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464 Splendour of the Seas Cruise Reviews

Travelled with my husband, 14 year old son and 82 year father. I have to say we had a fabulous time. As previous reviewers have said the ship is of some age but nevertheless it is well cared for. Of particular noteworthiness was the ... Read More
Travelled with my husband, 14 year old son and 82 year father. I have to say we had a fabulous time. As previous reviewers have said the ship is of some age but nevertheless it is well cared for. Of particular noteworthiness was the service provided to us during pre dinner drinks and at dinner. In the Champagne bar it was Venice who provide an excellent level of service. We were on the 19.00 hrs sitting for dinner on deck 5 of the King and I and it was Tatjana and Filip who provided an enhanced dining experience for all of us. Now down to the ports we visited. We undertook the Florence and Pisa excursion but beware it is very very tiring. The pace set by the guide in Florence was too quick we were almost running at one stage and given the heat ..... at the end of the Florence section we were ready for our beds never mind a journey to Pisa. Although Pisa was lovely it is a fair hike form the bus to the Field of Miracles. After this trip we decided to cancel the trip the following day to Rome (which meant that we lost almost £400 in fare money). But something had to give and we were looking forward to Capri, Sorrento and Pompeii, we took a vote and decided it was best to rest. As with all trips like these it is very trashing but the sights visited are truly wonderful. The food during the cruise in the King and I could not be faulted and the selection of wines enough to satisfy our needs. We do share the views of others regarding the Windjammer if you want a quick meal and do not wish to dress for the occasion well that is the place for you - relaxed. My party liked the sense of occasion and we loved dressing uu for the formal nights and trying to look our best for the other nights in the King and I. We thought the shows in 42nd Street were good to very good and entertaining. My son joined th "teen scene" and enjoyed it. We tried all the bars but settled for the ambiance of The Champagne Bar ask Venice to make you one of special Bellinis (to die for!) Sun Bathing on the ship we preferred the stern of the ship next to the Solarium and Spa it was quiet and there were always sunbeds available. Also good to know that if you want some quiet time during the day up to 18.00hrs go the Viking Crown Lounge it appear that this is a place that no one has discovered during the day. Whenever we went there was only us and perhaps a couple of others. Our cabin steward was very good and our towels were changed at least twice a day! Now for the down side well none except that I have lost my camcorder - I think I left it either on the ship or on a tour bus during the Sorrento/Capri tour. I have to call RCI back at 14.00 hrs to link up with the Miami office hope I get it back! Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
The Splendour is a nice ship. It is older, but generally in good shape. The decor is a bit dated, we had a few stains on the cabin floor and the window had some large paint or something spots on it. There was a also a small tear on the bed ... Read More
The Splendour is a nice ship. It is older, but generally in good shape. The decor is a bit dated, we had a few stains on the cabin floor and the window had some large paint or something spots on it. There was a also a small tear on the bed spread which was where the cabin steward always placed our towel animals each night. We could tell in making the bed, he tried to overlap this to be less noticeable. Overall, for the wear that a ship receives, this one is pretty well maintained, but shows some age if you look at the details. We thought the food was slightly better than average. We ate 3 nights in the King and I dining room and 3 nights in the Windjammer Cafe. (buffet style) On a scale of 1-10, we would give the overall food a 6-7. One of the best meals we had was the outdoor BBQ, with ribs, chicken, burgers, grilled by the pool. The rest of the ship must have agreed because it was one of the busiest meal times on the ship. The dining room service was great, the waitress and her assistant were very nice and paid close attention. I thought the overall staff was more friendly then on my previous Celebrity cruise. The head waiter told us the ship consistently rates as one of the highest for RCCL in staff service areas. We had a table for 10, but there was only 8 of us assigned. All 8 sat together the first night and then didn't all show up again together until the last night. So we ate alone one night at a table for 10. Funny, that during the trip, each group, had one night alone. Overall comments on the dining experience was that the service was excellent, while at times the meals lacked that extra touch to make them special. Unfortunately, some of the issues are just common problems with the type of meal.(ie, 5 out of 8 had prime rib and all thought it was very dry/another night several had lamb chops and while excellent in flavor a couple were very fatty and the portions were small) After that, most of the guys said they ordered extra entrees, lol. The nights at the Windjammer were generally good for buffet style. One night was especially buffet like and the couple we sat with commented it was a little too "top ten" buffet foods, but otherwise it was good. The carving station had prime rib, lamb, roast beef, etc., and was pretty good. The Windjammer has iced tea, tea, coffee and lemonade for free, everything else is charged. Table service was good and it was nice to see so many of the crew eating with the guests. They were always better dressed than the rest of us. (ie, on formal nights, the crew in the Windjammer were in tuxes and dresses while eating, the rest of us were casual. There is an ongoing burger, hot dog stand by the solarium pool and an open ice tea, coffee, milk and soft ice spot by the outdoor pool. This was very helpful because it was hot all week in the Med. It was 85-90 everyday. By the way, the sea was dead calm all week, hardly a ripple on the water. I get very motion sick and had all the preparations, never needed any of it. It was great. On to shore excursions. We booked all our tours through RCCL. First let me say that we are seasoned travelers and are not picky or critical and have a high degree of tolerance. On the first stop, we did the Palace of the Popes and wine tasting tour. (It was one of the longest and most expensive offered in Marseille.) I have to say it was a disappointment for many of us. The Palace of the Popes in France was the seat of the Papacy in the 1300's. If you have been to Europe before you know they difference between a palace and a fortress. This place was a fortress, not a palace. The building was restored, but there was no grandeur, no furniture, no art. Yes, there were large rooms, some interesting architecture, but very very plain inside like you expect in a fortress. The description gives the impression you are going to see Vatican like features, it is more a fortress on the Rhine River or similar. In fact, what remains of the frescos and art could be combined on one small wall. We had wine tasting in a large room in the fortress. There were three types of wines offered. They took probably only 1/2 hour to distribute all three to about 100 people and it was disorganized and mass distribution. It really did not come off very well. I felt like I was at a water station at the end of a marathon or food distribution after a natural disaster. It was just odd. All that is said on Cruise Critic about feeling like a herd of cattle on cruise mass tours came to mind and I feared it would be similar on the rest of the trip. Next we walked a while to a very nice outdoor restaurant for lunch. After lunch there was free time and shopping available. There were two buses from RCCL on this tour. During lunch, discussion in the area focused on the fact that some folks from one of the buses wanted to go back to the ship early. Our lunch companion was an officer of the ship and when they asked his opinion he rejected this immediately. "Not everyone on the tour joined us for lunch, we had a pre-assigned meeting time, RCCL would not want it known that a tour was so unsuccessful that people wanted to leave 2 hours early, coordination and possibility of leaving someone 1 1/2 hours from the ship etc." In fact, he was a little aggravated the tour guide even discussed it openly. I would not recommend this tour. Next we did Monaco and the Grand Casino of Monte Carlo. French Riviera is a truly beautiful place. Wow, it was just spectacular. The tour was well done. The port of Villefrance is simply stunning. You take a tender into the heart of Villefrance and many from the ship did the beaches and village on their own. On the tour you see Nice, Monaco, Villefrance and Monte Carlo. The great thing about the area is that the port is so beautiful and there is so much to do just off the ship. The other ports are in industrial areas, but Villefrance was great. I would recommend any tour of this area, or to save $$, go to the beach and enjoy the port city. We did Florence/Pisa on our own. It was very very busy. You can see Florence pretty easy on you own or take a tour. Everything is very close to walk and the town was very friendly. Because of the lines we did not get into the Douma or see the David. We did enjoy Florence, the bridge, etc. Pisa, was a long hot walk from the parking area. Interesting, not overwhelming. Glad we did it, wouldn't do it again. For us, we would do Florence again to see more, but once is enough for us in Pisa. Rome. What a wonderful place. The history here is unbelievable. You will love it if you understand it. If your not a history nut, do your research and it will mean so much more. Our tour was the Eternal City tour. We did the Vatican Museum, the Colosseum and St. Pieters. It was great. I could spend a week in the Vatican, not just a day. I highly recommend this tour. The Vatican, is truly a wonderful place and the tour of Rome alone made the trip worthwhile. Our next stop was Pompeii/Naples. We did the 4 hour tour of Pompeii and it was interesting. Do some research first. Its hard to imagine how advanced the Roman society was in 79 AD. Pompeii was a real learning experience and the tour makes you feel that humanity has not advanced as much as we thought in 200 years. Well worth the time and cost. We arrived in Barcelona on Friday am before our Saturday departure and stayed three days after the cruise. We stayed at a hotel near La Ramblas and based on the city maps thought we could walk to the cruise ship. Well, that was a mistake. You could have walked to the old cruise ship port, did that, but guess what? There is a new one. Asked several vendors, 4 police officers, etc. Probably walked 2 extra miles with luggage to find it. But no luck. RCCL is in the new cruise port terminal across a massive bridge and 2-3 miles from the old place. It was an experience. Even 2 of the cops that gave us the wrong directions realized their mistake later and drove over to take us to the right spot. That was nice, but the car was too small and the luggage wouldn't fit. So they tried to explain their error, were very apologetic and helped us get a cab. It was a workout, funny, and now is a story about Barcelona. Just take a cab or if your close to La Ramblas, you can walk down to the Columbus statue and take a cab from there. We really enjoyed the Bus Touristic in Barcelona. You pay 17 euros each or 21 for 2 days and can hop on or off anywhere on the route. They have three routes that hit all the high points. It was well worth it and helped us to enjoy BCN. Also did a tour of Monserrat on our own in Barcelona and it was great. Well, I hope this helps. I read the Cruise Critic reviews often before my trip and it helped me a great deal. I thought I owed it to the group to write my own. Sorry it was so long. Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
Sailed on Splendour of the Seas on June 4 from Barcelona. Traveled with 3 teenagers and 10 yr old. My first advise is, if you can afford it, take a cabin with a balcony... it makes a world of difference! You can even order room service ... Read More
Sailed on Splendour of the Seas on June 4 from Barcelona. Traveled with 3 teenagers and 10 yr old. My first advise is, if you can afford it, take a cabin with a balcony... it makes a world of difference! You can even order room service (it's free) and eat under the stars...very nice. Our ports of call were Marseille, Villefranche, Livorno (Florence), Civitavecchia (Rome) and Naples. Second advise... skip Marseille unless you have booked an offshore excursion. Ship arrives on a Sunday and everything (not much of anything, really) is closed. The city itself is depressing and the streets are dirty. If I had known this, we would have stayed on board and taken the time to rest and enjoy all the amenities the ship has to offer. A small letdown on the ship was the entertainment (or lack of). The shows were a bit boring, not what I had expected. Third advise... book private offshore excursions. They are cheaper than the ship excursions and since you have a private guide/driver, you can pick where to go and what you want to do (or they will give you ideas of the best places to go). I booked with Bob Frazini, an Italo-American on http://www.colosseumlimos.com and had a great driver, Guiseppe (aka Peppe). The cost for a full day for five of us was around 450 euros. Also, Peppe got us a private tour guide in the Vatican for 100 Euros and we didn't have to wait in line for the tickets (ticket are paid separate). In Naples, we booked with Jack, a wonderful driver/guide. His website is jackthedriver.com -- He that took us to Pompeii (again we paid for a private guide for the five of us for approx 85 euros total -- the guide wanted 100 euros, but you can negotiate). Pompeii is HUGE and easy to get lost in the ruins, so I strongly recommend a guide. Jack waited for us and then took us to his favorite restaurant in Sorrento... absolutely beautiful, then to Positano, the most beautiful place on earth! The cost for the five of us was 250 euros. Once we were on the ship, I noticed my digital camera was missing and realized my daughter had left in Jack's van. We notified Jack by email and he was so wonderful that he took it upon himself to send it to me in the U.S. and didn't want me to reimburse him! We were very lucky to have had Jack as our guide... it sure made the trip more memorable with his knowledge of Naples, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. Our trip ended back in Barcelona, where we headed to Girona and stayed four days in a 700 year old castle (another awesome experience). Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
Ship: Splendour of the Seas 6/25/05-7/2/05 Ports of Call: Barcelona, Spain; Marseille, France; Villefranche (Nice), France; Livorno (Florence), Italy; Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy; Naples, Italy; Barcelona, Spain We highly enjoyed this ... Read More
Ship: Splendour of the Seas 6/25/05-7/2/05 Ports of Call: Barcelona, Spain; Marseille, France; Villefranche (Nice), France; Livorno (Florence), Italy; Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy; Naples, Italy; Barcelona, Spain We highly enjoyed this cruise! Knowing that this was a mid-market cruise, we did not want to have high expectations. Our main focus was to enjoy the ports, and overall, we were pleasantly surprised. EMBARKATION Embarkation was a breeze. There was no one in line, except those that wanted to change their dining options. We were able to change to a two-person table with no problem. Thankfully we decided to pack lightly, only carryon luggage. It proved to be a smart move, as we heard of numerous guests having their luggage lost by the airline, and not making it in time of departure. Some were still waiting for it at the third port! Additionally, with just our carryons we were able to go directly to our cabins and change to pool attire, instead of waiting for the porter. CABIN Arriving at our cabin, it was what we expected: small. That was OK. The window was big, and we kept the curtains open for most of the cruise. We met our room steward, who was nice and friendly. He was able to deliver 2 feather pillows in short order, and for those that know me, high thread count and feather pillows make me a happy woman! The sheets' thread count was not as high as I would have liked, but at least it was not LOW. It was not to the level of uncomfortable sleep. Again, I have pleasantly surprised. POOL-There are 2 pools; a general one for all ages, and a Solarium for ages 16+. There were some parents that complained about the age restriction, saying "we paid for this!". It was nice that RCCL enforced this, so adults and mature teens can have a place where there were no kids allowed. Parents seem to think that everyone should enjoy to be in the presence of their screaming children. News flash: We don't. WE have paid for this too. This is the only open area with the age restriction (besides the bar). We spent a lot of time here. It was nice to relax, and see the beauty of where we were. We spent some lounging time on the deck above the pool, where it was quieter, and there were sails that covered the pool chairs for shade from the sun, whilst still enjoying the open air. Bar service is still prevalent here, and we did not feel neglected at all. PORTS  We liked all of the excursions provided by the ship. Always on time, and organized. well worth the money we paid. Marseilles- Reading the other reviews that Marseilles is basically closed on Sundays, we knew we had to book an excursion. We decided on Cassis, as small fishing village. On the way there was stopped atop a cliff that offered breathtaking views. Cassis was beautiful. Unfortunately, the excursion only allowed for a approximately 50 minutes of free time, which was too short to even relax at a cafe. We had time to rush to the restroom, take some harbour pics, and buy a baguette. Literally. Villefranche- This was the only port that we decided to not participated in an excursion. Great decision! This is a tender port, which meant that ferry boats took the passengers from the ship to the port. This probably explained why this was the nicest and cleanest port. The waters were blue and clear. We lounged at the Villefranche beach all morning, then returned to the ship for lunch. We ventured off in the afternoon for Nice, as short train ride (literally 7 minutes) away. The train station was right above the beach, and was so convenient. It was a short walk to Nice beachfront. We were happy that we did the beach lounging in Villefranche. Nice's beaches are covered with large pebbles, in lieu of sand. Others opted to go to Monte Carlo or other city, which was also very convenient with the location of the train. Villefranche was my port by far, since we like to just relax and appreciate the beauty of little coastal towns. Livorno- We took the Florence and Pisa on-your-own excursion. This provided us with transportation to Florence and Pisa (a long way from the port, about 1 1/2 hours to Florence, and 1/2 hour to Pisa), but allowed us to explore on our own. This was very doable. Note that if you want to enter the major museums, reservations should be made in advance. We witnessed 2 hours plus lines, which would have burned up our free time. I actually tried to make reservations, but they were sold out, even a month ahead. We chose instead to just walk around Florence and have lunch in a local cafe. Afterwards, we went to Pisa. The small town boasted only the famed buildings, and was easy to experience all of this in the hour of free time we were allotted. Rome- We decided on the quasi Rome tour and on-your-own excursion. Rome was 1 1/2 hours from the port. We were lucky that the particular day that we went was the Peter/Paul holiday, providing us tremendous roads that were free of traffic. Even the tour guides were amazed. This allowed us more free time in the city, which was greatly appreciated, b/c you spend all your time walking from one site to another. If you want to enjoy Rome's architecture, bring your walking shoes! We met in the afternoon for the tour part of our excursion, beginning with St Peter's Basilica. Lucky, this was open to the public! Some places, like the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel were closed due to the holiday. We bought "paper pants" at a local vendor for my husband, as shorts were not allowed in the Basilica. Many were turned away for shorts or bare shoulders. The rest of the tour consisted of the Coliseum and other notable attractions. This was a 9 1/2 hour excursion! Well worth it! Naples- We decided on the Pompeii excursion. I was torn between this and taking the speed ferry boat to Capri, but we decided that Pompeii could not be missed. We were happy in our decision. Pompeii was amazing in the fact that it was not directly destroyed by Mt Vesuvius, but buried by the ash that the volcano created. The whole city was buried in 24 feet of volcanic ash, now still be uncovered by archeologists today. Amazing! DINING Opt for the later seating, since excursions return about 5 pm. This gives an opportunity for you to relax at the pool and dress for dinner at a more leisurely pace. However, the later dining option also provides a later show, which at 11PM on most nights, ended too late for us to get a good nights sleep for the next day's activities. The shows were not to our taste anyway, so on most nights, we would have a nice leisurely dinner, followed by some time at the casino. Note that there is no midnight buffet option, except for one night, so is earlier diners have a late night craving, room service or the hamburger/pizza bar are options. We decided to buy the unlimited soda/juice option ($6/day/adult), and we got our money's worth. We drank on average about 3-4 drinks daily (breakfast, lounging at the pool, lunch, dinner, etc.) We just did not want to be nickeled and dimed on our bill at the end of the cruise. $42 for the entire week was reasonable, IF you drink a lot of soda/juice. We ate at the King and I for 5 of the 7 nights, b/c I refused to go to the Windjammer, expecting the food to be horrible buffet food. Surprised again, we went for breakfast & lunch practically every day of the cruise, and 2 times for dinner. You just have to know what to get, like made to order eggs (we got eggbeater omelettes daily) and a freshly toasted english muffin. For lunch, you could get freshly made sandwiches around the corner. The salad bar was always fresh, my only disappointment was the salad dressings, which were very thin and watered down. The bbq buffet that they had on the "sea day" was great. The paella was the best paella I have ever had, and that speak volumes, since I am a paella lover. Again pleasantly surprised. Dinners at the King & I were also very good. The menu varied nightly and the service was outstanding. The portions were just perfect, adequately sized to order an appetizer, salad, entree, and dessert without feeling super full. We usually each ordered a salad and entree, shared the appetizer and dessert. On lobster night however, we each ordered 2 entrees, the lobster and prime rib. Again, the portions were not too large that this did not allow for it, and was not deemed wasteful. The steaks were a lot better than I expected; I ordered steak practically every night and was never disappointed. On the contrary, rather pleasantly surprised!  OVERALL As long as one kept their expectations in check throughout the cruise, you are more likely to be pleasantly surprised than disappointed. RCCL never claims to be the 5 star cruise line for quality, nor the foodie cruiseline, as its more expensive counterparts. But for the price that you pay, you get more than you could bargain for. Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
