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198 Splendour of the Seas Cruise Reviews

This was our first cruise and was spectacular. There were very few negatives about the whole trip and those were pretty minor in the grand scheme of things. We booked our own air travel arrived in Tampa a couple of days early because ... Read More
This was our first cruise and was spectacular. There were very few negatives about the whole trip and those were pretty minor in the grand scheme of things. We booked our own air travel arrived in Tampa a couple of days early because flying from the Rocky mountain states in winter can be sketchy at times. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at the Cruise Terminal 3 at about 11:30 and there wasn't even a line. We showed our passports (the quickest way to board according to those in the know) and set up our on board account. I called our credit card companies and informed them that we were going to be out of our normal travel areas and to expect some large charges. This by-passed any troubles we might have experienced on disembarkation. In all from the time we got our luggage out of the taxi ($20 from airport to terminal is a set rate) until we were on the ship wasn't more than 10 minutes. We couldn't get into our cabin until 1:30 however so we were "stuck" dragging our carry on luggage with us until then. We explored the ship a bit and found it clean and inspiring. We then headed up to the Windjammer for lunch. More on the food later. Our Luggage arrived in our cabin piece meal which actually made unpacking a bit easier. We had an ocean view room on deck two. It was adequate and comfortable. The cabin staff did an excellent job in keeping it up. There was one cabinet door that was broken and I asked that it be fixed. They got to it promptly. Just as we finished unpacking we attended the mandatory life boat drill. Then back to our room for a quick rearrangement of things. We departed about an hour late due to other sea traffic in the channel and were in our room when I noticed that the scenery outside the window was changing. We rushed up to Deck 10 to view Florida at sunset as we sailed out of port. We did buy the soda package (we are not big drinkers) and felt it was well worth it. The whole cruise we experienced "rough" seas (8'-15') and 30 knot winds but the ship was fairly stable and once you got used to staggering around the hallways it wasn't too bad. We took Dramamine and Ginger to offset the possibility of sea sickness. My wife was a bit light headed for the first two nights, but that went away after she stopped taking the Dramamine and was only taking the Ginger pills (available at Walmart for cheap). The seas did calm down and we were able to make all of our destinations on time if not ahead of schedule. But once we were back out to sea, they got rough again. We had storm front after storm front come through and low pressure dominated the entire trip, but the ship was still much more stable than I expected it to be. The food on the outstanding. The Windjammer was buffet food, and you know what buffet food is like. Ok as things go and we ate breakfast there a time or two, but preferred the King and I for our meals. The Food was much better there. Plus you got to meet more people that way. You go in for breakfast and they sit you at a table with 2-8 other people and everybody was very friendly. We also ate at the Solarium Cafe a time or two and that was alright. The food was mass prepared and kept warm, but was tasty enough. And they did have some odd selections for pizza. Things I never would have put together, but it was good. Service in the dining room was great, as was service throughout the ship. I am not used to having somebody put my napkin in my lap, nor deshell my lobster and shrimp for me, so that was a new experience. Our head waitress did confuse some meals a couple of times and took some good natured ribbing from the us, but she always was quick and efficient to get stuff corrected. Service in the bars was good too. The Top Hat was usually pretty empty however. This may have been due to the rough seas and it being in the bow the ships movement could be felt a bit more. It was a bit of a trick trying to dance when the floor wasn't always where you expected it to be. The shows in the evenings were great! We saw Al Romas (comedian), The Coasters (you don't know who they are you need to buff up on your music), a juggling act, a magician and the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers. The seats were all excellent and comfy! We booked all our excursions on line before we departed and based on what I saw at the excursions desk this is the way to go. We were thrilled with them except for Grand Cayman. The first part was great, the semi submersible saw way cool, but the bus tour second half left alot to be desired. They are still cleaning up from Ivan and the island is kinda dirty. I would have spent the day at beach if I had it to do over again. We went to Mayan ruins in Costa Maya, the Jungle Buggy in Belize, and the Passion Island escape in Cozumel. I wish the Passion Island trip was longer, it is a neat place and we will go back there again. The things that I felt weren't up to par were really quite minor: 1) elevators - they were slow and I never figured out their system. There might be a car one deck below you and one would come up from somewhere else after about a 3-5 minute wait. It was quicker to take the stairs, but my wifes knees wouldn't take it. 2)There was a bit of vibration to be felt, mainly in the dining room. But not as bad as I had read it was. After the second day you tune it out like you do the elevator music at the grocery store. It was especially noticeable in the shops where the glass ware rattled. 3)We didn't do alot after hours because my wife is very sensitive to cigarette smoke and the bars and casino became extremely smokey early in the evening. They could do a better job with turning the air over in the bars so that we could enjoy them as well. 4)The disembarkation in ports was kind of a free for all. The excursions booked through the ship supposedly had priority off loading but this was not the case. 5)Once back in Tampa, things got sorta hectic and we were about an hour late getting off the ship, but this was due to customs more than Royal Caribbean. Advice? Take ginger, sunscreen, duct tape (I hemmed a pair of pants on a semi-formal night), bug spray (if you are on a jungle excursion) and a good attitude. I did over hear one person complain about everything every time I bumped into her. But I kinda think that she was the type that if you gave her a million dollars, would have complained about the bag it came in. I will sail this ship again, and definitely with Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
Our crew: Myself (38), DH (38), DD(10) and DD(7) Previous cruises: This was my 8th cruise, 5th on RCCL, this was DH's 6th cruise and our daughters 5th cruise. (my previous RCCL trips were on the Song of Norway,Monarch, Majesty, ... Read More
Our crew: Myself (38), DH (38), DD(10) and DD(7) Previous cruises: This was my 8th cruise, 5th on RCCL, this was DH's 6th cruise and our daughters 5th cruise. (my previous RCCL trips were on the Song of Norway,Monarch, Majesty, Adventure and Enchantment.) Overview: We had a terrific vacation. The ship was beautiful and well maintained, the crew were all very friendly and the service excellent, and we had a great time at every port of call. The weather was wonderful, and the seas calm all week. Temperatures were in the 80's at all the ports. RCCL lived up to my high expectations and I would cruise them again and would take another trip on the Splendour. Highlights: Our suite was spacious and beautiful, and our balcony lovely. The dinner service and food were top quality. The magician and the juggler were the best shows. Cozumel, where we spent the day on Paradise Beach, was the most fun port,and Belize, where we hired a local guide to take us to the zoo and Altun Ha, was the most adventurous. My daughters climbed the rock wall at least 10 times each, so that had to be our favorite on-board activity. My husband enjoyed participating in the pool games and shuffleboard competition and we also played miniature golf a few times, but be forewarned, the course is tougher than it looks! Lowlights: There were very few. Breakfast in the Windjammer was average, with runny scrambled eggs and lukewarm French toast and pancakes (unless you grabbed some right off a newly arrived tray). My advice would be to get an omelet if you want eggs, as they were very good. The tender process to get into Belize City was troublesome. Our suite came with VIP tender passes, but in Belize you still had to wait for all the people booked on excursions via RCCL to go first. Catch an open early tender (7-7:30am) or you'll have to wait until after 9am. Our Cabin: On previous cruises, we'd found that the four of us felt quite cramped and all over each other in our usual oceanview cabin, so we took advantage of the low February fares and booked a suite. We'd hoped for a Grand Suite, but all were booked, so we splurged on an Owners Suite. It was simply beautiful and HUGE! The bathroom, complete with double sink, tub AND shower, felt bigger that our previous cabins! There was more storage space than we'd ever need and the girls liked the queen size sofa bed. The balcony, with room for a lounge chair and two regular chairs was awesome! I spent at least an hour out there every day. I did sneak a peak at a Grand Suite, though, and feel it would have been plenty big enough, so next time, if we're booking when Suite rates are lower, then that's what I'd go for. If we were booking during high season, we'd likely go back to a regular ocean view room or maybe a junior suite. I do like a balcony, though, as I spend time every day out there. The Suite perks included a fruit basket, hors d'oeuvres a couple of days, and little desserts a couple of days. And VIP tender passes, which proved useful in Grand Cayman, but not in Belize (see above.) Embarkation/Disembarkation: Both went very smoothly. We flew in the day before departure, to visit local family in Tampa. We arrived at the pier at 1pm and there were no lines to check in. While we did go in the suite line, there were no lines for regular cabins either. When it was time to leave the ship, we walked right off, found our bags quickly, and took a cab to the airport. IMPORTANT NOTE REGARDING CABS! A cab ride to the airport is a set rate of $20 per car. So, for 4 of us and 8 bags, that was all it was and we had a minivan for a cab too. Plenty of room. Transfers bought through the cruise line or the shuttle service advertised quite boldly when you get off the ship is more expensive, unless you are just two people or traveling alone. There are few, if any, signs for taxis, but ask, as they are right there outside the door. Entertainment: We went to the shows most nights, skipping one comedian. The magician, a guitar/singer, and the juggler were great. The ship's singers and dancers were good, but we found the "Jump, Jive and Swing" show boring and a little "old" for us. The Broadway show was average. Ocean Adventure/Kids Program: This is a big reason we cruise RCCL. My kids love this program. They spent some of every day and/or evening here, which allowed my husband an I free time to workout at the gym, see the shows, hit the casino, or chill in the Solarium. They played games, ate ice cream, did art and science projects, and had tons of fun. Even though it was February, there were 200 kids on-board and both my daughters made some new friends. Ports: Grand Cayman: We'd been here before and taken an island tour, so this time we took a cab to the Turtle farm and then to SeaGrape Beach. My girls loved the turtle farm, where they could pick up sea turtles, but it was half the size as last time. They are building a new complex across the street, but I don't know when it'll be complete. Our cab driver told me that a dolphin experience was going to be created where the old turtle farm was. Again, no completion date. We did see quite a bit of hurricane damage, but they seem to be rebuilding. We rented chairs ($10/ea) at Sea Grape beach, where my daughters swam and built sandcastles. Costa Maya: Here we took a cab to Majahal and walked down the beach until we found a quieter spot away from the massage chairs and bar tables and found a couple of chairs for $5 each. DH and DD-10 joined up with another father/daughter to take a small motor boat down the coast to snorkel for an hour. Price was $15 each. They had a great time and saw lots of fish/squid/shells/starfish, etc. My other daughter and I sunbathed and shopped, picking up 2 hammocks for $20 each and some beaded bracelets. I would recommend water shoes for everyone, as their was some broken glass and other trash on the beach. Belize: Based on a recommendation I read on the boards at Cruise Critic, I contacted and hired via e-mail a local guide, since we wanted to do two things in Belize that weren't combined on any of the ship's excursions. Her name is Margaret Tillet and she's a licensed Belize Tour guide. She has a web-site: belizeexclusive.com. She met us at the pier with a sign with my name on it and took just the four of us on a 5 hour tour to the Belize Zoo and Altun Ha. She was very friendly, courteous, informative and, most importantly, a safe driver. She walked us through the zoo and told us about every animal, and showed us how to capture their attention for some great photos. She escorted us around Altun Ha and told us not only about the ruins, but about the trees and vegetation as well. She was able to answer all of my questions about life in Belize, past and present. While there was a lot of driving (in her air-conditioned car), it was an educational and interesting experience for all of us. She leads all sorts of tours in Belize, including cave tubing, and I would recommend her highly. For larger groups, I believe she has an air-conditioned 15 passenger van. Cozumel: Here we spent most of the day at Paradise Beach, and the cruise critic message boards recommendations were right on the money. For $5 each, we got chairs, an umbrella, use of snorkel gear, mats, kayaks, water trampoline and the iceberg. DH and kids were going non-stop! They also rented a wave-runner for 30 min for $55, which the kids loved. While there were 8 ships in port that day, and the beach was crowded, it wasn't bad at all. The facilities were clean and the food good. After the beach, we took a taxi into town, where DH and I each got a massage with Sally, another recommendation from the CC boards. Her web site is barefootincozumel.com and I set appointments up ahead of time with her via e-mail. While DH relaxed, the kids and I shopped,and then he took them back to the ship when it was my turn. I did a little shopping at the pier on my way back for some souvenirs. Final Thoughts: Hope this review is helpful. We had a great vacation and hope to cruise again soon. We might try Princess, as my mother-in-law has had many good experiences with them, but would take RCCL again in a second. It's a great cruise line for families. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
We flew into Tampa two days early and spent some time at the Aquarium, on the American Victory and general sightseeing. We recommend a visit to Clearwater Beach; it is well kept and beautiful. When in Tampa, we would also like to recommend ... Read More
We flew into Tampa two days early and spent some time at the Aquarium, on the American Victory and general sightseeing. We recommend a visit to Clearwater Beach; it is well kept and beautiful. When in Tampa, we would also like to recommend Sam Seltzers Steakhouse on Dale Mabry Blvd. The food was only outclassed by the service and the price was surprisingly low for the quality, about $50 for two of us. After dropping off our rental car at the airport, we caught a cab to the port; the cost was a flat $20. We arrived at Cruise Terminal Three about 11:30 just as they were starting to board. Porters were at the curb, relieved us of our luggage and made sure our tags were properly attached. They were friendly, quick and efficient. We were pointed upstairs and there were people all along the way making sure we were headed the right way. We had filled out all of our boarding documents on line, so all we had to do was arrange for payment of bill, were assigned our Seapass cards, had security photos taken (more on these later) and were on board in less than 10 minutes. Only the gentlemen taking the security photos were less than 100% smiles, but not rude either. Once onboard we went straight to the Schooner Bar and purchased soft drink cards, then proceeded to try to get to our cabin. They had these locked out and a sign posted saying that they would not be available until 1 p.m. Therefore, we proceeded to explore a bit and then went to the Windjammer for lunch. They had sanitation stations at the entrance that I was disappointed to see disappear after the first day. Lunch was good and wait staff was everywhere, either selling drinks (you could keep the glass), getting you whatever you needed and making sure you were taken care of, something that I soon realized was the norm on the Splendour. After a leisurely lunch, we strolled around the decks and then went to our room. Our caretaker was there when we went into our cabin and she promptly introduced herself and told us how to get hold of her if we needed anything. Edna's Jamaican charm and attitude were infectious to say the least. She did an excellent job taking care of us, too. We were in an oceanview cabin on Deck 2 and were pleasantly surprised at the efficiency of the space and the amount of storage. There were three shelves and a safe over the TV, shelves behind the mirrors on either side of the desk, three drawers under the TV, the center desk drawer and two more to the right and two small drawers in the nightstands. The closets had one small rod for full-length gowns, and then two stacked rods for shirts and pants. We dropped off our luggage and went back for more sightseeing. Our bags arrived piecemeal, which was actually nice. You could concentrate on just one bag; get it stowed away when the next would arrive. We had to stop our unpacking to attend the lifeboat drill. It was corny, but in a fun way. Being in an industry that is safety sensitive, I do understand the gravity of the situation. The Captain said that we would be about an hour late departing due to traffic in the channel, so we went back to our cabin and finished squaring stuff away. As we were wrapping up I noticed that the scenery was changing outside our cabin. WE HAD MISSED THE SAILAWAY! We hustled upstairs and watched Tampa slide away into the distance as the sun set. Dining ~ Dinner was an excellent time each evening. We were seated at a table with four other couples at the 8:30 seating. We seemed to have a lot in common from it being our first cruise to ages to interests. It was nice to come each evening to familiar faces, share and compare our experiences of the day's events. The staff was superb (I have never had anybody get my lobster out of its shell for me), was quick to realize what our likes and dislikes were and met them each meal. One gentleman liked larger portions of food and asked if he could get extra helpings and his plate was the fullest each evening. One lady couldn't make up her mind which entree to have so they brought her BOTH! They were quick, friendly and efficient. Dinner was definitely a pleasure! We had breakfast in both the Windjammer and the King and I. We preferred the King and I for breakfast as the food seemed fresher and tasted better than the buffet offerings. We did have to eat in the Windjammer most mornings however as our