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198 Splendour of the Seas Cruise Reviews

This was our 2nd cruise on Splendour and we had a wonderful time. The ship is in good condition for its age. We had an inside cabin on deck 7. We were a bit worried about the motion as it was right at the front of the ship but we had no ... Read More
This was our 2nd cruise on Splendour and we had a wonderful time. The ship is in good condition for its age. We had an inside cabin on deck 7. We were a bit worried about the motion as it was right at the front of the ship but we had no problems. We felt that the food had improved since last year but could still do with being a bit warmer. Pancakes and Waffles are a particular favorite for breakfast but not when stone cold. We didn't try the dining room for breakfast or lunch, but most of the offerings in the Windjammer were good. The weather was good for the entire week. We had 2nd serving for dinner with our waitress Juzette who was great. The food at dinner was good. Would love to see lobster brought back but that's a minor point. The entertainment varied from quite good to excellent with a magician and an outstanding 4 tops and motown tribute band. Venice We took advantage of a 1 night pre cruise deal at the Courtyard Marriott. It included a good buffet breakfast and transport to the ship. We were taken by minivan to the port at 11am which was excellent. Boarding was very quick and easy as we had completed all the online forms and printed our setsail passes so we were in the Windjammer before noon. Our luggage was already in our cabin when we got there about 2pm. The Sailaway from Venice was chilly and windy but its spectacular and not to be missed. Dubrovnik We had been here over 20 years ago and loved it then so were looking forward to seeing how it survived the war. We took the ship shuttle from Gruz harbor to the town gate and then walked the walls down as far as the harbor. There were fantastic views of the town (with mostly new roofs) then we took a short glass bottom boat trip. We saw quite a lot of fish but the main attraction was seeing the town from the boat. The town has lots of shops and restaurants now and we really enjoyed our day there. Ephesus We took the tour from the ship and were not disappointed. It was fantastic and we would recommend going there. We didn't particularly enjoy the House of The Virgin Mary but others did. The tour of the carpet shop was included and was quite interesting although they are far too expensive for us. Kusadasi was OK but much like other Turkish towns where the shopkeepers keep hassling you to come in and look. We would rather wander and look in shop windows without the constant hassle. Santorini We were nearly first in line for the tender tickets and were on the first boat after the tours had departed. After a 30 min wait for the cable car we went straight to the bus station and caught the bus to Oia. (Following instructions found on this site )This was full so we stood up all the way. Oia was fantastic. We just wandered around, sat in a cafe for coffee and then returned to the same one for lunch as the cooking smells were marvellous. We were in town for about 3 hours and then returned to Fira on the bus. Again we only sat around for coffee, did a bit of shopping and then queued (another 30 mins) for the cable car.Corfu Took the ships shuttle again and just wandered the town. We have been to Corfu a few times before and didn't have any plans to see anything in particular. Venice Debarking was easy. Our flights weren't until 9.30pm so we took the shuttle to the bus station and took advantage of the left luggage place there. We then walked to the Rialto Bridge (about 30 mins) Then it was onto water bus number 1 which will take you all along the grand canal. We hopped on and off at different stops, once to see a market and then for lunch. Then we took the No 1 to St Marks square and just wandered around. The view of a Princess Cruise Ship leaving port was amazing. The Water bus took us back to the bus station for our luggage and the bus back to the airport. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
We took our first cruise this past summer on Royal Caribbean's Splendor of the Seas. This ship is one of Royal Caribbean's older and smaller ships. But we still had a fantastic time! We arrived in Venice on Thursday, July ... Read More
We took our first cruise this past summer on Royal Caribbean's Splendor of the Seas. This ship is one of Royal Caribbean's older and smaller ships. But we still had a fantastic time! We arrived in Venice on Thursday, July 10 around 5 pm. We stayed at the Santa Chiara Hotel because of its location. It was right next to the Piazzale Roma (where the bus from the airport dropped us off) and it was within walking distance to the port. We've stayed in nicer hotels but because of its convenient location, friendly staff and easy choice of walking or taking the free bus to the ship I would highly recommend it. We toured around Venice Thursday evening and Friday morning. We took the free shuttle to the port around noon. Check in was very easy. Although I had checked in online alot of what we did was redundant but still easy. we were on the ship and in our rooms by 1 pm and relaxing by the pool by 1:30 pm. We had our safety drill around 4 pm and we pulled out of the port in Venice at 5 pm. We were finally starting our first cruise vacation! Our itinerary included: Split, Croatia Hiraklion, Crete Kusadasi, Turkey Santorini, Greece Corfu, Greece I'm not going to go into detail on our stops in each port. People have their own likes and dislikes. I will say I was disappointed in the off shore excursions offered by Royal Caribbean. We learned very quickly that we could get off the ship, find a cab on our own and get to our preferred destination much easier than taking something arranged through the ship. By far the biggest complaint we had about the off shore excursions offered on board was the travel time to get to and from the excursion site. We spent an hour and a half to two hours round trip on a bus listening to the tour guide drone on and on about something they were trying to sell (rugs in Turkey, for example). The cabs would take us to the same locations the ship's excursions would take you and we got there much faster. Make arrangements with your cab driver to come back and pick you up at a particular location and time. Every time we did this we negotiated a complete price and pickup time. The cab driver accepted partial payment, returned on time, and took us back to the ship where we would pay the remainder of the fare. We would also include a nice tip because for the most part these guys were very friendly and informative about the locations they were taking us to. About the ship. The Splendor of the Seas is an older ship and it shows. But this being our first cruise, we really had nothing to compare the ship to. In my opinion it was prefect. We had a cabin at the back of the ship, so we had a balcony. I couldn't imagine being on a cruise ship without being able to enjoy the view. Our kids had a cabin right across the hall - no windows. But very convenient to us. The activities offered on board were fun, the kids had a great time and my wife and I had one of the best vacations we've ever had in our 20+ years of marriage. Arriving back in Venice was problem free. Getting off the ship was organized and our bags were waiting for us. We walked from the ship back to Piazzale Roma where I bought tickets on the blue AVTO bus back to the airport. Our only mistake was going back to the airport way too early. We should have spent more time walking around Venice. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone interested in cruising the Western Mediterranean. I think the one reason we liked this cruise so much was the diversity of the ports. Every stop offered something very different than the last. The biggest disappointment was the salt water pool on the ship. We still had fun at the pool but I never got used to the salt water. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
SPLENDOUR OF THE SEAS CRUISE JULY 11 2008 TO JULY 19TH 2008. This is a brief summary of our cruise on Splendour of the Seas on the above dates. We arrived at Manchester airport and could not believe that there was no queue for the ... Read More
SPLENDOUR OF THE SEAS CRUISE JULY 11 2008 TO JULY 19TH 2008. This is a brief summary of our cruise on Splendour of the Seas on the above dates. We arrived at Manchester airport and could not believe that there was no queue for the check in. After a very short while we were through to the departure lounge. That is when the trouble started. We were asked to go to the gate for our departure but when we arrived we were informed that due to technical reasons that we would not be taking off on time. After sitting at the gate for about half an hour we were informed that they could not rectify the problem and that we would be sent back to the lounge to await further announcements. We were then informed that they would be changing the aircraft and we would have to await the inbound aircraft. We eventually took off approx 2 hours late. I must say that the service we received from BMI on the aircraft was superb and they apologized for the lateness. We arrived at Venice International Airport and were soon on the coach to the port. Being as though we are Diamond Members of the Crown and Anchor, again no line for check in and we were soon on the Splendour of the Seas. Day 1 Venice. July 11th 2008. After our delay it soon got round to the sail away and this was very pleasant in quite beautiful sunshine. We had decided to have second seating dinner and Royal Caribbean had altered the times, they now have seatings at 630 pm, 7 pm, 830 pm and 9 o'clock. We had been assigned the 9 o'clock seating. We were shown to our table number 12 but unfortunately we had a table for 8 and we had 10 people. We were then asked if we minded to take another table which did not please us as the Head Waiter asked if we minded to change our seating time to 630 pm. After a word with the assistant Maitre'd we were allotted another table at the 9 o'clock seating. This table turned out to be a very good table. The show this evening was Los Pampas Gauchos whom we have seen before. Day 2 Split Croatia. July 12th 2008. We arrived in Split at around 9 am and this was a tender port. Again being Diamond members we were given number 1 tender tickets and we were soon on our tender and off to see the delights of Split. We have been there once before so decided that we would just have a walk around the town and the Palace. Again bright blue skies with temperatures forecast to be a high of 93 degrees. A wonderful port of call with lots to do and a tip is to buy your currency, the Kuna, when you arrive. They also take the remaining currency you may have when you leave. Notes only. Back to the ship for a leisurely afternoon sitting on the aft deck watching the tenders ply back and forth with the remaining passengers. This evening entertainment was a production show Dancin' Thru the Movies again an old production so we spent the time in the Concierge lounge talking to fellow passengers. Day 3 Sea Day July 13th 2008. A full day at sea on our way to Heraklion Greece. Today's temperature is reported to be as high a 95 degrees. We spent most of the day either in the solarium or sitting on the aft deck. We decided that being as though it was a sea day we would go into the restaurant for lunch. Royal Caribbean have recently changed the format for lunch. They now have a menu and a salad bar. We highly recommend the restaurant for lunch on sea days. Tonight's entertainment was Headliner Showtime with the Graffiti Classics. We would again highly recommend anyone seeing this show. It comprised of 4 people two girls and two boys who played strings with a difference. A very enjoyable show. Tonight was formal night and the Captain's Welcome Aboard Reception was held in the Atrium. Day 4 Heraklion Greece. 14th July, 2008 Day 4 and our cruise is going far too fast. We docked in Heraklion at around 9 am and they claim that the temperatures today will hit 83 degrees. A little cooler than our last few days. Again we did our own thing and just had a walk around the town. Quite a pleasant place to walk around with an ancient fort in the port area. For anyone that loves herbs and spices this we found was the place to buy them. Tonight's show was a headliner show again this time a singer Edmundo Rahme. Day 5 Kusadasi Turkey. 15th July, 2008. Today we docked in Kusadasi Turkey at around 7  am. We arrived to see that there were also 4 other ships in port. Temperatures today were reported to be around 101 degrees and it certainly felt like it. Not a favourite port for us, there was too much hassle from the vendors. We went to see a Turkish baths which was very interesting. Then back to the ship for a little swim and some shade. Tonight's show was another headliner and this time it was Fallon Magic. Day 6 Santorini Greece. 16th July, 2008 Today was our favourite port of call Santorini, unfortunately there were 4 other ships at anchor when we arrived. This made the port very very busy. We tendered at this port and this meant that the queue for the cable car was extremely long. It took approx 25 minutes to get on the cable car. Temperatures today were reported to be around 83 degrees. Once at the town of Fira the views were spectacular. The ways to get to the top are by donkey, walk up approx 600 steps or the cable car. Tonight's show was Ballroom Fever, yet another of the shows that we have seen and not one of our favourites. All in all a very good day. Day 7 Corfu Greece. 17th July, 2008 We docked around 1230 pm after a very leisurely sail in the morning. Corfu was quite a way from the docks so you had to catch a bus to the dock gates and then another shuttle, which RCL charged 4 dollars, to get into town. A very interesting place with plenty to see and lots and lots of shops. Today's temperatures were 93 degrees and plenty of blue blue sky. In the evening a lovely sail away from the docks around a series of islands. Tonight's headliner show was Backbeat Beatles. If you liked the Beatles then you would have loved this show, standing room only in the Theatre. Day 8 At Sea 18th July, 2008 Today a very pleasant day at sea with temperatures of 86 degrees. Tonight's show was Luis Dalton another headliner show. Day 9 Venice 19th July, 2008 All things have to come to an end and this certainly was a very good cruise. When we arrived in Venice we were told that the Grand Canal had to be closed due to a boat festival. Therefore we had to dock in the container port and be tendered off the ship to the Cruise Piers. Royal Caribbean did an excellent job in this, we sailed up the Grand Canal in small launches . What and end to a cruise. Once at the airport a quick check in and all too soon we were back in Manchester after a very good flight with BMI. Overall as I said a very good cruise. The staff, especially our waiters Ajay and Jose, were exceptional. Also the Assistant Maitre'd, Gopar. The ship, even though it is 12 years old, is in good condition. Only a few minor things that needed attention. Unfortunately there were a few chair hogs. Some taking 4 chairs for 2 people, 2 in the shade and two in the sun, but you cannot blame the cruise line for this. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
We cruised on Splendour of the Seas from 5/3/08 to 5/10/08. Our last cruise was on the Voyager of the Seas which was a larger ship so we were a little worried that sailing on Splendour of the Seas wouldn't be as good. Even though the ... Read More
We cruised on Splendour of the Seas from 5/3/08 to 5/10/08. Our last cruise was on the Voyager of the Seas which was a larger ship so we were a little worried that sailing on Splendour of the Seas wouldn't be as good. Even though the ship was smaller and lacked a few things that the Voyager had we were still pleased with the ship overall. We elected to have first seating at dinner and were glad we did. We were a party of eight (2 families) with the youngest being 20 and the oldest being 60 something. We had a table near the window which was perfect. Our waiter was Jacquelina and the asst waiter was Williams who was great, very polite with a winning smile. The food was OK, it is about time that RCCL changed the menu. Also, the food of last resort at the Windjammer was just gutfill. Your best option if unable to get into the main dining room, is to get a hot dog or burger at the Solarium bar area. The breakfast buffet had the worst sausage and eggs that must have come from powder form. The omelet line was usually at least 6 people deep if you wanted a real egg. Our cruise director Jill Tasker kept the ship jumping, always something to do. We did go to a few shows at the 42nd st theater and for the most part they were good. The dancers and singers were outstanding. The magic show was disappointing but the casino and the Viking Crown Lounge Bar kept us entertained from port to port. The dance music was great and welcomed all ages. We had an inside cabin and our room attendant (Abdul), was great at making the towel animals and keeping us neat and comfy. I (the wife) used the spa one time to try out the Alpha Capsule. The wait to book it was convoluted at best: there were 3 staff members at the one small desk trying to schedule appointments for one guest for at least 15 minutes. In the meantime the line behind me grew. When I did get my turn, I was told to wait while someone could check the schedule with a trainer!? That lasted 10 more minutes. I was finally able to get an appointment for the next day and was told to arrive at 1:00 for my session. When I arrived for my session the next day I waited again behind people who were making appointments and was told to go sit down and someone would be with me shortly. I had arrived at 12:50 for the appointment and was not taken back until 1:20. The capsule itself was very helpful for stiff joints and jet lag, but there was no music (as was advertised, the girl said they don't have it even though I saw a cd player in the thing) and the capsule sat in a room where a seminar was going on not 12 feet away. My relaxing spa experience was dampened due to the constant talking of all the people in the room. Also, my coupon from the room was not honored. Oh well! While we would absolutely sail on Splendour of the Seas again, it would be only short cruises We flew into Venice the day before and stayed in Mestre at the Hotel Altieri. We were quite pleased with the hotel and the staff. The bus to Venice was right down the street about 50 feet away. The only problem with the area was the lack of restaurants. The hotel had a continental breakfast but that was it. A pizza shop a few doors down was open and you could get the pizza and take it back to the hotel, (it has an American menu) but for a sit down and relax dinner the choices were not there. We just relaxed and got ready for the cruise the next day. The next day all of us and our luggage made the trip to Venice on bus #19, great trip but no place special to put your luggage. Getting off at Piazza Roma which is the last stop, we decided just to walk to the ship. Slightly uphill and about 15 mins we were at the ship. Checking in at the dock and boarding was very quick and painless and we were on the ship within 15 minutes of reaching the dock. We found our stateroom and proceeded to explore a bit. The ship departed on time and all our luggage was delivered to the stateroom shortly afterwards. Overall the ship was in excellent condition, extremely clean and well maintained. The crew and staff were very cordial and polite. We only had one gripe when at the Viking Crown Lounge we asked for coffee and were told we needed to go down 2 levels and get our own instead of the server saying he would be back in a few minutes with the coffee. But no big deal. We decided not to do any tours but to do everything ourselves. Day 2 - Our first day was at sea. Took advantage of the pool area. Day 3 - Piraeus, Greece. We walked to the train station (20 min) and took the train from Piraeus to Athens (quite easy), then exited the train and walked up the hill to the Acropolis. The walking is uphill on slick surfaces and we got lost on the way up, but finally saw folks we knew and got back on track. On the way up the hill we passed several quaint sidewalk cafes, and the one that let us use the toilet got our lunch business on the way back down. The Acropolis was amazing with so much history. We took lots and of pictures. The cafe where we had lunch was outdoors and had very fresh food with no cover charge or surprises. Also, the shopping at the little stores in Athens has very different items than the shops in the other ports so DO do some shopping on your way back to the train station. At the train station you will need coins or small Euros to get your ticket at the automated Kiosk. Their metro system is very easy to use. Most people do speak English, especially if you offer them a smile with your question. Day 4 - Mykonos, Greece. We decided to walk to the main part of town. Beware, it is a long walk with out a sidewalk and cars, busses, and trucks have the right of way. We found out later that we could have taken a shuttle off the ship for free. The town was cute and set up for tourists. We did a little shopping, ate and drank again at a sidewalk cafe over looking the water. What a great way to spend the day. This port is as close to what you would expect to see at Santorini if you were going to port there. We walked back to the ship and looked forward to the next port. Day 5 - Katakolon, Greece. The main attraction here is Olympia. The ship did not get in until later than it was supposed to and was leaving at 6:30, so time was a large factor. We did some homework and we could have taken the train and bus to Olympia but we would only have had about an hour to spend seeing the sights. We opted not to go. After talking with some folks who did go, we were happy we didn't. Again, we did a little shopping and ended up at a sidewalk cafe overlooking the harbor. The food was good and we were introduced to Uzo. You have to be careful with that. Back to the ship. Day 6 - Corfu, Greece. We took the shuttle into downtown Corfu. It was a long ride, and walking is out of the question. It is a very large metropolis and fast paced. There was an important historical fortress at the Shuttle stop, so we paid the 4 Euro each and went through. Another long climb, up another high hill on slick surfaces. We got plenty of exercise and some excellent photo ops. After a short trip around the city, we caught the shuttle back to the ship for a late lunch. The shuttles were there every 30 minutes. Day 7 - Split, Croatia. We tendered off shore and had to exchange some Euros into the local currency which is the Kuna. The prices were about what we expected. It was 7.14 Kuna for 1 Euro and we spent 7 Kuna for a small gelato. We were quite surprised at how pretty Split is. Walked along the harbor taking pictures and looking at the local markets. A nice relaxful day, Back to the ship. Day 8 - Back to Venice. Getting off the ship was painless. We once again walked to Piazza Roma once again, the lines for RCCL buses to the Piazza Roma were long. Took bus #19 back to Hotel Altieri for we were staying 2 extra days. We dropped our luggage and back to Venice for some sightseeing. We walked from Piazza Roma to Piazza San Marco, wandering down the side streets and window shopping. Took in all the sights. What a beautiful city. The next day we returned to Venice but this time we took the water bus from Piazza Roma to Piazza San Marco. What an adventure. The bus was standing room only, I was sure that it was going to tip over and that we all would be swimming. But it didn't and we made it to Piazza San Marco. Did sightseeing, ate and drank wine at a sidewalk cafe overlooking the grand canal, went down the side alleys till we found a gondola at a good price. How could we go to Venice and not go on the gondola. What a way to end the perfect vacation. The other members of our family that chose to get off the ship and go directly to the airport used the optional ship express shuttle and made it in time for their 11:00 flight back to Philadelphia. We hadn't the heart to tell them that the best part of the whole trip was our 2 days in Venice. The shopping, the history, the cafe's were outstanding. While we would surely cruise Royal Caribbean again, and we would absolutely go to Venice again, I would stay at the Hotel Alteri, but bring an extra pillow. The bed was so hard but the staff was fantastic. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