Overall experience on this cruise was very good. The best part of this cruise was definitely the ports. Staff service was wonderful as well. Dining: The food in the dining room was very good. The choices presented were varied and ... Read More
Overall experience on this cruise was very good. The best part of this cruise was definitely the ports. Staff service was wonderful as well. Dining: The food in the dining room was very good. The choices presented were varied and plentiful, presentation and quality good. The food in the Windjammer left much to be desired, and on the rare occasion we couldn't make it to the dining room for lunch -- the grill by the pool was a better bet. We were a little surprised that there was no midnight buffet, so don't worry if you have a late seating for dinner. (Although you can easily get it switched the first day.) Service: All the staff were extremely friendly and spoke English very well, regardless of their country of origin. Before the emergency drill, our cabin attendant introduced himself and called us by name -- impressive considering the number of rooms each must be responsible for. All staff members were very accommodating and a pleasure to talk with. Activities: Nighttime planned activities were a bit on the lame side (most shows in the theater excluded) and had low attendance. I can't speak to the day time activities because we were off the boat every port. Ports of Call: Took tours from the boat for each port. Overall, we were happy with the tours and tour guides. Aix-En-Provence was lovely, however most of the city is closed on Sundays which is the day that the boat is there. Villefranche is beautiful and not to be missed. Once docked there, it's very easy to get to Nice and Monaco on your own and a tour is unnecessary. Word of advice: use the bus to travel there, others complained that the train left them far away in Nice and it was quite a hike to the happening area, whereas the bus dropped you off in the heart of it. We loved all the ports and tours in Italy, but make sure you're properly dressed when going to Rome. Several in our group were told that their outfits were fine, but were then turned away at St. Peter's Basilica (which was amazing). Embarkation and disembarkation were both a breeze and literally took only moments. Overall rating of my experience from 1-10 would be about a 8. I'd consider going on another Royal Caribbean cruise but would prefer a newer boat. Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
Just back from our cruise on the Splendor of the Seas. I traveled with my husband, 2 sons (age 16 and 18) and my aunt, we had a terrific time. The ship is a bit dated but very clean. The food was good. The wait staff and cabin staff were ... Read More
Just back from our cruise on the Splendor of the Seas. I traveled with my husband, 2 sons (age 16 and 18) and my aunt, we had a terrific time. The ship is a bit dated but very clean. The food was good. The wait staff and cabin staff were outstanding. Our trip was a huge success mainly due to booking private tours at each location. In Marseille, Catherin D'Antuono a Provence Tour Designer provided us with an absolutely lovely tour of the provence area. The local market in I'Isle sur la Sorgue, wine tasting, the quaint villages of the Luberon were fantastic. You can find her at catherine@provence-travel.com or www.provence-travel.com. In Villefranche, we had another wonderful day with Sylvie Di Cristo. With her we explored Monaco and Monte-Carlo, Nice and some other "off the beaten track" areas. She was delightful! You can reach Sylvie at sylvie.di.cristo@wanadoo.fr or www.azur-guides-interpretes.com In Italy, our tours were arranged by contacting claudio@limoinrome.com. Although he could not personally be with us, he arranged the tours even accommodating a last minute request to see Nero's Golden House. In Florence, Fabrizio gave us a wonderful tour. I'm just sorry I don't have his email. His passion for the area and it's history were incredible. We had a private tour of the Vatican by Daniele Fortuna at danielefortuna@tiscalinet.it. As an art history major, he gave a informative tour of the Vatican, Sistine Chapel and St. Peters. In Pompeii, Antonio, also arranged by Claudio, brought the history alive. All of the guides were prompt, knowledgeable and able to speak English extremely well. Booking the private tours also save us ton of money as well as enabling us to see even more of the areas. I was thrilled with our trip. Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
My wife and I just returned from the May 14th sailing on the Splendour of the Seas. We have cruised about 8-10 times previously. My wife is 39 and I am 41. We have cruised several times on Celebrity, once on NCL and this was our second ... Read More
My wife and I just returned from the May 14th sailing on the Splendour of the Seas. We have cruised about 8-10 times previously. My wife is 39 and I am 41. We have cruised several times on Celebrity, once on NCL and this was our second RCI cruise. We had an amazing time. The ship is terrific. The food is delicious, and the Solarium pool is wonderful. I swam every night before dinner in the indoor Solarium pool, and most of the time I was alone in the pool. The fellow passengers were also fabulous. We flew in the day before the cruise and boarded at 5:30 p.m., after everyone else. It took us 2 minutes, and we had missed the dreaded muster drill. First thing you should always do when boarding the ship is to go check with the Maitre D' about your dining arrangements. We always request a table for 2 at the late seating, and invariably this is not what we are assigned. This is never a problem. The Head Waiter who ended up being our Head Waiter, Wilder, immediately sorted us out. Sometimes they need a day to sort it out, but we have never been disappointed. In Marseilles, the ship docks a few miles from the Old Port. My wife has family there so we were picked up and spent a great day with them. I would suggest doing some sort of tour to Aix-en-Provence or Les Baux de Provence. If you are going to see Marseilles, share a taxi with others to the Old Port, or take the RCI shuttle ($5 each way). In Villefranche, my wife also has family nearby. We were picked up and went to Cannes during the film festival. A fun time. Then we took a train to Nice. Be forewarned, the train station in Nice is about a half hour walk from Vieux Nice. But, in Villefranche, there is a tourist information desk as soon as you get off the tenders. You can take buses or trains to many places (Nice-7 mins, Monte Carlo or Cannes). The train station is a 5 minute walk to the right along the port. Schedules are available at the tourist information desk. From Livorno, we shared a taxi with 2 other people to the train station (15 Euros), and took a train to Florence. The ride is about an hour and a half. We walked around and visited three museums, the Accademia, to see Michelangelo's David, Museo di San Marco (Fra Angelico) and the Bargello (the sculpture museum). The # to call for reservations at Florence museums is 011-39-055-294-883. The cost is 3 Euros per ticket. You will need one for the Accademia and the Uffizi. The operators speak English. Sadly, the Uffizi was fully booked, and the line to get in was VERY long. We then took a train to Pisa (about a one hour ride), then hopped on a train at Pisa Centrale for the Pisa San Rossore station (4 minute ride). This lets you off a 5 minute walk from the Leaning Tower. You can book climbs online at their official website. We spent about an hour there, and did not climb the Tower. We then hopped a train back to Pisa Centrale, and then one to Livorno (20 minute ride), and shared a cab back to the ship (20 Euros). You cannot walk from the ship to the station in Livorno. In Civitavecchia, we took the port provided shuttle to the port entrance and walked to the train station (a 5-7 minute walk along the sea). We then took a train to Rome (60-80 minute ride, depending on where you are going). We first went to the Vatican Museums. I had booked a tour of the museums directly with the Vatican at a cost of 21.50 Euros. You can do this by going to the Vatican's official website and sending them a fax stating the number in your party and what tour you want. They will send you a fax back in about 3 days. If you have a tour, you do not wait in line, but instead go to the exit to the right of the entrance to the Vatican museums to get your tickets. We got there at about 9:45 a.m., and the line to get in for individuals without a tour or a reservation was about 5-10 minutes long, so we eschewed our tour and opted for that instead (12 Euros). I had a terrific guidebook of the treasures of the Vatican and we spent over 3 hours in the museums, culminating with the Sistine Chapel. Spectacular! When you exit the Sistine Chapel, go out the exit in the back on the right and that will lead you down so you can go into St. Peter's Basilica. The main exit from the Sistine Chapel on the left does not allow you to do this. We then spent about 45 minutes in St. Peter's, and then walked to the Castel Sant' Angelo, crossed over the river, walked to Piazza Navona, visited the Pantheon, walked by Hadrian's Temple, then to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, then along the Foro Traiano for a view a few blocks away of the Coliseum, then past the Mercati Traianei and to the Fountain of Trevi, then to Piazza Barberini to see Bernini's small but wonderful Fountain of Triton. From there we hopped on the Metro (2 stops) to the train station and caught a train back to Civitavecchia. Note: The train station is HUGE. Give yourself 10-15 minutes to find and get to your train. If you are going to the Vatican first, get off at the Roma S Pietro station. Then, it is a short walk (10-15 minutes) to the Vatican. You will easily see the Dome. In Naples, we shared a full day private tour with 6 others with DriveAmalfi (driveamalfi@hotmail.com) to the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. The cost was 81.25 Euros per person. We found the group on the Cruise Critic message boards. We stopped in Amalfi and Ravello, had lunch in Pontone (20 Euros, including wine, then visited Pompeii for 2 hours at the end. Normally, the tour begins with Pompeii, but there was a strike at Pompeii that morning. We had a wonderful day. Note: Salvatore, about whom everyone raves, can only be on one tour. I think DriveAmalfi had 6 tours that day. We had Marco who was VERY nice, but did not fill us in that much about the history, etc. I had books, so we saw what we wanted to. I would fully recommend this private tour. As an aside, I know 4 people who hired a cab at the ship for 5 or 6 hours at noon to take them to Pompeii and then around Naples. It cost them 35 Euros each. (Note: We were lucky to be in Italy during Culture Week when most of the museums and Pompeii were free admission.) We are not big on the ship's tours and only do them when absolutely necessary. Visiting the cities, as I described above, on your own is very easy and incredibly enjoyable. For a full schedule of trains in Italy go to http://www.trenitalia.com/en/index.html From there, you can get any list of trains you want. Just enter the stations' names, and the times you want to go. On the last day at sea we relaxed, took some sun, although it was a little chilly, and played minigolf. For debarkation, we were the last people off the ship, so we got right into a taxi for our hotel. The dining room and Windjammer were open until 8:30 for breakfast on the last day. We had a day and half in Barcelona before the cruise and a full day afterward. Barcelona is a great city. We visited Park Guell, Montjuic, walked around the Barri Gotic, visited Sagrada Familia, the Picasso Museum, Casa Mila and saw the Fountain show. We also had some wonderful meals. Three restaurants I can recommend off the tourist path are the intimate El Cafeti, 99 C. Hospital, www.elcafeti.com (known for their paella and rice dishes), Meson David, 63 C. Carretes, a boisterous and inexpensive place where I had a delicious Roast Leg of Pork and where the desserts are terrific, and La Paradeta, 7 C. Comercial. La Paradeta is a great experience. You pick your seafood from what they have as you enter, buy it by weight, tell them how you want it cooked, get a number and wait for it to be called. The food is divine. None of these three restaurants are expensive. Both Meson David and La Paradeta are crowded with locals. In Barcelona the subways are terrific. I recommend buying a T-10. It gives you 10 rides for 6.30 Euros, and can be used by as many people as you want. You can buy it at any subway station. We were thrilled beyond belief with our whole trip. To cap it all off, our Iberia flight from Madrid to NYC was overbooked and we were put in Business Plus Class. You cannot lose with this itinerary. Everyone with whom I spoke on the ship had a spectacular time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
RCL Splendour, May 28-June 4, 2005, 7-day, out of Barcelona This was our 10th cruise, the 3rd on RCL (the other 2 were on the Monarch and Rhapsody). The other cruises were on Carnival (Sensation, Victory, Jubilee, Ecstasy), Celebrity ... Read More
RCL Splendour, May 28-June 4, 2005, 7-day, out of Barcelona This was our 10th cruise, the 3rd on RCL (the other 2 were on the Monarch and Rhapsody). The other cruises were on Carnival (Sensation, Victory, Jubilee, Ecstasy), Celebrity (Galaxy and Mercury) and Norwegian Sea. We really like RCL cruises, but will cruise any line based primarily on price, departure port (Galveston is close) and ports visited. We took this cruise with just the 4 of us, myself (47), husband (50) and two daughters (20 and 18). This cruise was a whirlwind of activities and VERY busy. Had we been with a bigger group (like my whole 11-member family), we would have gone insane trying to organize port activities. As it was, we did a mixture of ports on our own, with a couple of RCL shore excursions and one private tour. We spent 2 days in Barcelona pre-cruise and 1 day in Chicago post-cruise making for 10 long days of travel. On the cruise, we went to Marseilles, Villefranche, Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Citavecchia (sp? Rome) and Naples. We especially like Florence and Pisa and would like to visit the Isle of Capri again without doing the Blue Grotto. Here's my overview of the trip: Pre-Cruise: Stayed at the Hotel Continental Palacente for two nights in Barcelona pre-cruise - great little hotel located 1 block North of Placa Catalunya and the start of Las Ramblas. Rate was 130 Euros for a queen-bed room, 120 Euros for a 2-twin-bed room - get the 2-twins room as the Queen bed felt pretty small. 24-hour buffet included hot food (soup, paella, etc.), fruit, candy, bread, olives, wine, beer, bottled water and soda. There's also a free stand-up internet terminal. AC in the hotel was great and it's a very pleasant hotel. Rooms are not large but the bathrooms are. Views from the room were of the building room next door - we could have paid more to get a better view but it didn't seem worth it for 2 nights. We took taxis from airport to hotel, hotel to port and port to airport. Costs for these trips were 25-30 Euros with tip. Taxis around town were 5-12E before tip. Some drivers charged extra for 4 people, some didn't. The most expensive taxi ride was to Park Guell at about 12-13E each way. We decided against the Bus Turistic as the 17E cost/pp added up to 68E total and there was a LONG line at Placa Catalunya to get on the bus. While in Barcelona, we walked up and down Las Ramblas (first evening) and on Friday went to Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Panera Apartments (designed by Gaudi) and had a fabulous tapas dinner with Sangria Friday night. We really loved Barcelona and would like to return there some day. Embarkation: We left the hotel at around 11:30 a.m. on Saturday and took a taxi to the port. It cost about 27E. We waited in a pretty long line that moved fairly quickly and were on the ship about 12:45. We got all our luggage around 5 p.m., which is early for us - usually we don't see it until 8 p.m.. Cabin: We had a Cat. H outside (3032) and a Cat. N inside cabin (3029). 3029 is right under the Schooner Bar piano and the girls (ages 18 and 20) had to endure Billy Joel music every night until 12-1 a.m.. We enjoyed the cabin locations as they were 1-2 decks up from port exits (either Deck 4 or Deck 1) and 1 deck from the casino and dining room. The only time we took the elevator was to go to the Lido deck for pool or snacks. We didn't miss a balcony and weren't in the rooms much at all. There were two plugs in the room - one with US electricity (110V) and one with European electricity (220V). Food: We found the food in the dining room to be mediocre to good. We sent steaks back on several nights because they were overcooked. The lobster was delicious though and the service was great. We did eat in the dining room 6 out of 7 nights and the food on this cruise was just not that good compared to other RCL cruises and even other Carnival cruises. Food at the buffet wasn't much better. Snack food at the indoor pool was quite tasty - especially the French fries. Overall though, we were not very impressed with the food on this cruise - it probably has to do with the weak Euro against the dollar. Entertainment/Other: Can't say much about the Entertainment as we didn't participate in hardly any of it. We played a couple of times at the Putt-Putt golf course - a little 10-hole course that was very lumpy. Never did the rock wall as we always seemed to be in port on the few hours during the day that it was open. We did go to the casino quite often and for the first time, came back with about $200 more than I started with. I came in 2nd in the Blackjack tournament but they limited the number of players so I only got $164 but that was still great. Slots seemed tight and we had all our luck on the roulette and craps tables. I did finally get a straight flush on 3-card poker betting $5 so that was probably my $200 profit. Internet on the ship is expensive ($.50/minute) and slow. Also, we could NOT get internet mail to work at all for AOL and also couldn't read my work mail. We tried using it the first day and gave up after that. Marseilles: Did the Nostradamus tour Sunday afternoon in Marseilles - waste of time - hot and boring. Also missed the RCL's M&M because of it. Would have been better off doing a taxi tour. Villafranche: tendered in around 10:30 and tried to take the train to Nice but didn't quite get the right train schedule and ended up waiting an hour until the next train. Moral to the story: look up the route online before the trip. In Nice, we walked downhill from the train station (2nd Nice train exit) to the ocean - it took about 45 minutes through a congested, construction-ridden city. Didn't care that much for Nice. Came back in time to take the 4 p.m. train to Monte Carlo where we took a cab to the casino (10 Euros). The private tables (you pay 10 Euros each to go in) open at 4 and we got there around 5:20. Played a little Roulette (with 5 Euro minimum chips) and won 30 Euros but since it cost 40 for 4 of us to get in and 13 Euros for a Gin and Tonic, I think we lost money. It was fun anyway - Blackjack table minimums were 25 Euros and up. Took a taxi back to the train station and just missed the next train by minutes. Waited another hour to return. Got back around 8 p.m.. Livorno: did a tour with a group of 4 Australians to Florence and Pisa with Limo in Rome tour guide - I enjoyed Florence even though it was hot and pretty crowded. Saw David at the Accedemia without waiting in the hour-long line - our private driver had made reservations for us and walked us right through - cost 11 Euros/pp. There isn't much to that museum except for David. I've heard the Uffizzi is much better for its collection but we weren't in the mood for more museums. Found an air-conditioned internet cafe in Florence and spent about 30 minutes there for about 3 Euros. We next went to Pisa and had a whopping 40 minutes to spend there - I'd have preferred 2 hours as Pisa is nice and we wanted to climb the tower. We didn't because we didn't have enough time. Our guide didn't offer much to our group of 8 other than getting us into Accademia without lines and a pretty uneventful trip to Florence. But, it was still cheaper (75 Euors/pp) and less crowded than doing a ship's excursion so that was good. Naples: we took the hydrofoil to the left of the ship around 10:35 to the Isle of Capri for about a 45-minute ride. Then we stepped off the hydrofoil and caught the last jet-boat to the Blue Grotto. They didn't leave again until 3 p.m. - maybe this has to do with the tides. At the grotto, we ended up waiting about an hour in choppy water for our rowboat to take us in. I got seasick - my Ginger pill didn't do it for me. Then, once I climbed from the speed boat into the rowboat, I got sick again - if you've ever had any hint of motion-sickness, take Dramamine or Bonine before this trip or you'll be sorry. I managed to quit being sick right before we entered the grotto and it was really lovely with the water lit a neon-blue from the bottom. We stayed about 5 minutes, took the boat back to Capri-town, ate lunch outside at an expensive cafe and then took the hydrofoil back around 3:30. Hydrofoil cost 22 Euros each for a round-trip ticket and Blue Grotto cost about 17 Euros each without a tips. Would I do the Blue Grotto again? Nope - I'd rather see more of the Isle of Capri. Rome: Did the "Rome: Eternal City" Tour with the ship for $190 each. We waited about 30 minutes in line to get into Vatican Museum and then spent about 2 hours in the museum, another hour in St. Peter's and a shop and then on to a marvelous lunch. The afternoon was spent at the Colosseum (no waiting in line) and then back to the ship by 5:15. It was a good tour but the Vatican was hideously crowded and all those crowds were gone by noon (the museum closes at 3 p.m.) - if you have the choice, go in the afternoon. Would I visit the Vatican museums/Sistine Chapel again - nope, too crowded and hot. I might go back to St. Peters though - it was gigantic, cool and impressive. Was this tour worth it - probably not at almost $200/pp. We probably could have done a private tour for much cheaper and bought us a REALLY nice lunch for the difference. But, by Thursday, we didn't want to have to think about anything - we just wanted to be led around. Debarkation: We were one of the middle colors and were off the ship by about 8:45. However, we waited quite some time for our luggage to come out on the luggage treads - like at the airport. The problem with having to wait for it to come out - by the time we got all 6 pieces of luggage, everyone seemed to get all their luggage and then we ALL went out to wait in a long taxi line. Still, we got to the airport around 10 a.m. for our 1 p.m. flight. The light plan home was: Barcelona-London-Chicago-Dallas with an overnight planned in Chicago so we could see the Art Institute on Sunday. Our flight to London was 90 minutes late and with a 2-hour layover, we literally RAN through the airport to catch our flight to Chicago. We made it but our checked bags didn't. We stayed at the Hyatt Chicago O'Hare Airport hotel for a Priceline rate of $55/night with just our carryons and checked out Sunday morning. We took the shuttle back to the airport and then the shuttle to the rental cars and rented a nice car for $35/day. We drove into Chicago and easily found the Art Institute and it is FABULOUS. That's one of the best museums I've ever been to. We drove back to the airport with a stop at Super Dawg Hot Dogs (had to try it but it was just OK, not great hot dogs) and were back in the airport by 2 p.m.. We entertained ourselves until our 5:30 p.m. flight and got home just fine. Our 5 bags were delivered 6 a.m. Monday morning. Yippee! Overall Impressions: I liked Florence, Pisa and the Isle of Capri. The cruise itself was exhausting and I don't think I'll do another 7-day Med. cruise. We may look into 10-12 day cruises or just come back to Italy and go to Venice and Florence/Pisa. The people in Barcelona and Italy were very friendly and helpful. Not so much so in France - I don't think I'll return to the French Med for an extended stay. The Splendour is a very nice, well-kept ship and I wouldn't mind cruising on it again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