excursions all seemed to be the first off the boat and the Windjammer was definitely quicker. I can't say that the food in the Jammer was bad as it was quite tasty, but buffet food can only go so far in quality. We only ate lunch on the ship on sea days and then it was in the Solarium Cafe. This was because the French fries there were killer! We even went back late in the evenings. Having a late dinner, not being party animal night owls and having to get up early, we only made one midnight buffet. In addition, just after set up it started raining. The crew was hustling to get the food under cover! We did see photos of the midnight buffets and heard stories, so I feel we may have missed out here. The Ben and Jerry's cart beside the pool was almost never open, but there was free frozen yogurt to tide me over until I could make it to the Ben and Jerry's cart in the Solarium! The coffee was good and always seemed fresh. Everybody got into the "formal nights" on the ship. There were very few who where not dressed up and I will hazard a guess that more than 2/3 of the guests went the full tuxedo and gown route. We looked mah-vel-ous, dah-link! Lounges ~ We did not use the lounges or casino much as the ventilation was poor in these areas and the smoke got too heavy for my wife. This is the only downside of the cruise. The starboard side was smoking on deck 4 and 9 and all the bars were all smoking except for the Top Hat, which did have a non-smoking section. The wind seemed to carry smoke all over the ship. Moreover, the Cigar Aficionados (bless their hearts) made the Crown Lounge unusable to us as cigar smoke makes my wife ill. Therefore, we spent a lot of time just wandering, playing golf, in the game room and in the Top Hat's smoke free section. Entertainment ~ This was superb as well. The singing and the dancing on stage by the crew was excellent. The acts were even better: Al Romas, The Coasters, a juggler, a magician couple. The CD was a comedian in his own right. The Coasters were the highlight of the shows. The bands and roaming musicians were all excellent and fun. You almost couldn't go anywhere at any time without music. There was a "lounge singer" with a pianist in the Centrum who sang several hours each evening and seemed to be a big hit with us quieter folk. She had a loyal band of listeners each evening and her interaction with them was personal and warm. Make sure you get to the theater early and have your drinks taken care of, this place fills up fast and it is hard for the staff to get to you. We did not utilize the spa at all. The exercise room was usually busy early in the mornings and again in the afternoons and Deck 10 (the running track) was a veritable traffic jam in the mornings with strollers, walkers, joggers and runners. Should have had a traffic cop up there! There was never any shortage of stuff to do, and we carried the Compass around with us and planned our next move according to our whim. Bingo, Quest, whatever our lil hearts desired. I will try to have these posted on my website soon. dkinner.tripod.com The ship ~ For an older, smaller ship, the Splendour is in pretty good shape. The crew is always cleaning, polishing and repairing. They did shut down one entrance to the Windjammer and remove several tables on the non-smoking side of Deck 9 so they could strip and refinish the floors there. Deck 9 is the pool deck and is lined with tables on both sides and has sliding windows beside the tables. If it is a tad too breezy on deck, just close the window! The ship was tossed about some as we spent the first and last day in 15-foot seas and had 30-knot winds (I lost my hat off the back of the ship just off Cuba) and the motion could really be felt in the theater and the dining room. We took a page from Cruise Critic and had some ginger pills along with us and seasickness was not an issue at all. I did notice that most passengers were wearing a small patch behind their ear. By that last night, it was funny to watch people all stagger in unison as we moved around the ship. Shopping ~ We are not big shoppers, but I have to say that I was disappointed in the ship's shopping guide. It seemed like one big infomercial for Diamonds International. Grand Cayman seemed really expensive, and Belize and Costa Maya were just touristy trap T-shirt and trinket shops. I did enjoy Cozumel as we got into the smaller shops and dickered with the locals for T-shirts and other gifts. Plus they had a much larger assortment of stores (handmade boots, etc.) I already had my liquor allotment filled up with some yummy rum that I bought on the ship (cheap buzz? they 'taste test' several different adult beverages each evening and by the time you get 6-7 of those little shot glasses full, you be a real happy camper) or I would have bought some Scorpion Mescal. That stuff is GOOD. The Oriental rug store in Cozumel is amazing to visit, those rugs are beautiful, and they will tell you how each are made. A fascinating place. Make it a point to be in the Plaza at sunset if you can. The bells are ringing, the birds are singing and it is just beautiful. Tranquil is perhaps a more fitting word. Excursions ~ We did an excursion in each port. On Grand Cayman, we took the semi submersible boat and island tour. The boat ride was fascinating, as we have to see two wrecks; a plethora of marine life and the guide was really into her stuff and made it fun. The bus ride around the island was disappointing. Real quick and dirty. The rum cake factory was the highlight and we bought several small ones to bring home to friends. We should have gone to the beach on Grand Cayman. In Belize we went to the Mayan Caverns. The caverns were a bit of a disappointment, but the ride in and out was amazing and worth the trip. You get up close and personal with the jungle and the guides were excellent. There are no adjectives that can properly describe the rainforest in Belize. Just go. In Costa Maya we went to the Kohomulich Mayan ruins. This was easily our best excursion. The guide knew his history, cared about his heritage and made it a point to convey the importance of what we were seeing. Our excursion here was 45 minutes late getting back to the ship, but the good Captain did wait for us. Cozumel was our last port and we spent the morning on the beach, Passion Island. The morning is the time to do this trip, as there were only 40 or so of us on over a mile of beach. The drinks were of a disappointing quality, but then at 9 in the morning who wants a margarita. Besides me? Quiet, relaxing and fun. As we were leaving around lunchtime, the place was starting to fill up. We went back to the ship, changed and spent the afternoon in town shopping. We took our booty back, got ready for dinner and as we had an hour and a half to kill before the show started, we went back to the pier to call the kids at home. While we were there, the heavens did open up and verily I say unto you it was real wrath of God type stuff. No warning either. So, we got soaked on the way back to the ship after trying to wait the storm out. When we got on the ship, I reached into my pocket and only found one Seapass card. My wife’s was missing. The security folk made sure she matched her photo they took when we boarded the ship and made me vouch for her (are you sure sir? You could leave her here if you are not sure!) We went to the purser's desk and they promptly issued her a new card. Although they would not give her a new soda sticker. However, most of the bartenders knew us by then and we did have our soda cups so it was never an issue. Disembarkment was slow for some reason. Even the seasoned cruisers mentioned that it was taking longer than usual. We were supposed to be off the ship by 8:45 and didn't get off until 10:00 and another half hour getting our bags (they are not kept together, you have to hunt for them) and through customs. We were sad to see our first cruise end. I will be cruising again. Definitely with RCI and most likely on the Splendour. It was an excellent vacation and a memorable way to spend our 20th wedding anniversary. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
We had a group of 12 individuals on this cruise with the majority of us being first time cruisers. I should note that I was one of the first time cruisers. We arrived at the pier around 12:30 p.m., porters efficiently helped us with our ... Read More
We had a group of 12 individuals on this cruise with the majority of us being first time cruisers. I should note that I was one of the first time cruisers. We arrived at the pier around 12:30 p.m., porters efficiently helped us with our luggage and directed us where to go. Upon entering the building we quickly made our way through security and to the counters where we were checked-in. The Embarkation process was a breeze and went extremely fast with no waiting at all! After boarding, we found our cabins (I got lost and the staff was great about helping us to our cabin). While looking for my cabin, I also saw my luggage waiting to be delivered to my room. Most of us had our luggage within 2 hours of boarding. I had an outside cabin on the Deck 6 next to the photo gallery. The cabin far exceeded my expectations! If you have ever gone camping in a small RV camper, these cabins will be comfortable. Our group of 12 was split into two tables for dinning. Originally, we thought we would be next to each other but instead we were on different floors. We could have switched around but opted not to after getting to know our other table mates. I did not like the Windjammer Cafe, but I should note that I do NOT like buffets. The breakfast buffet was OK and nothing to write home about. The French Toast and Pancakes were good. Avoid the scrambled eggs if you don't like soggy, uncooked eggs. The omelet station was excellent, however, be aware that they use the same cooking utensils between omelets and if you are allergic to something there may be cross-contamination. I liked the food you could get in the Solarium. The BBQ Chicken Pizza was awesome, but only served on one day. Personally, it should be a regular item. The food at the King & I Dinning Room was good but not 5 star fare. I enjoyed my food and only had a few items that were a disappointment. I asked for Shrimp Cocktail every evening and it was delivered as promised. On the last night, I received a double order of Shrimp Cocktail and was thrilled! I passed on the Lobster and had the prime rib instead. My prime rib was perfect and very tasty. The Lobster tails were disappointing and small. I enjoyed the desserts except for the last nights brownie dessert which had coffee flavor in it and I HATE coffee. As a group, we all enjoyed our shore excursions. In Grand Cayman, we planned our own excursion through Divers Down Scuba & Snorkeling with the Sting Rays at Stingray City. In Costa Maya, we did the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins and found this to be a nice shorter trip. Belize I did the Cave Tubing w/ my Fiancee. The Cave Tubing was fun, but I didn't like the 45 minute walk because I have feet/ankle problems and did twist my ankle slightly. In Cozumel, I went SCUBA diving through the ship. They used Sand Dollar Divers and I was impressed with the service. There were a total of 12 divers split into two groups of 6 for the dives. Our first dive was Palancar Wall drift dive down to approx. 80 feet and the second dive was a coral reef close to the piers down to 35 feet. I saw lots of fish, lobster and a moray eel. Overall, I really liked the Splendour and found her size to be just about perfect. Chair hogs were a frustration, but I found lots of space to lay out a towel and to lie on the deck. I would definitely cruise on the Splendour again and am planning my next cruise already. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
We cruised Splendour of the Seas departing Tampa 1/8/05 for the Western Caribbean itinerary (Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Belize and Cozumel). Previously we cruised on Disney, Carnival (Paradise) and HAL (Zaandam). Overall we were pleased ... Read More
We cruised Splendour of the Seas departing Tampa 1/8/05 for the Western Caribbean itinerary (Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Belize and Cozumel). Previously we cruised on Disney, Carnival (Paradise) and HAL (Zaandam). Overall we were pleased with the cruise, but were surprised at how it compared to other cruises on other lines. This is a long review/comparison. Embarkation went smoothly; we arrived at the port around noon and were on the ship in a short time . . . less than 45 minutes from dropping off our luggage, and that includes parking the car. We ate lunch at the Windjammer, dropped our carry-ons in the cabin and explored the ship. Our luggage arrived around 6:30 including the beer suitcase. For those interested in "smuggling," there was no indication of any examination of the bag. The first night I asked the cabin attendant for a gallon bag of ice and showed him where I wanted it. From then on, the beer was kept cold. You would think a ship out of Tampa would have Yuengling, but they didn't. Our fellow cruisers were, for the most part, great traveling companions -- friendly and polite. There were chair hogs out in force on the two sea days, but we did just fine "borrowing" the chairs while they were off doing whatever it is they were doing with their towel and shoe holding the chair. In the hour or two we used the chairs we never did meet the "owner." I was somewhat surprised that the cruisers most closely matched the demographic we experienced on Carnival -- a lot of teens and groups of young adults as well as families with younger kids. The difference being that there were somewhat more older adults than on Carnival . . . but not as many as on HAL. We never ran into the "roving noisemakers" that some reviewers experienced. The cabin and dining room staff were great! Pleasant but not overbearing and right up with the best we experienced on the other lines. We did not see the cabin attendant much, but then again we did not really need anything special from him. Our 20 y.o. DD slept in most days but the room was always made up when she returned from whatever meal served as breakfast. The waiter and assistant knew the beverage preference of each person at our large table and brought it without asking. The service was efficient (quite a task when some at the table had many courses and others only had two or three). The dinners were good, but not quite up to the quality or variety on HAL. I would rank them about even with Carnival and better than Disney. The Windjammer suffered in comparison to HAL, Disney and even Carnival. Hot foods were not warm and cold foods were room temperature . . . I doubt the temperatures on the serving line would have met most states' health code. I never saw a staff person checking temperatures -- something we observed on all the other cruises. Also, there was not as much variety as HAL and Disney. If you don't like runny omelets, beware in the Windjammer! Much better omelets in the main dining room. Pizza was available in the Solarium for much of the day, not 24/7 as on Carnival. Carnival's pizza was much better, probably a tie with the other two lines. The 42nd Street Theater was very comfortable with good sight lines. It is far superior to Carnival and better than HAL in terms of comfort and viewing. The production shows were entertaining (not that I'm a connoisseur of them) but difficult to compare to other lines . . . I'm always amazed that the dancers can be graceful on a pitching stage. The headliner was Yacov Smirnoff, the other entertainers were two comedians and a vocalist . . . all were entertaining. The poolside band was OK . . . a somewhat limited repertoire and a mediocre singer. The combo in the Centrum, as well as the band in the lounge were OK, but not good enough to get us into the lounges to listen to them. Overall, the general musical entertainment was not up to the quality of the music on HAL. No movie theater, so a tie with Carnival and far behind HAL and Disney. The Splendour does have an open deck four for quiet relaxation (and shade if wanted), something that the Paradise lacked, but it does not go all the way around the ship as on Disney and the Zaandam. We had an ocean view cabin on deck two . . . it had everything we needed and adequate space for three adults (except when getting ready for formal night). There was sufficient closet and drawer space, suitcases fit under the beds, the small sofa was comfortable and the bathroom sufficed. We heard no noises from the adjoining cabins or the cabins above. Except for rare occasions, there was no corridor noise either. The third bed folded down from the ceiling, just as on HAL and Carnival (in the "basic" cabin). On Disney, we had a futon style sofa for the third bed. Usable floor space and cabin layout was similar to HAL, much better than Carnival and not as good as Disney. The bathroom was small; I was informed the shower was not good for shaving legs . . . I guess that may matter to some. In comparison, HAL had a tub and more space, Disney has the split bath and Carnival may have been just a bit smaller. If it matters to you, no robes for the basic cabin -- same as Disney . . . HAL and Carnival provided robes. For the most part, we did excursions on our own. In Grand Cayman we did Stingray City and Coral Garden snorkeling with Nativeway at a considerable saving, less than half the price of the ship's excursion. I was not as comfortable going on my own in Belize, so we took the ship's Snorkel and Beach excursion. It was well run, and great snorkeling just off a small cay about 14 miles from where the ship anchors. I mean small -- bigger than a basketball court, but not any bigger than a hockey rink -- but I don't think anyone went just for the beach. Once snorkeling was over, rum punch was served on the beach and the boat back. Costa Maya and Cozumel were beach days for us . . . just the cost of a taxi out and back. In Cozumel, we docked at International pier, so a taxi was necessary for those who went into town to shop. Several couples in our dinner group went to the ruins in Belize and enjoyed the trip; it was a long day and a long bus ride. Deck two has the latest departure times for those who do not book air through RCI. We were scheduled to depart at 10:30. After several visits to the Purser we were able to arrange an earlier departure. If we had our airline "tickets" we could have accomplished this in one trip. I guess the moral of the story is to make sure you have good confirmation of your travel arrangements if you need to be off the ship early. On the various visits to the Purser I inquired about the tips being charged to our account as I had submitted the form early in the week and the charge did not show on the preliminary accounting. I was repeatedly told not to worry -- although no one asked for let alone checked my name or cabin number. Well, come 6:30, no tip voucher! A phone call to the purser and I'm told to find my cabin attendant, as he must have forgotten to deliver them. Norton does not have my vouchers and our cabin isn't on his list of vouchers. Yet another visit to the purser and this time I'm informed that they do not have my form and asked which purser was on duty when I handed it in -- like I would remember! Then I'm informed that it is "too late" to get vouchers charged to my account. As I did not bring enough cash for tips I was directed to the ATM; an ATM that charges $5.50 a transaction! As the service was superb, stiffing the staff who depend on tips because the Purser was inefficient just was not an option, so off to the ATM. I guess I would recommend bringing cash for the tips. Perhaps RCI should emulate Disney and give guests the vouchers at the time they turn in the forms. I would even prefer an automatic charge for tips to the mysterious method that leaves the guest in a lurch on those occasions when the Purser errs. It took longer to get off the ship than to get on it. Immigration in Tampa was much more time consuming than it was in either Port Canaveral or Miami. This was the first of our cruises after 9/11 that resulted in a stamped passport. Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
