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464 Splendour of the Seas Cruise Reviews

It started off really great. The staff before embarkation was wonderful. When we got on the boat lunch was served. The set up they have in the Windjammer makes everything very difficult to get to. It was like a maze trying to get from a ... Read More
It started off really great. The staff before embarkation was wonderful. When we got on the boat lunch was served. The set up they have in the Windjammer makes everything very difficult to get to. It was like a maze trying to get from a table to the buffet and back again. We met 2 other couples and hit it off right away. RCL was very accomidating in changing our dinner tables so we could dine together. Off we went.... we set sail a little early which I was very glad since we had early dinner seating. bags made it to room very early and dinner was wonderful. The first night there was a comedian, I was a bit surprised for the first night but hey this wasn't Carnival........lol We made it about 20 minutes into the show and left for lack of humour. We made it much longer than a lot of people. Nothing else going on tonight so we headed to the casino till about 1am and then off to bed. Day 2 a day at sea... Rough waters (no fault of RCL) I don't so much mind the waves, it was the rain that was the problem. It rained all day and RCL failed to provide any indoor activities. A whole day at sea and nothing to do... We slept. Went to dinner another great meal and off to the show. Another blooper. And to top it off people were getting sick all over the boat. RCL was doing more to cover up the problem then cleaning up the problem. I understand they can't control someone getting sick but they can control others from walking through it and tracking it everywhere. What a disaster this was. The staff acted as though they just gave up. Off to the casino and bed around 12am. Day 3... Cozumel Rough tendering in but all in all it was a beautiful day. They failed to tell anyone who had a water excursion that it was canceled do to the wind and rough seas. so as we were tendering in some very angry people were tendering back bringing their belongings back to the boat so they could once again tender out and go shopping. Prices have gone up since we were there in Sept. Do to Wilma i am sure. Day 4 ...Day at sea Another boring day. We have taken over 11 cruises with Carnival and never been bored. There was nothing to do on this ship. No planned activities. What I missed most on this cruise was all the laughter we have shared on all our previous cruises. The average age on this ship is 60. Went to the Captain's deal only to find out he wasn't there. out of over 2000 guest only a little over 300 were return guest, i wonder why....DUH! Oh and by the way the worst part of the trip was the beds.... What a joke. It is a cot mattress on a board.......lol unbelievable! RCL your not for me I'm going back to Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
Let me start of by telling you a little bit about us. We are a family of (3); two adults (34) and one child (7). We live close to Galveston (about 1.5 hours) and have cruised on two previous cruises. Our first cruise was RCI-Grandeur of ... Read More
Let me start of by telling you a little bit about us. We are a family of (3); two adults (34) and one child (7). We live close to Galveston (about 1.5 hours) and have cruised on two previous cruises. Our first cruise was RCI-Grandeur of the Seas and the second was with Carnival-Glory. GREAT LAST MINUTE DEALS: Because of my husband's work situation, we need to usually schedule at the last minute (2-3 weeks prior to leaving). We were able to book one inside cabin for $1100. However, about 1 1/2 weeks before departure, I checked the RCI website and the inside cabins had gone down in price by $100; so I called them and they made the change. With only 5 days to go before our ship left, I re-checked the RCI website and was able to get an oceanview cabin for $300 less than my inside cabin. Again, I called RCI and they changed the cabin for us and credited our account for the difference. Now we had an oceanview cabin for $700!!! How awesome is that?? Be sure to check the RCI website regularly for deals like this!! ARRIVING IN GALVESTON: We drove in and were going to park in the suggested parking facilities (Port of Galveston parking lots) for approx. $70 (according to RCI info). However, once we arrived we noticed that EZ parking offered 5 day parking for $35 and that is where we parked. It's just as close and about half price. Service was good. SHIP: I understand that the Splendour of the Seas is about 10 years old. Despite her age, she has been maintained admirably. Yes, there is some wear and tear; but nothing to really complain about (especially considering the great deal we got!) WEATHER: Since we went in the beginning of December, it was a little chilly leaving and arriving back into Galveston. Nothing horrible; but chilly and windy. The windy conditions made for a less than stable cruise; but our weather (despite 60% forecast for rain) was incredible in Cozumel & Costa Maya. We may do our next cruise either earlier in the fall or spring/summer next time to avoid the windy conditions though. Pool time was not optimal on sea days because of the wind; although we had "warm" weather. Since we had a "rocky" beginning and ending (cold front caused excessive wind), my husband needed to have some help and he prefers non-medication methods. I heard (via the boards) that ginger is very good for sea sickness and it worked wonders for him. He did feel a little queasy; but did not get "sick". The recommended dosage is 2 per day with meals. It's safe for kids too. Just FYI. FOOD: We always enjoy the food on the ship. We are not cuisine experts; but all in all, we enjoyed the offerings and variety. There really is something for everyone (adults) although the selection is limited for picky children (pizza, hot dogs and hamburgers round out their menu). We don't usually do the dining room experience, although I hear that it is pleasant. My husband prefers to eat solo and absolutely loves the buffet concept; so that's where we take most of our meals. One note, they do offer dining room options in the Windjammer. So check out the menus and see what is available. The staff will be happy to get you that longed for NY strip steak and shrimp cocktail too! My absolute favorite was in fact the NY strip steak (made to order) and the desserts-tiramisu (absolutely delicious!) and the chocolate mousse (to die for!). They also had a very good stir fry option and made to order creme filled crepes (which were my husband's fave). ADVENTURE OCEAN: Because we consider this to be a FAMILY vacation, we try to limit the time that our son spends in the kid's program. However, on this trip... He told us: "This is my vacation too!"; which we thought was funny. Therefore, we let him spend more time there than we would have liked; but he had tons of fun. The staff is great and they plan plenty of activities for them. It's hard not to let them go; when they enjoy it so much! Despite having school in session, there were plenty of kids on board; which made it easy for him to have a good time. They had a pirate presentation and also a talent show; which he also enjoyed. The Adventure Science program was also a hit with him and his new friends. COZUMEL: As many may know, hurricane Wilma hit Cozumel pretty hard. It was very evident in the vegetation. It was very sad to see all the palm trees blown over and nothing green. However, the beaches still looked great! We rented a Jeep to sight see on our own through Budget Car Rentals. Even with full coverage, we only paid $75. You CAN negotiate the price with almost any vendor. The jeep started out at over $100 plus tax & insurance. After haggling for a few minutes, were were able to get the jeep (including "full coverage" and taxes) for $75. We did not go through the cruise line for this. (FYI). We drove all along the west/south side of the island (only roads available) and even visited the Cozumel Country Club. Not much of a club house; but the course was very nice. It runs $165 for a full day and $99 for twilight (after 12:30pm). Club and shoe rentals are available for an additional $29 each. We drove to just about every beach and spend most of our time at Paradise Beach (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ON THE BOARDS). There is no cover charge to enter this beach facility and use the beach chairs / umbrellas and but they do expect you to buy food/drinks. Prices are comparable to U S restaurants. Drinks are good. (frozen margaritas for $6.50 and sodas/beer for $2). This beach had life jackets, an "iceberg" and several trampolines that were available for an additional $8 per person. I think they also offered wave runners for an additional charge. The restrooms were in pretty good condition and the service staff was great. We also went to Punta Sur; and checked out the beach there. It's beautiful; but not for swimming with kids (too rocky). Great for pictures though. There were some vendors there too and had some nice handcrafts for purchase. For lunch & shopping, we went to Cinco Soles (ALSO HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) and really enjoyed our food / drinks / atmosphere. The prices were a little steep for us. We ordered one order of fajitas for one (nothing compared to what you get here for one order of fajitas for one), an appetizer (cheese quesadilla) and two margaritas. Price: $60 (with tip). I think we could have gotten a better deal elsewhere; but the ambiance was great! Shopping was nice here too although not too much haggling goes on at this location. Better to shop elsewhere. We wanted to go to the San Gervasio ruins; but they close early (at 4pm); so we missed out on this... Maybe next time. I think it's only a few bucks per person to enter. We tendered in and it went very smooth. 15 minutes, at most from the ship to the pier (including waiting in line and waiting for the tender to get full). Not bad! COSTA MAYA: We were able to dock in Costa Maya. We went directly to the little cruise terminal and found the shopping was great (even better than in Majahual!). We tried to rent a car, then a golf cart... They are also willing to haggle the price (for a jeep $60-golf cart $30-all day); but by the time we were decided on which option, they were all out vehicles. In the end, we took a taxi ($3pp to Majahual) and it worked out even better. Turns out that you can only drive to Majahual and then it's walk only in the village. WAY CHEAPER TO TAKE THE TAXI. We initially wanted to go on the ruins tour offered by David and Ivan (ALSO HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ON THE BOARDS); but we got up too late to make the tour. They charge $43 pp (adult) and $40 (child). There are other tours available for similar pricing at the pier; but David & Ivan were so highly recommended that we really wanted to go with them... It's a shame that we were too late to make their tour! We ended up walking through the village (Majahual) and finally made it to Pez Quadro (beach facility at the end of the road); which had also been highly recommended on the boards. We had an incredible time there. Beach chairs were available, bar and restrooms too. Beers $2 and Margaritas $4. Massages were available here too; but a little more expensive $30 bucks for 30 minutes. I heard others charged $20 for 40 minutes; but I don't know if the quality was the same. We took a taxi back to the pier and did some shopping. They won't haggle the pricing at the pier but the pricing is still better than in Majahual, where you do haggle and still pay more. BOOZE & OTHER DRINKS/FOOD STUFF: We took our own soda (allowed) in a checked cooler and packed our rum and whisky in our checked luggage. No problems there. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone; but for us, it was cool. :) We still ended up buying drinks on board :) One of my husband's favorite things about RCI was the room service we had on our prior RCI cruise. This time, it was not so pleasant. The wait was very long and they no longer offer delicious ice cream in the room service menu. I guess since they have Ben & Jerry's, they don't need to. B&J ice cream runs a little over $3 per cup and the coffee shop charges similar to Starbucks; but the quality is not up to par. I ordered a Cafe Frio (which was supposed to be like SB's Frappuccino) and ended up throwing it away, it tasted awful!! B&J's ice cream was only so-so. ON-BOARD ENTERTAINMENT: We really enjoyed the show productions. They singers and dancers did a great job. We especially liked the SWING production. We played bingo and went to the casino. Lots to do for everyone! My husband liked the gym too. CROWN & ANCHOR SERVICE: Since this is our second cruise with RCI, we were already signed up to their C&A membership. We didn't find our C&A coupons (2 books) in our room; so I asked for them and our room steward made sure we got them. We also got a little bathroom organizer (2) about 3 days in to the cruise. Nice little perks. We used also of our coupons and left the rest in the safe for someone else to enjoy. I hear that others can freely use them on the subsequent cruise. ALL IN ALL, WE HAD A GREAT TIME ON A LIMITED BUDGET. WE WOULD DEFINITELY CRUISE WITH RCI AGAIN. WE ALWAYS HAVE A TON OF FUN ON AND OFF THE SHIP. TAKE THE RECOMMENDATIONS TO HEART. THEY REALLY ARE THE BEST OPTIONS OUT THERE! :) If anyone has questions or would like pictures, just email me and I'll be sure to respond. My email is minisann1@juno.com Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
To preface this cruise review. This was our 13th cruise. Numbering 5 with Celebrity, 3 with Carnival, 1 with Disney, NCL, Princess and now our 2nd with RCL. We arrived in Galveston (1 and 1/2 hour drive from AP)) the night before our ... Read More
To preface this cruise review. This was our 13th cruise. Numbering 5 with Celebrity, 3 with Carnival, 1 with Disney, NCL, Princess and now our 2nd with RCL. We arrived in Galveston (1 and 1/2 hour drive from AP)) the night before our cruise and stayed at the Galveston Hilton. Great location with good service and excellent shuttle service to the port in the morning. The greeting as we boarded the Splendour was somewhat disappointing in comparison to Celebrity. We were handed a bluish liquid in a 1/2 ounce plastic hospital pill dispenser type cup to welcome us aboard. We then went unescorted to our Aft Junior Suite. The ship was in great shape for her age, some wear and tear but clean, although we noticed dirty room service and poolside items that were not cleaned up very promptly. The cabin was wonderful, large (230 plus square feet) with a large balcony. Later we visited other Junior Suites on the starboard side and discovered that our balcony was much larger. Our cabin steward introduced himself and for the next 9 nights quietly and very efficiently did his job. Cute towel creations and the like. Being Diamond level Crown and Anchor members robes and a coupon booklet awaited us. An additional perk later in the week was a Champagne brunch reception for just Diamond level and above members. This proved to be one of the best dining experiences of the week. In regards to dining: We were hugely disappointed, again in comparison to Celebrity.The dining room food we felt was average to below average, very similar to cafeteria style food. For dinners, salad and soups were excellent. The Entrees were never hot, the meat often tough and the pastas similar to canned product. The desserts were well below what was expected, the ice creams were fine, the baked goods were below average other than a very good Key Lime Pie. I am a picky but not 5 star consumer and most of the dinners overall were to me and my tablemates not of high quality. We never had lunch in the dining room. We did have lunch in the Solarium: the hamburgers were always cool, the rolls on some occasions stale, the fries were good and the pizza for the most part was of the frozen food variety. Lunch in the Windjammer was fine, a great salad bar, a carving station, many choices that were appetizing and hot. Breakfast in the dining room was very good. A full menu, always prepared hot and as ordered. Windjammer breakfast was very average, decent selections with watery eggs and juices but a good omelette station that prepared eggs any way you please. The afternoon tea was good, with good selections of pastries and a daily taco bar. My children ages 16 and 19 had ordered room service daily and were very happy that the food was delivered quickly, fresh and good. In regards to dining room service, our waiter Albert and assistant waiter Sam measured up to the best of any waiters we have had. Sam was extraordinary. Hans the head waiter was nothing short of incredible. Hans personally worked every table as a headwaiter, waiter, assistant waiter, comedian and magician. Ports: Cozumel- Spent most of the day at Paradise Beach. Fantastic, good beach, toys and bar. Good for entire family. Did incredible job recovering. Afternoon, Cinco Sole for purchases and Carlos and Charlies for lunch. Awesome day. Grand Cayman- Only day of rain. Went shopping downtown. Churchill's for my Cuban cigars and pocketbooks for the ladies. Montego Bay- Booked Negril trip with A-Z Planners- Awesome day at Margaritaville in Negril. Doc was our driver (bus for 15) and was great! Belize-Took water taxi to Caye Caulker, wonderful beach day. Costa Maya- 6 dollar round trip to Majahual. Spent day at the beach and returned to ship. Worth seeing old time Mexican beach front with new found tourism boom. Entertainment was not a highlight. The singers were fine and the dancers worked hard but were not particularly professional. The comedian was good and a Violinist was good but most other shows were unremarkable. The casino staff was great. Embarkation and debarkation were a breeze. Overall a very good cruise but not as good as we have had! Hope I did not ramble! Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
This was our second cruise on the Splendour. We enjoyed a week on her last Spring Break and decided to take a short cruise before Christmas. The ship was only at about 80% capacity which meant no lines at the Windjammer or King & I ... Read More
This was our second cruise on the Splendour. We enjoyed a week on her last Spring Break and decided to take a short cruise before Christmas. The ship was only at about 80% capacity which meant no lines at the Windjammer or King & I dining rooms. There was always plenty of seating at the shows and not nearly as difficult finding a lounge chair at or near the pool. We traveled with 15 and 16 year old boys and they were concerned that there would be no teens aboard since it was between Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. They were excited to see and meet several teens and enjoyed the trip. We put them in their own oceanview cabin (yes, next to ours) and had no problems. Our cabin stewards did an excellent job meeting all of our needs and kept the rooms nice and tidy. Cabin was showing a little wear from its age, but was always very clean. Our waitress was our favorite from all of our cruises. She never hesitated when we asked for extra of anything. She was great! The ship was undergoing some facelifting in the pool area, but it never caused a problem. The photographers did not seem to be in our faces (no pun intended) as often. As a matter of fact, they forgot to stop at our table on formal night. The only night we insisted that the kids attend. We had to be tendered into Coz since the piers were damaged from the hurricane. We have always docked so this was a first for us. It went very smooth and the boats were nice and clean. We all went on the Catch the Wave Snorkel Safari and Bond Adventure. The staff and crew were very friendly. We felt safe leaving camera, purse, and other belongings in their care. There was not much to look at underwater other than fish and other marine life. The coral and reefs and just now starting to come back. The Bond Adventure was a new experience as well. Difficult to explain, but would describe as an individual underwater motorized scooter. You go down about 20 feet and buzz around looking at stuff. Your head is in a bubble that is constantly being filled with oxygen. I thought it was fun and the kids really enjoyed it. Free food and booze for the adults available as well. We did some shopping in Coz. Most of the shopping areas have been repaired. Carlos and Charlies, Senior Frogs, TGI Fridays and the mall in that area were whipped out. Very few leaves on the trees. Lots of destruction still noticeable on the northern end, but they are doing a great job of getting things up and running. Watch the taxi drivers. The signs posting the standard fares have not been replaced and they are trying to make up for lost wages. We were disappointed that we could never get in to see the future cruise specialist. There was only one woman working and she stayed busy! Overall a great trip, but just not long enough. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