Review:- We flew straight to Barcelona airport on Saturday & caught an airport taxi to the ship costing about 22 Euros. Embarkation was a breeze & we were on ship within 15 mins. There must have been 40 desk assistants at the pier. ... Read More
Review:- We flew straight to Barcelona airport on Saturday & caught an airport taxi to the ship costing about 22 Euros. Embarkation was a breeze & we were on ship within 15 mins. There must have been 40 desk assistants at the pier. Our dinner time was 6.30 which too early for us so the Maitre d' changed it to 7.00. The King & I dining room has 2 levels 6.30 sitting is on lower level which was not very busy & the second sitting at 7.00 is on the higher level. You can go into dinner 30 mins after set time. The third sitting is at 8.45 on the lower level which is the most popular & 4th sitting is at 9.15 on higher level which is less busy. The food is first class & nothing is a bother to the waiters. We always had dinner in the King & I restaurant & ate at the Windjammer for all our other meals apart from breakfast on disembarkation day. The Windjammer buffet food is excellent. The entertainment during the day & night was good & we went to 3 shows which again were good. We also tried the bingo on the Sunday as the top prize was an upgrade to a luxury suite. The cards are either a three pack or six pack which cannot be separated at $25 & $35 which I thought was very expensive especially if 2 or more are in your group. We didn't win & that was the last time we played!! Sunday we stayed on the ship relaxed in the beautiful warm sun around the pool until 5 p.m. when we had the M&M party in the Viking Lounge, I thought that the ships part in the party was disappointing with soft drinks & a few appetizers & a free raffle for the priceless RCI mouse which the 2 organizers who were waiters wanted to raffle at about 5.10 before everyone had arrived so we delayed that until later when most of the party had arrived. The party itself was made by ourselves who had talked over the months with each other on cruise critics. Everyone mixed & talked about everything for ages & exchanged small gifts representing each others geographical area. Monday, we tendered ashore, turned left & followed winding road up to the main street where we caught the service bus to Nice which cost approx 1.3 Euro. It was so easy & only took about 15 minutes. The train journey is just as easy, but one thing to be aware of in the train station, don't stand away from everyone as 2 people on the ship were mugged at one end of the station by several teenagers but I believe it was an isolated incident. Tuesday, we went on a private excursion to Florence & Pisa with Limoinrome. Florence is a beautiful city packed with so much art & beauty it is hard to appreciate. The statue of David is one of the finest masterpieces I have had the pleasure to see. Wednesday. The ship changed its itinerary & went to Naples because Pompeii & lots of other tourist centres were going to be closed on the Thurs because several unexploded bombs from the second world war were to be detonated. We stayed on the ship & enjoyed the onboard activities. Thursday. We shared a private excursion to Rome with our newly found friends from Australia. The excursion was booked with Limoinrome but because of the change of days Claudio had organized Vincent Macri to cover for him. He lives in Rome so knew every shortcut & took us everywhere & for lunch he took us to a beautiful restaurant near the Catacombs which had a large garden & we sat among the olive trees eating traditional Italian food. It was the climax to the excursion. On Thursday evening we had the pleasure of eating with the Captain on his table. It was such an experience & we had an unforgettable time. I honestly don't know why we were picked but I'm glad we were. Friday. Seaday :- we sat on a table at the pool from about 11.30 until about 4.00 celebrating our Australian friend's birthday drinking cocktails until they came out of our ears. We were joined by other friends we had met at the M&M party. Saturday:- Coloured tags were left in our cabins to be attached to our luggage for disembarkation. We had to be out of our cabins by 7 a.m. & disembarkation started from about 7:10 a.m.. Our time slot was supposed to be 7.20 but as we were travelling independently we went to breakfast in the King & I dining room at 7.10 & enjoyed our last breakfast in luxury before disembarking at 8 a.m.. The ship advertises a transfer service for 21.50 Euros each to the airport which can be expensive if there are 4 people travelling. Catch one of the many taxis available at the pier, total cost 27 Euro it was a doddle. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
This review is for the May 28, 2005 Splendour of the Seas cruise of the Western Mediterranean. It included the ports of Marseille, Villafranche (Nice and Monaco), Livorno (Florence), Naples (Amalfi and Pompeii), Civitavecchia (Rome), and ... Read More
This review is for the May 28, 2005 Splendour of the Seas cruise of the Western Mediterranean. It included the ports of Marseille, Villafranche (Nice and Monaco), Livorno (Florence), Naples (Amalfi and Pompeii), Civitavecchia (Rome), and Barcelona. Following the cruise we spent the a few days at the PortAventura resort before returning home to California. 05/28/05 We arrived in Paris after a 11 hour flight from Los Angeles. We made our way down to a crowded shuttle bus that took us to terminal 2F. There was almost no air conditioning in terminal 2 at the CDG airport. Near the entrance to terminal F, I exchanged $500 in traveller's checks for euros. There was a family from England waiting for the same flight to Barcelona that was also booked on the RCCL cruise. The flight out of Paris was delayed and we arrived in Barcelona at 3:15pm. After collecting our luggage we left the airport and quickly found a taxi. The taxi ride from the airport to Port Vell took 20 minutes and cost 25 euros. At 4pm we checked in with no wait and boarded the Royal Caribbean Splendour of the Seas for a seven night cruise of the Western Mediterranean. Our cabin stewardess was named Narva. After finding our cabin, we explored the ship until the announcement was made for all passengers to put on their life-vests and report to their muster station. We met a couple from California during the muster drill. At around 6:30pm we went to eat dinner in the King & I Dining room. Our waitress was Nery Gonzales from Chile. Her assistant was Charlton Rodrigues from India (with Portugese ancestry). I had the Prime Rib and my wife Rosie had the salmon dish. The ship left port as we began our meal. Following dinner we strolled through the ship. At the shore excursion desk we bought the last two tickets for the Sunday afternoon tour of Marseille. Our luggage arrived in our cabin sometime after 9pm. Later that evening we attended the Adventure Ocean kid's club orientation meeting in the Top Hat Lounge. Then we went to see the opening night show in the 42nd Street Theater. The main act was a group from Argentina called Los Pampas Gauchos that played drums and did tricks with a whip. The cruise director Rico acted as MC and welcomed everyone onboard. Before going to sleep my son Max and I played a round of miniature golf.05/29/05 After a good night's sleep we awoke and went to have breakfast in the King & I Dining room. We were seated with two other couples from Portugal (Santiago, Raza, Rachel, and Eugenio). For breakfast I ordered the granola which came on top of sliced fruit and was covered with yogurt. Max and I went swimming later that morning. At the side of the pool Rosie and I played a game of bean bag toss. After a relaxing morning by the main pool we returned to eat lunch in the King & I Dining room. We were seated with couple from Ireland, a lady from Virginia, and another couple from Florida. Max took a nap at the table. After lunch we dropped off Max at the kid's club. Rosie and I then went on our afternoon RCCL tour of Marseille. The tour bus first stopped at the Palais Longchamp, where we walked up the steps and took pictures. Then the tour bus drove along the water's edge to a spot where we could take pictures of the harbor. The tour continued with a drive to the top of the hill overlooking Marseille, where we stopped at the Notre Dame de la Gard cathedral. Rosie and I entered the church and heard the lord's prayer in French. When we returned to the ship, we picked up Max from the kid's club and returned to our cabin. We then dressed for the first formal dinner. I wore my black tuxedo and Rosie wore a black cocktail dress. We dropped off Max at the kid's club and then went to the King & I Dining Room. After a quick dinner, Rosie went to the spa for a hot stone massage. As the ship left Marseille it sailed around the island from the Count of Monte Cristo story. At around 9pm I went to pick up Rosie at the Spa. Rosie and Max went to bed early so I went to see the Rumba Flamenco show staring Ole Ole in the 42nd Street Theater by myself. Our cabin steward, Narva created a towel animal that looked like a creature from the sea. 05/30/05 The ship was already anchored in the Villafranche harbor when we awoke. We went to have breakfast in the King & I Dining room. At our table we met a family from Jacksonville and a group of ladies from London. One of the women looked like the queen of England's mother. After breakfast we walked around the top deck of the ship and played a round of miniature golf. I tried climbing the rock wall, but didn't get very far. Just after 9am we boarded the tender to Villafranche. A short five minute walk took us to the steps leading up to the train station. I left Rosie and Max and went to the other side of the platform where I bought 3 tickets to Nice. While waiting for our train we saw a woman screaming for her husband. After arriving in Nice we walked about twenty minutes before reaching the beach. On the way we stopped in a convenience store to buy water and arm floaties for Max. The beach was made of large stones that were painful to walk on barefoot. We considered taking the city tour bus that lets you hop on and off at over ten stops. Instead we took the tram for a basic tour of the city. The tram stopped at the top of a hill overlooking Nice. On the tram we meet a family from Indiana. After returning to the beach we walked back to the train station and returned to Villafranche. We spent an hour sitting on the beach at the bottom of the steps leading up to the train station. Max had fun playing at the water's edge and looking for sand crabs. We then walked to the dock and boarded the tender back to the ship. We ate a light lunch in the Windjammer cafe from which we had a spectacular view of the harbor. Around 5pm we got off the ship again and went to take the train heading in the other direction to Monaco. The office at the train station was closed and I didn't have change to buy any tickets from the vending machine on the platform. While trying to get change, I was told by a local merchant that there would be someone on the train who I could pay for our tickets. So we got on the train to Monaco without tickets and never met the ticket seller. Leaving the train station in Monaco we made our way to the Casino in Monte Carlo. It was somewhat confusing without a map, but we eventually found our way to the top of the hill overlooking the harbor. There we took pictures of the harbor and in front of the casino. We ate Häagen-Dazs ice cream in the park across the street from the Casino. We returned to the train station around 8pm. In the train station we met a couple from India who were buying tickets for the trip back to Villefranche. We just missed the train and had to wait almost an hour for the next train back to Villafranche that arrived just before the ship was scheduled to leave. After boarding the ship we went straight to the King & I Dining room for a late dinner and the head waiter was nice enough to find us a table. Max and Rosie went to bed and I went to see the Elvy Rose show in the 42nd Street Theater. The towel animal on this night was an anteater. 05/31/05 We awoke as the ship was arriving in the port of Livorno, Italy. Our RCCL excursion to Florence met in the 42nd Street Theater. Before departing on our excursion tour I grabbed a couple boxes of granola cereal and a few pastries at the Windjammer cafe. On the way to Florence we saw the town of Pisa in the distance. The tour bus stopped at a rest stop for a bathroom break and Rosie bought some coffee. When we arrived in Florence we drove through a residential area to the Michaelangelo park overlooking the city. There we took pictures and bought some bottled water. The tour bus then dropped us off in the middle of the old city. From there we went to see Michaelangelo's David at the Accademia Museum. We continued our tour on foot and walked passed the Uffici Gallery to see the Ponte Vechio. From there we walked for about 15 minutes to a restaurant on a plaza next to a church. The restaurant was made up of many themed rooms. The room we ate in had a map of Spain and South America on the walls. We sat at a table with a couple from Canada. The appetizer was lasagna and the main course was chicken. After lunch we walked through the cathedral were Michaelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci are buried. In the square outside the cathedral we bought some souvenirs and gelato. On the bus ride back to the ship I photographed some of the souvenirs we bought. After boarding the ship we went to eat dinner in the King & I Dining room. After taking Max to the kid's club, Rosie and I went to see the Jump Jivin' Swing show in the 42nd Street Theater. The towel animal was a dog or some other animal sitting and had floppy ears.06/01/05 This was to have been the day we went to Rome. However there was a change of plans due to the scheduled closing of the road to Pompeii on Thursday. The authorities were going to remove or detonate WWII bombs found near the road. The captain decided to take us to Naples instead of Rome so that those with plans to visit Pompeii could do so before the road closure. The ship arrived in Naples one hour late at 8am. We again went to have breakfast in the King & I Dining room and this time we sat with a group of loud Americans. We met in the 42nd Street Theater for our Amalfi Drive and Pompeii shore excursion. The tour began with our sick tour guide telling us about Mt. Vesuvius. Our first stop was to see how inlayed wood is made into artwork. We then began our three hour drive along the Amalfi coast. Rosie quickly got motion sickness from all the twists and turns. Max slept most of the morning bus ride. It was tough taking pictures from the moving bus. The delay in the digital camera was good for some laughs. We eventually stopped for a short break in the town of Amalfi. There we bought gelato and shopped for souvenirs. There was a store there that sold colorful pottery and tableware. Our tour bus continued along the coast until we reached a restaurant situated on a cliff overlooking the town below. We sat with an American couple from Georgia and another lady and her mother from Pennsylvania. After lunch we headed back to Pompeii. Before going into the ruins we visited a cameo factory. I wished we had spent more time exploring Pompeii. After an hour we boarded the tour bus for the return trip to the ship. After dropping off our bags we went to have dinner in the King & I Dining room. A couple and their daughter Lucy from England joined us at our table. Didn’t see the Love & Marriage Game show in the 42nd Street Theater. Took Max to see the Karaoke show in the Top Hat Lounge. The towel animal was a jack rabbit. 06/02/05 The ship docked in the port of Civitavecchia at 7am. Ordered room service for breakfast. We were running late and didn’t eat much of the breakfast. Met in the Top Hat Lounge for our Imperial Rome excursion. It was a bank holiday and there wasn't very much traffic in the city. First we went to see the Trevi Fountains. Bought a cappuccino for me and Rosie and gelato for Max. Tossed a coin into the Trevi fountain with the hopes of returning to Rome someday. The tour guide took his job very seriously and spoke with a thick accent that made his English hard to understand. The next stop was Vatican City. Due to the crowd, we waited 30 minutes in the sun to go into St. Peter's Basilica. Drove to a restaurant where we ate lunch with Lara and her boyfriend Michael's family. The appetizer was a pasta dish with the main entrée being veal. For dessert we had tiramisu. After lunch we continued the tour driving through the city. Max and Lara became good friends. Spent over an hour at the Coliseum. Returned to the ship and got dressed for the second formal night. I wore my grey tuxedo and Rosie wore her blue cocktail dress. Max put on his tuxedo and pretended to be James Bond secret agent 007. Had dinner with Graham, his wife Kay, and his daughter Lucy. Rosie and I both had the lobster. After dinner we took pictures of the gorgeous sunset and posed for the formal pictures taken by professional photographers in the Centrum. Took Max to the Explorer kid’s club. Rosie and I saw the Star Struck show in the 42nd Street Theater and then we went dancing on deck 11 at the Viking Crown Lounge. After we picked up Max, we returned to our cabin and Rosie went to sleep. Max and I went to the midnight buffet. Took video and pictures of Max with the ice sculptures and craved fruit. The towel animal was a monkey attached to a clothes hanger. 06/03/05 Day at Sea. Ordered room service for breakfast. Max and I left our cabin to allow Rosie to sleep in. Took pictures of the art work around the ship. Picked up Rosie and went to have lunch at the King & I Dining room. Sat with Elvy Rose and two other couples. One of the couples was from India and had been contestants on the Love & Marriage game show. Bought some ship souvenirs and then went to deck 6 to select our formal pictures. An American woman was very upset that she couldn’t find her pictures. She started arguing with one of the employees and demanded to see the manager. Spent the rest of the afternoon packing our bags. Ate dinner at the King & I Dining room. Took Max to the Explorer’s club. On the way back to the dining room, picked up the tip envelopes to give to our service staff. Gave our waitress Nery $80 and her assistant Charlton $40. Gave the head waiter $20 and our room stewardess Narva 60 euros ($78). Rosie and I went to see the Artistry of Floresance show in the 42nd Street Theater. This was the farewell show that also included a very good juggler from England as the closing act. Went dancing again at the Viking Crown Lounge. The DJ played nothing but Latin music and later Rico hosted a Merengue competition. The towel animal was a manta ray. 06/04/05 Arrived back in Barcelona. Had breakfast in the King & I dining room. Gave our waitress Nery the box of See’s chocolates that I had bought for the M&M party. Went to the 42nd Street Theater to join the RCCL Barcelona City Tour and Transfer excursion. Toured the city with stops at the top of Montjuic Hill, the Gothic Quarter, and the Familia Sagrada. Took out 70 euros from the ATM near Gaudi’s unfinished cathedral. The tour bus dropped us off at the Placa Catalunya where we took a taxi to our hotel Barcelo Sants for 10 euros. Ate lunch at the hotel's buffet restaurant. A couple from Panama that also had been on the cruise was staying at the same hotel. Exchanged $300 in traveler’s checks for euros at the front desk. After lunch we went down to the train station and bought round trip tickets to Placa Catalunya from the ticket vending machine. The train trip to Placa Catalunya took less than 10 minutes. After Rosie got a coffee drink at Starbucks we crossed the street to walk down Las Ramblas. We saw the many outdoor bird shops and the amazing human statues. It was getting a little chilly for Rosie so she bought a Barcelona t-shirt for 3.5 euros. We eventually made it to the food market and after seeing the fruit and fish stands we bought food for our picnic dinner. Leaving the food market we took the subway to the Palace Fountains. At the bottom of the steps we sat down to eat our picnic dinner of sliced salami, cheese on French bread. We walked to the top of the steps and took pictures of the city below. Around 9:30pm we walked back to the Barcelo Sants hotel. I was able to get a 3 euro refund for our return train tickets that we didn’t use. Throughout the day I heard the expression “vale” constantly, it’s the way the people in Spain say OK. The taxi drivers would also say “hombre” and “aye madre” all the time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