We were on the 3rd deck, we had a pullman bed for my 30 yr old daughter, there was a little vibration, but, nothing we couldn't adjust to. We really enjoyed this cruise, she's a beautiful ship. Embarkation went smoothly. We ... Read More
We were on the 3rd deck, we had a pullman bed for my 30 yr old daughter, there was a little vibration, but, nothing we couldn't adjust to. We really enjoyed this cruise, she's a beautiful ship. Embarkation went smoothly. We were on board within an hour. Their security machine had broke, which made for a wait of 20 minutes. But, lemonade and cookies were served in the waiting area. The Centrum area is awesome. It goes from the 4th to the 10th floors, center ship. There weren't a lot of activities to do on the first sea day, Sunday, that was also the first formal night. On a percentage scale, there were 5% tux's on men, 10% in casual wear, 75% in suits and 10% in jackets with no tie. My husband wore a suit. The ladies were 70 to 80% semi-formal, 10% formal and 10% casual. We had main seating, table 157, a table for 4, there were 3 of us, so that made my hubby and daughter happy. We were on the 5th floor, of the dining room, it is 2 floors, 4th & 5th. All glass.  We were disappointed in Grand Cayman. We chose to just shop and look around. It looked like an outlet mall area. Those we talked to said that Stingray City was great. Tues. We docked at Cost Maya and rented a golf cart to drive up the coast (about 3-4 mi.) to the fishing village of Mahahual. That was FUN. Watch out for the speed bumps, they are huge ropes going across the streets. We enjoyed this day tremendously! We ate on the gorgeous beach in front of Oxtankha's, very good Mexican food. The service was great as was the food and reasonably priced. This is a good day to spend the day in the water, the beach was fabulous. I can't say enough about it. the golf cart was $12 an hour, with the 5th hour free, and your last hour pro-rated. Shopping was very good in Mahahual. Everyone was so nice. We were even serenaded as we ate lunch on the beach. On Wednesday we tendered into Belize, Honduras, Central America. Tendering took awhile. They have you get tender tickets, then call 2 or 3 numbers at a time ... instead of just calling #1, which looked like 100 or better, but all in all about an hour and we were ashore. The pharmacy's prices weren't all that good but, the arthritis cream that is NOT available in the US was $10 a tube, or 3/$8. I bought 1 tube, not knowing if it worked or not, it DOES work. I'm sending for more. The pharmacist gave me an e-mail and a phone # to contact her. We rented a horse and carriage for $25 for an hour and went through town and around the higher and lower income parts of the city. That was also nice. This was the second formal night, with lobster tail and shrimp on the menu. Thursday we docked at Cozumel and took a taxi, $4 pp each way to Paradise Beach. We got there around 9:30 and left about 2:30. It started getting crowded about 11:30 a.m. Beach chairs and umbrella's are free to all. It's $5 for the all day use of a floating mat, iceberg to jump off of and the floating trampoline. Food was ok here, not cheap but not too bad. We shopped back at the dock area -- they had good buys. This was also the Gala Buffet night at midnight. Friday was a sea day with quite a lot of activities to pick from. We did Trivia, (not that good), the backstage tour (very informative) and the arts & crafts (NOT at all planned out, a miserable failure, 20 min. wasted). The food in the dining room was very good, one night did not have a lot to choose from, but you always have the alternative selections of salmon, steak and chicken to pick from. Shrimp cocktail was offered 2 nights, the prime rib was outstanding, desserts were ok to good. Our wait staff was the best, Sener as Head Waiter, was fabulous, Luis our waiter was outstanding and Auturo the assist. waiter was ok. The Solarium food, hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, sometimes subs and the best French fries you will ever eat, was ALWAYS very good. The Windjammer buffet food was ok. There was not hardly any fruit, but a selection of everything else. The afternoon taco bar was very good. And my DD loved having the ice cream machine available 24/7. We went to all the evening productions EXCEPT the singer Elaine Lesley, which we are very glad we didn't. We were told she was NOT good. ALL the other shows, comedians, juggler and magician were good to great. We had rough weather on Friday, a little cool and rainy, and the ship really rolled .. I thought it was fun though. Disembarkation went quickly and smoothly, we were off within 30 minutes of our color being called. I would recommend the Splendour. Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
Day 1 -- Embarkation We drove into Tampa the day before the cruise and spent the night at the Hilton Garden Inn. Got a great rate on Priceline. The hotel was very clean and spacious, and not too far from the pier. We took our time ... Read More
Day 1 -- Embarkation We drove into Tampa the day before the cruise and spent the night at the Hilton Garden Inn. Got a great rate on Priceline. The hotel was very clean and spacious, and not too far from the pier. We took our time getting up because our documents stated boarding started at 2:00 p.m. We arrived at the pier at 12:15, gave our bags to the porter, parked the car, and headed inside. There was one person in front of us at the Platinum/Diamond desk, but there was a line at the regular desk. We waited maybe a minute and were checked in by 12:30. After the usual boarding pictures, we headed to our cabin. Priority embarkation is truly one of the best benefits of getting to Platinum. There were no welcome-aboard drinks as there were on previous cruises, but maybe it was because we were early. The doors to the cabin hallways were closed, so we headed to deck 9 and the tables outside the Windjammer. We had a quick lunch, which was VERY good, and went back down to our cabin to drop off our carry-ons. The Cabin -- We were in Junior Suite 8044, and the kids (young adults) were in inside cabin 8071. This was our first time with a balcony and it was so exciting opening the door to the cabin. The cabin was fantastic. There was plenty of room to move around, and even more room for storage. We kept finding little places to put things. Our cabin steward, Giavonni, introduced himself and told us what to expect. The strangest thing was about the ice bucket. If we wanted ice, we were to turn the top of the bucket over. We had never had to ask for ice before, but we thought we could live with it. Needless to say, we forgot our "ice bucket code" quite a few times and never got ice. Who thinks about ice when there are so many other things to do?? The balcony was GREAT!!! It had one lounge chair, two chairs and a small table. One word of warning ..... the window washing platform that is used for washing the deck 9 windows, is parked above the balcony of this cabin. It was only moved when washing the windows, and then parked right back above our balcony. It hindered the view a bit, but I still enjoyed the balcony. When we booked the cruise, the kid's cabin didn't look that far from ours. We really underestimated the size of this ship. It was quite a trek down the hall between cabins. Their cabin was quite large, and they had plenty of room. They weren't in the cabin that much. We always gathered in our cabin. More Day 1 -- We did a little exploring, checked out our dining table assignment (table 19 for 4, deck 5, late seating) and I made my massage appointment in the Spa. I got a 5:45 on the last sea day. Perfect. We went back to our cabins to get our life jackets for the Muster drill. It went quite smoothly when everyone finally showed up. After returning our life jackets, we proceeded to the pool deck for the Sailaway Party. It was a great start to getting our cruise underway. We returned to the room, got ready for dinner and went to the pre-dinner show. It was Mark Taylor, a magician. We then went to the dining room to meet our wait staff. Our waiter, Riaan, is from South Africa. Brazilla is from India. They were wonderful. The best we've had since Song of Norway. The food was very, very good. RCI has definitely taken it up a notch. On previous recent cruises, there were many choices, but none of them were that good. Now there are fewer choices, but much better food. Quality, not quantity seems to be the norm now. Went to the casino, went to bed. Kept the balcony door open to hear the ocean. It was heaven. Day 2 -- At Sea -- We ordered coffee the night before to be delivered between 7 and 7:30. It always comes early. There was so much to do, we couldn't do it all. Especially with 2 kids that like to sleep late because they were up late the night before. This was the only day we had breakfast in the dining room. We have to have Eggs Benedict at least once, and this was the day. We missed the napkin folding and the Welcome Aboard Champagne Reception, but made it to everything else. We played team trivia in the Schooner bar. We did OK, but not well enough to win. FYI -- this is the place to get beer. It's served in huge glasses. We did a little shopping. Our C&A coupon book contained a coupon for the wine tasting, so we decided that was a nice way to kill an hour. There were 3 reds, 3 whites and a sparkling wine. I tore the daily planner out of the Compass, so I can't remember all we did. But we did a lot! We went to the Solarium to get a quick bite. They have wonderful hot dogs and fries. The pizza and hamburgers were just OK. The Solarium is beautiful. This was the first of 2 formal nights in the dining room. After going back to the room to change, we spent quite a bit of time (and money) in the Casino Royale. Day 3 -- Costa Maya -- We got our Compass the night before, and to our surprise we had a headliner show. John Davidson. This has been where he has been hiding himself. The Crown and Anchor desk was open, so I stopped by and booked our next cruise. Mariner, Eastern Caribbean, March 2006. I snagged an aft balcony (D1 on deck 9) for us and interiors across the hall for the kids. Louise (the C&A ambassador) was wonderful. Love that $100 onboard credit for each cabin. We had breakfast in the Windjammer, got the kids up, and headed off the ship. We didn't book any excursions, as we usually do OK on our own. There is a fairly nice mall just off the pier. We took a bus into downtown. "Downtown" consists of a beach with some vendors, restaurants and bars. The speed bumps in Costa Maya are made of very big, thick ropes. Pretty cool to have moveable speed bumps. We walked the length of town and doubled back for a 30 minute massage for $20 on the beach. After the massage, we had lunch at the Tapas bar. The guys rented bikes for $5, and we girls went back to the ship. Took a nap, got ready for dinner and went down to the Schooner bar for another team trivia game. Had another wonderful dinner, gambled and went to bed. Day 4 - Belize -- We were really looking forward to Belize and it was not a very good experience. This is definitely one place to book an excursion. After being offered an assortment of drugs, we went back to the ship. We were in Belize maybe an hour. That was an hour too long without an organized activity. We hung out at the pool and then went and got ready for "Win a Cruise Bingo." Needless to say, we didn't win. We decided to give team trivia another try. This time it was Rock and Roll trivia in the Top Hat lounge. If anyone knows rock and roll, it's us. Guess what?? We won!!! We got every question right. Our prizes were nice leather (?) travel wallets. That night was the "Welcome Back Party" for C&A members. It was great, free drinks and appetizers. The Bacardi drinks were yummy. Louise (C&A ambassador), the Hotel Manager and the Captain all spoke. We were told how much "repeaters" were appreciated. And we really did feel appreciated. The centerpiece of the room was a beautiful ice sculpture of the RCI logo. We then headed off for the second formal night dinner. After dinner, our son went off to explore and we headed back to the Top Hat for "The Quest." We figured we were on a roll, so why not. There was only one problem; you needed at least 4 people on a team to play. So, we decided to just watch. One day someone is going to get hurt playing The Quest. It was pretty funny. We went to the casino and went to bed. Day 5 - Cozumel -- We got the kids up early to begin our day in Cozumel. This was truly the best day of our cruise. We had told the kids we would go to a beach, but couldn't decide where to go. So we ended up renting a Jeep from Avis. It was fantastic!! We drove all over the island. Cozumel is one of the most beautiful places on earth. We wanted to find a secluded beach, but we also wanted beach chairs. So we drove. At this point we were hungry and found a nice looking restaurant/bar on the ocean. We parked the Jeep and went in. It was great. Cold beer, good Mexican food and ........ lounge chairs! We spent a few hours there, gave the waitress a good tip and got back in the Jeep. We knew where we wanted to shop, so we drove to the strip. To our dismay, the main street was torn up. There are a lot of one-way streets in Cozumel, we found out the hard way. We finally found our way to Los Cinco Soles. It is my favorite shop in Cozumel. Last time we were there we found a nice gift for the folks at home; a beach bag, Mexican blanket, liter of Tequila and 2 shot glasses for $20. We didn't see them this time, but they may still be there. We got our souvenirs, returned the Jeep and returned to the ship. The entertainment for the night was Yacov Smirnoff. We saw him 20 years ago at Zanies and thought he was great. It was such a nice surprise to see him on the ship. He was great. This was our first cruise with headliners. Our son spent most of the evening at Senior Frogs, but made it back for dinner. There were quite a few people missing from dinner that night, as we didn't depart Cozumel until 11:00. We had another wonderful dinner, played mini golf, visited the Viking Crown lounge, went to the casino, then back to the cabin. Day 6 - At Sea -- The C&A Platinum and Diamond lunch was at noon. This was the only day we ate lunch in the dining room. The lunch wasn't the best I ever had, but the complementary wine was nice. They served both red and white. The Captain come over and talked to us for quite a while. We just messed around all day. It was very relaxing. I had my massage at the Spa. When I made my appointment the first day, I was not sure what type to reserve, so I booked a Swedish massage. After I completed my registration, Gabriel convinced me to have a deep tissue massage. It was fantastic. We received a notice they would be removing our balcony furniture for maintenance between 8:00 and 11:00 p.m.. It is hard to enjoy a balcony with no furniture, but we didn't have much choice. They came for it just before dinner. The last night's dinner was quiet. (Except for the wait staff parade). It's always sad to know you have to leave the next day. We said our goodbyes, presented our tips and went back to the cabin to pack. After putting our bags outside, we went back to the casino for one last chance at the big win. It didn't happen, so we returned to the cabin for one last night of sleeping to the sound of the ocean. Day 7 - Disembarkation -- We awoke, packed our carry-ons (or in this case, carry-offs) and went up to the pool deck to await our calling. Our color tags (light blue #2) were the second to be called after the people with air arrangements and Tampa excursions. We were off the ship, in our car and driving back home by 9:00. Disembarkation was very well organized. Overall I would recommend this cruise to anyone. It was the best yet. Splendour is a fantastic ship. There are all kinds of sculptures, paintings, wall hangings, etc. everywhere. We probably didn't even see it all. The Solarium was breathtaking. The Windjammer was beautiful. The entire ship was clean and well maintained. The staff we encountered seemed to enjoy their jobs, and it showed. The food was far better than I expected. There were many activities in which to participate, or many quiet places to relax. I would do it again in a New York minute. Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
Royal Caribbean's Splendour of the Seas is a well kept ship. The food and service in the dining room were good, our only disappointment being that the lunch menu never changed. Angelino and Maximo, our waiters, did a great job serving ... Read More
Royal Caribbean's Splendour of the Seas is a well kept ship. The food and service in the dining room were good, our only disappointment being that the lunch menu never changed. Angelino and Maximo, our waiters, did a great job serving us. The food in the Windjammer buffet was excellent for breakfast, and fair to good at other times. The pizza in the Solarium wasn't too good. The evening shows and entertainment were fair to great, depending upon what was offered. The Diamonds, a '50s group, did a great show one evening. A magician performed another night and was well received. The two comedians on two nights received mixed reviews, and the ship's production show was fair. The sports facilities and ship-shape program were both first rate. We enjoyed the rock climbing wall and the miniature golf course, as well as the pool facilities. Our cabin service (lower outside cabin) was good with cute touches like towel animals some evenings. We visited the Turtle Farm in Grand Cayman; rented a car and drove around Cozumel; went cave tubing in Belize; and shopped a bit in Costa Maya. All great fun except Costa Maya, which we thought was a bit too crowded and needed access to a real beach. All in all we had a great time and look forward to our next cruise with Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
We had a great time on this cruise. We traveled with our three boys, 16, 14, 12, and they also had a great time. The food was good, the service exceptional. The staff was very friendly and never seemed to be bothered by any requests. They ... Read More
