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146 Splendour of the Seas Cruise Reviews

Venice: we stayed at B& B Casanova ai Tolentini the night before our cruise and again for 3 nights after the cruise. Highly recommend this B&B, rooms are large and beautifully decorated, free internet access, very helpful staff. ... Read More
Venice: we stayed at B& B Casanova ai Tolentini the night before our cruise and again for 3 nights after the cruise. Highly recommend this B&B, rooms are large and beautifully decorated, free internet access, very helpful staff. Ideal location--less than 2 minute walk to Piazzale Roma where buses (both land and water) are located and only 2 easy to navigate bridges to cross with your luggage. Website is www.casanovaaitolentini.com Highly recommend getting the Rough Guide Map of Venice before you go---it is a very durable and accurate map (we got on Amazon.com). We also enjoyed using Rick Steve's Venice 2010 Guidebook and audiotours (download these before your trip at ricksteves.com.) If you have any students be sure to bring their student ID cards as multiple locations give student discounts (including free entrance to some sites). We bought transportation cards in advance from VeniceConnected.com and also museum passes which are cheaper if you purchase them before arrival in Venice. Ship: we were upgraded from interior rooms to deluxe balcony rooms which we enjoyed. We were disappointed to find the swimming pools have salt water in them. Food: We selected early dining (6:30pm) and were glad we did because we enjoyed having dinner each night with the same people. We did miss main dinner on the day we visited Athens as "all on board time" was 7:30 pm--however we enjoyed the casual dining in Windjammer instead that night. In general we felt the food was not as good as on other ships we have been on (3 course dinners compared to 4-5 course dinners on other ships). Windjammers was usually very crowded, the food there was pretty good. Entertainment: could be improved, had very similar singing/dancing shows on 3 nights, acrobatic entertainers 2 nights, fairly good magician one night. Split, Croatia: we took the Scenic Krka National Park Excursion offered by the ship ($62/person) and greatly enjoyed this, nice 1 hour hike around the waterfalls and then free time to visit small museums and mills. The bus driver let us off in town on the way back and we had time to walk around the Diocletian's Palace and do some shopping and then walked back to the ship. Corfu, Greece: we took the Acheilles Palace, Paleocastritsa Monastery and Old Town Tour Excursion offered by the ship ($64/person) and felt it was well-worth the cost. The guide was great and utilized "whisperer communication devices" that allowed everyone in the group to easily hear her comments. The bus driver let us off in town on the way back and the ship had a shuttle bus back to the ship that was free for those who had been excursions ($5 each way if did not take an excursion). Athens, Greece: the ship docks in Piraeus which is 6.5 miles from Athens. Based on recommendations on this website we took the train into Athens---this saved our family of 4 over $200 compared to taking the ship's excursions. The train station is a long walk from the ship (30 min if walking fast), from where we were docked we walked to the left (past the aggressive taxi drivers) looking for Gate E6 where you cross a pedestrian walkway to get to the train station. In the station it is very easy to get on the train, cost is 1 euro/person each way and a 15 minute ride into Athens. We got off at the Thiossis station and walked up to the Acropolis, good photo ops on the way. Admission to the Acropolis is 12 euros/person and also provides admission to the Athenian Way. We decided to walk to the Parliament to see the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, this takes place a little before the top of each hour and is very interesting (the guards wear kilts and studded boots and do an elaborate high stepping march during the ceremony). We then walked back to the Plaka and took the train from the Maleoskrian station back to the pier. Our ship only allowed us about 7 hours in Athens which was not enough time to see everything that we would have liked to (we did not have time to see the museums). We used Rick Steve's Athens Guidebook and found it helpful (also has information about Olympia in it). Mykonos, Greece: we were disappointed by this port. While many people have said it is the prettiest port we did not think so--it is very clean and the houses are all white, however the surrounding landscape was brown and not that interesting to us. We did not take an excursion here and perhaps would have enjoyed it more if we did. We visited a couple of museums (maritime and archeological) however the museums were very small and not worth the admission costs. The beaches are more like gravel than sand. This was the only port on our trip that used tenders and if you were not on an excursion you had to get a tender ticket to leave the ship with some not able to leave before 10 am. Some of our "table mates" rented ATVs and enjoyed using those to site see around the island. It was nice to have a quieter day after the previous hectic day with lots of walking in Athens. Katalon, Greece: it is very easy to get to the train station and take the train to see Olympia (3 euros round trip). The train station is about a 5 minutes walk from the pier, go to the right and look for a museum with pictures of ice cream cones and clowns -- the tiny train station is located behind it (very near to the waterfront). You purchase the tickets on the train. The first train leaves around 8:30 am--try to get off the ship in time to catch this train as the trains only leave every 2-3 hours. In Olympia it is a short walk to the archeological site and Archeological museum---admission to both is free for students and 9 euros/person for others who want to see both the site and the museum (otherwise 6 euros/site and 6 euros/museum)! We enjoyed a leisurely walk around the site, then ate lunch and saw the museums (very worthwhile). There are 3 museums, two of these are completely free and each was enjoyable to visit. Our family easily saved over $200 by going on our own compared to taking the ship's excursions at this port. Disembarkation: tickets were dispersed the night before with options to change your time of disembarkation. We selected 8:10 am and had time for an enjoyable breakfast in the King & I before leaving the ship. There was about a 15 min wait for the free shuttle bus back to Piazzale Roma, but everyone was orderly and may have been a shorter wait if we had disembarked earlier. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Introduction: Before booking this cruise, we had considered Viking River Cruises, and a trip on the Rhine and Danube rivers. We opted for Royal Caribbean because of price. We flew to Germany, met my daughter who just finished a semester of ... Read More
Introduction: Before booking this cruise, we had considered Viking River Cruises, and a trip on the Rhine and Danube rivers. We opted for Royal Caribbean because of price. We flew to Germany, met my daughter who just finished a semester of study abroad in Europe, and drove through Switzerland and Italy to Venice, where we joined the cruise. We had a couple of nights in Venice before the trip, which we enjoyed, except it is difficult to navigate there and difficult to get around with luggage, because of the many bridges with steps over the network of canals. Boarding: About noon on Saturday we checked out of our hotel and made our way back to Piazza Roma, the end of the road, where the RCI shuttle buses were loading. We loaded our luggage on one bus, but there was no room for us, so we took another bus, hoping we did not lose our luggage. We did not, it was waiting on a luggage cart when we got to the pier. We got in line for security and check in. Since we had a junior suite, we got into a shorter line, and were boarded within an hour. All in all a bit hectic, but not too bad, just about what we expected. Cabin: Our junior suite was really just a roomier cabin, with a sofa bed separated from the joined twin beds by a small partition, about a foot above the bed, so there was not real privacy, but it was roomy and comfortable. The location of cabin 8034 was amidships, near the stairs and elevators, but just off the traffic areas. It was quiet and convenient in all respects. The bath had a tub-shower, and it was kept stocked with clean towels. Dining: We sat at a table for ten in the first seating, with nice people, and we were happy that there was another young woman our daughter's age, also travelling with her parents. We all got along well. The food was well prepared and presented, in good quantity, all in all very good without being called "gourmet". There was something for every palate. The wines by the glass were expensive, that was my only complaint. Ports of call: We enjoyed them all, and did not spend too much on excursions because we enjoyed walking. At most ports we were able to dock, but did have to use the boat once or twice, but that was no problem. In Athens you need to take a trip to the Acropolis from the port of Piraeus, which is a business and industrial city. Even with the added expenses of drinks, excursions, spa, Internet, and tips the total cost of the seven day cruise was much less than the river cruise, and we had just as much fun. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
It was our first cruise ever. We headed to Venice three days prior to the cruise;We wanted a B&B which was close to Piazzale Roma and the port. We found one clean and romantic little B&B. If some one is looking for a local feel, ... Read More
It was our first cruise ever. We headed to Venice three days prior to the cruise;We wanted a B&B which was close to Piazzale Roma and the port. We found one clean and romantic little B&B. If some one is looking for a local feel, this is a perfect place. The staff is great. Easy to reach from Piazzale Roma (gateway for land transportation and you'll arrive if you come by four-wheel taxi or airport bus). Take a Vapereto no' 1 (Taxi boat) and get-done in Santa Stae and follow the Map(download the map from there website) which will take you 4 to 5 minutes to reach this place by walk. You can also walk from Piazzale Roma which will take you 15 to 20 minutes but not easy if you are carrying heavy luggage. Embarkation - It easy to reach the Port from Piazzale Roma. On the day of the cruise Tag you luggage before you leave from your hotel. Reach to Piazzale Roma by 10am (not nessary, at this time there will be not much of crowd). There will be transfer couch waiting, RC will be written on it. This is free of Charge (the only).Carry you seapass and passport with you. Once you reach to the port they will take care of your luggage and guide you to register.This will not take much time. Regarding you luggage it be delivered to your cabin around 2 PM. Stateroom info: We had a balcony cabin on deck 7. We took the port side and mid ship location as per the review. For this Route its better to take the StarBoard side. the view is better from the cabin. We could feel the vibrations, It does not matter were the location is.The whole ship Vibrates. In some location it vibrates more. We got used to it. The room was a comfortable size, plenty of storage space. Excursion: We book 2 Excursion online from RC. Ephesus (KD1) and Cofu (CG05). Epheses is worth it but Cofu not so grt. We have seen better Palaces and Church. I felt the old city is much better to walk around and to do local shopping. Dubrovnik, Croatia and Santorni we did it ourself. Dubrovnik: You can buy ticket for the RC transfer couch or walk directly to the couch and show you RC card (which they will give on the first day, this card is you entry to you cabin, CC, ID) .They will debit 5 USD per person one way. This is more convenient or you can walk. It will take 45 mins to reach the gate. The old city is beautiful you can walk within the wall, a great place to wander around yourself. Walk top of the Wall ( you need to buy ticket for this) if possible. Great View of the city. Santorni: We did this on our own. Down load a map of Santorni. this will help you understand the Island. It very easy to move around with local transport. The ship reaches early in the morning. So you get enough time to see around. Here the ship is in tender mode. You will have to collect your tender tickets (you don't have to Pay). You can collect it in the morning from the desk (try to leave early).You will be given nos, once called you can head toward the small boats which will take you to Santorni. Once you reach here you can either walk the stairs or take a cable car or take the donkeys. We took the cable car and went up to the top. You will reach Fira, We were off-loaded. We walked around Fira and took a local bus to Oia (pronounce IA) .this is more beautiful than Fira. We head back to Fira and took another Bus to Akotori to see Red Beach. Remember to head back to the port on time. If your late you will miss the Cruise. Over all it was a great experience. It would have been great if it was not raining. It continuously rained the whole time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
GOOD The service was as great as we expected! Our attendant Germano was very friendly, he engaged us in small conversation and gave recommendations when we asked and never made us feel that he was too busy. The man sitting beside me at ... Read More
GOOD The service was as great as we expected! Our attendant Germano was very friendly, he engaged us in small conversation and gave recommendations when we asked and never made us feel that he was too busy. The man sitting beside me at dinner was allergic to gluten, and he and I both were pleasantly surprised at how well the dining staff was able to accommodate his needs. Languages: I was impressed that this American cruise company accommodated so many of the European languages for every announcement. I speak enough of a few languages to know that they were quite competent in their announcements, and all of the staff I met was multi-lingual. Embarkation/Disembarkation: Getting on and off the ship was quick and easy. We had checked in online (highly recommended!), so check-in at the ship was quick with very little wait. We boarded the ship around 2:30, had lunch, and received our luggage around 4:30. Since we were staying in Venice a few days after the cruise, we wanted to disembark as late as possible to sleep in a bit and enjoy a leisurely breakfast, but disembarkation went quicker than expected and we were asked to leave the ship at 9:00. Since we had only one suitcase each in addition to my laptop backpack and camera bag, we asked and the staff allowed us to carry off our luggage ourselves on disembarkation day. BAD No iron: We were surprised and disappointed that there is no provision for ironing clothes on the ship! After making the effort to bring nice clothes and dress-up for formal nights, we had to resort to hanging clothes in the shower to clear the wrinkles from the suitcase. Expensive internet: Although I did bring my laptop, internet service starts at $35 for one hour, so we didn't use it. I have a hard time understanding why one hour on the ship costs the same as one month at home. Casino: I didn't like that the casino fills the full width of the ship, so that to walk from the main dining room to the theater required us to walk through the casino. It was actually depressing to walk past the addicts just so I could see a show after dinner. Shuttles in Venice: It was raining the day of our sail-off from Venice and we were unprepared, so we were disappointed to wait in the pouring rain about 15 minutes for the Royal Caribbean shuttle bus to the port. After disembarking from the ship the last time, we waited 45 minutes for a shuttle to return us to Piazzale Roma in Venice. There were 2 private taxi vans charging 5 euros per person and profiting from the sparse Royal Caribbean shuttle buses. DINING We ate dinner in the main dining hall "The King and I" every night but one. The meal started with a choice of 4 breads. The menu offered around 8 salads/first dishes, 8 main dishes, and 6 desserts. The portions were correct, we tended to eat everything on our plate without feeling full or hungry when we finished. The staff quickly learned that we preferred to drink decaf coffee and brought it without asking after the second night. The man sitting next to me had a gluten allergy; he and I both were surprised at the quality of meals he was able to enjoy and how easily the dining staff accommodated him. At every meal they were able to modify an existing item on the menu, always provided him gluten-free bread, and they did not make a big deal about it. We were surprised with an additional dessert and song one night for our anniversary. We ate breakfast and lunch every day in the Windjammer Cafe. Some mornings we slept late and were glad they served breakfast until noon. The variety of food was even more than we expected. We did not find the buffet islands to be too congested; our only waits were short ones at the coffee machine. Occasionally we had some difficulty to find a table, but the staff was very quick to clear the tables and the waits were not nearly as long as we read about in some other reviews (such as Oasis). The beautiful melon carvings and ice sculptures were nice touches. STATEROOM We reserved an inside stateroom because of the cost, but afterwards we both agreed we prefer the inside stateroom because of the quality of our sleep! When lights are turned out, the room is pitch black and we slept very soundly; there was no daylight to trigger our body to begin to wake up at daybreak. The room was small, but not as small as some Parisian hotels where we have stayed! OTHER After the first night, we were pleased with the quality of the shows. I was pleased with the rock climbing wall. I had never attempted it, so I was grateful that the staff was very helpful. The wall had 6 courses of various difficulties; although I am 52 and not athletic, I was able to ring the bell after climbing 3 of the courses, the 4th required more finger strength than I could muster. Being so high above the top of the ship which is 9 stories above the ocean was intimidating at first, but I was made confident by the safety equipment, the competence of the staff, and their instructions and suggestions. We take a library for granted, since we enjoy reading a book or playing games in a quiet atmosphere with big windows for seeing outside. The library on Spendour is adequate, the choice of books is medium, and we were glad that there were plenty of Scrabble and Othello games available. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
