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146 Splendour of the Seas Cruise Reviews

We sailed with a group of cruise passengers (109 in total)out of venice Italy on May 17, 2008. having sailed on the "Splendour" twice before, once out of Tampa, Fl. and once out of Barcelona, Spain we had high expectations as to ... Read More
We sailed with a group of cruise passengers (109 in total)out of venice Italy on May 17, 2008. having sailed on the "Splendour" twice before, once out of Tampa, Fl. and once out of Barcelona, Spain we had high expectations as to what we should expect on board our cruise ship. Let me go over various aspects that I found both enjoyable as well as frustrating. First - Embarkation, it was a breeze. My wife and I are "Diamond" members and as such have cruised with RCCL on 21 previous occasions. The check-in process was a quick as could be. We arrived at the ship around 1:00 p.m. and after checking in went straight for the "Wind Jammer" to eat lunch. The food served there was just what I have always come to expect from RCCL. No disappointments. Second - Cabin & Steward, Our cabin was an inside "J" not very big but, big enough for a cruise that would have us on land most of the time. Our cabin steward "Al" was awesome. He did everything we asked for and then some. (ex. I am a diabetic and when I asked if there was a small fridge available to keep my insulin cold he personally went down and brought up a small beverage fridge from somewhere. Third - Dining, we had early seating on the first floor of the "King & I" dining room. Having previously sailed on 21 other RCCL cruises I have come to expect a certain level of food quality that was just not available on the "Splendor". They have recently changed their menu and not only is it not that great, it would appear that it has been cheapened. By that I mean there was no longer "Lobster" available on the menu, something that I always enjoy even though I am not a "seafood" eater. Several nights I was very disappointed with the food quality and one nIght I actually got up from my table after appetizers and went and ate in the "Wind Jammer" (much better food)and then came back down for desert. Of course our Waiter was wondering if everything was okay and I honestly told him that the food was just not up to par with what I have come to expect from RCCL. I have to admit that the new menu leaves a lot to be desired. One would think that since we are sailing the "Greek Isles" we would have greek food at least once during the cruise. That however was not to be the case. Our waiter (Adrian) and assistant waiter (Jo) were great as far as the service goes and Adrain was concerned that my dislike for the food served in the "king & I' would affect his overall performance score after the cruise. I assured him that this would not be the case as he had no control of either the menu or how it is to be cooked. That brings me to my next point. It would appear that RCCL puts a great emphasis on how their staff rate on the survey that is put in your stateroom on the last night of the cruise. I say this because every time spoke with our waiter he reminded us of how important it was that we give a good report on the survey. It may have just been our waiter that was making it seem so important, I am not sure. That being said, if it is RCCL and not just the staff making such a big deal of it they should use other means to evaluate their staffs performance as well and not just the survey. Last, but not least. - Ports of call, Greece and Croatia are very pretty countries and we had a fantastic time while on land. Everywhere that we went it seemed that we had stepped back in time. Overall, we had a great time and would do it all over again with RCCL. I might however chose a different ship as the "Splendour" is starting to show her age. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
This cruise was easily one of the most unique cultural experiences I have ever had on a ship. Most cruises offer the on-board diversity of a mall in Montana. Not this cruise. What made the difference was that about 80% of the passengers ... Read More
This cruise was easily one of the most unique cultural experiences I have ever had on a ship. Most cruises offer the on-board diversity of a mall in Montana. Not this cruise. What made the difference was that about 80% of the passengers were Portuguese speakers (either from Brazil or Portugal). That fact alone made this cruise worth every dollar. I chose this transatlantic cruise because it originally included stops in Brazil, Morocco, and Portugal. Touching three continents on one cruise was the chief reason I chose the Splendour. Vision class ships are too small for me -- I prefer the Radiance class ships. My first disappointment came just after the final payment was due when RCI announced that all three Morocco ports were cancelled. Instead, we would stop at Tenerife, Madeira, and Cadiz. I had been to all three, and like each of them. My disappointment was short-lived. I will not bore you with the flight from Portland to Sao Paulo. Flying economy class on international flights must be the equivalent of 100,000 years in purgatory -- and this from a non-catholic. We flew into Sao Paulo and were efficiently bused to Sao Paulo's port: Santos, where we waited to board the ship. It was here that I learned my first cultural lesson. Brazilians are not handicapped with the northern European notion of lining up -- massive rugby scrums are closer to the truth. And I must admit that I am not certain that germanic order is any more efficient than a good old-fashioned crowd-shoving stampede. (For some reason, this cultural attribute seemed to disturb most of the outnumbered English-speaking guests more than anything else.) The embarkation was nothing like the well-oiled boardings of Miami or Los Angeles. But it was a fun new experience. I love aft cabins. There is nothing like watching the sea from an aft balcony while eating breakfast. What I forgot is that the aft balconies on Vision class ships do not overlook the sea directly. They overlook a stark white canopy covering the crew's recreational deck. As a result, I learned a lot about various crew members simply by listening to the exchanges below my balcony. The cabin was clean and roomy. I participated in quite a few more ship activities than usual: bingo, trivia, dances. The cruise director's staff kept us all entertained. And that was a difficult task. Imagine a trivia contest where every question is asked in two languages and where the questions should equally appeal to English and Portuguese speakers. I give extremely high marks to Jaoa Pereira (who is on his way to the Majesty) and Fernando del Azar Cordeu. Both of them should be cruise director stars for RCI. We also had an English language coordinator: Linda Polasky. She was extremely helpful, and is easily one of RCI's future stars. I have to add a special note of thanks to the cruise director, Jill Tasker. I sponsor a dinner for the entertainment cast on each cruise. She was very creative in helping me put together that dinner with the limited dining resources available on the Splendour. Thanks, Jill. That brings me to the entertainment. It was all very good. The singers and dancers did an excellent job with material that does not showcase the abilities of a very talented group of performers. Each of them has the ability to reach through the dark and touch the souls of audience members. And they did. One of the main reasons I go on cruises is live entertainment. This group of talented performers met and exceeded my expectations. I like repositioning cruises because sea days are by far my favorite times on ships. But ships