This was our tenth cruise on RCI and the first on Splendour of the Seas. It was a cruise that we chose because we fell in love with Venice when we ended a cruise on Celebrity's Millennium 2 years ago. My wife and I flew to Venice on ... Read More
This was our tenth cruise on RCI and the first on Splendour of the Seas. It was a cruise that we chose because we fell in love with Venice when we ended a cruise on Celebrity's Millennium 2 years ago. My wife and I flew to Venice on the Thursday night before the cruise and stayed at the Marriott Courtyard at the airport. It may sound strange but there is a bus (number 5) which runs from the airport and passes the hotel on the way to Venice. Cost is 1 Euro 10 cents each way. There is also the AliLaguna Water bus which runs from the airport to San Marco. With the dollar exchange being so weak, and the uncertainty of where you are booking a hotel in Venice, especially walking with luggage, this turned out to be a great deal. The hotel is well priced and is very comfortable. We would recommend it to anyone with a couple of days to spend in Venice. The Iberia flight from Miami landed a few minutes late in Madrid, but still with plenty of time to catch our connection to Venice. We arrived in Venice mid morning on Friday. After checking into the hotel we took the bus and were in the city at lunch time. One recommendation that we had heard, and will endorse is to take the number 1 vaporetto from Piazza Roma to San Marco, instead of in reverse. The boats are relatively empty in this direction. Be aware also that all trains, cars, buses and ships terminate in this same area. After wandering, getting lost, having a few beverage breaks and walking back towards Piazza Roma for several hours, we too the bus back to Tessera and the Marriott Courtyard. We found a small restaurant close to the hotel and had a great dinner. After breakfast at the hotel, instead of taking a taxi (about $90) or Water bus (about $20) to the port we took the trusted number 5 to the port gates. Yes the bus passes in front of the port. We were one of the first to embark and had the time to enjoy the day on the ship before sailing at 5pm. The ship has had some mixed reviews but we found it to be in very good condition overall, and we enjoyed it's less than 100,000 plus tons size. The layout is simple and the size and makeup make it perfect for destination cruises. This is not a destination in itself ship. This is why Royal Caribbean is using the Vision class ships for it's exotic cruises. Day 1 was spent at sea. The fact that we were sailing 25 miles an hour into a 30 mile an hour wind for the entire first day made for a windy day! It was not rough, it just made for a day to read, shop, enjoy indoor activities or use the indoor pool. Day 2 had us arriving at noon in Athens. We always enjoy Athens, especially the people watching and strolling in the Plaka. We take the train from Pyraeus to Athens and enjoy the city on our own. We walked all around the Parthenon and the government, watched the changing of the guards, and strolled through the flea markets and narrow streets of the Plaka. We sailed at 8pm and enjoyed dinner in the Windjammer. The fact that the second dinner was scheduled at 9pm on this cruise helped us to make our decision to eat several nights in the Windjammer. The ship had changed second seating to 9pm to accommodate a large group of Mexican passengers. In all honesty most of these passengers also found 9pm too late. Second seating was, therefore, pretty empty every night. I hope that wiser decisions are made in future. First seating is too early for us, but 9pm is certainly too late. Day 3 brought Mykonos, and our favorite port. We loved this island. We walked throughout the town, took a lot of pictures of the windmills, Little Venice and the stunning architecture. We then walked to Platos Gialos. The guides that say that this is a 2 mile walk are just wrong. We love to walk, and have no problem with distance. This was a long walk, however. Note this if you plan on walking. We enjoyed the walk, nevertheless, running into a herd of sheep and their old traditionally dressed herder. Picture taking was spectacular and quaint, and we arrived at the beach in mid morning. We enjoyed a couple of hours at the beach, and a few beverages, and then returned by bus to the old port and enjoyed another couple of hours on the town beach with another couple of beverages. This is most certainly a quaint town, and one to be highly recommended. It is beautiful and has beautiful pictures at each turn, narrow alleys and whitewashed buildings and great people watching. We tendered in Mykonos meaning that we did not have to walk the mile to the Tourlos port, north of town. Tendering into the old port was a plus here. If we had not tendered we would have missed the Pelicans which just seemed to show up at about 5.30pm. These 2 pink Pelicans warranted many more pictures and capped off the perfect day. Day 4 was another noon arrival, this time in Katakolon. All tourists head to Olympia. We were no exception. We had a wonderful tour. The tour guide was passionate, well educated in Olympia and the sights, and we were glad that this was the only ship's tour we decided to book. The bus trip to Olympia is short, the time in the stadium and the museum is adequate, and I would recommend this tour to anyone. Day 5 was spent in Corfu, a place that has not changed since I was there as a newly graduated hotel school student in 1978. It was fun walking through Kerkyra town, and enjoying the sights. It rained in the morning and we almost did not hire a car for the afternoon. That would have been a mistake. I drove my wife to Paleokastritsa and up to Lakones afterwards(for the most spectacular views of the bays). On the way back to Kerkyra we stopped at Pontokenisi for the views of the little islands. This will be another island that will be on our long list of places to return to for more time to enjoy. Day 6 had us visiting Split. What a pleasant surprise. We loved it. We wandered through the town and the old palace. We spent some time at the beach, and we walked up to the Marjan park and the hill and walked part of the way around the hill. We finished the afternoon in a cafe in the marina, below the hill, with the most astounding panoramic view of the city, the bay, and the ship, sitting at anchor. As with Mykonos, the tender drops you right off in the middle of the old town. Split had all that is Mediterranean. Flower markets, beaches, narrow streets, great sidewalk cafes, treelined walks, parks and spectacular views of the sea. Day 7 all too soon had us back in Venice. As with all cruises it ended way too soon. I do not like shorter destination cruises, because of the time invested in travel to the locations, but this is a cruise that had some great ports. They are not the must see sights of Rome, Florence or Monte Carlo, but they are Mediterranean and more laid back and restful. This was not a cruise that taxed us physically. We decided to stop overnight in Madrid on the way back, a city that we had not spent time in before. We were very happy that we did so. We stayed in the city center at Hotel Principe Pio. The price was great and the location could not have been better. We had a nice evening walking through the city, enjoying the buildings, architecture, the people and most of all walking along with the thousands of other people on a Saturday night through their beautiful city. On Sunday morning we boarded our flight and returned to Miami. All in all this was a great trip. The ship was very nice, not spectacular, but one which we thoroughly enjoyed. The cabin service was as exemplary as ever, but the service in the rest of the ship seemed to lack a little something. It just did not seem to quite measure up to Royal Caribbean's standards. The food was good but not great. These types of cruises are not about the food or service however. They are about travel, enjoying sights that you can not at home, and broadening your horizons. After all there is no such thing as a bad day on a cruise. we would recommend Royal Caribbean and this cruise to anyone who wants to see Mediterranean ports that they have not visited before. They are not the go, go, go locations of the Western Med, but they are charming, beautiful and thoroughly enchanting. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
Was this your first cruise? No. We have traveled on RCL 4 times previously. After this cruise we are Diamond level in the C&A. How would you rate the cruise overall? Excellent. Even though there was an outbreak of the Norovirus on ... Read More
Was this your first cruise? No. We have traveled on RCL 4 times previously. After this cruise we are Diamond level in the C&A. How would you rate the cruise overall? Excellent. Even though there was an outbreak of the Norovirus on Day 3, the ships crew handled everything professionally and courteously. How was the ship? Splendour, one of 4 Vision-class ships, is considered small by today's standards. She doesn't have many common enhancements like alternative dining restaurants or ice skating rinks, which means the existing venues, while smaller, need to be that much better. They are. Splendour was refurbished several years ago, and while she is showing some age, she is still a beautiful ship. Speaking of restaurants, how was the food? RCL is working hard to raise the food quality standards and, if this cruise is any indication, their efforts are working. The food throughout the ship was excellent, always with a great variety to appeal to everyone. In almost all cases, food was fresh and hot and prepared to order. Even the coffee in the Windjammer was excellent. What? No complaints about the food? Well, to be honest, one. It seemed I could never get a plate of hot french fries, which saved me more calories for later. I've heard RCL changed the usual seating times for this cruise. Is that true? Yes. We actually booked the late seating, assuming it would be at 8:00. Instead the early seating was at 7:00 and the late seating was at 9:30, to accommodate the South American guests who are used to eating very late. We were able to switch to the early seating, otherwise we might have eaten in the Windjammer every night. Were there still Formal Nights during the cruise or has RCL done away with them? Fortunately there were formal nights, for those of us that like to get dressed up. What RCL did away with, for this cruise at least, was semi-formal (suit and tie) nights. Since we packed the stuff anyway we made our own semi-formal nights. Check with the cruise line before packing. Since this was a South American cruise, were there a lot of South American passengers? Yes. Interestingly enough, the cultural diversity of the passengers was the widest I've ever experienced. There were large groups from Asia and Europe as well. North Americans did not make up the majority. I've heard that area of the world can be quite cold and rainy. How was the weather? At the beginning of the trip mild (mid-60's) and got chillier with clouds and rain the farther south we went until we rounded Cape Horn. Definitely a light jacket is needed. Once we rounded the Cape (North of Ushuaia) things started to get warmer and by Buenos Aires it was very pleasant. Did you encounter any rough weather? Yes. A few days at the beginning there was an ocean swell that had the ship moving a bit. For me that is why I go on a ship and not stay in a hotel: I want to feel like I'm at sea. Some people were seasick, however, so if you are prone to motion sickness be smart and come prepared. Were there a lot of opportunities for shopping? That really depended on the port. Some ports there were many shops, others there were only a few. In Chile, lapis lazuli is the thing to buy as is wool. In Argentina leather is very affordable. Don's miss the craft market outside La Recoleta (where Eva Peron is buried). Brazil is not known for shopping, so look for tee shirts that catch your eye. Don't forget, in many places you can bargain for a better price. Did you do any of the shore excursions? Yes. I have written about them on this website in the Destination section. Please go there to read those reviews. In general, however, the shore excursions on this cruise were the most expensive I have ever paid. While generally worth it, be advised that we spent an average of $150 per person per excursion. Besides the shore excursions, did you see any wildlife? We did spot some dolphins one day near the Strait of Magellan, but we never saw any whales. Getting back to the ship, how was the entertainment? Very standard. 2 RCL Production Shows (it actually may have been 3) were interspersed with lounge singers who I never heard of, an impressionist who was terrible, a juggler, magician, and others that I didn't even bother going to. RCL isn't known for their entertainment, and that's a good thing. What about the Cruise Director and staff? Personally, I think the Cruise Director should walk around and talk to the passengers, find out how they are enjoying the cruise, what they thought about the previous nights' show, and just mingle. We never saw her, except on the TV during show repeats. The rest of the cruise staff were involved in the same Bingo/|"Love and Marriage"/Belly Flop/etc. events. Nothing new here. You are a Crown and Anchor Member. Did you use the Concierge Lounge? This was a shortcoming my group (6 of us) felt for the ship. We did use the Lounge on Deck 6, which ran out of seating 10 minutes after opening and filled to capacity 5 minutes after that. So we went to the Deck 3 "overflow" Lounge which had the striking resemblance to a cheerless Sheraton conference room. RCL has created a monster with the C&A benefits/Concierge Lounge, and the situation is only going to get worse. How about embarkation and debarkation? It was fine. That people even still discuss this makes me laugh. This issue was one of the first the cruise lines addressed. They now have it down to a science, and while there may be glitches every now and then, getting on and off rarely takes very long. Most people who complain seem to do so because they couldn't get to the buffet sooner. Would you recommend the ship and/or itinerary? Definitely, but for the right person. 15 days (8 at sea) is a long time for a lot of people. Toward the end the routine got a little monotonous; hey - you can only eat and drink so much. When it was time to disembark I was ready to go home. IF I HAVEN'T ANSWERED YOUR PARTICULAR QUESTION AND YOU HAVE OTHER QUESTIONS, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO EMAIL ME AT russg140@hotmail.com Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
We have travelled near and far on Royal Caribbean and this was a great new experience to see Brazil with Splendour as our home away from home. First of all the ship was beautiful, the staff was attentive, and this cruise lived up to all ... Read More
We have travelled near and far on Royal Caribbean and this was a great new experience to see Brazil with Splendour as our home away from home. First of all the ship was beautiful, the staff was attentive, and this cruise lived up to all our expectations. Travelling to Brazil is not the easiest task you will embark on. First of all you need a tourist visa to go to Brazil. That costs $125 for US citizens and it needs to be issued 90 days or less before your arrival in Brazil. Also, it's summer there and winter here so you can run into travel delays here. There are few "gateway" cities here to fly to Rio or Sao Paulo and from Miami it is a 8 hour flight and 10 hours from Dallas. When you come back the flights leave late at night. We chose to fly in the day before and spend the night at the Grand Hyatt in Sao Paulo. This made the trip to Santos the next day easier. It was not without challenges though. It is 50 miles to the port from Sao Paulo and the cab drivers don't know how to find the cruise port. Outside of the hotels don't count on anyone speaking English until you get to the ship. There isn't a single country in S.A. where people speak english. Portugese is the language and if people are bilingual the next language is Spanish. 75% of the passengers on our cruise were Brazilian and the remaining 25% were from Europe as well as north America. The port was pandemonium. You don't see the ship when you get there and the signage is impossible to follow. You finally are bussed through the port to where the ship is docked. The Brazilians have a different agenda for their idea of fun. This prompted lots of schedule and activity differences.Early seating dinner was 7:30 and late seating was at 10 PM. Even so the Brazilians showed up 30-45 minutes late for dinner. We were originally scheduled for second seating but switched to main seating after the first night. The staff onboard was hand picked and hired to accommodate the Brazilian customers. Menus were in English on one side and Portugese on the other. There was at least 1 Brazilian entree on the dinner menu and the dining room served brunch instead of breakfast 2 or 3 times. The Windjammer was open until 5:30 AM for the entire cruise. The casino and the Viking Crown were packed at 3 or 4 am for the entire cruise but the mornings were very quiet. For the 8 days they only had Bingo 3 times and it was very lightly attended. Even for the final jackpot game! No one showed up for the "Quest". The Love and Marriage game show was held in one spot in Portugese and a different lounge for English. On sea days there was no problem getting a chair early. The Brazilians were not stirring until noon. The party around the pool was a sight to behold. No steel drums and Caribbean music. The entertainment was decidedly Brazil and the cruisers were into singing and dancing along to all the music! Thong bikini suits were the norm for the women and the men's suits were much smaller as well. It was not unusual to see teens running around the ship at 2 am considering that they didn't finish dinner until midnight. Brazil is a beautiful country and is much larger and has more people than most realize. It is about as big as the US and has 180 million people. Sao Paulo is the third largest city in the world with 18-20 million people. It goes on forever. Rio is large as well and these cities are very European. As you travel to the north the culture and population become more African. The big cities were very modern and the countryside was a little 3rd worldish. We visited Salvador, Ilheus, and Buzios and each had it's own unique culture. Salvador was a new city/ old town combination and we spent our time there in the old town seeing the old cathedrals and getting a taste of the culture. Ilheus was a visit to a cocoa plantation, where we saw how chocolate was made. In Buzios we visited the beach and had a relaxing day in the sun. Lots of great shops to visit as well. The focal point of the trip was Rio for Carnaval and it was our first stop. The city is one of great contrasts. The sights from the top of Sugarloaf mountain and Corcovado are truly spectacular. Just seeing the "Christ the Redeemer" statue was awesome. Great restaurants and beaches too. We had rain so the beaches were deserted but the street celebrations for Carnaval were amazing to behold. The Carnaval parade competition is unlike anything you will see in this country. The Samba schools spend an entire year preparing for the parade. There are floats, dancers, and entire percussion bands for each school. The number of people that parade by the judges for each school number in the thousands!! It takes more than a hour for each school to parade through the Sambodrome.The costumes are elaborate beyond description and the floats are handcrafted. This is not an amateur competition. The clubs are sponsored by the biggest corporations and the prizes are in the millions for the winning clubs. The whole country shuts down for 4 days and people party and celebrate non stop. The Super Bowl was our first night in Rio and about 20 or 30 people watched the game. The rest of the ship was partying for Carnaval. The excursion price to go to the parade was almost $500 per person. We hired RioPlus Tours for the two days we were in Rio and it was the best thing we have ever done. For the 4 of us it was no more than 1 tour to see Rio and we had the luxury of individual attention and touring at our own pace. We saw a lot that the ships tours would never see and picked the best places to eat as well. We were careful to stay on the safe places and our guide Valeria made sure that we saw everything of interest without any risks. When the cruise ended we spent the last day touring Sao Paulo before heading for the airport. It is like visiting NYC but without the tall buildings. It is the commercial center of South America and with so many people it has huge ethnic communities. Large Japanese and middle eastern groups have settled in Brazil. If you have "been there and done that" a South American cruise as a winter get away can't be beaten.Just remember you need to check the "American Ego" at the door because Brazilians do it their way and love every minute of it! As for RCCL, they provided the ideal venue to travel and experience it all. Just spend time and do what you need to do. Get Brazilian currency a couple of weeks before you go cause you just don't walk into the bank or currency exchange and get Reals. Learn to Samba and love it. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