* Background Information This was our first cruise as Platinum Crown and Anchor members - so it made it a bit special - would we be treated any differently? * Hotel Info We arrived in Venice a couple of days early - after a couple of ... Read More
* Background Information This was our first cruise as Platinum Crown and Anchor members - so it made it a bit special - would we be treated any differently? * Hotel Info We arrived in Venice a couple of days early - after a couple of near misses, we always do this - no chance of missing the ship. By luck we stayed at the Arlechinno hotel just off the Piazzale Roma, a great location and very convenient for the shuttle bus to the port. * Embarkation This was the best embarkation we have had (better than Miami or Tampa). Luggage disappeared off the shuttle straight onto trailers and off to the ship (presumably via security). This is where we first felt special - a dedicated check-in for Platinum (+). Check-in was no quicker - but the cakes and champagne were a nice treat. * Sailaway The sailaway from Venice down the Guidecca canal is stunning. Some of the best views in the world. * Stateroom Our stateroom was fine - normal inside cabin. We didn't spend too much time in it. The only complaint would a lack a pressure and warmth in the water in the shower. * Dining We enjoyed the food - all good quality and never had reason to send anything back. The service on MyTime dining was often slow - half an hour to get a bread roll or find your wine bottle is not good enough. * Children's Clubs Our children were disappointed by the kids' clubs. The activities were less well organised than we have experienced in the past. Our teen often left the club bored by the lack of activities, playing on the Wii seemed to be the only activity. * Entertainment Normal Royal Caribbean fare. The singers and dancers were fine. A good West End singer and a fun magician did well. But overall, I don't cruise for the shows and find them rather poor - wonder if the larger ships are any better? * Disembarkation This is when the effects of the Iceland volcano hit. We had been told that airports and flights were cancelled - the internet lounge was packed with people trying to rebook flights and hotels. We had paid for a "late departure". This is an excellent programme - for around $30 per person you stay on board on departure day - we had use of the lounges, pool, windjammer etc- all for the price of a meal in Venice. Due to the ash problem, there was a lot of confusion about whether the programme was actually running - at one point we were asked to leave. When we finally disembarked, we were straight through security , got our bags and the a taxi to the (closed) airport. Due to the ash we were in Venice for a further 5 days before eventually flying home. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Having made our own way to Sao Paulo, we caught up with the RCI rep at the airport and were advised when the bus transfer would commence. Although this was another hour to wait, the rep explained the choice was either to wait at the ... Read More
Having made our own way to Sao Paulo, we caught up with the RCI rep at the airport and were advised when the bus transfer would commence. Although this was another hour to wait, the rep explained the choice was either to wait at the airport or at the cruise terminal as boarding would not commence until 11am. The bus journey took just under a couple of hours but we were pleasantly surprised by some of the breathtaking scenery that appeared about an hour into the journey. They area is clearly busy, but the dual carriageway road network helped keep traffic moving well without impetuous drivers risking overtaking. This seemed commonplace throughout our various ports of call. Having pre-registered online, the check-in process was relatively quick and painless, although we had to fill in the credit paperwork manually, despite having done so online - one of those unnecessary frustrations after 18+ hours of travelling. We then were transported to the ship but could not access the cabins (or staterooms as they call them) until 1pm. Then there was the frustrating wait for cases to be delivered to the rooms. One suggestion would be to make sure that you access your cases before checking in and getting a change of clothes etc. We soon met our room attendant, who was very pleasant, as were all the staff. We reported a flickering light and were delighted to find it had been repaired by the time we returned later in the afternoon. We had a problem with the room safe later in the cruise, and this was sorted within 15mins. The attendant was always smiling, very efficient, and left varying towel decorations every other night. Wet/dirty towels were replaced twice a day whether you wanted then changed or not. Despite being due to go into dry dock next year, the 14 year old ship seemed to be well maintained, and there was always someone with a paintbrush in their hand! There was regular entertainment around the open air pool, and many people took part in the various games that the team arranged. The solarium pool generally seemed cool due to air conditioning, but at least it was guaranteed to be wind free. That said, it was popular and had its own bar and hot snacks area. We regularly used the aft deck for sunbathing, as it was generally shaded, and quiet, although the music was occasionally played when the climbing wall was in use. The top deck was well used by those undertaking their daily constitutional walk - 4laps/mile! There were several days when we were sailing into strong head winds which meant that there was a combined wind speed of 60+mph!! There was a good range of exercise equipment which was was very well used, especially on sea days. Each evening before dinner we enjoyed a cocktail in the schooner bar. The staff were very nice and chatty, and there was usually a guitarist, or pianist playing. Constantine arranged the my time dining table allocations wonderfully efficiently, and apart from the first couple of evening we just turned up as and when we were ready. We were free to choose to sit alone, or with English speaking guests. We were happy with the flexibility and with the people that Constantine sat us with, especially as we did sit with some of them more than once. The restaurant staff were very helpful and accommodating, the choice of meals fair, and well presented. One frustration that we had was having to sign for drinks as we ordered them, rather than waiting till the end of the meal. We commented on this on the mid cruise questionnaire, and were pleasantly surprised when it was commented on by Constantine and the head waiter. For the rest of the cruise we signed at the end of the meal! :) The meals in the buffet style windjammer restaurant were wide ranging and always freshly restocked. The biggest problem was finding a table at times, but turnover was quite quick. Occasionally there were lunchtime barbeques, or paella, around the open air pool and they always proved popular. The Captain made daily announcements about weather, sea conditions, and progress which were very informative. The six days crossing the Atlantic were not too bumpy, and broken up by passing archipelago Fernando de Noronha and Cape Verde. The only other thing we saw was a flock of albatross that flew alongside the ship till the equator. As for entertainment generally, it either suited or it didn't (a Spanish Elvis was not our taste!). It was always varied, and there was no show without Claudia, the cruise director! The shows in the theatre were always professionally presented. There was a lot of promotion of art sales, and bingo, neither of which appealed to us We did go on a couple of shore excursions which were well organised, but we did our own thing on Madeira, and enjoyed the experience much more cheaply. Tips were prepaid, and although there was supposed to be a 15% service charge added to each bill (we were still on Brazilian mode and didn't get charged), there was the opportunity to add a further tip when signing! All in all we thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and staff did everything they could to make sure that we did so. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Ok, I'm giving this cruise 4 out of 5, so don't get my negatives below out of proportion. THE GOOD: Food (oh the food!), dining room service, the ship's "bridge" officers, bar staff, housekeeping. Cabin. The ... Read More
Ok, I'm giving this cruise 4 out of 5, so don't get my negatives below out of proportion. THE GOOD: Food (oh the food!), dining room service, the ship's "bridge" officers, bar staff, housekeeping. Cabin. The weather. Unbelieveable value for money (even the arranged flights were a bargain). The sea surface (a doddle). Embarkation. The ship: easily big enough, and beatifully maintained. Most ports of call: Maderia: clean, safe, beautiful. Santa Cruz: bustling Spanish city; get out of town. Recife: Now we're in Brazil. Keep your expectations low. Beach reminded me of Waikiki. Salvador. Loved it. Take the little ferry to the island with all the locals. Rio de Janeiro. More than I'd imagined - in the toursit areas, any way. Beaches to die for. THE BAD: Cruise director. Ugh what a pain, so out of her depth, she was nausiating. Final port: Santos / Sao Paulo. Don't go here if you don't have to. Nothing of merit, lots and lots of squalour and crime. Incessant on-board announcements of BEENGOH! Look, no-one was showing up, so do they cancel it? No, they bring it to the pool area! Puleeze! The UGLY: Without doubt the worst department, by far, was Guest Services. It would take me an age to list all the problems that they created / ignored / refused to fix / denied existed. Not just passengers were fed up with the Purser's office staff. I won't name them, but several crew had given up on these people by the end of the cruise. "You have to do this" "You have to do that". "It's not possible". You know the litany of cover-up phrases that inept people - a whole department - uses. "Oh, that form should have been delivered to your cabin". The times I heard that. I'm an accountant so I know how such an office should be run. But anything they got involved with was a shambles. The blatant erros in the daily planner, "Compass" became an ongoing joke. I hope the powers at RCI HQ get to read this. Please, do yourselves and your future passengers a big favour - dump the lot of them. Put someone in charge who can manage people and get things done - properly, first time. When you think that their work spills over into security: immigration forms that either didn't exist or were not needed, it starts to get a little frightening. Rant over. I'm now going to return to my overall score: 4 out of 5 (it would have been five but for you-know-who). Notwithstanding, we had a great time and have wonderful memories of all the friends we made on board - guests and staff. Thanks to you for making it a great vacation. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We are a young european couple that has cruised before: this was our 3rd cruise. We were on the Explorer and the Volendam before, both in the Caribbean. Because we have travelled extensively in Europe, we knew what to expect from the ports ... Read More
We are a young european couple that has cruised before: this was our 3rd cruise. We were on the Explorer and the Volendam before, both in the Caribbean. Because we have travelled extensively in Europe, we knew what to expect from the ports of call (a cheerful southern-european chaos...). Let's start to say that 95% of the passagengers on this cruise must have had a real bargain. We paid € 499 per person for an inside cabin, and there were some on our table that paid as little as $ 200 per person. Considering what they fed us and the quality of the entertainment, Royal Caribbean could not have made a lot, if any, money on this cruise. The ship was basically repositioning from Venice to Brazil, so there were a lot of crew changes. Many new crew members came on in Venice and Dubrovnik, they were not very experienced and you noticed on the first few days that they needed to get adjusted to each other and the ship. The first days a lot of them did not known where things were or brought the wrong wine to the table. Generally the service was fast and friendly and things vastly improved after a couple of days. You notice everywhere that this is an American ship. Although it sails in Europe, it has nothing to do with Europe at all. You can only pay in dollars on board, which is ridiculous as all ports of call (except Dubrovnik) are in the Euro-zone. Paying in dollar is not normal in Europe, American passengers complaining about that were frowned upon by fellow passengers and shopkeepers everywhere. Make sure you have the local currency! Living in Germany, we expect a certain amount of courtesy and politeness. Although no more than 25% of the passangers were American and no more than probably 5% of the staff, the customs and behaviour of the staff were American. If a European waitress would say "Hey you guys" to her customers she would probably be sacked. We were walking in one port of call when our diner waiter on his free day spotted us on the other side of the street and yelled our first names out loud. Very inappropriate! As others have already commented, the drink prices on the ship are fairly high, especially alcoholic drinks. We do understand that Royal Caribbean has to make money one way or another, and it also helps to keep binge drinking under control. We did not see any drunk people. Water, lemonade, ice-tea, tea and coffee are available free of charge all day, so nobody has to die of thirst. All the countries visited have a tradition of good wines, so you could easily enjoy them on your days ashore at a very low price. As any cruise line, Royal Caribbean does not allow you to bring your own booze on board. The quality of the live music in the bars was good, although after a few nights we noticed that they repeated the same songs every night. Music that was advertised as "ballroom music" was nice, but often unsuitable for ballroom dancing. The terrible anti-slip marble flooring in all these locations does not provide good dancing without dislocating a few knees or ankles. The shows were really good, especially those put on by their own singers and dancers. The cabin was perhaps not new, but everything was very clean and in good working order. I actually thought that the bathroom was bigger than I remembered. We selected our cabin ourselves directly on the RCCL website and made sure that we were in a quiet location. On a previous cruise we were directly under the kitchens, which caused a lot of noise 22 hours a day. Other people on our cruise were directly under the casino and heared people walking all night. The most wonderful thing about this cruise was the My Time Dining. You can make reservations or just turn up at the time you want. You get to sit with an everchanging set of people on a large table every night, or you can even request a table for 2. We loved the large tables for 8 or 10 people and within a few days, we knew so many people! Sometimes we felt like eating at 6 o'clock, other nights at 8.45, and it was never a problem... The only thing that disappointed us greatly were the outrageous costs of shuttle transfers. Beware that you often do not need the coach offered by the ship, and certainly not for that price!!!! The ship is either near the centre of town, or can be reached with a cheap taxi which for 2 is cheaper than the coach. We do all our sightseeing on foot or with the local bus or train. $ 28 per person (€20) for a bus to Lisbon airport is highway robbery, a taxi cost us only €13 from our hotel downtown to the airport, from the port it cannot be more than €15 or €20. Taxis in Dubrovnik were €7,70, which is about the same as two people taking the RCCL coach for $5 each. In Malaga, we took a taxi from the station for only €8 which is 2x the distance than the drop-off point of the coach that charges $5 per person. RCCL takes avantage of the insecurity and lack of local knowledge of some passengers! Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We booked a 10 day cruise from Venice to Lisbon. The price was excellent - $349pp. The ports were a little bit unusual - we've done alot of cruising and wanted to do something different. The ship and the cruise itself was, ... Read More