always stop. Our first stop was Rio. I elected to take the excursion to see the Christ the Redeemer statue. It rained. No view. But I took some fascinating pictures of the statue emerging from the clouds. The next two stops, I explored on my own. Salvador is a beautiful city with a restored old town. Like every tourist area, the squares teem with hustlers. This was the only stop on the trip where I always felt on guard. The old buildings are picturesque. Once again, I took some great photographs. I wandered away from the tourist area. While taking photographs, I was accosted by a young woman. But that only added to the color of the trip. The next stop was Recife where I visited the old town of Olinda. More old buildings. More photographs. Beautiful. Then five days of glorious sea days. They was interrupted by a stop in Tenerife and an excursion to the volcano. I had done it before. Too many hours on the bus. But we had a great time walking around Santa Cruz. Next stop -- Madeira (one of my favorite islands). I walked around Funchal with friends and had one of the best fish dinners of my life. If there, do not miss the opportunity to try scabbardfish -- ugly fish with a great taste. Then Cadiz, Spain for a day. Nice Old World splendor. When we left Cadiz, the Splendour showed its age by losing its stabilizers. As a result, we arrived late in Lisbon, and I missed my flight. But it gave me an opportunity to spend another day in Lisbon and an opportunity to visit my favorite cafe where I enjoyed the local sardine pâtE. I met some very nice people from Brazil on the cruise and learned things about Brazil I could not have learned by being on an American-enclave cruise. Overall, it was a great experience. I have left my one complaint until the end because it was not a big deal. But it was a consistent irritant. During the past 18 months I have noticed a marked deterioration in the quality of dining room food on RCI cruises. Part of the problem is that the menus seem to be almost as old as the ship itself. Even taking the repetition issue into account, individual meals were just plain bad. I have never had beef that was simultaneously tough and tasteless. The chicken and duck were no better. And this is where the Splendour's lack of a specialty restaurant exacerbated the issue. On other ships, a dissatisfied diner can find good food in Chops, but not here. Our waiter was absolutely perfect. He did his best to keep our table happy, but he could not overcome problems that started in the kitchen. However, having said that, I would gladly take this cruise again -- just for its growth opportunities. Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
This was my 13th cruise on a Royal Caribbean ship but my first time on Splendour of the Seas. The cruise was from Sao Paulo, Brazil around Cape Horn to Valparaiso, Chile. The ports visited were Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, ... Read More
This was my 13th cruise on a Royal Caribbean ship but my first time on Splendour of the Seas. The cruise was from Sao Paulo, Brazil around Cape Horn to Valparaiso, Chile. The ports visited were Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Ushuaia, Punta Arenas and Puerto Montt. Usually, I arrange my own air travel but this time I used Royal Caribbean's air package as it was my first time to South America and I was concerned about the long transfers from airport to ship. I am glad I made that decision. I flew from Toronto to Sao Paulo (via Newark). RCL staff were there to welcome us and the air conditioned bus ride to the port in Santos took about 90 minutes. Check in was quick and we were able to go straight to our cabins. I had an inside cabin on Deck 8. Usually, I get a balcony cabin but there was a big price differential on this cruise. I was apprehensive about having an inside cabin but it worked out fine especially as it was only one flight of stairs to get out on deck. The ship still looks in good condition considering its age. Personally, I prefer the Radiance class of ships. This was a Crown and Anchor Society member cruise so there were all kinds of extra events, door prizes and gifts delivered to our cabins. The highlight for me was the free excursion offered by Royal Caribbean to Diamond members. This was to the Tango Show at La Ventana in Buenos Aires. This was truly an amazing show. The dancing, music and pure passion were fantastic. Lots of wine and food made the experience even better. As on many cruises, the trip is often affected by the service provided by one's cabin steward, waiters and other crew. I had a fantastic waiter (Marcela) and assistant waiter (Flavia) and a great cabin steward (Norton). Being a Diamond member, I had access to the Concierge Lounge on Deck 7 (which used to be the Card Room). As there were a lot of Diamond members on this cruise, an additional lounge was open each evening in the Conference Lounge on Deck 3. Both lounges were full each evening. I must say that the Concierge Lounge is one of the very attractive perks offered by Royal Caribbean. It's not just the free drinks (although that is very nice!) but about the great people you meet in the lounge. Most have traveled extensively and have wonderful stories to tell. It's always nice in the evening to learn what everyone did that day and what they plan to do the next day. I would be hard pressed to go on a ship that does not have a Concierge Lounge. In Rio, I took the RCL Sugar Loaf and City tour. Montevideo, I just walked around the city by myself. In Ushuaia, I visited the prison (now an excellent museum and art gallery) by myself and took the RCL Train Ride excursion in the afternoon. This train ride is on tracks built by prisoners and took us to the Tierra del Fuego National Park. Punta Arenas is a nice small town and I walked around it by myself. In Puerto Montt, I did the Cruising Lake Llanquihue & Town excursion. This was a really nice trip and we had an excellent tour guide who taught us a lot about Chile and the surrounding area. The cruise ended in Valparaiso and as I was flying out of Santiago in the evening, I took the 8 hour Coastal Cities, Valleys and Santiago excursion. It included a wonderful lunch in the countryside at El Pregon. If you have read this far, it probably sounds like this was a great cruise and it was. To go around Cape Horn was an incredible experience and not something that many people have done. However, the cruise was not without its problems. The main one was the Norovirus which caused the closing of the spa, fitness center, library, internet cafe Adventure Ocean area and even the casino. In the Windjammer, you could not serve yourself. Hand wipes were required all the time. Thank goodness the Concierge lounge remained open but there were no snacks provided. This all lasted quite a few days and certainly affected the enjoyment of the cruise for many of the passengers. There were problems with the quality of the food especially with the beef. My other criticism is with the smoking on board. On this cruise, smoking was still allowed in cabins and many of the public areas. I found it especially difficult to cope with during trivia and crafts events that were held in bars and lounges. I know this is a controversial matter but it did affect my enjoyment of the cruise. Someone suggested a "Share the Air" program where notices are put up requesting that people refrain from smoking in public areas. This was certainly a difficult cruise to have as a Members Cruise and the Crown and Anchor Society staff worked very hard under trying circumstances. Rachel Hancock, Charlie Kurtuldo, Cindy Cooper, Joanne Banister, Beatrix Garcia, Marta Ramirez and the rest of the C&A staff did an excellent job. My thanks to all of you. The big surprise for us was the arrival in our cabins one evening of huge beach towels with a map of South America showing our voyage. This was for Diamond members only but some others won a towel as raffle prizes. I am sure that there are some passengers on this cruise who feel that I should have been more critical in my review but I certainly had a wonderful cruise and will continue to cruise with Royal Caribbean. Actually, I have 8 future cruises booked - all with Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