We had a great time on this cruise. We traveled with our three boys, 16, 14, 12, and they also had a great time. The food was good, the service exceptional. The staff was very friendly and never seemed to be bothered by any requests. They always had a smile and willingness to serve. We had a superior inside stateroom. It was much larger than I had expected with plenty of room for the 4 of us (one son stayed in a cabin with my parents). My parents had a balcony room that was also very nice. If you can afford the balcony, get it. I didn't think we would really care one way or the other, but the balcony was especially nice when leaving and entering ports. You didn't have to leave your room to see anything. The food in the dining room was very good with several choices. The service was excellent. The food in the Windjammer was good and the staff very helpful. My only gripe is trying to find a place to sit at peak times during lunch or breakfast. It was pretty crowded. Food in the Solarium was also very tasty and it was less crowded. I do have one more gripe....the coffee was horrible!!! It was always VERY strong. RCI had several blurbs around talking about the switch to Seattle's Best coffee. I LOVE to drink coffee and don't like it weak, but the coffee was NEVER good. I personally heard several complaints about it. Other than that, everything else was great. We only saw one show but it was very good. Our son saw several of them and he enjoyed them all. There was quite a bit to do on the ship and we could always find something to do. Two of our sons participated in the 12-15 children's program. It didn't seem to be overly organized to me, but the boys enjoyed it when they participated. Our older son didn't participate in any of the organized teen activities. I thought the ports of call were very nice. We had never been to any of the places and enjoyed them all. We were disappointed that we had to miss Grand Cayman, but we had never been to Key West and enjoyed seeing it. I HIGHLY recommend the cave tubing in Belize. We didn't book through the ship. We booked online from an independent company. It was awesome, and from what we heard from others, had a much better experience than the people who went through RCI. We only had 13 in our group. We mainly snorkeled and hung out at the beach in the other ports and enjoyed them all. Overall, we had a wonderful experience on this ship. This was our first with RCI and hopefully not our last. The ship was beautiful, the staff and service excellent, and the ports very interesting. Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
My husband, two kids and I were on the Splendour of the Seas 6 day pre-Christmas cruise in 2004. We were on a shortened 6 night cruise so we did not go to Cozumel. Our formal nights were the first sea day, Sunday and the day we were in ... Read More
My husband, two kids and I were on the Splendour of the Seas 6 day pre-Christmas cruise in 2004. We were on a shortened 6 night cruise so we did not go to Cozumel. Our formal nights were the first sea day, Sunday and the day we were in Belize, Wednesday. This was our fourth cruise. Norway, Disney Wonder, Mariner being the others. We had a wonderful time. Here are some highlights: PROS Pre-cruise hotel - Hyatt downtown $43 from Priceline. Great hotel, very comfortable. Used valet service ($11), great after an 11 hour drive. Arrived at the port at 10:30. Didn't board until after 12. They served juice and cookies to those waiting. Great for the kids. Went for lunch at Windjammer. Very good. We ate here a lot during the week. We found the selection to be very good and everyone found something they liked. The Windjammer has an "ice cream" dispenser and cone. There is also a beverage station and ice cream cone machine by the pool. LOVED that! Hot dogs, hamburgers and fries were served by the pool as well. This was right beside the pool bar. The lunch desserts were plentiful, about 6 different kinds. A lot of mousses and those "jellified" type desserts. Usually a different kind of cheesecake, Jello, cookies and pudding every day. One day they had chocolate pecan pie. Awesome!! Almost as good as the flourless chocolate cake in the dining room. LOVED the 42nd Street Theatre. Very comfortable seating and a great view from every seat. Enjoyed the comedian. The sing and dance shows were all right. Better than the shows on the Mariner. Also, the Solarium looked wonderful!! We didn't have a chance to use it since we were with our kids. Maybe next time. We loved our Grand Suite. It was on deck 8 just a few steps away from the Windjammer (deck 9), kid's club (deck 10) and pool. We were given a fruit bowl when we arrived and later in the week, petit fours and appetizers. There was a VCR in the room and the room steward said there was a video library as well, but we did not use it. We were given priority embarkation, disembarkation and tenders. Our waiters were very good as well. The head waiter was great! We saw him more than the head waiters on the last 3 cruises combined. I found the food to be as good or better on the Splendour than on the Mariner. Filet, lamb and lobster were all good, but not memorable. COSTA MAYA Our day in Costa Maya was spend in Mahajual. Loved it. Beer, sand, Banana Boat rides and ceviche and chips (yum). We took a taxi (well actually bus) to Mahajual. There is a really good map in your compass the night before that shows you where the taxi stand is in relation to the swimming pool, shops, etc. You buy your taxi ticket from a stand. Just ask if you can't see it, everyone was really helpful. The cost was $3 per person and about 30 of us loaded onto a bus. On the way back there again is a taxi ticket stand ($2 per person). We left around 2:45 and there was a little lineup for a taxi, but they were coming very quickly and we only waited about 5-10 minutes. Our friends left 15 minutes earlier and had no lineup. There was a "taxi marshall" who was directing all the taxis and passengers, very efficient. I don't think I would recommend renting a golf cart. I think it would be a nuisance and not worth the expense. We really enjoyed the day at the beach as we had things planned at other ports. There were 7 of us, 4 adults and 4 kids. We had 3 or 4 beers and 6 or 7 margaritas, Cokes for the kids, shrimp and conch cerviche, 2 shrimp/seafood and 1 chicken fajita, chips and salsa and quesadilla (sp) and our bill was under $100. We did the Banana Boat ride. Someone was right there on the beach. $10 per person for 30 minute ride. The kids, 5, 7 and 8 loved it. BELIZE Did the Lamanai and River cruise in Belize with my 7 year old son. This was the highlight of the cruise. We saw egrets, baby crocodiles and termite nests along the windy river. Very thrilling ride back. We were fed a Belizan lunch once at the Lamanai site. The tour guide was awesome and my son and I climbed to the top of the Mayan temple. This was very exciting with a great view. CONS We were ditched at Grand Cayman by Nativeway sports to do the Stingray tour, probably because we were the only family signed up. I was very upset at first but after talking to people who went with the ship's tour, they said it was very windy and choppy and it was difficult to keep your footing. My 5 year old would have had a tough time. So maybe next time. The ship does have a noticeable vibration. Nothing that was bothersome, but we were on deck 8. Some people with cabins on the port side lower decks said it was quite bad. Summary Overall, I would say this was our most enjoyable cruise. Maybe because the kids are getting older, but I do prefer the intimacy of a smaller ship. That being said, I did miss the Royal Promenade on the Mariner. We were given first color off the ship on disembarkation day. We were off at 8:30 a.m. and in our vehicle driving home by 8:45 a.m. Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
PREFACE: "We" were a group of 5 adults ranging in ages from 34 - 80. I had cruised before, but this was to be a first cruise for my mom, dad, grandma and cousin (Madelene). We sailed 7 days round trip from Tampa on the Splendour ... Read More
PREFACE: "We" were a group of 5 adults ranging in ages from 34 - 80. I had cruised before, but this was to be a first cruise for my mom, dad, grandma and cousin (Madelene). We sailed 7 days round trip from Tampa on the Splendour of the Seas, departing December 11, 2004. We visited Key West, Florida; Costa Maya, Mexico; Belize City, Belize; and Cozumel, Mexico. My previous cruise experience has only been with Princess (PCL from here on), so I can not help but make comparisons to that line. Both RCI and PCL have certain areas in which one is better than the other, in my opinion. In light of that, and due to a few complications, this review is pretty lengthy. DAY 1: Embarkation: We arrived at Terminal 3 around 11:45 a.m. on Saturday morning. Dad drove us to the curb, we unloaded our luggage and he took the car to the parking garage across the street. I believe he walked back instead of waiting for the shuttle (I had read there was one, but I never saw it). There were more people already there before us than I had expected, several were already waiting when we walked in. We were directed to the "check-in" area, found the appropriate line and proceeded to the counter after only waiting for a few minutes. The check in process was quick and easy, we received our Sign and Sail cards and a little slip of paper with the letter "G" on it. We were then directed to the sitting area to wait for our letter to be called. We had a few cookies, a cup of lemonade (water also available) and chatted while waiting for the boarding to begin. I suggest arriving early if you would rather sit in the chairs than stand in line waiting because those lines really began to grow at this point. An announcement was made informing us that we would begin boarding as soon as the ship had been cleared. I'm not sure if there was a hold up or if this was the "norm," but we sat for about an hour before boarding began around 1:15 p.m. Everyone was in a good mood and excited to get our cruise started! When our letter was called, we found the line a bit lengthy but it moved along. Boarding photos were taken, which we purchased later. I've definitely seen better boarding photos and props, this was a bit sub-standard in my opinion. We walked up a covered, zigzag gang plank, and into the ship on deck 4. The Centrum was decorated with a large Christmas tree on the staircase, garland, bulbs and poinsettias, very pretty. I noticed right away the absence of those familiar Caribbean sounds... no music welcomed us aboard, not even Christmas music. I felt a little disappointment as those Calypso melodies are one of my favorite things about cruising. But there were plenty of friendly faces to greet and direct us. We took an elevator up to deck 8 to check out our cabins. Upon exiting the elevator, I noticed that both hallways (port and starboard side) were carpeted exactly the same - unlike PCL where one side is red, the other blue... very helpful when you step off that elevator and can't recall which way is forward or aft. Our Staterooms: We booked 2 adjoining Junior Suite cabins, 8060 and 8062 on the port side of the ship. Our accommodations were exactly as expected, thanks to the RCI snapshots and the 360 degree photo. There was plenty of storage for the 3 of us in one cabin. There was only one plug, on the vanity. NO plug in the bathroom. Why cant they make those shower curtains just 2 inches longer so that the water stays in the tub? Not much storage in the bathroom, only one long shelf under the counter/sink. Good thing I bought a set of those hanging closet organizers from Lillian Vernon, those came in handy! Our couch looked brand new, the beds sagged in the middle a bit but mom said they were fine for sleeping. I found the pull-out sofa to be pretty comfortable. It was actually better than any sofa bed I have slept on due to it not having all those darn metal bars for support. Instead, it had wide wooden slats for support. The cushion wasn't very thick, but it was adequate. I slept all week on it with no complaints. We were pleased to find the balconies larger than anticipated, which provided us with 3 basic upright chairs and one lounger. The glass under the balcony railing was pretty dirty, but I suppose that is due to the salty sea spray. Most of our luggage was already in our cabin upon our arrival with the exception of my large bag (which did not show up until after 8 p.m.). We found 2 large bottles of water and six various sodas on the vanity, these are not complimentary. There was a refrigerator under the TV, adequate for the soda I brought and a few other items that we stashed in there throughout the week. We attempted to locate our cabin steward to introduce ourselves and to make a few requests -- one being that Gram and Madelene's beds were pushed together. They were obviously two "mature" ladies, why would they want their beds together? Someone wasn't paying attention. We were not able to locate our cabin steward, so after dropping off our carry-ons we headed up to the Windjammer for lunch. The food was plentiful and delicious. I was very impressed with the buffet. I had read conflicting opinions about this. Lots of hot items, fruit, salad fixings, etc. Servers came around offering iced tea, water, lemonade, etc. They will even run to get you something from the buffet line, should you request it. I found the service in the Windjammer to be considerably better than that of PCL's buffet. The muster drill was at 4:30. This was an area that I feel PCL has a far better plan than RCI. We were instructed to put on our life vests and make our way to our muster station by way of the stairs, of course. They did allow Gram and Madelene to use an elevator as they have some physical difficulty with stairs. Thank goodness for this because it's a very unnerving feeling going down 4 flights of stairs in an unfamiliar setting when you cannot see your toes over these bulky vests! Personally, I think this is unsafe and I was surprised that they do it this way. PCL requires that you carry your vests to the muster station and then put them on later during the drill instructions. A much better (and safer) idea! Not to mention that sitting in a lounge is far more comfortable (PCL) than standing outside in the sun (RCI), squashed shoulder to shoulder, in lines like sardines... waiting for everyone to arrive, then waiting for the staff to take attendance from a list of around 100 people. Yuck! Fortunately it wasn't too hot, and as luck would have it, it began to rain... but alas, the sky did smile on us with a beautiful rainbow! Oh, Gram and Dad both mentioned that the guy organizing our muster station smelled horribly of alcohol. He couldn't have actually been tanked, could he??? Who knows, but Gram and Dad were confident that he was. Dinner in the King and I was fabulous. I have never had such delicious food while cruising. I don't know if it was just this sailing and ship, but RCI blew PCL away in the food department! Oh, and the bread... yummy! I won't mention this on each day, but I never had a meal I wasn't completely pleased with whether in the dining room or in the buffet. Gram, Dad and I ate at the Solarium Cafe one afternoon, which was also very good. For the entire week, our dining room service as well as the bar service was great, and so friendly .... you would never know they do this week after week, they are very good at making you feel special. I had read the coffee was bad on RCI, my parents are avid coffee drinkers so I told mom to bring her own coffee maker. Figures, she never needed to use it. She said that although the coffee was strong, it was "fine, better than expected." Dad cut it with cream, occasionally with some hot water too. The ship was a-rockin' tonight!! I don't know exactly the size of the waves (I would guess around 12-14 feet), but everyone was staggering all over the place, and we hadn't had a thing to drink yet! After dinner we went to the 9 p.m. show. Comedian Al Romas was pretty good. The jokes were clean and funny, nothing offensive (one poke at the Amish), with the foulest word being "hell." That was a relief, and we all enjoyed the act. When we returned later to our cabin, no one had turned our beds down. Not normally a big deal, except that the sofa bed had not been made either, and we had no sheets to do it ourselves. We still had not seen our cabin steward, so we had to call housekeeping to request turn-down service. It actually took 2 calls to get it taken care of, and when someone finally showed up around 11:30, they acted a bit put out by our request. I questioned them several times as to the whereabouts of our steward, and what was going on. I was told on the phone when I originally called, and again by the woman who was making up the sofa bed, that this service did not typically start until the following night. Huh?? I asked her how I was supposed to make up the sofa bed myself with no sheets, but she did not answer me even when I asked a second and third time. I was not trying to be a jerk, I just didn't understand why she was telling me this and wanted her to explain it to me. I've never heard of cabin service not starting until the next day..?? Anyway, I slept like a baby. Gram and Madelene were not so lucky. Due to very rough seas, something in their wall was making an awful lot of noise, which kept them up all night. They did not call to complain, it was obviously something that nothing could be done about. It wasn't really a problem for the remainder of the cruise, as the seas were much calmer after that first night. DAY 2: Key West -- This port of call was substituted for Grand Cayman. We were initially disappointed about this, but it turned out to be a really nice day (although chilly!). We docked a considerable distance from Mallory Square, and at first I panicked, how in the world were Gram and Madelene going to walk that far?? But it wasn't long before we saw the Old Town Trollies and the Conch Trains coming to shuttle us into town. When we got off the shuttle, we bought tickets for the Conch Train Tour. It was a 90 minute, wonderfully narrated tour through town on an open-air train. Very informative and entertaining. We all really enjoyed this and were pleased with our choice. We had a nice lunch at Billy's near Mallory Square afterward, then did some shopping. Key West is a great little place, and I would not hesitate to visit again. Tonight's "Variety Show" (as listed in the Compass) was actually a group called "Ole Ole"... they were 2 male musicians and 1 female dancer who performed a Rumba Flamenco show.... It was fantastic!! Amazing talent, the best show of the entire cruise, in my opinion. Do not miss this! DAY 3: At Sea -- Had a relaxing day... we grabbed a table up on the pool deck and played cards for a while. Had a few Mango Coladas, half-watched the belly flop competition. There was Bingo and art auctions, all the typical sea-day stuff. Tonight was the first formal night... grab a chair in the lobby and do some "people watching" ... very entertaining! Tonight's show was "Jump, Jivin' Swing," which was performed by the RCI singers and dancers... '40s, '50s, '60s big band music, it was pretty good. Later, I read in the Compass that we were to turn our clocks back an hour before going to sleep, so that we would be on CST when we arrived in Costa Maya. Well, I hit the roof! I had called RCI twice prior to this cruise, and was told both times that we would remain on EST for our entire cruise. I had also participated in several discussions on the message boards regarding this and generally got the same information. So I was quite annoyed, to say the least, to find out that my independent tour plans were now in jeopardy. But fortunately, my next tour in Costa Maya was a ruins tour that I booked through RCI online... no worries.... right? DAY 4: Costa Maya -- Wrong!! I booked the Chacchoben Ruins tour through RCI on their website back in October. I received 2 confirmations of my scheduled time, 10:30 a.m. Low and behold, we look at our tickets which were delivered to our cabins, and see the time says 7:30. Hmm that's not good, but I assumed this was just a mistake on their part and hopefully they could put us in on the 10:30 time, since we had been confirmed for that. (I did go directly to the shore excursion desk the evening before when we first noticed this to fix the problem, but they were closed - very limited hours!). So I got up early and went down again first thing this morning at 6:45 a.m., they opened around 7:10 a.m., a little late. When it was my turn, I approached the desk and explained that they had made a mistake and put the wrong time on our tickets. I was told that no mistake had been made, they had changed the tour time to 7:30 (its now about 7:20). What?! How can you do that and not inform the participants?? Of course, she said it was my responsibility to verify times and there was no other time choice for that tour. Obviously we could not make that time, we had no idea the schedule had been