We booked a 10 day cruise from Venice to Lisbon. The price was excellent - $349pp. The ports were a little bit unusual - we've done alot of cruising and wanted to do something different. The ship and the cruise itself was, unfortunately, somewhat spotty. I like the ship. This is an older ship - it is not too large. The cabins (we had an inside cabin) seem to be larger than those on the newer ship. That was very nice. Boarding the ship in Venice was a real problem. We took a private boat to the boarding area because we had alot of luggage, and my wife used a handicapped scooter to get around. The boat dropped us off near the train terminal. We had to walk from the drop-off point to where a shuttle bus would take us to the boat. As we walked we passed panhandlers akin to those on the 59th street bridge in manhattan. One of them grabbed a bag from me, walked it to the top of the ramp, and then wanted money for walking the bag ten feet. When we got to the bus waiting area there was a line. Unfortunately, when the bus pulled in everyone attacked the bus from all sides, threw whatever luggage they could into the bus and just climbed aboard. There were no Royal Caribbean personnel at the shuttle bus boarding area to maintain order. When we got to the drop off point (by the ship), they got all the luggage off and my wife's scooter. But then when the bus pulled out, it struck her and just pulled off. When I tried to report the matter to ship's personnel (numerous times), I was told that there was no safety/security officer. When we got home I tried to report the matter via internet, but have still not heard from anyone. Despite the problems getting on, the cruise turned out to be very enjoyable. The ports were all secondary ports, but that was what we wanted. One problem I didn't expect was that many of the ports required you to take a shuttle bus, and these busses were NOT complementary - you had to pay for several of them. I felt like I was being nickle and dimed, but it turned out it was only another 40USD for the both of us, and the cruise itself was very inexpensive. Royal Caribbean of late has been getting a spotty in the food and entertainment areas. We've been on recent cruises where it was very good, and others where it was poor. This one was mediocre. The meats were very good and well prepared. Soups and pastries left alot to be desired. Why is it that whenever they serve "Lobster Bisque" on these cruises it is some concoction which you've never seen before? The choices for dining was either at the Windjammer, or the dining room. This particular ship did not have extra dining facilities. The windjammer was not capable of accommodating all of the guests, and there was usually some kind of a problem getting seats in there for breakfast. There were two seatings for dinner - early and late. The late seating (which we had) was at 8:30. If you were in the late seating, you went to the late show, which usually started at 10:45. This meant you didn't get to bed until close to 12:00PM each night. Normally you go to an early show if you are in the late seating, and late seating is usually not quite this late. Royal Caribbean has apparently switched to "Seattle's Best" for the coffee, and everyone was complaining that the coffee on the ship was terrible - it tasted burnt. Breakfast was standard fare. When I tried to get them to make a cheese omelette at the buffet (there was an omelette station), I could never get them to melt the cheese. At lunch they had a salad bar, but there was usually something missing - on most days there was no blue cheese dressing. The pastries were unremarkable. The head chef was Indian, and there was a nice selection of Indian cuisine during the cruise. Entertainment was very spotty. I remember when cruises used to have name entertainment - no more. There were two of the now mandatory "review" shows. This is the kind of show you get at theme parks like Disney. I am not impressed with these. The other nights there were regular performers. Most of these were pretty bad, but a couple of these were very good. There were a couple of acrobat? acts that looked like rejects from the Ed Sullivan show. But there was a singing group doing a tribute to Il Divo that was EXCELLENT. I think this was the first time they were on the cruise, and the activities director hadn't seen them before and was pleasantly surprised. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
First off let me say that we have sailed with 5 different cruise lines so are in the position of making comparisons. We look for good value for money in a holiday. This trip we sailed on RCI's Splendour of the Seas Greek island ... Read More
First off let me say that we have sailed with 5 different cruise lines so are in the position of making comparisons. We look for good value for money in a holiday. This trip we sailed on RCI's Splendour of the Seas Greek island cruise, leaving Venice (Italy) on 3rd October 2009, and calling at Split (Croatia), Corfu (Greece), Piraeus (Athens - Greece), Mykonos (Greece), Katakolon (Greece) and returning to Venice (Italy). There were 35 different nationalities amongst the passengers, the majority from the U.S.A., the next largest group was British then German. The Ship. Difficult to fault the ship. Splendour is what I would call medium sized, holding a maximum of just under 2,100 passengers (on this trip there were a few more than 1800) and weighing in at around 70,000 tons displacement. Although apparently one of RCI oldest ships, you wouldn't know it from the way the ship is maintained. It is excellent, with few signs of wear and tear (a few marks or torn fabrics on the 42nd street theatre and Centrum couches.) It is well laid out and easy to find you way around unlike some other ships we have sailed on (Costa Serena - nightmare!). There are plenty of places to sit and relax in the evening either out on deck or inside, listening to the many offerings of live or recorded music you will find available all over the ship. There is a wide variety of bars, some focusing on music some with back-ground music. There is a "space" to suite everyone, but therein lies a problem; bars mean drink. With Royal Caribbean International, drink means profit; a BIG profit. More of this later, for the cost of drinks and extras with this company put a BIG dampener on this holiday for us. On the one and only full day at sea on this trip, there was plenty of room all over the ship, both inside and on the many sun decks to accommodate all us passengers with ease. Plenty of sun beds to go around. The crew also made the sea day very entertaining and supplying even more food (if that is possible) by way of an on deck BBQ, plus of course all manner of entertainment. Cabin (sorry - stateroom) We were located in an inside "L" class cabin on deck 6 (main deck) with of course no windows at all. This cabin along with most others are referred to by RCI as a stateroom. Being inside and no windows, the room really was pitch back once the lights were out and many times we nearly over slept! It was good enough being clean, tidy and adequate. With a small toilet/shower facility and enough storage for all our clothes plus a small TV with enough channels and information available, though I was unable to find how to access our on board account via the TV. I suspect this cannot be done on this ship or level of stateroom. The bed was most comfortable, and absolutely huge (super king size). So big in fact that on my wife's side (fortunately) there was only 3 inches gap between the corner of the bed and the fitted cupboard/tv cabinet requiring my good lady to climb over the corner of the bed to access her side of the bed. She found this far from amusing at 3 A.M!, though at bed time I found it most amusing! The room was fairly quiet, but footfall noise from next deck up could become intrusive. Overall; not bad, not bad at all. Food & Drink For many cruisers, dinning is a big part of the experience. There are two main dinning areas on board Splendour. The more formal "King & I" restaurant offering fixed time early (18:30hrs) or late (21:00hrs) servings or RCI's "My Time" dinning (for details of My Time please see RCI's web site) and the less formal self service "Windjammer" restaurant. Both offer very good food. The Windjammer was our chosen place to take breakfast, offering a staggering selection of food and drinks. You would have to be unbelievably fussy not to find something you liked. The food was always well presented, hot (were appropriate) and plentiful. BEWARE; - If you choose fresh squeezed juices such as the orange, they are a separately chargeable item. All other offerings are of course included. Well aren't they? Ah, well not quite. If you want coffee types other than the standard RCI free coffee, (which is quite good if you like strong tasting coffee which I do) for example Cappuccino, then this again is a separately chargeable item. Dinner. For many cruisers, the highlight of the day. We elected for the formal early sitting and had opted to sit on a large 10 person table. RCI had selected a good group of passengers to sit together. We were blessed with a fabulous group of new friends, comprising of couples from England, Denmark, and the U.S.A. For us this was excellent and just what we wanted. With a fine selection of food, served well and tasting brilliant we were very pleased with the food. I would class the evening meals overall as very good rather than excellent. However, every evening there was always a different Asian vegetarian offering provided by the head chef who apparently is Asian and trained in classical Asian cuisine. Let me say, as someone who has plenty of experience with Asian food this guy really knows what he is doing with spices. The Asian vegetarian options were truly outstanding and worthy of an excellent rating. Do you like a drink of wine with your meal? We do. This is one major source of irritation for us. After a good friend of mine returned from an RCI cruise and told me of the drink costs we contacted RCI before we sailed asking about drink prices on Splendour. Below is the listed reply from RCI; Draft Beer is $7.50 a pint, bottled beer is $5.25 or $6.25 for the larger Aluminium Cans. Drink of the Day is $6.95, Beefeater and Tonic, $7.50, Glass of House Wine $6.25, Bottle of House Wine $26 Mohito $7.50, Can of Coke $2.25. Dry Sack sherry $6.50 Bristol Creme sherry $6.25 Strongbow cider $5.75 Diet coke $2.24 Based on an exchange rate of 1.55$ to the UK pound, this makes house wine £16.79p. The (fractionally cheaper) option is to purchase a "wine package" where you pay up front and you get to choose which wines you care to drink from a fixed selection of offerings (go to Before You Board > Cruise Additions > Food & Drink on the RCI web site for full details). Different (more expensive) packages offer better quality and greater choice for a higher premium price. We eventually opted to purchase a 7 bottle "Gold" (cheapest) package for a total of £109 (including the mandatory 15% service charge!). On return from the cruise I researched the choices available and I discovered that most could be sourced in the UK for no more than around £6/bottle and most of those for less than £5/bottle. I am aware that you pay a premium for wine in a good restaurant and especially on cruise ships, but remember we have the good fortune to be able to compare with 4 other cruise lines, and RCI is by far, THE most expensive that we have sailed with when it comes to drink! It goes without saying, and rightly so, that you are not allowed to bring your own alcohol on board either initially or when re-boarding at the ports of call (where you baggage is scanned for security reasons - and I guess this would detect booze no doubt!). You can bring water etc back on board and you may want to consider that when you see the price of bottled water on board also. Service Being a U.S. owned and managed ship, I had expected 1st class service throughout, especially when it is suggested that your end of cruise gratuity payment to the service staff is $9.75 per day per passenger! (this is discretionary, but this level of tipping IS expected!) Yes the service the in cabin (sorry, I mean stateroom) was adequate, as was the table service (if somewhat slow), but really no better than other ships we have sailed on. On several occasions we were asked (apologetically) if we could vacate the dining table ready for the next sitting. This was primarily because service systems (not personnel) and placements of the tables (too close for the waiters to easily progress around the table in a single rotation, but having to walk back and forth to get to all sides of the table), all conspired to slow service delivery down substantially. Food still arrived fresh and hot though so no complaints there. Again, on the menu you could find a wide variety of food choices, and you would be hard pressed not to fine something you liked. For coffee at the end of service, although listed on the menu, should you choose an "specialty" coffee such for example, cappuccino then guess what? Yes that's right' it's a separately chargeable item, plus of course the mandatory 15% service charge. Entertainment We attended most shows in the 42nd. theatre and can report that most were good, two were excellent, and the remaining OK. Other offerings of recorded and themed music (frequently in the Viking Lounge at the top of the ship on deck 11) and in the Centrum are great and I enjoyed these offerings a lot. It has become a habit of ours that during or after the shows when cruising, that my wife and I enjoy a cocktail. My wife enjoys a brandy Alexander. She reports that sampling offerings from 4 of the bars on board. Not one got it right (no nutmeg apparently !!) and incorrect proportions of ingredients. Cost was $5.75 (+15% service charge) or about £4.26, still a little expensive. My regular choice is a Negroni. Sadly this contains more that one spirit, and although they mainly tasted fine for me a stomping $9.25 (£5.97) was WAY over the top. For example, this cocktail bought last February on Fred Olsen's Boudicca was around £3.50!!! You see what I mean? Itinerary We chose this trip because of the itinerary. So yes it was exactly what we wanted and we got what we expected. We cannot comment about RCI's excursion offerings other than from what I saw of the prices they seemed just a little expensive compared with others we have done with other cruise lines, but on this trip we had the experience to "go it alone" (with help from other Cruise Critic submissions with tips and tricks that all worked out well) Embarkation and disembarkation Now I appreciate that we travelled to and from the ship independently, locating and using the free RCI shuttle bus from Venice's Pizzale Roma to the pier and back again. First, embarkation: Thanks to Cruise Critic and a preliminary visit the day before sailing we found out from local bus personnel where the RCI shuttle bus would terminate at the main bus terminal, and it's a good job we did, for there were no signage what so every on cruise day pointing to when there shuttle bus stops!!!!. When you did find it, there was no organisation what so ever. The only RCI rep that came with the bus didn't speak Italian well enough to talk with the bus driver (good job one of the passengers did !!) and boarding the bus was madness, almost fighting to load your own cases into the luggage hold. When we did get the ship embarkation point, once again very little signage and no personnel to guide us. Once inside the check-in centre things were better but still horrendously slow and ponderous. Not a great start. Disembarkation: First we had to be up, dressed, breakfasted and off the ship by 08:20 (others had to be off well before us). If we wanted to stay on board until later, it would cost us $35 each, but would still have to vacate the cabin by 09:00, and relax and use the ship facilities until latest 15:30 (I think). You have to use your credit card to make any purchases on board during that time. Once we were actually off the ship, things were equally poor. Once out of the port terminal, no signage to direct us to the shuttle bus terminus, and few staff to offer directions. It took 20 minutes to find it pick up point, then a 1 hour wait in the queue for the one shuttle bus, but at least getting on the bus was supervised by someone with experience. This is a far cry from other companies I have used, were embarkation / disembarkation is generally smooth and slick. I suppose if we had used a taxi the journey to and from the bus terminal to the pier and back again would have been a lot smoother. Also bare in mind that at Venice the city bus terminal is only a 20-25 minute walk from the ship pier. Gratuities We have touched on this already, but let us take a closer look. Gratuities and the level thereof can be quite emotive, for you are always aware that the people who are serving you are dependant on your gratuities to afford them a decent income for the long hours they work. Now think again; you are expected (though you don't really have to) pay gratuities at the rate of $9.75 (about £6.30) per day, per passenger. This was a 7 night cruise, so the total sum for us as a couple is around £88 per week! Now, add to this, EVERY purchase you make on board is subject to a further, mandatory 15% gratuity fee, this means for example that for table wine, you are paying gratuity twice for the same service! We are not amused. Conclusion On the whole, yes we enjoyed the trip, but then again, any time away from work for me is quality time! Would I sail with Royal Caribbean International again? Well probably not. Not unless of course there was say about £200 on board credit included in the package. Value for money ? Well we did get what we thought was a good deal from our agents (GoCruise in Preston Lancs), including a couple of nights in Venice pre-cruise. So I guess the best we can say is that it was fair value for money, but not good. While I mention Venice, allow me to say a few words about this city. Venice is a city I adore. We have been there now 4 times, the last being just 2 years ago, when we concluded that it was a fair place price wise to visit, with stunning architecture with that exquisite Italian style that you only fine in this part of the world. Cost wise, the same cannot be said for it now though. Yes, I know there exchange rate does not favour visiting EU countries with about a 17% (+) drop in value for us English over the last 12-18 months, but comparing costs with our last visit 2 years ago, we estimate that costs are around 35% (+) more expensive. For example, an average though nice meal for two with a glass of house wine each and two courses only, in a nice "al fresco" type restaurant, NOT near the popular tourist centres of Rialto or San Marco, costed out to over 60 Euro (or about £56 GBP). With beer about 4.50 Euro per 500ml (about £4.2 /pint), two American coffee's, and 1 cappuccino plus 1 Danish type pastry was 10 Euro (£9.30 ish), we would have to think carefully about re-visiting Venice in the foreseeable future, which is a great pity for it is a truly wonderful place. Enjoy your trip Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Traveling to Venice: We arrived in Venice on Friday, October 23, 2009, from Chicago. Even if you have to pay extra, I recommend getting a non-stop flight. We had a three-hour layover in Munich and it actually took 24 hours off our clock ... Read More