After driving from Dallas to Tuktoyoktuk (NWT, Canada, about as far north as you can go by road) last April, we thought it would be cool to travel the furthest south you can conveniently visit in the Americas, Cape Horn, in the same year. ... Read More
After driving from Dallas to Tuktoyoktuk (NWT, Canada, about as far north as you can go by road) last April, we thought it would be cool to travel the furthest south you can conveniently visit in the Americas, Cape Horn, in the same year. Royal Caribbean had the answer, 13 nights on the Splendour of the Seas, from Santiago to Buenos Aires. We booked our reservation with RC and paid a 50% deposit. That was before RC hit us with their "fuel surcharge", which may now be refunded. RC arranged air transport from Dallas to Santiago, returning from Buenos Aires. Their itinerary included an intermediate stop, with approximate one-way 17 hr transit times. Later checking through Travelocity discovered non-stop flights available, with only 10 hr transit times. A call to RC asking for a change to non-stops revealed that changes were possible, but only after paying a $75/person "custom air" surcharge. Arrival in Santiago was smooth, after an overnight flight from Dallas which permitted some sleep. We easily found the RC representative at the airport, and were led to a bus. Two hours later, we arrived at the dockside check-in counter, and were soon on the ship. We did talk to a couple later that stood at the check-in counter for an hour and a half trying to get the names on their reservation straightened out- a problem which dogged them for the rest of the trip. The Splendour is a little tired, and showing its age. Our stateroom (ocean view) was on deck 2, the lowest passenger deck, near the center of the ship. This was a good location, convenient to the central elevators, and away from thruster/anchor noise/vibration at the bow, and engine noises (very loud at cruising speeds above 21 knots) in the rear. Additionally, during rough seas, cabins near the low center of the ship have the least motion. Luckily, our cabin had no residual cigarette odor (an unfortunate circumstance for our dinner table partners), because RC will do nothing for you in the event of problems. A cabin neighbor complained about large blood stains on her floor- a situation resolved only by her leaving towels on the floor to walk on for the entire cruise. Internet is a staple in our life, and we found it available on the ship for anywhere from $.60/min to a package plan of $.40/min- RC's interpretation of a "nominal charge". Service is not fast- checking e-mail generally took a minimum of eight minutes. At all ports en-route, we found convenient and fast Internet service on-shore for a minimum of $.50 to a maximum of $1.25/HOUR. Our shore excursions began by gathering all available RC information, and heading out on our own. At all stops, we disembarked, walked past the RC arranged array of busses and guides, and found like-minded people gathering to share mini-van/taxi tours sponsored by local entrepreneurs. Language is a problem everywhere, but our ad-hoc groups always seemed to include a bilingual translator. Typically, we were able to find RC equivalent local tours for 1/3 the RC price (a substantial savings). We never felt taken advantage of, and generally observed local tour people to be hard working, honest, and sincerely interested in giving us (as best they could with limited English skills) a good impression of their homeland. Our excursion groups unfailingly included interesting people to talk with, and we enjoyed each of our stops. Minor gripes about RC and the ship, encountered from casual conversations and our own observations include: DREADFUL (not just bad) scrambled eggs on the breakfast buffet, NONE of the on-board pepper shakers worked- probably because someone bought a too-large grind, the Windjammer buffet was at many times hopelessly crowded- resulting in people milling around (with plates of rapidly cooling food in their hands) looking for table space for five minutes or more at a time, Trivia and other events being announced at one location but actually presented at another, the exercise room was much too small (a reflection of the ships age) for the demand and always crowded, all overhead announcements were repeated in five languages, room service was timely but always delivered with just approximately what you ordered, and the list goes on. There was a large measure (compared to our prior cruising experiences) of general low to mid level discontent with RC aboard ship- reflected in the overflowing survey collection boxes at cruise end. We did absolutely enjoy our on-board social encounters, the variety and duration of our destination stops, the friendliness and knowledge of the on-board port coordinator, a few of the shows, etc. If you haven't seen this part of the world, "get out there". Keep in mind RC's relentless determination to pass on every available cost outside their quoted fare as a minimally disclosed fee or surcharge. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
My boyfriend and I just returned from this cruise and really enjoyed ourselves, the weather was great and the staff on the ship were very helpful and friendly. We also felt this cruise was a great value for the money spent. The pros are ... Read More
My boyfriend and I just returned from this cruise and really enjoyed ourselves, the weather was great and the staff on the ship were very helpful and friendly. We also felt this cruise was a great value for the money spent. The pros are the helpful staff, our spacious and very clean cabin (I have pictures if you'd like to see) and variety of activities including miniature golf and a great spa. The cons: the food was not so great - although breakfast was fantastic, dinner fell short - and it is clear that Royal Caribbean is still figuring out how to cruise in South America so things such as the port transfer may take longer than expected. (Santos, the port, is an hour and a half outside of Sao Paulo, but the bus transfer may take up to 2 and a half hours)We were in a suite, so it was quite spacious with a bar and pull out couch in the room and a bathroom that I am ashamed to admit is larger than in my NYC apartment! Our balcony was also much larger than expected with room for two chairs, table, and a lounge chair. Very quite with a great view, I highly recommend the suites on this ship. If you would like pictures I have some for review. The ports were great fun as well, but guests must keep in mind this is not America or Europe, so things run a bit different in South America. That is, you may have to be willing to converse a bit in Spanish, or find your way around the cities by yourself, and expect things to run a bit behind. A few brief examples: the port in BA puts you out by a bunch of taxis, you simply get in one and tell the driver where to go, but some Americans on our cruise found this confusing. You also have to remember where to ask the taxi to take you back to (Terminal des cruiseieros, they'll know what you mean) In addition, most of our excursions were cancelled, but this ended up being better. We had booked a schooner cruise in Brazil, but instead when we got off the ship we hired a local to take us out snorkeling on his sail boat. We even got to help sail the ship! It was a great experience and certainly better, and cheaper!, than Royal Caribbean's plan. The second important point is that most of the passengers are Brazilian, which means non-english speakers. However, all the staff, and most of the passengers, speak English quite well and we did not feel uncomfortable or awkward at any time on the cruise. In fact, we picked up some Portuguese and had some great cultural experiences. Overall, this cruise was great fun but definitely for more seasoned travelers who are willing to go with the flow and experiment a bit. This cruise is NOT NOT NOT for the typical American traveler who expects perfect English everywhere and spoon fed service, you will miss out but probably be dissatisfied with the cruise. If you are looking for some adventure and fun in a new place, this cruise is for you! Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