We boarded the ship in the beautiful and user-friendly terminal in Tampa for my 1st and hubby's 2nd Trans-Atlantic. My 6th and his 8th cruise. We had read the reviews in this section, and had sailed before on the Rhapsody and had a ... Read More
We boarded the ship in the beautiful and user-friendly terminal in Tampa for my 1st and hubby's 2nd Trans-Atlantic. My 6th and his 8th cruise. We had read the reviews in this section, and had sailed before on the Rhapsody and had a ball, so we felt like we were ready. Ship is smaller and prettier than Rhapsody. It has elegant teak decks in several places, a more luxurious spa, more elegant decor in the atrium and was cleaner than the family-oriented, Caribbean-sailing Rhapsody. Our inside cabin was fine - a real bargain. One of the nicest features of this ship and its sisters is the bow to stern walking track - 1/4 mile once around!! It was always a popular place for the geriatric crowd you get on a Trans-Atlantic!! And some of my fellow walkers could really MOVE!! It was important to mind manners and not block the fast lane!! The relatively old crowd was a great mix of folks from all over the world. Meeting people from the various countries was such a treat!! We thought we remembered a piano and a dessert bar on the top level of the Windjammer Cafe on the Rhapsody, and that had been filled with tables and chairs on the Splendour, perhaps to alleviate the fact that it's small. We never had a minute's problem getting a nice place to eat. But sometimes the fish on the buffet was over-cooked -- probably hard to get it right in a mass buffet. But the food in the Windjammer was, other than that, uniformly good and the service was the best on any ship's mass-cafe we've ever been on, except for Sun Princess, vintage 2000. The food in the dining room was wonderful. I could've eaten their salmon every night for the rest of my life!! The veggie dishes and desserts in every eating venue were superb. In the Windjammer the breakfast bacon was soggy until passengers complained, and they got it right after that!! The King and I dining room was full nearly every night for the early seating, but the service was great and the table mates were fun and interesting. Look for experienced cruisers on a re-positioning cruise!! What a learning experience!! The pools were good temperatures - chilly for the salt-water swimming pools and REALLY warm and luxurious for the hot tubs. The shows were good - we went to two. I guess on a re-positioning you don't get the big names that we had on the Rhapsody Caribbean cruise - I guess they don't need to be stuck at sea! But there was ample talent and the shows were well-prepared and presented. As for onboard diversions, the only fly in the ointment was those ubiquitous, noisy art auctions!! ARRRGGHHH!! The trivia geeks were a huge population among this AARP-aged crowd!! We filled the Schooner Bar, so they moved us to the Top Hat Lounge. I thought the trivia -- and all the planned activities on board -- was tons of fun and well presented. Line dancing and fitness classes were fun. The beauty shop seminars were a nice way to meet another group of cruisers than the trivia geeks, and I learned a lot - probably not enough, but it was still fun!! Now, about that infamous Splendour vibration... We did not feel it in our forward, upper-deck cabin at all until they cranked up all five engines. Then you could definitely feel it, and the water in the glasses in the dining room would shake, etc. I'm sure it might have been perceivable on a lower, aft deck throughout, but we didn't feel it until we left the Azores on about the 8th day and had to make up time lost from not being able to go into port at the expected hour. It definitely was there. We're experienced cruisers, and it honestly didn't bother us. Other folks we talked to didn't seem to mind it as well. Likewise, we had read complaints here about the ship's stability, and we experienced two or three days of strong gale force winds and very high seas - we're talking 30 feet or more at times. We found the ship to ride like a dream -- the roll put us to sleep at night!! And considering everything, we thought it was relatively quiet. Our only shore excursion was in Malaga, Spain, arranged so that we could make the Alhambra Palace in Granada and still not get left behind when the ship sailed!! It was well-run. The only problem was that there were SEVERAL people on the tour who were not physically capable of the demands of this tour, and they should not have been allowed to participate with this group. We paid a lot for the tour and there was not time for us to be slowed down. I felt for those slower people involved, too - I have been in a wheel-chair on a cruise ship. For their comfort/safety and our convenience they should have been routed to another tour. Getting off the ship was the worst part of the trip - not because it had problems, because it was well-organized. But none of us wanted to leave, as far as I could see!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
We had a great time on this cruise but there were some disappointments. Embarkation was very easy. We got to the cruise terminal at 11:45 and were on the ship before noon. Our stateroom was very nice although for the price we could have ... Read More
We had a great time on this cruise but there were some disappointments. Embarkation was very easy. We got to the cruise terminal at 11:45 and were on the ship before noon. Our stateroom was very nice although for the price we could have had a nicer stateroom on one of Carnival's Spirit class ships. Our stateroom attendant was adequate not great. Food was awful, although the service was outstanding. Our waiter and ass't waiter were the best I have had on any cruise. I highly recommend getting the wine package if you enjoy wine with dinner. The choices were good and the price was outstanding. The Windjammer Cafe was worse than the King and I dining room. Avoid it at all cost. Breakfast and lunch in the dining room were adequate. We found lunch to be better than dinner. I ate mostly vegetables at all meals because they were fresh, usually steamed and had some taste. There were many activities on the ship. The spa was over priced and the services were marginal. I did however get a fairly decent free facial the first day because they needed someone for a demonstration during the spa tours. We chose this itinerary because we scuba dive. We did not make it into Grand Cayman. The reason was somewhat sketchy - they said that it was not safe to tender. (We heard at other ports that since the hurricane the Cayman Port Authority also has something to do with these decisions.) We booked our own scuba trip in Cozumel - Scuba with Alison. She was outstanding!!! Cozumel is an awesome place to dive. There is an abundance of beautiful fish and we saw 3 giant sea turtles. I highly recommend Alison. She will not take more than 8 divers. We did the ships scuba excursion in Belize. It was diving with the herd - 14 people. We had "Joe diver" who had only been diving for a year and had to tell everyone how to dive. Funny, he was the guy who didn't pay attention to the dive tables and went too deep. Imagine that!!! Belize was unimpressive as was the dive operation. Also, RCI does not give you the correct info on their website as to total cost and what would be provided. I do not recommend booking with the ship. Costa Maya is a machination of the cruise ship companies - TOURIST TRAP!!! We went back to the ship after an hour. I can buy the same things in Ensenada for less. The highlight of the ship was the Schooner Bar. We spent most of our time on board there talking to Loren the bartender from Jamaica. He was wonderful to say the least. We became friends with a group of people who would meet there everyday. Lot's of fun!!! There were many young children and teenagers on this trip because of spring break. For the most part they were very good but if you are trying to avoid the kids I would not book in March or thru the middle of April. All in all we had a good time but probably will not book with RCI again. Carnival, even on their 3 day cruises had better food, better services and nicer cabin for the money. Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
Overall, our 7 night Western Caribbean cruise on Splendour was very enjoyable and a good value for the money. Our family party of 7 had 4 people who had cruised before (July '04 on Mariner of the Seas), so the only comparison I can ... Read More
Overall, our 7 night Western Caribbean cruise on Splendour was very enjoyable and a good value for the money. Our family party of 7 had 4 people who had cruised before (July '04 on Mariner of the Seas), so the only comparison I can make is the difference between our cruise on Mariner and the one we just took on Splendour. Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly with no problems on either end. Our first meal in the Windjammer Cafe was not promising because the food was lukewarm even though we were eating by 12:30 p.m. However, that was the worst meal of the cruise. Subsequently, food in the Windjammer was very good --especially at breakfast and tea time. Every meal in the King and I was outstanding, as was our server Darwin from the Philippines. He made a special effort to make our 73 year-old mother feel special, and she loved all of the attention. The best meal was the lobster on the second formal night. The best desserts were the flourless chocolate cake and baked Alaska. The salads were excellent every night. Service in the King and I was much better than our service in Rhapsody on the Mariner. We only ate 2 times in the dining room on the Mariner because it took 2 hours to eat dinner both times. Our dining room service with Darwin was speedy and efficient. Since 3 in our party drink wine, we ordered the $154 wine package and especially enjoyed the Malbec which we ordered twice during the cruise. My 18 year-old niece really enjoyed the food in the Solarium, which included hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries and pizza. They had a line during the afternoon on most days, but it moved fairly quickly. The food was very good and very convenient! I didn't feel the famed vibration on the Splendour in our cabin, but it was very visible in the souvenir shop ... the glass shelf was rattling while we were buying mugs. When I went to Cruise Critic's Meet and Mingle on the Mariner, there were several nice door prizes given away by the ship, all of which were won by 2 families. Thus, I was determined that all 7 of us would go to the meeting on the Splendour; and, after my big build up, we did, only to be disappointed when there was a drawing for one prize, a computer mouse. The beds in our Jr. Suite were hard as a rock ... they definitely need to be replaced. That said, I really enjoyed having a balcony, which was much more affordable on the Splendour than on the Mariner. Also, it was noisy at night on the Splendour, and I didn't hear any noise in our inside cabins on the Mariner. Additionally, on the Splendour, my mother's Sonic electric toothbrush disappeared out of the bathroom between breakfast and lunch on the second day of the cruise and never was found. On the last night, I also "lost" in our cabin a small make-up bag with nothing in it but a luggage lock. We didn't "lose" anything on the Mariner. One thing I think RCI needs to change is to make coffee/tea only available by 6:30 a.m. via room service. The first morning I ordered coffee and it came by 6:45 a.m., 15 minutes before the advertised time of 7-7:30 a.m.; however, the next day it had not arrived by 7:15 a.m., and I needed to make the 7:30 a.m. stretch class, so I called room service and cancelled and did not attempt to order room service coffee again. Instead, my brother-in-law made a coffee run to the Windjammer at 6:30 a.m. every morning. Regarding shore excursions, we were not able to go ashore in the Caymans, and because of the choppy seas, we went to Cozumel on Tuesday and Costa Maya on Thursday. In Cozumel, we took a cab to Paradise Beach and enjoyed the day there. In Belize on Wednesday, two of our party took the ship excursion for cave tubing and did not have any problems. The rest of us stayed on the pier and shopped. I made reservations with Ivan at chacchobenruins.com for a party of 7 on Tuesday @ 11 a.m. and we got there on Thursday. I couldn't notify Ivan of the change because AOL service was not available on Splendour. We got to the village of Mahaual and I spent 30 minutes trying to find their office. I finally found David (Ivan's partner) on the main street with a group of 11 from the Carnival ship going to the ruins, and we went with them. Ivan had taken another group at 7 a.m. and would not be back until noon and it was 10:30 a.m. at the time. Also, there had been a change in the government, and their vans were not available, so David arranged and paid for cabs to take us to the ruins and back to the port. After the dicey beginning, we thoroughly enjoyed our tour with David, and I can highly recommend him as a tour guide to the Chacchoben ruins. He was very knowledgeable about the ruins and the Mayan culture, which made the visit to the ruins much more interesting than it would have been without him. The $43 per person was well worth the cost, especially given that the advertised rate via cab to the ruins from the port was $45. Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
This was our first cruise experience. Embarkation was effortless and surprisingly hassle-free. We experienced a rough night leaving Tampa Bay-- we had the late seating and I ended up excusing myself from dinner to lie down. By day 2, and a ... Read More
This was our first cruise experience. Embarkation was effortless and surprisingly hassle-free. We experienced a rough night leaving Tampa Bay-- we had the late seating and I ended up excusing myself from dinner to lie down. By day 2, and a good night's rest, acquired my "sea legs" and luckily we never experienced anymore rough seas. Sadly, due to rough seas, the Captain made the call to cancel our tenders into Grand Cayman-- but we used the extra sea day to explore the ship (and RELAX on our balcony!!) We splurged on a balcony room for our Anniversary celebration, and don't regret it. I can't explain how calming it is to rest on the bed and hear the waves crashing against the ship each night. The room decor seemed a bit dated and worn, but clean, presentable. We had AMPLE space to store our stuff with plenty of unused cubbies/cabinets. Our cabin steward, Chris Silva, and his assistant were incredible and we made sure our tip reflected our sincere appreciation of their hard work. The King and I dining was incredible! We had no complaints whatsoever. Well, maybe just one complaint-- our stomachs weren't big enough :0). Because of not getting into the Caymans-- the Captain had investigated going into Costa Maya(as scheduled) and estimated rough seas there as well. So, we headed to Cozumel. Our initial concern was that our scheduled excursion "dates" would be affected-- but no worries, Royal accommodated all changes. We booked the Sian Kaan Biosphere excursion in Cozumel. We used the ferry to get to Playa de Carmen. I was not expecting the ferry to be so rough-- we had a couple of flights in the air off the water! But, it was all part of the fun! We visited the Muyil mayan ruins and enjoyed the beautiful, peaceful walk through the jungle. We were extremely fortunate to have only 3 couples on this excursion. So with 6 people, this was a very intimate tour and very educational. Our tour guide, Freddy, was very articulate and we learned so much about the Mayan culture and history. I miss Mexico already. In Belize, we booked the Xunantunich mayan tour. After a 2 hour bus trip nearing the Guatemalan border, we experienced an incredible history lesson and fell in love with Belize. Costa Maya was our day of play. We didn't book an excursion with Royal...instead chose a local snorkel company in the tourist village for an hour snorkeling experience. We had a blast. Afterwards, we went to Tapas for lunch-- shrimp fajitas/tacos and a bucket of Corona. We spent the rest of the day relaxing on the beach in Majuahal. We were hooked by the cruising bug and cannot wait to cruise again. We knew that the Splendour was one of Royal's smaller ships, but nonetheless, it is a beautiful ship. There're plenty of activities for everyone. We felt the Karaoke needed to be longer throughout the week. Overall, I'm glad we chose Royal as our first cruise. We had a lovely time and came away rested and re-charged to get back to the daily grind of work and responsibilities. Thanks to the hard-working crew of Splendour of the Seas, and thank you Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
Party consisted of my wife and I with our 8 and 12 year old daughters, and two other couples, in 3 adjoining balcony rooms. All adults are "barely past our forties". Previous cruises include NCI Norway, Carnival Imagination (both ... Read More
Party consisted of my wife and I with our 8 and 12 year old daughters, and two other couples, in 3 adjoining balcony rooms. All adults are "barely past our forties". Previous cruises include NCI Norway, Carnival Imagination (both adults only) and last 2 years on Carnival Spirit, with daughters. Comparison comments will generally relate to last 2 trips on Carnival Spirit. This was the third cruise we booked through an online agency and have had nothing but positive results with them. We flew from Rochester, NY to Tampa the day before, out of respect for winter weather in the Northeast. As one of our companions graciously provided overnight accommodations from her Marriott miles, we stayed at a Marriott Residence Inn. The Marriott properties close to the Cruise Port were booked so we ended up about 20-30 minutes from the port and airport. The Residence Inn was a great place to stay, we just hung around the pool, and that night ordered dinner delivered from Dine-One-One which offers selections from numerous area restaurants. The only downside was that taxi and limo/shuttle service in the Tampa area is relatively expensive and options are limited. Embarkation: We arrived at the Tampa cruise port about 1:15 and waited about 15 minutes for the rest of our party to arrive. Due to the height of the causeway bridge, the largest cruise ships cannot get in, and the port is smaller and way less hectic than Miami. The various employees we encountered seemed significantly more pleasant and helpful as well. We had completed our RCI pre-boarding forms online and boarding proceeded very quickly, probably 20 minutes or less. We went directly to our balcony room on deck 7 to dump our carry-ons, then went to the Windjammer for some lunch. It was OK, but here was not much that the kids liked. The last piece of luggage arrived shortly before dinner. Ship: The Splendour is obviously not brand new, but seemed well cared for. Less glitzy than Carnival , which is not a bad thing. I thought it had kind of an understated elegance. I liked the smaller size, as it didn't feel like a mile long hike to get from one end of the ship to the other. The pools, while not large, never seemed to get overly crowded, and I liked the "baby" section on the end of one as one could sit in it against the edge with a book when the sun got a bit overpowering. The solarium pool looked ok the couple of times I went in there, and very peaceful. It's nice they have a pool area that's adults only for those that can indulge. The solarium glass roof retracts, but was never open when I was there. The chaise lounges were definitely a step up from Carnival in quality. Clothes pins and those little black binder clips came in handy to keep towels in place. Other than the last day, it wasn't too hard to find at least a few chairs together to use. As usual, there were many chair hogs who would deposit something on the chair and disappear for hours. The ship policy said things would be removed after 2 hours but I never saw this actually happen. On the last day, there were articles left on some chairs next to us for at least 5 hours without anyone showing up. I was so, so sorely tempted to take all the stuff and just throw it overboard, but I managed to resist the urge. The kids missed the water slide from the Carnival Spirit. I did the rock wall climb twice. I was a little surprised as I had been expecting more of a beginner's or kid's wall, but it has varying routes, maybe 5 different degrees of difficulty. I had never climbed before, and it took me 2 tries to get to the top on the easiest route. The secret seems to be don't look up or down, just focus on where your hands have to go next. The one female instructor/spotter (Sarah?) appeared to be the most enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and could have a future as a drill instructor, as she's very motivating! The wall was generally open 3-4 hours a day, and it takes time for even a small group to go through. Other than the last day however, there did not seem to be a lot of people waiting. I played the golf putting course