My husband and I along with our 5 year old son decided to take a week off from the hustle & bustle of the holiday season and boy are we glad we did!!! This was my husband and my 5th cruise (4th RCC) and my son's 1st. The splendor ... Read More
My husband and I along with our 5 year old son decided to take a week off from the hustle & bustle of the holiday season and boy are we glad we did!!! This was my husband and my 5th cruise (4th RCC) and my son's 1st. The splendor was just splendid!!! The King & I was delicious every night and our waiter, Maxson was a doll!!! Our stateroom attendant, Elmer was charming, but I did feel he could have done a better job remembering our names. (oh well, no biggie though!!) I should mention that the windjammer was only ok. If you can, eat breakfast and dinner in the King & I and do the solarium for lunch! Here's the best part....the children's activities!!!!! My son is an only child and doesn't normally like being away for us. We had a hard time getting him to leave!!! The activities ranged from, pirate parties to pajama parties to super hero parties and an astronaut party!!! During the day there were science projects, ice cream parties, music, games and even a movie day! They ate lunch together one day and dinner together 3 nights which gave my husband and I some alone time, which for us was much needed!! I have to give this program a 2 thumbs up!!! Way to go RCC!!! Since it is Christmas time, RCC made sure we didn't forget that. This ship was beautifully transformed to a christmas paradise with christmas trees decorated to the T on every floor. Garland draped with ribbon and bows were arranged along all the railings and fresh red and white poinsettia's were neatly placed throughout the ship! We will make this cruise on this ship every year here on out! LOVED EVERY MINUTE WE WERE THERE!! Now for the ports... You should all be aware that Cozumel was not only hit hard by Wilma, it was destroyed. My husband and I were there in May of 2004 on the Rhapsody and returning this December was heartbreaking. I honestly had to hold back tears. I will keep Cozumel and its residents in my prayers throughout the year. On a good note though, we found a fabulous beach...Paradise Beach, which was to die for! Free admission and exclusive use of its water sports such as a water trampoline, kayaking, water rock climbing and floats...all of this was free! Not to mention the use of its chairs, tables and umbrella's. There is a restaurant and full service bar. The staff is extremely pleasant and will serve you till your heart's content. If traveling to cozumel, Paradise Beach is a MUST!!! (We also rented a jeep all day for only $45) Costa Maya: This was our first trip to this beautiful hidden getaway. We rented a golf cart and took it into the town of Mahajual. I HIGHLY recommend doing this!!! Not only is it MUCH cheaper to shop, but eating and drinking all day while being served on the beach is a must!! We stayed at El Faro which is on the beach and Ricardo treated us like royalty! I received a 30 minute full body massage on the beach for a mere $20. (no worries, you are in a tent like area but are still in full range of the ocean and sounds that come with) Talk about relaxing....this BEATS the prices on this ship any day! I should tell you that our total bill (excluding the massage) was only $37. This included about 7 beers, 2 pina coladas, a pina (which is a kids drink), a large guacamole, shrimp tacos and combination fajitas!!!!! And all this while sitting under an umbrella less that 15 feet from the water!! FABULOUS!!! Again, we'll be back next year, same place, same time!! Miniature golf was actually pretty challenging and extremely fun. You can even golf at night as the exterior lighting on this ship is wonderful!! The shows on the ship were mostly excellent with 1-2 good/ok. But the crew was extremely funny and personable. We loved this ship and everything it had to offer. For the price...this trip was 2 THUMBS UP!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
First off, I would like to say for the $$, this was a great cruise. It was short but nice. It was our first cruise, mine & my husband. We were celebrating our anniversary and this cruise was a four-nighter over the weekend. It was ... Read More
First off, I would like to say for the $$, this was a great cruise. It was short but nice. It was our first cruise, mine & my husband. We were celebrating our anniversary and this cruise was a four-nighter over the weekend. It was perfect and it was over our anniversary. We had booked an inside cabin and got upgraded to a balcony, so we were thrilled! The stateroom was great, shower was small but adequate. There was lots of storage space for our clothes. Our stateroom attendant was wonderful! Very friendly and did a great job. We had early dining and most of the meals in the evening in the dining room we had good service; however, we were quite disappointed in the overall dining experience in the dining room and the other eateries on the ship. The service in the dining room for breakfast and lunch was awful! The food was ok, but the wait staff was pretty terrible. This sailing had one stop, Cozumel. After seeing Cozumel, I would have expected Royal Caribbean to send us somewhere else. It was pretty devastated by Hurricane Wilma and will definitely take many years to recover. There is no vegetation (no green palm trees, etc.) and the buildings are wiped out. We went on the Catch The Wave snorkel safari which included snorkeling, a glass bottom boat ride & lunch. The water was great and the fish were plentiful, but the reef is hurt badly. The lunch on the boat was pretty terrible too. We had a facial at the Spa onboard the ship and we both had different experiences. It wasn't worth the money, but the staff was friendly. The fitness center is wonderful! Great size and plenty of machines. The hot tubs on board were not working very well. The water was warm, but not hot. Also, they replaced some carpet on the pool deck overnight but it wasn't finished for our last at sea day and everyone wanted room on the pool deck that day. It was sad, since part of the deck was blocked off because of the renovation. The ship cruise director was great, but there really wasn't lots of activities planned during the day other than bingo. Not everyone likes bingo. Entertainment in the evening was fair, not stellar like I anticipated. The shows in the theater were ok, but definitely not "Broadway shows." Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
I take Transatlantic Cruises because of the days at sea, so I will not be reviewing any of the ports as my entry into them was very brief. This was my fifth cruise on RCCL and my second on the Splendour and it was a mixed bag. The ... Read More
I take Transatlantic Cruises because of the days at sea, so I will not be reviewing any of the ports as my entry into them was very brief. This was my fifth cruise on RCCL and my second on the Splendour and it was a mixed bag. The Splendour of the Seas is the fastest ship in the RCCL Fleet and one of the first built in the Vision Series. It was built in March of 1996 and is now approaching almost ten years. The overall condition of the ship is average, there are signs of its age showing in its furnishings, but the ship is kept very clean. During the crossing they were changing carpets and drapes in the Cabins and a much needed reconfiguration is scheduled for the Windjammer Cafe on Deck 9 when the ship enters dry-dock in April of 2006. The Windjammer Cafe is the Buffet Style Restaurant and in the evening it is turned into the Casual Dining venue for the ship. The Windjammer also serves the Afternoon Tea. During dry dock the hotel manager claims all of the carpets in the public areas will be changed. Other improvements were mentioned but could not be confirmed so I will not mention them. BOARDING RCCL has introduced an online check-in procedure which I used; we arrived at the Pier at 11:30 A.M. and had our Room Keys/Ship Charge Card in less than a minute. We could not gain access to our Cabin until 1P.M, so we sat in a public area until P.M. arrived. Our luggage arrived by 4 P.M. and that was a first. I have waited until after midnight on some other ships for my luggage. The Boarding procedure has really improved at RCCL and I give that a solid ten out of ten points. FOOD AND SERVICE RCCL in my opinion has never shined in the area of food but it has really changed since my first sailing with them since 1994. The quality of the food has really gone down hill. RCCL has introduced approximately 4-5 entries that consistently appear on the menu, just in case you don't want the specialized entries being offered that night. While I salute this idea the items served were not fresh and in some cases almost tasteless. RCCL had to serve over 1500 people three meals a day so the food is not individually prepared, preparation was overall very good, but the fish entries were tough, either dry, overcooked, or both. One night I was served a veal dish that consisted of 90% bone. Then a few nights later another veal selection was served and it was very tasty. Our waiter was very excellent and offered suggestions, he was from Romania but living in Italy, so he liked to offer the nightly pasta selection as a side dish. I was sailing with my mom who is diabetic and she enjoyed the Sugar Free Deserts. I ate a few and they were very well prepared On my previous cruise on the Splendour, breakfast was served off the menu in the King and I Dining Room; however most lunches were Buffet Style in the Dining Room. RCCL has changed this and now serves three meals a day off the menu in the Dining Room. Breakfast service was erratic, orders were sometimes messed up on some days and others it was perfect. The service provided during lunch was much better; it appears to me that most waiters and waitresses on RCCL suffer from lack of sleep which explains the less than satisfactory service received at breakfast. The Windjammer has not and will not ever be my favorite eating venue as I do not like buffets. I did try it a few times primarily for breakfast and the food was over cooked as it spent too much time in the warmers. Also, the condition of the Windjammer Cafe was pathetic which didn't help the overall dining experience. The Afternoon Tea offered in the Windjammer should be renamed the Afternoon Snack. While a few of the British Tea Standards are offered they also offer lots of sliced meats and a serving line that allows you to create a taco. On my previous Transatlantic Cruise on the Splendour a complete sit down white gloved Tea was offered in the Dining Room four times during the cruise. I asked if those were going to occur and was told that none were scheduled. Service in the Bars was superb Bar Tenders made an attempt to call you by name and remembered your preferences. A few of the Bartenders could be quite entertaining and I spent many a night watching Andre from the Ukraine wowing me and others with his card tricks. One thing that particularly bothered me in the Dining Room was the service provided by the Head Waiters and this was frequently mentioned by other passengers. The Head Waiter is supposed to check every table in his or her section to see if the service is satisfactory and assist the waiter/waitress if things get too hectic. On this cruise I wore a Casio Watch the first two nights as I hadn't unpacked my more expensive Rolex until the third night. The Head Waiter would only check tables and assist the waiters with passengers that either ordered wine or had expensive watches on, finally after mentioning this to the Hotel Manager the service changed and he performed his duties as expected until the last night of the cruise when we walked around with a tip envelope slipped into his front jacket pocket. On the last night I had ordered lobster and he was supposed to remove the shell, he only did that for passengers who gave him envelopes. CABIN AND CABIN SERVICE As I stated earlier the cabins on the Splendour are getting a new look, our cabin had been updated in January according to my Cabin Steward. When boarding I asked for refrigerator for my mom's insulin and that the queen bed be turned into two twins. The requests were honored very promptly. There was some dirt in the recessed electrical 220 volt outlets, other than that the cabin was spotless. One morning my water drained slowly from my sink and I reported it to my Cabin Steward and it promptly repaired. Midway thru the cruise the Executive Housekeeper called me and asked me about the service received from my cabin steward, this was the first time this had occurred on an RCCL Cruise. I just obtained Platinum Level in the Crown and Anchor Society which entitled me to free use of robes while on board and they had two kinds Baltic Cotton and Terry Cloth, I prefer the Baltic Cotton and asked that they be changed once again the request was handled promptly. There were quite a few Platinum and Higher Members on this cruise so when you turned in your bathrobes for a new one it could take some time. There was some obvious wear on the bathroom sink, but the ship is almost ten years old. CRUISE STAFF AND ENTERTAINMENT The Cruise Staff on this cruise was excellent; they seemed happy and performed their duties enthusiastically. I climbed the Rock Climbing Wall four times on the cruise and enjoyed that experience and the staff who did it. I participated in the Ship Shape Program which offers you a Ship Shape Dollar for each activity you participate in and at the end of the cruise you turn the dollars in for Ship Shape Merchandise. Shows were offered in the 42nd Street Theatre and the quality varied. Ole Ole was onboard and it was very well done and two other performances were offered in the Ships Multi Storied Lobby. One night they had a singer on which was not to my liking so we exited the show early. There were Piano Players in the Lounges that did their jobs well and a Piano Player in the Dining Room most nights; however because of the size of the Dining Room it was hard to hear him/her at times. The sound system in the Dining Room needs some attention as it was hard to hear even the recorded music selections when the waiters sang for us. I also appreciate the effort made by the Cruise Director to minimize announcements. We had the midday bridge announcement from the Captain, the afternoon Bingo Announcement, and an announcement regarding the show times. The Ballroom Dance Instructor was fabulous and I learned the Fox Trot. THE QUEST FOR MORE REVENUE We did not participate in any Shore Excursions as I went for rest and relaxation. Park West handles the onboard Art Auctions. I use the term art very generously, as the items are marketed as very collectable and great investments, in my humble opinion they aren't. What bothered me the most about the art auctions was how pushy the people were from Park West were. One day I couldn't get a reading from my blood pressure device so I went to the Medical Clinic and asked the nurse on duty to take the reading, she informed there would be a $35 dollar charge, and I passed. Then one night I needed a heating pad for my mom and was informed by a Purser there would be a $30 dollar charge to just open the clinic. I paid it only to find out there were passengers in the Clinic and there was a nurse there for the night. Another passenger I knew visited the doctor and was charged $105 for the 5 minute consultation and the doctor sold him cough syrup for $25. Gold by the Inch has moved from the shopping venue on Deck 5 to right in front of the doors as you exit Deck 9 for the pool which I found rather aggressive. The items in the shops were mostly overpriced and logo merchandise. There was some nice porcelain figurines by Llardo offered and an Italian Figurine Maker. Salon Services were overpriced and the quality delivered was second rate. A lady I became friends with paid $95 to have her nails done and the polish wore off within days. The "so called" specials just brought the pricing from super over priced to very over priced. CROWN AND ANCHOR SOCIETY This was my first cruise as a Platinum Member and I enjoyed the robes, complimentary 15 minutes of internet time given, complimentary wine tasting, and free bar drinks. I had heard that Platinum and Diamond Level Members were given a Special Lunch; it was replaced with a cocktail party. I inquired about this and the Loyalty Ambassador told me there were many back to back cruisers on this cruise and they thought another lunch would be too repetitive, maybe so but the previous cruise only had one day at sea we had nine. I think a cocktail party would have been in order for the previous cruise and luncheon on the crossing if repetition was a concern. DISEMBARKATION The worst part about a cruise is getting on and getting off. While the Embarkation process was smooth the disembarkation process was a total mess. There were an insufficient number of porters and I spent almost an hour in line clearing customs and I was in the third disembarkation group. The cruise ship terminal in Galveston has been enlarged which helps but what is needed is more porters and more Customs Inspectors. What RCCL can do about getting more customs inspectors is a mystery to me. If more porters are hired by the agent in Galveston and there are no more Customs and Immigration Inspectors added all that will be accomplished is a delay in the long line. I urge everyone who experienced this to write the local Member of Congress for Galveston, their Member of Congress, and their state's US Senator, and the two US Senators from Texas. However, long lines in US Customs and Immigration are the norm these days. FINAL THOUGHTS RCCL offers a great value on Transatlantic Crossings and with the introduction of the Voyager of the Seas to Europe means that almost every class of RCCL ship will now be making the crossing twice a year. RCCL needs to improve the food quality, do something about staff that solicits gratuities in the manner that I experienced with the Head Waiter. I will be taking the Splendour again in April for the Eastbound Transatlantic so while this wasn't a superior cruise it wasn't totally bad either. I realize the challenges facing the cruise business with increased fuel costs but revenue per cabin is up by 20 percent on the basic fares too. I think it's time to STOP the nickel and dimming in the Medical Clinic. Also, I would suggest that RCCL look at the pricing offered by contractors in the Spas and Shops. I think they might try working to get their needed returns using lower prices and more volumes. A lot of people thought the prices charged were robbery and left a bad taste. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
My wife and I have had 11 cruises on Princess, Holland America, Celebrity and RCCL. This is our second cruise on Splendour. The first was Panama Canal and western Caribbean. I remember that cruise as being pleasant experience. The only bad ... Read More
My wife and I have had 11 cruises on Princess, Holland America, Celebrity and RCCL. This is our second cruise on Splendour. The first was Panama Canal and western Caribbean. I remember that cruise as being pleasant experience. The only bad thing I remember about that cruise was that the beef was so tough that you had to send it back and accept the fish or pasta. That was a common complaint. Embarkation: We booked a Barcelona hotel through RCCL, so they picked us up early had us at the dock before most of the other passengers showed up. This process was about as good as it gets. Accommodations: Small, but we knew that. I guess no worse than any other ship. However, we had the worst cabin attendant we have ever had. He seemed very unhappy and didn't make up the room until almost noon. I will have to say that if I had his job, I wouldn't be too happy either. Food and Service: The food was not up to the standards of other cruises. I guess that I am comparing it to Celebrity. The dining room waiters made the mediocre food more palatable. I know that the ship was smaller than other others in the fleet, but I wish that they would put in healthy, light lunches that Constellation had. All you had in the solarium bar was hot dogs, burgers and pizza. The Windjammer was utter chaos about 9AM. I do remember that most of these types of eating venues are quite busy on all ships. Ever notice that people can become very hostile when it comes to getting their food? Believe me, no one was about to starve. Entertainment: Maybe because this was a transatlantic cruise but most of the shows were not very good, at least compared to other cruises. Ole Ole was fantastic. Health Concerns: My wife and others I talked to came down with the gastronomical maladies that stalk these cruises. Down and out for two days. I did notice that the ship did not have the hand sanitizers around the ship when we left Barcelona. After the passengers started getting sick, they came out. My wife wanted only ice cream or yogurt. When I asked for either at the Windjammer, the girl at the entrance told me that because of the sickness around the ship, they no longer could serve these items. Thanks. Also all help-yourself eating was taboo. I believe that if the Splendour had used these procedures from the start, that there would have been much less sickness. Celebrity Constellation was much better about sanitation. So, we will try to use Celebrity when we can, or Princess or HAL. It really depends on the itinerary. If RCCL is the only line to take us where we want to go, we will book with them. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