Traveling to Venice: We arrived in Venice on Friday, October 23, 2009, from Chicago. Even if you have to pay extra, I recommend getting a non-stop flight. We had a three-hour layover in Munich and it actually took 24 hours off our clock by the time we reached our Venice hotel. Also be aware the baggage pick-up at Marco Polo Airport is really slow. It took us over 40 minutes to get two suitcases. Other people around us stated that they have had had waits up to an hour. We took the AVTO Fly Bus for 3 Euros from the airport to Piazza Roma. The ride only takes 20 minutes. Through Expedia I had reserved a room at the Best Western Olimpia Hotel in June. When I arrived at the hotel at 5:30 PM I was told there was a mix-up with the reservation and that I was being sent to a better 4 star hotel (Principe). The Olimpia gave us free beers and paid for a water taxi to take to the new hotel. Normally we would have been fortunate to get an upgrade of hotels in Venice, but the Olimpia was just a few yards from the ship's free shuttle bus in Piazzale Roma while the Principe was further away and required us to cross a bridge with two heavy suitcases. Our Stateroom: Our travel agent found that we could upgrade from 7th deck junior suite to one on the 8th level for only $200. We were glad we did this because we found we used the cabin more than we thought we would. Also, it was a super location next to the ship's computers, elevators, and stairs. However be aware that on the 8th level the pool area is above you and you will hear occasional noise from above. Dining: I am a very particular eater, mainly beer, beef, and pizza. I was surprised on the excellent quality of the food. With only two choices for meals, the restaurant or the buffet, I expected to pass on most of the offerings but was surprised that there were multiple items that I could choose. Also, for $14.95 extra a filet was always available. One quirky thing in the restaurant is concerning how you want your beef cooked. You can either have it medium rare or medium well. Since I like medium I decided on medium well for my sirloin steak and found it to be too well done for that thin of meat. My wife chose the same option for her prime rib and it was perfect for her. You also have the choice of eating dinner at 6:00 PM or 8:30 PM or you can go for "My Time Dining" that allows you to choose your time. With "My Time Dining" you can make a reservation each night, or you can just show up and hope that you won't have to wait for a table. We usually chose 7:00 PM and selected a table of two. If you are lucky ask for table 79 and hope that Rodrigo is your waiter. His service was outstanding. Staff: Most of the staff is from countries other than the United States. The entertainment director was the only American I noticed. The crew is very international from all parts of the world. They are very professional and aim to please. Our stateroom attendant was very efficient and fulfilled all our requests. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
We had a Good time on our first cruise, although since it was our first, we have no frame of reference. Definitely an older ship, some minor indications in the cabin, other than that very comfortable. Found the Bus easily at ... Read More
We had a Good time on our first cruise, although since it was our first, we have no frame of reference. Definitely an older ship, some minor indications in the cabin, other than that very comfortable. Found the Bus easily at Piazzale Roma in Venice, and was boarding ship withing 60 minutes of boarding the bus. Check in at port was delayed slightly by health declaration form. Luggage came to room 2 hours after leaving port. The Good; Food, plenty of choice, especially for vegetarians as they accommodated my wife easily (egg free vegetarian). Also 2 sugar free desert choices everyday. Table, we got lucky, we had a table with 4 very different couples(by age, nationality, how long married) hence a very enjoyable dinner nightly. Staff, we were very happy with our cabin attendant, waiter, assistant waiter and roaming staff. Guest services was very helpful. But we never met the Head Waiter. Ship, Since it was a smaller ship, everything was easy to access, ship maps at every elevator station, everything in working condition, some scratched in the wall paper in the cabin(expected with an older ship), decent shopping on board, bargains daily), decent casino but few tables open early due to lack of traffic, plenty of slots machines. Newbie Tip: Forget the excursions, the daily planner and port guide delivered to our room the night before the port was incredibly helpful in getting around, we saved a lot on travelling on our own with just some internet research before sailing. Took the train in Athens and did all important sites, all less than 25 euros per person. Easy disembarkation in Venice, back to piazzale roma in an hour after leaving ship. Minor issues; ports, arrival time was always around 7:30am, lack of sleep catching up by the 5th day. weather, got little cooler so indoor heated pool was almost full and some rough sailing on the last 2 days, free sea sick pills handed out. Excursion gave little time to shop and eat in towns (most who took excursions said the same) Entertainment, shows averaged from good to ok. Magician on last day was excellent. would definitely sail again on Royal Carribean, but a newer and larger ship. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
This was my boyfriend's 1st cruise and my 3rd and now we are both addicted to this way of travelling the globe!We decided to spend some time in Venice before the cruise so we searched on the net before deciding to stay in a really ... Read More
This was my boyfriend's 1st cruise and my 3rd and now we are both addicted to this way of travelling the globe!We decided to spend some time in Venice before the cruise so we searched on the net before deciding to stay in a really lovely B&B called the Ca Bonvicini in the Santa Croce area of Venice...we caught Easyjet flights from our local airport and we were there in less then 2 hours - impressive! We decided to get the public water bus from the airport to Venice (Which I booked on line) although it would have been far cheaper to get the bus but we figured it would be less hassle to get dropped off at the Rialto bridge and find the B&B which we did relatively easily thanks to the map provided by the B&B. Now going on a cruise does not limit your baggage unfortunately and we weren't sure how the weather was going to pan out... looking at advanced weather reports - it would be a mix of sunshine and showers (well monsoons in our case!) We enjoyed Venice immensely and would love to go back there again and do some more sight seeing more thoroughly than what we managed to visit in one day but we were still happy with our efforts and one of the joys of Venice is just getting lost....soon it was time to be getting onboard the ship so it was onwards to the Piazzale Roma... getting there was easy but finding the free shuttle bus wasn't... it was only reading CC posts that we knew where to look!!! Anyway some people went past us with luggage labels so we followed them and found the bus! Embarkation was really easy as we had checked in on line and before long we were on board and having lunch in the Windjammer before then finding our cabin... my boyfriend was very impressed by what he could see/eat and do on board so it was a good first impression of cruising for him. We booked the cruise fairly late ahead of departure and paid a really good price for an outside cabin... I did however miss having a balcony cabin as I had one on the Galaxy last year (maybe a balcony cabin for 2010!) You can tell that the ship isn't new but she is kept in good order....she just needs a little more updating for the 21st century such as having flat screen TV's in the cabins but we had more than enough space to sort out our clothes...maybe a bit more space in the bathroom for toiletries but not too bad.The outside window was pretty large and we were happy with the view. 6118 is right at the back of the ship and you will get quite a severe vibration coming into port at times but all in all a nice cabin.The ship has a gym and a spa and we never got to use these facilities, we did use the putting greens of 12 holes but we avoided the rock climbing wall and preferred to walk round the promenade deck 4 times = 1 mile! There didn;t seem that much to do on a sea day in bad weather which is what we experienced but it was nice to watch a few demos (towel folding lol! and a cooking demo and we attended a cha cha dance class too..... We did really enjoy the food on board the Splendour of the Seas and we enjoyed the Windjammer for breakfast and lunch and one evening meal and the rest of the time we really enjoyed the main dining room, the King and I.. we had great service even though we were on My Time Dining which we really enjoyed and managed to secure a table for 2 each night. We also managed to have the same waiters apart from one night but even then we had great service so thanks to Honesto and Jeffery our regulars and Rodrigo and Jose Luiz our one night stand in's.Must also mention the head waiter Hans as he was very hospitable and when my boyfriend's steak arrived well done and not medium rare, he swung into action and within 5 minutes a fresh medium rare steak was on our table... that was certainly excellent service.Room Service food was also great, no complaints here at all and in general, we felt the service to be excellent.Much has been noted about the price of drinks and yes they are expensive with the 15% gratuity on top but as long as the pound is strong against the dollar then it's not too bad and we are not big drinkers.If Royal Caribbean bring out an extended drinks package as they have on Celebrity than that will be more interesting. We attended most of the shows and found the entertainment to be generally of a high standard.. we enjoyed the flown in entertainment such as Jacqui Scott and the Beatles Celebration tribute band especially when they had a great jamming session with Anselmo the piano man in the Schooner Bar on our last night.The production singers and dancers were also good in the Dancing through the Movies show. We didn't go on any ship excursions but organised our own or did a DIY excursion....we enjoyed Dubrovnik but were a bit shocked to discover RC charged you for a shuttle bus into town so we caught a taxu for 10 euros and walked back, it's about a 40 minute walk. Also we called on Dubrovnik on a public holiday so a lot of places were shut including the city walls which we had planned to walk but no one mentioned this beforehand! At least we had lovely warm sunshine in this port of call! Next was Corfu and we hired a car for 40 euros and drove round the island with our CC friends Tim and Lisa... we called in where the tour buses went but for a fraction of the cost and thanks for Tim for driving so well, in particular the splendid parking in Corfu Town!!!! The weather was so so today at least it wasn't raining and after setting off from Corfu we had our meet and mingle party where we had a selction of drinks and rather nice canapes to mumch on so it was nice to meet people who hadn't attended the unofficial meet and mingle on the Sat night at the Viking Crown Lounge! Next port of call was Athens and we banded together to get to the Acropolis... it's 4 people to a taxi and costs 20 euros....it was good that we got there asap for speed and weather reasons. The weather turned and at least we had just about finished viweing the Acropolis... our plan was to get down to the Agora and then to the Plaka... my umbrella got destroyed so I had to buy a new one and by the time i did this we were like drowned rats so we decided on plan b... get food and get warm in a taverna.... the rain would not let up so by the time we had done some shopping in the Plaka, we had flash flooding with some places up to the knees in water.... we had to wade across the sq to get to the metro where for 1 euro each we got back to Pireaus and walked back to the ship and it stopped raining.... typical but everyone looked totally bedraggled! We got use out of the hairdryer in the room for drying out our trainers! Next day was Kusadasi and we were ruined forever by parking up next to the Solstice... we were just drooling over her.....we had booked a private tour here and thoroughly enjoyed our day despite being rained on yet again.... this was my 3rd visit to Ephesus so at least I had seen all the site before in glorious sunshine..I just felt sorry for everyone else including my boyfriend as the heavens opened just before we reached the Celsus Library... it was again a monsoon complete with thunder and lightning..earlier on we visited the House of the Virgin Mary... yet again after a short while the rain did stop.. we continued onto the Temple of Artemis and then the village of Sirince where we were rained on again! We stopped to eat some Turkish pancakes here and very nice they were too!It seems that every tour private or ship booked ends up with a carpet tour and so did ours... it was interesting but not too heavy on the now then let's part you with some money front....those carpets are very expensive.....and we were quite amused with the Turkish people in the Bazaar where we did a spot of shopping back in Kusadasi. Our final port of call the next day was Heraklion as we didn't have a lot of time there we decided not to do Knossos and just spend the hours chilling out around Heraklion viewing some of the sights and to do some much needed shopping for presents.. at least we had some very welcome sunshine for our final port of call! Not sure why RC have Heraklion as a port of call apart from the Palace of Knossos, in my view they should either skip this port of call altogether or at least allow more time here or on Corfu. This itinerary (for some reason) is different from the usual one....maybe someone can tell me why? Our last day was a day at sea which was punctuated by an early morning call into Corfu for a medical emergency.... the forecast was 23c and sunny.... we thought great, on deck and sunbathe... sadly the forecast was yep... more rain and cold! One of the very best things about this cruise is one of the last things and that is sailing back into Venice... it was 7am but there were loads of people up on deck... we were all rewarded with some great sights including crystal clear views of the Dolomite mountains shimmering in pink with the sdunrise... a truly magical sight and not to be missed despite the cold! Disembarkation wasn't too bad as we swapped over our colour coded luggage tags for later departure ones.. however, RC need to know that one shuttle bus is clearly NOT enough to off load a lot of people going to Piazzale Roma and the waiting taxi drivers were trying to charge 5 euros per person to do this 10 min or less journey!!!! In summary, a great cruise obtained for a great price.. shame about the weather... having cruised on the Majesty of the Seas, the Celebrity Galaxy and now the Splendour of the Seas, have to say that I like RC/Celebrity as a product but would like to try out a new/newer ship for our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Background: We are an Oregon family of four: two 50-something parents, a 23-year-old daughter, and a 15-year-old son. This was the third cruise for my husband, son, and me; the first for my daughter. All cruises have been on RCI: ... Read More
Background: We are an Oregon family of four: two 50-something parents, a 23-year-old daughter, and a 15-year-old son. This was the third cruise for my husband, son, and me; the first for my daughter. All cruises have been on RCI: Mariner of the Seas to Mexican Riviera, Rhapsody of the Seas to Alaska, and now Splendour of the Seas to the Eastern Med. Cruise Highlights: * The staff, the staff, the staff. From stateroom attendant Germano to bartender Dimitri to the very helpful pursers (all of them) to cruise director Anthony ... RCI knows how to make passengers feel special. But I'd like to give a special shout-out to the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers. They were, simply put, fantastic. The entertainment they provided and their gracious offstage presence are the stuff of sweet vacation memories. We had the occasion to chat at length with the incredibly gifted Jeff Blair and Brittany Mazur, and they are both warm, charming ambassadors for their ship. Port Highlights: * Venice, Dubrovnik, Kusadasi, Santorini, and Corfu = a beautiful itinerary. Every port is worth visiting. See the Jewish Ghetto in Venice (with its barbed wire and guardhouse still in place); the Terraced Houses of Ephesus, Turkey, an active archaeological dig; the breathtaking, white-washed Oia, in Santorini, Greece; and the "old town" in Corfu, Greece, with its tiny beach and incredible olive wood buys. Stay at the Marriott Courtyard in Venice if you want a fairly priced room (20 minutes outside of Venice, with bus service across the street to "downtown" Venice). * Gonca Kizilhan of Kusadasi Tours made Turkey the most memorable port on our trip. A freelance tour guide, she was pure sunshine as we toured Ephesus and spent additional time at port. She is knowledgeable, professional, and exudes great pride in her country. * The RCI Excursion to Oia (in Santorini) provided us with a way to bypass the cable car/donkey issue (the only way to get up to Santorini from the primary pier). Meeting time for our group was 6:45 a.m.; we then boarded a tender that took us to an entirely different pier, where a bus awaited us for the steep ride up the mountainside to Oia. With its white-washed, blue-domed churches that seem to tumble into the sea, Oia is both fairytale and photographer's dream, punctuated by gentle breezes, church bells, and warm, friendly merchants selling high-quality goods. If you visit, look for my heart. Note: This excursion saved us time during our limited stay. We waited for one hot hour for the return cable car trip from town to the tender in the afternoon. We wouldn't have wanted to waste that time in the morning, too. (Waiting times vary.) This excursion also includes an enjoyable wine tasting. SPECIAL OBSERVATIONS: Cleanliness and design: Splendour of the Seas is one of the older ships in RCI's fleet, but it is beautifully maintained. All public areas were lovely. There were just a few minor issues, possibly due to the older ship design. For instance, it was often very hard to find a seat in the Windjammer Cafe. My advice is to make greater use of the main restaurant, which always had a seat available (plus really good food). The second quirk was the lack of announcements in the staterooms (though some folks consider this a plus). I loved them on the Mariner, and really missed them on Rhapsody and Splendour. I suppose this is a wiring issue on the older ships. Just make sure to read the daily Compass, or prop your door open to hear the announcements as soon as they begin. Embarkation and debarkation: Went without a hitch. Incredibly organized. Fellow passengers: There were many, many non-English-speaking passengers on this ship. It might have been due to time of year (August) and favorable exchange rate for Europeans. If you're seeking a cruise that is predominantly American or English-speaking, check with RCI or your travel agent about current trends on this itinerary. Note: RCI's staff all speak English and did their best to make everyone feel at home. Evening shows and other activities were introduced in multiple languages. Entertainment was generic. This issue, however, is the reason I rated our overall experience a 4 instead of a 5+. Cuisine/seating style: No complaints at either of the two restaurants in terms of food. I am not a proponent of the My Time Dining being introduced on all the cruise lines. There's something to be said for getting to know your tablemates and wait staff, and being able to give all family members a precise time and table number at which to meet every evening. Smoking: We're non-smokers, and we were fully aware of RCI's policies: no smoking in the staterooms; smoking allowed on the balconies. We hoped to luck out. We didn't. We paid extra for a balcony, and got extra: our adjacent neighbors' smoke. RCI, please designate one side of your ship non-smoking at the very least. The scenery in the Mediterranean is poetic. Chocking on cigarette smoke is not. It isn't fair to pay a premium for it. Teen club: Our son loves to dance, and there's been a teen club with dance floor (and arcade) on each of the three cruises we've taken. We rarely saw our son on our cruises. If you're bringing a teen for the first time, make sure they go to the club on the first day. They'll feel more at home on the rest of the trip. Really active teens might prefer the newer ships that have more bells and whistles. In summary, Royal Caribbean is a wonderful cruise line, and this was a beautiful trip. Kudos to RCI for working hard to provide a fantastic vacation product. 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Sail Date August 2009