a few times including with my 12 year old. The bumps made it challenging. Again did not observe any long lines of people waiting. Minor ship design notes: The raised doorsills had little diagonal risers to them so you were less likely to trip on them. It constantly bugged me on the Spirit that the handrails in the hallways had flat butt end caps on them, so if you weren't paying attention walking with your hand on the rail you'd frequently whack your fingers into the next rail (ok, more frequently in the wee morning hours). The Splendour, to contrast, had rounded wood caps on the end of each rail. I did find it strange on the Splendour, that there were no rest rooms adjacent to the dining room, the theater, or the casino. You had to go up or down one flight of stairs in each case. We never encountered a significant wait for elevators. The kids camp program seemed ok. Not as good as Carnival's in terms of the activities or counselors, but certainly acceptable. We were able to give permission for our 8 year old to sign herself in and out which was convenient. The unattended Library was open all hours, and was comfortably furnished. They only carried hardcovers, no paperbacks, so I didn't check out any books. I had bought a number of used paperbacks at home before we left and managed to get through 5 of them on the flight down and on the cruise. As anyone with kids can appreciate, reading 5 novels in a week is a rare pleasure. Since the books were all reasonably priced, I would just leave them out in the common areas when finished with a note that they were free to a good home. They all seemed to disappear pretty quickly. Room: Highlight for us was probably the balcony. We liked having the sliding glass door, as opposed to the spring-loaded French door on Carnival. The balcony chairs were a step up from Carnival. I missed having a light on the balcony as I would sometimes use it to read late at night without disturbing anyone in the room. The privacy on the balcony was also not what we were used to, as the gaps on the edges of the side dividers made it risky to venture forth in one's underwear (or maybe less). Our two daughters had to share a fold-down couch which was not very large nor comfortable. We definitely missed the third bed that pulled down from the ceiling that we had on Carnival. This may have been available in other rooms based on some conversations I overheard. The bathroom was average, with the exception of the shower, which was pretty cramped. I had a hard time shaving my face, couldn't imagine trying to do one's legs in there. I liked the design touch of a small trough around the outside of the shower which drained away any water that escaped the curtain. The water pressure was strong, to the point that the water could splash out of the sink onto one's clothing, which of course I discovered on the first formal night. We were able to find enough storage space for the four of us (four large suitcases, a suit carrier, and 4 carry-ons), but it was tight, as expected. I thought there could have been more space designed into the cabin, for example, there was wasted space below the shelf under the sink in the bathroom, and there was a coffee table that took up a fair amount of floor space and constantly had to be moved, that could have had some storage space incorporated underneath. The ice bucket that comes with the room is pretty small and as I drink a lot of ice water, I asked our room steward, Carolina if I could get another one. She brought another plastic one which was standard size, and did a great job of keeping both of them filled, and her overall service for the week was excellent. Food: Most days, we only had breakfast and dinner. Breakfast buffet in the Windjammer was just so-so. The scrambled eggs, which I thought was a meal impossible to ruin, were pretty bad, mealy and watery. Bacon was crispy, which is how I like it, sausages and omelets, etc just ok. The coffee stations seemed to run out fairly regularly, and the kids were disappointed there was no chocolate milk at any of the meals. My wife and older daughter usually ordered room service breakfast which they found quite good, and the service was invariably prompt. I felt bad that I didn't realize the first couple of times that there was no gratuity included for the person delivering. We did have the lunch buffet once and it was all right. They don't seem to keep the food real hot at the buffet stations. I did like that all the stations were serve yourself, as opposed to some of the cafeteria style serving lines on Carnival. The burger grill by the Solarium was again just OK. The pizza there was nothing to write home about. Coming from upstate New York, where it seems there's a pizza parlor for every 15 residents, I was disappointed that I never once saw pepperoni or sausage on the offerings. Also missed the 24 hour availability on Carnival. The "Ice Cream" stations were limited to frozen yogurt, unless you wanted to spring for $2.89 a serving for Ben and Jerry's. Again, was not offered 24 hours. Dinners were consistently excellent. We had been assigned a great table at the early seating, a table for eight just as you walked in on the lower level right next to the windows. The dEcor was classy, and the service outstanding. I have never been on a cruise where the headwaiter was as visible and involved as on the Splendour. He was constantly checking on how things were going, and if we needed anything extra would chase it down. The rest of our wait staff was great also. No one at our table ever had a complaint about a meal. I would usually combine two entrees for a Surf and Turf offering and they were all excellent. I liked that they would offer to put the second main entrEe on the same plate, with just one set of sides. I am always impressed on these cruises as to how good the vegetables and other side dishes are, especially considering the volumes they have to produce in a limited time frame. There were two formal nights, which is two too many in my mind, but I was in the minority in out party. There seemed to be ample opportunities for photos, without having to stand in lines too long. Entertainment: I did not attend any of the ship shows, (I'm just not really that into them), but the rest of our party saw most of them. Reports indicated they were fair to good. According to every single woman in our party, the cruise director, - Rico - was HOT, and by the way, very competent. We ended up sharing a cab with him (and his naturally HOT friend) on the way to the beach in Costa Maya and he came across as very friendly. He seemed to enjoy his job and did well at it. We liked the casino, with the exception of all the mirrored walls. I would guess it was an effort to make the casino seem larger, but I found it confusing as it always looked like there was another part to the room., It probably doesn't help that I have a terrible sense of direction. Almost all the tables seemed to be $5 minimum, which is unusual these days. There were a couple of Caribbean Stud and 3-card poker tables, but no Let It Ride. Dealers were generally friendly and helpful. A few liked to deal high speed, which I don't care for. There were no automatic shufflers (thank you) and the blackjack tables seemed to be using about 6-7 decks. There was one sit-down BJ table that used one deck, but the payout rules were a little different so I didn't try it. I ended up a few hundred dollars ahead which of course made me like the place a little more ;) My wife played the slots and thought the selection and payouts were limited There was a nice bar adjacent to the casino called Schooners, that had a Piano player/singer who did requests every night. I thought the volume was a little loud, but maybe I'm just getting old. I visited the disco a couple of time after the casino closed which was generally about 1:30. Very nice spot, with 360 degrees of windows at the top of the ship. I was pleased to discover that a variety of beer in glass bottles was available throughout the Splendour, including not only Corona, but Red Stripe, Amstel Light, and a few others as well. Didn't do much for my vow to try and watch calories however. . .. We purchased pop cards (soda cards to non upstate-NYers) for the kids - about $35 ea including tip. They probably saved a few dollars but not a huge amount. My daughters just don't seem to drink that much soda on cruises for some reason. Unlike Carnival, pop is not included free at Dinner, so the cards helped there. Excursions: Our general plan - or lack thereof - was to book excursions at each port as we arrived and pretty much play it by ear. The ship excursions always involve a premium price, and more importantly to me, usually involve large crowds and standing in line, two things I will go to almost any extent to avoid on vacation. As we're always happy snorkeling or beaching it we can always find somewhere to go. There's not a lot of risk involved as long as you plan plenty of contingency time to get back to the ship on time. I must say this trip reinforced my inclination to avoid tender ports whenever possible. Georgetown, Grand Cayman (9-5): The ship newsletter had indicated that until 10:30, passengers would need to get tickets ahead of time by the pursers desk, and recommended that you get there early for tickets . Turned out that 10:30 was just an "estimate" and it probably wasn't until after 11:30 that you could get on without a ticket. We did go back to the purser's area for tickets and were able to depart a little after 11:00 Based on the favorable reviews I had seen on Captain Marvin's snorkel and stingray trip we planned to try them first for a family trip. Their office turned out to be a 5-6 block walk from our dock and naturally we missed their last boat that could have gotten us back on time by about 15 minutes. We then walked back to the dock and hooked up with Capt Harvey's boat. There were only about ten people on booked on the trip. On the short bus ride to the boat, it was easy to observe that there was still extensive amounts of damage from the August hurricanes, and this was on the leeward side from where they struck! The boat was a bit older, and the overall approach was pretty casual. There was no discussion of where the life jackets were located, and they did not close the rail openings for the gangways after we left the dock, so we had to keep a close eye on our daughters. There was a self-serve cooler on the front deck with some soda, water, small cups and ice. Captain Harvey claims to be the first person to start feeding the stingrays on the sandbar years ago. Both he and his first mate, a woman who had just moved from Boston to Grand Cayman late last year, were very helpful and friendly. They ended up having to resolve a dispute with some of the passengers, as a few had to be back early, while a couple of others claimed they were promised a snorkel stop in addition to the Stingray City excursion when they booked. The captain managed to make arrangements with another boat at the stingray sandbar to take back the couple that had the early departure time, so everything worked out. I had observed before that even though these boats are in competition for passengers, they usually cooperate in these types of situations which is nice. The Stingray City area was pretty crowded when we arrived, so the boat had to anchor in water 7-10 feet deep, then we swam maybe 20 feet to the sandbar. The water was clear and warm with nice soft sand on the bottom. The stingrays ranged up to about 4 feet across and would generally congregate around whoever had food. My 8 year old was pretty scared of them, but stayed in the water most of the time. The 12 year old was a little nervous at first but ended up having a wonderful time. This is definitely a worthwhile experience. As we were able to transfer our early-departing fellow passengers to the other boat, we also made a short stop at a nearby reef for some snorkeling. It was pretty good, nothing outstanding, and the whole family was able to participate. Capt. Harvey set the sail for the return trip, and came up on the front deck with his guitar and sang and told stories about the islands most of the way back. It was a nice relaxing conclusion to the afternoon, and we got back in plenty of time for the tender back to the ship. The line at the dock was not too long. I noticed that on the Princess dock next to us they had waiters circulating with trays of cold drinks for the people waiting which is a nice touch (hint, hint to RC). The other 2 couples in our group had taken a taxi to Seven Mile Beach and enjoyed a relaxing day there in front of one of the hotels. Costa Maya (10 - 6): The Splendour was the only ship in port this day, so we had the place pretty much to ourselves which was nice. The port area is new and clean, with numerous shops, a pool and manmade beach area. There was a shuttle service from the ship to the port, but most people were walking. We took a taxi van to the fishing village of Majuhual (also known as "downtown") for I think $4 per person. It was very hot, and the a/c in the taxi was pretty feeble. Thankfully it was a fairly short ride. I had heard you could walk it on a path from the port, but with the heat and various paraphernalia we were carrying, I don't think it would have been much fun. We also saw a number of people riding bikes on the road we took, and it looked like they were eating a lot of dust. Majuhual is basically a dirt/sand road, along the beach, with bar/restaurants and various vendors along each side. Very casual and laid back, although the vendors can be somewhat aggressive, but never threateningly so. Our friend tried to take a picture of the street, and a young man jumped into the picture and then proceeded to chase our friend down the street, claiming he was owed $10 for taking his picture! Our friend told the young man he owed us $10 for ruining his picture and just kept walking. We ended up at a restaurant right on the beach, just before Tapas. It's called El Faro, but I'm not sure the name is displayed anywhere. It has a thatched roof, with yellow umbrellas over the beach tables. The restrooms were clean (although there was no seat on the toilet in the ladies room). The service and food were good and the prices very reasonable. Six adults and two children spent the day there for about $60 with a fair number of drinks, and a little bit of food. One word of caution, when you're in the water watch where you put your feet -there are a number of spiny black sea urchins, including in the sea grass. The water is very shallow, and stays no more than chest deep out to a reef which is probably 150-200 yards from shore. The water past the reef was pretty rough the day we were there, so we did not try any snorkeling trips, even though they were available for $20-35. One of our party did try a 30 minute massage for $20 and thought it was well worth it. We walked up and down the road and bought a few souvenirs, but nothing substantial. Overall a very pleasant, relaxing day. We would definitely return here given the chance. Belize City (7 - 5): The tender situation again seemed to be not well communicated. My friend and I went down to the loading area some time after they were to have started open boarding and they were still just taking those that had booked ship excursions. We got lucky somehow, as we had taken the elevators that come out right at the boarding area, and one of the crewman let us on the second tender that came after we got there. It's a long, usually high speed tender trip to the dock. The cruise lines subcontract to a number of independents, so there is quite a varied flotilla between the ship and the cruise dock. The two of us had been considering the cave tubing, and we quickly found a representative from X-Stream tours who had been highly recommended on several cruise boards. The representative was friendly and knowledgeable. We would have had just enough time to make the cave tubing, but once he explained that between the 40 minute bus ride, the 20-30 minute walk thru the jungle, and the tubing itself we realized we were looking at a 5-6 hour commitment. It was a very hot day again, and visions of the broiling van ride on Costa Maya kept dancing thru my head. Neither my friend nor I had a strong preference either way, and we ended up deciding to just spend the day checking out the port for a little while, and then enjoying the ship minus the usual crowds. As there were only two sea days on the itinerary, this option had some attraction. We heard later that day that one of the cave tubing excursions – never heard which one – had 3 flat tires on the ride to the jungle walk, and after a combined 3 hours in delays, just bussed everyone back to town. So maybe our indecision was a sign from God. We heard mixed reviews from people that had taken the ship’s cave tubing trip, some thought it was just OK, others loved it. I also heard from one woman later, that the snorkeling on the ships trip had been outstanding. The reefs off Belize are quite a ways from shore (hence the long tender rides). We spent a couple of hours exploring the port area, did a little bit of shopping, a little drinking, a little shopping, a little more drinking….. In other words, shopping guy style ;) The shops right in the port area were nice, clean and low key., I commented as we were first looking around that it was a welcome change from some of the high pressure vendors in Costa Maya. But once we left the cruise port area and went into town, omigod what a difference. The vendors and “tour guides” – some of whom appeared less than savory – were extremely aggressive. Prices were very flexible, but we didn’t stay too long or venture too far. Particularly if you were by yourself, I’d recommend staying in the cruise port area, or taking a reputable excursion. The ship’s premium might be worth it here. We had a nice time at two of the bars at the cruise port – The Wet Lizard (or Wet the Lizard I’m not quite sure), and the Iguana Bar. The local beer is good and cheap, and there were some appealing drink specials as well. (To the guy at the Iguana bar who bought a round of 3 beers, and then took the change from a $5 bill – there’s a reason some people hate Americans). The rest of our party was leaving the ship on a tender just as the two of us were coming back. We all ended up meeting up midday back on the ship, and enjoyed hanging around the pool etc. with not too many people around. I took the opportunity to make my second assault on the rock wall without many spectators around to laugh at me! Cozumel (7 – 11): Our dock in Cozumel was not the one right in town, I don’t recall the name of it (there was a “1/2 Senor Frog’s” there), but it was maybe a 5-10 minute taxi ride into the main town area. Based on reviews that Dzul Ha was the best snorkeling spot and was accessible from shore, my wife and I decided to take our daughters there for the day. The cab ride was only a few dollars. It was nice little spot, there are a couple of small man-made beaches behind the breakwall with tables, stools and a few chaise lounges. Vests, fins, etc can be rented right there for reasonable prices.. As I was getting ready to go in, one of the waiters asked me not to put on suntan lotion as it is harmful to the reef/fish. First time I had heard of that, fortunately my back was already pretty tan by then as I had done few visits to a tanning salon in the month before we left. The (3-4) stairs into the water are along the wall, so you can use it to help keep your balance. Bare feet are ok for getting in, I put my fins in after walking out to about waist deep. Fish are visible almost immediately, but the real reef is about 40 yards out. I'm not a strong swimmer and made it 3-4 times without a problem, including with my 8 and 12 yr old daughters. The reef is extensive, and you will tend to drift a bit so pay attention to where you are. We saw a myriad of small to medium fish, not many large ones though. I followed two tips I saw on a message board. The first was to use baby shampoo as a defogger, instead of saliva. This worked great, my mask stayed crystal clear for the entire time I had the mask on each time. The second tip was to bring a small bottle of mouthwash get rid of the salt taste, supposedly by pouring it on the snorkel mouthpiece while in the water. I didn’t seem to have quite enough hands to do this, but did utilize it on shore to get rid of the salt taste in my mouth. There is a open air patio with a thatch roof for shade with some couches etc underneath, and clean restrooms across the street. Our daughters had some food there, and the total bill for the day was very reasonable. It was wonderful not having to rush back to the ship. We had a great time and would recommend this spot highly. The waiters did mention it was usually more crowded than it was on this day. We went back to the ship for dinner, then back out to the for some souvenir shopping in the port area. Mostly the same goods in the different shops and prices were negotiable. When we couldn’t find the right size of a light jacket for our older daughter, the sales person went from shop to shop to find the right one. Unfortunately we discovered after we set sail the next day that the zipper was defective. As usual, caveat emptor. The other members of our party had a Mexican dinner on shore and sampled the nightlife. Good times were reported. Speaking of sampling the nightlife, one passenger apparently indulged in a few too many samples. The next day, I was in line at the pursers desk behind the person reporting him as missing. Known widely throughout the ship as “ that dancing man”, he had not been seen since the ship left Cozumel the previous night. The desk attendant insisted he had gotten back on the ship based on the computerized tracking of the ship IDs as you leave and re-enter the ship. All during dinner that night, he was being paged to call the purser’s office, and people started wondering if he had fallen overboard or suffered some other mishap on ship. Debarkation: We had a flight late in the afternoon, but were still off the ship by 9:15. We spent maybe 20 minutes in line before getting to customs. Customs itself was a breeze, only took a few minutes, and found all our bags with no problem. We found a shuttle service right at the cruise port that was significantly cheaper than the service we used to get there. I don’t recall the name, but they had a small kiosk right by the exit. We were at the Tampa airport by 10:30. We tried to change to an earlier flight but they were all booked. AirTran would not take our luggage until 4 hours before flight time, so we spent a couple of ours dragging 8 pieces of luggage around. The automated ticket kiosks for Airtran were out of order when we returned and the counter attendants seemed at a loss as to what to do. For starters, maybe take down the sign directing people to get in line there? I was disappointed that there was no wireless internet access in the airport unless you paid for it at the adjoining Marriott. While we were hanging around, who did we run into but the missing “dancing man”! Turns out he lost track of time at Carlos and Charlie’s and missed the ship. He said it cost him about $2,000 extra to get back, between the 1 way air ticket, getting money wired to the American Embassy, etc. And that was with spending the night on the streets. The cruise agent in Cozumel emailed the ship, but apparently it was never received. It was reportedly the dreaded “computer glitch” that caused the ship’s computer to show him getting back on board. Oh well, all’s well that ends well. Summary: Overall had a great time, loved the ship, the staff and the dinners, while the Windjammer buffets could stand some enhancement. Would definitely do another Royal Caribbean cruise again, but would give Carnival a slight preference. Will do everything in my power to avoid tender ports in the future. Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