We cruised on Splendour of the Seas from November 17-24, 2007 and were very happy with all aspects of the cruise. This was the first time in quite a while for us on a "smaller" ship and any concerns we may have had regarding the ... Read More
We cruised on Splendour of the Seas from November 17-24, 2007 and were very happy with all aspects of the cruise. This was the first time in quite a while for us on a "smaller" ship and any concerns we may have had regarding the activities and amenities of this ship soon proved to be groundless. Splendour is an excellent ship and one that we would cruise again. We flew into Venice one day ahead of departure and spent one night at the Best Western Hotel Ala, just a short walk from San Marco. As we had to connect through Brussels, and the original morning Brussels Airline flight had been canceled, we were placed on a 2:30 pm flight to Venice, giving us a 7 hour layover in Brussels and a 4:30 arrival in Venice. We took advantage of the layover to go into Brussels and visit the Grand Place and walk about a bit before returning to the airport for the flight. Upon our arrival in Venice we made our way to the Aliguna Water Bus pier and took that service to San Marco. This took about one hour and 15 minutes total, meaning that we did not check into our hotel until about 6:30. Following check in we walked about a bit, had dinner, then off to bed. Hotel Ala is a very nice 3 star hotel and we got the one night for a very decent rate of 110 Euros, a bargain for Venice. The included breakfast was substantial and included hot scrambled eggs, a rarity in Italy. After spending some time in Venice, we boarded the Vaporetto Number One for the ride to Piazza Roma, arriving there about 2:30 pm. This was the only part of the whole cruise where we felt that RCCL really dropped the ball. Once at the bus stop area there was no one from RCCL to direct you to the proper bus and the bus itself had very poor marking as to being the shuttle to the ship. There was a large crowd of cruisers trying to find the right spot and the right bus and many were becoming testy. Once the bus arrived each of us had to load our own luggage into the hold and find a seat. This was a very unorganized way to do this and RCCL should address this. However, the transfer was free and one should appreciate that, as people that became impatient and used one of the taxis were being charged an outrageous 70 Euros for a 3-4 minute ride. Checking in at the dock and boarding was very quick and painless and we were on the ship within 10 minutes of reaching the dock. We found our stateroom and proceeded to explore a bit. We departed right on time at 4:30 and luggage was delivered to the stateroom shortly afterwards. We were in a window stateroom on deck three. The room was in very good condition and the new bedding was quite nice. The room had plenty of storage space and adequate room for the two of us. The bathroom was smallish but adequate. The shower had a curved curtain rather than a door which made it a bit easier to take a shower. The only thing the cabin did not have as standard equipment was a fridge, but there was really no room for one anyway. The weakest point of the cabin was the very old TV set (not a big deal as we seldom watched it anyway). It seems that they would have upgraded to small flat screens by now. We found the food to be quite good in the main dining room. We were in the late seating and had excellent waiters and very nice table mates. We became quite friendly with them and ended up spending time together on shore as well. We prefer to avoid the buffets when possible so only had breakfast once in the Windjammer and it was quite good. We had room service breakfast twice, and both times it was delivered on time and was exactly as ordered. We had breakfast in the main dining room the other times and it was always quite good. Lunch was taken in the main dining room or on shore during port stops. We had no problems with the food and service. The only thing that we felt could be improved is for the Latitudes Coffee Shop to have regular coffee available as it is on the larger ships. On Splendour one had to buy all coffee drinks in Latitudes and to get regular coffee a trip to the Windjammer or the pool deck was required. Not a big deal but one worth mentioning. We only made one show and it was good. The ship has a very nice single level theatre with extremely comfortable seats and good sight lines. We did contribute a small amount of money to the casino each evening - the payout did not seem to be set very high on the slot machines. We also played bingo one time (first time we had ever done this) and were not winners! Overall the ship was in excellent condition, extremely clean and well maintained. The crew and staff were to a person very cordial and polite. The gym was well equipped and offered a nice array of equipment. Early mornings were the best times to use the gym as it became busy later. We did not use the pools as the weather was cool and also did not use any of the hot tubs. We booked this ship mainly for the itinerary and we were very happy with it. We only booked one excursion, that being the tour of Ancient Olympus. All other ports we did on our own. We enjoyed each very much. We found Athens to much cleaner and nicer that we had expected. A big busy city yes, but overall very clean and everyone we interacted with was very nice. It was an awesome experience to visit the Acropolis. In Mykonos we just walked about a bit and enjoyed the scenic homes and windmills. The visit to Olympus was very interesting and we were lucky to have an excellent guide. This could have been done alone as well but we are glad we had a guide to explain many of the ruins. In Corfu we hired a taxi (along with another couple) and had a nice tour of the island for 3 ½ hours for 100 Euros. The driver was very nice and spoke excellent English. This turned out to be a great thing to do and one that we would highly recommend. Corfu turned out to be our favorite port. In Split we again just walked about on our own and explored the old city - very interesting and neat place. As we had a car reserved in Venice we had requested an early departure. We were off the ship and aboard the free shuttle back to Piazza Roma by 800 am and from there it was just around the corner to the Hertz office for the car pickup. Overall we give this cruise a big thumbs up. The ship, the cabin, the food, the crew and staff, and the itinerary were all top notch. We were quite happy with all aspects and have nothing to complain about (except the minor glitch mentioned above with the shuttle service). We are frequent RCCL cruisers and while on board booked our next cruise. We are ready! Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
* Background Information This is our 3rd cruise on RCI, and our first cruise in the Mediterranean. We booked it online about 6 months in advance and booked our own air. We live in Western Germany and flew out of Dusseldorf on Swiss Air to ... Read More
* Background Information This is our 3rd cruise on RCI, and our first cruise in the Mediterranean. We booked it online about 6 months in advance and booked our own air. We live in Western Germany and flew out of Dusseldorf on Swiss Air to Venice. * Hotel Info We also booked our hotel online, directly with the hotel Locanda Novo in Venice. It was 115E for 2 adults and 1 child. A light breakfast of breads and jams was delivered to our room. Bed was decent and room was quiet even with the air conditioning running. Hotel did not have an elevator, but this was publicized on their website. Staff did offer to help with our luggage. Also, we were allowed to leave our luggage in corner of lobby while we explored more of Venice before showing for embarkation. We would recommend this hotel to anyone looking for a low priced hotel in Venice. * Ship Info The Splendor is a great ship and is a decent size. Everything seemed to be in good order. The only part that could have used some maintenance would have been the mini-golf course, but even it wasn't horrible. * Activities There were many activities to participate in, but one of the days at sea there was a large block of time where there was nothing that interested us. Overall, the activities were good and of the same standard we have come to expect from RCI. One petty complaint, the pool was very cold. The TV in the room would say the pool temperature was 76F, but there was no way it was even close. * Shore Excursions Dubrovnik - We did a DIY walking tour. We were unexpectedly tendered in, but we believe this worked out better, since the tenders delivered us directly into the old city with no need to shuttle bus. Kusadisi - We took the ships Ephesus and Virgin Mary's House tour. Ancient Ephesus was worth the trip. It was very hot, but our guide was very knowledgeable. Only drawback was the stop at carpet store where they try to sell you Turkish carpets Santorini - Had to get up at 0610 to get tender tickets, since we didn't purchase a ship's tour. We arrived at the top of the cable car at 0930 and ended up renting a car for 40E. Saw most of the island in about 5 hours, from Oia on northside, to lighthouse in the south. Highly recommend skipping ship tours and seeing island on your own. Corfu - Took the ship's tour of Achilleon Palace and a Monastery on western coast. Could have probably done this on own renting car, although tour guide was highly knowledgeable. We felt a lot of our day was wasted, because ship docked at 1230, but our tour didn't begin until 1400. There wasn't enough time to leave ship and get back and then in the end, there wasn't any time after the tour to walk any of Corfu town on own. * Stateroom Attendant Rosa was great. Towel animals were always there and room was always clean. * Dining Alejandro and Victor were great team. First two nights were a little rough, but they got it together. Of course there were small mistakes, but they worked hard and always had a smile. The food was a let down, compared to the other RCI cruises we have taken. Another disappointment was that lobster has been taken off the menu on RCI ships. * Children's Clubs This is has sold us on Royal Caribbean. OUTSTANDING, we cannot say enough good things about the Aquanauts program. Our son, after discovering the program, did not leave the ship until we were back in Venice. He loved the program. We would give him a choice and each time he did not choose to go wondering around with Mommy and Daddy. If you have a child, RCI is the way to go, we were able to explore each port without worrying about our son. * Entertainment Not the best we have ever seen on a RCI ship, but is was OK. We made it to 3 of the shows. None were remarkable, but all were somewhat entertaining. * Disembarkation Went very smoothly, except when we arrived in the parking lot, waiting for the shuttle to take us to Piazza Roma. The line for the shuttle quickly devolved into a free for all. It would have been nice for RCI to setup some sort of structured line. Overall this was a great cruise and would recommend it to anyone! Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
Background Information We are a couple in our mid 20's who boarded the Splendor of the Seas for our honeymoon. My husband had cruised 3 times before, but this was my first cruise. Hotel Info (if any) We spent 3 days in Venice before ... Read More
Background Information We are a couple in our mid 20's who boarded the Splendor of the Seas for our honeymoon. My husband had cruised 3 times before, but this was my first cruise. Hotel Info (if any) We spent 3 days in Venice before going on the cruise, which was the best decision we could have ever made. Venice is a city that needs to be explored and three days was just enough time to take a tour by foot and boat, tour Dojas Palace, ride a gondola and eat some amazing Italian food! We stayed at Hotel Antiche Figure, which was on the opposite side of Venice all the sites, but an excellent choice because it was a very short walk to the bus station where we picked up our free Royal Caribbean shuttle to the dock. Venice is very walkable too, so even though we were on the other side of the city, we could easily take a scenic walk to get to St. Mark's Square (about 20 minutes) or hop on the water bus, which stopped walking distance from the hotel. After touring Venice for 3 days, we were ready to embark on our Mediterranean adventure! Some people on our cruise stayed in Venice after the cruise, but we both were glad we went before, as the cruise is a very active one and we were tired out! Ship Info The ship was in excellent condition. Clean, welcoming and friendly staff, a lot to do. The staff looked like they were having the time of their lives and were extremely hospitable. They always had smiles on their faces and seemed to be having as good of a time as the guests! Shore Excursions Piraeus (Athens), Greece - Definitely go on the longer tour to the Acropolis. Our tour guide honestly wasn't good (she barely talked), but the Acropolis was amazing - something everyone should see in their lifetime - so that made up for it. The longer excursion added two hours of on our own time, which was definitely needed. Even though it was more expensive, we would have felt rushed if we had gone on the shorter tour. Plus we got to see more ancient temples and ruins that we didn't see on our tour. Mykonos, Greece - We booked the excursion to Delos and missed it because we missed the part of the cruise compass that said the time had changed to an hour ahead. We were really upset that there was no sort of reminder about it, and read our cruise compass carefully from then on. While we were sad we missed seeing more ancient ruins, Mykonos provided more than enough scenery to see during our stop there. We walk around town, saw the windmills, and hiked up the mountain to get a spectacular view of the port (a MUST). Mykonos is the what you think of when you picture Greek islands - the bluest sky you've ever seen contrasting against the white buildings. So beautiful. Split, Croatia - We weren't sure what to expect in Split, but we were pleasantly surprised at how nice it was. It's a city built inside an ancient palace's walls. The tour was excellent - our tour guide was a local and was packed of interesting information. After the tour we had fun just walking through the tiny street, stepping in and out of shops, taking in the old buildings. Travel To Port of Embarkation We picked up the bus shuttle in Venice. Very easy! Stateroom Stateroom was a good size for the two of us. The bathroom was tiny, but as to be expected. The shower was a little hard to bath in though, as it barely fits one person standing and the shower curtain is constantly clinging to you. Women will have a hard time shaving their legs! We realized once we got on the ship that we were low on shampoo and soap and would probably run out before the end of the cruise (we weren't sure if there'd be opportunities on shore to get any either), so we called housekeeping and they directed us to guest services. We called the guest services desk to ask if there was somewhere to buy shampoo on the ship and the lady on the phone said no, but I wasn't too sure, so we went to guest services and the only answer we got was, "Check the stores." We spent a long time going in an out of the stores to find a place that sold shampoo and all we found was a fancy body store with perfumes and hair products that were extremely expensive. We asked all the store owners of stores that looked like they could sell shampoo. Finally, on the last day of the trip we found a shelf of shampoo and other toiletry items in the liquor store (a store we had not checked). I couldn't believe no one at guest services would no where to get toiletry items on the ship! There was a girl at guest services behind us whose luggage got lost at the airport, so all she had was the outfit on her and her purse. She asked them if there was somewhere to buy soap and such and they told her the same thing! I felt so bad for her! Besides that, our stateroom attendant was great. Very friendly and helpful. And his towel animals were excellent! Dining Food was excellent! The buffet at the Windjammer Cafe always had a lot of choices. It was perfect waking up in the morning and grabbing breakfast there before leaving for an excursion because it was quick and easy. We had breakfast one morning in the King and I, which was nice; however, it certainly wasn't as filling as the Windjammer. We never did breakfast at the King and I again. The King and I was great for dinner. We booked the cruise long in advance and requested our own table since we were on our honeymoon. However, when we sat down for our first meal, we were seated with another couple. We brought up the problem to one of the hosts, but he informed us that unfortunately, there was nothing they could do. However, the next morning, we went back and talked to the manager there, who immediately found a table for the two of us - at the earlier dining time. It was good that the mistake was made too because we ended up loving the earlier dining time because after walking around all day, we were starving by 6:30! Waiting until 9:00 would've been awful! We couldn't have asked for a better waitstaff. By the end of the cruise, we felt like they knew us (our drink waiter knew our usuals and by the end of the week we didn't even have to ask for what we wanted to drink). Our waiter seemed like he really cared and felt honored to serve us. During the first formal night the waitstaff performed a song, which was awesome. They did a great job! Entertainment/Activities Entertainment far exceeded what I thought cruise shows would be. The Royal Caribbean singers and dancers were on par with broadway. Great shows! The magician was neat too. There was always fun to be had in the theatre. Also, take part in the fun game shows the ship offers. We had fun playing the battle of the sexes and watching a form of the newlyweds gameshow (one newlywed couple, one married couple of 25 years, one elderly married couple all from the audience). Both were hilarious and so much fun! Dances at the clubs were a bit lame - no one really went. However, the ship offered a newlywed/anniversary party where they provided champagne and cake. Very sweet of them, but no one stayed too long. The pool games were also fun to watch. And at many of the stops there would be a party that night relating to the port (for example Greek Night complete with a pig roast and the works and Greek dancing!). The band on board the ship was excellent too and provided great music for salsa dancing! And if you're bored for some insane reason there's always rock climbing and mini golf! Disembarkation Everything went smoothly during every disembarkation. No waits really. They were very organized! Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
Flew in a day early to meet up with my travel companions. I live in atlanta so i was lucky enough to get a direct flight via Delta to Venice. 22 June, Fri, Venice Spotty sleep and arise to a warmed croissant in my face but it was ... Read More