Remark: First of all I did not want to publish my review on this board. But reading the other reviews of this cruise, I changed my mind, that you can read another review with some total different experiences. And second, written from a ... Read More
Remark: First of all I did not want to publish my review on this board. But reading the other reviews of this cruise, I changed my mind, that you can read another review with some total different experiences. And second, written from a woman and third from German, because some kinds of view are different between American and German passengers. So maybe it´s interesting for you to compare. Cruise with the Splendour of the Seas/Royal Caribbean Cruise Line november 12th - november 26th 2005 Itinerary: Transatlantic westbound Barcelona  Alicante, Spain  Malaga, Spain - at sea  Tenerife, Canary Islands - 6 days at sea - Nassau, Bahamas - 2 days at sea - Galveston, Texas Translation kindly supported by Petra and Andreas Halamoda Arrival: Flight with Lufthansa German Airlines from Dusseldorf, Germany, to Barcelona, Spain, without any problems; arrival in Barcelona at 9.30 am, reception and luggage pick- up by RCCL- service staff at the airport. We had to wait about 20 minutes for the arrival of some more fellow cruise passengers on another flight. We got in a bus together with some more german passengers and some American passengers, who had just arrived at another terminal. Because of our early arrival we had a little sightseeing tour of Barcelona for free which took about 1 ½ hours. Unfortunately it was raining all the time and there weren't any photostops. However at all attractions were already long waiting lines, although day time was still early. Arrival in the port of Barcelona was at 11.30 am, the check-in procedure took approximately 10 minutes, very fast. The corridors and hallways to the cabins were blocked by boards, telling that the cabins would be ready no sooner than approximately 1.00 pm, which was acceptable for us. So we had an early lunch in the Windjammer Cafe and took a first look around the ship. Cabin: "Large" inside cabin, #7583, large is pretty over the top (see photo) with 149 sq. ft. After the cabin attendant changed the double- bed- configuration into two single beds alongside to the walls was enough space to use the cabin, first with the double- bed it wasn't. Wall closet had acceptable space, but only to hang up clothes, there were no shelves for shirts or other clothes inside. Only 3 bigger and 4 smaller drawer cabinets and 4 drawers near the beds. Bathroom was of normal size, with space below the washing stand and behind the mirror. The cabin is equipped with one arm chair, one chair and a small writing desk, a safe, a refrigerator is missing. When asking the front desk about the cabin size, they told us that the Splendour has the smallest cabins in the fleet (which is wrong) and we should be lucky, because we have obtained a larger cabin (normal inside cabin 138 sq. ft.). We asked for a larger outside cabin and they replied, that they all were booked out. This also was not correct. Later during the cruise I received a list from the Cruise Director for my review about the passengers and the nationalities. Partly refurbished: The cabin had been partly refurbished during our cruise. It was done within 2 hours. Unfortunately we had not been informed that our cabin was part of the refurbishment of 547 cabins. So they left after having made a mess with our clothes lying on the arm chair. Partly refurbished means, that the arm chair and chair got new covers, as well as the head board and new curtains in front of the beds. New carpets will laid during the next weeks. But to me the choice of colors was not the best, it doesn´t really match together. A specialist company from Finland has been on board for this refurbishment with its own workshop. As a counter example, the superior inside cabin measures 172 sq. ft. and the balcony cabin has 193 sq. ft. plus 38 sq. ft. balcony. Passenger Nationalities: 1.572 passengers from 30 nations. USA: 931, United Kingdom: 335, Canada: 86, Germany: 56, Netherlands: 45, Mexico: 23 and the rest from many different countries ranging from Australia to Uruguay. Decks: Passenger decks 2, 3, 6, 7 and 8. Deck 1: medical facilities and ship entrance and exit while in port. Deck 3: conference center, newly refurbished Deck 4: Atrium, open from deck 4 up to deck 8, very tasteful, with pastel shaded green and blue armchairs and sofas and glass- tables. Champagne bar: enclosed by beautiful glass walls; out to the Atrium with a large band- stand for Live music, changing several times on evening, ranging from duos or trios to even a Big Band with 10 musicians. Also space for a dance floor (sadly not for me, because my husband belongs to that species of man, who are stick- in- the- muds when it comes to dancing). This was one of our favorite places in the evening, to enjoy a cocktail (starting at 4,25 $) or a beer (16 OZ 3 $) and to observe the parade of our fellow passengers. 42nd Street Theater,an obvious difference to the other ships we know is that it stretches only over one floor. Good view from everywhere, even when seated in the back of the theater, which we prefer, so that we can leave without any disturbance, if we don´t like the show. Comfortable sofas for 2 or 3 persons, still in good condition. Quality of the shows very different, but I must admit, that we did not see all the shows. Band with 10 musicians surprisingly big, 10 dancers, 4 singers. Schooner Bar, which we did not like as much as on the other RCCL ships. Smaller and darker, piano music too loud, so it was almost impossible to have a conversation with other people. Casino, like all Casinos loud and smoky, because passengers were allowed to smoke there. If we wanted to go from the atrium to the theater we had two choices, either through the casino or over the deck below the lifeboats. We preferred the latter. King & I Dining Room (lower floor) tastefully decorated, with blue or red chairs and dark wood. Tables for 2 to 10 persons, very spacey, even for the waiters for better service. Lunch: to be able to write about the lunch in the dining room, we have eaten there once and were very disappointed. Like our experience on other ships, the staff is during open seatings not as polite as in the evening to their guests at their dinner tables. In this case it was so terrible, that we spoke with two of the headwaiters and complained about both the service and the food. The result was that the headwaiters had a meeting with the dining-room-staff and discussed this. I told them, people could have the impression that the waiters are only friendly to those at their own tables because they know, that they'll receive a good tip at the end of the cruise. This is both not correct and not acceptable for me as a guest. The food quality also was not good and our waiter expected that we'd use the same cutlery for all our courses. He was not inclined to bring us new cutlery after clearing up the plates. So we got it by ourselves from other free places. He also did not serve the ordered soft drinks (we had a soda-package - 14 days - 102 $ per person), even as we asked him again to serve Sprite. It was so different to the excellent service at our table for dinner. Deck 5: front desk and shore excursion desk, Shopping"mile", Top Hat Lounge and upper floor of the Dining Room. Boutiques with different small stores and a free space in the middle for daily changing offers. Hallway to the Top Hat Lounge - biggest lounge on the ship, used for events as Captain's Welcome Party , Repeat-Cruisers Party (445 Gold-Members, 190 Platinum-Members, 71 Diamond-Members and 3 Diamond-Plus-Members), several other events, dancing classes, catholic mass and much more. Tasteful furniture and in good condition. King & I Dining Room (upper floor) Dinner: for dinner we were 7 Persons at a table for 10. We have been seated together with two friends of us (a german couple) and a wonderful american couple from California and their female friend, a wonderful lady from Texas, all very sophisticated people. It was a pleasure having dinner with all of them and you could not find better tablemates. Very obliging service by our waiter from India and the Assistant waitress from the Philippines and the Headwaiter, also from India. There was a choice of 4 starters, some of those were repeated too often, 2 soups (partly chilled soups, the best I have ever had), 2 - 3 salads with a choice of dressings, if desired also our favourite dressing (Blue Cheese). 4 Entrees and 4 daily available standard alternatives. 4 - 5 different desserts plus different ice- cream both in really good quality. If desired, French Fries and other extra wishes were fulfilled. During the first two days food was slightly cool, but it improved day by day. The meat-quality was excellent, the fish-quality above average. Our waiter served most of the time one or two more dishes (appetizers, main courses and desserts), that we all could taste something different. The Executive Chef was from Austria, we had some nice conversations with him. The Maitre D' Orlando P. Rosa came recently from the Jewel (where we met him last year), a couple of other crew members of the Jewel management will follow him to the Splendour within the next weeks. Deck 6: photo gallery for the usual photos of passengers and a Cafe, but hardly enough places to sit and enjoy coffee or ice- cream. Deck 7: Library - also tasteful and discreet furniture, with deep red and half round green leather- armchairs. The choice of books in the library was relatively small and most of the times lent, because a lot of passengers spent their time reading. A sheet was on display, on which you could register for a tour of the bridge of about half an hour for 15 persons each group on days at sea with 4 tours in the morning and another 4 in the afternoon. Card room - 10 tables with 4 chairs and some separate chairs, all in green leather. There were exceptionally beautiful wooden folding shutters at the windows. Deck 8: Crown & Anchor Society an area for those, who want to inform themselves about future RCCL cruises and to make a reservation. There was also the popular Internet-Cafe: equipped with 16 IBM-Computers, loudspeakers, a separate Laser printer, but no webcams. Cost: per minute 50 cent or package for 25 $ - 59 minutes, 35 $ - 89 minutes, 50 $ - 151 minutes. Deck 9: Pool deck - we found the pool, heated to 72 - 75 degrees, with two different depth levels. There were two roofed jacuzzis as well. Adequate number of deck chairs with plastic strings, which I found very comfortable. Some were close to the pool in the sun, some were under a roofed area at both sides of the deck. Several tables with 4 chairs on the side and in front of the Windjammer Cafe. Smoking section on one side of the ship. The sliding- windows could be opened towards the sea. There was blue astroturf cover (which was in strong need of a renovation) and partly timber floor. A small stage for small bands was found here, but they did not play all the time. An area for activities, like some pool games or dancing was in front of the pool. Solarium - a roofed area towards the stern on the same deck, with several deck chairs and tables, 4 chairs each, pool heated to 90 degrees, 2 jacuzzis, a Bar serving Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, French Fries and Vegetarian Pizzas (very good) on different hours until 1.30 late at night. Hallway to the stern where we found Spa and Gym with several equipment, like treadmills, cross trainer, dumb- bells and more. Some of the equipment were out of order. Behind the Spa and Gym was a wonderful sun terrace for about 40 people, partly roofed and really quiet. Windjammer-Cafe: at the bow of the ship, offering about 450 seats, a panorama view to three sides, and so a beautiful place to eat and see. Smaller than on other RCCL ships, offering tables for 2 to 6 persons, in a very worn and torn state. Really not acceptable any more, they should be removed completely. Chairs were still acceptable. But the ship is scheduled for drydock in Lisbon next may and the Windjammer will be completely renovated then, similar to the one on the Legend OTS. breakfast: starting at 6.15 am on days in port and at 7 am on days at sea. Divers sorts of bread, rolls, small cakes, donuts, and danish. Some warm meals, a small selection of cold meat, sausage, cheese and fish. A station for warm pastries like Toast, English Muffins and more, 2 stations for coffee, water and milk, several sorts of tea, 2 stations for juices like orange and ACE. Adequate choice of fruit, fresh or cut, or canned ones. Then my husband's favorite station, the egg cook, who prepared fresh omelets with a wide selection of ingredients, and fried eggs, turned or sunny- side- up. Lunch: from 12 am to 3 pm. A choice of several salads, already prepared or a selection of fresh ingredients and dressings to create your own, unfortunately without any variation during the 14 days of our cruise. Two soups, freshly cut meats, a diversity of vegetables as side orders, different warm main courses, and every day freshly prepared pasta, excellent both in quality and taste. As desserts there were daily changing custards and different cakes (which we'd prefer for tea- time) As beverages always lemonade and iced- tea, sometimes brought to the tables by the waiters. Like in the dining room at dinner- time, the service staff was always helpful and they assisted older or handicapped persons with their meals. Tables were cleared up relatively fast. Tea- time (Coffee- time for us germans): starting 3.30 pm, a selection of cookies and dry cakes, sandwiches (yummy), waffles, several warm dishes and every day Tacos and Tortillas with the usual toppings. Dinner: we never had dinner at the Windjammer. But the restaurant manager told us, that more than 200 people were dining in the Windjammer every evening. Deck 10: Jogging track (4 laps - 1 Mile) and sun deck with two roofed areas for about 12 deck chairs. There were plenty of deck chairs to place individually all over the deck. At the stern of the ship was a mini golf course, 2 Shuffleboards and the rock climbing wall, a special feature of RCCL. Deck 11: Viking Crown Lounge - a very tasteful interior in this bar area with outstanding circumferential visibility, during the day a wonderful place to rest, relax, observe and read. In the evening it turned into the Disco with a DJ. But I admit that it was too late for us to visit the Lounge at night. But I met people, who were there every night until 2.30 am. separate lounge for cigar smokers. weather: The weather on a transatlantic crossing is a hot discussed topic on our German cruisers forum. Many questions arose, so I decided to write down the weather conditions every day. The First Officer told me, that we had an unusual course, different to normal crossings, almost in one line from east to west. If we would have left Tenerife two days later, we would have been facing a really bad storm. Here is my weather report: Barcelona - rain, 63 degrees; in the afternoon less cloudy and warmer Alicante - rain, 57 degrees; in the afternoon warmer up to 68 degrees Malaga - 48 degrees; in the afternoon 64 degrees Day at sea Malaga  Tenerife; sunny, 68 degrees, waves rising between 4- 6 Meters, rough seas Tenerife - sunny, 70 - 79 degrees, calm seas 1. day at sea- sunny 70 degrees, calm seas; 2. day at sea- sunny, 77 degrees, calm seas; 3. day at sea- fog, rain, 75 degrees, rough seas; 4. day at sea- in the morning sunny, 77 degrees; in the afternoon cloudy, calm sea; 5. day at sea- rain in the morning, in the afternoon sunny, 73 degrees, calm seas, strong winds (force 6); 6. day at sea- around 79 degrees, rough seas, again Wind force 6-7; Bahamas - warm, 75-79 degrees, during the night very rough sea due to crossing the gulf stream, wind force 8; 2 days at sea - warm, 75 degrees, windy, very calm seas, almost like a lake; I have to remark, that it was really windy at almost every day at sea. The worst part of the cruise was disembarkation. We were called ½ hour later than scheduled and had to wait outside the terminal for about 20 minutes because the terminal was overcrowded. After entering the terminal we had to pick- up our luggage, only very few porters were available and they only took the luggage of some groups. We stood in a long waiting line for about 1 hour, before we reached the US customs and Immigration booth. A very nice and friendly officer handled the immigration process in approximately 5 minutes, including fingerprints and photos both with and without our glasses on. But then we were confronted with the next lack in organisation. Torrential rain poured down with thunderstorms and floodings. There was not enough service staff present to help you with the transfers and to guide you to the right bus, which were even not allowed to stop in front of the Terminal whereas private cars could stop there. We got wet to our bones on our way from the Terminal to the Transfer bus. So we had to change all of our clothes when arriving at the Houston Airport. Even the luggage was completely wet, too. This was badly organised by RCCL. From our point of view there is not much to tell about our ports of call. In Alicante and Malaga we had a free Shuttle-Transfer to the city, because we docked far away from downtown. Because of the rain, we made only short sightseeing on our own. In the afternoon, when the sun came out in Alicante, we took a taxi to a Fortress with a wonderful panoramic view over the coast with its beaches and the port. We paid 20 Euros (about 24 $) for the whole trip with the four of us, 20 minutes waiting time for the driver at the Fortress included. After having a private walking tour in the center of Malaga, we took a taxi back to the ship. Cost was 6 Euros (7,20 $) Remark: there were almost no english speaking taxi drivers, in spite of the fact that we were asking for them. So communication was very difficult and I had to use my small knowledge of Spanish. In Tenerife we took the public bus number 103 nonstop from the port in Santa Cruz to Puerto de la Cruz. That was an advice by a member of the visitor information center. They were standing at the pier and provided information about Tenerife Island. So we rode in 45 minutes for a price of 1,90 Euro (2,30 $) one way. I can't imagine a cheaper way to get around the island. People who want to visit the famous Loro Parque (like a zoo, but famous for their parrots) have to pay an entrance fee of 33 Euros (40 $) for an adult and 19 Euros (23 $) for children. As the bus- stop was in quite a distance to the ship we took a taxi for our way back, costs: 6 Euros (7,20 $). Puerto de la Cruz is worth visiting, highlights are its black beaches (because of their sands of lava) and the artificial saltwater pools in the center of town close to the sea, well- known for their exceptional design. Bahamas - again we did a private tour, hiring a van and a driver for 2 ½ hours costs were 20 $ per person. Our driver showed us different sights of the island, different beaches and the famous Atlantis Hotel on Paradise Island. Our opinion about Nassau: One day is more than enough. The city center was too crowded (Splendour, Zenith, Sovereign, World, and Regal Empress were docked) and there is too much traffic. Besides it is too expensive, what is very important. If you take the advice of the cruise line for serious, that you can make a bargain here, it turns out as a lie, if you know the prices on some caribbean