We went on our cruise with three children ages 5,9 and 13. All of us had been on the Disney cruise 2 years ago. All of the children rated the children's programs on the Splendour far above those on Disney. Our five year old asked ... Read More
We went on our cruise with three children ages 5,9 and 13. All of us had been on the Disney cruise 2 years ago. All of the children rated the children's programs on the Splendour far above those on Disney. Our five year old asked every morning when he could go and I think he enjoyed his time there in the evenings almost as much as family time during the day. We had a bit of a delay in boarding because the ship was late coming back to port from the previous cruise due to severe fog in the area the night before. The staff were very friendly and tried to make our wait as pleasant as possible. Fortunately, there is a lot to do in the area just around the pier, so we had fun while we waited. I was worried about the vibration I had heard so much about. The only place you can feel it is in the dining room and it was very minor. The rooms were not lavish, but well-appointed,quiet and comfortable. We didn't have a balcony, but the window was big. Our cabin steward was excellent. The fitness center was wonderful with enough equipment to keep us in shape during the week. It was never crowded. The climbing wall was fun, but frequently opened late in the afternoon because it would get too hot while in port. Go early! Food in the King and I dining room was very good. The Windjammer was average, but the breakfasts there were great. My kids liked the burgers in the Solarium and the ice cream near the pool. I was happy to see choices to accommodate various diets at every meal. For shore excursions, we went the the Turtle Farm and Sting Ray City in Grand Cayman which was fun, especially with the kids. In Costa Maya, we rented a golf cart and drove to the nearby town of Mahaual. This was much better than the main area where the boat docks and the beach is nice and calm with plenty of water sports available. A massage on the beach there was $20 cheaper than at Costa Maya. In Belize, my husband and teenage son went on the kayaking trip and had a good time and the younger kids and I went on the zoo and river boat excursion. Our table mates went cave tubing and loved it. In Cozumel we went to Playa Mia which was a little too crowded early in the day, but as most of the other cruise ships departed before we did, it was much better in the afternoon. Overall, we had a great time. I would do it again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
This was my third cruise, though my first with RCI. The ship was attractive, clean and comfortable, though the windows needed cleaning and there were some signs of wear. The most unpleasant experience we had was the strong sewage smell ... Read More
This was my third cruise, though my first with RCI. The ship was attractive, clean and comfortable, though the windows needed cleaning and there were some signs of wear. The most unpleasant experience we had was the strong sewage smell while we moved about the lower decks of the ship and when we were returning to the ship. Our hallway was almost nauseating, at times. I have never experienced this on the other cruise ships I have travelled, and for this reason alone, I will not be cruising on RCI again. Again, I have only my other experiences to compare,but I felt Splendour fell short of my expectations. The food service was fine though we were usually served last art our table, and it seemed to make little difference if we arrived early or not. The general quality of the food was not up to the standards of the other cruises I've taken. It was good standard food, but none of the special treats that I enjoyed on my other cruises...sushi, caviar, frogs' legs and all you can eat seafood night. The entertainment was good, though not as extensive nor as outstanding as I remember from other trips. The gym was adequate, though the one person working there seemed to be very busy. She needed help. The pools and spas were well maintained and there were always plenty of towels available. This was my cruisemates' first cruise. I think they were disappointed with some of the presentations we attended. My sister hated the crass commercialism of the Shopping Presentations and remarked that she felt she was trapped on the Shopping Channel! It was a real turn off. She was expecting an informational presentation on highlights at each port that we were to visit...things not to miss,,,that type of thing. We were very glad that we only booked one excursion on the ship, as we found local activities at much more reasonable prices on shore. All in all, we enjoyed our vacation, but I will be returning to my old P&O Princess for future cruises. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
This was our first cruise and was spectacular. There were very few negatives about the whole trip and those were pretty minor in the grand scheme of things. We booked our own air travel arrived in Tampa a couple of days early because ... Read More
This was our first cruise and was spectacular. There were very few negatives about the whole trip and those were pretty minor in the grand scheme of things. We booked our own air travel arrived in Tampa a couple of days early because flying from the Rocky mountain states in winter can be sketchy at times. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at the Cruise Terminal 3 at about 11:30 and there wasn't even a line. We showed our passports (the quickest way to board according to those in the know) and set up our on board account. I called our credit card companies and informed them that we were going to be out of our normal travel areas and to expect some large charges. This by-passed any troubles we might have experienced on disembarkation. In all from the time we got our luggage out of the taxi ($20 from airport to terminal is a set rate) until we were on the ship wasn't more than 10 minutes. We couldn't get into our cabin until 1:30 however so we were "stuck" dragging our carry on luggage with us until then. We explored the ship a bit and found it clean and inspiring. We then headed up to the Windjammer for lunch. More on the food later. Our Luggage arrived in our cabin piece meal which actually made unpacking a bit easier. We had an ocean view room on deck two. It was adequate and comfortable. The cabin staff did an excellent job in keeping it up. There was one cabinet door that was broken and I asked that it be fixed. They got to it promptly. Just as we finished unpacking we attended the mandatory life boat drill. Then back to our room for a quick rearrangement of things. We departed about an hour late due to other sea traffic in the channel and were in our room when I noticed that the scenery outside the window was changing. We rushed up to Deck 10 to view Florida at sunset as we sailed out of port. We did buy the soda package (we are not big drinkers) and felt it was well worth it. The whole cruise we experienced "rough" seas (8'-15') and 30 knot winds but the ship was fairly stable and once you got used to staggering around the hallways it wasn't too bad. We took Dramamine and Ginger to offset the possibility of sea sickness. My wife was a bit light headed for the first two nights, but that went away after she stopped taking the Dramamine and was only taking the Ginger pills (available at Walmart for cheap). The seas did calm down and we were able to make all of our destinations on time if not ahead of schedule. But once we were back out to sea, they got rough again. We had storm front after storm front come through and low pressure dominated the entire trip, but the ship was still much more stable than I expected it to be. The food on the outstanding. The Windjammer was buffet food, and you know what buffet food is like. Ok as things go and we ate breakfast there a time or two, but preferred the King and I for our meals. The Food was much better there. Plus you got to meet more people that way. You go in for breakfast and they sit you at a table with 2-8 other people and everybody was very friendly. We also ate at the Solarium Cafe a time or two and that was alright. The food was mass prepared and kept warm, but was tasty enough. And they did have some odd selections for pizza. Things I never would have put together, but it was good. Service in the dining room was great, as was service throughout the ship. I am not used to having somebody put my napkin in my lap, nor deshell my lobster and shrimp for me, so that was a new experience. Our head waitress did confuse some meals a couple of times and took some good natured ribbing from the us, but she always was quick and efficient to get stuff corrected. Service in the bars was good too. The Top Hat was usually pretty empty however. This may have been due to the rough seas and it being in the bow the ships movement could be felt a bit more. It was a bit of a trick trying to dance when the floor wasn't always where you expected it to be. The shows in the evenings were great! We saw Al Romas (comedian), The Coasters (you don't know who they are you need to buff up on your music), a juggling act, a magician and the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers. The seats were all excellent and comfy! We booked all our excursions on line before we departed and based on what I saw at the excursions desk this is the way to go. We were thrilled with them except for Grand Cayman. The first part was great, the semi submersible saw way cool, but the bus tour second half left alot to be desired. They are still cleaning up from Ivan and the island is kinda dirty. I would have spent the day at beach if I had it to do over again. We went to Mayan ruins in Costa Maya, the Jungle Buggy in Belize, and the Passion Island escape in Cozumel. I wish the Passion Island trip was longer, it is a neat place and we will go back there again. The things that I felt weren't up to par were really quite minor: 1) elevators - they were slow and I never figured out their system. There might be a car one deck below you and one would come up from somewhere else after about a 3-5 minute wait. It was quicker to take the stairs, but my wifes knees wouldn't take it. 2)There was a bit of vibration to be felt, mainly in the dining room. But not as bad as I had read it was. After the second day you tune it out like you do the elevator music at the grocery store. It was especially noticeable in the shops where the glass ware rattled. 3)We didn't do alot after hours because my wife is very sensitive to cigarette smoke and the bars and casino became extremely smokey early in the evening. They could do a better job with turning the air over in the bars so that we could enjoy them as well. 4)The disembarkation in ports was kind of a free for all. The excursions booked through the ship supposedly had priority off loading but this was not the case. 5)Once back in Tampa, things got sorta hectic and we were about an hour late getting off the ship, but this was due to customs more than Royal Caribbean. Advice? Take ginger, sunscreen, duct tape (I hemmed a pair of pants on a semi-formal night), bug spray (if you are on a jungle excursion) and a good attitude. I did over hear one person complain about everything every time I bumped into her. But I kinda think that she was the type that if you gave her a million dollars, would have complained about the bag it came in. I will sail this ship again, and definitely with Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
Our crew: Myself (38), DH (38), DD(10) and DD(7) Previous cruises: This was my 8th cruise, 5th on RCCL, this was DH's 6th cruise and our daughters 5th cruise. (my previous RCCL trips were on the Song of Norway,Monarch, Majesty, ... Read More
Our crew: Myself (38), DH (38), DD(10) and DD(7) Previous cruises: This was my 8th cruise, 5th on RCCL, this was DH's 6th cruise and our daughters 5th cruise. (my previous RCCL trips were on the Song of Norway,Monarch, Majesty, Adventure and Enchantment.) Overview: We had a terrific vacation. The ship was beautiful and well maintained, the crew were all very friendly and the service excellent, and we had a great time at every port of call. The weather was wonderful, and the seas calm all week. Temperatures were in the 80's at all the ports. RCCL lived up to my high expectations and I would cruise them again and would take another trip on the Splendour. Highlights: Our suite was spacious and beautiful, and our balcony lovely. The dinner service and food were top quality. The magician and the juggler were the best shows. Cozumel, where we spent the day on Paradise Beach, was the most fun port,and Belize, where we hired a local guide to take us to the zoo and Altun Ha, was the most adventurous. My daughters climbed the rock wall at least 10 times each, so that had to be our favorite on-board activity. My husband enjoyed participating in the pool games and shuffleboard competition and we also played miniature golf a few times, but be forewarned, the course is tougher than it looks! Lowlights: There were very few. Breakfast in the Windjammer was average, with runny scrambled eggs and lukewarm French toast and pancakes (unless you grabbed some right off a newly arrived tray). My advice would be to get an omelet if you want eggs, as they were very good. The tender process to get into Belize City was troublesome. Our suite came with VIP tender passes, but in Belize you still had to wait for all the people booked on excursions via RCCL to go first. Catch an open early tender (7-7:30am) or you'll have to wait until after 9am. Our Cabin: On previous cruises, we'd found that the four of us felt quite cramped and all over each other in our usual oceanview cabin, so we took advantage of the low February fares and booked a suite. We'd hoped for a Grand Suite, but all were booked, so we splurged on an Owners Suite. It was simply beautiful and HUGE! The bathroom, complete with double sink, tub AND shower, felt bigger that our previous cabins! There was more storage space than we'd ever need and the girls liked the queen size sofa bed. The balcony, with room for a lounge chair and two regular chairs was awesome! I spent at least an hour out there every day. I did sneak a peak at a Grand Suite, though, and feel it would have been plenty big enough, so next time, if we're booking when Suite rates are lower, then that's what I'd go for. If we were booking during high season, we'd likely go back to a regular ocean view room or maybe a junior suite. I do like a balcony, though, as I spend time every day out there. The Suite perks included a fruit basket, hors d'oeuvres a couple of days, and little desserts a couple of days. And VIP tender passes, which proved useful in Grand Cayman, but not in Belize (see above.) Embarkation/Disembarkation: Both went very smoothly. We flew in the day before departure, to visit local family in Tampa. We arrived at the pier at 1pm and there were no lines to check in. While we did go in the suite line, there were no lines for regular cabins either. When it was time to leave the ship, we walked right off, found our bags quickly, and took a cab to the airport. IMPORTANT NOTE REGARDING CABS! A cab ride to the airport is a set rate of $20 per car. So, for 4 of us and 8 bags, that was all it was and we had a minivan for a cab too. Plenty of room. Transfers bought through the cruise line or the shuttle service advertised quite boldly when you get off the ship is more expensive, unless you are just two people or traveling alone. There are few, if any, signs for taxis, but ask, as they are right there outside the door. Entertainment: We went to the shows most nights, skipping one comedian. The magician, a guitar/singer, and the juggler were great. The ship's singers and dancers were good, but we found the "Jump, Jive and Swing" show boring and a little "old" for us. The Broadway show was average. Ocean Adventure/Kids Program: This is a big reason we cruise RCCL. My kids love this program. They spent some of every day and/or evening here, which allowed my husband an I free time to workout at the gym, see the shows, hit the casino, or chill in the Solarium. They played games, ate ice cream, did art and science projects, and had tons of fun. Even though it was February, there were 200 kids on-board and both my daughters made some new friends. Ports: Grand Cayman: We'd been here before and taken an island tour, so this time we took a cab to the Turtle farm and then to SeaGrape Beach. My girls loved the turtle farm, where they could pick up sea turtles, but it was half the size as last time. They are building a new complex across the street, but I don't know when it'll be complete. Our cab driver told me that a dolphin experience was going to be created where the old turtle farm was. Again, no completion date. We did see quite a bit of hurricane damage, but they seem to be rebuilding. We rented chairs ($10/ea) at Sea Grape beach, where my daughters swam and built sandcastles. Costa Maya: Here we took a cab to Majahal and walked down the beach until we found a quieter spot away from the massage chairs and bar tables and found a couple of chairs for $5 each. DH and DD-10 joined up with another father/daughter to take a small motor boat down the coast to snorkel for an hour. Price was $15 each. They had a great time and saw lots of fish/squid/shells/starfish, etc. My other daughter and I sunbathed and shopped, picking up 2 hammocks for $20 each and some beaded bracelets. I would recommend water shoes for everyone, as their was some broken glass and other trash on the beach. Belize: Based on a recommendation I read on the boards at Cruise Critic, I contacted and hired via e-mail a local guide, since we wanted to do two things in Belize that weren't combined on any of the ship's excursions. Her name is Margaret Tillet and she's a licensed Belize Tour guide. She has a web-site: belizeexclusive.com. She met us at the pier with a sign with my name on it and took just the four of us on a 5 hour tour to the Belize Zoo and Altun Ha. She was very friendly, courteous, informative and, most importantly, a safe driver. She walked us through the zoo and told us about every animal, and showed us how to capture their attention for some great photos. She escorted us around Altun Ha and told us not only about the ruins, but about the trees and vegetation as well. She was able to answer all of my questions about life in Belize, past and present. While there was a lot of driving (in her air-conditioned car), it was an educational and interesting experience for all of us. She leads all sorts of tours in Belize, including cave tubing, and I would recommend her highly. For larger groups, I believe she has an air-conditioned 15 passenger van. Cozumel: Here we spent most of the day at Paradise Beach, and the cruise critic message boards recommendations were right on the money. For $5 each, we got chairs, an umbrella, use of snorkel gear, mats, kayaks, water trampoline and the iceberg. DH and kids were going non-stop! They also rented a wave-runner for 30 min for $55, which the kids loved. While there were 8 ships in port that day, and the beach was crowded, it wasn't bad at all. The facilities were clean and the food good. After the beach, we took a taxi into town, where DH and I each got a massage with Sally, another recommendation from the CC boards. Her web site is barefootincozumel.com and I set appointments up ahead of time with her via e-mail. While DH relaxed, the kids and I shopped,and then he took them back to the ship when it was my turn. I did a little shopping at the pier on my way back for some souvenirs. Final Thoughts: Hope this review is helpful. We had a great vacation and hope to cruise again soon. We might try Princess, as my mother-in-law has had many good experiences with them, but would take RCCL again in a second. It's a great cruise line for families. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
General: The waitstaff and cabin stewards are excellent - what you would expect. The cruise director, assistants, kid's program staff were very good. My kids wanted to stay in the program. I disagree with cruisecritic.com's ... Read More