Splendour of the Seas Transatlantic cruise - 4th December 2007 Itinerary: Day 1 Lisbon, Portugal Day 2 At sea Day 3 Funchal, Madeira Day 4 Santa Cruz de la Palma, Canary Islands Day 5 At sea Day 6 Mindelo, St. Vincente, Cape Verde ... Read More
Splendour of the Seas Transatlantic cruise - 4th December 2007 Itinerary: Day 1 Lisbon, Portugal Day 2 At sea Day 3 Funchal, Madeira Day 4 Santa Cruz de la Palma, Canary Islands Day 5 At sea Day 6 Mindelo, St. Vincente, Cape Verde Islands Day 7 At sea Day 8 At sea Day 9 At sea Day 10 Recife, Brazil Day 11 At sea Day 12 Salvador, Brazil Day 13 At sea Day 14 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Day 15 Santos (São Paulo), Brazil Introduction: This is a fairly long review, but justified because it is the first Royal Caribbean cruise to South America since 2001 and is likely to be read with keen interest by both CC members who have a South American cruise booked and those who are interested in booking one. Any vacation, whether on land or on the sea, is essentially what the guests want to make of it. It is always easy to be critical, but that is just as likely to spoil the enjoyment of the occasion for the criticizer as for those being criticized. The unexpected will always happen, so the best advice is to "go with the flow" and not let any small inconvenience detract from the pleasure of a cruise - in my opinion the greatest holiday experience on earth, whatever cruise that may be. General opinion: I had been eagerly awaiting this cruise for many months, so expectations were very high. In reflection, it passed by too quickly as we enjoyed every minute. It was a holiday never to be forgotten. Departure port: Lisbon. Lisbon is a good port of call and has the facilities to be used as a departure port. It's closeness to the center of town makes it easy to get to, being only 20 minutes away by taxi from all leading hotels. Lisbon is a friendly city and the fresh, mild and dry weather made for a pleasant pre-cruise stay for those that took advantage of the opportunity. Embarkation: RCL's first South American cruise for 6 years and the use of an "occasional" departure port of Lisbon made this a difficult experience for most guests. Although we had priority check-in, being in a suite, it took us over an hour, with delays caused by having to fill in Brazilian immigration forms at the check-in desk, while the clerk and all other guests were waiting. Then there was the Port's own baggage check and passport control, with only two gates, causing a bottle neck and finally a queue at the only entrance to the ship for the photos on the seapass. The confusion was added to by a breakdown in the on-board computer system for printing seapasses. At check-in the clerk could not find our seapass so gave us a voucher that we had to present at the purser's desk later to exchange for a seapass. This led to a further queuing of one hour later that evening. As it happens, we should be grateful for the requirement to complete the Brazilian immigration form at check-in, because it saved us the need for presenting passports at Recife, the first Brazilian port of call. The passports were collected and only returned on the penultimate day of the cruise. The authorities stamped them in Recife in our absence. One suggestion to speed up the process of embarkation could be to require guests to complete the immigration papers and present them with their passports for collection at muster. Sail-away and muster: This went smoothly and on-time. The drill was conducted in Portuguese and English, for the benefit of the majority of passengers (about 70% Portuguese speaking, 20% English and 10% other). A thick fog spoilt what would have been a fantastic sail away view. General appearance of the ship and quality of service: Splendour of the Seas is one of the older and smaller ships in the fleet, but as they say, everything is relative and she would be considered the best and most modern in many other cruise lines. We were particularly impressed by the standard of the ship, beautifully maintained and looking as impressive as she did in her maiden years. The service on-board was good, with ever crew member trying their best to be helpful and impress the guests. Being the repositioning cruise before a winter season in Brazil, there were inevitably some difficulties caused by many new staff entering in Lisbon. Because of the language and Brazilian law, most new crew members were Brazilians, but they seemed to fit in well with their more experienced colleagues. Staterooms: All staterooms are of the highest quality on Splendour of the Seas, being slightly bigger than on other category ships. We were in a Grand Suite and our travelling companions in an aft balcony on deck 6. We were very pleased with the rooms and the attendance. In the Grand Suite, we were greeted with fresh fruit, a pillow menu, a card to enter the concierge lounge and bath robes and slippers. They had not yet replaced the old Video cassette player and TV with DVD and LCD, but as it turned out, we had little time to watch TV anyway. The grand suites are excellent sizes, square in shape to give plenty of room, including a large square bathroom. We have never had an excess of cupboard space on a cruise before, but we had this time, including the luxury of one clothes hanger per garment. It is a pity that there was no internet available in staterooms. I had to take the laptop to a designated "hotspot" to access the RCL "wi-fi". Dining: As on most Vision-class ships, dining is limited with no speciality restaurants, no Johnny Rockets and no Seaview Cafe. However, in my opinion, this was compensated by a fine selection of varied food and good service in both the main dining room and Windjammer. The 14-day menu has a few repeated dishes, but there was always a good selection of new items that we always enjoyed our meal in the main dining room. We went to the Windjammer for dinner three times. This was always good and fast, with the best steaks available, grilled to perfection while you wait. The Solarium bar had the usual selection of pizzas, hamburgers, chips and hot dogs. Their general aspect did not lead us to want to try them. Best here was the made to order pancakes. With new staff being taken on for this cruise, there were inevitable learning difficulties in the restaurant and the waiting time was erratic (some nights acceptable, others a little too long). I have never seen the head waiters working so hard before - they are usually just people you see around in red coats who only talk to the clients on the last evening when the tips are being distributed. On this