islands like St. Thomas and St. Maarten. The days at sea were very pleasant and really relaxing for us. We took part in only a very few activities, like the Crown & Anchor member wine-tasting-seminar, a roll- call- meeting with members of another board, a tour of the bridge and two visits of the arts & crafts activities, with handicrafts on the level of Kindergarten- kids due to my opinion. Every time we desired to sit outside in the sun we found deck chairs at our favourite place, or we found a nice place inside to relax or to read a book. Many conversations we had with many crew members were always interesting, from Asst. Waiters to different cooks up to the Executive Chef and the Captain. We met the Captain in a private atmosphere and not during the usual Captains Reception. We were very pleased and honoured being invited to the Captains Table. It was an interesting and informative dinner and not too formal. Captain Yngvar Knutsen took command of the Splendour in Barcelona when we came on board. He decided to become master of the Splendour, because he did not want to be Captain on any larger ship. Like many other RCCL-Captains he is from Norway also like the majority of his officers. He told us that the Splendour is scheduled for drydock in Lisbon after the transatlantic Crossing in may 2006 for 9 days, as it is usual almost every 5 years. Several exterior renovations are on the to- do- list and a complete renovation of the Windjammer Cafe. We heard from the Sous Chef, a nice guy from Holland, that the refurbishment will be done in the same style like they did it on the Legend of the Seas, the Splendour's older twin sister, the year before. Totally 547 inside cabins will be partly redecorated, like I wrote before. These redecorations will be done while cruising. Because of the Splendour's new itinerary next year departing from Venice, Italy they prepare themselves for another passenger mix, more German and italian guests. So they are changing a part of the Management. The hotel director Luis Acosta left the ship in Galveston, the cruise director Tim Seivert finishes his contract with RCCL in january and more responsible managers will be switching over from the Jewel of the Seas to the Splendour. Summary: A great and relaxing cruise for us. Besides, our first Transatlantic Crossing. We would love to repeat it, but this time on an Eastbound Crossing, to have minor problems with the time changes. We have set our clocks 7 times back, and then there was the flight back from Texas to Germany with 7 hours ahead time difference, causing a huge jet- lag. Important to know for some of you, that we had 3 formal nights. The appears were totally mixed ranging from evening gowns, smokings, dinner jackets (I even saw a swallowtail) to also nice suits or other beautiful combinations. My husband was dressed in dark grey with changing ties, correct due to my impression. On the other evenings, he never wore a jacket, a nice dress shirt instead, a vest and a nice slack (but no jeans) worked out well. For me I wore every evening something special like a nice pant or pantsuit combined with a chic shirt or blouse. I never felt underdressed. Those people, who didn´t like to dress up, had their dinner in the Windjammer-Cafe. I never saw someone dressed inappropriately in the Dining-Room. Because we knew in advance that the ship was not in a newly- like- condition any more, we were pleasantly surprised how good she appeared, especially compared with Celebrity's Zenith. But we have heard, that the Zenith has been into drydock and redecorated after our Southern Caribbean cruise in february 2005. The size of the Splendour was pleasant. You did not feel being together with 1.570 passengers. The ship was never overcrowded, in fact it was opposite and we always found a quiet place to relax. We never saw rude or drunken passengers, although we have never been around the ship in the late evening hours. Our latest was midnight and this was just for taking photographs of the Gala-Buffet. Only a few children were on board and they've never been bothering. Food was much better than on the Zenith in february this year, service was really good and we had no officious wine stewards. Considering it all in all it was a wonderful cruise, with many quiet moments, but also a lot of nice and interesting conversations with people from many different countries. Our personal summary for other cruisers: absolutely recommendable. During the winter season the Splendour is based in Galveston, making four or five day cruises to the western caribbean with ports of call like Cozumel. Exception is one cruise during christmas holidays, which lasts 10 days. On April 23th 2006 she will be departing for the Eastbound Transatlantic Crossing to Lisbon, Portugal. After drydock she will be cruising out of Venice, Italy weekly for 8 days. There are 2 weekly changing itineraries with the following ports of call: Piräus (Athens), Greece- Kusadasi (Ephesis), Turkey- Heraklion, Greece- Korfu, Greece or alternatively Piräus- Mykonos, Greece- Rhodos, Greece- Dubrovnik, Croatia. The captain told us, that the Westbound Crossing in fall 2006 will be very unusual. It will take 20 days, starting October 29th until november 17th 2006 with the following ports of call: Venice- Dubrovnik- Messina (Sicily), Italy- Barcelona, Spain- Alicante, Spain- Malaga, Spain- Teneriffa (Canary Islands), Spain- 6 days at sea- Bahamas- Key West- Galveston. Surely a very interesting cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
St Louis airport is quite easy to navigate for a newbie. Intermediate parking was $11 a day and was directly across from the main terminal. A shuttle was readily available for the swift trip to the terminal. I flew United and was quite ... Read More
St Louis airport is quite easy to navigate for a newbie. Intermediate parking was $11 a day and was directly across from the main terminal. A shuttle was readily available for the swift trip to the terminal. I flew United and was quite relieved to discover that my baggage would be checked all the way through to Barcelona (I had to switch planes twice and would switch airlines once). All my flights were on time except the 7:25am flight out of London. It departed 35 minutes late. Chicago and London airports were easy to navigate and they each had well marked signs. Barcelona airport was a different story. Everyone on the flight assumed that since we landed in Terminal A our luggage would go to Terminal A baggage claim. NOT! Always check the screens because once you enter a claim area, you have entered a secured area- you cant go back inside the terminal and you cant exit the claim area without having to reenter the general terminal. In short: you have to go through security. After four attempts at Spanish and 40 minutes, I finally found WHERE to go. Luckily most folks on my flight made the same mistake. Our luggage was later found in Terminal B. I found an ATM and withdrew 140 E as I waited for Beckys flight to arrive from Paris. I discovered I had to retrace my steps and go back to Terminal A. Once back at A, I waited about 35 minutes before she walked out of the baggage claim area. We hugged and immediately set outside to get in the taxi line. The line moved quickly and we were ushered into a cab within 2 minutes. Our driver didnt speak English, but we got to our destination, Hotel Regencia Colon. The taxi ride cost us 35 E. HOTEL: We paid $155 for a regular double sized room. The location was perfect! Its located in the heart of the gothic quarter directly across from the Cathedral. It is a short walk to La Ramblas. Bus Touristic has a stop nearby also. There are several restaurants across the street, including Cafe Bisbe which I give high marks. Pharmacy also nearby (and a Starbucks, but I refused to even consider that!) The room was small, typical European. There were two twins pushed together in our double room. The bath was small, compact with a narrow shower/tub combo and toilet & bidet. Dental kit, shampoo, bath milk, soaps, hairdryer were provided. Room had an AC thermometer but it didn't work, so no AC. Room was very warm during the day, but we opened the window at night which cooled our room to a comfortable level. Room was furnished appropriately but nothing to write home about. It seemed tired and in need of replacing. The lobby consisted of a reception area and lounge. The daytime front desk workers were not the most pleasant individuals, but they did speak English. The nighttime desk worker was very funny and very helpful. The elevator is very small and has a manual door. We were allowed to store our luggage during our check out day in the lobby. Overall, the hotel was fine for our needs- a place to rest our head after a transatlantic flight and a day full of sightseeing. We didn't spend much time in the room. BARCELONA: We arrived in Barcelona before noon on Friday, Oct 21. The weather was in the mid to upper 70s with clear blue skies. We checked into our hotel and immediately set out to discover Barcelona. We opted to use the Bus Touristic, a double decker hop on/hop off bus. Be aware that the live commentary is scripted and read in 3 languages (Spanish, English, and French). We had a difficult time understanding the English. It seems that all the narrators need a lesson or two in speaking English properly. In fact, the French commentary sounded very butchered too. But the convenience of hopping on and off made the bus well worth our 14 E per person. We got off to visit Sagrada Familia first. We noticed many beggars here- specifically women holding babies and rattling a tin cup. They worked the entrance line to Sagrada, hovering dangerously close to unsuspecting tourists. Be aware and dont take out your money in front of them. Entrance to Sagrada was 7 E with a coupon or 8E without one. An audio guide can be purchased inside for an extra 2 E. There is an elevator, for an additional 2 E, which takes you up one of the towers. The views are spectacular and I highly recommend paying the extra $. The only way out is by walking down the narrow stairway. Next, we hopped back on the bus and got off to visit Park Guell. We didnt spend much time here due to the quickly setting skies, but I would definitely recommend spending some time here. The views of Barcelona are beautiful! We rode the bus back to Cataluyna, and boy was this place buzzing! The sky was nearly completely dark and the I think this area was busier than times square! We walked back to our hotel to freshen up for dinner. We decided to eat nearby our hotel at Cafe Bisbe. I ordered Fish Paella followed by Profiteroles. We chose to eat inside since sunset brought cooler weather. Plus, this cafe charges an extra 20% to eat on the patio. After some melatonin, we called it a night. On day 2, we checked out by 10am and stored out luggage in the lobby. We walked across the street to visit the Cathedral de Barcelona (free to enter). Then we chose to do Frommers Bari Gothic walking tour which I dont recommend since it provides incorrect directions! However, we did enjoy walking around this area and seeing the sights listed on the tour. Plaça de Sant Just, Plaça del Rei , and Temple d'Augustus. We stopped and had an espresso and croissant for 1.30 E. After commencing the walking tour, we decided to stroll down La Ramblas to the sea. This area was lively with lots of shops, flower markets, and tourists. Back at our hotel, the front desk clerk called a taxi for us. The taxi ride was 25 E and dropped us off at the Splendour! Ahh! Embarkation was a breeze and within 10 minutes we were onboard. Our luggage was brought to our room within 30 minutes. We met our friendly stateroom steward, Javier, and decided to check out the ship. We grabbed some lunch in the Windjammer and celebrated with the drink of the day ($4.25). The muster drill began at 5:30 and ended at 5:45. We had the 1st Late dining time (8:45pm). Our waiter was Enrique (from Chile), our waiter assistant was Ivana (from Poland), and our head waiter was a lovely man from India. Our dinner lasted until 11:10pm, but our waiter apologized saying it was his first night back from a 3 month long break. After dinner we sit at the Champagne bar and listen to live music as we sip martinis. We then head up to the Viking Crown Lounge to finish our strong drinks and people watch. We get in bed around 1:30am. MARSEILLE: We awake at 7am by the humming of the ship docking. The sky is dark and cloudy; I decided to pack my umbrella in my purse. The Splendour docks in an industrial area and walking to town is not an option. RCI offers a shuttle to Marseille for $5 per person, per ride. The shuttle drops passengers off at Vieux Port, the heart of Marseille. It began to pour buckets of rain during our drive to the port and it did not let up until lunchtime. The Splendour docked in Marseille on a Sunday, so many of the cafes and shops were closed. However, there is plenty to do and see despite this fact. The old harbor is very beautiful as it is filled with beautiful yachts and fishing boats. There was a fish market that morning, so the locals were out and about despite the weather and a local bus/train strike. We began our morning by walking down to the Abbey of Saint-Victor (open daily from 8am-7pm, free admission). The cruise ship provides a map of Marseille in the Compass, but the Office of Tourism (near the shuttle drop off) can also provide one. We arrived during Mass, so we waited outside for a few minutes until it let out at 10am. The structure dates back to the 5th century and the crypts date back to the 3rd and 4th century. By request, you can gain entry to the crypts for 2 E. We then walked to nearby Bas Fort Saint-Nicolas but it suddenly began to monsoon. We were soaked, despite an umbrella, and feeling quite miserable so we walked back to the Vieux Port to catch the Petit Train (5 E per person). The train has 2 itineraries with running commentary, Notre Dame De La Garde and Old Marseille. The Notre Dame is the highest point in the city and offers panoramic views, so this itinerary is popular and well-worth the 5 E. You can hop off at the top to view the cathedral (but be sure to save your Petit Train ticket so you can hop on the next train). The rain, by now, had stopped and the views of Marseille and the sea were spectacular! After returning to Vieux Port, we chose a cafe for lunch. We had ravioli stuffed with white cheese served with tomato and basil. With 2 glasses of vin rouge, the price comes to 32 E for both of us. Later in the afternoon we opted to take the Old Marseille Petit Train (runs less frequently, no hopping off, 5E). When the tour finished, it was time to head back to the ship. We took the RCI shuttle. VILLEFRANCHE (visited Monaco & Eze Village): This port of call is a tender port. We did not experience lines getting off the Splendour nor getting back on. The tender drops guests off at a picturesque harbor. The harbor is lined with cafes and quaint little shops. This port was the most beautiful of our trip. We walked along the harbor to the train station, a leisurely 10 minute walk. When you get to the stone wall, look left for a hidden staircase. A small, blue SNCF points you in the correct direction. You can buy train tix at a billet machine or from the ticket counter (which I did). The train to Monaco leaves on the 45 of the hour, every hour. Be sure to validate your ticket in the yellow machine, or you could be fined a hefty amount if caught without a validated ticket. The train was on time & it whisked us away to Monaco/Monte Carlo. In Monaco, follow the signs that say Sortie. We went up an escalator, then an elevator, then another escalator before we saw the sunshine of Monte Carlo. Walk right, out of the train station following the road. Its best to have a map since the winding roads of this town are very confusing. We followed the road until we saw a pedestrian staircase on the left. This stair case brought us to Av. Du Port, near the foot of Monaco. You can walk up to Monaco, or take the #1 or #2 bus at the Place DArmes bus stop (1.45 E fare). The drive is short and sweet and dead ends at the top of Monaco. Monaco is a small, walkable area. We went to the Monaco Cathedral (free admission) located at 4 rue Colonel Bellando de Castro. Here we saw the final resting places of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier. Next, we got in position for the 11:55 changing of the guards. The best position is near the entrance of the palace (where all the action takes place) and not the aisle. The ceremony is brief and lasts approximately 5 minutes. Following the ceremony, we walked over to the Princes Palace to see the State Apartments (6 E for audio guide). The tour lasts 30 minutes. Please note that there are free public restrooms on the far end of Monaco near the Aquarium. Bring your own toilet paper. After seeing Monaco, I planned to visit Eze Village (different from Eze Sur Mer). You must take a bus, not a train to this medieval village perched high above the sea. Bus 112 is the bus you need if youre coming from Monte Carlo. This bus stops at La Cremaillere stop (near the casino) irregularly (8:00, 9:45, 11:25, 1:20, 3:15, 5:05, 7:00). We caught the 1:20 bus, but discovered the bus driver did not speak English. So, we momentarily had a bit of a problem about how much the fare was . . . alas we worked it out and we were on our way to Eze. The drive took about 10 minutes and the hairpin turns up to Eze were a bit nerve racking, but the scenery outside the window was amazing. The bus stops directly in front of the village. There is a public bathroom at the entrance for a small fee. Eze consists of small roads, archways, stone houses, and arts/crafts boutiques. We dined on crepes and wine at a cafe before exploring the cobblestone streets of Eze. We stopped at the spice market and Fragonard, a perfume shop, before leaving Eze. We chose to hike down the Nietzche path to the train station. The hike offers splendid views and should not be missed (unless you are physically unfit or afraid of heights). It took us 45 minutes to reach Eze Sur Mer. The small train station is directly across the road and Villefranche is about 3 stops away. The train station is small with two tracks. With the help of our Cruise Critic friend Billy we were able to figure out the Billet Machine- unfortunately the train was 20 minutes late and packed with commuters. We had to run down the track, trying to find a car with enough room for the 2 of us. It wasnt wasy and the French kept telling us there was no room (or at least, thats what I figured they were saying!). The warning bell sounded, so we jumped into the nearest car and pushed our bodies in. The doors shut, or tried to shut but couldnt. Our departure was delayed as the doors attempted to reshut. Finally we were off! The next two stops were nightmares as more passengers tried to cram in the train. By the time the train pulled up to Villefranche, I had a French mans arm wrapped around me, holding me up and Becky wasnt visible. It was a battle trying to exit the train, but we survived. We chose to sip on red wine and watch the sun set at the cafe directly next to the tendering terminal. By the time we were on the tendering boat, the sky was black. We were able to snap some beautiful photos of the Splendour lit up in all her glory. LIVORNO:We purchased the Historical Florence & Accademia Museum tour ($142pp) Description: This full day tour will give you the opportunity to visit one of the most famous cities in the world, Florence. The tour combines the important sites within the city including Ponte Vecchio, Church of Sante Croce and the Accademia Museum. In Florence, you will begin your walking tour through the city visiting the Accademia Museum to view one of Michelangelo's most treasured creations, the statue of "David." Having survived the outdoor elements of Signoria Square, the magnificent sculpture was moved inside the museum in 1873, where it remains today. Also on display in the museum are paintings by Botticelli, Daddi and Raphael. You'll stop at Cathedral Square to view the Duomo, the Baptistery and Giotto's Bell Tower, which date back to the 14th century. Your tour will continue to Signoria Square to view a copy of the statue of "David" before arriving at a local restaurant. An authentic Florentine lunch will be served. After lunch, you will pause to the nearest point to view the elegant Ponte Vecchio. Meaning "old bridge," the Ponte Vecchio dates back to 1345, when it was built to replace a bridge that was swept away by a horrible flood. Today, the bridge is visited by many tourists, and is home to gold and jewelry vendors. You'll visit the Church of Santa Croce, known as Italy's Westminster Abbey for the Italian monarchy buried there. Its 14th century