hot, made to order sandwiches, my pizza, and most of all... the hot cocoa . The icecream wasn't open 24 hr. either! and was out,, with no help in sight to refill it! The gratuities are not automatically figured in: which was o.k. you can put it on your Sail and Sign and hand it to them personally. Everyone of them deserved it and more! Activities: Just o.k. not a lot to do. It was Spring Break, and we didn't even realize there were teenagers on the boat: they were so wellbehaved. You have to be out of your stateroom by 7:00 on the last day before you leave, which is mean! We were all so tired!@!!! They called our color on time, (9:45) and was on the ferry in Galveston by 10:15. It was super quick!!!!! We had a great time, and will I sail w/ RC again? I think so. I like change I guess: If only they promise to get hot chocolate< maps, and better pizza!!!!!!!!!!!! O yea, and a bigger stage, and a better entertainment schedule! Read Less
Sail Date March 2007
Embarkation from Galveston: Getting on the ship was so easy. We were through the lines and on board within about 15 minutes. What I found amazing is that we had two ladies in the line next to us that didn't bring a passport or birth ... Read More
Embarkation from Galveston: Getting on the ship was so easy. We were through the lines and on board within about 15 minutes. What I found amazing is that we had two ladies in the line next to us that didn't bring a passport or birth certificate. The cruise line would not let them board. The other surprising thing was that our luggage got in our staterooms within an hour of leaving it on the port. The worst part about getting on the ship was Houston traffic. Make sure you leave at least an extra hour. I heard people say that it took two hours just from the airport to get to the pier in Galveston. Rooms My husband and I traveled with our two teens and had inside cabins on the 8th deck. We had cabins right next door to one another. We learned not to share as they stay out later and get up earlier than we care too. The cabins were large interior and were nicely laid out. Tons of cubbies for our stuff. They also had the new bedding which was a pleasant change from Princess and Disney. Our steward John was fantastic. I think it makes a big difference when you tip yourselves versus having the cruise line assess you. I think you get better service. Our room was always clean and he was super fast. Ship The Splendour looked really great. It is a mid size ship so everything was easy to get to. The public areas were pretty and I thought the windjammer buffet was extremely attractive with all its windows. The dining room was a little cheesy in my mind, velour on the seats was not all that comfortable with a skirt on. The atrium bar was nice and they also had the top hat lounge which was split between smoking and non smoking and seemed well ventilated. They had a nice ship bar, the Schooner but it always reeked of smoke to me. The pools was very nice, but they only had one pool bar. They also had a indoor pool but it was always full of small children as it was really windy at the outdoor pool. The pool games were fun as was the line dancing. Entertainment I have cruised with Princess and Disney. This ship's entertainment was much better than Princess, not as good as Disney. The theatre was very nice and they dancers were good. They also had some gauchos the last night that were very good. We did the Quest and that was really fun. Overall, I thought the entertainment was above average. Food Buffet food was good, a little bland. The dining room was very good with plenty of selections. They had beef tenderloin that was very good as well as lobster. Stay away from the steaks. The hamburgers in the solarium were also pretty bad. Ports of Call In cozumel it was very windy and all the dives were cancelled. We had chosen to take the tour to Excaret and really enjoyed that. Well worth the money in our minds. In costa Maya we did the massages, beer and beach. Can't beat that. Disembarkation: Once again it was super easy, we were off boat and through customs by 8:30. We would do Royal Caribbean again we were sad to hear that this boat after going to Europe will be stationed in Brazil. They are bringing a Voyager size boat to Galveston and it will go out for a week. We got some pricing, and it was 3X as much. Probably won't do that. You have to remember when there are four people that your tipping even on a 5 day cruise runs about 270, plus excursions, drinks etc. We always end up spending about an extra $1,500. We had a great time though. Read Less
Sail Date March 2007
Splendour of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 3.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.8
Family 4.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 1.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.2

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