cruise, our head waiter, from Germany, spoke to us every evening and helped the waiters with everything from serving bread and water to collecting deliveries from the kitchen to clearing away dirty plates. I was impressed by this spirit of co-operation. The Lattitudes cafe was one of favorite haunts. My wife had to have her morning "espresso" there and I loved the cookies and muffins (better than in the Windjammer) and the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. There were two special nights, one by the pool with a buffet and BBQ, the other the inevitable midnight buffet in the dining room. Concierge lounge: Set up in the "card room" on deck 7 (centrum) this has to be the prettiest concierge lounge afloat, with magnificent sea views. The evening canapes and drinks were very good. They were always the same every day, but we didn't complain about that. It was very thoughtful of them to add an additional overflow lounge in the deck 3 conference center. We used this on several nights as it was far less busy than the main CL. The concierge, Giovanna, from Brazil, deserves maximum praise for the efficient way she managed the lounge and for her helpfulness in trying to resolve problems. Entertainment: The Splendour of the Seas singers and dancers were very good, particularly the two feature dancers, a couple from Utah. As they were accustomed to doing two production shows per week on the normal routines, on this cruise we saw them only twice in 14 nights. However, they made up for this with some very good invitation acts, with only one night being repeated. Cruise director, Leo Papa did a good job. Away from the main theatre, there was also plenty of live music in the centrum, Top Hat Lounge and Schooner Bar at night and by the pool during the day. Spa and gymnasium: Although the gymnasium on Splendour of the Seas is small, it was just about adequate for the amount of use it got. Perhaps it was the enthusiasm and professionalism of the staff in the training center that led to more people joining the classes as the cruise went on. The lectures and classes in the gym were the best on the whole ship and the only "intelligent" activities available. The training center staff were all from Brazil and deserve maximum credit. The spa staff were also excellent, very friendly and never pushy to sell their products. The pools were heated to a decent temperature throughout and very well maintained. Activities on board: Considering that this ship normally runs a seven day, port intensive itinerary, it was to be expected that there would be a lack of decent activities on board. Apart from the lectures from the fitness center and spa, there was nothing intellectual at all, just the usual belly-flop, men's sexy legs and marriage games, plus the bingo, casino, art auction etc. and a most pathetic ceremony when we passed the equator. Notwithstanding the above comment, it has to be said that we were never bored at all and the wonderful sea days passed by so quickly. The weather was good and the seas calm all of the time. The ports and shopping guide and lectures were the most pathetic I have ever seen. Out of six ports of call Helene from the USA could only manage to recommend two stores, one lacecraft shop in Madeira and an "oversell" jewelers' in Rio de Janeiro. At least the jewelry shop did a good job for Royal Caribbean in Rio by offering the shuttle service free of charge. Shore excursions: Excellent shore excursions were made available in both Madeira and Santa Cruz de la Palma. The ones we chose can be highly recommended. They were "A taste of Madeira" and Volcano & Wine" respectively. Considering that both Mindelo and Recife are seldom-used ports, RCL made little attempt to offer decent shore excursions here. Indeed, in Cape Verde it is difficult to find anything for a tourist to do. We took a taxi out to a local beach area and walked around the town a bit. After two and a half hours, we were back on the ship. In Recife, we booked a private excursion to Maragogi, a beautiful beach area 120 km away. It is a pity that RCL only offered excursions to the run-down old-town when there is so much to see away from the town. In Salvador, we did not need an excursion, as the ship docks in the historic center itself and everything can be seen on foot. In Rio de Janeiro we took advantage of the shuttle to go into the Ipanema district where we spent a pleasant day shopping and eating a spectacular "Rodizio". (We have been to Rio several times before, so we did not visit the tourist sites again). Debarkation: This was a slow process, as had been embarkation. We had a "preferential" time of 8:30 marked, but were only allowed to leave at 10:00. Once inside the terminal, there was plenty of queuing to hand in customs papers at a single exit. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
We enjoyed our week on the Splendour of the Seas. I think I have been spoiled by the size and impressive facilities of the Voyager-class ships, but the Vision-class ship is very nice. Our stateroom, 2nd deck forward, had a porthole but was ... Read More
We enjoyed our week on the Splendour of the Seas. I think I have been spoiled by the size and impressive facilities of the Voyager-class ships, but the Vision-class ship is very nice. Our stateroom, 2nd deck forward, had a porthole but was still light and comfortable. In the future, though, I would be reluctant to have a room that has an interior adjoining door, as it means you have a chair instead of a divan, and our neighbor opened the door one or two times - though we had asked that it be locked. Another caveat: RCCL puts a six-pack of soda and two bottles of water on the room desk and charge ($8.60) for it if used. We didn't want it and stowed it in the closet. Of course, when they saw it was 'gone' we were charged for it on the final day and there was no time to do dispute the charge. We stayed at the Marriott Courtyard at the Venice airport the first night, and a week in advance I was able to arrange a trip to the port for 33 Euros through the hotel. We were at the ship by noon for the 4:30 sailing and there were no lines - we just walked aboard. Even though we were among the first to board, our bags weren't delivered until after dinner - which bugged my wife but didn't bother me at all. We had great table-mates: a chef at the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando and his wife, who worked for the Orlando Visitors Bureau, and a fellow in the construction business whose wife is office manager for a Houston plastic surgeon. Fun people to get to know, and I'd sail with them anytime! I do think that the declining dollar has hit the dining room: Meals weren't as nice and the portions weren't as big as earlier cruises. The lobster was a couple bites. More chicken and pork chops as 'featured' entrees, yet still tasty and with good service. I've read some reviews that indicate the waiters on RCCL's smaller ships are not as good as on the new vessels, but I certainly didn't see evidence of this. One humorous discovery: The singing waiters don't sing! Learned this when they used a scratched CD to play "O Solo Mio" and it skipped. Wow, and there ain't no Santy Claus, neither! The Voyager had its 'best places' and so does the Splendour. After the evening show, we'd go to the Champagne Terrace on the ground floor of the Atrium, where they had various musicians every night - the best was a Latin group. The Viking Crown Lounge, which was a nice evening venue for jazz on the Voyager serves as the disco on the Splendour. The Schooner Bar - which we didn't think was interesting on Voyager, was like an English pub and popular on the Splendour. Entertainment was not bad: average