changed, and my group could not be ready in 10 minutes - we would need to cancel and get a refund. Nope... they have a 24 hour cancellation policy, and there would be no refund. WHAT!! Ok, we went around and around at this point. I understand that they have a policy, I understand I should have looked closer at my tickets earlier (I told her that I did try to speak to someone the day before, but they were closed), and I realize that they reserve the right to pretty much do whatever they want. Why was the schedule changed?? Well, because they had dropped Grand Cayman, she said. How does THAT have anything to do with Costa Maya 2 days later?!? She then tried to blame the change on the tour operators in Costa Maya... that made no sense, what did they care if we didn't go to Grand Cayman?? And would it kill you to staple a little red note (something eye-catching) to the tickets notifying us of this change?? I was not about to lose $300 without a fight! She offered me a choice of 2 other excursions in place of the one we had booked, the All-Terrain vehicle tour and the Kayaking tour. Neither of which Gram or Madelene are physically able to do. It took me about 20 minutes to convince her that I was not going away quietly, so she finally told me to come back later and she would see what she could do for us. Fine... that's something, at least. So I broke the news to my group, and of course, we were all disappointed. They have never been on a cruise, never been to Mexico, never seen ancient Mayan ruins.... we were all really looking forward to this tour. It was the one and only excursion we booked with RCI. Well, ok... plan B: Lets go ashore, do some shopping, and then we have all kinds of time to go to the adjacent beach for snorkeling. Gram and Madelene wanted to laze on a beach chair and get some sun, Dad wanted to learn how to snorkel. I had done this last time I was in Costa Maya and it was fantastic, so I had them all pumped up for this. After browsing in the plaza, watching the dance show and having a couple drinks... we headed for the pier, we needed to change into our swimsuits and get our snorkel gear. I glanced over at the beach.... hey, wait a minute.... how come no one is over on the beach or swimming?? I asked this to a uniformed guard who was standing at the foot of the pier. He informed us that the beach was closed. WHAT! How come?? He didn't know. Someone later told us that it was probably for monetary reasons, if they close this beach which is free, that forces the passengers to hire taxis and pay for snorkeling excursions to other beaches. Great. We were back on board, empty handed and very frustrated by noon. The rest of our day was spent playing cards and tinkering around the ship. That isn't a necessarily a bad thing, but our day was pretty much a wash.... total bummer. Upon returning to our cabins later that day, we found our carpet soaked near the balcony door and both balconies full of water. They must have washed the windows or something, but the water didn't go down the drain, instead it pooled right in front of the sliding doors. As for our cabin, half of it came inside (no, the door had not been left open). We waited to see if it would dry up on its own, but hours later we finally had to call to have someone come clean it up because we could not go out on the balconies unless we wanted to stand ankle deep in water. That also took 2 calls to get it taken care of. Later, when the shore excursion desk was open again, I went down to see about the problem with our missed excursion. As soon as I approached the desk, the woman who I had talked to earlier remembered who I was and immediately told me that she would be giving us all a credit for the price of the excursion, which was applied to our individual ship board accounts. Good... at least we did not lose our money. We were all satisfied with this resolution - and a lesson was learned. The magician tonight was pretty good. However, poor Madelene (she's 80)... as soon as the lights went out, so did hers! She slept through the entire show, we were wearing her out. DAY 5: Belize -- Due to changing our time to CST, I had to scramble around the day before to cancel our early morning carriage tour of the city as we knew we would not be able to tender ashore early enough to make it. I had obtained VIP tender tickets, but they were useless down in the tender area. We waited in line for about 45 minutes - just like everyone else. It was about a 15 minute tender ride to the Tourism Village in Belize City, we docked at Terminal 1. We were to meet Coral Breeze at Terminal 4 (a short walk) for our tour to Caye Caulker. Monique met us and checked us in. The ride over to Caye Caulker was about 40 minutes, and it was rough! The front of the boat was rising up and slamming down due to the rough water. If you take one of these tours, sit in the back of the boat, it's not as windy as you might imagine and definitely a smoother ride. Upon arriving at Caye Caulker, Monique helped me find a place to rent a golf cart. The cost was $10 per hour, so I paid for 2 hours and we puttered around the little island, including a stop at the "Split." It was a relaxed and interesting afternoon. We had the option of going on the snorkel portion of the tour, but we decided against it as it was cloudy and somewhat cool again today. We did a little shopping and had a decent lunch at the Tropical Paradise Hotel (not the Rainbow Restaurant as advertised on their website, Monique said they were forced to change to a different location for certain reasons). Later, the ride back to the Tourism Village was neat - weaving through the mangrove-lined cayes, really nice. We browsed the shops at the village, then grabbed a tender back to the ship around 3:30. Dinner tonight was formal. Dad and Madelene said that the lobster was very good. DAY 6: Cozumel -- We docked at the International Pier, got up bright and early, headed ashore (long walk up the pier for the ladies, no tram here). Dad and I grabbed a taxi and went into town to pick up our Jeeps from Less Pay ($44 per Jeep, including mandatory insurance), then returned to pick up the others. We went through town and headed east out to the other side of the island. We bypassed the San Gervasio ruins, maybe next time. We had an appointment in the afternoon that I didn't want to be late for. We stopped at Mezcalito's which is at the intersection where the road that cuts across the island meets the eastern shore road. I have read that the food here is great, but it was early and we weren't hungry yet. We stayed for a bit, had a drink and enjoyed the view from their beach-front patio. I could have stayed right there for hours, but we had someplace to be. There was also another restaurant there called Senior Iguana's but they were rather rude to my mom and Gram, so we had nothing further to do with them. We made our way down the east shore, stopping here and there to take photos. If you have never been over there, do take the time to check it out, the scenery is gorgeous... the water is a brilliant shade of blue! If you watch carefully, you will see the blowholes. We came around the southern end of the island and back up towards town. Decided to grab some lunch before going into Chankanaab Park. Right along the main boulevard which runs along the western coast of the island, just north of the Int'l Pier, we spotted The Grill. It was convenient and looked nice enough, so we parked our Jeeps at the curb and went on in. They did in fact have very good food. Our waiter, Danny, gave us superb service and even took some photos of us all together... very nice! We arrived at Chankanaab Park around 1 p.m., and our Dolphin Encounter was at 2 p.m. This is a really nice park, next time I will be sure to devote more time to seeing the whole thing. We got to play and interact with a dolphin named Sinbad. Gram and Madelene had really been looking forward to this and it did not disappoint! We got great pictures of them smooching him, we also purchased the video. The encounter lasted about 30 minutes, and we were pleased with it. We were the only ship that stayed late in port, the others left around dinner time, but we stayed until 11 p.m. Today was my birthday, and Dad had arranged a little something during dinner... stinker! DAY 7: At Sea -- Spent this day as everyone does - packing, eating, relaxing and saying goodbye to all our new friends. Our vouchers for the tips that we had added to our shipboard accounts did not arrive until right before dinner. This is a convenient way to take care of tipping. They do add the head waiters tip on, even though it's not mentioned in any of RCI's printed guidelines -- that was .75 per person, per day. I believe the total came out to around $68 per person. You can add extra to the envelopes as you wish, which we did for our waiters, Denitsa and Charlene... they were wonderful. We also tipped a few other waiters that were not our own as they had given us exceptional service at breakfast and lunch. If you get Louis from South Africa, lucky you, he's a great guy! We were fortunate to have very enjoyable table mates, and we had made the acquaintance of several other fellow passengers. It was sad to say goodbye to everyone. We didn't want to leave!!! Luggage was to be out in the hallway between 7 and 10:30. Where did the time go......?? DAY 8: Tampa -- Disembarkation: Our shipboard account statements arrived this morning as we were gathering up the last of our personal items. All purchases were listed on one sheet, although they each had an identifying number, the total due was a lump sum. Not convenient at all, mom and I had to sit and manually add up what was theirs and what was mine, we didn't happen to bring a calculator (not that this is hard to do, but everything is so rushed on this last morning that having to make time for this was a bit annoying). PCL has separate statements for each person, regardless of how the bill was to be paid. We needed to vacate our cabins by 8 a.m., so we headed out to our last breakfast in the dining room. After eating (heavens, we were so miserably stuffed by this point!), our waiter told us we were welcome to stay until our number was called as he had other open tables, we accepted his offer. It wasn't long. I will say that unlike PCL, the service onboard RCI remained very attentive right up until the moment we stepped off the ship. We were off by 8:30ish and through customs fairly quickly because the ladies required "assistance." Their use of a cane advanced us through the customs line rather quickly.... whew, it was quite a line! I have no idea how long it would have taken had we stood in it until our turn. After clearing customs, we went to locate our luggage. There were porters immediately offering their assistance, they helped us search for each piece of luggage. Very nice! These guys earned a hearty tip. Porters were scarce in the PCL terminal at the end of the cruise. Summary: At the beginning of the week, I found myself missing PCL - but as the days passed, many other things made up for the few disappointments we had experienced and I was glad we booked with RCI. I was very pleased with the condition of the 8 year old Splendour. Of course, there are always things that could look a little better, but she was clean and looking pretty sharp, at least what we saw. The public rooms were in very good condition, we really enjoyed the chairs and sofas located around the Centrum Lobby. We used the Card Room a lot, it's the largest one I've seen on a ship and it did get busy on the sea days. The Library was also nice, big leather chairs and sofas... quite comfy. I did not try the mini-golf course, my Dad did and said it was just a matter of luck getting that ball into the holes.... something about lots of hills and no flat areas. But I think the condition of the course was fine. I had only minor complaints regarding the ship, one being that there are no elevators at the back, so those aft cabins can be inconvenient for those who have difficulty walking long distances. Also, I had read that there is a constant vibration on this ship... true! I did not find it particularly bothersome, but I can see that others might. It put me to sleep at night, so I kind of liked it. It was quite noticeable in the dining room, your water dances in your glass. Keep in mind, you ARE on a ship, there will be ship-noises. Don't expect complete silence, that's just impossible. I applaud RCI for taste and variety of food, as well as overall service - with the exception of our cabin service, which I realize was probably an isolated issue. The steward who had the block of cabins next to ours was always in the hallway, busy taking care of his passengers every single time I walked by. RCI's staff was much more personal than my experience with PCL. I also felt that the passengers aboard the Splendour were more friendly, RCI does draw a slightly different crowd which I felt more comfortable with. In regards to entertainment, PCL seems to put on bigger shows with more stage dressings than RCI, but I personally enjoyed the RCI performances more. PCL did a better job organizing their tours and distributing information. Whatever you were told with PCL is what you got, unfortunately that was not our experience with RCI. Our last mini-suite on the Grand Princess seemed slightly larger than this Junior Suite, but generally I think the cabins were comparable. I also like that PCL gives you the choice of traditional or free-style dining. I saw no Trivia games on RCI, just some worksheets left in the Library daily for independent completion. That takes all the fun out of it, PCL gets you together with other passengers for these types of activities so you get the chance to meet others. Both could use a little help in the daytime activity schedules, how about something new! Overall, these 2 lines each have their strengths and weaknesses. Will I sail with RCI again? Absolutely. Do I like one line more than the other? In the end, not really... they both really give you an excellent cruise vacation. Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
This was our first cruise and it was almost perfect. The food, staff, and our room, an aft balcony, were wonderful. We had four minor complaints and I will get them out of the way first, then talk about the good things. 1. Leaving Tampa ... Read More
This was our first cruise and it was almost perfect. The food, staff, and our room, an aft balcony, were wonderful. We had four minor complaints and I will get them out of the way first, then talk about the good things. 1. Leaving Tampa was a nightmare! When we checked in they gave us a mimeographed page saying we would have an earlier than normal (12:30) check-in. We stood around for hours with no seats or announcements. Every time I went and asked someone what was happening they said we were going to start boarding in a few minutes. Finally they set up a table with juice and cookies, again no announcement, I just happened to be walking by. When I went back to where we had been standing everyone around us wanted to know where we got the food? 2. The coffee on the ship was horrible! Everyone at our dinner table complained as did my husband every morning. 3. Our daughter is twelve and was in the Navigator's group. The evening movie started at 10:30 at night. This means her walking back to the room between 12-12:30! My husband went and pulled her out early because we just couldn't wait up that late. The activities for this age group didn't seem organized or fun. She did like the pool games (the cruise director's staff were full of fun), and she climbed the rock wall every day, both of those activities are not part of the kid's club though. 4. The smoke! With all the lounges why they can't have one non-smoking I will never understand. GOOD: I had read a lot of reviews before the cruise and was worried about the food, but for my family it was very good. Rib eye steak (rare), duck, lobster and shrimp, veal parmigiana, rack of lamb (rare), turkey; I don't understand how it could be better. Our head waiter made banana's foster and cherries jubilee for her tables two nights, the kitchen made our table a special portion of creme brulee. The service was unbelievable. My husband loved the shows, I didn't. All wait staff were accommodating and polite. We loved it! Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
My wife and I are in our 50's, I am 53 and my wife is 56. My wife is a teacher assistant and I have a Master's Degree in Education but work in customer service for an air conditioning company. This is our 13th cruise since the ... Read More
My wife and I are in our 50's, I am 53 and my wife is 56. My wife is a teacher assistant and I have a Master's Degree in Education but work in customer service for an air conditioning company. This is our 13th cruise since the summer of 2001. It was a nine nighter from Tampa to the Western Caribbean from Dec. 24 to Jan 2, 2005. We left the night before the cruise on Southwest Airlines from Phila to Tampa. Our plane arrived at Tampa at 1 AM about 2 1/2 Hours late. Luckily our luggage arrived with us. Many people did not receive their luggage during the entire cruise. We stayed overnight in the LaQuinta Tampa Airport Motel - before leaving for the ship at Noon time on Christmas Eve for the cruise. We were able to board the ship very quickly being Platinum Members in the Crown and Anchor Club of Royal Caribbean. This was our 9th cruise on Royal Caribbean, 1 on Princess, 1 on Celebrity, 1 on Carnival and 1 on Norwegian. Our balcony room was Room 7000 as far front as you can get on the ship. It had a couch and a queen bed and adequate room for storage. The hair drier was on the storage cabinet above the safe in the room. Our stateroom attendant Dan from the Philippines was excellent. He was a real pro and had 6 years experience all on the Splendour. We had dinner (early seating)at a table for 10 and got to meet four wonderful couples - 3 couples were retirees from the Tampa area, and a Rabbi and his wife from Cincinnati - all were wonderful people we hope to keep in touch with. We were the youngest people at our table. Our table waiter was very good - Zoran from Serbia and his assistant was a real character - Dean from Jamaica - we had a lot of fun teasing him. They provided excellent table service - the food was average the first couple of night but got better as the cruise went on. On Christmas Night we had turkey and it was only fair. The other meals were much better including Lobster and Surf and Turf on New Year's Eve. The cruise was rough and there were creaking noises in our room as the ship rocked from the side to side. We are used to being on small fishing boats - so motion sickness does not effect my wife or I. The first port was cancelled due to rough seas at Grand Cayman. Last year another tender port was cancelled by Royal Caribbean on our Christmas cruise - I understand they cannot safely tender people but why doesn't Royal Caribbean refund the Port Charges they don't have to pay. We were at sea on the 26th and I get kind of bored with two straight days at seas - and was glad when we finally docked at Montego Bay Jamaica. We took a highlights tour and saw a beautiful golf course - but many areas we saw razor wire and fences around the area. We took no wallets and very little money with us. On the 28 we had another sea day. On the 29th we were able to tender to Belize City. We took a city tour and saw a zoo. On the 30th we docked at Cozumel (we have been there on many cruises) - and took the Fiesta Party Boat which stopped at a "Water Park" a fancy name for a beach. At the Cozumel dock we went to a leather store and I walked out, I hate bargaining with people - especially when they get a calculator out for a $20.00 item. I am not for playing games. Luckily Royal Caribbean extended the stay in Key West from 6 PM New Year's Eve until 9 AM New Year's Day. We had to clear immigration in Key West and they held ship after we docked at about 9:30 to 12:30 because some people did show up for immigration. I heard a women complaining about it at the Purser's Desk, but I realize this is no fault of Royal Caribbean. On New Year's Eve we saw the conch shell drop at Sloppy Joe's at Midnight. It was a fun experience with 2 tablemates, my wife and I. The onboard entertainment was generally good. On Christmas Night we went to both shows of the Diamond's a 60's and 70's singing group. There performance was excellent. Also there were the typical comedian, juggler, and magician on different nights. Royal Caribbean also had there singers and dancers for shows. On New Year's Eve John Davidson was the feature performer and he was hilarious. The ship really shows very little signs of its age (vintage 1996). The ship was clean and we had a very good time. Also we went to 2 Crown and Anchor events. I also made my donation at the craps table. Our fight back to Philadelphia was about 1 1/2 Hours late as air traffic was backed up in Philadelphia. The only real area that upsets me is you should be compensated when a port is missed and there is not one substituted for it. Royal Caribbean pockets a good deal of money this way. I would recommend this ship and cruise to anyone - and I really feel we are veteran cruisers. Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