Flew in a day early to meet up with my travel companions. I live in atlanta so i was lucky enough to get a direct flight via Delta to Venice. 22 June, Fri, Venice Spotty sleep and arise to a warmed croissant in my face but it was better than those lil crackers. Opened the window and looked down to an amazing site - the Alps going by. That was truly amazing to see the peaks rising so close to us, especially when contrasted with the little villages nestled in the valleys. On approach to Marco Polo saw what looked like an old-towne square and remnants of a walled city - of course down the street was an Ikea. Le sigh. We land, disembark and head to immigration which was a joke, just a lady stamping passports as fast as she could, no computer swipe or anything - and no customs stop at all. Got out and searched for an ATM as i don't like to travel with cash and find it easier to just pick up local currency in this manor. They did a great job of hiding it but finally found one tucked into a corner (to the far right of where you exit) with no signage at all. Once i was cashed up i got in line for the Alilaguna water bus behind this old couple. She obviously wore the pants in this family cause the poor old man couldn't find his head if the old woman didn't tell him where to find it. First it was what to do, then how to do it cause his was was wrong. "And why doesn't AVTV take credit cards cause in the book they took credit cards and why does it cost 12E when the book said 11 and do they just change it everyday?" Oh my, she was something. Anyway, i got my ticket and walked out to the boat dock to find another line waiting for the boat. Here i saw another ticket stand with absolutely no wait so if you are looking for tickets skip the booth in the airport and just go out to the docks and buy passage from the stand there. The second line found me once again behind the loving couple. She kept up her antagonizing pressure on her husband. "Harold which boat goes to Lido, where does this go? Ask this guy, ask him again!" Eventually the boat shows up and we load and slowly and bumpily make our way toward Venice stopping at Murano and Lido. After over an hour we finally arrive at Zatterre, the final stop which was perfect for trekking to my hotel in Dorsoduro. I was a little unsure where i had landed but was able to wander until i find a familiar street and then make a line for the hotel. Thankfully the map i had was both detailed and accurate and delivered me perfectly to the Hotel Messiner. Here i met up with my travel companions who had arrived a day earlier. After a quick shower for me to wash off the airline crud we set out together for the Campo de Marhahrita. Picked up my first shot of gelato in Italy - a scoop of pistachio and melon for 1.8E. It was great, especially the melon, but not very filling. Once we got to Campo we found a little pizzeria that was too much to resist. A huge slice for 1E80 was just what the doctor ordered. In the Carpo were a few cafes where the locals were sitting enjoying drinks. They have these orange and red drinks in tumblers with a slice of lemon looks very interesting - of course i am dehydrated too so who knows? We walked around and at the Grand Canal crossing i got a green slushie that i was expecting to be sweet lime but imagine my surprise when i got mint! It was still really yummy though and cooled me off a good deal which is what i needed. At the same stand they had fresh coconut which we got a piece of to gnaw on. While on our way to San Marco we passed a patisserie and i found a pistachio cake that i couldn't passup. And eating it did not disappoint as it was delish. White cake with a pistachio creme filling and pistacio frosting...YUM! San Marco was up next and it did not disappoint. The space reminded me a lot of the square in Brussels..a really big open space with 2 story buildings surrounding but at the far end is an old church and beside that the doges Palace. Also here is the famous campanile which, with its fresh brick, seems strangely out of place with the surrounding marble facade. Also there were no street vendors and few artists inside the square itself which surprised me. possibly it was just too late in the day? What they did have was plenty of pigeons though, but i found out that was no accident. There are lil vendors selling what i thought was ice cream but turns out to be bread crumbs. So the thing is to hold these crumbs in your hand and have the birds essentially attack you. Forgive me if this does not sound like a good time. We walked to our restaurant in the same area next and had a so-so meal. I got a pris fixe of old lasagna, dry pork and peas. The peas were really good, the pork could have been OK with a mild amount of sauce. Add in the fact i was already dehydrated and you see this meal was not high on my list. After dinner we headed for the canal to take our obligatory gondola ride. We found a guy who gave us 30mins for 80E which i think was a ripoff but that is hard to authenticate from here. It did traverse a bit of the Grand Canal, which was rough and choppy due to all of the water taxi and vaporetto traffic. Once we got off that and into the smaller waterways it was calm and quiet and peaceful. Really it was almost creepy as we navigated these back channels with out any sound and just a little light reflecting off the water. They guy did not sing so we didn't have that romantic vibe but that was for the best since i was travelling with friends. Walking back to the hotel we got a bottle of wine and drank it on a bridge that crosses the Grand Canal. Then it was back to the hotel for lights out and i didn't move an inch. 23 June, Sat, Venice Woke up stupid early, like 620a and didn't go back to sleep. The breakfast at the hotel was quite diverse and good. The coffee was great and this bread with some chocolate chunks in it was amazing. And i met Romeo, the hotel cat who was friendly but not overly affectionate. After checking out and storing our bags with the front desk we headed down to a nearby Traghedero to cross the canal but the guy wasn't working yet so we had to truck back and find another less convenient one. Our plan was to go inside San Marco but after seeing the line we opted for a trip up the campanile. After a swift elevator ride we were at the top with an impressive view of the island. A stiff breeze make it all the more pleasant so i stayed up there awhile. Coming down we did some window shopping around the Piazza. Found a really cute lace store tucked away that will probably receive a return trip. We came back and had lunch at a lil cafe a block down from the hotel. I tried out one of those colorful drinks, called a spritz, which was not sweet and refreshing at all, in fact it was quite bitter. It wasn't bad though, just not what i was expecting. Picked up the bags and got on a vaporetto to the P.Roma where we had read a shuttle bus was to take us to the cruise dock. Of course P.Roma is a large bus station and there are at least 40 of them sitting around. We follow some other similarly lost and confused people and eventually find our transport sitting in the back left corner, unmarked. A short ride to the marina where we dropped off our bags (we had not gotten bag tags from our TA but they seemed quite prepared for this and quickly looked up our cabin and took care of things swiftly) and then walked to the checkin. The process was great, I had already filled out the info online before leaving home so a quick wave of the passport got my cuisecard. It looked like our dining options had not been set correctly so we talked to an attendant who was stationed right past the checking booth and got assigned to what was defined as the "greatest" table in the room...we shall see. Upon boarding we dropped off our carryon bags in the room, grabbed the daily ship report and went up to the buffet restaurant to grab a snack and read about what was going on. I was utterly amazed at how much stuff there was to do!! Being my first cruise i really had no idea what to expect, thinking maybe i would be bored a lot - that was definitely not to be true. We took a lil walking tour of the ship to check things out and orient ourselves a little with the ship. We dropped by the room, found our bags to have already arrived (how awesome was that?) switched to swimmies and headed for the Solarium to chill in the pool area. Got a surprise at the pool as it was filled with salt water which i was not expecting. The pool was a little small but it was neat cause each side had a 4" shallow area where you could lay in the water and look up to the sky through the clear glass roof. We stayed in the Solarium as the ship sailed off and got great views of Venice as we moved out of town. From the ship we looked to be at least as high as the top of the campanile. It was neat watching the island roll by and the people on the shore stopping and waving as you went by. Looking down i could see manta rays that were swimming near the top of the water - neato. Eventually i went back down to the room to shower before dinner. Entering the dining room the first time was something - it was exquisite and fabulous. A 2 story room well acquainted with a marvelous stairwell and flowers everywhere. We ended up with the largest table, a massive circular 12 seater in the middle of the lower dining room which lived up to the billing. Our tablemates were an awesome British couple and an american couple with their 3 college-age daughters. The dad was one of those boisterous people used to getting everything his way but maybe it was just the initial travel grumpies? I was seated closest to the British couple and we had pleasant conversation about travel and work and home and such. I had a tomato soup to start which was good. Cod as my entree which was OK and savani(?) for dessert which was like a sponge cake soaked in rum with some creme filling. After dinner we strolled around the ship a little, tried out the casino but eventually tired and had to call it a night. Heading back to the room i found an amusing surprise, a towel had been left in my bed in the shape of an elephant! This amused me to no end, it was SO CUTE. Being my first cruise i had no idea about these things and it was really a nice touch. My room mate, who had stayed at the casino, came in around 1245a and said she won 350...not bad for a nights work. 24 June, Sun, Dubrovnik Awoke this morning to the toilet flushing...ahh the pleasures of travelling in a closet. That was a little after 8am so i went back to sleep and later awoke to a rapping on my chamber door by our friends. I found the bed to actually be quite comfy and having a cabin on a low deck and in the rear by the engines is not a problem at all. Actually it is almost relaxing to have a soft vibration and light humming in the background. I went and grabbed a quick breakfast in Windjammer and disembarked for our day at Dubrovnik. We grabbed a taxi with an awesome driver and left the cruise provided cattle bus in the dust. The driver had grown up in America but moved back to Croatia when he was 15. He told us the schools taught classes in English and Croatian as well as a 3rd language in the middle grades. Dropped us right outside the old city walls and we went up the walls first. Amazing view but hot hot hot and quite tiring in a few places that had a lot of stairs. About 3/4 of the way around we found a little cafe that might have saved me. I downed a bottle of water while enjoying a nice breeze though the window. We climbed up to the highest point and met a nice couple from Wyoming. They had done a sailing cruise out of Split and came down to Dubrovnik for the day. As we were walking back down the stairs the father and son started playing jazz flute and harmonica in one of the lookout stations. After finishing the wall my companions had enough so they took off back to the ship. I stayed, checking out the church and the monastery which had a cute cloister but was kinda small and a little disappointing. I walked around the old city a good bit, finally finding a bathroom - which was really nasty - before i burst. Found some kitties lying in the rain gutter being lazy - like they do - and another stretched out on a wall. I pet the one on the wall and it barely moved - I guess it was even too hot for cats. I walked around for awhile looking for the perfect souvenir or gift but couldn't find it. There were some nice drawings near the system done in blue ink but i didn't feel they were worth 30E. I ended up just getting a fridge magnet for my collection. I headed out of the city and was dreading paying for a taxi by myself but i found a lady with a RC sign pointing to a bus. I went ahead and hopped on board since it didn't seem like anyone was checking for tickets - WOOT - free ride!! Got back to the ship, ate lunch and met up with the kids around 5pm. We chilled out in the solarium to watch us pull away from the dock. We really couldn't see the old city very well as it was miles away and a little hazy. It was at this time that i discovered they make crepes at the pizza station though - my little slice of heaven onboard. This was one of the highlights of the trip!! Crepe suzette was the crepe 'o the day - baby oranges with an orange sauce - TANGY! The crepe station would become one of my favorite hangouts. We hit the casino for awhile where my roommate racked up another load and chilled out for awhile before dinner. This was formal night so we all had to get gussied up. We had filet though so i guess it was worth it. For dessert i had Grand Mariner souffle with ice cream which was only OK - still has nothing on Roys chocolate souffle. After dinner i shuttled off to the show in the 42nd St theatre. A motown show playing things from the 4 Tops, Nat King Cole, Sam Cook, Otis Redding, Temptations, etc. They were really good and 2 of them were from Atlanta. After the show we changed and got in some quality hot tubbing and i tried my hand at some shuffleboard. Must have been beginners luck as i won 28-21 WOOT!! By this point it was 3am with a time change so definitely time for bed... 25 June, Mon, Sea Day Had hoped to get up and go for a jog this morning but the late night and the realization that i was on vacation made that a nogo. About 930a headed up to the main restaurant for a breakfast. Had an awesome time, they have a menu based service and they seat you as you come in with other random diners. I like this a lot actually, we had great tablemates from both the US and UK and we all had a great time getting to know one another. This was our sea day so after breakfast we just chilled on the deck, i read the little pseudo news papers they have in the library and did the daily suduko. We attended the shopping discussion for our next port of call, Turkey, which was essentially a talk about rugs. and then went to the art auction. The auction was kinda neat, never been to one before and i found the proctor to be both funny and informative. We opted to partake in a wine tasting that afternoon which was ok but not overly informative. The main show that night was a swimming and dancing troupe which was entertaining. had some grilled lamb for dinner which was quite good. THe dessert menu had baked alaska which i had heard of but never seen offered before so i had to try it. It is chocolate ice cream and strawberry ice cream surrounded by yellow cake surrounded by a white creme that had been baked slightly to give the outer layer some firmness and texture and then the whole thing covered with a strawberry sauce...WOW...it was awesome. 26 June, Tue, Kusadasi Today we were sailing into Kusadasi. We had booked a private tour through Meander Travel to tour Ephesus. Upon landing we disembarked and found our tour guide waiting for us. He quickly showed us to a van and we were on our way. Upon arriving we were surrounded by the locals yelling at us and trying to sell us guide books, lemonade, souvenirs, etc. Really terribly annoying. In any event we were led into the site and whisked from tree to tree as it was a hot day and apparently our guide was more interested in keeping to the shade the properly showing us the site. After blowing through the site we were taken to the obligatory rug factory. They were pretty nice there, gave a quick talk about how the rugs were made, gave us some tea and showed us some of their wares. We were not that interested and we headed off with no problems. We got dropped off in the town center were we found a place for lunch and i had a yummy doner platter and some AWESOME baklava. Our tummies satisfied we headed out for some shopping. First stop was Bellas as it was a "recommended" store which probably means jacked up pricing to pay for the RC commission. I didn't find much of interest but bought a couple bars of foofoo soap as gifts. In the traditional carpet stores we found the salesman were generally nice and they gave us apple tea which was refreshing on the hot day. They seemed to derive great pleasure of throwing a rug on the ground, then picking it up rotating and throwing it back down so it catches the light in a different way. Quite simply though the rugs are just too expensive. The silk ones are just ridiculous, several thousand for a 4x6 rug is just too much for me. I was hoping to pick up one for 150 or so but i had no chance. The closest i could get was a 3x5 for 400 which i was not willing to spend. I wandered around the back streets for awhile and dove into a small shop a few blocks off the main drag. I ended up with a nice 2x4 for 100 and a 1x1 for 25. Probably not the best quality but i can live with it. We headed back to the ship and rested for awhile before dinner. We realized the menu offerings were the same in Windjammer as the dining room tonight so we opted for something less formal. The coq au vin was good as was the steak and the bow tie pasta. The hazelnut torte was a bit too rich but the custard i had was good. They also had Greek havalarti which reminded me of those lil brown and white stripped candies i used to have as a kid. YAY! 27 June, Wed, Santorini My companions were up early today for the Volcano and Hot Springs tour. I slept in a little longer but only til 830a. went and got some bfast at Windjammer and then took the tender ship over to Fira. The island is essentially the crater rim of a volcano explosion and the city is built on top of the rim, or caldera. So there are 3 ways up the slope, cable car, ride a donkey or hike. I chose the later - and paid for it. It was very hot and humid that day and i was soaked when i got to the top and probably smelled as bad as the donkeys did. The donkeys were funny though, they would just stop for no reason leaving the rider helpless until the handler came to help them out. Lots of droppings to watch out for all along the route but also the donkey being led back down as they would aim right for you sometimes. Upon reaching the top you are rewarded with a spectacular view of the volcano and the harbor. I had originally planned to take a hike along the foot path around the rim to the next city over but after my hike up i was already hot and sweaty so decided to skip the trek. The city itself basically consists of shops catering to the tourists which was typical and a little disappointing. For some reason none of the famous domes were painted blue as you typically see in the pictures..GRRR. I walked around a good bit looking into the shops but essentially just became frustrated due to the lack of diversity and heat. Funny though as i was walking down the main shopping street I ran into my friends walking the other way. They were headed to lunch at a spot their tour guide recommended. The restaurant was amazing, a rooftop canopy with an amazing view out into the harbor and a great breeze which was much appreciated. Food was good, we started with saganaki - fried cheese- which was great great great. My entree, houndaas(?), was like a mince meat pie. It was ok but i grew tired of eating it. After eating we split apart, i continued my search for something to buy. I got a small painting and headed back down the donkey path to the ship and took a nap. Upon waking i went to the Windjammer and got some more of the hazelnut torte that was yummie and then wandered back to the solarium for the crepe o the day - citris cooler - essentially a orange flavored ice cream melted - YUM. I watched us pull away from the island as we picked up speed on our way to Corfu. The nightly show was a musician that played multiple instruments: harmonica, piano, electric guitar, violin and mandolin. He was really good and got a good laugh out of having an Englishman perform 'The Devil goes down to Georgia.' It was again formal night so it was back into the spiffy clothes for me. Lobster was on the menu but i started with a duck consomme, then the prime rib, which was great. Had the sampler for dessert - a piece of chocolate tart, cheese cake and a creme puff. Got back to the bunk about 1am and am shaking as i write. This is the first time i have actually felt the ship. I guess it is the speed as the captain said we would be going 22 knots to make it to Corfu by noon. 28 June, Thur, Corfu Up at a reasonable hour to grab some bfast at the Jammer - just some granola and yogurt. Went to the "Corfu destination seminar" which was basically the annoying shipping lady telling us (again) to only shop at the "approved" stores. She really gets annoying. We left but were walking by the main bar where a little art seminar was starting up. I stopped and listened to a discussion about different styles of art which was a good intro into the difference between editions and original pieces of art saying liths and pressings were a good way for artists to get their work out and gain exposure. Plus i got a free print and an invite to a special VIP session later, ohh lalalalala. We headed out to Corfu town after i got a quick burger from the Solarium. disembarking was no problem and there was no immigration at the port. A quick 10E taxi ride took us into the old town were we walked around and grabbed a pastry from a vendor. Walked by the Royal palace, down by the water were we stopped and dipped our feet in the Ionian sea. Back into town for lunch at Rex where i had a veal steak with a mushroom gravy which was awesome. really the food was just as good as Santorini but my entree was WAY better. I bought my requisite magnet and we made our way back to the ship. We went to the solarium for our daily hot tubbing and i got my ante of crepe. Took a short nap on the chairs but got up in time to shower and make it down to my art showing. They served us champagne and talked about works by Marko, Piccaso, Rembrandt, Dali and Max. A short film was shown which was done as a collaboration btw Dali and Disney back in the 50s which was really out of this world. They had some liths from the film for sale which were pretty cool but not really in my price range. At dinner the family decided to skip out on us so we had a pleasant dinner with the British couple. I started with a caprese and a strawberry soup (which was amazing!!), followed by tiger shrimp and penne something (a white sauce with corn, peppers and sausage). Dessert was a tiramisu - and holy @)#($, this was some of the best stuff i have ever put in my mouth - it was amazingly light and soft and perfect. I went off to the casino with the friends and watched how easy it was to lose $100. 