to really good lounge acts, and in the showroom the RCCL Singers and Dancers always are good. Had an Elton John impersonator so one very good show, and a Four Tops-like group do another. One act I didn't care for was Mysterique, but that was just not my taste. The ports were great, had a couple of interesting excursions and nice weather. Corfu is beautiful, as is most of what I saw in Greece. I'd go back. We didn't get off the ship in Croatia. The weather had turned bad and the night before we were advised that Natalie would need a $40 visa - assuming that they could even arrange one. We canceled the excursion and enjoyed a restful day on board instead. Not a huge disappointment - heard no stories from anyone later that would lead me to regret the decision - mainly due to the weather. Back in Venice, we had a post-cruise excursion to Padua, and I had booked a room at the Best Western Premier on St. Elena island. From the airport (where our tour terminated) we checked our bags into the Left Luggage room and took at bus (No. 5, EUR 2) to Plaza Roma, the transport hub for buses and boats. The boats cost EUR 6 per person without regard to the length of the trip, and took us to St Elena island, a residential and park district. The hotel was only a couple blocks from the landing. The hotel is a former convent, but the sisters never had it so good: we had a two room mini-suite, very bright and comfortable, which overlooked a canal (Then again, in Venice there are probably only two hotel rooms that DON'T overlook a canal!). The hotel is only a 20-minute stroll (over countless footbridges) to the famous St. Marco Square. That afternoon, we reversed course (boat and bus) and returned to the airport for the flight home to Kyiv. Returned to 2 feet of snow after a blizzard earlier in the day, and our cold Ukrainian winter. All in all, a very good trip. We're already counting the days til February and our Mexico cruise on Vision! Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
We spent 7 days on the Splendour of the Seas on Nov. 3rd until the 10th. We flew into Venice on Thursday morning and spent 2 nights at Hotel Panorama on Lido. 245 Euro for 2 nights with a view of the Lagoon facing St. Marks Square was a ... Read More
We spent 7 days on the Splendour of the Seas on Nov. 3rd until the 10th. We flew into Venice on Thursday morning and spent 2 nights at Hotel Panorama on Lido. 245 Euro for 2 nights with a view of the Lagoon facing St. Marks Square was a wonderful experience. We took the Free shuttle from Piazzale Roma and boarded at 12:30. The sign in and boarding process took 5 minutes. Very smooth and efficient. We enjoyed a great Meet and Mingle in the Viking Crown Lounge and got a chance to meet most of the posters on this site. So nice to finally put faces to screen names after all these months. The view from the port side on the sailaway was unforgettable. It was as good as a sailaway can possibly be. As a bonus, we also had a wonderful sunset and clear view of the alps during the departure. Breakfast in the Windjammer was very good, especially the made to order omelettes and carved ham. The only difference with having breakfast in the King and I room was a very bland Eggs Benedict on the menu. Lunch was decent, normal cruise food. Dinner in the King and I room was very good. Except for a dry Duck and an undercooked Pasta and (very mini)Scallops dish, everything else was very tasty. Appetizers and desserts were outstanding. The staff at all food location were very friendly and helpful. We found the 1800 person capacity of the ship to be a very nice size. There were only a few kids on board and they were hardly seen. Sure beats our last kid-filled Carnival cruise. The covered Solarium pool only allowed kids in between 11 and 4. There were always seats or lounge chairs to be found in the Solarium for readers or sun worshippers. Mykonos is a quaint town that is packed during the summer, so we saw it at a relaxed state, which was nice. Walking to all the sites was no problem. The very narrow streets/walkways were amazing to get lost in. Our 9 hour Athens tour started with the Acropolis/Parthenon area. What a great piece of history! The rest of Athens was alot less scenic, but was very interesting. The motorbike riders are INSANE. Zipping in and out of traffic at high speeds. The town is very crowded and full of traffic. So plan on plenty of drive time between sites. Katakolon was very relaxing little town with nice waterfront restaurants to have a long lunch and recover from Athens. The people that went to Olympia were split as far as liking the site. They recently added a train for 3 Euro that goes the 40 minutes to Olympia. That is the option we would do on our next visit. Corfu was the favorite port for us, as well as many of the others on the cruise. We rented a scooter and went up and down the East coast and to the Achillian Palace. We stopped at a little Taverna along the way and had a pleasant lunch. Split was probably the least favorite port amongst the cruisers we spoke with. It is a congested city with only a few sites of mild interest. It also rained that day, so maybe that took away from some of the charm. We were then offered a tour of the Bridge. The 1st, 2nd Captain and an engineer, took their time to show us how the ship operates and what really happens when the ship is sailing and docking. A wonderful experience. Our room was adequate, but the shower was weak on a few days. Tip: use the shower by the workout room. 3 times the size and excellent water pressure. The Motown group and the Elton John tribute were both very good shows. The others were basic cruise entertainment. The bands playing in the Atrium were very good, especially the Latin guys. Leaving the ship was also very easy. 5 minutes and we were at the spot for the shuttle back to Piazzale Roma. Taking our time we still arrived at the airport before 9:00. Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
We enjoyed the trip. It was two adults and a 16 year old. The cruise left Venice in high winds and waves. The captain the next day told us it was gale force winds of 55 knots. While the ship rocked a bit, we noticed it, but it wasn't ... Read More
We enjoyed the trip. It was two adults and a 16 year old. The cruise left Venice in high winds and waves. The captain the next day told us it was gale force winds of 55 knots. While the ship rocked a bit, we noticed it, but it wasn't bad. I get sea sick and so does my son and we did fine. Actually, knowing how bad it was built some confidence I did not have before regarding motion sickness. I used the arm bands and they must have worked because I was fine. They ports are very nice. We did Mykonos, Corfu, Athens, Split, Olympia. Mykonos was beautiful and everything you image when thinking of Greece. Corfu was a pretty island. Athens is a huge city, but the acropolis was magnificent. Split is very old and we preserved and we enjoyed walking around. There is a huge open market just off the ship and lots of fine crafts, leather goods, etc. Boarding the ship was easy once we walked from Plaza Roma to the ship. Its about a mile up the road. We never did find the Royal Caribbean buses. We got on board about 1:30 with no wait at all. Departing was easy too except it was raining and the buses to Plaza Roma are a long way from the ship. Overall it was a nice trip especially for my son. He truly enjoyed all the history and Greece was really wonderful. It was warm in Greece, but very cool in Venice. Many of the shops and restaurants in the ports were closed because of the off season. I think that it was actually the final ship of the year for Mykonos or at least that's what they told us. We went on the Splendour in 2005 in the Western Med. It is a nice ship, showing a little age, but not enough to matter. We had a nice time and enjoyed the trip. Read Less