I have almost no complaints about the RCL cruise we took out of Bayonne to Bermuda, St. Martin, St. Thomas and San Juan PR. The few that I have are:Too little time in San Juan (the best shopping is there by far! Take the free trolly by the ... Read More
I have almost no complaints about the RCL cruise we took out of Bayonne to Bermuda, St. Martin, St. Thomas and San Juan PR. The few that I have are:Too little time in San Juan (the best shopping is there by far! Take the free trolly by the bus station to the top of the hill - get off at El Morro and walk down bearing to your left to get to the outlet stores early).Disembarkation was horrific (be sure to load up on fruit/yogurt/bottled water - as we had to wait quite a while to be called to disembark and the food staff ran out of provisions; all the elevators were being used by folks with lots of luggage or in wheelchairs/with baby strollers - Pack very light for departure, TAG EVERYTHING TO BE PICKED UP THE NIGHT BEFORE! I had to schlep 4 bags down 10 flights of stairs!)The wait staff seems a bit over-extended in the main dining room - hence - orders were confused or forgotten (I think they call this economizing) They tried VERY hard though - but clearly are overworked.NOTE - GRAND SUITE 1568 IS ACROSS FROM THE SERVICE ENTRANCE AND WHEN THE STAFF BRINGS SUPPLIES THE NOISE CAN BE HEARD EVEN WHILE ON THE BALCONY - THERE IS NO WALK IN CLOSET IN THE GRAND SUITE - THE JR. SUITE IS JUST AS NICE - WE HAD 1638 - MUCH QUIETER WITH A NICE BIG CLOSET!Most important BORING MUSIC! Hey - I'm a NYer - we got it all here (thank goodness) where was the Rock & Roll, R&B??? What little decent music they had started at 10 PM and ended at 12 midnight. Somebody give Dave Chapman their playlist please - and if I heard "Piano Man once, I heard it 10 times...enough! The ship needs a musical director under the age of 40 with a hint of nostalgia - not an obsession with it. The latin band was really quite good, unfortunately, Latin entailed everything from Rhumba to ChaCha so you got maybe 1 dance in (if you could find a dance partner - I learned to lead - new skill - thanks RCL).On the positive side:Good foodGood service (Roger Forde was our stateroom attendant - he was outstanding - bought a chaise to my suite for the terrace)Clean ShipFunny Cruise DirectorGreat Gym/Spa (the steam room was very underutilized as was the whirlpool there)Prompt Room Service (you can order from the main dining room menu and then go to the Windjammer to feast!)I would do this cruise again with my family but if you want to just party all night and then fall asleep in the sun during the day to work on your tan - go with Carnival - cheaper - less pretentious and a whole lot more soul and variety of late night entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
This was my 1st cruise and it was truly wonderful. All crew staff were very friendly and helpful especially the Stateroom Supervisor (Marcus), the Stateroom attendant (Angelique) on deck 2 and the Chief Housekeeper. The food was ... Read More
This was my 1st cruise and it was truly wonderful. All crew staff were very friendly and helpful especially the Stateroom Supervisor (Marcus), the Stateroom attendant (Angelique) on deck 2 and the Chief Housekeeper. The food was exceptional and the Waiter,Assistant Waiter and Head waiter in the King and I dinning Room were great. We had table 77 for the 6.30pm sitting. The Entertainment Director and his staff were very helpful (especially Vicky) and the DJ Savio was Fantastic. Poolside attendants were also great especially Kalish. We had booked Junior Suite for 2 adults and one child. The stateroom was adequate. There was plenty drawers and wardrobes although the wardrobes were very dark inside and could do with an internal light. The bedding, carpets,sofa and chairs were clean and fresh. The dressing table was large with plenty of mirrors and storage space but they were looking rather tired. I can cope with that as long as everything is clean - which is was. We were on deck 8 and did get lots of noise from people walking above. We also had a couple of mights when high wind whistled through the balcony and made a huge racket keeping us all awake. However if we hadn't have had the balcony we would have missed the dolphins and a fantastic lightening storm and pouring rain on our last night. We could have got any other view from the deck above. When the rain came the public were told to go inside and not allowed back on deck until it had stopped The pool in the Solarium and outside were both salt water. There are 2 jacuzzi s outside and 2 in the solarium. We used the gym which although small had a good selection of equipment. For a charge of $10 you could do spin class which was always busy. The pitch and put was well worn and bland but we still played. the rock climbing wall was busy at times but the staff were very encouraging and didn't hurry anyone. The wall was open many times during the week and once a week they open it at night which was a totally different experience - great fun. The entertainment was good in 42nd Street and the bands that played in the lounges and on deck were very good. My 15 year old son was rather bored as there wasn't really that much for him to do. I met some truly interesting people on the cruise and made a few friends. It was nice to see that the crew members were so multi-cultural and all the passengers. I can truly say I had a dream cruise and would recommend this Cruise to all my friends. Thank you all once again Shore excursions were available although quite expensive. For some of the port calls like Santorini and Kusadasi we booked private tours in advance. Contacted with local tour operators. In all the cruise was fine - a small, clean, if tired ship with friendly staff. There isn't much for teenagers to do so I wouldn't really recommend it for older families. You do feel the engine and movement on this ship Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Ships Review   Splendour of the Seas March 30th Sao Paulo Brazil to Lisbon   First I must say that I have never been on a cruise I did not enjoy notwithstanding any problems that might have occurred. Having said that of course I ... Read More
Ships Review   Splendour of the Seas March 30th Sao Paulo Brazil to Lisbon   First I must say that I have never been on a cruise I did not enjoy notwithstanding any problems that might have occurred. Having said that of course I have enjoyed some cruises more than others.   This was my first time in Brazil and I decided to travel to Sao Paulo a couple of days prior to the cruise. My flight on Air Canada from Toronto was on time and without problems and there was no difficulty with picking up luggage in Sao Paulo or quickly finding a taxi to my hotel. I was staying at the Golden Tulip a short distance from Avenue Paulista one of the main shopping streets in Sao Paulo. The Hotel was fine though perhaps a little expensive compared to some others I investigated. A buffet breakfast was provided at no extra charge and that was perfectly ok.   I joined a group of 10 others on Monday morning who were also staying at the hotel and we took a coach/bus to Santos. This is not a short journey as the traffic is very heavy even at 11am and it was just over 2 hours before we got to the port. I have to say I never saw as many trucks making the trip down the side of the mountain to Santos as on this trip. A word of warning the entry to the port is awful. The roads are narrow and extremely bumpy as you wind through some very poor areas of the city and it does not give a good impression to visitors.   Upon arrival the luggage was taken from us quickly though there was some confusion, as it seems some passengers did not have the luggage labels. All of us in our party did. Anyway eventually we managed to convince the staff that we did not need new labels and the luggage was taken away. You have to stand in line to take a small and very crowded bus from the terminal to the embarkation lounge a distance of about 100 yards. Why you cant walk that distance I simply do not know and this would save both waiting in line and very cramped conditions on the bus.   Notwithstanding all of the above, it wasn't long before we were all on the ship and safely in our designated cabins.   This is an older ship but it is well maintained and in good condition. The only real concern I had with the ship was that when at sea and particularly when sitting on the bed there is a definite bumpiness rather like riding on an uneven road. This is something I have not experienced on any other RCL ship. It did not keep me awake but it was a strange sensation, and this was also noticeable when sitting in some of the lounges.   CABINS   Not much to say. Not particularly large but acceptable, the bedding was comfortable and there was ample storage and closet space. Be aware that most of the inside and ocean view cabins do not have a refrigerator something I missed on this cruise. It is also time that RCL updated the little 14 inch TV's on these older ships. The Cabin Steward was efficient and she seemed to have the knack of knowing exactly when I left and the cabin was clean upon my return. The bed was comfortable and the bedding of a good quality.   FOOD   There is only one word, which can describe the food. AWFUL.   This was a big disappointment. I am aware that opinion on food depends to a large extent on what you are used to eating. I admit I eat well normally but not on this cruise. There were only 2 types of fish on the menu, Tapalia and Salmon. The steaks were as tough as nails no matter how ordered and there was an obvious lack of quality control. As an example meat in the steak and mushroom pie, which was served in the buffet twice during the cruise had not been properly cooked and instead of the beef being tender it was like eating leather. Several times I ordered items which although shown on the menu were simply not available. The Orange Juice at breakfast time was in fact an orange drink not even the frozen dilute orange juice you usually get on board. Freshly squeezed was available at an exorbitant price. There is no alternate specialty restaurant on board so that was not an option. I would have paid extra to eat there had it been available. Incidentally my review of food was shared but everyone I spoke with on this cruise so it is not just one opinion. My concern here is whether this is an isolated incidence or something we can now look forward to on all RCL cruises as they cut costs. I sincerely hope not or I will not be cruising with them any more.   ENTERTAINMENT   Poor. Part of the problem here was that 85% of the passengers were Portuguese speaking, which meant that the bulk of entertainment was in Portuguese. In fairness given that this ship left Brazil and was going to Lisbon this was not surprising and it did not worry me too much. Just be aware that cruises out of South America tend to favor Portuguese or Spanish speaking passengers. The Staff were able to converse in English and I had no difficulty in communicating on the ship. Entertainment was mainly song and dance but seemed to be enjoyed by many on the ship.   DISEMBARKATION   I was in no hurry to leave the ship as I was staying in Portugal after the cruise. My designated departure time was 8.45am and I got off the ship at that time even though my color code had not been called as I had a ride waiting. Unfortunately while I was on the dock my luggage wasn't and it became a scene of utter confusion. The ship was late docking due to pontoons not being in place at Lisbon. I find it amazing that although they obviously expected the ship they had not put pontoons in place knowing that the ship could not dock directly against the dock. Eventually the luggage appeared but we could not pick it up until the police had inspected and sent their dogs among the luggage to check for drugs, etc.  I saw my luggage on a large trolly and watched as they unloaded it not using the handle but the pulley and breaking it in the process. The baggage handler merely slapped the pulley handle back into place even though it was obviously broken. I had no choice but to carry my luggage as I could no longer roll it on its wheels. It was a mess. I eventually left the dock area at about 9.45am.   The Cruise   I met some super people. I explored Brazil a little and crossed it off my "Bucket List" I relaxed and enjoyed reading, had lots of fun, saw Morocco (another destination on my list) and then spent 2 weeks with family on the Algarve.  I had a good time overall BUT if I likely wont cruise on this ship again and will need some convincing that the poor quality of food on this ship is not something we can look forward to on future cruises with RCL.         Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
This was my first cruise ever & I was travelling alone as a single woman. So, even though I had done lots of research & had read many reviews both on CruiseCritic.com & other websites, I didn't really know what my ... Read More
This was my first cruise ever & I was travelling alone as a single woman. So, even though I had done lots of research & had read many reviews both on CruiseCritic.com & other websites, I didn't really know what my experience would be like compared to all the information out there. I booked 2 days pre-cruise in Venice, our port of embarkation & 2 days post-cruise in our disembarkation port, Lisbon. All hotel & flight arrangements were booked using Royal Caribbean's packages and I used a local travel agency to make my travel reservations. Travel to Venice went pretty smoothly...didn't realize that Custom Air arrangements were available so one could use their airline of choice until after my flight arrangements had been made. Neither my travel agent nor Royal Caribbean mentioned this option during my numerous calls & e-mails to them both throughout the reservation process. I had 2 different airlines that were used...Delta flying to Venice & British Airways flying home from Lisbon. Would have preferred to accumulate all my miles with one carrier's frequent mileage program. Transfer to the hotel in Venice from the airport went OK once the Royal Caribbean agent showed up. Our small group was left standing around not knowing what to do for some time until the agent appeared. My hotel, the Metropole, in Venice was in an excellent location & a wonderful, if expensive, place to start off my adventure. The elegant breakfast buffet (included)was wonderful and the dining area quite beautiful. I ate one dinner in the hotel restaurant that had gotten great reviews and was not disappointed. My meal came to approximately $85.00 - that was for one person without any wine. So it was expensive, but I am glad I tried it. The food and service were excellent and the overall experience was quite memorable. The room I had at the Metropole overlooked a canal on the side of the room and it was great to hear the noises of the boats because that truly was the Venice experience I wanted. The room was appointed very luxuriously and quite comfortable. I was impressed by the level of care taken to maintain the Splendour of the Seas - being that the ship is 12 years old, I had read different comments about her condition. I always noticed staff members cleaning & polishing areas on the ship during my stay while I walked around inside. When I walked outside on deck, I noticed workers also doing various cleaning, painting & maintenance on a regular basis also. So I was impressed with the ongoing service the ship seems to receive on a regular basis. I loved the ship. It was neither too big nor too small. I enjoyed the fact that we had 1800 passengers onboard which allowed me to see the same people on more than one occasion. That was good because it helped me connect with people...being on my own...that was important. I did put several suggestions in the suggestion box during the course of my cruise. These included: no quiet areas on the ship...the solarium has a bar which creates a noise factor that detracts from this area. While speaking to others on the ship, they mentioned this to me. Also, the daily activities during our "at sea" days...we had 4...were lacking in my opinion. Since I do not have any interest in Bingo or cards or the art auction...I didn't find enough to do. Only on the last day at sea did I see 3 things that I was interested in and went to...a cooking demonstration, the captain's corner where you got to ask the captain and ship's engineer questions in a one-on-one meeting, and a towel folding demonstration. I would have preferred more intellectual activities, more films...we only had one movie on the ship and it was the latest Indiana Jones movie, which didn't interest me. I'd like to be able to see movies related to the areas we were travelling to...either by the origin of the actors in the films or the locations used in the films. For example, the film: Casablanca would have been great since that was one of our ports of call. Perhaps, guest lecturers, professors & experts in their fields of history, geography & nature of the areas on the itinerary. These ideas were also put into the suggestion box. Service onboard the ship was excellent. My cabin attendant was very friendly and eager to do a good job. He and I chatted a bit and he seemed to want to make my stay a good and enjoyable one. My room always was made up nicely and I enjoyed the different animals greeting me each evening on my bed that were made out of towels that had been artfully folded. All of my Shore Excursions were booked in advance and the ones for all the ports of call were done through the cruiseline. I only wish that there was more free time included for self-exploration & shopping in each port of call. The shore excursions, while excellent in content didn't allow for that. All of the guides I felt were wonderful in their knowledge of the areas they covered and their personalities were warm & friendly & open to questions all of the time. The dining room experience was a good one for me. I found the food to be much better than I had expected. I really looked forward to dining in the dining room each evening. The waiter & assistant waiter were very good and the waiter, especially, quite professional and had a wonderful & warm personality with lots of good humor. Our head waiter also was a great man who appeared each evening to humor us with his great style and willingness to help out in any way. I thought the evening entertainment was a little thin. Meaning that I thought on some nights, it bordered on "shlocky" or "corny" or not of that high a caliber. Other nights were better so overall I'd give the entertainment a C+ grade or something like 2.5 out of a possible 5 score. I thought the cost to use the internet...