interior is one of the finest examples of Florentine Gothic decoration. Afterwards, you will have limited time at leisure to explore and shop. Drive to Piazzale Michelangelo for a panoramic view over the city with the Ponte Vecchio crossing the Arno River. We awoke to a cool morning with heavy fog. Luckily, it warmed up to blue skies and moderate temperatures. Our RCI tour bus had 45 cruisers onboard. It was a mix of old and mid-aged and a few young. Ignazio was our tour guide for the day and he spoke English quite well. We were each given a radio and 1 ear piece to wear for the day since Ignazio spoke into a microphone. The contraption was painful and I could never get the ear piece to stay in my ear. The Accademia line lasted about 30 minutes, then we were able to cut in front of the others waiting in the same line. We had to pass through a metal detector upon entry. Unfortunately, we only saw the front hallway featuring Michael Angelos work. Then, it was the David. WOW! It was larger than life and so beautiful. After viewing the David, we were immediately ushered out unless we wanted to purchase souvenirs at the gift shop. I bought two photos of the David since photography was not allowed. Next we walked to the Duomo. This place was packed with tour groups, tourists, and pickpockets. Ignazio pointed out some fake tourists who were actually pickpockets in disguise. The area was shoulder to shoulder with people so I felt very unsafe and held my purse and camera close to my person. Next we walked to Signoria Square to view the fake David along with other statues. There were LOTS of people selling fake Louis Vuitton purses and suitcases here. Next, we walked over to peer at the Ponte Vecchio bridge. Then, it was lunch. This was the most enjoyable part of this tour! We were served a yummy 3 course lunch served at Tirovino (www.tirovino.com). After lunch we went inside the Santa Croce church followed by 1 hour of free time. Overall, I didnt enjoy Florence. I blame the tour. There were approximately 45 people on this tour so just the sheer size of the group limited our sightseeing. We constantly had to wait for everyone since the streets in Florence are narrow and often require people to walk in single line formation. We also walked by the sites, except the Church of Santa Croce. I slept on the bus during the 1 ½ hour drive back to the ship. Civitachecchia: We hired, along with 4 others from Cruise Critic, Claudio from Limo in Rome for a full day tour of Rome. Description: This excursion is dedicated to discover Rome, the Eternal City."Your driver-guide or I will pick you up at the ship to start your tour. Enjoy a leisurely 1.5 hour drive through the Etruscan countryside straight to Piazza Venezia, the main square of the City. Start by exploring the Rome of the Emperors. Stops will be made at the Roman Forum, the Colosseum and the Mouth of Truth. Then take a panoramic drive past the Circus Maximus, the Palatine Hill and the Baths of Caracalla. Spend a half hour exploring the Catacombs with a guide on the Ancient Appian Way, 3 miles from the ancient walls. Back in the heart of Rome, stop for a visit inside the Pantheon, the best conserved monument of Ancient Rome as well as the nearby Santa Maria Sopra Minerva housing Michelangelo's "Risen Christ" . You can stop for an optional lunch and enjoy traditional Italian cuisine. Continue with a stroll through Baroque and Renaissance Rome: from piazza Navona through the narrow streets of Antiques Row to Campo de Fiori and Piazza Farnese. See Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, Capitol Hill and Piazza del Popolo. Stroll through the narrow streets admiring statues, fountains and discovering curiosities. Your tour continues with a drive to St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel (2/3 hours private guided tour is available). If you are particularly interested in art and architecture, the tour can be tailored to include masterpieces by Michelangelo or Raphael, Bernini or Caravaggio in various churches, time permitting. Your tour ends with a return transfer back to the ship." Claudio was waiting for us at 8am at the pier. The six of us comfortably sat in his VW 8 passenger mini bus for the drive to Rome. Claudio drove us by the thermal baths of Caracalla before heading to our first stop, the Roman Forum. Claudio parked directly in front of the entrance. The six Claudio gave us a brief commentary about the buildings. Then we drove to the Colosseum and got out for a 15 minute photo session (we opted not to wait in the 1+ hour line). Next, we drove to the Panthenon followed by a potty break at a McDonalds. I was surprised to see the fast food chain was packed (with locals and tourists alike). Afterward we were dropped off near the Trevi Fountain for a 15 minute photo op. The fountain was very crowded with tourists and vendors. Claudio warned us about pickpockets here. Becky and I snapped photos of the fountain and posed for photos. Yes, we both threw in a coin guaranteeing our return to Rome. We hopped back into the van and were whisked off to the Spanish Steps for a 20 minute photo op. The area was buzzing with tourists, but we didnt mind. It felt wonderful to sit and soak up the warm rays. Across the street from the steps are all the wonderful, high-end shops like Gucci. We couldnt resist . . . we walked over and browsed inside for the rest of our allotted time. Then the 6 of us, none of which bought anything, headed over to Campo Fiori for our lunch break. We had an hour to walk the market and grab a bite to eat. Becky and I both bought a slice of pizza wrapped in paper. We walked while we ate, eyeing the Gelato shops. We found a seat on the edge of a fountain near a beautiful flower booth. The birds hopped around us, hoping for a bite. They got lucky because the last bite of my pizza slipped through the newspaper. Ah, shucks! Unfortunately, I was full from my feast, but Becky had saved some room in her stomach for Gelato. After snapping some photos and after Becky had finished her ice cream, we met back up with our group and Claudio. Off to Vatican City!! Here we met up with our lovely historian tour guide. For the next 3 hours, she led us through the museum, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peters Basilica. The highlight, for me, was the Sistine Chapel. Guards shouted every 1-2 minutes BE QUIET! as tourists are told to enter in silence. Of course, who can do that?! So the constant shouting kinda ruined the moment. Oh well! After NAPLES We overslept this morning (still worn out from Rome), so our time was limited. We exited the terminal to see another beautiful, cloudless day. We had a map and decided to attempt the walk to the Circumvesuviana train station. We were hollered at by the sleazy looking cab drivers who shouted Bella, but we ignored them and continued waking. Well, we got lost. We discovered that we were all alone among locals. We retraced our steps and luckily did find an English family who knew where they were going. So, we followed them and finally found our way. The walk took us a long time, definitely 30 minutes. When you enter the station, you walk down a flight of stairs to the ticket windows. Dont use turnstiles opposite counter, but go down the corridor to the turnstile at end. Follow signs or just follow the stray dogs. We followed a dog, who didnt have a ticket to get through the turnstile I might add. He then proceeded to chase the trains as they entered and departured the platforms. He knocked some people over . . . luckily he didnt know them into the tracks. Get off at Pompeii Scavi stop. The train ride takes approximately 40 minutes but we were entertained by impoverished Italians playing bizarre instruments and begging for coins. Pompeii opens at 8:30 and admission 10 E . You can hire a guide outside of the gates for an additional amount. We had a limited amount of time so we didnt hire a guide nor did we rent the audio guide. After quickly seeing a small portion of Pompeii (its HUGE and you really need a whole day here), we decided to go to Sorrento (we still needed to buy some souvenirs). Take the train to the last stop, Sorrento. Sorrento was a charming little town. We walked the pedestrian streets lined with wine shops, ceramic shops, typical tourist trap shops, and limoncello shops. We walked into Limonoro, a shop that sells its own version of the lemon liquor. They sell the stuff in a variety of funky bottles. In addition, they sell chocolate, candies and olive oil. We had pizza at a small little café/deli. We walked up to view the pizza behind the counter and a young Italian man walked up to us and attempted to explain, in English, the varieties of pizza they had. He was quite charming and offered us champagne (for free). I ate and drank everything put in front of me. Later we walked down to the sea to buy our 4:30 hydrofoil tickets. We dined on gelato and wine at a seaside café before boarding our vessel back to the Splendour. DAY AT SEA: We were quite sad that our hours were limited. Our adventure had come to an end. Becky spent the day at the pool and I spent it at the art auction sipping my free champagne. We had a small get-together at the Viking Crown Lounge with those we met from Cruise Critic. It was nice to reminisce and to meet those from the online boards that we had not had a chance to meet yet. We were sad to leave the ship. I had a 11:25am flight so I signed up for early departure from the ship. Everyone had to be out of their rooms by 7:00am (not 8am like many previous Caribbean cruises)!! I was given beige tags, the first group to be called, and I was told the first group would be announced at 7:20am. And guess what? Everything was on time. Beige was called and I immediately proceeded to get my luggage. I was outside and in a taxi by 7:35 and at the airport by 8am! HOWEVER, it took me 2 hours to check in. The lines at Barcelona airport were HUGE! By the time I was checked in and thru security, I only had 1 hour before my scheduled departure. My flight was an Iberia flight but operated by British Airways. The flights were uneventful, but I didnt get home until late at night. A bottle of limoncello, intended for my brother as a Christmas gift, broke in my suitcase. Otherwise, everything arrived in sound condition. In conclusion, this cruise was AMAZING! Becky was a wonderful travel partner. Since we have similar interests, we were able to make the most of our trip. We booked the cruise 1 year in advance (taking advantage of the amazing early-bird pricing) and immediately began planning. She was in charge of planning our days in Barcelona, Marseille, and Rome. I was in charge of Villefranche, Florence, and Naples. It worked out perfectly and I wouldn't change a thing. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
The Ship: My sister and I shared an interior stateroom on deck 6 (6583). My parents had an oceanview on deck 3 (3000). Our stateroom was really comfortable and we hardly missed the window, except it was a little hard to get up in the ... Read More
The Ship: My sister and I shared an interior stateroom on deck 6 (6583). My parents had an oceanview on deck 3 (3000). Our stateroom was really comfortable and we hardly missed the window, except it was a little hard to get up in the morning without seeing any sun. Our room was larger than we had anticipated so we were pleasantly surprised. There is also lots of storage space in the closet, drawers, under the beds, even in the bathroom. Im not a frequent cruiser so I cant really comment on how the ship compares to others (our last cruise was in 2000 on the Viking Serenade). It did not look old at all to me, but it did not look brand new either. Service: We had a wonderful stateroom attendant, Jairo. He was really jolly and always left our room spotless. We loved the towel animals too! The service onboard the ship was extremely friendly all around. We loved the waiter we had on the first night but they changed him after one night. The dining staff always seemed to be trying their best and working so hard at it, and while it wasnt what I would call 5-star service, it was competent and efficient. Food: The food in the dining room was just okay on most nights. Im picky about the types of food I eat and the cleanliness but am not that hard to please. I enjoy eating but not in huge quantities, and I didnt book the cruise because of the food. Most nights I found the food adequate, never terrible, but nothing to rave about either. Some exceptions were the pork chops, the lamb chops we had the night the ship sailed from Rome and the lobster on the night we sailed from Naples. The lobster was rather small, but the waitress got our tablemate an extra order. We often ate in the Windjammer for breakfast and the selection was pretty good. Despite the large number of people, the staff kept it reasonably neat. One night we also had dinner there, which was more relaxing than dressing up and eating in the dining room. On the last day we also took advantage of the pizza and burgers at the solarium. Again, while they didnt taste fantastic, they werent horrible either. Ports of Call/Shore Excursions Marseille: We wanted to take a taxi to the bus station to catch the bus to Aix-En-Provence. The taxi driver pretended not to understand my French (I know he did because later on he was already conversing with me). Anyway, they strong-armed us into the taking the taxi all the way to Aix for a fixed rate of 50E one way. This isnt bad at all since we didnt have to walk anymore nor wait for the bus, and especially if we had gotten others to share the taxi with us (it could fit 6). He dropped us off at the rotunda at 10:45. We attended mass at Eglise de la Madeleine at 11:00 and did a little souvenir shopping along the Cours Mirabeau. Because it was Sunday there wasnt much to do. We didnt see the bus that went to the Atelier Cezanne, in fact we only saw 2 buses the whole time we were there. We decided to walk to the bus station to go back to Marseille. Its about a 5 minute walk from the main rotonde. The bus comes about every 5  10 minutes and stops in front of Quai # 1. Its blue and clearly marked. However, when we got to the bus station in Marseille there were no cabs to be found. Because we didnt plan on going around Marseille, we didnt have a good map of the city  only holding the RCCL provided map which did not show where the bus station was so we could not figure out where we were in relation to the ship shuttle that goes to Vieux Port. Anyway, we waited about 10 minutes before we saw a cab  the driver was actually on his day off and was bringing his son to the bus station to send him back to his mother. He told us if we could wait for him about 20 minutes until the bus left he would drive us but if we found another taxi before then we should take it. Well, we didnt see any other cab at all so after his son left, he drove us to the cruise terminal with his girlfriend sitting in the front seat. They were both very nice and spoke great English. At the dock they have a couple of souvenir stands where we were able to do a lot of shopping. They had lavender soaps and sachets and Herbes de Provence. They were very reasonably priced and made great gifts to take back home. Villefrance-Sur-Mer: The ship was tendered today so we had to line up and take tender boats. We made our way to the train station (from the tourist office turn right and just walk along the water until you see the SNCF sign on the stone wall to your left). They have a special ticket for cruisers RT Villefranche-Monaco or Villefranche-Nice. As we got off in Monaco we took the exit on the right side of the station and walked down where we saw the bus stop of Place Sainte Devote. Before your trip, write to the tourist office of Monaco and request for a map. They send a great one which is very informative about the bus routes and is also a very accurate and easy to read street map. We caught the #2 bus to go to Monaco Ville and bought the tourist day pass from the driver. I think it is good for 8 rides which is more than enough. We got down in Monaco Ville, right in front of the Chocolaterie de Monaco. Of course we had to go inside and take a look. They had some wonderful and delicious looking chocolate (also quite expensive). We just bought a box of 4 small pieces. We walked down the street on the left of the Chocolaterie making our way down to the Palace. We got there just in time for the changing of the guard. I barely saw anything though since everyone had staked out their place earlier and they were all taller than me! I still got a beautiful view of the sea and the mountains at the lookout point to the right of the palace. From the palace it was a short walk to the Cathedral. With your back facing the palace, I believe it is down the rightmost street. Spent some time at the Cathedral then walked down past the aquarium and the small tourist train station to go back to the bus stop and catch the bus to the Casino. At the casino we took a few pictures but all the restaurants looked expensive so we decided to catch another bus and head to the Fontevielle commercial center. There was a McDonalds but I refused to eat there because I was not going to Europe to eat food I could easily get back home. We happened upon a stand serving pastas in the courtyard. It was really cheap and although I saw that it was just heated up frozen food, it tasted pretty good. At around 3pm we took another bus. I asked the driver if there was indeed bus service to Nice and he told us there was and to catch it at Place Sainte Devote, the bus stop outside the train station. The driver took us another route so we were able to see another part of Monaco. We were glad we decided not to pay the 6 E each for the small tourist train because taking the bus was much cheaper and we got to go all over. We waited at Place Sainte Devote for about 10 minutes for the bus. We saw a #100 bus but the driver didnt allow us to get on. It turns out that when the #100 bus stops there with a Monaco sign on the front it is dropping off passengers from Nice on the way to the last stop. After another 5 minutes we saw the #100 bus with a Nice sign and got on. The ride to Nice went through the winding mountains with great views. At Nice, we got off at the Le Port stop by the water. Stopped at another chocolate place called Confisserie Florian. You can tour the workshop and watch them make the chocolate before going upstairs to buy some of the chocolates. Most were quite pricey but I did buy chocolate covered caramelized orange slices which were heavenly! By this time my Dad was already tired and quite antsy to get back to the ship so we did not get to walk all the way to the Promenade des Anglais. We found a taxi stand and took a taxi back to Villefranche. Florence: We booked a tour with Tuscany By Taxi for today with Ricardo as our driver, sharing with a couple we met on Cruise Critic. The 6 of us fit comfortably in the van. It was a holiday (Nov. 1) so there was no traffic. We got to Florence in about an hour. We first stopped at Piazzale Michelangelo for great views of the city. After Piazzale Michelangelo we drove down into the center and stopped at Santa Croce square to see the church. Because it was All Saints Day we could only stay at the back part of the church since there was mass going on. Found small jewelry or pill boxes with Florentine designs at a souvenir stall. 2 E each or 5 pieces for 8 E. I also found nice postcards for 0.25 E each. Got one of the interior of Santa Croce since it was too dark to take good photos (the guard told us no flash allowed). We told Ricardo that we had reservations for the Accademia at 11am. He drove us through the city and showed us the meeting place  Piazza della Republica  before going to the Accademia. He parked on the street and came with us to the entrance. It was pretty chaotic outside even by the side marked for those with reservations. We still had to wait about 10 minutes to get in. I think they only let a limited number of people inside at a time. Spent about an hour in the Accademia. Its not that big so you get to see everything. The statue of David is amazing and a must-see! Its really the work of a genius. They also have good and free restrooms so use them here if you need to. As we exited the Accademia we saw the line for those without reservations  it was a few blocks long. If you are in Florence on a cruise, I suggest calling ahead and getting reservations or else youll spend the whole day in line. There is also a photo store across the entrance to the Accademia. They had a sign that says they transfer photos from memory cards to CDs in half an hour. Since you cant take photos inside the Accademia anyway, you can give them your memory card, go into the museum and pick up the CD when you are done. I didnt do this but I regretted that I didnt when I found out later that night how much it cost on the ship! Anyway, once you exit the Accademia turn left and walk straight down and youll hit The Duomo. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant near the Duomo  Bucca Nicolini. After lunch we lined up for the Duomo. We thought it would take long but it moved really quickly. Spent about half an hour inside. They have audio guide booths that you drop 1 E in and two people can listen to it at the same time. We found this to be a pretty good deal. As we exited the Duomo it started pouring! This was the only time in the two weeks we were in Europe that it rained. We had smartly left our umbrellas in the taxi so we waited it out at the doorway to the Duomo. It stopped after about 10 minutes. We crossed the street and looked at the baptistery doors then walked down the road between the Duomo and the baptistery toward Piazza Signoria where we took some great photos. The Florence tourist office also mails out a great map if you ask them. And while things looked far from each other on the map, they are not. Its so easy to walk around Florence, probably much quicker than taking a taxi or bus since a lot of zones are pedestrian-only ones. Left Florence at 3:30 pm and drove for about an hour to Pisa. The others are right  there is not much to see or do in Pisa aside from the leaning tower. We missed going into the church but took some photos of the outside. There were only a few people lined up to climb the tower but I didnt know how long it would take and we only had 30 minutes in Pisa. We left Pisa at 5:15pm and made it back to the ship before 6pm. Rome: We left the ship at 7:30am and caught the free port shuttle. It says Navetta Gratuita on the front. We bought a BIRG ticket for 9E that includes RT train, and unlimited metro and buses. Dont forget to validate it in the yellow boxes before riding. No one actually came through to check our tickets though. We caught the 8:12 train. If you plan on visiting the Vatican, get off in Roma San Pietro  its about another 10 minutes maybe from Roma San Pietro to Roma Termini and youll be closer to the Vatican from the San Pietro station. We got to Termini around 9:40. Termini is really huge. If you want to go out of the main entrance to Termini, from where the train stops go straight until you reach the main gallery, dont go down the stairs nearest to the platform, although that will take you to where all the taxis wait. We had hired a driver to meet us in Termini and take us around for the day. We asked her to take us straight to the Vatican so we could line up for the museums. I had faxed for a reservation a month before but did not get any reply (actually they had e-mailed me my reservation after I had already left home but I did not get to check my mail until the ships day at sea  I hope my name doesnt get put on some blacklist since I didnt show up for the reserved guided tour). The line was several blocks long so we spent another 20 minutes arguing whether or not line up. Talk about how to waste your time in Rome. Finally at 11am we decided to give it a shot and fell in line. We made it to the entrance in about 30-40 minutes. Turns out the line is actually just to x-ray the bags. Buying tickets once you are inside is no problem. Since it was already November, the museum closes at 1:45pm so we cruised through the museum to get to the Sistine chapel, which is what we really wanted to see. We did stop at the Raphael rooms though. Its a really long walk to the Sistine chapel from the entrance  it took us a good 40 minutes maybe. We spent about 15 minutes in the chapel. I saw the exit that leads to St. Peters Basilica that is supposed to be reserved for guides However, it was still closed since the Basilica itself was not yet open We later regretted not waiting for it to open because we spent another hour in St. Peters square lining up for the Basilica versus waiting maybe 20 minutes for that exit to open. Our guide drove us to St. Peters Square where we lined up for the Basilica. This line seemed to take much longer and was much much more disorganized than the line for the museums. The line is also the x-ray the bags. People cut in line on more than one occasion. We even saw a guide from one of the ship tours from the Millennium even tell off some of those people in Italian but they didnt seem to care. People were pushing and squeezing like crazy. We were glad we got in line when we did though because after about 20 minutes, the line grew exponentially with all the tour groups coming in after lunch. We finally made it into the Basilica. Its really amazing. However, I expected I would be able to sit and pray for awhile but because there are a lot of people, it is not exactly quiet inside. They also remove all the benches except for the ones in front and its closed off to the public. We spent about half an hour inside. After the Vatican we went to Piazza Navona where we ate lunch in one of the cafes. From Piazza Navona we dashed to the Pantheon and had a quick look inside. There are lots of people but thankfully no line and no admission fee. Our guide then drove us to the Fontana di Trevi, through lots of traffic. Its probably better to walk since on the map, the Pantheon and Fontana dont look too far away. We dashed to the fountain took a few quick pictures and tossed the coins over our shoulders. We were there for only about 5 minutes, maybe less. By now it was already 4pm. The train back to Civitavecchia left at 4:35. No time to see the Spanish Steps and the Colosseo. We got to Termini at 4:20. Its a long walk from the entrance to the platform (I think its #27). We ran almost all the way and made it, out of breath but with about 5 minutes to spare. At least we got seats on the train. Saw a couple of other cruisers barely make it. I think they stood all the way to Civitavecchia. The trains in Italy do not have a list of stops posted inside the train, nor are there any announcements about which stop is next. While Civitavecchia is logically the last stop, I still wanted to make sure. You can barely see the station names as you are pulling in since it was already dark. If you are unsure just ask the other people on the train. Better safe than sorry. Once we got off in Civitavecchia, we bought some things at the convenience store at the station before walking back to the port gates for the free shuttle. Made it back to the Splendour around 6:15. Naples: For this tour, I booked Giovanni Lerusce based on the recommendations I got from Cruise Critic. We again shared this tour with a couple we met on Cruise Critic. Anyway, when we got off the ship, Giovanni was already waiting for us with his absolutely lovely Mercedes van. We all kept complimenting his van that I think at one point he was already embarrassed. The 6 of us fit comfortably inside. We drove to Pompeii first, catching a glimpse of the infamous traffic on the other side of the highway. It did look terrible and Im so used to horrible traffic back home. It was a beautiful clear day, not a cloud in the sky so we had great views of Vesuvius. We arrived at Pompeii just after it opened at 8:45 am. We saw a lot of guides gathering groups but we decided earlier that we were comfortable exploring on our own. We rented one audio guide and grabbed some of the free maps. We all enjoyed Pompeii. It was really cool to imagine the people living there 2,000 years ago. It is rather difficult for older people to walk around though because the paths are stony and uneven. We saw an elderly gentleman on what I think was a shore excursion lose his footing and fall. I think he hit the side of his head but he got up and seemed ok, especially for someone his age. I hope he had nothing more than bruises. We did not make it to the amphitheater because it was too far from the entrance we used (Port Marina entrance). We did see highlights like the baths and the house of the faun though. At 10:45 we met Giovanni outside the entrance. We also bought some orange granitas in the stand while waiting for him. They were delicious! Giovanni said that there was a protest going on the road to the Amalfi coast so he would take us through the back way through the mountains, first stopping at Ravello. Half-way up, we stopped at a lookout point to take some photos and get a nice view of the Bay of Salerno. In Ravello, we visited the church of San Pantaleone, an old church from the 11th century where the saints blood miraculously liquefies each year during his feast day. We bought some souvenirs and paid 0.50E to use the bathroom at the bottom of the stairs on the left side of the square. At least it was a clean and well-supplied bathroom. We walked into the Ravello tourist office who told us the best place to eat was Villa Maria, at the top of the town. It was about a 5-10 minute walk up the mountain on paved roads/stairways but quite difficult to get to still. The place was beautiful though. It had a great view and fantastic pasta and risotto, probably the best meal we had on the whole trip. It took longer than we anticipated though including the walk up and down the mountain. After Ravello, we then made our way to Amalfi where Giovanni had to make some tricky moves on the narrow road when we came face to face with a large truck. He is a good and safe driver so we werent nervous at all. In Amalfi he dropped us off near the parking area by the beach. We bought some gelato for 2E per cup, took some photos and went into the main square where we bought some limoncello to take home. They had small bottles in funky glass containers shaped like guitars or shoes for only 2.5E. The church was closed so we took photos from the outside and stopped to buy some souvenir dishtowels (also 2.5E each). We spent about half an hour in Amalfi but it wouldve been nicer to get to explore a little bit more. After Amalfi we drove through Praiano on the way to Positano. Giovanni parked along the main road and we had to walk down to the village. We only had 30 minutes and after taking some pictures of the great view, we only had enough time to walk down, browse in a few shops then walk back up the steep road. We did not even go all the way down. It wouldve been nice to spend some more time here as well. The view here was fantastic! By the time we got back to the car Giovanni said it was time to make our way back to Napoli. It seemed pretty early to me but of course we did not want to get stuck in traffic. We didnt go to Sorrento but we caught a glimpse of it from the road. It seems to be a bigger town than the others we visited. We also drove through Castellamare di Stabia and Giovanni pointed out the gates of his house to us. We did not hit any traffic on the way back to Naples. We were back on the ship at 5pm. The Amalfi coast is so beautiful and the towns all so charming. It was rather relaxing compared to the harried pace we had in Florence and Rome where there is so much to see. It was a nice change to just ride along and enjoy the scenery. Summary: The whole family enjoyed this cruise immensely. Yes, it was very tiring, but it was also a great way to see many different places in a short amount of time. My parents found it stressful worrying about whether we would get left behind by the ship every day and also didnt enjoy constantly having to figure out what bus to take or where we were going. For people who are like my parents, perhaps an itinerary of ship-sponsored tours would have been more appropriate. As for myself, I like the independent sightseeing. The private tours were wonderful though, and quite economical if shared with Cruise Critic friends. I wouldnt mind going on the same itinerary again on the same ship. This cruise is good value for money, especially, if like me, you are in Europe for the first time. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
I was looking forward to this cruise. This is my 30+ cruise and first time on Royal Caribbean, and most likely my last. All I can say is I was thrilled with my excursions and I did book them through the line and yes it was expensive but I ... Read More
I was looking forward to this cruise. This is my 30+ cruise and first time on Royal Caribbean, and most likely my last. All I can say is I was thrilled with my excursions and I did book them through the line and yes it was expensive but I didn't care about the cost. The ship was nice even though it was older than most. However, the food was terrible, I mean the breakfasts were just down right bad. There is no food available when you come back to the ship from your excursion unless you go upstairs and get some more bad food. I asked for a cheeseburger and they gave me a hamburger, with what looked like lettuce and tomato on a hard stale bun. oh and they hand you the cheese its not even on the burger. It tasted so bad, the hot dogs were not cooked and the pizza has seen better days in a box. I have been on Carnival, Celebrity, Norwegian, Cunard, and Disney and never have I tasted food like this. on Royal Caribbean..either the food was well done, no flavor, or just bad. The people on the ship were pleasant. The coffee was water down and no flavor, but you could get good coffee if you wanted to pay for it. And if you want ice cream, yes you have to pay extra for that too. I was shocked that they nickle and dime you to death.......and make sure you don't laugh.......we went upstairs and one of the rooms stated this was quiet time, no talking from 2-6. I just laughed to see no one there but someone putting ash trays around, and yes, there is a lot of smoking allowed on the ship. One side is for smoking and the other for non, this is in all clubs, bars inside and outside. I feel bad for the people who never went on a cruse before. I just came back from a cruise on the Carnival Valor, nice cruise and I am going on the Norwegian Spirit in three months. Please if you just want to see Europe, and only have a short time you may want to pick another line. I am planning on going back to Europe next year on a cruise but not on this line. Royal Caribbean, you need to spend some time on other lines, you may not be a food ship but you have to have food that people can eat. I lost 8 lbs on this cruise and never have I been so unhappy with a cruise like this one. I need to start my day with a good cup of coffee, but not for $3.00 a cup. Oh and all they have is art auctions, in fact they had 3 or 4 of them. How boring, no fun....if you are old at heart and do not enjoy laughing or just like sitting around on a ship and you don't enjoy good food, then this is your ship. If you want to enjoy every moment go on Carnival, Norwegian, or any other line.......this is below my standards, and hey what do I know, I have only been going on cruises since 1985 and this has been my worst....... Oh yea, I don't want to forget the last day, you must be out of your room by 7:00 am as they are starting to clean the rooms for the next group. I was out at 6:30 and when we returned the beds we apart and my items where pushed aside. Warning: Keep away....... Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
This was our fourth Royal Caribbean cruise but by far the most spectacular. Previous trips were all about the ship but this time it was all about the ports. We arrived in Barcelona a couple of days prior to cruise to become accustomed to ... Read More
This was our fourth Royal Caribbean cruise but by far the most spectacular. Previous trips were all about the ship but this time it was all about the ports. We arrived in Barcelona a couple of days prior to cruise to become accustomed to the time change which paid off not only in being refreshed for the cruise but in having enough time to appreciate how special a stop Barcelona is. We stayed near the Gothic quarter and enjoyed that area as well as the Las Ramblas and Sagrada Familia. Check-in was a snap, due in part to registering online ahead of time. It was late October and we weren't sure what to expect from the weather but it was great during the entire week. As I mentioned previously, this trip was not about the ship but my wife and I liked the size of the Splendour, finding it easy to get about and do the things we wanted to do. (eat and sleep!) Service was up to our expectations as was the main dining room fare but I found the Windjammer suffered by trying to offer perhaps too wide a variety of items on their menu. (e.g. biscuits?) However, my vocabulary is not adequate to describe our experience with every stop on our cruise. Seeing the sheer beauty of southern France and coming face to face with the history of western civilization in Italy are experiences I will always cherish. Our experiences in port were absolutely enhanced by taking advantage of Royal Caribbean sponsored tours. We found our tour guides to be not only knowledgeable but passionate about their subject which added immensely to our visit. Because we scheduled shore excursions which for the most part left early in the morning, we were too tired to try the late shows onboard. With the time change that took place as we left we would leave ship at sunrise and when in Florence and Rome on all day tours we wouldn't get back to the ship until after sunset. Certainly not what we experience when in the Caribbean! Although we didn't try the nightly entertainment we did enjoy the musical acts performing in the Centrum. On several occasions the combination of good music and the mood of a unique mix of passengers onboard provided for spontaneous dancing and enjoyment of the moment. Departing the ship was almost as easy as the check-in, removing any remaining fear we had at the beginning of traveling to foreign country. This was by far the best vacation we have ever enjoyed and I certainly encourage anyone contemplating this trip to leap at the opportunity. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
This is the second time I have cruised with Royal Caribbean. I have been happy with both cruises so far but the food on this ship was far better. We were delighted by the service and the bar even made great drinks not the usual watered ... Read More
This is the second time I have cruised with Royal Caribbean. I have been happy with both cruises so far but the food on this ship was far better. We were delighted by the service and the bar even made great drinks not the usual watered down gross tasting cheap liquor kind...lol. Our first port was Toulon (it was supposed to be Marsaille but we couldn't dock there due to "civil unrest".) The French government was very kind to allow our ship to dock in their military base and our huge white ship looked amazingly beautiful against all the smaller grey battleships. We took the full day excursion here...it was fantastic except for the lame sales pitch at the perfume factory. Other than that I had no complaints. Second port was Villefrance. As far as beauty goes, I would have to say the French Riviera and Capri and Sorrento were the most beautiful places I had ever seen. The tall green mountains decorated with fuscia bougainvillea and speckled with white and coral houses with terra cotta roofs against the deep turquoise Mediterranean Sea was a jaw dropping visual. You actually felt like you were in a James Bond film! Third port was Livorno. We took the day long excursion to Florence and Pisa. Everything on this excursion was excellent. We drove through the Tuscan countryside and walk through the streets of florence and then a bus ride back to Pisa. I am glad we took all the tours because I know on our own we would not have had the time to see everything. The Leaning Tower of Pisa was not what I expected. In pictures it kind of looks cheesy...like the cover of a pizza box. I had no idea it was so elegant. Forth port was Citivec....Citeve....Rome. Again, the all day tour was the way to go. Our tour guide was the best. He knew how to get us through the lines quickly and we even got to see the Pope! My favorite was St. Peter's Basilica...it was even more amazing than the Sistine Chapel if that is possible. You have to experience it if you do nothing else. In fact the most interesting places for me were St. Peter's and Pompeii. The fifth port was Naples. Capri, Sorrento and pompeii was the excursion we took. Shopping down cobblestone streets and enjoying the views was soo relaxing. Then on to Pompeii...Don't miss it! Unbelievable, trust me! The Next day we were glad was at sea. We needed the rest. I am still in a daze. I know I have left out sooo much. I wish i was a poet so I would have the words needed to describe this part of the world. Luckily, I am an artist and you can bet this experience will be seen in my work for the rest of my life. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