29 June, Fri SEA DAY Went down to the main dining room for breakfast again, and gobbled up some blueberry pancakes and eggs benedict. After some bfast we went up to the sun deck and took in some rays. There was a gale force wind blowing through that kept things cool but yet was quite annoying while trying to read. The ship had a bbq on the pool deck for lunch so we grabbed some ribs, chicken a paella and headed to the solarium. we had some cocktails and played a round of scrabble which i won (helped by my disputed 7-letter word - 'floatie') Headed for our last chance at Bingo - which no one in our party won...HUMPH. Back to the solarium where we met up with Joao one final time for my crepe o the day - banana creme and strawberry + chocolate syrup. Into the hot tub and a dip in the pool to cool off but it was a little too chilly today, i guess we were back into the cooler northern med waters? Dinnertime rolled around but i had been snacking most of the day to i asked our server James (who was great great great, btw) for something light and he got me a grilled chicken salad which was delish. I had been feeling a bit under the weather so i had a few cups of tea this evening. Up for dessert was a pineapple/coconut cake which was quite yummy. We went for a walk after dinner and found a nice full moon and a great end to our wonderful adventure. Back in our rooms we finished packing, laid out our luggage and passed out. 30 June, Sat Was greeted at 6am by the captain announcing we had pulled into Venice. We had much later disembark times so we headed up to the pool deck to wait it out. Once we left at about 9a the crowds had cleared at the warehouse and our bags were pretty easy to find. The transportation back to the bus station was another story. There were lines of people everywhere and no one had any clue what bus went where - it was quite a mess - as had been trying to get here in the first place. Eventually we found the right line to stand in and then once a bus showed up there was a mobbing of it to try and get luggage on and a seat. Anyway we made it back to the bus terminal, stored our bags and headed back to Venice for one last day. I was feeling pretty sick at this point, i had a kinda high fever i think so i just followed as the kids wandered around. I know we went to the Rialto bridge and did some more general shopping and went in search for a Venetian mask. Early afternoon we were all kinda pooped and collected our bags and headed out on a local bus into the mainland and closer to the airport to find our hotel. It was ok, just a typical bed and a box. We walked down the street a little bit to a pizzeria and had dinner then back to the hotel to pass out. Took the local bus to the airport the next day and flew home. In all, this was right up there with one of the best vacations i have ever had. The lil surprises like the daily crepes and the towel animals were the small touches that made my first cruise a very special experience. About the only negative i can even think of about this cruise was the room size. we had an inside cabin, 3583, which was pretty cramped, especially the bathroom. but i thought being on the 3rd floor in the back was great cause it was just 1 quick flight of stairs up to the dining room and the theatre. Can't wait til my next vacation!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
Splendour of the Seas June 9 - June 23 2007 Travelled with my husband Day 1 Left home for an early morning shuttle from Glasgow to London, Gatwick. We booked our cases to go straight through to Venice. Arrived in London in good time and ... Read More
Splendour of the Seas June 9 - June 23 2007 Travelled with my husband Day 1 Left home for an early morning shuttle from Glasgow to London, Gatwick. We booked our cases to go straight through to Venice. Arrived in London in good time and flight to Venice left only a little late. Arrived in Venice to find that our luggage hadn't! Something to do with a broken conveyor in Gatwick. Joined a long queue to report our lost bags. Stood in queue for 2 and a half hours before reaching the desk. Filled out a form and were given a few toiletries and T-shirt pyjamas. Rush to bus and sped to pier arriving just in time for the muster drill and only 30 mins before sailing. After drill went to Pursers desk to report missing luggage. We were given some more toiletries and a T-shirt along with some vouchers for laundry.. I had packed a spare t-shirt each and a spare pair of underpants each so we did not have much to wear. We went to dinner in the King and I restaurant in our travelling clothes. Our table companions were an American family with 17 and 14 year old children and we got on very well with them. Our waiter and assistant were both from the Philippines and were very attentive. After dinner we went to the welcome show then had a couple of drinks before bed. Day 2 Our first port was Dubrovnik. As we had visited here before we took the local bus into the city. It was nice to wander the cobbled streets although as it was Sunday some shops were closed - mainly the ones where we might have been able to buy some clothes!! I did buy a hat but we couldn't find a single shop that sold sunscreen - very strange. It was nice to sit in the square and have a drink and watch the world go by. We didn't walk the walls as we had done them before but they are a must if it is your first visit although go early before it gets too hot and too busy. We returned to the ship for a late lunch in the Windjammer. Checked with the desk but no news on even where our luggage was. Later sat and read near the pool but in the shade. Evening as before but we also went to a Trivia Quiz which we won and got as a prize - wait for it ......... luggage tags! Day 3 A sea day. We sat in the sun for a while but had to retire to the shade. It was very hot especially as I had only trousers to wear. I had washed our T-shirts and DH managed to buy a pair of shorts in the gift shop and I got another t-shirt. The shop had very little to help out folks with no luggage. There was no underwear or ladies shorts/skirts and no shoes. All I had were Crocs and DH had leather shoes. We had breakfast and lunch in the dining room but as it was a formal night we went to the buffet instead. At the show we felt very underdressed with everyone in their finery. There were 46 groups of people with no luggage and it was like a club as everyone had a "Shipshape" t-shirt. Day 4 Kusadasi - great for us as we could go on a spending spree! We had visited Ephesus before so just went into town and shopped. After our shopping spree we sat and had a drink at the harbour. Prices for clothes in Turkey are very reasonable and many things are sold as "genuine" fakes! Leather goods though are great value. I would recommend a trip to Ephesus though if you haven't visited before. It's a long , hot day but well worth it. Checked about luggage and they have now found it in Venice and our best hope is getting it in Corfu on day 6. At least we have a proper change of clothes now. Day 5 Santorini where we had booked a ship's tour. We had to tender to shore and were taken by coach to do an island tour. It's a very pretty island and lots of photos were taken. We also visited a winery before being taken back to Fira. A ticket for the cable car was provided to use at your leisure. We sat and had a drink in a cliff top cafe which gave a great view of the 5 ships in port. We also saw where the cruise ship had sank a few months ago - it was very near the shore and there was a boom round the area as it was still leaking oil. There was an hour's wait for the cable car. I don't know how long it would be later on or the next day as there were 11 ships in port then. We returned to the ship to a lovely surprise - our cases were in our cabin. They had security seals on them and had been from Glasgow to London to Venice to Rome to Athens to Santorini. Well travelled indeed. Until we did our tour I didn't even know Santorini had an airport. This was the second formal night so we were able to dress up with DH in his kilt. We had a laugh with one of the waitresses about what was under it! Day 6 Corfu. As we had spent a holiday here a few years ago we just took the shuttle to town. It's a nice town to wander round with lots of narrow streets full of shops and bars/restaurants. We did some shopping - olive wood articles are good - and had a couple of drinks. There are some interesting places to visit in the town itself with a couple of fortresses and churches. The cricket pitch is a grassy area near where the buses leave and has lots of bars and restaurants to sit in. The ship's beach trip was actually to the hotel we had stayed in. Took the shuttle bus back. You could walk but it is quite a hike in the heat. Day 7 Sea day. Relaxed at the pool. Had a swim or two and caught up with some reading. I had intended to go to the towel animals demo but missed it as I didn't realize the time. Our last meal with our table companions was fun and I was given a red rose by the mum. Many folks turned in early as they were leaving the next day but we stayed up and listened to the group playing. Day 8 Venice again and many folks left the ship. In fact there were only 26 people doing a B2B. We took the waterbus into St Mark's Square and wandered around the sights St Mark's church, tower, Rialto Bridge, Doges Palace, Bridge of Sighs and lots of little squares and narrow streets crossing the narrower canals. At first we were pleased to see the place so quiet as we had arrived early but as the morning wore on it got busier and hotter so we returned to the ship late morning. They had provided a lunch in the dining room for the B2B folk which was nice as it was really busy at the buffet with the new arrivals. After the muster drill we got changed and then met with the folks from our roll call. We didn't have enough for a M and M so arranged our own. About 18 folk turned up and it was nice to put faces to the names. It was spectacular to watch the ship leaving Venice in a convoy with 2 other cruise ships. The view of Venice is wonderful. Then it was time for dinner and to meet our new dining companions. This time we had an elderly English lady and her Sicilian husband who didn't speak good English so didn't say much. While we were dining the Maitre D' appeared and crouched down between DH and myself. He asked if we would join the Captain the next evening for dinner at the Captain's Table. Naturally we said yes! Day 9 Sea day so relaxed, swam and read. Sent some clothes to the laundry. During the afternoon the Captain came on and said we were having to sail near to a fishing village in Corfu so a boat could come and take a young passenger ashore with his family. This happened though we didn't watch. Clothes back in double quick time and done for free with voucher. It was formal night and also Captain's reception. He told us there were 138 different nationalities amongst the passengers. Some countries has only 1 or 2 people while Britain was the second highest with about 300 and America was most with 1300 people. We met the Maitre D' outside the dining room and along with 3 other couples were taken to the Captain's table. There we had a photo taken and a special menu with wine. It was wonderful, especially the special dessert. The Captain told us that the emergency was that a lady had given birth to a premature baby. She was only 25 weeks pregnant so they needed an incubator for the baby. He was born on a Bermuda registered ship, in Greek waters to American parents so might have triple nationality! The meal lasted for ages and before we left the Captain invited us all to visit the Bridge the next morning. Day 10 Mykonos which was an afternoon arrival. We met 1 of the other couples for our tour of the bridge. One of the other couples had said they weren't coming but we were surprised to find the other Scottish couple were missing. After waiting for a few minutes we were security screened then taken onto the Bridge. It was much bigger than I expected and we were shown around by the first officer and even taken onto the outside section where there is a Perspex part to the floor where you can see the waves many decks beneath! The Captain arrived to meet us again and chatted for a while. They have 1 female officer from Canada who works on the Bridge. As we came off the Bridge we met the missing couple who were astonished that we had been as it was still not 11.00. Oh but it was! They had forgotten to put their watches on so sadly they missed out. When we arrived in Mykonos we took the free shuttle bus into the town. It's very pretty with narrow street and white buildings. There is an area called Little Venice with lots of places to eat and drink. We walked up to the windmills and had a great view from there. Then we wandered around the narrow streets and had a drink or two before returning to the ship. As the ship was in port until 23.00 dinner was open sitting as many folks decided to eat in town. The dining room was still busy though. Day 11 Athens. We had a ship's tour of the sights of the town and Plaka - shopping - district. As my broken ankle is still weak we opted not to climb the Acropolis and this tour just took us to the bottom so we got some good pictures. There are many spectacular sights in the town. We stopped at the Olympic Stadium as well as the Parliament and saw the soldiers with their funny skirts and shoes. After seeing the Cathedral we had shopping time in the Plaka. There are a great variety of shops and places for a cool drink. It was so hot - 100 degrees - we were glad of a seat and to find the fans sprayed a mist over you. It was very tiring as it was so hot. It was nice to be in the cool coach again and we waited 15 mins for 2 people who never turned up even though they had left their guide books on the seat. The coach took us back to Piraeus and the ship. Had got more laundry done and again returned in record time. We also received our photos from the Captain's Table along with signed menus. A nice touch. Day 12 Katakolon Again we had a ship's tour to Olympia. We were on the first coach and the guide told us all the history of Olympia as we drove there. When we got into the site she took us round but she went into so much detail that people just switched off. Luckily there were trees we could stand under or we would have been passing out with the heat. It was taking about 15 mins for each stop and the last straw was when she asked was there any questions and someone asked how many athletes ran in the Stadium at one time. Instead of saying she didn't know she took 15 mins to get round to saying that. We gave up and wandered off on our own as we knew to meet at the gate. It was the same in the archaeological museum. Great long explanations about everything. Then we stopped in the village for 30 mins before heading back to the ship. We were the second last bus of over 20 to get back and were so late we had to board the ship instead of walking round Katakolon village and having a drink on the seafront. We had a few laughs with some others in our group about how we could get her to stop talking including removing her chewing gum as she said she couldn't talk without it! When we went back to our cabin last thing we were surprised to find the "do not disturb sign" in our door. On opening the door the lights were off and the TV pulled out facing the bed and switched on. Very strange. However when we put the light on we saw our steward had made a figure in the bed with the towels and pillows complete with chocolate eyes and wearing my glasses. What a laugh. Day 13 Corfu again so we took the shuttle to town and had a wander and did some shopping. There were a lot of walking tours of the town which is good if it is your first visit. We returned o the ship for a late lunch and relaxed by the pool and had a swim later. It was quiet as many people were still ashore. Day 14 Split. This was our second tender port. It is a beautiful city with a lot of history. Again we had been before so explored on our own. Lots of walking tours here too. Diocletian's Palace is worth a visit and there is a good market with lots of stalls just nearby. The ice cream is wonderful and very cheap. Spent the last of our Croatian money - apart from Dubrovnik all the other ports take Euros - and returned to the ship. It was not a ship's tender but a bigger boat that took us back and it was a bit scary getting off onto the ship as it was rocking a bit. As tomorrow was our last day we packed after dinner. Day 15 Venice again. We were up at 6.00 and went for an early breakfast. Our group left the ship at 9.00 and were taken to the airport. It was mobbed and there were no seats so we had to stand around until just after 11.00 when we could checkin. Then we went through and the plane left about 20 mins late. On arrival at Gatwick we found all internal flights were delayed due to the horrendous thunderstorms that had been over England. Eventually arrived in Glasgow 90 mins late to be met by a friend and driven home complete with luggage!! Good points : Staff, all were so friendly and seemed to know your name after one meeting. Ship itself was lovely and there were always plenty of places to sit either in the sun or out of it. It never felt too crowded. Also plenty of space in the bars and lounges. I loved the towel animals too. The food was good with plenty of choice. Not so good points : The shows were the same each week. The brochure did say some might be the same but not all. I feel there could have been some that were changed. Lack of choice of goods in the shops especially for those with no clothes! There were too many jewelry shops. Would like : It would be nice to have a fridge in the cabin. Overall we had a good cruise in spite of our luggage problems. This was our first cruise with RCCI but I am sure it won't be our last! Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
This was my 1st time on this ship, my 6th RCCL cruise and my 9th cruise overall. I traveled with my sister who has cruised twice before on other lines. Overall our experience was delightful. This cruise began and ended in Venice Italy ... Read More
This was my 1st time on this ship, my 6th RCCL cruise and my 9th cruise overall. I traveled with my sister who has cruised twice before on other lines. Overall our experience was delightful. This cruise began and ended in Venice Italy and cruised to Dubrovnik Croatia, Kusadasi Turkey, Santorini and Corfu Greece. We flew in the day before our sail date and stayed on the island of Venice. This was a mistake, as we did not pack lightly. Venice is an amazingly beautiful city, but the transportation can be a real challenge. We took the direct bus to Venice from the airport for 5 euros each, then decided to walk to our hotel from the bus station. Once you arrive on Venice from the bus, taxi or train that is the end of the line for wheels. You have a couple of choices, gondolas which are outrageously expensive, water taxis, which seemed to charge 100 euros no matter where they were taking you, water buses for 6 euros for 1 hour or 12 euros for 12 hours or as we did walk. Our hotel which we booked on our own was not as close to the bus terminal as it looked, plus we had to scale 5 bridges which all have stairs, so the rolling luggage was little help. I would strongly recommend staying near the airport as we did when we returned or staying near the bus terminal. If you have your heart set on staying anywhere else, pack light and make sure your hotel is near the canal. After we checked into our hotel we strolled around the area and had a very nice dinner. The next morning we got up early and did some sight seeing, we had plenty of time to see San Marcos Square before we had to return to the hotel to get our luggage and make our way to the bus terminal for out shuttle to the ship. This was the only time I will complain about RCCL. When we arrived at the bus terminal there were no signs to tell us where to find the shuttle, no staff from RCCL. We finally asked enough bus drivers and we found our shuttle. There was a fully loaded bus ready to pull away and about another 50-75 passengers waiting for the next bus. By the time the same bus returned there were at least 200 passengers waiting to get on the bus. They swarmed the bus and the driver threw up his hands and began yelling, he made a phone call and the only word I understood was "unprofessional". The passengers began throwing their luggage into the bus and forcing their way on. It was pretty obvious we weren't getting on the bus anytime soon, so we located a taxi. Some taxi's were charging 40 euros per passengers, we found one that used the meter and took 4 of us for 15 euros. Once we arrived all was well again. I believe this was the 1st sailing for this port for the season, so I'm hoping they just needed to work out the kinks. This ship was nice, I think Americans were in the minority so we had a nice mix of Europeans as well as many Asian groups. The passengers were mostly mature, but nor elderly couples. There were a few young people and some children, but not many. We had a Jr. Suite with a balcony, it was really nice having a bathtub. The Service was excellent as usual, the food was top notch, great selection. I think they may have changed the buffet a bit to cater to the many Europeans, but there were all the American staples. I became a Platinum member on this cruise and enjoyed the reception they had. I didn't book any excursions from the ship, or go to any of the port lectures. I only went to 1 show and enjoyed it, it was a tribute to Motown. I didn't find the ship had the best exchange rate for euros and made sure I stocked up before I left. I booked a facial/back massage for the 1st sea day as soon as I got onboard. I was pleasantly surprised that I was also able to get a massage on the second sea day with only 1 day notice. I don't usually take the classes