General: The waitstaff and cabin stewards are excellent - what you would expect. The cruise director, assistants, kid's program staff were very good. My kids wanted to stay in the program. I disagree with cruisecritic.com's overview of the ship where they claim the median age is 40-something. It seemed to be more like 60-something, and they complained about *everything*. I know that because the poor DJ got complaints because he could not possibly continue to play songs from the 1940's while we (those of us under 100) were looking to do a little dancing (with our kids in the ship's kid's program). The sound system in the main hall looks impressive, but is not utilized properly during shows. I could not even hear the kick drum. Again I feel that they were trying to not blow any hearing aids out. Either that or the sound engineer was incompetent. Very disappointing. I think Royal Caribbean could do some more age-specific functions. Let the over 55 crowd play bingo while those of us that want to can dance to some music that is 80's to current. And let the DJ turn the music up! Food: The food is good, but the lines to get the food are sometimes very long. For breakfast I found myself eating cold eggs by the time I got my coffee. On other cruise lines a waiter would bring a pot of coffee as soon as we sat down. However you do have the option of being served in the dining room instead of using the buffet. Some things are not laid out optimally, for example children are generally not allowed in the solarium but that is where the burgers / pizza / hot dogs, etc are located. On other ships the "grill" is located out by the main pool area. Ship: Ship is in good condition. However, you can tell it is not new. They have to maintain it while people are cruising, for example in the solarium (an enclosed area with an indoor pool) they revarnished one of the rails and the smell near that area (lounge chairs, etc.) was not pleasant. It is very frustrating to walk onto the pool deck and not be able to get a lounge chair. There are not enough of them, and people are protective - they leave a book on the chair and go get lunch - thereby "saving" their seat. I think if you are planning to leave for more than 15 minutes that should not be allowed. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
We flew into Tampa two days early and spent some time at the Aquarium, on the American Victory and general sightseeing. We recommend a visit to Clearwater Beach; it is well kept and beautiful. When in Tampa, we would also like to recommend ... Read More
We flew into Tampa two days early and spent some time at the Aquarium, on the American Victory and general sightseeing. We recommend a visit to Clearwater Beach; it is well kept and beautiful. When in Tampa, we would also like to recommend Sam Seltzers Steakhouse on Dale Mabry Blvd. The food was only outclassed by the service and the price was surprisingly low for the quality, about $50 for two of us. After dropping off our rental car at the airport, we caught a cab to the port; the cost was a flat $20. We arrived at Cruise Terminal Three about 11:30 just as they were starting to board. Porters were at the curb, relieved us of our luggage and made sure our tags were properly attached. They were friendly, quick and efficient. We were pointed upstairs and there were people all along the way making sure we were headed the right way. We had filled out all of our boarding documents on line, so all we had to do was arrange for payment of bill, were assigned our Seapass cards, had security photos taken (more on these later) and were on board in less than 10 minutes. Only the gentlemen taking the security photos were less than 100% smiles, but not rude either. Once onboard we went straight to the Schooner Bar and purchased soft drink cards, then proceeded to try to get to our cabin. They had these locked out and a sign posted saying that they would not be available until 1 p.m. Therefore, we proceeded to explore a bit and then went to the Windjammer for lunch. They had sanitation stations at the entrance that I was disappointed to see disappear after the first day. Lunch was good and wait staff was everywhere, either selling drinks (you could keep the glass), getting you whatever you needed and making sure you were taken care of, something that I soon realized was the norm on the Splendour. After a leisurely lunch, we strolled around the decks and then went to our room. Our caretaker was there when we went into our cabin and she promptly introduced herself and told us how to get hold of her if we needed anything. Edna's Jamaican charm and attitude were infectious to say the least. She did an excellent job taking care of us, too. We were in an oceanview cabin on Deck 2 and were pleasantly surprised at the efficiency of the space and the amount of storage. There were three shelves and a safe over the TV, shelves behind the mirrors on either side of the desk, three drawers under the TV, the center desk drawer and two more to the right and two small drawers in the nightstands. The closets had one small rod for full-length gowns, and then two stacked rods for shirts and pants. We dropped off our luggage and went back for more sightseeing. Our bags arrived piecemeal, which was actually nice. You could concentrate on just one bag; get it stowed away when the next would arrive. We had to stop our unpacking to attend the lifeboat drill. It was corny, but in a fun way. Being in an industry that is safety sensitive, I do understand the gravity of the situation. The Captain said that we would be about an hour late departing due to traffic in the channel, so we went back to our cabin and finished squaring stuff away. As we were wrapping up I noticed that the scenery was changing outside our cabin. WE HAD MISSED THE SAILAWAY! We hustled upstairs and watched Tampa slide away into the distance as the sun set. Dining ~ Dinner was an excellent time each evening. We were seated at a table with four other couples at the 8:30 seating. We seemed to have a lot in common from it being our first cruise to ages to interests. It was nice to come each evening to familiar faces, share and compare our experiences of the day's events. The staff was superb (I have never had anybody get my lobster out of its shell for me), was quick to realize what our likes and dislikes were and met them each meal. One gentleman liked larger portions of food and asked if he could get extra helpings and his plate was the fullest each evening. One lady couldn't make up her mind which entree to have so they brought her BOTH! They were quick, friendly and efficient. Dinner was definitely a pleasure! We had breakfast in both the Windjammer and the King and I. We preferred the King and I for breakfast as the food seemed fresher and tasted better than the buffet offerings. We did have to eat in the Windjammer most mornings however as our excursions all seemed to be the first off the boat and the Windjammer was definitely quicker. I can't say that the food in the Jammer was bad as it was quite tasty, but buffet food can only go so far in quality. We only ate lunch on the ship on sea days and then it was in the Solarium Cafe. This was because the French fries there were killer! We even went back late in the evenings. Having a late dinner, not being party animal night owls and having to get up early, we only made one midnight buffet. In addition, just after set up it started raining. The crew was hustling to get the food under cover! We did see photos of the midnight buffets and heard stories, so I feel we may have missed out here. The Ben and Jerry's cart beside the pool was almost never open, but there was free frozen yogurt to tide me over until I could make it to the Ben and Jerry's cart in the Solarium! The coffee was good and always seemed fresh. Everybody got into the "formal nights" on the ship. There were very few who where not dressed up and I will hazard a guess that more than 2/3 of the guests went the full tuxedo and gown route. We looked mah-vel-ous, dah-link! Lounges ~ We did not use the lounges or casino much as the ventilation was poor in these areas and the smoke got too heavy for my wife. This is the only downside of the cruise. The starboard side was smoking on deck 4 and 9 and all the bars were all smoking except for the Top Hat, which did have a non-smoking section. The wind seemed to carry smoke all over the ship. Moreover, the Cigar Aficionados (bless their hearts) made the Crown Lounge unusable to us as cigar smoke makes my wife ill. Therefore, we spent a lot of time just wandering, playing golf, in the game room and in the Top Hat's smoke free section. Entertainment ~ This was superb as well. The singing and the dancing on stage by the crew was excellent. The acts were even better: Al Romas, The Coasters, a juggler, a magician couple. The CD was a comedian in his own right. The Coasters were the highlight of the shows. The bands and roaming musicians were all excellent and fun. You almost couldn't go anywhere at any time without music. There was a "lounge singer" with a pianist in the Centrum who sang several hours each evening and seemed to be a big hit with us quieter folk. She had a loyal band of listeners each evening and her interaction with them was personal and warm. Make sure you get to the theater early and have your drinks taken care of, this place fills up fast and it is hard for the staff to get to you. We did not utilize the spa at all. The exercise room was usually busy early in the mornings and again in the afternoons and Deck 10 (the running track) was a veritable traffic jam in the mornings with strollers, walkers, joggers and runners. Should have had a traffic cop up there! There was never any shortage of stuff to do, and we carried the Compass around with us and planned our next move according to our whim. Bingo, Quest, whatever our lil hearts desired. I will try to have these posted on my website soon. dkinner.tripod.com The ship ~ For an older, smaller ship, the Splendour is in pretty good shape. The crew is always cleaning, polishing and repairing. They did shut down one entrance to the Windjammer and remove several tables on the non-smoking side of Deck 9 so they could strip and refinish the floors there. Deck 9 is the pool deck and is lined with tables on both sides and has sliding windows beside the tables. If it is a tad too breezy on deck, just close the window! The ship was tossed about some as we spent the first and last day in 15-foot seas and had 30-knot winds (I lost my hat off the back of the ship just off Cuba) and the motion could really be felt in the theater and the dining room. We took a page from Cruise Critic and had some ginger pills along with us and seasickness was not an issue at all. I did notice that most passengers were wearing a small patch behind their ear. By that last night, it was funny to watch people all stagger in unison as we moved around the ship. Shopping ~ We are not big shoppers, but I have to say that I was disappointed in the ship's shopping guide. It seemed like one big infomercial for Diamonds International. Grand Cayman seemed really expensive, and Belize and Costa Maya were just touristy trap T-shirt and trinket shops. I did enjoy Cozumel as we got into the smaller shops and dickered with the locals for T-shirts and other gifts. Plus they had a much larger assortment of stores (handmade boots, etc.) I already had my liquor allotment filled up with some yummy rum that I bought on the ship (cheap buzz? they 'taste test' several different adult beverages each evening and by the time you get 6-7 of those little shot glasses full, you be a real happy camper) or I would have bought some Scorpion Mescal. That stuff is GOOD. The Oriental rug store in Cozumel is amazing to visit, those rugs are beautiful, and they will tell you how each are made. A fascinating place. Make it a point to be in the Plaza at sunset if you can. The bells are ringing, the birds are singing and it is just beautiful. Tranquil is perhaps a more fitting word. Excursions ~ We did an excursion in each port. On Grand Cayman, we took the semi submersible boat and island tour. The boat ride was fascinating, as we have to see two wrecks; a plethora of marine life and the guide was really into her stuff and made it fun. The bus ride around the island was disappointing. Real quick and dirty. The rum cake factory was the highlight and we bought several small ones to bring home to friends. We should have gone to the beach on Grand Cayman. In Belize we went to the Mayan Caverns. The caverns were a bit of a disappointment, but the ride in and out was amazing and worth the trip. You get up close and personal with the jungle and the guides were excellent. There are no adjectives that can properly describe the rainforest in Belize. Just go. In Costa Maya we went to the Kohomulich Mayan ruins. This was easily our best excursion. The guide knew his history, cared about his heritage and made it a point to convey the importance of what we were seeing. Our excursion here was 45 minutes late getting back to the ship, but the good Captain did wait for us. Cozumel was our last port and we spent the morning on the beach, Passion Island. The morning is the time to do this trip, as there were only 40 or so of us on over a mile of beach. The drinks were of a disappointing quality, but then at 9 in the morning who wants a margarita. Besides me? Quiet, relaxing and fun. As we were leaving around lunchtime, the place was starting to fill up. We went back to the ship, changed and spent the afternoon in town shopping. We took our booty back, got ready for dinner and as we had an hour and a half to kill before the show started, we went back to the pier to call the kids at home. While we were there, the heavens did open up and verily I say unto you it was real wrath of God type stuff. No warning either. So, we got soaked on the way back to the ship after trying to wait the storm out. When we got on the ship, I reached into my pocket and only found one Seapass card. My wife’s was missing. The security folk made sure she matched her photo they took when we boarded the ship and made me vouch for her (are you sure sir? You could leave her here if you are not sure!) We went to the purser's desk and they promptly issued her a new card. Although they would not give her a new soda sticker. However, most of the bartenders knew us by then and we did have our soda cups so it was never an issue. Disembarkment was slow for some reason. Even the seasoned cruisers mentioned that it was taking longer than usual. We were supposed to be off the ship by 8:45 and didn't get off until 10:00 and another half hour getting our bags (they are not kept together, you have to hunt for them) and through customs. We were sad to see our first cruise end. I will be cruising again. Definitely with RCI and most likely on the Splendour. It was an excellent vacation and a memorable way to spend our 20th wedding anniversary. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
We had a group of 12 individuals on this cruise with the majority of us being first time cruisers. I should note that I was one of the first time cruisers. We arrived at the pier around 12:30 p.m., porters efficiently helped us with our ... Read More
We had a group of 12 individuals on this cruise with the majority of us being first time cruisers. I should note that I was one of the first time cruisers. We arrived at the pier around 12:30 p.m., porters efficiently helped us with our luggage and directed us where to go. Upon entering the building we quickly made our way through security and to the counters where we were checked-in. The Embarkation process was a breeze and went extremely fast with no waiting at all! After boarding, we found our cabins (I got lost and the staff was great about helping us to our cabin). While looking for my cabin, I also saw my luggage waiting to be delivered to my room. Most of us had our luggage within 2 hours of boarding. I had an outside cabin on the Deck 6 next to the photo gallery. The cabin far exceeded my expectations! If you have ever gone camping in a small RV camper, these cabins will be comfortable. Our group of 12 was split into two tables for dinning. Originally, we thought we would be next to each other but instead we were on different floors. We could have switched around but opted not to after getting to know our other table mates. I did not like the Windjammer Cafe, but I should note that I do NOT like buffets. The breakfast buffet was OK and nothing to write home about. The French Toast and Pancakes were good. Avoid the scrambled eggs if you don't like soggy, uncooked eggs. The omelet station was excellent, however, be aware that they use the same cooking utensils between omelets and if you are allergic to something there may be cross-contamination. I liked the food you could get in the Solarium. The BBQ Chicken Pizza was awesome, but only served on one day. Personally, it should be a regular item. The food at the King & I Dinning Room was good but not 5 star fare. I enjoyed my food and only had a few items that were a disappointment. I asked for Shrimp Cocktail every evening and it was delivered as promised. On the last night, I received a double order of Shrimp Cocktail and was thrilled! I passed on the Lobster and had the prime rib instead. My prime rib was perfect and very tasty. The Lobster tails were disappointing and small. I enjoyed the desserts except for the last nights brownie dessert which had coffee flavor in it and I HATE coffee. As a group, we all enjoyed our shore excursions. In Grand Cayman, we planned our own excursion through Divers Down Scuba & Snorkeling with the Sting Rays at Stingray City. In Costa Maya, we did the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins and found this to be a nice shorter trip. Belize I did the Cave Tubing w/ my Fiancee. The Cave Tubing was fun, but I didn't like the 45 minute walk because I have feet/ankle problems and did twist my ankle slightly. In Cozumel, I went SCUBA diving through the ship. They used Sand Dollar Divers and I was impressed with the service. There were a total of 12 divers split into two groups of 6 for the dives. Our first dive was Palancar Wall drift dive down to approx. 80 feet and the second dive was a coral reef close to the piers down to 35 feet. I saw lots of fish, lobster and a moray eel. Overall, I really liked the Splendour and found her size to be just about perfect. Chair hogs were a frustration, but I found lots of space to lay out a towel and to lie on the deck. I would definitely cruise on the Splendour again and am planning my next cruise already. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
First to let you know this is the first review I've ever written and only doing so at the encouragement of others. I was worried about not having enough to say, but now I can't believe how I rambled on and on ... well here goes: ... Read More
First to let you know this is the first review I've ever written and only doing so at the encouragement of others. I was worried about not having enough to say, but now I can't believe how I rambled on and on ... well here goes: We are a couple ages 55 & 61 from New Jersey and have cruised well over a dozen times with various cruise lines such as Princess, Disney, Norwegian, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. This was our 2nd RCI cruise; the first was approx 10 years ago. I chose this cruise because of the full day stop in Belize as we had never been there before and I read on the cruise boards about the river cave tubing and wanted to give it a try. I find myself looking for itineraries with port stops we have not previously made. Special news on Royal Caribbean's Crown & Anchor & Celebrity's Captain's Club: It appears that the 2 clubs merged as of the first of the year (Captain's Club & Crown & Anchor) so we were automatically listed as "Diamond" level for this trip as we have many cruises with Celebrity ... that gave us a few nice perks, 20 minutes free Internet each, free fancy drink with souvenir glass each, matching Bingo play, free wine tasting coupon passes (Cost others $9.95 each), lots of Casino coupons, early disembarkation tags, VIP tender passes, a travel tote bag, etc. We flew in a day ahead, as we didn't want to gamble with Mother Nature and her passion for January snow storms in New Jersey. We stayed at the Tampa Airport Westshore Hilton and took their $5 pp shuttle van to the port. (Their shuttle from the airport to the hotel was free). Embarkation was a breeze; we arrived around noon, were second in line and were on the ship within 15 minutes of climbing out of the van. When you boarded, they did not have staff escort you to your cabin like some other lines do, which is fine with us, we like to go it on our own. The ship was built in 1996 and is beautiful, clean, easy to navigate around and very well maintained. Our cabin (Owners Suite #8000) was wonderful ... the bathroom was bigger than some cabins we have had in the past! It had a Jacuzzi tub and glass shower, double sinks, toilet and a bidet. We had booked the cruise back in May and the prices for suites were very reasonable at that time. We probably spend more time in our cabin than the average cruiser, so we went for the suite. The cruise line had a chilled bottle of wine waiting for us upon arrival and would deliver a tray of goodies in the afternoon; we never seemed to be in the cabin when they were delivered to see who was bringing them. I was surprised that we did not have a butler, (other cruise lines have butlers for the suite passengers) but our cabin attendant (His first name was Lukman) was wonderful and the concierge called us once to say hello and tell us to call if we needed anything ... I guess if there were alternative restaurants onboard and we needed reservations a concierge would come in handy ... also to book shore excursions, but we booked our own excursions privately before we left home, and were very glad we did. The ship's Stingray City tour in Grand Cayman was cancelled because of rough water. We booked ours with Captain Marvin, it was not cancelled and was fine, the water was a little rough, but in Stingray City you are only standing in water up to your waist, so no big deal that a wave came by every few seconds ... they also had a woman videographer on board Captain Marvin's boat who got into scuba gear and took photos of us from underwater while you snorkeled and interacted with the stingrays ... She worked for a company called "VIP." we ordered the DVD version and they mail it to you ($45 for VHS & $55 for DVD). We received it in the mail a few days after we got home and it is wonderful. It was sad to see how damaged Grand Cayman is, the port area is operating and most of the stores are open, but once you go outside the port area it's very bad. We have been to Grand Cayman many times and were shocked to see the damage. The Westin Hotel looks like the only one open. Roofs are missing from many buildings and trees are down everywhere. In Belize the ship's cave tubing excursion was cancelled due to high rough water, as they had heavy rains in Belize the day and night before we arrived .... the excursion we booked online with X-treme still went on as the water receded enough by 10 a.m. to make it a go ... in RCI's defense, they had to make the call the night before as to cancel or not to give everyone enough time to make other plans. The cave tubing was great, I would go again in a second ... my only complaint is that they took around 30 people and there were only 3 guides ... things were not as organized