Overall this was a great cruise. I was travelling with my mother who is handicapped and my niece who just turned 20. Service. The service was excellent. We got a great cabin steward, waiter, assistant waiter and head waiter. Our head ... Read More
Overall this was a great cruise. I was travelling with my mother who is handicapped and my niece who just turned 20. Service. The service was excellent. We got a great cabin steward, waiter, assistant waiter and head waiter. Our head waiter really pitched in and did as much work as the waiters. He was friendly and helped us tremendously especially my mom who had trouble getting up from the chair. Housing. The cabin was a nice size even for three. I think it was considered a suite. Rooms in general on ships are small but it was a nice size with plenty of storage space for clothing and the room had a safe for valuables. It was the type that you program to lock and unlock with a credit card, nice especially if you don't want to carry all valuables with you. Dining. The food was good. I have cruised Norwegian, and Carnival. I would put them on par with Carnival. Norwegian had more menu choices at dinner and an midnight buffet every night. This cruise had themed dinners every night to feature the local cuisine and one midnight chefs buffet. They also had a list of five entrees that they served every night that were tasty basics if you did not like the regular choices. One nice thing about the menu was they had codes for different dietary options on the menu, like vegetarian or lower calorie/more balanced options. We had a waiter who was good at asking you questions and helping you decide what to order and if you did not like anything he would make sure you got a second choice quickly. Like the other cruise lines there was also casual dining available during all meal times, on this ship casual(buffet) dining was on the pool deck. Open seating for Breakfast and lunch in the dining room and assigned times and tables for dinner. Entertainment. The entertainment was good. Not terrific but good. There were shows every night. I saw two and both were good but as someone who lives in Chicagoland and takes advantage of shows like the Lion King it was not spectacular. Young Adult Options. They had a good alcohol policy. You had the option of setting the rules for your 18 - 21 year old and what alcohol they could consume; options ranged from no alcohol to allowing them beer and wine. Concerns. Some of the male crew members seemed a little inappropriate toward the 16 - 21 year old girls. I observed male crew members getting touchy feely with some teens in one of the popular fitness areas, another asking 16-17 year old girls to buy him presents in the next port and another flirting a girl using some semi-explicit language. I assumed cruise lines were better at teaching staff members about how to treat young guests appropriately and had strict boundaries. I guess not. If you have a teen daughter, have a talk with her about how adult males should behave and maybe think about a self-defense course or a loud whistle. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
This was the first cruise for me and my wife. Even though we enjoyed this cruise, we viewed it more as a way for us to see Europe. Therefore, we did not get to spend a lot of time on the ship. Briefly, we enjoyed the food for the most ... Read More
This was the first cruise for me and my wife. Even though we enjoyed this cruise, we viewed it more as a way for us to see Europe. Therefore, we did not get to spend a lot of time on the ship. Briefly, we enjoyed the food for the most part. The poultry and beef were made very well. However, the seafood was overcooked frequently. Dessert for the most part was good. Service was good. The 2 pools were small. The 4 hot tubs were not very hot; the indoor hot tubs were always closed around dinner time. Music and entertainment were above average. As for the ports of call, we first stopped in Toulon, France. The first stop was suppose to be Marseilles but due to a local port-worker strike, the stop was changed to Toulon. Hopefully this won't happen to you because if you haven't planned for a stop, the day maybe somewhat chaotic as you don't know what to do. Of course, the other option is to pay $ and go on one of the shore excursions. One advice from stopping at this port is that if the cruise is offering a shuttle service from the port into the city ... take it, even if it costs you $5 USD per person each way. Usually when the shuttle service is offered, it means the port is far far far away from the city. When we docked in Toulon, they gave us a map from Celebrity cruise about this city. On the map, they showed where the ship docked (which is actually the Celebrity ship instead of Royal Caribbean). The walk into the city according to that map would have been a few minutes. However, where we actually docked, the walk would have been ~2 hours. In VILLEFRANCHE, the ship will dock at sea and you will be tendered into the port. The walk from the port to the train station is only about 10 minutes. From here, you can go to Nice or Monte Carlo. At LIVORNO, there is a shuttle that takes you from the port to Piazza Grande. From there, it's another 5-10 minute taxi/bus ride to the Livorno Centrale train station. To save money and time, negotiate with a taxi driver at the port to go straight from the port to the train station. (When you get dropped off at the train station, you might want to ask where the ship is docked at and write it down. This way when you're getting a taxi ride back to the ship, you'll know what to tell the taxi driver.) The train ride to Florence from Livorno can take up to 1-2 hours each way. Be careful ... take the express train to Florence. Don't accidentally end up on the local train like us; otherwise, it'll take about 2 hours to go from Livorno to Florence. At CIVITAVECCHIA port, there's a free shuttle that runs from the port to the port gate (from 7:30am to 6:15pm). From the port gate, you can walk to the train station in about 10 minutes. It's a 1 hour ride on the train into Rome's central station (Termini). Beware ... the Rome train station is HUGE!!! We missed our train back to Civitavecchia because we didn't plan enough time to run through this huge train station. Luckily, we caught the next train that barely gave us enough time to get back on the ship. At the last stop in NAPLES, we did a shore excursion because we were so tired from doing all the previous cities on our own. We did the Amalfi coast drive/Pompeii shore excursion. This excursion was wonderful but a bit long. Beware if you get motion sickness. Overall, this is a great cruise if you can get a good deal on the internet. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
I am an experienced cruiser, 30+ cruises. I have traveled on Carnival, Norwegian, Cunard, Disney and Celebrity. This is my first time on Royal Caribbean, and most likely my last (unless they give it to me free). The excursions were ... Read More
I am an experienced cruiser, 30+ cruises. I have traveled on Carnival, Norwegian, Cunard, Disney and Celebrity. This is my first time on Royal Caribbean, and most likely my last (unless they give it to me free). The excursions were great, and the people on the ship were very nice. However, the food was absolutely the worst. I couldn't believe how bad is was. Do not ask for a cheeseburger, because they will give you a dried up hamburger (I have no idea where this is even cooked) and they have it on a stale bun and to top this off, they hand you a slice of fake cheese. What is this? This is a cheeseburger? Oh by the way don't look for something free to drink, that is on the other side of the ship. I am glad we were not on the ship long. Room services takes over 45 min. to come. And when you come back from your excursions (some excursion are 9+ hours) don't look for something to eat other than the 45 min room services or the old hamburger. This line needs to go on some other cruise lines and see what they are missing. People think Carnival is for young only, well let me tell you, I rather see someone smile and laugh then play name that tune (songs were during WWII time) and most of the people there were alive also during that time. If you are looking to go to Europe DO NOT take this line. I noticed Carnival and Norwegian both go to Europe. I do plan on going back, Europe was awesome and everyone should go. Oh, this one is a shocker, never have I had to be out of my room before 7:00 am on the day of departure. I came back at 6:30 after breakfast and the beds were separated, and my carry on was put on the floor. Beware, unless you don't care or are an old 60+ (young at heart does not apply) then maybe you can waste your money on this line. But for me, the experienced cruiser, never again on Royal Caribbean. I am going on the Carnival Valor in 3 weeks and the Norwegian Spirit in a few months........I am looking forward to this. I hope this helps some, I know I don't believe all that I read, but I hope someone does take all of this into consideration. Thanks Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
This was my 11th cruise and also my HONEYMOON. I had read such negative reviews on the Splendour that I was nicely surprised once I got on board. The ship didn't look worn or old to me. We had a large oceanview stateroom. The size ... Read More
This was my 11th cruise and also my HONEYMOON. I had read such negative reviews on the Splendour that I was nicely surprised once I got on board. The ship didn't look worn or old to me. We had a large oceanview stateroom. The size is basically the same as the interior room but the oceanview really does make a difference. About the food, good not great. The dining room staff as always was excellent. Our assistant waiter Carlos was exceptional. The Windjammer is nothing more than typical buffet style. Our first port was Marseille, there is no need for any shore excursions there. When we got there it was a Sunday and all the shops were closed, so we went to Notre Dame cathedral, very nice. Marseille was not very impressive. The second port of call was Villefranche, which was beautiful. We split up our day and went to Nice first which was very beautiful. Then we made our way back to the ship had lunch and then headed out to Monte Carlo . I would have rather spent more of the day in Nice had I known Monte Carlo would be such a disappointment. I anticipated more. We also had enough time to walk around Villefranche for a bit, very beautiful and quaint little town . There is no need for shore excursion here, it would be a rip off because you can use the public bus for 1.5 Euros to Nice each way and be there in 15 to 20 minutes. Also from Nice you can take the bus directly to Monaco for about 3 Euros. Our third day we were in Livorno which on that day (and also in Rome) I highly recommend a tour. We were determined to book nothing with through the ship because through experience you know the ship rips you off. We got lucky and met a family of 4 outside looking to rent a taxi so we shared the cost at about 130 Euros for each couple. The driver dropped us off near the Duomo (WHICH IS THE CENTER) and then left us for about 5 hours or so then met up back at the same place as drop off. He then took us to Pisa. In Pisa you need no more than 30-45 minutes. There's not much to do there but take some pictures. There was also a free shuttle bus that takes you to the train station that takes about 90 minutes to get to the center of Florence. It just seemed too exhausting and also didn't think we would have enough time in Florence and also make it to Pisa. We also heard from other passengers that did use the public transportation that it was very exhausting. I'm 32 and my husband is 27, this trip is exhausting, you get to see a lot but you come home needing a vacation form your vacation. On the next day we were in Rome, we got very lucky and met up with the same family again and agreed to share the cost again. When we got off the ship and approached the taxis they were quoting us at 600 Euros which seems like a rip off, just yesterday we paid 400 for the whole day. By accident I noticed a private driver holding a sign up for a passenger that had prereserved him, so I went over to ask him if the 600 Euro price was reasonable or not. He told me that it should be no more than 450 Euros for a full 10 hour day. Turns out he was double booked by accident and offered his services for the day. Amazing experience, he was excellent, very knowledgeable on all of Rome, he took us everywhere,with full historical descriptions of everything. It makes a big difference when you walk around if you know what you're looking at and if you don't know. I strongly, strongly recommend you prereserve him before you start your trip. He was also very, very nice. He took tons of pictures for us and suggested a great place for lunch right by the Spanish steps (NINOS). He also is one of the two partners of the company so of course his service was excellent being that it;s his own company. His name is Carlo and the website is www.romeinlimo.com. You will not regret this. The money is well spent and it will change your whole experience of Rome. The cruise offers their own version of what we did and charges something lie $350 per person (crazy) In Naples we went to Pompeii by train which the same train line takes you to Sorrento. We got very tired, I had already been to Pompeii but my husband didn't and he wanted to . It's a great place to visit once. We later made our way back to Naples for some authentic Napolitan pizza, which they are famous for . There was a great spot like 2 blocks off the port (can't remember the name) HAVE A GREAT TRIP!!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
This cruise exceeded my expectations. The Splendour was a beautiful ship and the solarium was a really nice feature. It was very clean and our room, which was a large inside cabin was perfect (no need to upgrade). I have tons of pictures ... Read More
This cruise exceeded my expectations. The Splendour was a beautiful ship and the solarium was a really nice feature. It was very clean and our room, which was a large inside cabin was perfect (no need to upgrade). I have tons of pictures if anyone wants to e-mail me. The ports that we visited were spectacular. The French Riviera was sooo beautiful. What a great way to see everything. Now, word of warning, the cruise is very port-intensive. This is not a cruise for relaxing. The last day is the only day that you are at sea, but that's why we booked it. The food was average - above average. Obviously not as good as cruise food was 20 years ago, but definitely worth it. The Windjammer was always very busy. It was difficult to find a seat in the morning for breakfast (and you had to rush to get a bite in to meet your excursions or order room service). The King and I main dining room was where we ate dinner every night. I would have enjoyed dinner more if I wasn't just diagnosed with fish/seafood allergies. Obviously, on a Mediterranean cruise, you will find lots of fish/seafood. That was disappointing, but not a flaw of the ship in any way. We also ate lunch at the King and I one day, which was a nice change and it was very good. Oh, I forgot to mention, the worst part about eating was that they were on the European schedule, so dinner was very late. We literally got done eating and went to bed to be up early for our excursions the next day. Excursions -- Since we were far from some ports, we booked Royal Caribbean's excursions and we were very pleased. Safe drivers, good tour guides who were very informative, and we covered a lot of territory. Well worth it. You can easily hire your own driver in Capri, which we did and it was wonderful. They have these canopied taxis, which are very cool. Getting on/off the ship was very professional and you feel very safe because they do a thorough check each time. Disappointments (very minor) -- You are required to use a credit card to program the safe. I prefer locking my credit card in the safe, so this was frustrating. You can't use it on the ship, so why carry it around with you? On the Majesty of the Seas, you program your own code, which worked out nicely. Also, due to our late dinner time, we weren't able to partake in the evening entertainment (again, because we had to be up bright and early for our excursions). On the Majesty, they had the entertainment before the late seating, which worked out better. I would recommend this cruise to anyone. The itinerary and the ship were just perfect. Every time I look at my pictures, it makes me want to go back! Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
I don't know if cruising is the best way to see the Mediterranean. We saw great sites and beautiful cities, but we didn't spend much time on the ship. Our days were packed full and we usually left the ship at 8:00 a.m. and ... Read More
I don't know if cruising is the best way to see the Mediterranean. We saw great sites and beautiful cities, but we didn't spend much time on the ship. Our days were packed full and we usually left the ship at 8:00 a.m. and returned from our excursions about 6:00 p.m. We had late seating for dinner and always finished by about 10:30. Our shows were at 11:00-12:00 and we always skipped them because we needed to get some rest for the next long day. We used the ships excursions for all days except the last day in Naples. We hired Jack the driver at jackthedriver.com for the entire day. He was excellent. We had made the arrangements via the internet and he was right there at the port at 8:00 waiting for us. His Mercedes van is immaculate--as is he--very well groomed. He speaks very good English and is knowledgeable about the area and serves as a tour guide as he drives. We went to Pompeii and spent a couple hours there. We then went on the beautiful Amalfi drive tour through Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello. Jack gave us the time we needed for shopping and eating. He was very polite and helpful. We would certainly use his services again if we were in the area. The ship's excursions were well planned and coordinated with great tour guides, but they tend to be a bit pricey. If you are more adventuresome, you may want to use local tour services. Drivers are often waiting for you as you get off the ship. The ship had been updated a couple years ago and was tastefully decorated. The food was not as good as on some of the ships we have recently cruised on. Our waiter was the most aloof of any we have ever had. We did have nice dinner companions though, and they made dinner enjoyable. I don't have a lot more to say about the ship because we did not spend much time on it. On the last day, a number of people did feel sick. We had a day at sea as we drove from Naples to Barcelona. It was our first day of having to travel at a faster speed and the waves were 5-7 feet. Our travel companions got very sick that day and did not make it to dinner that night --as was true for many people. We will probably come back to visit France and Italy, but on our own tour so that we can see more of the countryside. Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
Just returned from our Mediterranean cruise yesterday. My quick bio: Have been to Europe 10 times, been on 6 cruises and visited over 30 countries around the world. First thing first. THE FOOD was excellent. All the reviews I read before ... Read More