at the gym, but after Santorini I took a stretch class which was very enjoyable. The first port was Dubrovink Croatia, we didn't know much about the port and wasn't sure what to expect. I met a couple who visited the city last year by car and they suggested to walk the wall. The old city is surrounded by a fortress wall. When we got off the ship we walked to the end of the pier where there was a place to exchange money for Kuna and by bus tickets. It only cost a couple dollars to ride a bus for about 15-20 minutes to the old city. We looked around a little bit then went to the wall. It cost less than $10 and took about 90 min. to walk the entire wall. It gave us beautiful views of the city and the water, well worth it. We stopped by a little restaurant and had an amazing lunch. The Sea Bass was a big hit. The city has an amazing history which we learned about by using the audio guide while we walked the wall. The people were very friendly and the city was unique. The next day we arrived in Turkey. We had arranged a private tour and our driver met us at the terminal. He took us to the ruins at Ephesus which were amazing. This is the main attraction at this port. Turkey was nothing like I imagined, it was more modern and green. After the ruins we had our guide take us to a grocery store where we picked up some local canned foods, like grape leaves and spices. If you have any friends or family who like to cook make sure to pick up some Saffron, I couldn't belive how cheap it was here. Our driver also took us to a fantastic buffet lunch and we had the place to ourselves, the food was amazing, the produce especially. This would be a vegetarians paradise. We also went to a rug co-op. They demonstrated how they make the rugs and explained the differences in style and materials, they showed us how they get the threads to make silk, super interesting. If you purchase a rug at the co-op the Turkish government will pay shipping anywhere in the world. I should be getting mine in a few weeks. We returned to the ship and went back out to the port shops for a few more things. I found the shop owners to be very pushy, it was difficult to just window shop, they were practically dragging you into their stores. We tried some of the "ship recommended shops" and found them to be uncomfortably pushy. I purchased a leather purse in one of the recommended shops and had negotiated in dollars and he tried to ring me up in Euros which would have added 40% to my cost, so be aware. We did find a few shop owners they would just let you look without trying to force you to buy stuff, so we got what we wanted and got out quick. We also had to get a shish ka bob, so we asked our favorite shop owner where a good place was and his daughter walked us right to it. On our way we walked right past a Mosque where they were holding a funeral. The most memorable port of all was Santorini, I would highly recommend a ships tour for this island, make sure it is one that lets you off at the 1st port. If you have a tour that lets you off at the 1st port you get off the ship at noon and you get to take a bus to the top of the island. If you get a tour that lets you off the ship at the 2nd port you get off the ship at 1 and you have to wait in a long (1-2hour) line to take a tram to the top of the island. If you go on your own, you get off the ship at 1:30 and have a choice wait 2 hours for the tram, walk up the 1000' cliff, it is a gruelling 30-45 min. for someone in shape or you can do as we did and for 5 euros take a donkey. This may sound like fun, but I wasn't enjoying it at all. My donkey kept scrapping me against the wall and they all kept slipping on the cobblestone walkway, and running over the people walking. It was about a 20 death defying ride on a sweaty, stinky beast of burden. Once up to the top the city is beautiful. The white buildings with the domed topes were a dream to look at. We took a bus for 1.2 euros to the end of the island and walked around a bit then back to Fira for some shopping. Since I didn't want to deal with the donkeys or the hill on the way back we decided to go back at 3pm (all aboard was 4:30) I tried to find the end of the line for the tram, but it was at least an 1.5 hour wait, I never found the end, so I decided to walk down, which was exhausting, and my calves were cramped up for 3 days even after a massage. If I have Santorini as a port of call I will probably stay onboard and admire from a far. Our last port was Corfu, we took the ships shuttle to the town center and explored from there. We went to an archeological museum which had a lot of great artifacts and the Asian art Museum housed in the palace of Saints Michael and George. These were both within easy walking distance of the shuttle bus stop. We missed the Achilleion Palace, the streets and buses were more than I wanted to deal with and it is about 15km out of the city. The people who went to see it said it was so worth it. Corfu was much larger and had a more European feel. The island is covered with olive trees so this is a great place to pick up anything olive related. They make beautiful bowls and things from the wood. It was nice having a day out to sea to pack before we headed back to Venice. disembarkation was a breeze. With it being a smaller ship there didn't seem to be a heard of people leaving at one time. When we got off the pier there were buses to take you to the airport (prepaid on ship) or the bus station and taxis were plentiful. We took a large taxi mini bus taxi that dropped us off at the hotel on the way to the airport. It was 40 euro for the whole bus so it was about 5 euro per person. We had an early flight the next morning and the shuttle the hotel had got us there about an hour before out flight and the line was huge. fortunately Marco Polo is a small airport, so they just waited until everyone was checked in and onboard before they left. We were behind schedule about 20 min. Overall I really enjoyed it all. The ports were different and interesting the people were terrific. The ship was clean with excellent service. I was able to get everything I wanted, when I wanted it. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
This was our 25th Anniversary so we wanted to do everything right. We booked the air and cruise in Sept 06. We live in Cincinnati, so our air travel was from Cincy-JFK-VCE. We flew First class and let me tell you. It was worth the extra ... Read More
This was our 25th Anniversary so we wanted to do everything right. We booked the air and cruise in Sept 06. We live in Cincinnati, so our air travel was from Cincy-JFK-VCE. We flew First class and let me tell you. It was worth the extra money. We arrived in Venice on 10 may, our cruise started on 12 May. We booked the Rialto Hotel on the island. We booked the hotel thru AAA online travel. We also booked our transfers thru AAA, who used Travelbound INC. The flight went without a hitch, and Travel Bound had a rep meet us at the airport. His name was Luigi, and he went with us in the boat to the hotel. The water taxi pulled up at the Rialto pier and we got out and walked right in the lobby of the hotel. This was very convenient. I did not want to stay at a hotel where I had to drag my bags thru the alleys. The hotel was nice, staff was friendly, and they recommended places to eat, shop, and see. There is plenty of shopping within steps of the hotel. All shops will usually barter with you for a price. The hotel also included breakfast with price of the room. We had set up a noon transfer on the 12th. Travel Bound arrived at 11:30 just to make sure everything went smooth. The agent from Travelbound rode in the water taxi with my wife and I. We arrived at the port around 12:20. WE took a shuttle bus from water taxi to the cruise terminal. It took us a total of ten minutes to check in, get our sea passes, and pass thru security. We were on the ship at 12:30,and were told we could not get into the junior suite until 1300. So I went to the dining room to check on table assignments, then up to the Windjammer for lunch. The Windjammer was completely refurbished last Fall. Our waiter told us about how extensive the renovation was. There was always a good selection of food and the choices were plenty. Outside the Windjammer, the kitchen would set up a buffet by the pool. They would set up a lunch buffet everyday, in case people wanted to eat at the pool. They also had coffee, tea, ice tea, and soft serve ice cream by the pool. The solarium started their buffet around noon. The food in the solarium was the same everyday, and it ran from noon to 2am. Pizza, burgers, hotdogs, salads, and sandwiches. That's a pretty good choice and the hours were great. On deck six they have added a Ben and Jerry's and Seattle's Best coffee. You can also get Seattle's best coffee at the pool bar, and Top Hat lounge. The condition of the ship was great. Everything looked clean, and the maintenance crew was always working on things. The captain and his staff were wonderful. Everytime I ran into a crew member they would ask me if they could help and asked me if I was enjoying my cruise. Our cabin steward (Rogie), was very nice. He would do anything he could to make our trip enjoyable. Our wait staff in the King and I dining room were wonderful. On the first night our waiter and ass't waiter didn't seem to click. On day two the ass't waiter was moved and we received a new ass't waiter, who was excellent. The head waiter was at our table every night, he cut your food up, even though he didn't have to, and would normally chat at least five to ten minutes every night. On board entertainment was great. We saw magicians, motown review, oldies show, blues brothers, argentina gauchos, and a wonderful female singer from Scotland. The shows were professional, well done, and the cast enjoyed themselves. Our cruise director Leo Pappa, was great. Every day his number one concern was to make sure we felt at home. The difference with some cruise directors is: some do what they have to do to make your vacation fun. Leo actually enjoyed being a part of all the activities, and tried his best to include everyone. Our cruise was seven days long. When we arrived back in Venice on the 19th it took my wife and I five minutes to disembark. We stayed in our cabin until we heard our number called, then we took elevator down to deck two and walked right off. Again, Travel Bound rep met us as soon as we got off, and took us to our hotel. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott at the airport. I knew the airport would be a total mess, so that is why we left the following day. On Sunday we breezed thru the airport with no problems. Shore Excursions: 1. Dubrovnik, Croatia. Ship docks about two miles from town.A must see. This is truly a hidden gem. The wall that surround the city has some of the most breath taking scenery. Its a great picture taking opportunity. The people of Croatia love seeing all the tourists. 2. Ephasus, Turkey. You dock right on the edge of town. Touring the ancient ruins of Ephasus is well worth your time. If you have ever read the Bible, you will enjoy this tour. There are so many things in Ephasus, that comes right from stories in the Bible. Some of the best shopping on the trip was in town. All shops will bargain with you. 3. Santorini, Greece. Ship tenders in lagoon. There is no dock in Santorini. This stop had the most breath taking views. The best photo ops were here. Transportation can be tricky. The entire island sits very high, with the towns sitting up very high. The only way to get up to the top where shopping is, you have to take cable car, or walk, (which can take a long time), or you can ride a donkey up. You can actually ride the donkey up and down. The wait for the cable car can run up to an hour depending on how many cruise ships are in port. Shopping here is good. 4. Corfu, Greece. Ship docks about a mile from downtown,. The Greek Orthodox monastery, and Achillion Palace are must sees. They are on opposite sides of the island so it will take about an hour to get from one to the other. All and All I would rate our vacation and cruise a Ten. The ship was great, the crew was great, the airlines were great, hotels and transfers were great, and most of all the weather was great. We had wonderful weather for ten straight days. I will definitely be back on Royal Caribbean. Next time we will be taking our kids and grandkids. Cheers Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
This was a really pleasant cruise, even though I think it was a training exercise for new employees! Check in was a breeze, as we were lucky enough to be directed to the diamond desk instead of standing in line, no photographers to hold us ... Read More
This was a really pleasant cruise, even though I think it was a training exercise for new employees! Check in was a breeze, as we were lucky enough to be directed to the diamond desk instead of standing in line, no photographers to hold us up, so in 20 mins we were aboard. The cabin was nice and spacious,but do not waste money on getting a cabin on deck 6 or 7, we heard there was much more movement and that the cabins squeaked all night! One passenger was told to turn his TV up loud so he wouldn't hear it. The ship itself is beautiful and well kept, except for the railings which desperately needed a coat of varnish. The cabin stewards were amazing. we never came back to an uncleaned cabin. Also the new bedding was the best we have ever slept on, very comfortable. Dining was OK, not the best we have had on RCCL, sometimes the food was cold, but perfectly acceptable, the buffet was spacious and never a line. Eat breakfast there, much more choice and eggs cooked to order. The only real complaint was the entertainment, every night was one entertainer, it would help if it was mixed up a bit. Since they were on board all the time, it would have been easy to do. The ships tours were a little hit or miss, the tour to Seville got there too late to visit the cathedral, and ran over by 2 hours. In the Azores if it is cloudy, the trip to the lakes was a waste of time. Taxis are abundant, but the day we got there they all jacked up the prices of their tours, I had been on the website the week before and knew what it should have cost. Duty free on the ship was the cheapest, except now you have to pack it in your luggage. There was no problem on carrying on soda and water, and even getting alcohol aboard didn't seem to be a problem, the inspections were very casual. Tipping was a breeze charging it to your seapass card, so much easier than worrying about having enough cash on hand. I have a feeling some people are still not tipping as they should, as everyone we handed the envelopes to were very grateful, in our cabin the last night, the towel sculpture was a big heart! Hope this helps. Read Less
Sail Date April 2007
This was our first 5-day family cruise out of Galveston to Cozumel and Costa Maya. It was Spring Break for many families like ours, but the overall crowd on our ship was balanced with college students, 20-40 somethings,and seniors. The ... Read More
This was our first 5-day family cruise out of Galveston to Cozumel and Costa Maya. It was Spring Break for many families like ours, but the overall crowd on our ship was balanced with college students, 20-40 somethings,and seniors. The organization and service on RCL was outstanding. The staff was helpful and friendly. This included check-in, services, daily itineraries etc. Activities started precisely as scheduled. The nightly entertainment on the ship was outstanding, including a comedian, magician, jugglers, dancers and singers. We ate breakfast and lunch at the Windjammer Cafe, and ate at the King and I every night. Formal dining was great at the King and I, the meals were five star quality as was the service.Tatjana and Wilder, our waiter and assistant waiters were great. Tatjana certainly catered to the whims of our 12 year old daughter and 9 year old son. She took care of us as well! There were plenty of activities on our ship. The cruise director, Abe on our ship was full of energy and quite a comical guy. His staff were all very much the same, which kept us busy and entertained. A key decision in choosing RCL was the Adventure Ocean program for our pre-teen and 9 year old son. They were kept busy with a full day of activities, hats off to the staff who did a great job keeping the kids occupied and entertained. For our 9 year old, we availed of the after hours (10pm) child care service so we could take in late shows and some dancing. Ports...Cozumel, we took a taxi to Paradise Beach and had a beach break all day. Had a great time, taking in some sun and beach. Kids entertained themselves with plenty of water activities. Paradise beach is free for the lounge chairs and umbrella. They make up free entrance charging for water sports, food and bar. All in all, pretty comparable to other beach breaks. Beach was pretty good, sandy bottom but as you got out to 5 feet plus, we could feel some rocks and seaweed. Water was very calm, perfect for swimming. Snorkeling was ok, saw some colorful fish. Costa Maya..we did the Chaccoben Mayan Ruins with Native Choice, David and Ivan run the tour, both of Mayan descent. Ivan was our tour guide. We booked with them based on many comments on the internet. Tour was well organized, took a taxi to Mahajual to catch the tour, met there by Ivan who loaded us in an air conditioned van. For 45 minutes, he told us about the area, stopped to show us species of birds etc. At the ruins, his deep knowledge of Mayan civilization and history was more than evident. He knows his stuff and kept everyone intrigued including our kids. He spent about 4.5 hrs with us, including a little shopping at the ruins. Afterwhich he returned us to the port. Costa Maya is beautiful, still relatively untouched by tourism. We boarded the ship and then set sail for Galveston. All in all, we were all very satisfied and pleased with our first family cruise on RCL. Absolutely fantastic! Read Less
Sail Date March 2007
This was my 9th cruise, but 1st time with Royal Caribbean. I traveled w/ my teenage son, and four other female family members arranging from ages: 40-60. We drove to Galveston, and arrived at Port of Galveston around 11:30. We drove ... Read More
This was my 9th cruise, but 1st time with Royal Caribbean. I traveled w/ my teenage son, and four other female family members arranging from ages: 40-60. We drove to Galveston, and arrived at Port of Galveston around 11:30. We drove right up, and was greeted by porters, and we took the car to Park in Lot B. We rode the shuttle back, and went right up to the attendant and was on the ship within 15 minutes of arriving. Our last cruise was just about as smooth.. so ,,, Galveston has it down pat! The porters are very, very nice, and really take care of us! So...tip them well - They make it possible for me to wear a different pair of shoes every night to dinner along w/ a different clutch. ( why not pack what I want? ( I don't have to unload it or carry it! ) ( I will be comparing Carnival to Royal Caribbean most of the time) Upon arriving,, I noticed that I didn't see many staff members, and had to go to the bar to get something to drink. I hated that I had to get up and get something to drink,, instead of having someone come to me. This is fine,, but not the norm. Cabin: The cabin was smaller, and didn't have the huge shelves for all of my purses,, cover-ups, etc. The cabinet for toiletries was in room, instead of bathroom, which was also smaller,, but very clean and updated. I loved the fact that you could draw the curtain to change, or sit on the couch to watch the swivel television. This allows someone to sleep later without the light bothering them! Our stateroom attendant was very sweet and kept our room spotless. They want you to put a card on your door when you need your cabin cleaned.. but I didn't have one,, until the last day, but she always kept it clean, w/ fresh towels. Royal Caribbean does not provide a travel size dish of: toothpaste, razors, lotions, mints etc...like Carnival. So, don't forget your toiletries. Be sure and bring your own soap...the kind that was provided isn't that pleasant smelling. Dining: We had a table on the upper level: 5. It was next to the window,, so I really loved that. We enjoyed our table guest. Our waiter was LaVinia,, and was the most beautiful, soft spoken (too much so: couldn't hear her most times) most helpful person. She had great recommendations, and didn't hesitate to tell us to get two entrees if we were sure. I loved our Head Waiter!! Mr. Hans from Germany! He was most entertaining, and provided many magic tricks, and his jokes and short stories were really fun!. ( Carnival provided waiters, and busboys,, that sometimes, if u r lucky provides tidbits of fun, with a Maitre D' that "might" walk around for his .75 tip a day) I was disappointed that they did not have entertainment after dinner every night,, but that's o.k. we were able to eat within a two hour time range. I loved the food. The pasta are dry, which I notice is always the norm. The beef isn't up to par - a little dry! The prime rib was good,, although was a little to fatty for me. The desserts are good, and most of the time had something chocolate for us lovers! tip: order icecream w/ your desserts, and skip the apple pie. Entertainment: We always were able to get a front row seat.. because the ship does not play bingo before every show! ( Thank goodness!) The stage was small, the band was under the floor, in which I hated not being able to see the trumpet players, and listening to music before the show; although they did have these huge screens with great information) They had great dancers, but not many props at all. The shows were just o.k. and had only one comedian, which he was wonderful. I missed this most of all. ( Carnival provides a comedy show almost every night! ) RC did have another smaller lounge that had Karaoke where you were able to sing w/ the great live band. Carnival had the Entertainment beat ; hands down! I did not like Costa Maya! It was beautiful,, but the beaches were rocky.. the pool was dirty, and the prices were outrageous! The first shop was selling Maracha's for 10.00 a set. Around the corner to the back/ they were $2.00 a set! Don't buy from the shops in the front! She jewelry in the back, also were fair prices. If you don't take an excursion,, which most were cancelled! You only have to get off of the boat for about an hour... They did provide a shuttle, but the walk is really short to the Island from the ship. RC doesn't provide many props for outdoor pictures either. We had a great time. It is a very relaxing ship. They did not provide many little extras, for example: They do not provide hand held maps of the ship. They do not have chairs to sit in outdoor to dine in. The buffet had tons of stuff... but skip it! The pizza was horrible ( I was wondering why there was never ever a line! ) also, the little girl form China/// was soooo rude! The sandwiches were made in advance,, I really , really missed my hot, made to order sandwiches, my pizza, and most of all... the hot cocoa . The icecream wasn't open 24 hr. either! and was out,, with no help in sight to refill it! The gratuities are not automatically figured in: which was o.k. you can put it on your Sail and Sign and hand it to them personally. Everyone of them deserved it and more! Activities: Just o.k. not a lot to do. It was Spring Break, and we didn't even realize there were teenagers on the boat: they were so wellbehaved. You have to be out of your stateroom by 7:00 on the last day before you leave, which is mean! We were all so tired!@!!! They called our color on time, (9:45) and was on the ferry in Galveston by 10:15. It was super quick!!!!! We had a great time, and will I sail w/ RC again? I think so. I like change I guess: If only they promise to get hot chocolate< maps, and better pizza!!!!!!!!!!!! O yea, and a bigger stage, and a better entertainment schedule! Read Less