My husband and I sailed the 7 night Mediterranean cruise on November 6, 2004. We are Royal Caribbean loyalists having taken 5 cruises with them in the last year and two more planned for the upcoming months. We arrived a day early in ... Read More
My husband and I sailed the 7 night Mediterranean cruise on November 6, 2004. We are Royal Caribbean loyalists having taken 5 cruises with them in the last year and two more planned for the upcoming months. We arrived a day early in Barcelona and stayed at the Hotel Arts in Olympic Village. This property is managed by Ritz Carlton, and the decor in the public areas is simply stunning. We stayed in a standard room, but it was enormous, featured a marble bath, and had views of the torch sculpture remaining in Olympic Village as well as the sea. From here, we spent the day walking around Barcelona on our own. We walked the entire length of Las Ramblas and took in the sites and some of the goodies found in the beautiful bakeries along the way. We then headed over to the Sagrada Familia and climbed the spires. This is quite a workout, but is a lot of fun and offers great views and opportunities for pictures. I definitely recommend that anyone embarking or disembarking in Barcelona allow themselves some time to see this city. It is a really impressive. Embarkation on Saturday was a breeze. We arrived shortly after noon and hardly broke stride going through the embarkation center. Nearly everything on the ship was in full swing when we got onboard. We enjoyed sail away on our balcony (this is a tradition of ours). There are a lot of sights to see going in and out of port in Barcelona. In each of the five ports we took shore excursions booked through Royal Caribbean. I will not dispute that the cruise line's shore excursions are incredibly overpriced. It is much cheaper to go on your own. However, all of our tours were very organized, had knowledgeable guides, and made good use of the limited time in each port. Having never been to Europe before, we feel we would not have known where to go on our own once we got into town anyway as the cities are so large even with reading and preparation beforehand. What really sealed the deal however is the fact that some of the cities are over an hour from the port, and if the bus is late getting back odds are the ship will wait on you! We took the following tours and are comfortable recommending each of them: In Marseille, we took the half day excursion into Aix-en-Provence. In Villefranche, we took the excursion to Monaco and Monte Carlo in the morning and the excursion to Nice and St. Paul de Vence in the afternoon. In Livorno, we took a full day excursion into Florence featuring the Accadamia Museum to see the David. In Civitavecchia, we took the Imperial Rome tour featuring the Trevi Fountain, the Forum, the Colosseum, and St. Peter's Basilica. In Naples, we took our best shore excursion by far going down to Sorrento to stroll around town, visit a local olive, grape and lemon farm for a tasting, and lastly visit Pompeii. Pompeii was the highlight of my trip. It is a fascinating place if you are at all interested in archaeology. The ship is in excellent shape for its age. Our stateroom, a junior suite right next to the Crown and Anchor Study on Deck 8, was quite large, had what appears to be brand new bed coverings, upholstery, and carpeting, and the bathroom had a full size bathtub. The shipboard amenities were ample and there was a nice group of passengers onboard. Most passengers were couples age 40+. Many were quite a bit older. There were very few children onboard. The ones who were there were, for the most part, very well behaved and well supervised by their parents. This has not always been the case on our Bahamian and Caribbean cruises... Here are our pet peeves regarding this ship as compared to the rest of the ships in the RCCL fleet we have seen: 1. This ship moved a lot. I think it was a combination of time of year, slightly stormy weather, and stabilizer problems. The ship has a distinct vibration when traveling that is especially noticeable in the dining rooms. Our glasses actually clanked against each other persistently one night. If you are at all prone to motion sickness, medication was an absolute necessity on this sailing. 2. A new wine list was being offered for the first time on this sailing. It lacks the variety on the old list we have had on the ships. Many of our favorites are no longer available. 3. Has anyone spoken with a Loyalty Ambassador on an RCCL ship lately? Their knowledge of the fleet seems to be ever declining. The Loyalty Ambassador on this ship had relatively no details on Ultra Voyager to share (and this was the week it was named and the press releases were made - he didn't even mention that it had been named). He further told passengers at a Crown and Anchor event that the stretching of Enchantment of the Seas would double its total length (talk about a vast over estimate). If you are going to sell a product you need to know the product. Are these folks getting any regular training or updates from the company? If you read this website and Royal Caribbean press releases you will be more well informed on their fleet than their own sales representatives. 4. The Windjammer buffet area is poorly laid out, way over crowded at breakfast and the staff there seems to have given up. It is simply unpleasant to eat there. We got room service in the mornings when we could, but with early morning excursions, the Windjammer was often our only choice. However, this is a wonderful ship and itinerary. It is a very active trip if you want to see the ports. We had a wonderful time and would not hesitate to go again. This seems to be the best way to see a lot of Europe in a small amount of time. Read Less
Sail Date November 2004
My wife and I took our first cruise on the splendor the first week of November 2004. As it turns out, this was the last cruise ship to hit the Western Mediterranean for the year. It was obviously late in the season and we were hoping that ... Read More
My wife and I took our first cruise on the splendor the first week of November 2004. As it turns out, this was the last cruise ship to hit the Western Mediterranean for the year. It was obviously late in the season and we were hoping that this would result in fewer kids on board and fewer tourists in the ports. We were right on both counts. Unfortunately, what we didn't count on was how rough the seas would be at that time of year and we were caught in a couple of heavy storms that really through the ship around. My poor wife was seasick most of the trip. In spite of that, we had a great time. The ship was in great condition, spotless, and comfortable. We don't have any experience with cruising to compare with but I doubt you could do much better for the price. The food in the dining room each evening was fantastic and the wait staff superb. The food and service in the "windjammer cafe" (which is really a buffet) was extremely poor and I'd recommend you not waste time there. The room service food was better than the buffet. The exercise gym was a disappointment. We both work out a lot, and were shocked to find that my wife would actually have to PAY to participate in the aerobics and kick-boxing sessions. The weight room didn't have weights heavy enough for me to even warm up with so I just passed. I felt the entertainment was cheesy but I think I was in the minority on that. The showroom was certainly packed each night. We met some great people at our dining table and also online at the Cruise Critic message board prior to the trip. We went with some of them on private tours in Florence, Rome, and Naples. From what we heard in the dining room each evening, the private tours are the way to go and actually cheaper than the cattle buses that the cruise company offers. Our guide, Claudio from Limoinrome.com, was passionate and knowledgeable about Italian history. He picked us up in each port with a Mercedes van. We shared the tours with two other couples and this brought the cost down quite a bit. If you are going on this cruise, you should hook up with others on your sailing by going to the Cruise Critic message board for your sailing and enlist others to share the tours with you. We were fortunate that we me Al and Janet Buhr this way. Janet had experience with this type of tour in the past and made the reservations with Limoinrome via email and their web site. Claudio was EXCEPTIONALLY adept at getting us in and out of the tourist sites often got us closer than the tour buses. Florence, Rome, and Naples just can't be seen in one day each but Claudio has so much experience and knowledge that he was able to pack quite a bit into a very hurried day. Do take advantage of his connections and let him reserve you a tour of the Sistine Chapel and vatican museums. We drove right past lines of people who were waiting a couple of hours just to buy tickets and went straight into our tour without any wait. As for highlights, my favorite was the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence. It is an awesome structure with an incredible sense of history. You can actually see the tombs of Michelangelo, Davinci, Dante, Marconi, Fermi, etc... not mention many fascinating graves of Knights. You actually walk on the marble tomb stones of these dead knights. My wife's favorite stop was the Vatican, especially St. Peter's Basilica. Together, we really enjoyed Sorrento and shopping in the its old, narrow streets. If you go there stop in one of the liquor shops that offer free tasting of the local specialty, "Lemoncello". Its a lemon liquor that packs quite a wallop. We picked up a liquor that is a creme of melon concoction that is real tasty. Our intention for taking this cruise was to get a taste for Europe and to see if there were some destinations we would like return to. For this purpose, the trip was great success and we will definitely return to Barcelona, Florence, and Rome although next time probably by train. Read Less
Sail Date November 2004
This was our 7th cruise and found it to be a wonderful time. Our room was spacious and very clean, room service was exceptional. Meals were always good, not gourmet but we didn't expect it to be. The ship is in very good ... Read More
This was our 7th cruise and found it to be a wonderful time. Our room was spacious and very clean, room service was exceptional. Meals were always good, not gourmet but we didn't expect it to be. The ship is in very good condition for it's age and always clean. The shore excursions that we took were great, we chose Rome and Florence on our own and it seems we made the right choice, because others felt rushed and didn't see all they wanted and not much time to shop. We chose the taste of Sorrento and Pompeii which was really good. I think when you add Capri into it, it's just too much. We didn't book anything for Villefrance because we were told it was a really nice port and it is. We did take the bus from there to Nice for only 1.30 euros, it's about 3 miles away, very easy to do. We did the ex Provence trip from Marseile and liked it, seeing that it is Sunday when you arrive, there is nothing open, but at Ex Provence they have a market with lots of stands. Lots of narrow little streets to explore, very nice way to start your cruise. Barcelona is the best, we just loved it, we were lucky to be able to spend a few days there before the cruise and can't wait to go back. As with any cruise it is always recommended to arrive a day ahead. There are often, flight delays,lost luggage, not worth taking a chance and missing the ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2004
We sailed on the beautifully maintained Splendour of the Seas on July 24th, 2004. We booked our pre-cruise hotel through RCCL and were very pleasantly surprised to find The Hotel Majestic to be centrally located in the Las Ramblas section ... Read More
We sailed on the beautifully maintained Splendour of the Seas on July 24th, 2004. We booked our pre-cruise hotel through RCCL and were very pleasantly surprised to find The Hotel Majestic to be centrally located in the Las Ramblas section of Barcelona. Within walking distance, you could experience the many different architectural works by Antonin Gaudi. The rooms were typical by European size, but the bathrooms were very modern with new marble and wall to wall mirrors. A breakfast buffet was included with the overnight stay and it was sumptuous and very diverse. Everything from cereal to cut meats to a cheese plate to warming dishes of prepared entrees and side dishes. This would probably have cost 20 - 25 Euros. The hotel prepares you to have high expectations for the cruise. The added bonus of booking a hotel with the cruiseline is the handling of the luggage that is done from the hotel. We were instructed to have our bags outside our door by 7am, and they were magically whisked to the port and delivered to our cabins. It was wonderfully seamless. We were taken to the ship in a modern a/c bus and accompanied by a RCCL rep that had been stationed at the hotel handling any needs that might have arisen. I can't overstate how well everything was coordinated with the hotel and the ship. Embarkation was equally fast and easy. We were traveling with a family and friends group of fifty, and we were all accommodated very quickly. The pre-boarding docs done online have also streamlined this process. It took just a few minutes to have our passports checked and a credit card recorded. Security was very thorough in examining all carry-on items. The main dining room in "The King and I" sparkled each night with the spanking white linens and the glassware and china. The bustle of the wait staff proved that each one knew their role and were prepared to execute it with excellence. They did not disappoint. The food was above average and very satisfying. Not one in our group had anything but raves about the quality of the food. Although I had heard remarks about RCCL's ranch steak, the menus have been overhauled and it has been removed. The beef was tender and moist, and was a big hit with the teenagers. There was a large selection of both American and European wines to choose from. When ordering a bottle, enjoy your glass or two and simply ask your waiter/waitress to cork it for the next night. It is a great way to enjoy a finer quality than the hand poured house wine. Entertainment was fine. Since we were such a large group, we WERE our own entertainment. The teenagers would find their way up to the game room after dinner and play cards and dummy poker (who's the dummy that taught them, haha). Karaoke was alot of fun and many in our group enjoyed participating. It is always fun to see the hidden talents onboard a ship reveal themselves on karaoke night. Just where were these people when American Idol came to town? They were very gifted! The casino became a familiar stop after the 2nd show of the evening and a real camaraderie was developed between the regular players and the dealers. Somehow the relationship made it less painful as they cleared the chips from the table. This itinerary is not for the old or the infirm. The routine was to arise early and be prepared to get off the ship by 9am, board a bus, spend the day sightseeing, and then returning about 5 pm, or just in time to embark. There is only 1 day at sea, and you get that the last day out. It is really needed. You will get wiped out with the full day of touring. Selecting the late dining hour of 9:30 pm did enable us to casually take a nap and relax before preparing to go out for dinner. I don't know how else you can see everything and not be gone every day in port. All of the ports on the western Med cruise involve driving quite a distance to get into the local cities of interest. This cruise was so fabulous that this entire group has already begun plans to return to Europe next summer and are looking to add a few more days and cities to the itinerary. We have all begun training now for the activity level expected! Thanks, RCCL, for a job well done. It will be happy memories for a long time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2004
This was our first Med cruise having previously done Caribbean/Bermuda (all with RCCL). We flew out (arranging our own flights with bmibaby - very poor) to Barca, stayed the night in airport hotel and then got on the ship straight after ... Read More