$.60 a minute was quite high so I purchased a the largest minutes package available which brought the cost down to $.40 a minute...still quite high in my estimation. I would have liked to have had a self-service laundry onboard as well as some availability of pay phones. $7.95 a minute to use the stateroom cabin phone was definitely out of the question for me and a very high price, I felt. These items were also put into the suggestion box. My aft balcony cabin on Deck 6 was spectacular! Don't think I could ever cruise again without a balcony cabin. I spent more time in my cabin than I had anticipated and it was lovely and full of light and beautiful vistas. It was perfect! Disembarkation went smoothly and because all of my transfers were done through the cruiseline, minimal inconvenience & waiting were experienced. My hotel in Lisbon was quite lovely. Definitely worth the 5-star rating it had. I enjoyed my beautiful room with a water view as requested. I only wish I spoke Portuguese because in Lisbon, not a lot of people spoke English...which I had been forewarned about in my guide book. The lavish breakfast buffet (included)was also fabulous & I looked forward to it very much on my second morning in Lisbon. Hotel staff were very willing to help out and I enjoyed use of the free internet offered in the lobby computer room. Did want to mention that travelling as a single I was charged a 200% premium price for my cabin by Royal Caribbean so I didn't like being penalized for travelling alone. The cruise was more expensive than I had originally planned it to be because of this. Did try out the Spa by taking advantage of the "Salon Sampler" offered one day. Was a great experience...had 7 treatments for $119 which I felt was a great value...they lasted just under an hour. So, while it wasn't a long time in the spa, it was a chance to do something I normally wouldn't have tried probably. In summary, I would love to take another cruise again! I thoroughly enjoyed my trip and would not hesitate to go on Splendour of the Seas again. I thought she was a good ship with character and beauty. I loved all the glass and the windows and the ease of finding my way around once I got oriented with my ship's diagram/map. My overall experience was quite wonderful & I have many memories that will stay with me for a long time! Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
My boyfriend and I traveled to Venice for the Greek Isles and Turkey cruise beginning October 25th. This was my fourth cruise (all with RC) and my boyfriend's first cruise. We had no problem taking the Number One bus to Venice, then ... Read More
My boyfriend and I traveled to Venice for the Greek Isles and Turkey cruise beginning October 25th. This was my fourth cruise (all with RC) and my boyfriend's first cruise. We had no problem taking the Number One bus to Venice, then we walked to the port from the bus station. Other members noted that there is a free shuttle that will take you from the bus station to the ship, but we never saw any such shuttle and weren't the only ones searching for it while we were there. The walk is fine - about 15 minutes - assuming you packed lightly. We had the same problem when we disembarked. I even asked an employee at the pursur's desk how we would recognize the shuttle after disembarking and she said it would be clearly labeled, but again, we never saw it and walked back in a light rain. Check-in was a little chaotic. Lots of personel standing around not really directing anyone where to go. I did notice that most of them were happy to get you signed up for the on-board soda program or cabin extras like champagne or robes, which of course is at an extra expense to the guest. Since I had printed my SeaPass in advance we had a very quick check-in once we located the correct line and were called up. Another reviewer mentioned that after you go through security there is another line (usually long) that turns out to be for your embarkation photo. This is the first of many, many times the RC photo staff will try and pull you aside to take your photo, which will cost you anywhere between $10 and $20 if you decide to purchase it later. I want to add here that I am generally very pleased with RC - hence the 4 cruises I have taken with them - but I find this constant photo jockeying to be extremely annoying, especially after a 14 hour flight. We opted out of getting the embarkation photo and walked right past all the other people waiting, then boarded the ship. Departing from Venice - You really must be sure to go up on deck and watch as the ship leaves the city. This is an excellent way to view beautiful Venice and is particularly nice as the sun is just beginning to set. I have been to Venice before and we were fortunate enough to be able to stay in the city two days following the cruise, and I would recommend this to anyone with the warning that November is "flood month" in Venice, so you are likely to experience the effects of that. This cruise offered a one hour basic Italian class on the last day of the cruise, which is very helpful if you are going to stay in Venice. As with any cruise (especially overseas), it's also a good idea to fly in the day before and spend the night in the city. I say this because you never know when you might have a delayed flight, miss your connection, or as has happened to me before, the airport workers in your embarkation city could go on strike for a day and then you've missed your ship because you couldn't get there in time. Then you are responsible for getting to the next port to meet the ship. This is about as bad as you are imagining, so do yourself a favor and get to the city early if at all possible. Our stateroom - Our cabin was on Deck 6, which I think was a really good choice because it's about midway up the ship, with no loud clubs or running track above the middle section. We had an inside stateroom which was "large". I did notice it was larger than the regular staterooms on the ship and I thought the bathroom was adequate. I think it was worth the extra money to get a little extra space. If you've never cruised before, be aware that if you get an inside stateroom you will get NO natural light in your stateroom. This is great if you want to sleep like the dead, not great when you need to wake up and get going. Our stateroom attendant constantly kept the cabin clean. Every day he saw us and asked about our day and was generally very nice, and of course he made the "towel animals" for us. He took special care to notice which pillows we used or didn't, and left them on the bed accordingly. Now is the time I want to state that I have read several reviews on this website about the ship being dirty or messy, and from my experience this was completely untrue. Besides our room being kept so clean, I felt the dining areas were all well maintained and many times spotted crew members cleaning decks, the pools and other public areas. I also want to say that all of the crew we encountered were very nice, going out of their way to ask us if we needed anything, greeting us and smiling. This is typical of the cruises I have taken with RC. The ports - We were blessed with exceptional weather for late October, with the temperature ranging from 65 to about 73 degrees. Dubrovnic was nicer and more resort-like than one would suspect. We took the Trestno Gardens and Old Town excursion tour and enjoyed it very much. Our tour guide was personable and gave us enough time to enjoy the botanical gardens, which were fresh, cool and pleasant and a nice choice for a 10am excursion. Afterards we were taken by bus to Old Town and were given a tour of one of the goverment buildings and an old pharmacy before ending at the famous fortress walls. At this point you can either return to the ship with the bus or take another bus later for $5 per person. We chose to spend more time in Old Town and it was definitely worth the price. There are several nice little restaurants right in the center where you can enjoy decent seafood and relax. We also took a self guided tour of the wall for $10 each, which provided great views of the city. No problem catching the bus back. Kusadasi - We took the Ancient Ephesus tour and lucked out with a simply beautiful day of blue skies and a breeze. If you are interested in architecture at all this is a must. Again, fantastic tour guide and an audio tour complete with all the historical facts one could desire. It ended back in Kusadasi with a demonstration and explanation of the famous rug making process and opportunity to buy rugs if you can afford one, as well as some Turkish tea and a scone type pastry. I thought this was interesting, but although the rug store owner said they wouldn't pressure you to buy anything afterwards I had at least 3 employees approach me before making it out the door. This tour is also offered with lunch included for an additional charge. I have no idea what kind of lunch is included but we asked our tour guide if he could recommend a restaurant nearby serving good, authentic cuisine, and we took his recommendation and at at a place called Ikinci Bahar Cafe, about a 2 minute walk from the rug store. We had a fantastic meal complete with Turkish beer for about $30 for both of us. The restaurants and many shops accept credit cards and some accept euros (their currency is the Turkish lira). Afterwards we walked around in the bazaar area and purchased souveniers before returning to the ship. Santorini - OK, you know all the pictures you've ever seen of the beautiful Greek isles showing blue Mediterranean sea water (actually Adriatic) and white stucco buildings making up gorgeous towns? Those were very likely to have been taken in Santorini. Truly, it was beautiful. From the ship you are taken by tender boat to the shore, then you have to get up to the town itself, either by skylift at 3 or 4 euros each or walking or riding a donkey up a long, winding trail for free. We took the sky lift up and walked back down. I am very glad we didn't try to walk up - I am in good shape, but it's pretty steep and you will take at least 500 steps over 250 stairs alongside donkeys which (naturally) don't smell great and poop everywhere. Once you are up in the town, there are lots of shops and a decent archeological museum that we visited. We drank ouzo at a simply beautiful place right on the edge called Vertigo bar. No credit cards accepted here, but a great view of the ocean, your ship, more of the town and a nearby volcano. If you want to shop for jewelry this port had tons of beautiful items, not necesarily cheap though so be prepared to spend. I would love to return to Santorini, although it was fairly crowded and I can't imagine the heat and crowds in the high season. Corfu - We took the Achellion Palace and Old Town excursion. Achellion Palace is cook, worth the trip although our tour guide was only fair. Old Town is nice. Like Dubrovnik, there are lots of restaurants and places to shop. We had some great kabobs at a local restaurant, apparently typical of the island. There's also a nice park in front of the main area. We were left with enough time in Old Town to eat a nice lunch and shop around a view the city, which was nice. The food - I was pleased with the foods. The windjammer is good, about like a Chili's or TGIFridays as far as quality and offers plenty of selections. We ate in the dining room every night. A few nights they offered steak, but never lobster. Also, there was an Indian vegetarian offering every single night, so if you like Indian food you will enjoy this. I especially enjoyed the cold soups. For experienced cruisers: I noticed right away that they don't offer as many courses at dinner as I have previously enjoyed. There's an appetizer, entree with side dish and dessert. RC used to offer a salad also, but now the salads are in the appetizer section of the menu, not their own separate section. I have mixed feelings about this. Let's face it - no one ever starves to death on a cruise ship. Even with only 3 courses you will be full of food and have enjoyed a long leisurely dinner. However, some nights I wanted a salad and another appetizer and felt strange ordering both. Of course, they will bring you whatever, however much you want if you ask, but you will probably feel like a neon sign advertising gluttony if you order extras. Our service in the dining room by both our waiter and assistant waiter was great, as it has been with my other RC cruises. Ship notes - I feel like I noticed more smoking areas on this ship than on other ships. For example, in the Schooner bar there are both smoking and non-smoking sections but they are literally about 1 foot apart, so you will definitely stink of smoke if go there, and of course the casino is smoke filled at all times. I don't know if the difference is that smoking in Europe is a lot more common/prevalant than in the U.S., and all my other cruises have departed from the U.S., or if this particular crowd of cruisers were just majority smokers, but if this bothers you then be prepared to deal with it. Also, I think the crew was only somewhat conscientious about keeping the adult areas child-free. This is in reference to the Solarium pool, where there is a sign posted that no children under 16 are allowed, and the Viking Crown Lounge, which is supposed to be 18 or up. One night we were in the lounge during "romantic hour", and had to deal with several little kids playing around in the dance floor while we were trying to slow dance. I think RC is a little too kid-friendly for those of us who are hoping for a romantic, majority adult cruise. I was told by an English cruiser that the week during which we cruised was a holiay week for most of Europe, so that might have explained the greater than expected number of children onboard. Sorry for those of you who have kids and are taking offense at this. Please understand that there are plenty of cruisers with well-behaved children in the appropriate areas onboard, and there are other parents who let their children literally run free all over the ship, cannonballing in the adults only pool and showing up on the dance floor at 1am. As at all other times, please be considerate of others and mindful of your children, for their safety as much as everything else. RC has a great children's program for multiple age groups that can be utilized almost anytime. Entertainment - We didn't see all the shows, but we enjoyed John Cristie's musical show and the Motown group. If you like Motown at all you will really like this. We also saw the final show featuring the RC singers and dancers and I thought they were pretty talented, although the costumes were a little much. Another bonus is that the theatre has really comfortable seats, but the bar service is quite slow there. You could wait anywhere between 5 and 25 minutes to get your drink. Spa - I didn't use the fitness center but I did have a great massage in the spa. I would recommend this for the last day of sea because then you end your cruise completely relaxed and happy. One more note on the excursions - While I enjoyed all 3 of the excursions I wasn't super pleased with getting to them. By this I mean that you are supposed to meet in a large area on the ship (such as the theatre)to meet your group and head to the port at a certain time. When you arrive at the meeting place, you should expect to see all of the people who registered for any excursion during that time of day, and it will take the two poor crew members a while to organize you all into specific groups. One morning we waited a full hour for our tour/group to be called, time which we would rather have spent eating breakfast, sleeping, you name it. When I have been on other RC cruises they had each tour meet in a different area, but I guess this demanded too many crew members for RC to use this practice on this ship. To wrap it up, my boyfriend and I really enjoyed the itinerary, the food and the ship. Splendour is indeed an older ship but she really is in good condition for her age, and we didn't choose the cruise for the ship, we chose it for the ports and my past experience with RC's good service. We were not disappointed with those things. We met several really nice travelers and generally everyone seemed to be having a good time. One of the couples we met said they have been on 20+ cruises and felt that this cruise met all their expectations. I guess I can understand hoping for a little better food or prompter service in some areas, but considering what you pay for this cruise, especially during the time of year in which we traveled, I think we more than got our money's worth. If you are going to be snobbish about it then shell out about twice as much (or more) for what you paid for your RC cruise and you'll probably be happier. As far as we are concerned, we had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