Sail Date November 2007
Background Information: We are 27 and 29 and have been to Europe several times. This was our first RCCL cruise, having cruised on Carnival and NCL in the past. Travel to Port: We flew delta. The flight was fine. We took a water taxi from ... Read More
Background Information: We are 27 and 29 and have been to Europe several times. This was our first RCCL cruise, having cruised on Carnival and NCL in the past. Travel to Port: We flew delta. The flight was fine. We took a water taxi from the airport to hotel and from hotel to port. The first was 90 euros and the second 65 euros. Expensive, but it was worth the convenience factor to us. Hotel Info: Before the cruise we used starwood points to stay the Hotel Danieli and post cruise points at the Westin Europa and Regina. The Westin upgraded us to a room with a balcony overlooking the Grand Canal which was a treat. Both hotels are very nice. Stateroom: We booked a junior suite. There was some noise when carts were being pushed in the solarium. That was slightly annoying. In retrospect, we would have booked a lower category stateroom. The extra space wasn't worth it to us on this cruise. Ship Info: We loved the solarium. The ship felt small. Dining: The food was okay. I would have preferred them to change the menu based on where we were cruising. My memorable meals are in port; not on the boat. Entertainment: We went to one show, and we didn't think it was very good. In general, I have not been impressed by onboard entertainment ever. Shore Excursions: We did Olympia with a RCCL shore excursion. It was fine; but I would have preferred to do it at my own pace. In Athens, we walked to the metro (30 minutes walk) and went to Acropolis and the Archeological museum. Navigating the metro was easy. The Acropolis was amazing. In Mykonos, we just walked around town, walked to the windmills and had dinner. In Corfu, we walked to town, and had lunch and did some shopping. In Split, we walked around town. The best part of most of the ports was having some local food and wine/beer! Disembarkation: Easy! Summary: The cruise was fun and a great way to see a lot of places in a short amount of time. I was less exhausted after the cruise than I am after a typical Europe trip. There was enough relaxation time worked in. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
We have recently returned from a 7-night cruise to Turkey and the Greek Islands aboard 'Splendour of the Seas'. This was our first cruise on this ship although we have cruised with Royal Caribbean before. The ship is older than ... Read More
We have recently returned from a 7-night cruise to Turkey and the Greek Islands aboard 'Splendour of the Seas'. This was our first cruise on this ship although we have cruised with Royal Caribbean before. The ship is older than others we have been on and it is beginning to show and the ship is a little tired, Whilst the cabin was comfortable, the shower curtain in the en-suite was grubby and the bottom of the door to the en-suite was badly scored and looked dirty. Also the duvets on the beds were unusually heavy although the mattresses were comfortable. The public areas were bright and airy and in most cases it was pleasant to listen to the music in the lounges and this was not too loud to prevent conversation. The exception was the Greek group who did not seem to notice passengers fleeing from the Centrum to quieter areas! The service in the dining room varied from excellent to very poor, depending where you were seated. We deserted our designated table for the Windjammer after frustrating service at dinner on two evenings when it took 40 minutes from being given the menu until the order for starters was taken. Open sitting at breakfast provided better service in the main but there were still differences which should be improved. The choice of ports-of-call was excellent and going ashore for excursions was hassle-free and well organized. The guides on the 2 excursions which we went on were excellent, very interesting and informative. We will probably cruise with Royal Caribbean again but perhaps on another ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
My adult daughters and I sailed on Splendor of the Seas on Aug. 11. Our port calls were Mykonos, Athens, Katakolon, Corfu and Split. My younger daughter recently graduated from college and wanted to go to Greece. Cruising was an excellent ... Read More
My adult daughters and I sailed on Splendor of the Seas on Aug. 11. Our port calls were Mykonos, Athens, Katakolon, Corfu and Split. My younger daughter recently graduated from college and wanted to go to Greece. Cruising was an excellent way to see Greece, especially in August. First of all it was HOT. There are probably better months to cruise to Greece, but we didn't have a lot of choice. It was great to be able to unpack and come and go from the ship. It was especially great to have adjustable A/C! The ship was in very good condition. Usually we cruise on newer ships and we found it hard to believe that this one is 11 years old. The food was much better than we had previously had on Grandeur of the Seas. Our waitstaff was excellent. The rooms were pretty standard ocean view cabins - nothing special but nothing wrong. Our cabin steward was better than most. We especially enjoyed the champagne bar in the Centrum and spent most evenings there with our table mates. The two bartenders, Dimi and Dejan, were great! The port calls were lovely and we felt like we had enough time in each port. Possibly Mykonos could have been a bit of a longer stay. We hired a driver in Athens and were able to see far more than anyone who took ships tours. In the 9 hours that we had with our private driver we everything we could have wanted to see, plus some! Katakolon was our least favorite port and while we enjoyed the drive to Olympia, we didn't particularly enjoy that site. I don't think I'd be in a hurry to go back. The town was fine, but very touristy and most shops had the same merchandise. Corfu was awesome. We took the ship's tour that included a wine tasting. The drive was scenic and the boat trip to the caves was really fun. Our only complaint was that the tour bus took us back to the ship and then we had to shuttle to the downtown area. We had been told by the shopping expert that Corfu was the least touristy place on the schedule but we found the opposite to be true. In fact, August is holiday month in Europe and Corfu was slammed with European tourists. Trying to shop was a mob scene and we ended up returning to the ship after about an hour. Split, Croatia was a nice surprise. Though they don't use the Euro, and we had to exchange money, the prices were very reasonable and the town was lovely. I would highly recommend this cruise on Splendor of the Seas. The ship is in excellent condition and the entire crew seems to go about their jobs happily. Seeing Greece on a cruise ship gave us a nice overview, while still having the comforts that we appreciate. Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
Splendour of the Seas May 26th 2007 Travelled with 5 others - age 25 -32 Day 1 Flew to Venice and stayed overnight at Casa Sant'Andrea Hotel.Hotel was 5 mins walk from Piazzle D Roma where the airport Atvo bus stopped.Very basic ... Read More