Sail Date March 2007
Embarkation from Galveston: Getting on the ship was so easy. We were through the lines and on board within about 15 minutes. What I found amazing is that we had two ladies in the line next to us that didn't bring a passport or birth ... Read More
Embarkation from Galveston: Getting on the ship was so easy. We were through the lines and on board within about 15 minutes. What I found amazing is that we had two ladies in the line next to us that didn't bring a passport or birth certificate. The cruise line would not let them board. The other surprising thing was that our luggage got in our staterooms within an hour of leaving it on the port. The worst part about getting on the ship was Houston traffic. Make sure you leave at least an extra hour. I heard people say that it took two hours just from the airport to get to the pier in Galveston. Rooms My husband and I traveled with our two teens and had inside cabins on the 8th deck. We had cabins right next door to one another. We learned not to share as they stay out later and get up earlier than we care too. The cabins were large interior and were nicely laid out. Tons of cubbies for our stuff. They also had the new bedding which was a pleasant change from Princess and Disney. Our steward John was fantastic. I think it makes a big difference when you tip yourselves versus having the cruise line assess you. I think you get better service. Our room was always clean and he was super fast. Ship The Splendour looked really great. It is a mid size ship so everything was easy to get to. The public areas were pretty and I thought the windjammer buffet was extremely attractive with all its windows. The dining room was a little cheesy in my mind, velour on the seats was not all that comfortable with a skirt on. The atrium bar was nice and they also had the top hat lounge which was split between smoking and non smoking and seemed well ventilated. They had a nice ship bar, the Schooner but it always reeked of smoke to me. The pools was very nice, but they only had one pool bar. They also had a indoor pool but it was always full of small children as it was really windy at the outdoor pool. The pool games were fun as was the line dancing. Entertainment I have cruised with Princess and Disney. This ship's entertainment was much better than Princess, not as good as Disney. The theatre was very nice and they dancers were good. They also had some gauchos the last night that were very good. We did the Quest and that was really fun. Overall, I thought the entertainment was above average. Food Buffet food was good, a little bland. The dining room was very good with plenty of selections. They had beef tenderloin that was very good as well as lobster. Stay away from the steaks. The hamburgers in the solarium were also pretty bad. Ports of Call In cozumel it was very windy and all the dives were cancelled. We had chosen to take the tour to Excaret and really enjoyed that. Well worth the money in our minds. In costa Maya we did the massages, beer and beach. Can't beat that. Disembarkation: Once again it was super easy, we were off boat and through customs by 8:30. We would do Royal Caribbean again we were sad to hear that this boat after going to Europe will be stationed in Brazil. They are bringing a Voyager size boat to Galveston and it will go out for a week. We got some pricing, and it was 3X as much. Probably won't do that. You have to remember when there are four people that your tipping even on a 5 day cruise runs about 270, plus excursions, drinks etc. We always end up spending about an extra $1,500. We had a great time though. Read Less
Sail Date March 2007
We just got back from a five night cruise on RCCL Splendour of the Seas. This was our fourth cruise but our first with Royal Caribbean. We drove to the Galveston area the day before and arrived at the pier at 11:30 am the day of the ... Read More
We just got back from a five night cruise on RCCL Splendour of the Seas. This was our fourth cruise but our first with Royal Caribbean. We drove to the Galveston area the day before and arrived at the pier at 11:30 am the day of the cruise. We used EZ Cruise Parking and I highly recommend their service. Upon arriving at EZ Cruise we discovered the Splendour had arrived late and that boarding had been delayed. We then proceeded to the staging area and immediately were processed through with our SetSail Pass and were on board within 30 minutes of arriving at the pier. We went straight to the Lido Deck and had lunch at the Windjammer, which is well planned out and had an excellent selection. The staff was constantly clearing tables and keeping everything clean. Plus, there was a hand sanitizer available upon entranced to the Windjammer. We had a category F Cabin and were just a couple feet from Cafe Latte-tudes, where I enjoyed a latte quite often, Ben and Jerry's ice cream was also available here. Our luggage arrived after the muster drill and everything was in order. The dinning room is call The King and I Dinning Room and is very well laid out. You do not feel crowded and the staff is very friendly. We attended the Main seating and found our dinner mates to be a lot of fun. We even had another CC member at the table. The food was excellent and always served hot. The only complaint I had was that there was no Key Lime pie on the menu. The menu had been changed for this cruise and we had a new menu. I do recommend the BBB, banana Bailey's Crème brulee, for desert on the last night. On our first sea day, we had an M&M schedule for 1:30 in the Champagne Bar. After discovering that the Art Auction was also meeting there, we moved to the fifth floor above the auction. We had ten people attend the M&M and everyone enjoyed the gift exchange we had arranged. We also had the Captain's Reception and the Formal Dinner on the first day. I was very disappointed that many did not follow the dress code for the evening and I even saw a few enter the dinning room in t-shirts and shorts. The Splendour has two pool areas. The main pool is for all and the Solarium pool is for adults only, except on inclement days. We utilized both areas. The Splendour also has a Rock Climbing Wall and a Miniature Golf course. Every time we went by these areas they were occupied. There is a nice internet area but we were on vacation and did not use this. The theater is call 42nd Street Theater and is well laid out and quite comfortable with leather seats. All the shows we saw was great and well presented, even with the small stage. On day three, we docked in Cozumel at the International Pier. We did not have a planned excursion and took a taxi into San Miguel for a little shopping. We had a beautiful day with a high of 75. We had lunch at Los Palmeros and then returned to the Splendour to spend some time by the pool. The casino is called Casino Royale and is located on deck 4 between the King and I and 42nd Street Theater. The staff was very friendly and the area was always kept clean. On day four we were in Costa Maya. A tourist village has been built at the end of the pier that contains a pool and several bars. We spent the day here and relaxed under a palapa. Day five was a sea day and started out cloudy but cleared quickly and turned cool. DW attended a movie in the 42nd Street Theater while I attended the art auction. I highly recommend Park West for the professionalism and courtesy. I learned a great deal from these auctions. As we were staying a few extra days in Galveston, we decided to have our luggage picked up that evening. Luggage had to be in the hallway between 7 pm and midnight. You are given colored tags and are called by color code. During the night a thick fog set in and delayed our docking by a few hours. We were still off the ship by 10 and back to our car by 11am. This had to be the smoothest debarkation I've ever experienced. I would recommend Royal Caribbean and plan on sailing again soon. Read Less
Sail Date February 2007
We were on the Feb 26th sailing on the beautiful Splendour of the Seas. We chose to drive down the night before and stayed at the Galveston Hilton since they offered secured parking, as well as a shuttle to and from the cruise terminal. ... Read More
We were on the Feb 26th sailing on the beautiful Splendour of the Seas. We chose to drive down the night before and stayed at the Galveston Hilton since they offered secured parking, as well as a shuttle to and from the cruise terminal. I highly recommend this hotel for a pre and post cruise stay. We spoke with the bellman upon check in to set up our shuttle time and we were able to book the first one at 11:30. Embarkation: We made it to the cruise terminal around 11:50 and we were able to zip through the check in process and were on the ship by noon. We first went to check on our table location for the main dining room. We had table number 12 which was right by the windows. Great location! Then we proceeded up to the windjammer for a bite to eat. They have hand sanitizer stations set up at both entrances and I saw everyone using them. The food here was pretty good. I would say above average for a buffet. We were able to get into our room by 1pm and we met our cabin steward. He took such good care of us all week that we gave him an extra tip above what we had prepaid for. The bedding was wonderful and we both slept wonderfully. Our luggage was waiting for us when we went to our room to get the life jackets for the muster drill. So since I had some time to kill we unpacked and got everything put away. After the muster drill we headed up to the pool deck for the sail away party. For the welcome show they had comedian David Orion performing and he was quite funny. 1st full day at sea: We woke up this morning early in anticipation of our first full day at sea. We had breakfast and lunch just about every day in the windjammer or the solarium cafe. Very good variety, and the crepes in the solarium are out of this world! We attended the Park West art auction and we were able to attain one of the pieces we really liked. They have wonderful deals on a lot of the art so I highly recommend attending at least one of the art auctions. After the art auction, we made our way over to play Bingo. We thought it was kind of high for what you get so we didn't go back for the rest of the cruise. The Royal Caribbean singers and dancers did "Dancing through the Movies" show tonight. It was well done and we enjoyed ourselves. Cozumel: We were able to dock here at the downtown pier. We signed up for the Xcaret excursion through the ship and we had a blast here. Just a warning, they don't tell you that you will be doing a fast paced ten minute walk through Playa del Carmen to get to the chartered bus. Some of the older people were complaining that it was not mentioned. There is so much to see and do here. We chose to hang out under a palapa on the beach area and soak in the rays, as well as snorkel in the inlet. Before we realized it, the time had come to walk to the front of the park to catch out chartered bus back to the ferry. Costa Maya: We almost missed this port because of the weather. It was sunny, but very windy and the seas were rough. Somehow the captain managed to get us docked and we had the port all to ourselves this day. There was supposed to be two other ships in port with us, but I guess they didn't take a chance on docking. For this reason, the vendors seemed quite pushy to us. We did a little bit of shopping and got some great deals on pure vanilla, along with some other stuff. We went back to the ship to drop off our goods, and decided to spend some quiet time at the pool. The stage show that was scheduled for tonight was canceled because of the rough seas, but they substituted with the next nights show. This was the Los gauchos and it's hard to explain but highly entertaining. Final day at sea: We woke up this morning feeling sad because it was our final day at sea. We played some putt putt/ had fun in the casino, among other activities. Since we were going to be staying in Galveston for a post cruise mini vacation, we chose to put our bags out between 7pm and midnight. The stage show tonight was Ballroom fever and we thought it was the best of all of them. Don't miss it. Debarkation day: We had to be out of our staterooms by 7 am so they could start preparing for the next cruise. We went up to the windjammer for a quick bite to eat and then our color was to meet in the Top hat lounge. You could tell a lot of people were sad to see the cruise was officially over. Everyone was quiet and had somber looks on their faces. We breezed through customs and were back at the Hilton for an afternoon dip in the pool. Overall: This was our first cruise and we had an amazing time. We will definitely book again. The crew and staff were friendly and always had an answer for whatever question we might have thrown their way. Read Less
Sail Date February 2007
RCL Splendour, 5 Night Western Caribbean, 17 - 22 February 2007 out of Galveston by Richard Thorp (SATXRich). Cabin Categories JS (Junior Suite) & J (Superior Interior), Cabins 8020, 8023 and 8025, Main Seating. CRUISE CRITIC ... Read More
RCL Splendour, 5 Night Western Caribbean, 17 - 22 February 2007 out of Galveston by Richard Thorp (SATXRich). Cabin Categories JS (Junior Suite) & J (Superior Interior), Cabins 8020, 8023 and 8025, Main Seating. CRUISE CRITIC EXPERIENCE: Cruise Critic added to our enjoyment of this trip through Member Reviews, Destination Message Boards, and most importantly the Roll Call Message Board for our specific sailing. The only serious shortcoming of the Cruise Critic experience was that Royal Caribbean's policy of having official "Meet and Mingles" only for 7 night and longer cruises meant that fewer people were likely to find out about Cruise Critic and participate in what now for the second time for my family has been a very nice added touch to the trip. We however were undaunted by the lack of a formal M&M and the group set up our own to include a gift exchange as an ice breaker. As with our previous experience it was a really nice group of folks with some interesting stories to tell about their cruising experiences. Regardless of what ship you sail on participate in Cruise Critic and spread the word to your fellow travelers. Don't be shy jump right in there and energize your message board! THE SPLENDOUR AND 5-NIGHT GALVESTON MARKET NICHE: One of the great things about the cruise industry is that there are product lines and itineraries to please a wide range of travelers. Unless you are real particular you can have an excellent vacation on a range of ships and in fact might prefer different approaches depending upon your mood for a given trip. However, you are going to have the best time on a ship and itinerary that matches your expectations so spend some time doing some research before making your final selection. The Splendour is not a mega-ship nor is it a high end luxury ship. If you consider a Ritz-Carlton barely acceptable this is not the ship for you. The itinerary makes for a nice short trip in the Western Caribbean and is well suited for a first time cruiser, someone looking for a relatively short trip, or someone looking to escape the winter cold but a 7-night trip doesn't work for them. PRE-CRUISE & EMBARKATION: We arrived the day before the sailing with 5 of our group of 6 driving in from San Antonio and the sixth arriving by air at George Bush Airport (the airport that is further from Galveston). Our air arrival used Galveston Limo and in spite of making advanced arrangements had some problem with the pickup but they got the job done! $70 roundtrip from George Bush International (IAH). http://galvestonlimousineservice.com/ We all stayed at the Galveston Hilton. Currently any of the three hotels in the San Luis resort complex on Galveston allow you to park your car in their long term storage lot and will shuttle you to an from the ship which saves you $60-$100 depending on the length of your cruise. We took the first shuttle over to the port on the day of the cruise, 11:30 AM, and with multiple check-in stations we only had four families ahead of us in line and after a very brief wait we were checking in. We had done the on-line check in and had our set sail pass so we saved some inprocessing time. THE SPLENDOUR: The Splendour is a nice mid-size ship. Passenger capacity is about 2,000 but the public spaces and activities are designed where it doesn't seem crowded even with a full ship. I like the layout of one of its sister ships, The Rhapsody of the Seas, a bit better but that is for a variety of subtle reasons and not because of any major flaws with the Splendour. We had three cabins on deck 8, the highest passenger deck, to include a Junior Suite (236 sq ft and 75 sf balcony) and two connection Superior Insides (172 SF). This was our fifth cruise and first with a balcony which we found we really, really liked which shouldn't be surprising. We probably would have been just as happy in a Balcony Stateroom but pricing was really favorable for this trip and we went with the indulgence of the slightly larger Junior Suite. For this trip being on the port side allowed us to enjoy a few glorious sunrises and sunsets from our balcony. Having one Junior Suite with two insides just across the hall allowed us to economize a bit while we all got to enjoy the space and balcony of the larger room. The Splendour offers formal dining with assigned tables and table mates in the King and I with two seatings, informal dining in the Windjammer (which has a really good floor plan for avoiding traffic jams that some buffets create) , fast food in the solarium and a solid room service menu. For some folks the main dining room's menu will be a bit too exotic but they offer standard fare at all meals if you are not adventurous. It is not 5-Star cuisine but of solid quality and something beyond the ordinary. 