Just returned from our Mediterranean cruise yesterday. My quick bio: Have been to Europe 10 times, been on 6 cruises and visited over 30 countries around the world. First thing first. THE FOOD was excellent. All the reviews I read before I went said the food was lousy. I actually asked our waiter how people could have thought this. He said they just got a new Head Chef from France. Well, he does a fine job. The Windjammer is just a buffet. Basically as good as a 'buffet' can get. The Main dining room food was just as good or better than any cruise I've been on. Everyone - 10 people - at our table fully agreed. THE SHIP is a bit older. I've been on a Voyager class ship twice before. Don't expect that size, age or perks, but understand they really aren't needed. When I first was on a Voyager class ship, It took me 5 days to explore the whole ship. Even though the Splendour of the Seas is MUCH smaller, I didn't see the whole ship until the last day. The itinerary is just WAY too good - and intense - to be walking around the ship. The bottom line is if you want to go on a nice relaxing vacation to get a tan and party all day - this probably is not the cruise for you. However, if you want to explore one of the most exciting, beautiful regions of the world, then this cruise will not disappoint. The ports of call are all great. Each one is a little different from the previous one. Marseilles is a very nice place. We - my girlfriend and I - took the excursion thru RCCL to Cassis. It was beautiful. It left early - 8 AM - and we were back by 1 PM. On the way there we got to see most of Marseilles, so we sorta saw 2 places. The road was one hair-pin turn up a cliff after another. Really awesome. I wish we had more time in Cassis though. Next day was Villefrance. We did it all on our own. No problem - Just walk up the hill to the tourist office. Grab a bus for 3 Euros R/T and you can either go to Monaco - one direction - or Nice - the other. We went to Monaco. It was unreal. Beautiful. We spent the whole day there then went back to the ship. A couple at our table did both Nice and Monaco on their own, so it is possible. Day 3 we took the Florence and Pisa 'on our own' thru RCCL. I was expecting just a bus ride, but was pleased to find out it came with an awesome tour guide - Patricia - She spoke perfect English and told us EVERYTHING we needed to know for Florence and Pisa. I would recommend just doing Florence though. It is spectacular and ALL Pisa has is the Leaning Tower. Pretty lame. Day 4 was Rome. We toured it with a private company. Our guide - Fariezio was awesome. We were in a new Mercedes van with 2 other couples for about 200 euros per couple. We ended up seeing about 20 different sites in Rome. About twice as many as the RCCL tour people saw, and 5 times as many as people on their own saw. Do not attempt Rome on your own. Hire your own guide - best way - or at least get a tour thru RCCL. Day 5 was Naples. Fabriezio drove all the way down from Rome - for the same price - and picked us up again. We left Naples and went down the coast to Sorrento and Positina. Breath taking! Also, both days our guide brought us to 'local' places to eat lunch that were really great and inexpensive. The one in Positina was up on a cliff over looking the sea. It didn't even have a sign. By the way, buses aren't allowed on most of these roads near Positina. Day 6 we SLEPT all day. So, most days we were up at 6:30 AM - returned to the ship around 6 PM. Relaxed, got ready, had a couple of drinks and ate at 8:45. We then went to bed by midnight. see what I mean - There's really not much time to hang out on the ship. The staff and service were all excellent. QUICK TIPS -#1 Stay an extra day and explore Barcelona - really nice city - especially on Saturday night. #2 They have tables on the balconies that are fine to eat on. #3 If you buy wine at the ports - or liquor - they do NOT stop you from bringing it to your room - they kinda look the other way because all the Europeans would flip I was told. This would never happen in the Caribbean. #4 Be ready to walk about a million miles. I have already recommended this cruise to my family and friends and will continue to do so. If you don't enjoy it you have Serious Issues or really bad luck. - Bon Voyage Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
Our trip started out rough, but got better as it went. We were celebrating our 20th anniversary. We did not get our documentation until really late due to some problem with the RCCL office. We paid in full on time, but they did not think ... Read More
Our trip started out rough, but got better as it went. We were celebrating our 20th anniversary. We did not get our documentation until really late due to some problem with the RCCL office. We paid in full on time, but they did not think we did, so it took our agent some work to straighten this out. We could not get paper document in time, so we got e-docs. I bought the air transportation with RCCL. Thinking this is safer, they will have to get us to the ship. Wrong! When we got to the airport, our flight was delayed. We were told we would miss our connection, so the airline (Air France) rebooked us on a flight 9 hours later - this flight would arrive 3 hours after the sail time of the ship. I tried to call RCCL, the person on the phone told me their Miami office was closed due to the Hurricane. She put me on hold for a long time. Then the airline said they could put us on an earlier flight and get us to the ship in time, just get our boarding pass in Paris. We believed them. By the time we get the Paris and tried to get boarding passes, we were told we were never booked on that flight at all. Air France was no help, we could not reach anyone at RCCL due to the time difference, so all we could do was wait. Finally, it was 8 am in the US, I was able to talk to RCCL. I was told to forget about Barcelona, ask for tickets to Marseilles instead. It took some negotiation with Air France to get the tickets changed. They said they were not responsible for the hotel or food. We flew to Marseilles. Our bag did not arrive. We filed an report with the airline. We asked about where the ship port was and got a hotel near by. We enjoyed our night at Marseilles. The next morning, we took a taxi to the seaport. We were lucky to have a very helpful driver. The seaport was 45 km long and we had no idea which port our ship was coming in. He stopped and looked and called the port police. Finally, we were led by the port security to port 4 and watched our ship sail in. Check in was easy. They were sorry for us. It took a very short time. We had a shore excursion booked for that morning. They refunded our money right away. We had to file another report with the ship. The crew told us where to buy underwear in Marseilles. We were a little worried that we would look really out of place for formal night. The purser office even loaned me something to wear. But luckily, by the time we got back from Marseilles in the afternoon, our bag was already in our room. RCCL also gave us credit for the hotel and taxi. That was nice. We enjoyed the rest of our trip. But the food on the ship was not good. In the dining room, the food was plain and service was average. One couple on our table decided to do an experiment and gave 10 euro to the head waiter. Our table got more attention after that. In the Windjammer, the food was below average. The ship is showing its age. A lot of things are broken. The sauna was broken for 2 days before they fixed it. Our sink drained very slow. We took 3 shore excursions with the ship. They were good. The whole day one was exhausting. Half day ones were better. All the ports of call were nice. We enjoyed them all. Entertainment was ok on the ship. The cruise director did a good job. But the shows were not as good as previous cruise we have taken. Getting off the ship was easy. I was worry about our early flight (10:30am) but they got us to the airport with plenty of time left. Read Less
Sail Date August 2005
This is my 9th cruise, second with Royal Carribbean. Let's start off with what went right. Embarkation and Disembarkation went very smoothly. Shore Excursions were expensive but well run and exactly what was advertised. The Ports ... Read More
This is my 9th cruise, second with Royal Carribbean. Let's start off with what went right. Embarkation and Disembarkation went very smoothly. Shore Excursions were expensive but well run and exactly what was advertised. The Ports were fantastic. This ship is really starting to show it's age. Carpets in some areas were worn. Sofas in the Centrium were worn. Deck areas needed real attention. The Library Sofas had some extreme wear. The glass is what makes a Royal Carribbean Ship at it was dirty. The Sauna was never warm enough. Some of the public restrooms near the Pool had a very strong sewage odor. I've always thought RCCL did an okay job with food nothing spectacular but they held their own. Not on this cruise, it was awful. Very small portions, wine glasses werent refilled, you had to ask for water in the Dinning Room. The Head Waiter came by an only offered excuses and was "too good" to even refill my glass on several instances. The Windjammer Cafe was dirty crumbs in corner of chairs, on the sofas, carpet was extremely worn and dirty. The food tasted like warmed over leftovers. Non-Smoking sections were not observed by the passengers nor enforced by the crew. They had signs that basically told passengers to have a top on and that bathing suits were not allowed several passengers including a few extremely overweight would come in during lunch without shirts or in bathing suits and eat ------------ DISGUSTING. My cabins was spacious but once again it was worn. The bedding actually had an odor to it and I had to practically hold the Hotel Manager hostage to get it changed on two days I had torn sheets and insufficient number of towels in the bathroom. I basicallly told the hotel manager in a letter my issues with the ship and he told me that "RCCL doesnt need or want passengers like me". Fine I won't sail with them again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2005
This was our 13th cruise in the last 5 years, and the second with RCCL. My wife and I were also travelling with Splendour of the Seas on the same itinerary, in August last year. The ship is of some age but nevertheless it is well cared ... Read More
This was our 13th cruise in the last 5 years, and the second with RCCL. My wife and I were also travelling with Splendour of the Seas on the same itinerary, in August last year. The ship is of some age but nevertheless it is well cared for, but we really hope that it will only take a few years before the cabins will be renovated. We found both the service from our cabin attendant from Nicaragua and the service in the King and I, from our waiter and asst. waiter better than the team who were servicing us last year. We were on the 21.15.hrs sitting for dinner on deck 5 of the King and I. Our waiters provided an enhanced dining experience for both of us, at table 49. Also we find the food in this restaurant better than last year. We always ask for the late dinner sitting, but we find the 21.15 hrs sitting a bit too late. We have never had that late dinner sitting on any previous cruise. On deck 4 of the King and I, I think you could start dinner at 20.45 hrs, and we had preferred that sitting or still a bit earlier. In addition to the King and I, you have the buffet restaurant, Windjammer. We really love the location and the interior of this restaurant. The restaurant staff is also very fast to clear and clean the tables. Concerning the food, we however find the food for breakfast and lunch on the average side (we have never eaten dinner there). In addition to those to restaurants, you can eat fast food from the Solarium Bar. POOL-There are 2 pools; a general one for all ages, and a Solarium for ages 16+. Last year I think the Solarium was for ages 18+. My wife and I like to relax in the Solarium, with the hope that we could be out of the presence of noisy children, who often jump and dive in the pools, even if it is not permitted by the pool rules. Unfortunately, on this cruise trip we found the pool attendant/pool guard to be very lazy to look after that the pool rules was living up to, even in the Solarium pool. We find that very disappointing, people travelling without children have paid for this cruise too and should if they want a relaxing atmosphere, expect to find that in the Solarium. The age restrictions in the Solarium were also not looked after. Last year, we had no trouble at all with the mentioned problems in the Solarium. When starting on a new cruise vacation, we always wonder if there is any change in ships/company rules. On this cruise RCCL had established a new liquor policy. You can no longer buy bottles of spirits on board the ship, for consumption in your cabin (even not to a higher bottle price). All bottles bought on board, will not be handed over to you before the last evening of the cruise. The Splendour had also established a new policy concerning distribution of bath towels. Every day you have to ask the pool attendant for towels, and the number of towels and your cabin number will be recorded by the attendant. You must now also pay, $5 one way, for all shuttle bus service from the ship and in to the towns were that service is offered. If you not are a first time traveler abroad, and if you like to learn about the places you shall visit before you start on your cruise vacation, you can easily travel on your own from most of the ports of this itinerary, to several places of interest. Going on your own, can perhaps give you better memories than going on organized excursions, and you can also save money. Read Less
Sail Date August 2005
I took the Western Mediterranean Cruise aboard the Splendour of the Seas on July 16-23,2005. Check-in was a breeze! It took literally 2 minutes. It helps if you have all of your paperwork done ahead of time prior to going there. No ... Read More
I took the Western Mediterranean Cruise aboard the Splendour of the Seas on July 16-23,2005. Check-in was a breeze! It took literally 2 minutes. It helps if you have all of your paperwork done ahead of time prior to going there. No problems whatsoever with the luggage. The cabin was surprisingly larger than I expected. The bed was comfortable as well. The tv was small, but quite frankly, I didn't go to Europe to watch TV! They did have a very good assortment of different movies playing all day for the time when u were there. As far as cleanliness (sp?) goes, this was a very clean ship, although a little older. In a couple of years, they may have to refurnish the whole thing, but it works for now. The service and helpfulness of the staff was outstanding. The cabin service was excellent, as was the dining room service. The waiter had been working with that same company for 12 years, and believe me when I tell you that he KNEW that menu like the back of his hand! He was also very good with wine suggestions. As far as the food goes, it was very good as well. The steaks were excellent, as well as the coq au vin!! AND THE TAPAS BAR!!! For those of you fellow foodies, this is like the holy grail of food areas... and Spain has the wonderful tradition of tapas.. YOU MUST try the tapas served next to the pool daily, especially after the tours... Tapas, sangria, music, wine, and the Mediterranean.. enough to double the world population in nine months!!!! The assorted tapas included serrano ham, manchego cheese, stuffed olives, meatballs, garlic cloves, toasted French bread, roasted potatoes, and others. Very very yummy! My biggest disappointment with food was breakfast, by far. The scrambled eggs were horrible! You were better off eating cheerios and milk every morning or tanking up on fruit. The entertainment was decent, although not as fancy as the other cruise I went (Carnival Pride to Western Caribbean in 2003). The Gaucho show SUCKED! But the Flamenco show is a must see. As far as shore excursions go, I have to say that I was not disappointed, and they were well worth the money! Now, I am myself not a big fan of excursions, and am more of a free spirit. But taking into account that I had never been to Europe before, and that we only had 12 hrs in each port, and most things were far from port, the cruise-arranged excursions were by far the best option for my parents and I. The first day, we went to Les Baux in Provence. Beautiful half day tour, and rather inexpensive, considering that it was only $45 (all our other excursions were $150 for a full day), and it gave us a chance to see rural France up close and visit a medieval town. Beautiful artisan shops and a nice Chateau on top of a hill. They sell the best caramel there! Oh, and when you go, please be nice and say Bonjou, Merci, and Au Revoir to the people at the shops. It will make a HUGE difference in your trip, and it will completely change your perception of the french and their attitude towards you. (THEY ARE VERY NICE) The second day we took a marathon tour of Nice, Eze, and Monaco. Again, convenient in that we got to see 3 beautiful places in a day and the lunch in Eze was awesome! Eze was gorgeous! I took some of my best pics there. I was somewhat disappointed with Nice, but I think it was that it was early in the am and everything was closed. Monaco was gorgeous,albeit overrated in my view. If you have a good knowledge of the area and want to venture this port on your own, this is possibly your best bet to do so, since good local transportation is available (trains, etc) and the distances are close to each other. Not only that, the boat left at 10 pm this day, so it gave us extra time. Livorno is far from Florence. The bus took 1 1/2 hrs to get there, and it poured rain all the way there! I must say, that, overall, Italy needs a good pressure washer and some soap, compared to Barcelona and France. But otherwise, Florence was beautiful. Lots of walking. Rome was hot, but also remarkable. TONS OF WALKING - get GOOD COMFORTABLE SHOES!! For men, I strongly recommend broken-in sneakers. I got this pair of Ecco shoes that you can use with khakis, jeans, or shorts that are absolutely AWESOME! For ladies, NO HEELS!!!! This lady in my tour was wearing heels! IS SHE INSANE??? By the way, don't be stupid and think that you are going to persuade the Vatican police or the Swiss Guard to let you in St Peter's Basilica in shorts or showing your shoulders, cause ITS NOT GONNA HAPPEN!!! I saw plenty of disgruntled people kicked to the curb when they tried the trick and got their butts kicked out in front of everyone. So save yourself the trouble, wear a pair of comfortable khakis, some nice walking shoes, and enjoy one of the most amazing sights you'll ever see in St Peters Basilica. Quite overwhelming, especially for a good ole catholic boy like me! In Naples we went to Pompeii, Sorrento and Capri... Amazing pics also. Very nice watches in Capri.. I do have to say that the Cameo Factory visit was a total rip-off, but that's the way these tours work. Also, CAPRI WAS OH SO CROWDED!!! And anyone who has been to Italy knows, Italians are not known for their excellent scheduling or organizational skills.. But everything worked out well, in its own chaotically-controlled manic sort of way. The day at sea was a good day for sleep! The ship casino is adequate, not spectacular. Then again, I don't gamble much. Barcelona was my favorite town, and we spent 3 days prior to the cruise and 1 day afterwards there. We found an excellently located hotel in the middle of Las Ramblas (Citadines Aparthotel - 200 euros a night for 4 people in your own apt). Great food everywhere! Now, as far as Barcelona goes, you need to remember a few things. First, the touristic buses are AWESOME to see the city. Go to Plaza de Catalunya and you will see their stops there... they are cheap and efficient. Second, people in Barcelona LOVE TO EAT! They eat all the time, and THEY ARE SKINNY AND GORGEOUS! Their food is fresh, delicious, and with excellent variety. There are plenty of restaurants around Las Ramblas to go. We went to Restaurant Euskadi, where they serve food from the Basque region of Spain - outstanding, if you never had it before. We also went to an italian place called Restaurant Caruso. My dad loved their lasagna - I could've used more sauce in mine, but it was good. By the way, if u are like me and love to eat, you must try the bocadillos, which are these sandwiches that the Spaniards love. THEY ARE AWESOME and their bacon is great too, because it has much less fat than the american version, and it is very tasty. You must also visit the Mercat Saint Josep, also known as the Boqueria Market. This is where you will see some of the most beautifully displayed meats and fruits you will ever see. All the locals buy here on Saturday, so you should visit it if you want to mingle with them. And finally, know that people in Barcelona are NIGHT OWLS!!!! They eat after 9 or 10 pm, and stay out walking until 3 or 4 am EVERYDAY! It was not rare to see tens of thousands of people strolling the street at midnight. WHAT A BEAUTIFUL SIGHT! One final note : AVOID GYPSIES and ANYONE that approaches you to give you a flower or anything else. THEY ARE MASTERS AT PICKPOCKETING!!!! You will get robbed and never even realize it until is way too late! My mother lost 90 dollars this way. A lady approached her at a local park selling her a flower for a dime, and somehow, she or one of her accomplices took the money from her bag! don't carry your passport unless you have to. And wear a money belt. I was also not fond of their metro subway system. Having said that, this was a trip of a lifetime! The ship was very good and served its purpose. If you are looking for luxury cruising, this is not for you. But if what you want is a good, dependable, enjoyable cruise with amazing ports and good food and great value, this is your trip! Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
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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