This was our first Med cruise having previously done Caribbean/Bermuda (all with RCCL). We flew out (arranging our own flights with bmibaby - very poor) to Barca, stayed the night in airport hotel and then got on the ship straight after breakfast. Was at the port at 12:30 and got straight on the ship (we didn't need to use the express check-in line). Enjoyed the Spanish sun before the sailaway. SHIP - General comments: Was in much better nick that I originally thought since eight years old. Could not fault the appearance at all she was well looked after. We had a great dining position and were at 9:00 sitting which was good. Dining room was nice with open panoramic views. WIndjammer effective. Pool areas were nice but Solarium was often infiltrated by uncontrolled children and immature teenagers DINING - Food quality was OK, I felt standards and portion sizes have dropped since last year. Or perhaps it is because we don't eat that much in Europe. Soups were salty. However the steaks were lovely and I wasn't tempted to use the "alternative" menu until the last night, I found this to be the best meal. We had a superb table of mixed Americans and English who all got on raucously (table 062... you know who you are). Waiting staff were superb and massive big ups to Jorge, Fenelao and WJ for looking after us so splendidly. Disappointed more people (men) don't make the effort on formal nights but this was better than the last three cruises we have been on. Only had lunch on ship once and this was repeaters meal (platinum) so can't comment on quality then. Breakfast was OK but I had a dodgy egg benedict - what's the point of plastering page one of the cruise compass with warnings if you don't cook the eggs properly?!? CABIN - Excellent attendant in Marilyn. Cabin was perfunctory but fine. Loud air conditioning. Luggage was taken in for us which is always nice. We go for smaller cabins to go on more cruises. Didn't feel movement as we were midships. Safe was odd, had to use credit card to lock it, would prefer numbers so don't have to take credit card ashore. ENTERTAINMENT - Being our first Med cruise we didn't know what would replace the steel band poolside. We thought the string duos were fabulous and allowed us to chill out much more than on Caribbean itineraries. A touch of class - well done. We love the Steel Bands though! Neal Austen has been on ships for a while and he's excellent, he went down well but we missed the end since we had to go for dinner. This was to be a gripe throughout the cruise and I felt the scheduling was poor. We didn't really see the CD Rico very much, felt he didn't add anything to the cruise. Becky Thompson remains our firm favourite and glad to see she is on Mariner of the Seas at the moment. OlE OlE were the Spanish flamenco band who were very good but went on for a bit too long. Royal Caribbean revue cast were excellent but had to do three shows?!?! I felt this was a way of cutting down on entertainers. Missed the Soul band and Elaine Lesley. No heartstrings pulled on the last night, just the revue cast and that's it. Excellent pianist in the Schooner bag (James Barr) and good atmosphere watching the Euro 2004 football games. PORTS OF CALL - We did all our own trips since RCI tours seemed extortionately expensive. Did bus tour in Marseilles and got on and off bus. We had low expectations but were pleasantly surprised. Villefranche - Got SNCF to Monte Carlo (station is 10 minute walk away) and spent a lovely day there. Recommend a 11 Euro ice cream in the Cafe de Paris - more expensive than the rail ticket! Villefranche is a lovely fishing town and nicest place the ship docked. Livorno - shared taxi with delightful couple from Sheffield to go to Florence and Pisa - saw all the sights. Book tickets for Uffizi gallery before you go - massive lines to get in. Rome (Civitavecchia) very disappointing - great city spoilt by ghastly traffic (makes London look good) and by miles between the sights - I would recommend a tour here. Naples gritty - harrowing train journey to Pompeii (which was amazing) but astounded at the poverty - where are our EU contributions going I want to know 'cause they're not going here. MISCELLANEOUS - We felt that some of the officers were a little haughty but the captain was really welcoming at the platinum and diamond reception. We struggled to talk to the groups at his cocktail party - he seems a very shy man. We were off the ship a lot more than previous cruises due to travelling at ports of call but exhausting and excellent at the same time. Would recommend staying a couple of days in Barcelona as it's probably the best port of call and the Bus touriste again is the best option as easy to whittle a whole day away. Will do Euro cruise again, nice to do the 12 day from Barca (Brilliance) but also interested in 14-days from Soton (Legend), prices need to come down a lot yet though as no need for airfare. I like the Canary itinerary the best as done a lot of the other itinerary in this cruise and it doesn't go to Venice (which Brilliance does). Read Less
Sail Date June 2004
This is a review of my Royal Caribbean, Splendour of the Seas cruise it was a 5 day cruise that went to Costa Maya and Cozumel. First a little about me. I have been on 5 previous cruises, 3 on Carnival and 2 on NCL. 25 sea days total. This ... Read More
This is a review of my Royal Caribbean, Splendour of the Seas cruise it was a 5 day cruise that went to Costa Maya and Cozumel. First a little about me. I have been on 5 previous cruises, 3 on Carnival and 2 on NCL. 25 sea days total. This is my first RCI cruise so I will be comparing them to Carnival and NCL. So if I am a little hard on Royal Caribbean please don't bash me. I am only being honest. We left for Galveston on Saturday and watched both the Elation and the Rhapsody leave on Sunday evening, which was real cool. First time we have ever done that and we saw the Splendour come in which was also cool. First time we saw that also. We called a cab at 10 am and were to the pier in a matter of minutes. Stayed at our favorite motel Super 8 the night before so we could eat breakfast at the Waffle House in the parking lot. At the pier the ports whisked our luggage away and directed us to the entrance to the building. Once inside the lady said we could proceed thru security but we needed to have a seat and wait until check in started in 45 minutes. We said no problem. We went thru security (The nicest security we have seen they loved joking with us) and were heading to sit when a lady at the check in counter was waving us over. We presented our docs, got our seapass then we went and had a seat for an hour. Then the door opened after a quick click click of a couple of cameras we were on our way on the Splendour. Before I start my review I want everyone who has not cruised RCI to know when you get paperwork from Royal Caribbean. They have a gold crown and anchor on it and below it, it says "Beyond normal service This is Gold Anchor Service" and we said what does that mean as you read you will see exactly what they mean. The Centrium was really neat, it was inviting and relaxing and pleasant to look at. We got to our room, which was awesome. We had a superior inside. It had a couch. We have never had a room with a couch. The room was plenty big for the three of us. We used the closet and 6 drawers. We left 6 drawers empty so yes, more than adequate space. And since we had a couch to sit on that was nicer than sitting on the bed when planning your day or whatever. Anyway, we inserted our seapass in the door, opened the door and wow there is our luggage. Not in the hallway but in the room. For you Carnival and NCL folks that are reading this THAT'S RIGHT IN THE ROOM!!! For you folks who haven't been on Carnival and NCL they set your luggage in the hallway, which is not a comforting thought. So as you can tell RCI started off on the right foot. The 42nd Street theatre: Really nice room the only thing was they didn't have a show with their Vegas costumes; maybe RCI doesn't do that show. But we did go to the Broadway show and we went to the girl who did the hula-hoops. We missed violin and the featured singer. The casino: won $15.00 enough said. The Schooner Bar: Nice looking but too smoky for me, but we did go to one trivia game. That's all we had time for on a 5 day cruise. The King & I dining room: We had Francisco as a waiter. He is awesome, the best we have had. The food for the most part very good, except the Ranch steak was tough, but we all knew that from reading the boards so no surprise there. And the Rack of Lamb is to die for. I almost ordered another. If you go please do yourself and your taste buds a favor and order the Rack of Lamb. The King and I is the best dining room in the world. It is nicely appointed, makes you feel like you are richer than you actually are for 5 nights but the real kicker is we were seated in the middle of the dining room and we still could see the ocean perfectly fine from our seat. We watched a sunset from our dining room table. No matter where your seat is you can see the ocean to your left and to your right. Those poor second seating folks didn't get that enjoyment. And unlike Carnival, service is not rushed into 45 minutes of dining. Every single meal for 5 nights lasted 2 hours. Ok enough about food. Top Hat lounge: It also was a nicely appointed room. We went to Karaoke which was funny and quest. If you miss quest you are cheating yourself out of one of the funniest times available on a cruise ship. Also 60's night was there. I made the ship's video twice by the way. The pool was a pool on a ship. The Windjammer: Oh my, this is the buffet and it has an unobstructed 180 degree view out the front of the ship. What a great place. If you want to know what the world looks like from the bridge that's the place to go. I mean all ships have a observation deck but you have to stand and if its raining and you don't want to use it here, you can sit and watch the world go by in the comfort of air conditioning. Also before I forget, this will come as a shock to the folks who have not cruised RCI. Remember the Windjammer is the buffet area. We were sitting there eating breakfast and the lady came around and asked if we would like a refill on coffee or and orange juice. That's right folks I am not making this up. There is service even in the buffet. They will serve you drinks and get you refills. Now that's service. The Solarium: Very nice room, sat in there a few times also was there a long time in Costa Maya. It was really cool to have an indoor swimming pool. Splendour of the Greens: The 12 hole miniature golf course. Was pretty neat. I only had time to play it once and that was only time because I had to fold the Compass up and put it in my pocket and forget what was happening next and just go play golf. FYI for folks who have not sailed RCI they have a full program going on when the ship in port just like they do when it is at sea. The activities don't stop just because the ship has. The Viking Crown Lounge gives a pretty much 360-degree view, but I still prefer the Windjammer, which is also the disco. The Rock-climbing wall: I didn't get to do it. There was not enough time. Ok, I admit it I needed another month on the ship. And Room service, we didn't try because dining room service was top notch. The only negative was they made me leave, said something about it was only a 5 day cruise not a permanent residence. Now the important stuff. Will I cruise RCI again? Well I am booked on the 10/10/04 cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas. And as of writing this I have learned it is sold out. I also now understand why. Will I go on Carnival or NCL again? Well I wouldn't rule out the possibility as I have plans on going on the Elation in April of 2005, but if I can swing the funds for RCI I will book them first, but if I can only afford Carnival or NCL I will just have to say hey at least it's a cruise. In Costa Maya we just chilled in hammocks for a little bit then went back to the ship. In Cozumel we went to Sally's and played mini golf and had margaritas. We had a blast. For those of you who are reading this and don't know about Sally's (actually it's Cozumel Mini Golf) here is exact directions there is a big flag pole on the waterfront with 2 big eagle statues. Put your back to the flagpole and walk 3 blocks into town and you will see it on the left hand corner of the that block. Go and play Sally's course and drink her margaritas. I will guarantees you a good time. And if Sally reads this, thanks for the great time and for rescuing my ball from the water. I really didn't see that net hanging there. And the margarita was awesome. We hope you're on my 10/10 cruise where we will play more golf and drink more margaritas. Plus buy a t-shirt I regretted not doing that after I left but hey 6 months will be here before you know it. Thanks everyone who has read this far, I'm sorry it has turned into a novel. If your questions about the Splendour or RCI was not answered please ask and I will answer it. One thing I enjoy almost as much as being on a cruise is talking about them. I hope you enjoyed reading my ramblings. Randy   Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
We drove to Galveston on Fri. night. Dinner at Joe's Crab shack was wonderful. DAY 1--- Sat. morning we watched our ship come in at 6:00. We boarded the bus to the terminal at 11:00. Check in was quick and we were on the ship by ... Read More
We drove to Galveston on Fri. night. Dinner at Joe's Crab shack was wonderful. DAY 1--- Sat. morning we watched our ship come in at 6:00. We boarded the bus to the terminal at 11:00. Check in was quick and we were on the ship by 11:45. Our luggage was in our cabin when we arrived. We unpacked and went to explore the ship. Although my friend and I were lost most of the time, my son knew the entire ship in about an hour. We located our dining table which was at the bottom of the stairs in front of the piano. We met with our some of our cruisecritic buddies in the Viking Crown Lounge and visited for a while before sailing. Due to sailing at 6:00, we opted to eat in the windjammer the first night. The movement was very apparent sitting inside, so we sat outside form that point on. We had no complaints on the food in there. DAY 2--- Sun. we awoke to the ships horn blowing at 5:30 a.m. It was very foggy and the horn was blown every 3-4 minutes. The fog remained until about 10 o'clock. We decided to give the dining room a try for lunch. We were not impressed with the selections, so we had a burger. We skipped dessert, and had ice cream instead. Once again the fog set in. It remained for many hours. This was formal night for us , so my friend and I made an appointment to get our hair fixed. The cost ws $45.00. I was not impressed with mine, but everyone liked it. My friend was highly disappointed with hers. The stylist wanted to straighten her new perm. and she told her not to. She explained to the stylist that she just wanted it styled with part of it put up. The stylist turned her away from the mirror and straightened her new perm anyway. She was extremely upset. We dressed and headed to the dining room for dinner. As we got to our table, we found it full. The young ladies seated there told us this was not our table. I explained that this was the number on our card. They repeated that this was not our table. The waiter approached, and agreed with them that it wasn't our table. I showed him my card and he said we had a problem, but he would find us a table. I told him not to worry about it, that we would eat somewhere else. We went and took formal pics and went back to our cabin to change. As we were walking out the door the head waiter called. She said there was a mix up and that the table number was on the wrong table. I explained that our number was on the table the previous day also, but she insisted that it wasn't. I guess all three of us were seeing things when we boarded. She wanted us to come back to the dining room and they would find us a table. We declined. We chose not to return to the dining room and ate in the windjammer and the solarium for the rest of the trip. The food was good in both places. The coffee is strong, but not bad if you dilute it a little. We watched a broadway show this night which we enjoyed. DAY 3---We arrived in Cozumel and went right to our excursion. We went on the glass bottom boat. The weather was great, so the colors were very bright underwater. Upon leaving this boat, we decided to walk to town. We walked about a mile, then got a cab for the other 2 miles. We shopped for a little while, then returned to the ship. Not many others were back yet, so we took our turn in the pool. My friend didn't think to take out her contacts, so the water took them out for her. She was virtually blind for the rest of the trip. We sat around the pool for a long time enjoying the quiet until it was almost time to sail again. DAY 4---We arrived in Costa Maya at 7 a.m. We went for breakfast and then went on shore for our excursion. We chose the Chakchoben ruins. We rode a charter bus for an hour to the ruins. This was a fabulous excursion. Our guide, Luis, was there during the excavations, so we got a lot of information on the ruins. We highly recommend this one. Even my 18 year old son enjoyed it. Back in town, we shopped some more, then back to the ship. We sailed at 3:00 after the Voyager left. (We saw 7 other cruise ships between the 2 ports). DAY 5---What a rough day this was. It was very windy and we did a lot of swaying. For the first time, I was sea sick even though I took Bonine. It was a long day. We got better by sitting as close to the pool as possible. We couldn't feel the movement as bad here. After dinner, we were listening to the band in the Centrum,which was fabulous, when the bravo call came over the P.A. One of the engines had caught on fire. It was extinguished quickly, but the sprinklers made a massive mess in the engine room. It took 2 1/2 hours before we started moving again. Later in the Viking Crown Lounge, we were informed by a staff member that we probably wouldn't dock in Galveston until around 10:00. With this in mind, the partying continued late into the morning. DAY 6---We docked close to 9:30. Immigration was quick, but it took forever for the port authorities to clear us for disembarkment. Once that was done, customs was a breeze, luggage was waiting and so was our bus. We were on our way home at 12:30. THE RUN DOWN-----The ship is beautiful. We slept well on the beds. The food in the Windjammer and the Solarium was good. I can't speak for the dining room as we didn't eat there. The staff that was terrific. We spent most nights listening to the band in the Centrum. Jon, Mark and Trevor were great, on and off the stage. Very friendly and funny. We really enjoyed spending time with them. They will be missed. Sunshine is one of many bartenders at the pool bar. He became a very special friend to us. He relates to everyone of all ages. He is good at what he does. He took the time to stop and say hello to the kids and adults alike. He's a great person. Be sure to meet him. He'll take good care of you. We will miss him most. He was a very big part of our cruise being a great one. Warren is the cruise director. He is very busy, but still stops to see if everyone is having a good time. Very funny, yet informative. James was our cabin steward. He kept our cabin as we liked it. Men of Culture played by the pool. They are a Jamaican band and are very good. Venice took care of our bar needs while in the Centrum. She knew what we wanted after telling her the first time. We would say, "the usual", and she would bring it. If we said we wanted to try something new, she made suggestions that always pleased us. Although we had a foggy day at sea, a fire, no dining table and we got a little sea sick, we had a great time on the Splendour of the Seas. Things happen everywhere, all the time. It can't be helped. I personally wouldn't let little things stop me from cruising her again. If something makes you unhappy, then do something else. There are many options to choose from. I now have new memories of another great vacation. Until we meet again, Happy sailing to you all !!! 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Sail Date March 2004
Just returning to the real world after an AWESOME experience aboard the RCI Splendour of the Seas. 5 glorious days of sunshine and great food/drinks. My 15 year old son is now a cruising convert. He can't wait to take another cruise, ... Read More
Just returning to the real world after an AWESOME experience aboard the RCI Splendour of the Seas. 5 glorious days of sunshine and great food/drinks. My 15 year old son is now a cruising convert. He can't wait to take another cruise, especially with Royal Caribbean. The food was great (order the turkey sandwich from room service, delicious), our wait staff, Nicholas from France and Adrian from Croatia, were GREAT and fun. If you go on this ship, you must stop by to see Steve (from Trinidad) in the Schooner Bar. He makes the best drinks, and is a great entertainer as well. Don't miss it.  Rented a car in Cozumel and toured on our own, it was lots of fun. Costa Maya was fun too. A little too commercial, but still a good party. Our cabin was a large interior. There was TONS of room. I overpacked, and still had plenty of room for all of our stuff. The people who complain about room size make me wonder what they bring with them. The shows were fun, although I did not go to several of them. I enjoyed the comedian, and the wait staff put on two great numbers on two different nights during dinner. I would recommend this ship to anyone. It was obviously updated, and everything seemed pretty new. If you are traveling with teens, I highly recommend this ship, and RCI. Embarkation took a total of about 15 minutes, so easy. Debarkation was a little longer, but well run, with no real problems. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