5 NIGHT GALVESTON WESTERN CARIBBEAN: The 5-Night Itinerary is a great short trip. The schedule gets to be a bit crowded if you are used to 7-Night and longer cruises and want to accomplish the same things. This sailing allows a low cost getaway for folks from Texas and eastern Louisiana. For other folks you total cost will depend on how well you can get into one of Houston's two airports. The trip includes the partial day when you board in Galveston, a day at sea, a day with 12 hours in Cozumel (7AM to 7PM), 8 hours in Costa Maya (7AM to 3PM), and finishing with a full day at sea before pulling back into Galveston during early morning hours. Entertainment: The Splendour singers and dancers put on some enjoyable production shows. No, not high end Vegas but good for an evening's entertainment. The guest entertainers were so-so from our view point but that was a personal taste thing not RCL booking lousy acts just not at the brilliant level we have seen before. The "Jamaican" pool band offered good standard fare and I found the Captain Boom Showband to be really good in the Red Hat Lounge. PORTS OF CALL & EXCURSIONS: COZUMEL: Arrival 7AM, Back on Ship 6:30 PM and departure 7:00 PM. We've been to Cozumel 4 times before but in this review I will focus on the things we did rather than a comprehensive review of everything at this stop. We docked at the International Pier and their was only one other ship in port the day we were there. (You can find out what ships will be in port with you at www.cruisecal.com ) Morning: The excursion we had planned to take was not available on this trip so we went with our backup choice, The Fury Catamaran Snorkel and Beach Break. We were looking for a good beginners snorkel trip (three of the people in our group of six had not snorkeled before). And this fit the bill pretty well. The reef was only so-so as it is still recovering from Hurricane Wilma but still beautiful enough to enjoy and to hook the first time snorkeler on the experience. The Fury Catamaran we were on (#4) was a nice open air boat with upper and lower deck and two banos. The crew created a fun experience and included an underwater photographer to give you the option of a souvenir photo. Take some cash or credit card along with you for this. Of the 3.5 hour trip about 40 minutes was spent in the water which is about right, then a very pleasant trip with open bar along the coastline to a beach spot where you enjoy paradise for about an hour. Pretty much everything at the beach is included and they had kayaks, a good place to swim, beach mats, tables, open bar, banos, and you could purchase lunch if you wanted. However in the case of our trip that didn't make much sense because the tour would have us back to the dock at about 12 Noon. On the powered sail back to the dock, more open bar, dancing on deck, and looking/purchasing the souvenir photo's taken by the official camera person. Not for the experienced snorkeler looking to push the limits and see something new but a fun combination of beach, snorkel and powered sailing. The Fury company also offers some more challenging snorkel tours with multiple reefs or reefs that require stronger swimming skills. http://www.fury-catamarans.com/ Lunch: Back on the ship for lunch and to get the items we wanted to take on our self-escorted afternoon. Afternoon: We decided to do one of the local tourist beaches on our own. We did some research before the trip to include using the Cruise Critic message boards. Where we narrowed things down to either Paradise Beach or Playa Mia beach for this trip each of which had a loyal following. The two beaches are actually next to each other and seem to offer very similar things but use a different business model with Playa Mia charging from several categories of admission and PB expecting certain minimum purchases off their menu. There are some other differences such as the type of beach chair they use. We flipped mental coin and chose Play Mia for this trip. It was a 15 minute cab ride from the International Pier and with a group of 6 we chose a van for $30 each way. We purchased the basic admission $12 for the two under 18 year olds in our group of 6 which included admission, use of kayaks and other water toys. For the four adults we purchased the fiesta package which included an open bar to include bottled water. There is another package above this that included a meal but since we just ate on the boat that would have been a waste. Food and drink is available at the beach ala carte. Also available at the beach with various fees: Scuba trips, snorkeling trips, parasailing, banana boat, wave runners, beach massages, and some shopping though they are in the process of completing construction on an entire section of shops between the beach and the entrance. Included with admission include a great beach that was not at all crowded the day we were there. An area for swimming with miniature Mayan ruins whose real benefit was they provided habitat for some very colorful fish. Snorkeling in this area was fun. Another swimming area with a water trampoline and floating iceberg, kayaks and small sailboats were also included with admission. ( www.playamia.com ) or Paradise Beach at ( http://www.paradise-beach-cozumel.com ) COSTA MAYA: Day 3 of the Trip, Arrive 7:00 AM, back on the boat 2:30 PM, depart 3:00 PM. The Port of Costa Maya: The port area of Costa Maya was built for cruise ship operations. We were the first of three ships into the port that morning and things were not at all crowded at that level. The lack of crowds had one drawback in that the shopkeepers didn't have enough folks to keep them busy and one did feel pretty hounded after awhile. This improved with the arrival and disembarkation of the other ships. The Port area is modern, seems like prices have jumped a bit since our last trip there BUT IF you are really price conscious for local crafts go to the local fishing village, Majuhal and the flea market shopping area. The port area has beach chairs and a large pool with swim up bar. One could spend all their shore time here and have a good time. There are vendors in the terminal area for local beach clubs with various excursions if you have not booked through the cruise ship. We had planned to parasail but the only vendor offering parasailing (Costa Maya / Majuhal is small town compared to Cozumel) had their boats down for maintenance. We were not particularly interested in shopping so decided to purchase a package to a beach club. You can just take a cab down to Majuhal and walk the beach but the beach clubs have restrooms, lockers and activities. On our previous trips we just went to town this time we did the beach club approach. We decided on the Tequila Beach club with $20 for beach chairs, swimming area, rest rooms and non-alcoholic open bar and lunch. $25 with open bar ( see http://www.costa-maya-tours.com/Tour_TequilaBeach.cfm ) Near as we could tell the lunch was pretty much unlimited items off a decent menu, see the link above. Expect the food to not taste like US fast food, beef tastes different outside the US and other items are prepared in local fashion (corn instead of flour tortillas). They had a variety of snorkel / scuba tours, beach massages, etc. available. The club is about a 5 minute walk from the flea market where the shoppers in my group scored some good buys. A great beach to spend a few hours at! Then we headed back to the Port Area of Costa Maya for what my wife considers (and I do not disagree) the best Pina Colada in the entire world at Bandito's. Some of our group then spent the remaining time shopping. ACTIVITIES ON THE SHIP: Even with only 5 days the Cruise Director and his staff packed a lot in to choose from, Bingo, Casino, karaoke, themed dance parties, shows, towel folding, wine tasting, art auctions, belly flop contests, sexy legs contests, etc. all of which an experience Caribbean cruiser will recognize. If none of these appeal to you there is always relaxing on deck or you balcony if you are lucky enough to have one. It was cool and a bit choppy on our first day at sea but we had 3 full days of calm seas and hot sun (once the clouds burned off). SUMMATION: This cruise really hit the spot for my group. We were looking for a few days in the sunny tropics and some of the shipboard activities that we enjoy. We also looked forward to the service and dining experience both in the informal Windjammer and the King and I Dining Room, for us its fun to dress up and go out to dinner on occasion. We did not expect the level of service, dining or shows that we experience on our Celebrity Panama Canal cruise but the Splendour did a fine job of delivering the RCL Western-Caribbean experience. The activities in the ports did not disappoint either. Again, look for a cruise ship and itinerary that matches your tastes, participate in Cruise Critic and enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date February 2007
Pre Boarding: Prior to cruising, we stayed overnight in the Hotel Galvez one night and the Harbor House the next. The Galvez in beautiful and victorian and it provides a beautiful view of the ocean over the sea wall. There are NUMEROUS ... Read More
Pre Boarding: Prior to cruising, we stayed overnight in the Hotel Galvez one night and the Harbor House the next. The Galvez in beautiful and victorian and it provides a beautiful view of the ocean over the sea wall. There are NUMEROUS restaurants and bars that are walking distance from the Galvez. The Harbor House is a very low keyed comfortable (NAUTICAL) themed hotel that provides an excellent view of the Port of Galveston and the cruise ships docked there. They offer a complimentary continental breakfast and coffee which came in handy with a family of six!! Willie G's restaurant is right next door to the Harbor House and the food is WONDERFUL, but a little pricey....we had a great lunch there and felt the food to be worthy of the prices! The "Strand" is one street over and there are NUMEROUS places to shop, eat, and so forth. There is also a Port Canal tour given for $10 p/adult and $5 per kid under 13 just behind the Harbor House & Willie G's. This tour takes you down the Port Channel and allows you to see many things including dolphins that come right up to the boat! My kids loved it! The Splendour of the Seasship an older moderately sized ship but the crew has done an AMAZING job maintaining it. It is beautiful and elegant with an eight story centrum that houses two glass elevators with a beautiful astrological work of art in the middle of the centrum area. We sailed this ship ( just my husband and I) on March 7, 2006 and found the excellence in service and food to be just as great as it was on the 1/15/07 cruise. Ship Details:Ship Quality The lay out is very easy to navigate and elevator positioning makes it very easy to get around.....we had two oceanview cabins (we were traveling with our 4 children ages 15, 13, 8 & 3). We made sure we booked cabins directly below the Adventure Ocean program areas and Teen Optix Disco area/ arcade so all the kids would have to do is hop on the elevator and go up to their activities...this made it REALLY EASY !!!!!!Dining/Food Our Wait Staff: Monique; Waiter, Jan; Asst. Waiter and Kumar; Head waiter were nothing short of EXCEPTIONAL! I am a horribly picky eater and found all of the food to be outstanding. The kids menus were VERY extensive, offering numerous options for picky youth. My daughter had a hard time finding something one evening and they had spaghetti SPECIALLY made for her....UNREAL! Stateroom Quality Of course, cruise cabins are smaller than regular hotel rooms.....we had cabins 3504 & 3506; they are joining oceanview cabins....even with the size of the cabins, we had wonderful views out of the windows and more then enough drawer and closet space to accommodate everyone. There is a hair dryer and shampoo dispenser already in the room. We noticed that the staterooms had been renovated since the last time we had cruised on this ship in March 2006. The linens were luxurious egyptian cotton and were embroidered with the RCCL anchor logo. the mattresses were very snuggly and soft...I slept great every night!Ship Staff Quality OUTSTANDING!!!!! and again OUTSTANDING!!!!! You never had to search for anyone to help you...our room steward Bayardo was amazing and made our room 3 times daily....they sneak in somehow when you are not there...I LOVE THAT!Entertainment & Activities Ok........we did not see the shows but we heard they were AWESOME! The activity options were so many we had a very hard time trying to decide WHAT to do so we should not miss out on the other things. All I have to say is BE SURE you go the "QWEST" night...DO NOT MISS THAT....you will laugh for years to come...you can just sit and watch or play the game. My husband and I agree that this game's reputation must proceed it because that was THE LARGEST gathering of people at ANY given time we had seen on the cruise ....it was SRO 10 minutes before it started. DO NOT MISS THIS!. My husband did the Rock climbing wall and the Grand Buffet at midnight was INCREDIBLE. All of RCCL's food is rich and tastes wonderful unlike other cruise lines I have been on.... Children's Programs We had kids in the 3-5 group, the 6-8 group, the 12-14, group and the 15-17 group. They staff was amazing....I mean really WONDERFUL! Lorena, Alex, Monica, Kit Kat, Graham, Slo-jam....all awesome.....these people have one of the hardest jobs on the ship! They have EXCELLENTLY planned & scheduled activities that are from 9-noon then 2-5 and then 7-10pm. They then have pirate night, pj night and so on from 10-1am so the parents can party.The 10-1am costs $5 per hour per child. This schedule ALSO goes on while in port so if you want to do some things on your own, they are available. All of the staff is degreed and has experience in working in youth programs....my kids had a blast and begged to go to every event. This is one area I could go on and on about! My 13 & 15 year old made friends quickly and I basically did not see them the last 2 days until dinner time.:(! OVERALL: This cruise has A TON of bang for the buck! The poolside games....MEN"S SEXIEST LEGS & BELLY FLOP CONTEST...are a riot. Remember it is always what you make of it....however...the staff go out of their way to make sure they never have to tell you "NO". Embarkation was a BREEZE!!! WE showed up at the pier at 11:15am and got right on...by far the SMOOTHEST embarkation I have ever seen! They had lemonade & cookies to snack on....they began letting us on at 11:30am....overall....an excellent experience AGAIN!!!! Thanks RCCL! Read Less
Sail Date January 2007
This is my 8th cruise, second on Splendour, DH's first. He liked the smaller ship and will sail her again as will I. There were few negatives; weather was perfect, staff outstanding. Thanks to Hernan our cabin steward who is now ... Read More
This is my 8th cruise, second on Splendour, DH's first. He liked the smaller ship and will sail her again as will I. There were few negatives; weather was perfect, staff outstanding. Thanks to Hernan our cabin steward who is now off until he joins the Serenade. Ballardo and Hugo in the dining room were fabulous and hope to see them in the future. Would like food hotter at dinner, but it was was still great. Found all staff to be extraordinarily polite. Cruise Director Simeon was awesome. Our cabin was perfect, a little tight walking by the bed, but more storage than we would ever use. Do wish they would go to a code entry on the safe vs. credit card. You lock everything up, but still have to carry c.c. to open safe! We boarded at 2pm, after the rush, carried our luggage with no problems, other than I locked my mine and key was at house. Fortunately we live 20 blocks from the terminal, called cat sitter who rushed key back to ship. I was ready to chew the lock off:) Met our meet and mingle group in Viking for sailaway due to the ice cold, sleeting weather. Next morning was sunny warm and beautiful. Had a great haircut from Victoria in salon - please say hello. Wish I could see her every month.Wednesday found us in Cozumel where we have been several times so took ferry over to Playa del Carmen - walked to ferry terminal from ship. Playa has changed so much over the years, to the better. Walked, shopped, had a few beers and did some beach time. Nothing spectacular. DH's birthday - so we just relaxed. Arrived in Costa Maya, also been there, done that. Took taxi to Mahajaul for $6 (2). A little put off by the hawkers, but got over it. Walked to the end of town then back to across from the Hotel Mahajaul where we were not inundated with offers for drinks, food, massage, etc. Got a massage for $20 - great couple, Augustin and his wife, Blanca. I highly recommend. Back to ship and more food. Celebration at dinner for birthday - lots of fun and laughter. Entertainment was enjoyable and would see again. Quest was a mad house, but hysterically funny. Love and Marriage is not to be missed even if you have to go hungry (impossible on this ship). Last day at sea was great - calm, sunny and a day to do absolutely nothing but plan for the next cruise. We met great friends and look forward to sailing with them again.Arrive at terminal on time. Opted for carrying our own luggage as we only had one bag each (packing experience). We disembarked at approximately 7:30, called our friendly pet sitter and were home at 8:00 am! Now that is convenience. Read Less
Sail Date January 2007
What a wonderful time on a wonderful ship. A cruise is the best value for your vacation dollar. The Splendour of the Seas is well kept, the paint is fresh, the carpets are clean, the staterooms are spotless and the brass is polished. This ... Read More
What a wonderful time on a wonderful ship. A cruise is the best value for your vacation dollar. The Splendour of the Seas is well kept, the paint is fresh, the carpets are clean, the staterooms are spotless and the brass is polished. This was our second cruise and if you want a resort vacation experience without paying resort prices then Royal Caribbean is well worth it. Boarding at Galveston was painless, much more pleasant then going through security at an airport. We arrived 11am, boarded promptly and then explored the ship. I found the ship very well laid out and easy to get around. My wife and I had a balcony stateroom which was wonderful. The bedding has been upgraded to include high thread count sheets, euro sham pillows and a duvet cover for the bed. The bedding and comfort was 5 star. I would recommend that if one wants a balcony stateroom you should compare sailing dates to the lunar calendar for moon brightness. I didn't and realize what a great opportunity I missed. We had no moon or quarter moon night skies. A half moon or full moon period would have made the view from the balcony wonderful and very romantic. The food in the main dining room was great. The wait staff was very attentive. Again a 5 star experience. My purpose for this vacation was to relax on the deck with a good book and drinks from the bar. The pool bar staff was great and the pool deck was a great place to soak up some sun and relax. I can't rate shipboard activities as I wasn't interested in them. We made stops at Cozumel and Costa Maya. What I find interesting is Royal Caribbean has developed a docking area that has its own shopping at both ports. My wife and I felt like we were the prey and the shop owners the hunters as we visited each shop. The merchants were very aggressive and pushy. If you want bargains then you need to break out into the local market of Cozumel. Costa Maya is being developed for the cruise lines. It has a new shopping area but they are the same stores as in Cozumel if you look closely you will find armed guards on the walls of the shopping area. Don't know why unless they are there to guard the diamond stores. I don't think you can go wrong with a cruise as your vacation choice. The only wild card is the weather factor. On two cruises we have had stormy weather. This trip on our last day at sea instead of sun we had following seas, with very rough sea conditions and gale force winds. Needless to say my wife was seasick and I couldn't sit on the pool deck and read. Putting this aside a cruse on any Royal Caribbean ship is a 5 star vacation on a Holiday Inn budget. The money is well spent. Read Less
Sail Date January 2007
We flew into Houston International airport the day of the cruise. The ship was late arriving as there was an emergency at sea on the previous cruise. The bus arrived about noon and we took our time getting to the port, the driver stopped ... Read More
We flew into Houston International airport the day of the cruise. The ship was late arriving as there was an emergency at sea on the previous cruise. The bus arrived about noon and we took our time getting to the port, the driver stopped for us to get a bite to eat at Whataburger and a convenience store to pick up anything else we needed, and then we arrived at the port about 3:30 pm. The ship arrived in port about 1:00 pm and no one was allowed on until 4:00 pm. Our luggage was unloaded and porters took it directly to the ship, we were given a group number #15 and went into the terminal. They had just called 6 so we had to wait inside for about 1 1/2 hours and then were allowed to register and board. It was not too bad a wait. The muster drill was cancelled until the next morning and dinner was moved back an hour for both sittings. We received our luggage before dinner, but casual was okay in the dining room that evening. The ship is very easy to navigate with one dining room, a small casino, two pools one covered, and the Windjammer Cafe. We ate breakfast the first day in the King and I dining room, service was quick and we enjoyed our tablemates. The sea day was spent exploring the ship, playing bingo, eating lunch in the Windjammer Cafe and making our plans for Cozumel and Costa Maya. The first sea night was formal night and we had our pictures taken and then enjoyed the meal in the dining room. The next day the weather was overcast in Cozumel, so shopping was our choice of activities for the day. We tendered in from the ship, quick, and were dropped off downtown. We walked the local streets for a couple of hours and ended up at Carlos and Charlies for a margarita and lunch. Then we strolled back to the ship and did some on board activities. Costa Maya was bright and sunny with winds pushing the waves into the rocks in front of the mall and eating areas. What a gorgeous site to see the ship docked right in front of us, the waves on the beach and the pool area in town were beautiful. We had lunch in the restaurant at the beach and enjoyed the breeze. We decided to go back to the ship and enjoy the sunshine on deck. The shows were good, we saw both production shows and the final night show. The band in the Top Hat Lounge played lots of different kinds of music. The Karaoke was fun and the Quest was a blast, this was our first time at Quest so we were amazed at the things people will do to win some cheap prizes. We participated in bingo and at the casino and won at both. On the last sea day a crew member became ill and the Coast Guard sent a helicopter to pick her up and transport her to the hospital in Alabama. It was exciting to watch them in action sending down a capsule and and an individual to bring her up to the helicopter. We lost about 1 1/2 hours to the rescue but everyone was happy to hear she was stable and doing okay. We arrived back in port at 9:00 instead of 7:00 and were one of the first off the ship by 9:30 am. Our trip to the airport was non-eventful and we had plenty of time to get our flight at 3:44 pm back to Detroit. This is a nice ship, smaller then the last several I have been on, but the crew is enjoyable, we were always able to find something good to eat in the cafe and the dining room, and the ship activities were fun. The Spa had a special on the second sea day and we had a Top 2 Toe massage and facial that was fantastic. I would recommend this trip to anyone wanting to take a smaller ship on a short cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2007
Splendour of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 3.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.8
Family 4.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 1.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.2

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