My husband and I sailed on the Oct 18 sailing of the Splendour for our 25th wedding anniversary celebration. This was our first European cruise (although not our first trip to Europe) but our 8th cruise overall, including sailings on ... Read More
My husband and I sailed on the Oct 18 sailing of the Splendour for our 25th wedding anniversary celebration. This was our first European cruise (although not our first trip to Europe) but our 8th cruise overall, including sailings on Celebrity, Princess and others. This ship and itinerary was not our first choice, but the best option available for the dates we had available for travel. We booked through our long time cruise travel agent and did our own air/land portion, using FF miles on Swiss and Lufthansa through United's Star Alliance. These flights were excellent, with connections in Zurich and Frankfort to/from Chicago. Unfortunately, we arrived on the day of an transportation workers' strike, which delayed our flight into Venice, but gave us a great opportunity to sightsee in Zurich. We stayed pre-cruise at the Molino Stucky on Giudecca Island, which was a luxurious way to start our trip. Had I not been able to get the hotel for free, using HHonors points, I would have chosen to stay at a hotel on P. Roma, even though the price for those hotels was over $300 night on this date. We took a vaporetto to the P. Roma and the free shuttle bus to the port. Once off the bus, you have to walk a long way with your luggage to the terminal building, dropping it before you check in under a tented area. Our cabin, 2552, midship ocean view was in rather disappointing condition. The drawers were almost non-functioning. The closet door slammed upon opening (sorry neighbors). The bathroom mirrors were showing the metal behind, the shower seams kind of moldy looking. However, the showers had a great high ceiling and a detachable shower head. Bars of soap were provided but no shampoo and conditioner (except for the wall mounted dispensed product), which I was prepared for thanks to this board. Ample storage space behind the bathroom mirror as well as below. Nice fruit basket and bottle of wine for the TA was in the cabin upon arrival. We left the ship to sightsee in Venice prior to sailing. We found sleeping in this cabin to be the worst we have ever experienced on a cruise ship due to noises from adjacent cabins, morsecode-like tapping at periodic intervals during the night, and a really heavy duvet. Cabin attendant satisfactory. Told him not to waste his time on the towel animals. For some reason, he took our fruit basket even though we still had several pieces of fruit left. Entertainment: We went to all the shows in the main theatre and several of the games/parties in the main lounge. The dancers were very good and an acrobat from Argentina was amazing. Don't miss the string quartet from the UK if they are performing. The cruise staff worked very hard to keep the passengers involved and having fun. We found Jill, the cruise director, to be consistently irritating. We really were disappointed to miss the activities in the Schooner bar, where all the trivia type games are played, because of the smoking passengers. You couldn't even walk through the bar without ending up smelling like smoke until your next shower. The smoking on this ship bothered us far more than other cruises we have been on, possibly because of the high number of Europeans on board. We missed the multiple entertainment options of the larger ships we have sailed on. Food: Not as bad as previous reviewers have stated. Nice presentation, very good service in the dining room. We had a 5 bottle wine package which was nice, although it is difficult to access your opened bottles of wine if you choose to dine in the Windjammer. We chose to dine there for Greek night (nothing in the main dining room was Greek except for the baklava) which was the worst I've ever tasted. We chose to duck into the dining room for dessert (we had a table for two) just to grab the baklava, which was also very bad. Served with pistachio ice cream? Really! Ports: Did Athens on our own, using the shopping guide's direction to the Metro - a half hour walk. Toured Ancient Agora and found our way up to the Acropolis. Wished we were on a tour to hear all the little details we missed with our guide books. Katakolon with ship's tour as the train would have only given us 2 hours to the site, which was great and we lucked out with a wonderful guide. Corfu on the ship's Paleokastristas Lakones and Wine tour. Be forewarned that the items you can purchase in the little villages can be had for significantly less $$ in town, which is not part of the tour. Just loved seeing this lush island and the gorgeous bays and mountains. We sailed between Corfu and Albania which is only 1.5 miles away at it's closest point. Our guide said that Albanians tried to swim to Corfu during WWII. Mykonos on our own. Just shopping and seeing windmills. Incredibly windy which the captain told us was just average for Mykonos - that it is not windy only 2 months out of the year. The people who saw Delos got a bit seasick on the boat ride over, but enjoyed to tour. Split was our final stop and we took a walking tour offered by the ship of the old town and Diocletian's Palace. Very interesting as people live in the palace. Not just a museum type of site. Wandered the town and had lunch at one of the cafes. Arrival in Venice predawn. Left the ship last since we had a extra day here. Much confusion nd long lines waiting for the shuttle bus. Some people took off walking and we saw them struggling as we passed as it is really a long way. There was only one shuttle bus to P Roma which meant people had to wait a really long time. Lots of confusion and no RCCL staff to assist. We all commented how once the cruise is over, they really don't care what happens! In the end, we had a very good time. However, we will not sail out of Venice again, nor on the Splendour. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
My wife and I took the 7 day cruise from Venice aboard the Splendour of the Seas in September, 2008. We are in our early 50s and have been on over 25 ocean cruises and 2 river cruises. We are from the NYC metropolitan area and have ... Read More
My wife and I took the 7 day cruise from Venice aboard the Splendour of the Seas in September, 2008. We are in our early 50s and have been on over 25 ocean cruises and 2 river cruises. We are from the NYC metropolitan area and have visited and dined in major cities throughout the USA and Europe. I write about our background so that what I say here can have the proper validity, in comparison to other reviews of this voyage by neophytes. Just days prior to embarking on the ship, I read the review on this website entitled "Do Not Go On Splendour of the Seas" and was therefore understandably anxious. It turns out that any trepidation was unfounded as the trip - and ship - were wonderful, even with less than perfect weather. We arrived in Venice after a nonstop flight from NYC and took the water taxi [95€] to our pre-cruise hotel, the Jolanda and Savoia. The hotel is expensive (as are all hotels near St Marks Square), but quite worth the splurge as our balcony overlooked the mouth of the Grand Canal and the staff and accommodations were a treat replete with old world charm. It was a five minute walk along the waterfront to St Marks from the hotel. There was included in the price a breakfast buffet which is minimal and rather substandard given the cost, but gets you going quickly. After our two days in Venice, we took another water taxi (€90) to the pier to catch the ship. This is quite convenient as they unload your luggage and transport it to the ship for you. The walk from the taxi stop to the terminal is a bit lengthy but check-in took less than ten minutes (it was 3pm) and our luggage was in the cabin by the time we returned from getting a quick lunch at the Windjammer Buffet. The buffet included a salad, a carving station, several hot entrees, desserts and sandwiches. I found the food to be tasty, hot and well prepared and at least as good as the buffets on Celebrity and Princess. The ship is a good size, i.e., not too mammoth nor too small to provide the essential amenities and then some. I have been on megaships and small ships (e.g., Voyager and Empress), and I found Splendour to be just right. It was quite easy to navigate the ship and within 24 hours, I was comfortable and familiar with the layout. Our cabin, 7592, was very comfortable at about 190 sq ft, with plenty of closet and drawer space. The bathroom was typical. We had second seating (9pm) dinner which works well on this itinerary as you are often in port until 7pm so you can make a full day of the ports, all of which are extraordinary places to visit. We were traveling with another couple and had, about a month prior to departure, arranged for private tour guides/drivers in each port except Mykonos, which requires only that you wander its warren of streets on your own and enjoy lunch along the waterfront. The cost of your own guide, when shared among two couples, is about the same as the shore excursions thru RCI, but the personal nature of the tour and flexibility it affords makes it so much better than the cattle drive of cruise ship excursions. Our drivers brought us to wonderful places to eat lunch and we enjoyed local flavor (pun intended). We saw special places and things, and spoke with locals and generally got to really get a sense of the place we visited. The only downside is that they cannot act as guides at the Acropolis or Olympia, although they provided us with picture guide books and a general overview. As for the ship, I found none of the wear and tear others complained of. I thought the ship was well preserved and although some components are necessarily showing their dozen years of age, overall the ship is gleaming clean and shiny. I saw no tattered upholstery or carpeting; in fact, much of the carpeting appeared to be recently replaced. Although one day we experienced a sewage smell, we were told by our steward that it was being fixed, and in fact, quickly was. Our waiter, Elizabeth, was excellent, even if every dinner took two hours. I enjoy a relaxing dinner on vacation. Most of the shows were pre-dinner for late seating. The magician was very good and the production show full of energy and a talented cast. We always found a dinner choice that we were happy with; this is not four star gourmet food by any means. It is good and serviceable. I compare it to Chili's, TGIF or some other chain that is consistently good but never outstanding. If you want gourmet food and white glove service, pay the higher fare and go on a more upscale line. Our head waiter helped out when necessary especially since there are no longer sommeliers and the poor waiters are expected to provide that service and keep 20 people served promptly. For those that have trepidation about taking this trip or ship, please don't. While the ship may not have the WOW factor of some newer ones, it is the itinerary that is the wow of this trip. Nobody should be choosing this voyage for the ship; but rather for the splendid places visited and the extended time allowed in each port. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
I just got off Splendour's Aug 30 Adriatic sailing. I had nervously read the primarily negative reviews/posts of RCI's smallest(!), twelve-year-old ship. As I really wanted to visit Dubrovnik and Ephesus on the same sailing, I ... Read More
I just got off Splendour's Aug 30 Adriatic sailing. I had nervously read the primarily negative reviews/posts of RCI's smallest(!), twelve-year-old ship. As I really wanted to visit Dubrovnik and Ephesus on the same sailing, I thought I could put up with the various negatives I had read about. This was my 31st RCI/Celebrity sailing. Well, Splendour was truly terrific and I would return in an instant! Cabin: Aft D1 7132. Great, well-maintained veranda with two chairs and two chaise lounges and a large table. The new beds were good but the carpets rather stained and worn. The exterior of the cabinetry was good but the insides in dire need of replacement. The bathroom was very large but the vanity was cracked, the mirrors "desilvering" and some scary dark areas in corners that I didn't approach too closely! Again, the bathroom was OK but really needs to be replaced. The public areas, both indoors and out were in superb condition, beautifully maintained with new carpets in the corridors. The pool and spa areas appeared almost new. One would occasionally encounter "mystery" odors in the accommodation corridors but nothing too scary. The King and I dining room is in great shape and our waitress was superb and brutally honest. If we followed her recommendations, we never "lost". This did mean occasionally having the vegetarian entree and usually having fish. She recommended beef once during the cruise - if you're a "meat and potatoes" kind of diner, this is not the cruise for you. If you're open to trying new things, you'll be fine. The desserts were the best of any RCI ship so far. I read so many negatives about the Windjammer staff that I was shocked by how friendly everyone was. It's amazing what smiling and asking a server or staff member how their day is can do. I found the selection fine but the cutlery always frighteningly spotted/dirty/justplaingross! I can't comment on the entertainment as I usually avoid the main theatre but the ship's pianist, David McFarland is one of the best of my 44 cruises. A true gem with an encyclopedic musical knowledge. The Concierge, Kelly Rizzaldo was charming and very efficient. She was great in helping me deal with my charming neighbors who thought that broadcasting 4th-rate Ricky Martin clones on their ghetto-blaster at 3248 decibels on their veranda was acceptable behavior. I really found little difference in the overall experience between Splendour and (my favorite) Radiance-class ships except for the wonderful size that made everything easily available. Again, a truly great RCI experience! Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
OUR GROUP: My husband and I are in our late 20s. We traveled with another couple our age and my mother and aunt (50-60). This was the third cruise for Mr. and Mrs. Feisty, second for our friends, and first for my mom and aunt. Our past ... Read More
OUR GROUP: My husband and I are in our late 20s. We traveled with another couple our age and my mother and aunt (50-60). This was the third cruise for Mr. and Mrs. Feisty, second for our friends, and first for my mom and aunt. Our past cruises were in the Caribbean on Carnival Destiny and Carnival Valor. We loved those cruises - fair to good food, excellent service, and fun ports. Everyone in our group ordinarily does land vacations and has done many, including in Europe. THE RUMOR: "You'll love RCI! It's so much better than Carnival. Carnival is full of drunken partiers and has terrible food and mediocre service. RCI has much nicer people and great food and service." THE TRUTH: I was delighted to find drunken partiers on RCI's Splendour since I hadn't found them on either our Carnival cruises. (The "drunken partiers" were charming and a lot of fun, so this is definitely a point in RCI's favor over Carnival.) We were, however, very disappointed with the food and service on Splendour, which was severely lacking in comparison to our Carnival cruises. EMBARKATION/DEBARKATION: A++ on both ends. RCI had a free shuttle to/from Piazzale Roma (it's a bright orange bus with a small "Port of Venice" sign in the front and no RCI signs; confirm that you're being taken to the Splendour before you load up though), which made things easy. We got to the dock around 2pm and absolutely flew through the "line." Our cabins were ready, and our luggage arrived in plenty of time before dinner (9pm). Since we had an early flight (11:30am), we dragged our own luggage off at about 7:15am and arrived at the airport a bit after 8am (free shuttle to Piazzale Roma, number 5 bus to airport). It was all very easy. SHIP: Having sailed on Carnival Destiny (also a 1996 launch), we were prepared for the ship to be small and worn around the edges. Like the Destiny, Splendour is well maintained. We did, however, giggle at the ugly decor after we'd been told how RCI's decor was so much nicer than Carnival's. There are some problems with the Splendour - it's just too small. There aren't enough bars (not a problem on Destiny), and it's very difficult to find a place where there aren't already a ton of people. The deck behind the spa was quiet but never empty, so that's a possibility if you're looking for a quiet spot. The Solarium was always hot and muggy, so go there only if you're prepared to fall asleep. The gym was fine but lacked a scale. CASINO: The casino was fine. The dealers were very nice, if a little un-educated about the games (wrongfully picked up friend's chips at least once). There were a couple non-smoking nights, so that was very nice. The poker tourney was not well attended (5 people), so be prepared if that's your thing. DINING ROOM: If you like really plain food and don't mind eating pretty much the same thing every day, then you'll be satisfied. Our group was bored to tears. Breakfast was the same every morning. The only difference in eating