as they should have been and we were basically "winging it" on our own most of the time as we couldn't hear their instructions/directions as the group spread out on the way down the river ... the extra few inches of rain in Belize the day before resulted in all the water rushing down from the mountains into the river, so it was more like cave "white water" tubing ..... we could only do the one cave instead of the usual three because the water was so high in the other two caves that there was limited head clearance ... (There were no bats in the caves, I checked it out with my miners hat light) ... I guess the water gets so high in the caves quite often after a rain and the bats would be washed out, so I guess they live elsewhere or at least I hope so ... The hike to the cave tubing start point through the jungle was about 40-45 minutes (carrying your tube & life vest) and the jungle canopy was nice, gave you shade and made it comfortable ... only problem I ran into was some fire ants got my one ankle ... ouch! I thought Costa Maya was a waste, but that's my fault, I never did any research into what was available there. We never went into the town via bus or checked out any beaches away from the port area. The beach to the right (as you walked on the dock toward shore) was closed and to the left was very crowded (Grand Princess was docked with us). We found an umbrella and chairs on the beach near a square pool right on the shore/rocks and spent an hour or so there ... you couldn't swim there because the beach was all giant coral/rocks and rough waves and the square pool near us had all green furry slime in the bottom and was ice cold ... the other nicer pool was in the center of the mall type restaurant/shopping area and I felt like if I swam there I would be the entertainment for the masses, so we passed. We shopped a little then just went back on board. Cozumel we took a cab to Paradise Beach ($12 cab each way). We have already done a few of the ruins and tried Chankanaab Park on our last visit. Paradise Beach came recommended by some cruise board folks we spoke with so we figured we'd give it a try ... it was nice ... it was free and they had nice beach lounge chairs (similar to the ones on the ship) nice umbrellas and clean rest rooms all free to use, they just expected you to buy a beverage or a bite to eat, which was fine, sodas were only $2 ... nachos $6 ... (they were never pushy, the waiters just strolled around carrying a menu). They had snorkel equipment available for rent and a nice bar, also you could pay $5 and get a wrist band good for all non-motorized water sport items (floating trampoline, kayaks, rafts, etc.) but the water was a little rough and a bit cold, so I just got my feet wet. We did get a quick rain shower and the afternoon was very cloudy ... so we took a cab back to the ship and I shopped in the stores by the dock a little and after a very extensive bargaining session I got myself a nice gold bracelet with Australian opals in it ... I have always admired those opals so I figured why not! Back to the ship stuff: The dining room service at dinner (late seating, upper level, table #17) was consistently good, (Waiter Adrian & Asst. Waiter Brazilio) we had a great group at our round table of 8 ... a perfect table size for easy conversation ... we had many laughs during the week and we enjoyed their company very much. The waiter would bring out extra dinners for the center of the table for us to try. The nightly dinner selections were all right. The service was smooth even when some of us ordered 4 courses and others only 2. I did miss having fresh baked bread sticks (not offered) and just having the basket of bread on the table, the assistant waiter would come around with a tray/basket of bread to choose from, and he would place your selection on your bread plate. (I know, petty gripe.) At dinner later in the week they again had nothing that my other half would eat (he won't touch lamb, pork or fish) they always offered a chicken breast or a steak, but he already had resorted to that once already earlier in the week, so before anyone else arrived at our table I asked our waiter if he could have a filet mignon ... the waiter seemed nervous and said he would have to check with the head waiter ... then the head waiter came over and spoke with me and said he would check and see as it might not be available, be frozen, etc. ... I started feeling uncomfortable about even making the request and said never mind if it's too much bother, he would just have the chicken breast again ... the head waiter said no, that he would check ... and he came back and said it would be ok ... so he did get it, but they made you feel like you were really putting them out ... in the past on Celebrity when we asked for something special ... like shrimp cocktails every night and there was never a problem or discussion. We ate in the main (King & I) dining room for breakfast twice and lunch twice and I was very surprised that the service was poor 3 of the 4 times. The servers seemed frazzled and understaffed. The lunch menu was the same all week with one or two additions they would stick on the bottom of the menu on a separate paper. I enjoyed a few of the lunch selections very much, but wished the menu varied more daily. The food on the breakfast and lunch buffets was not as good as I thought it could have been or had experienced on other cruise lines, (except for the lamb chops one day at lunch which were quite good) the food was rarely hot and very strange combinations and selections ... I was looking forward to those flaky croissants at breakfast that I've grown to love on Celebrity, but theirs were terrible ... after a few days I would have killed for a glass of orange juice at breakfast that wasn't watered down beyond recognition ... the Windjammer coffee machine was often empty and decaf & ice tea very strong ... the pizza in the Solarium pool was pretty good, lots of cheese ... We never tried the hamburgers or hot dogs ... but many people did. We were disappointed that the water in the indoor Solarium pool was so cold and the outdoor pool was even colder ... while relaxing on chairs in the Solarium the first sea day we observed many people put their feet in the water, saw their shocked facial expression and watched them turn around and leave ... we didn't use the rock climbing wall or the miniature golf course, but many folks did ... they held art auctions in the Atrium area, we passed on them ... I lost a little money in the casino (tight slots) ... the comedy shows (Yakov Smirnoff -- Monday night, Tom Parks -- Thursday night & Chuck Gunter -- Friday night) were good ... at times I was laughing so hard I was crying!!! The Jump Jive & Swing show (Sunday night) was fair, we didn't go to the Tuesday night show, they had a female singer (Elaine Lesley) or the Wednesday night production show (Make Mine Broadway) so can't comment on those. The pool area musical group was the standard on most ships with the exception of the one singer who when I first heard him I thought they were hosting a bad Karaoke contestant. We did not attend the Bingo sessions, but they pushed them every chance they got ... some folks complained about the price to play. In the hot tub one afternoon we met the lucky couple that won the Caribbean Cruise for two ... that was a great Bingo prize and they couldn't have been happier. The last night the Bingo jackpot was over $5000 and we heard that two people split it. An improvement they could make was the luggage delivery system (or lack of it). While we got our luggage within an hour of boarding (I'm sure the tags marked "Suite" made the difference) other luggage stood everywhere on carts outside the passenger elevator areas blocking access to the elevators and stairs for what seemed like the entire afternoon. Some folks didn't get their luggage until well after 6:30 that night. We attended the Meet & Mingle on Sunday night as scheduled (we had received an email before we left home with the date, time and location) but the ship's staff had not been aware of the event so they had nothing ready for us ... we still enjoyed chatting with everyone we had met on the cruise boards and it was fun to match the names with the faces. To make it up to us, the ship's staff planned another M&M later in the week and delivered invitations to our cabins, so we would be sure to attend. They had soft drinks and snacks and gave away a few prizes. Since we were traveling alone it was nice to see & compare cruise notes with people around the ship that we had met at the M&M. A few of the more experienced RCI cruisers who seemed not entirely happy with Splendour of the Seas filled us in on the better amenities on many of RCI's other ships and suggested we give them a try. We had a 2 p.m. flight home so we hung around on the ship and actually got to be the last ones off ... at 10:10 a.m. They were about to close the gangway ... I kept asking people for my special prize for being last off the ship and got nothing ... go figure! All in all we had a good time & met many nice people. I enjoy a few things about Celebrity a bit better, but if I saw an extra special itinerary on one of their larger ships I'd give RCI another try. Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
We cruised Splendour of the Seas departing Tampa 1/8/05 for the Western Caribbean itinerary (Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Belize and Cozumel). Previously we cruised on Disney, Carnival (Paradise) and HAL (Zaandam). Overall we were pleased ... Read More
We cruised Splendour of the Seas departing Tampa 1/8/05 for the Western Caribbean itinerary (Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Belize and Cozumel). Previously we cruised on Disney, Carnival (Paradise) and HAL (Zaandam). Overall we were pleased with the cruise, but were surprised at how it compared to other cruises on other lines. This is a long review/comparison. Embarkation went smoothly; we arrived at the port around noon and were on the ship in a short time . . . less than 45 minutes from dropping off our luggage, and that includes parking the car. We ate lunch at the Windjammer, dropped our carry-ons in the cabin and explored the ship. Our luggage arrived around 6:30 including the beer suitcase. For those interested in "smuggling," there was no indication of any examination of the bag. The first night I asked the cabin attendant for a gallon bag of ice and showed him where I wanted it. From then on, the beer was kept cold. You would think a ship out of Tampa would have Yuengling, but they didn't. Our fellow cruisers were, for the most part, great traveling companions -- friendly and polite. There were chair hogs out in force on the two sea days, but we did just fine "borrowing" the chairs while they were off doing whatever it is they were doing with their towel and shoe holding the chair. In the hour or two we used the chairs we never did meet the "owner." I was somewhat surprised that the cruisers most closely matched the demographic we experienced on Carnival -- a lot of teens and groups of young adults as well as families with younger kids. The difference being that there were somewhat more older adults than on Carnival . . . but not as many as on HAL. We never ran into the "roving noisemakers" that some reviewers experienced. The cabin and dining room staff were great! Pleasant but not overbearing and right up with the best we experienced on the other lines. We did not see the cabin attendant much, but then again we did not really need anything special from him. Our 20 y.o. DD slept in most days but the room was always made up when she returned from whatever meal served as breakfast. The waiter and assistant knew the beverage preference of each person at our large table and brought it without asking. The service was efficient (quite a task when some at the table had many courses and others only had two or three). The dinners were good, but not quite up to the quality or variety on HAL. I would rank them about even with Carnival and better than Disney. The Windjammer suffered in comparison to HAL, Disney and even Carnival. Hot foods were not warm and cold foods were room temperature . . . I doubt the temperatures on the serving line would have met most states' health code. I never saw a staff person checking temperatures -- something we observed on all the other cruises. Also, there was not as much variety as HAL and Disney. If you don't like runny omelets, beware in the Windjammer! Much better omelets in the main dining room. Pizza was available in the Solarium for much of the day, not 24/7 as on Carnival. Carnival's pizza was much better, probably a tie with the other two lines. The 42nd Street Theater was very comfortable with good sight lines. It is far superior to Carnival and better than HAL in terms of comfort and viewing. The production shows were entertaining (not that I'm a connoisseur of them) but difficult to compare to other lines . . . I'm always amazed that the dancers can be graceful on a pitching stage. The headliner was Yacov Smirnoff, the other entertainers were two comedians and a vocalist . . . all were entertaining. The poolside band was OK . . . a somewhat limited repertoire and a mediocre singer. The combo in the Centrum, as well as the band in the lounge were OK, but not good enough to get us into the lounges to listen to them. Overall, the general musical entertainment was not up to the quality of the music on HAL. No movie theater, so a tie with Carnival and far behind HAL and Disney. The Splendour does have an open deck four for quiet relaxation (and shade if wanted), something that the Paradise lacked, but it does not go all the way around the ship as on Disney and the Zaandam. We had an ocean view cabin on deck two . . . it had everything we needed and adequate space for three adults (except when getting ready for formal night). There was sufficient closet and drawer space, suitcases fit under the beds, the small sofa was comfortable and the bathroom sufficed. We heard no noises from the adjoining cabins or the cabins above. Except for rare occasions, there was no corridor noise either. The third bed folded down from the ceiling, just as on HAL and Carnival (in the "basic" cabin). On Disney, we had a futon style sofa for the third bed. Usable floor space and cabin layout was similar to HAL, much better than Carnival and not as good as Disney. The bathroom was small; I was informed the shower was not good for shaving legs . . . I guess that may matter to some. In comparison, HAL had a tub and more space, Disney has the split bath and Carnival may have been just a bit smaller. If it matters to you, no robes for the basic cabin -- same as Disney . . . HAL and Carnival provided robes. For the most part, we did excursions on our own. In Grand Cayman we did Stingray City and Coral Garden snorkeling with Nativeway at a considerable saving, less than half the price of the ship's excursion. I was not as comfortable going on my own in Belize, so we took the ship's Snorkel and Beach excursion. It was well run, and great snorkeling just off a small cay about 14 miles from where the ship anchors. I mean small -- bigger than a basketball court, but not any bigger than a hockey rink -- but I don't think anyone went just for the beach. Once snorkeling was over, rum punch was served on the beach and the boat back. Costa Maya and Cozumel were beach days for us . . . just the cost of a taxi out and back. In Cozumel, we docked at International pier, so a taxi was necessary for those who went into town to shop. Several couples in our dinner group went to the ruins in Belize and enjoyed the trip; it was a long day and a long bus ride. Deck two has the latest departure times for those who do not book air through RCI. We were scheduled to depart at 10:30. After several visits to the Purser we were able to arrange an earlier departure. If we had our airline "tickets" we could have accomplished this in one trip. I guess the moral of the story is to make sure you have good confirmation of your travel arrangements if you need to be off the ship early. On the various visits to the Purser I inquired about the tips being charged to our account as I had submitted the form early in the week and the charge did not show on the preliminary accounting. I was repeatedly told not to worry -- although no one asked for let alone checked my name or cabin number. Well, come 6:30, no tip voucher! A phone call to the purser and I'm told to find my cabin attendant, as he must have forgotten to deliver them. Norton does not have my vouchers and our cabin isn't on his list of vouchers. Yet another visit to the purser and this time I'm informed that they do not have my form and asked which purser was on duty when I handed it in -- like I would remember! Then I'm informed that it is "too late" to get vouchers charged to my account. As I did not bring enough cash for tips I was directed to the ATM; an ATM that charges $5.50 a transaction! As the service was superb, stiffing the staff who depend on tips because the Purser was inefficient just was not an option, so off to the ATM. I guess I would recommend bringing cash for the tips. Perhaps RCI should emulate Disney and give guests the vouchers at the time they turn in the forms. I would even prefer an automatic charge for tips to the mysterious method that leaves the guest in a lurch on those occasions when the Purser errs. It took longer to get off the ship than to get on it. Immigration in Tampa was much more time consuming than it was in either Port Canaveral or Miami. This was the first of our cruises after 9/11 that resulted in a stamped passport. Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
We were on the 3rd deck, we had a pullman bed for my 30 yr old daughter, there was a little vibration, but, nothing we couldn't adjust to. We really enjoyed this cruise, she's a beautiful ship. Embarkation went smoothly. We ... Read More
We were on the 3rd deck, we had a pullman bed for my 30 yr old daughter, there was a little vibration, but, nothing we couldn't adjust to. We really enjoyed this cruise, she's a beautiful ship. Embarkation went smoothly. We were on board within an hour. Their security machine had broke, which made for a wait of 20 minutes. But, lemonade and cookies were served in the waiting area. The Centrum area is awesome. It goes from the 4th to the 10th floors, center ship. There weren't a lot of activities to do on the first sea day, Sunday, that was also the first formal night. On a percentage scale, there were 5% tux's on men, 10% in casual wear, 75% in suits and 10% in jackets with no tie. My husband wore a suit. The ladies were 70 to 80% semi-formal, 10% formal and 10% casual. We had main seating, table 157, a table for 4, there were 3 of us, so that made my hubby and daughter happy. We were on the 5th floor, of the dining room, it is 2 floors, 4th & 5th. All glass.  We were disappointed in Grand Cayman. We chose to just shop and look around. It looked like an outlet mall area. Those we talked to said that Stingray City was great. Tues. We docked at Cost Maya and rented a golf cart to drive up the coast (about 3-4 mi.) to the fishing village of Mahahual. That was FUN. Watch out for the speed bumps, they are huge ropes going across the streets. We enjoyed this day tremendously! We ate on the gorgeous beach in front of Oxtankha's, very good Mexican food. The service was great as was the food and reasonably priced. This is a good day to spend the day in the water, the beach was fabulous. I can't say enough about it. the golf cart was $12 an hour, with the 5th hour free, and your last hour pro-rated. Shopping was very good in Mahahual. Everyone was so nice. We were even serenaded as we ate lunch on the beach. On Wednesday we tendered into Belize, Honduras, Central America. Tendering took awhile. They have you get tender tickets, then call 2 or 3 numbers at a time ... instead of just calling #1, which looked like 100 or better, but all in all about an hour and we were ashore. The pharmacy's prices weren't all that good but, the arthritis cream that is NOT available in the US was $10 a tube, or 3/$8. I bought 1 tube, not knowing if it worked or not, it DOES work. I'm sending for more. The pharmacist gave me an e-mail and a phone # to contact her. We rented a horse and carriage for $25 for an hour and went through town and around the higher and lower income parts of the city. That was also nice. This was the second formal night, with lobster tail and shrimp on the menu. Thursday we docked at Cozumel and took a taxi, $4 pp each way to Paradise Beach. We got there around 9:30 and left about 2:30. It started getting crowded about 11:30 a.m. Beach chairs and umbrella's are free to all. It's $5 for the all day use of a floating mat, iceberg to jump off of and the floating trampoline. Food was ok here, not cheap but not too bad. We shopped back at the dock area -- they had good buys. This was also the Gala Buffet night at midnight. Friday was a sea day with quite a lot of activities to pick from. We did Trivia, (not that good), the backstage tour (very informative) and the arts & crafts (NOT at all planned out, a miserable failure, 20 min. wasted). The food in the dining room was very good, one night did not have a lot to choose from, but you always have the alternative selections of salmon, steak and chicken to pick from. Shrimp cocktail was offered 2 nights, the prime rib was outstanding, desserts were ok to good. Our wait staff was the best, Sener as Head Waiter, was fabulous, Luis our waiter was outstanding and Auturo the assist. waiter was ok. The Solarium food, hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, sometimes subs and the best French fries you will ever eat, was ALWAYS very good. The Windjammer buffet food was ok. There was not hardly any fruit, but a selection of everything else. The afternoon taco bar was very good. And my DD loved having the ice cream machine available 24/7. We went to all the evening productions EXCEPT the singer Elaine Lesley, which we are very glad we didn't. We were told she was NOT good. ALL the other shows, comedians, juggler and magician were good to great. We had rough weather on Friday, a little cool and rainy, and the ship really rolled .. I thought it was fun though. Disembarkation went quickly and smoothly, we were off within 30 minutes of our color being called. I would recommend the Splendour. Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
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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