My husband and I (ages 29 & 28) cruised on the Splendour out of Galveston March 25, 2004 with my parents who will both turn 60 this year. To give you an idea of where our opinions come from, I'll give a brief background. We are ... Read More
My husband and I (ages 29 & 28) cruised on the Splendour out of Galveston March 25, 2004 with my parents who will both turn 60 this year. To give you an idea of where our opinions come from, I'll give a brief background. We are both middle-income families. My parents are retired and travel mostly by fifth wheel and cook their own meals. We on the other hand, enjoy finer vacations with nice hotels (Hilton Garden Inn types) and restaurants. This was our third cruise and my parent's first cruise. We were on the four-night cruise visiting only Cozumel with two full days at sea. We all had a marvelous time and enjoyed the ship, service, and food. My husband and I cruised the Rhapsody out of Galveston in Nov. 2003 and found the Splendour to be a much nicer ship. They are sisters and therefore quite similar. However, we found the Splendour to have better dEcor and appear more upscale. Both were comfortable and offered a nice cruise vacation, but we would pick the Splendour over Rhapsody every time. While the common areas on the Splendour were well kept, the wear and tear was obvious in our deck 2 inside cabin. The dEcor was out dated and the sofa and desk chair both had obvious stains. Most likely from someone carelessly sitting down in a wet bathing suit, but stains non-the-less. The size of the cabin was standard for an inside, so it was compact, but offered enough closet and storage space. There was plenty of room for two adults who are fond of each other. We did peak in the cabins on higher decks and found the dEcor, especially for outside cabins, to be more up to date and appealing. The dEcor in the King and I dining room was spectacular! This room appeared like it belonged on a new ship. New chairs, carpets, etc. and the Siamese dEcor was done very well. The service was mid level. Good but not great, but of course, this is determined strictly by the personnel assigned to you and should not be considered the norm. The food was enjoyable as well. My husband and I eat out a lot and found the meals to be well presented and tasty. My parents, who are more conservative and cook at home a majority of the time, were very impressed with the food. My mother is borderline diabetic and found something in every course she could eat. She took advantage of the Ship Shape offerings and the sugar-free desserts with each meal and always had compliments. The production shows the first three nights were well performed, just too provocative for our taste. I would have been terribly embarrassed if I had brought children with me. We would have not been able to watch the entire shows. My mother is usually the one who is too "uptight," but even I, at 28, was offended...too many thrusts and obviously sexual overtones. The last two shows were fabulous though and we all enjoyed them. The jugglers and Big Band/Swing Show were remarkable. The talent these people possess is amazing. Embarkation and debarkation went smoothly. We drove to the port and parked in the Dolphin lot on the right before you get to the ship (lots of signs-can't miss it). They charge the same rate as the Cruise Terminal, but your entire group travels to the ship together with the luggage. It cost $45 for the four-night cruise. You could pay additional if you desired covered parking. We arrived at the Dolphin lot around 11:30 AM and were to the terminal and checked in by 11:45. They wouldn't allow boarding to begin until noon, so we sat down at a table and pulled out our cards. We hadn't gotten started very well when boarding began. We packed up and got right on the ship. We went to our stateroom to drop off our carry-on bags and headed to the buffet. This was actually the best welcome aboard buffet we had experienced. It didn't take us long to navigate the ship and feel comfortable with our surroundings. We then went up top and played a round of mini-golf. We were glad we played when we did. The course is bumpy and would have been near impossible with the ship moving. Besides, the rest of the trip the course was crowded with people. Disembarkation went just as smoothly. Since we drove and stayed in low category cabins, we were almost last getting off the ship. We set up in the card room and played games for the two hours instead of sitting around bored. Once our color was called, we went through customs easily and made it back to our waiting vehicle in a very short amount of time. Everything was simple and straightforward. In short, if you aren't accustomed to luxury liner cruising, you will enjoy this ship. I can only imagine how enjoyable a Mediterranean cruise on her would be. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
Splendour of the Seas Review 5 Day Cruise March 29 - April 3, 2004 Cruise Day - We left Houston at 8:15 for an approximate 2 hour drive to Galveston through Monday morning traffic on 290 and Beltway 8. There were 4 tolls at $1.25 each. ... Read More
Splendour of the Seas Review 5 Day Cruise March 29 - April 3, 2004 Cruise Day - We left Houston at 8:15 for an approximate 2 hour drive to Galveston through Monday morning traffic on 290 and Beltway 8. There were 4 tolls at $1.25 each. Once in Galveston, the directions to the pier were very well marked. My husband, Dave, dropped everyone off at the pier and the tagged luggage was taken at that time to the ship. There were plenty of inside (air-conditioned) seating while waiting for the driver. Dave parked the car. They take cash or credit cards. This charge is paid in advanced. Once Dave came back we waited approximately 1 hour before the computers were updated to accept new passengers. The staff helped make this time go by fairly quickly. Because we do on-line check-in, we were through check-in within 5 minutes. We checked with the pier coordinator regarding upgrades, but decided the price was not worth the room. We were in a category D. It was $300 extra for a category C. We had a small wait time until they opened the door to the ship. This was the first time that we boarded directly from the pier (no steps, escalators, elevators). I offered RCI a couple of suggestions regarding their boarding process: 1)Diamond and Platinum members check-in should be the closest to the boarding area. They are currently the farthest away. 2)They should check-in their Diamond and Platinum members before the other passengers (similar to airline travel). By 11:30 we were the first on board, after a wedding party. We did the things that we normally do: 1) Checked out the rooms and unloaded our luggage. This was the first cruise we've been on that the rooms were ready when we arrived. Note that we are always one of the first on board. 2) Went to the Windjammer for lunch. My lunch consisted of salad, a small piece of salmon, a slice of beef, mashed potatoes and a small amount of pasta. My dessert was chocolate chip cookies. 3) Since it was raining most of the day, we walked around the ship until 3:00 when we met a small group of Cruise Critic people in the Viking Crown Lounge. Our group talked until about 3:30 then tons of people crowded in the Viking Crown Lounge for a tour of the ship offered by Royal Caribbean for the first time cruisers. I thought that was an excellent idea to help others learn the ship quickly. 4) We proceeded to the Crown and Anchor study to see the Loyalty Ambassador about getting my ship card corrected. My platinum status was not shown on my card and it could not be corrected at the check-in. Within minutes my card was corrected and a status of our trips were confirmed. Splendour was our 10th RCI cruise. Room - Category D Balcony We had room 7130 (aft - off the back of the ship), my parents had 7568 (center near the elevator). Both rooms were very nice. They included a desk, with mirrors on each side, a very small Sony TV with hookup to view your digital pictures, tons of shelves, a full size couch (seats 3), a queen side bed, 4 pillows and two extra blankets (a big plus for me). The bathroom was typical for RCI and had the small shower with shower curtain (with weights on the bottom). RCI are in the process of giving the rooms a little face lift by replacing the carpet, reupholstering the couches and chairs. They also added new drapes (which were not made very well) and new bedspreads. My parents' room had all the face lift items completed. Our room still had the "old" aqua carpet. I really didn't care much for their new color selection of lime green, dark green and gold, but then again I grew up with those colors. I would rather see a more soothing color selection of blues. The rooms were spacious enough for us and there were tons of shelves and closet space for our 5 day trip. We have had aft cabins before, but this was the first time that we had a small amount of soot on the balcony. Life Boat Drill (that is what they are now calling it) - It was held at 5:00. My parents' station was on deck 4. Since my parents should not use the stairs, I asked about an exemption for them. There was no problem. They stayed in the room during the drill. The room steward wrote them up as not being able to attend. Our life boat drill was also on deck 4, outside. It was a little on the chilly side. ~TIP 1~ to avoid the crowds use the "secondary" route as shown on the back of your door. You'll get to the station quickly and be the first back to your cabin. If a crew member stops you (since the door says for crew members only), tell that that it is your secondary route from the back of your cabin door that you are trying. We proceeded with no problems. Dinner -Main Seating- We sat at table 100 (first floor of the King & I Dining Room) which was on the first level near the stairs (table for 4). At first we didn't care much for the table location (I think we were tired). However, after the first night, we decided it was perfect. The waiter and assistant waiter were wonderful! The chairs were extremely comfortable (dark blue velvet). The windows were large so we could enjoy the sunset from our "inside" table. My dinner the first night consisted of: Tomato basil soup, spinach salad, fish (cod) and ice cream. Other items that evening included: Watermelon soup, onion tart, salmon, chicken with spinach and rice, vegetable kabobs, and a rum type cake. Lobster was not served on formal night. Each night offered a wonderful variety of meals. I decided after this cruise that I enjoy the food on RCI better than Princess. Favorite meal - Prime rib (last night) Favorite dessert - warm chocolate cake Favorite appetizer - shrimp cocktail (but you gotta love those chilled soups) Salads - they are all good Changes that we noticed: first night they offered bottled water for a fee. Water was only available at request. The basket of bread that is normally at your table, disappeared. The assistant waiter brings the bread around. I understand this change due to the amount of waste involved. If RCI would like to cut back, I'd like to see two sizes of food on the menu - normal and petite. I normally can't eat everything on my plate (nor do I want to). We were glad that we chose main seating. Every night dinner was at 6:00. We were usually done by 7:15. The show started at 9:00. Shows - We attended the first night's show, which was a variety of items: the RCI singers and dancers, the cruise director (Warren Melhuish from Canada) and a comedian (Eric Lyden). They also gave a nice prize to the couple married the longest. I was a little slow to yell out 58 years for my parents. But, eventually someone else came forward with 63 years and it was the husband's 80th birthday. The gift included a $20 cruise book, a bottle of champagne and a couple of other items. My parents enjoyed coming in 2nd place and told everyone they saw! Here is a listing of the shows: Tues - Production Show (Starstruck)-we normally don't attend the production shows. Wed - David Morgan (comedy) - we didn't attend, but my parents did and said it was the best show they have ever seen. I think we saw him on another ship, and I agree that it was very good. He is a ventriloquist with a duck. Thurs - Production Show (Make Mine Broadway)-we didn't attend. Fri - Farewell Variety Showtime with Due Dillon and a lady who hula hoops. I watched this on TV. They were both good, but not my type of entertainment. Movies - The movies this week were: Mon - School of Rock Freaky Friday - watched this Out of Time Tues - Pirates of the Caribbean - Dave watched this Out of Time Intolerable Cruelty Wed - Sea Biscuit Intolerable Cruelty Lost in Translation Thurs - Master and Commander Lost in Translation Under the Tuscan Sun Fri - The Lord of the Rings 3 Under the Tuscan Sun Formal Night/Pictures/Captain's Welcome Aboard Reception - We met my parents at 5:00 to get our picture taken by one of the ship's photographers. It wasn't the best picture, but we purchased it because it may be our last cruise together. There were no lines for pictures. Captain's Welcome Aboard Reception - We arrived early only to encounter a small line. We met the captain (Captain Petter Sundet), who was a different Captain than the Splendour cruise, just 3 weeks ago. I heard this was his first week. He did an excellent job. We were at each port on time or early. We docked in Costa Maya (which did not occur 3 weeks ago). He made a great decision by leaving three people behind in Costa Maya. The Captain told my father that those people were 1 hour late getting to the dock (by that time we were gone). I personally think that if you are late you should receive a fine, even if the ship is still at dock. ~TIP 2~ If you don't want rum punch or the drinks offered at the reception, you can ask for a glass of wine. Ports - Cozumel - There are several piers at Cozumel. The Puerta Maya Pier is the farthest from town. This pier is the Carnival/Princess pier. There is a long strip of indoor stores near the pier. The next pier (a little closer to town) is the International Pier where RCI docks. There are plenty of stores scattered everywhere. We've been to Cozumel about 5 times, so we opted not to go into town, which is about 3 miles away and costs $6.00 per taxi, but to shop at the nearby stores. I purchase a few candles for $4.00 each. The merchants seemed a little more pushy than what I remembered in the past. We decided early on not to snorkel at Cozumel since we've tried it 3 times, and each time the water was very rough. My only regret was that we didn't attempt to snorkel again last week. The water was very smooth and it was a very clear, sunny day. Oh well, maybe next time. ~TIP 3~ The best days on board the ship are the port days. The ship empties out at the ports so there are no crowds anywhere (even the pool area). ~TIP 4~ If you are interested in purchasing an expensive piece of jewelry, I highly recommend pricing an item (that may interest you) in the US before going on a cruise. I also recommend only purchasing that item at a recommend RCI store (unless you know more about jewelry than the average person). The last recommendation is for you to go into town for these purchases. Costa Maya - After a slow start (very long story, but their boat broke down so they rescheduled our excursion from 7:00 to 10:45). We finally met at 10:45 for a snorkeling tour-Coral Reef Snorkel Exploration by Boat which was $54.00 per person. We went on this excursion in November and felt it was well worth the money, so we tried it again. The coral was unbelievable! They take you to the "second largest barrier coral reef system in the world". We highly recommend this trip especially if you like to snorkel. The guides were the same as in November. After about 1 hour, they remembered us because of our small digital camera and underwater casing that we just purchased prior to our November cruise. It was a little cloudy that day, but the pictures came out great. There are also some shops near the ship at very good prices. This is a fairly new port and has grown tremendously since our last trip there in November on the Princess Grand. Platinum/Diamond Party - Invitation only This was a very nice get together of all the platinum and diamond members on board. There were 5 couples in attendance. The staff was amazed that there were so few couples on board. They offered an open bar with hors d'oeuvres. The Loyalty Ambassador was very informative. She mentioned that the Nordic Empress was about to be totally remodeled! Also, she stated that they are talking about adding another status like "double diamond" after 15 cruises etc... It would come with different benefits. Also, effective January 1st all junior suites will gain you an additional cruise credit and any cruise 12 days or more will give you one more cruise credit. They are also looking into giving complimentary benefits for traveling with Celebrity Cruise Lines. I would imagine it would work similar to the Delta/Continental One Pass benefits. Casino - I played blackjack and the slot machines on our last night and lost miserably. Dave came out $20.00 ahead. Internet Cafe - Unfortunately, the internet was down quit a bit on this cruise, but we still managed to get our e-mail except for the last two days. Booking Another Cruise - It took me 10 RCI cruises, but I finally convinced Dave to book another cruise while we were on board. We booked the Brilliance 10 day cruise to Panama for next March/April. By doing this, we received $200 of ship board credit. Plus, we can still use our travel agent and get the best prices. Departure - RCI asks that you clear the room by 7:00. We usually go to the dining room for breakfast on the last day and call it our "last supper". Crown and anchor offers a departure room with danish and drinks while we waited for them to call the pink tags (last off the ship). ~TIP 5~ We usually get off the ship last. There are no lines and it is easy to find your luggage. We were home by noon Saturday. Other Items - 1) There is still a constant vibration. I got use to it. 2) As I stated earlier, Captain Sundet was our captain. His first week. The Compass states, "his career with RCI began in the fall of 1987, when he has hired as a Quartermaster. He has served on many of our ships including the Song of Norway, Nordic Prince, Sun Viking and Enchantment of the Seas." 3) Bingo on Tuesday afternoon offered the winner a "luxury suite" for the remaining days of the cruise. Also, they played for a free cruise on the last day. 4) They are now offering coupons books for $20.00 during the shopping talks. I personally don't purchase those, but I was at the talk and know that they sold a ton. The books offer free drinks at certain ports, a beach bag from Del Sol, a silver gift from Silver Emporium etc... Notes: Since this was our 16th cruise, we didn't partake in most of the shipboard activities. We were there mainly to relax and enjoy the water of the Caribbean. I can't say this enough, but I'll say it again, please meet people! That is what will make or break your cruise. Also, if something goes wrong, don't worry about it. RCI will do their best to correct the situation. I'll be more than happy to answer any questions at woodycruisers@houston.rr.com Also, we have some pictures at our photo site which is http://members8.clubphoto.com/davidj519946/2185871/guest.phtml Enjoy and have a wonderful cruise! Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
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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