in the dining room instead of the Windjammer was that it was served to you. The one time we had lunch in the dining room, it was pretty good, which was not the norm. Every night, the menu consisted of 1-2 unimaginative pasta dishes that may or may not be prepared as described, 1-2 steak options which may or may not be butchered correctly and will be served with a boring potato option, a boring chicken option, 1-2 seafood options (we and our friends don't eat seafood; my mom had mixed satisfaction with her seafood selections), some other meat option (pork or whatever) that was usually disappointing, and a couple of vegetarian options. They had an Indian option (vegetarian) most nights, and that was usually, but not always, very good. The head chef is from India, so that probably explains why there were some successes. On our past cruises, the big decision each night was whether we would order 2 or 3 desserts. I have a major sweet tooth, so I was looking forward to this. We were terribly disappointed with the desserts. If you like Grand Marnier, you may be happy. It seemed like that was in at least one dessert each night. Service: Our servers in the dining room were generally adequate, which was disappointing considering how we'd bonded with our servers on our past cruises. They were good to remember that we liked to start with a plate of fries and a cheese plate each night, but they totally missed our anniversary. WINDJAMMER: I love buffets. I love to eat and eat until I feel like I'm going to explode. I especially adore breakfast buffets, and I'm not picky about them. I hated eating in the Windjammer. The food was always the same! And always boring. Another problem was the staff. They absolutely glared at me any time I wasn't seated! I'm not sure why they were so cranky. OTHER FOOD: This was a problem. We had second seating for dinner (it's 9pm, not 8:30 like we expected), so we always wanted a snack when we got back onboard at 3-6pm each day. From Carnival, we were used to pizza and a grill (hamburgers, french fries, hot dogs) being open pretty much all the time. We were sorely disappointed with Splendour's options. Although there was a place to get pizza and sandwiches in the Solarium, it wasn't always open and the service there was always rotten. The set up for burgers, dogs, and fries nearby was poorly maintained and sometimes closed up early. That was especially annoying considering that the Windjammer often opened late. OTHER PAX: All the passengers we met were lovely. There were about 1,500 from the U.S., possibly in part due to a big grocery convention onboard. We especially enjoyed those folks. ACTIVITIES: Although I missed the water slide, Splendour beat our Carnival ships hands down when it came to activities. The mini-golf course was hilarious (please try it!), and it was super fun to ring the bell at the top of the climbing wall. We also really enjoyed all the dancing. There were several dance classes throughout the week; I remember waltz, meringue, and line dancing. The Swingstreet Trio played slow numbers; the Boleros, a Latin trio, played TONS of salsa, some meringue, and the occasional cha cha and rumba; the DJ on the top floor disco played all types of music. I recommend going to the 70s line dancing class and then hitting the disco that night - hilarious! The fitness classes are about the same as on Carnival - $10 each, not of great quality but better than nothing (I took a yoga class). ENTERTAINMENT: I am still trying to figure out who truly believes the shows on cruises are of good quality. As they go, these were marginally better than the ones on Carnival. We've been taking ballroom dance lessons, so we enjoyed the professional ballroom dancers. CABIN: This was another big disappointment for us. We couldn't fit our suitcases under the bed like we had on the Carnival ships (same suitcase and a new smaller one). I've since read a suggestion to open them up and slide them under, which is a good one. The drawers didn't all work well, and some of the hangers in the closet were broken. My main gripe, though, is the size of the shower. I thought our showers on previous cruises were tight but tolerable. I cursed this shower on a daily basis, and I'm a size 2. Ladies, I'd highly recommend getting your legs waxed before cruising on this ship. Our cabin steward was fine, though he did manage to forget to leave a Cruise Compass one night. Oh, also, the hallway outside the cabin smelled a bit bad. PORTS: Awesome, amazing, incredible - all the positive adjectives you can come up with apply. This is why we adored our cruise even though we were so disappointed with the food and service. If you'd like to check out my in depth reports about what we did each day (this was the Athens/Mykonos/Olympia/Corfu/Split itin.), check out my blog at feistync.wordpress.com. I promise it's worth a look. MISC.: The Wine and Dine program worked well for us. We also very much enjoyed the RCI's special Belgian beer, Royal. Check it out! The shopping tips, in at least one case for us, turned out to be abysmal. RCI goes on and on about The Loom, this "terrific" rug shop (Athens and Mykonos). We popped in a rug shop just down the street from The Loom in Athens and shopped there for a bit. The owner gave us a lesson in machine v. hand made and showed us incredible rugs at fair prices (we have access to a couple of outstanding discount stores in North Carolina, so we didn't buy). We then went to The Loom, where they were trying to sell machine made rugs at hand made prices and wouldn't give you a straight answer about how the rugs were made. I'm very grateful we stumbled into the first shop, and I'm now hesitant to buy from any ship recommended shop without at least doing some research first. CONCLUSION: If you're not too demanding about food and service and haven't visited these ports before, I highly recommend taking this cruise. If you are more discerning, check out some other options and, if you sail Splendour anyway, go prepared so you won't be disappointed. It really is an incredible itinerary and was far and away my favorite option when we booked. It could only have been more perfect IMO by adding a night and a stop in Santorini! Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
This was our first cruise (although we have travelled extensively in 5*hotels worldwide both on business and pleasure) and were concerned about the appalling recent reviews ,thankfully our cruise was very enjoyable 1) Boarding was at ... Read More
This was our first cruise (although we have travelled extensively in 5*hotels worldwide both on business and pleasure) and were concerned about the appalling recent reviews ,thankfully our cruise was very enjoyable 1) Boarding was at 12pm for a 5pm departure so we arrived at 11.00 and were sitting in the Schooner bar by 11.15 , very impressive . We requested and were given a table for 2 which was great 2) Stateroom , I researched this carefully beforehand , we wanted a balcony and its was a close call between Junior suites on deck 8 or smaller rooms on deck 7 , the disadvantage of deck 8 was potential noise from above around swimming pools etc but we chose the JS 8036 which was right opposite the corridor to the lifts (less walking) and under the pool towels on the upper deck , noise was minimal , we would pick this cabin again . 3) Food , Food was good but not great , King and I menu was a touch repetitive but pretty good overall , portions were on the small side , Windjammer was great for breakfast and lunch but disappointing for dinner (we went once) , we expected the food to be upgraded in the evening but it was the same old buffet as lunchtime , but overall it was fine , Service was terrific 4) Staff , they were mostly South American and were great , very friendly and helpful , cabin attendant did not get off to a great start however when he said no to Bathrobes (we called housekeeping who provided within minutes) 5) Entertainment was disappointing i thought , Soul Sensation was great but Elton john 'look a like' was only ok if you are a fan , otherwise it was jugglers/ magic etc etc , great venue though 6) Despite the ship being small by todays standards there was plenty of room especially around the pool area , Solarium was a peaceful area (and the roof opened once) 7) Ports , all good , we booked trips for Corfu and Turkey (both excellent ) and did our own thing in Dubrovnik and Santorini, these proved good decisions 8) Disembarking , we were off by 8.0am , very impressive , no problems (dishonest tip , we paid £15 to RC for coach to airport but no tickets were issued and none asked for , anybody could have hitched a ride!!) 9) Dislikes , American bias , RC obvious target the American market however i reckon the split was 50 /50 yet everytHing is aimed at the US visitors , Jenifer , the ports and shopping guide was truly dreadful to this non US observer 10) Ship was in good condition , if you looked carefully you could see the ship was 10+years old but overall was a lovely ship with great bars and venues Overall it was a great ship with very very friendly staff , will cruise again Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
Took a private water taxi from our hotel to the pier and shared it with 2 other couples from our hotel, so it made the cost more reasonable. I believe it was 120 euros total, including all luggage. As soon as we were dropped off, a RCCL ... Read More
Took a private water taxi from our hotel to the pier and shared it with 2 other couples from our hotel, so it made the cost more reasonable. I believe it was 120 euros total, including all luggage. As soon as we were dropped off, a RCCL staff was there to collect our luggage and we didn't see it again until later on board. EMBARKATION: This was so easy. Because we had already filled out our SeaPass info, we were led to a line for suites guests, Platinum, Diamond and Diamond Plus members. This took about 5 minutes, then we were ready to get in line to board. We went through a real quick security line and we were on our way. From the time we left our hotel until we were already on the ship, it was less than 75 minutes. OUR CABIN: We were in Grand Suite, 8016. There was so many drawers that we never used. There are actually 3 closets, with one of them being a double door closet and floor length hanging space. The other 2 are single door closets, with drawer space below each hanging rod. There are also 3 big drawers in the bathroom, including 2 sinks with cabinet space behind the mirror on each side. In the bedroom area, there is a desk with 2 small drawers underneath the desk area, and 3 drawers to the left of it. More drawers again by the safe, along with a big open space below the safe and 2 shelves above the safe. When we got to our cabin, there were no robes or slippers, and a few of the drawers were pretty dirty inside. I found our attendant and he brought these things, as well as cleaned the drawers. He told me that the prior attendant for this cabin left that day on vacation and was probably in a hurry. No excuse, but at least ours did take care of things. One day our toilet flush button quit working, so he called it into maintenance without us even knowing about it. Same thing for other minor maintenance issues in the room—closet door falling off hinges, one shelf had no pins to hold it up. But the attendant took care of all. FOOD: This area really needs improving. The menus in the dining room had no imagination, and seemed to have some of the same things, just calling it something different. I was disappointed that being a Greek Isle cruise, there were really no "themed" nights. It would have been nice to offer a few Greek items while there, a Turkish item while in Turkey, etc. The food came lukewarm on many nights. Also very disappointed that they no longer serve lobster. (Although the Loyalty Ambassador told me that because so many people complained, they will reinstate serving lobster-just don't know when) Someone at our dining table asked for lemonade in the dining room and was told there was a charge for it, even though it is free in Windjammer. Also surprised that we were charged for cappuccino in dining room, as it is free on Carnival ships. Food in the Windjammer was not great either. I will say that having multiple areas serving the same thing made the lines move smoother. Omelets were good for breakfast. And enjoyed having cut-up fruit every day. We only ate here for breakfast and lunch. CASINO: The staff for the most part were very friendly and nice. Only had one exception to this by the overseer on craps table. Several nights the casino was made non-smoking and this was an added plus for us. I love to play table games, but hate the smoke. It doesn't keep us away when there is smoking, but it sure makes it a nicer experience when the air is fresh. BARS: We never used them, so can't report on this area. ENTERTAINMENT: Never went to any of the shows, so can't report on this area either. SPA: Disappointed in this. For the prices they charge, they could at least provide a robe and slippers. Every other RCCL ship we have been on does provide them. But when my husband asked for a robe because after working out, he wanted to shower before his massage, they looked at him like he was crazy. And after having all the oil on your body, who wants to put your clothes right back on? When I had my massage, I was told by the masseuse that the robes were being laundered, but when I called the spa before my next appointment, I was told that was not true, they just don't provide them, so I brought one from my cabin. Also, there was no quiet place to relax before or after the massage, because there was some sort of diet class going on in that area at the time. No scale in the dressing room to weigh yourself, which is also not the norm on RCCL. SERVICE: Dining room service was very poor at the beginning, but did improve during the week. Our waiter never asked if we wanted anything to drink, other than water and did not offer coffee after dinner. After 3 nights, he finally saw that several people had ordered iced tea each night and coffee after dinner, so he began to have it on the table. Same for those who ordered Pellegrino at dinner. But service was very slow. There were several nights we didn't even finish until close to 11:30, and that is awfully late to be eating, especially if you have to be up and eat breakfast early the next morning to go on a tour. EXCURSIONS: In Dubrovnik, we toured on our own. This was a tendering port, and was very slow. We had tender #1 because we were in a suite, but our friends did not, so we chose to wait with them instead. It took 2 ½ hours for our tender to be called, which was #5. Once on shore, we walked the walls, which we enjoyed, although it sure was tiring. In Ephesus, we used a private tour guide, Levant Solmaz, who was amazing. There were just 4 of us, the guide and his driver. He tailored the tour to what we wanted to do and see, not just a "rote" tour. He took us to a fabulous local restaurant for lunch and although we offered and were prepared to treat him to his meal, he refused. In Santorini, we did the Oia and Santorini Island tour. Our tour guide was not very good; he talked on his cell phone much of the time. He also "appeared" to be hung over, so we complained to the excursion desk about him. We also felt the description of the tour listed in the mailing before the cruise did not accurately represent what we actually got. For instance, at the winery, we were hustled into a room and lined up for a glass of wine, with no explanation about how or where the wine is made. The tour guide also had the driver go a different route because he said the roads were too crowded with tour buses, but we missed the picturesque views we wanted to see. In Fira, the line for the cable car was pretty long, but it did move continuously. In Corfu, we took the Achilleion Palace tour, along with Perama on Old Town. This guide was better than the other one, although the excursion book said we would be on a walking tour of Old Town, which didn't happen. He stood in one area and told us which area was Italian and which was French, but he never took us to the famous church or any other place listed in the book. We did not feel the ship's excursions were worth the money. CONCIERGE LOUNGE: We didn't use this in the morning, but we enjoyed using this each evening. There was open bar, with wine, champagne, and hard liquor and setups. Also, there were some small canapEs and hot hors d'Oeuvres each evening. It was never crowded when we were there. The concierge, Kenneth Boodoo, was great. He made spa appointments for us before we boarded. When we went to the lounge the first day, he came up to us and called us by name. I later found out he has our pictures and that's how he knew who we were. Our travel agent had given us a bottle of red wine, but we only drink white. We took the bottle to dinner and asked if they would exchange it with the same price wine. They told us no, it was already out of inventory. So, we took it to Kenneth and he just gave us a bottle of white, with no problems. We also had a problem with our statement and he took care of it immediately. MISC: We went to Sabbath services on Friday evening. Twenty-five people signed up, but only twelve showed up. The ship provided us prayer books, challah and wine. That was very nice of them. Many people I spoke with had incorrect statements on the last day, including us. They charged us for an extra spa treatment, which we didn't have. Other people were charged for internet which they didn't use, others double charged for bar bills, etc. One lady was at the purser's desk complaining that a watch was stolen from her cabin. We were disappointed that there were no comedy shows in the evenings, but the Hotel Director told me it is because there are so many different languages of guests that it would be hard to do. DISEMBARKING: This was also a very easy process. We ate breakfast, went to our cabin to collect our carry-ons, then waited in the concierge lounge for a while until most of the crowds thinned out. Once we got off the ship, we found our luggage immediately, then walked out. We found a private taxi to take us to our hotel near the airport. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
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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