Splendour of the Seas May 26th 2007 Travelled with 5 others - age 25 -32 Day 1 Flew to Venice and stayed overnight at Casa Sant'Andrea Hotel.Hotel was 5 mins walk from Piazzle D Roma where the airport Atvo bus stopped.Very basic hotel but its only for the night before the cruise.went around venice and took the gondola.Make sure to bargain as the standard price which is 80 euro.We supposed to get the free shuttle bus from Piazzle D Roma to the terminal the next day but decided to walk.Took us 20 mins walk as some of us has big luggages.The check in building is right at the back of the terminal.But somehow it went very smooth..We also did the prior checked in. Went straight to our rooms.We booked stateroom on the deck 8.First impression, it was a bit too small .The bed is so comfortable.Our attendant Rogie a Filipino guy is such a sweetheart.He helped us a lot.He even tried to get a phone charger for us.He cleaned our rooms twice daily.Had dinner at King and I .Our main waiter was a dissapointment.He doesn't say a word.May be it was his first time.Our second waiter was much better.Food is always great there. Day 2 Our first port was Dubrovnik. We have to pay for the shuttle to city centre which a bit of let down as RC never mention all the hidden cost.Went around the city wall to see the whole city.Quite amazing spot,Went to the beach nearby ..There's a cool bar looking over the beach.Not to be missed. Day 3 A sea day. Used the solarium pool a lot as the main pool full of kids . Also did the rock climbing and the crazy golf..Breakfast and lunch at windjammer was great..But they seem not changing the menu through out the week.Had the formal dinner.Everybody was all glam up. Day 4 Kusadasi -Booked the Ephesus trip with Nejat Incedogan , a local turkish man who I thought very knowledgeable about Ephesus.So we had the tour guide for ourselves which is much better than a huge group.Nejat brought us to local restaurant which we asked for.Though the food was reasonable and nice there're loads of tourist buses stopped by.so its not really the local hang out.He also brought us to leather factory and pottery shop.very interesting. Day 5 Santorini where we had booked a car with odysseysRental. Definitely recommend it.we booked 2 cars and decided to change to a van the on the day.They were cool about it.somehow we had to tender to shore on the day of arrival.People who has booked tour with the RC has priority to tender which I felt a little unfair.The tender process wasn't organized and we were late arriving there.we saw the cable car queue was very long.End up taking the donkey while some of us walked up the stairs.It wasn't a pleasant experience.First of all its only supposed to be 3 euro and the guy charged each of us 5 euro each.No safety whatsoever.I recommended to take the cable car or walk up.Drove to Oia..It was the most beautiful place I've ever seen.Trip was quick as we have to be back to cruise Day 6 Corfu. Just a relaxing place to go..Spent most time swimming at beach nearby Day 7 Sea day. Used the sauna and steam room at the spa and played table tennis.went for salsa class.Weather starts getting breezier and we took the rest of the day chilling. Day 8 Back to Venice. We all put on at least a kg after the cruise Suggestions : -RC should take into consideration to organize the tender process a bit better -Entertainment was really good. But may be too much on musical side .It'll be good if add some stand up comedy or some acrobats show. Our cruise director Leo Pappa, was great and entertainment -Go to eastern med around end of May to early June , weather wont be pipping hot and wont be swamped with loads of tourists. -Crew are very professionals and polite - All in all we had a fun holiday Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
After a long day of traveling, we arrived home from Barcelona at 9:15pm, New Mexico time! We had a very large cruise critic group and let me say, we had an extremely wonderful time and a fantastic group! We arrived in Houston about ... Read More
After a long day of traveling, we arrived home from Barcelona at 9:15pm, New Mexico time! We had a very large cruise critic group and let me say, we had an extremely wonderful time and a fantastic group! We arrived in Houston about 10:20am, collected our luggage and had a short wait for the transfer to Galveston. We arrived at the pier about 11:45. RCI did a fantastic job with the transfers and check-in, and we were aboard by 12:15pm for lunch! The only complaint that we had was that they collected our passports at embarkation and would not be returning them until the end of our cruise. Being an American in a foreign port, it is imperative that you have a passport with you when going ashore. I would recommend that anyone doing a transatlantic or Med cruise to make a copy of their passport and carry it with them when going ashore. Many passengers, did indeed, collect their passports when we arrived in the Azores and the ship was very accommodating with this issue. Our cabins were ready upon our arrival. Our basic, category M inside cabin was very small and we did not have a lot of storage space. The new bedding was wonderful and very comfortable. We stowed our carry-ons and went up to the Windjammer for lunch. The food was plentiful in the Windjammer and very tasty. Choices ranged from cold cuts to pasta with plenty of hot and cold dishes and a wide array of desserts with many sugar free choices. Tea and lemonade were available for self-serve. We did a little bit of exploring after lunch to re-acquaint ourselves with Splendour. My first impression: they were lacking some help in the Windjammer, as the tables were not cleared very quickly. The ship showed every bit of her 11 years and is in need of a good refurbishment. I also felt that she was not as clean as she should have been and I told the hotel manager just that. At 3pm, we ventured up to the pool bar to await our cruise critic friends. Our sailaway party was a success and we met many of the people we had been chatting with for the months prior to the cruise. We seemed to be a well-blended group with very friendly cruisers and I am sure some long-term friendships have been formed. We had early seating for dinner, so we returned to the cabin to freshen up before our early seating. Still no luggage and I was worried that I would be called to the "naughty room"! Fortunately since were close by the aft elevators, I took a walk over and found the luggage! All were intact and still locked. No suspicious orange tags! At 6:10pm, we entered the dining room to meet some of our cruisecritic members who had asked to join us for dinner. We had a very lively table and our waitress, Erica, had problems getting us to listen to her recommendations from the dinner menu as we were having a great time getting acquainted! This became a nightly occurrence with our waitress, which I found highly annoying, as she would keep saying, "If you could please give me your attention". I never have a problem deciding what to eat and I did not feel like I needed a recommendation! Our assistant waitress, Trixie, was a true gem and we had very good service in the dining room. The food was a good assortment of fish, pasta, beef and chicken along with vegetarian choices or options for grilled chicken, steak, salmon and another pasta dish if one did not care for the main selections. Some of the steak selections were tough, I had the salmon twice, prime rib was excellent, steak Diane was disappointing, for the most part, the food was good, very flavorful, not what I would call great. Most nights, I ordered the sugar free desserts or low fat. These were very good, as was the ice cream! Many of the regular desserts that my DH ordered, I did taste and they were very good, but I found none truly outstanding. As usual, we avoided all the shows, but we were told that many were very good, some just ok. This is when we usually like to have a quiet drink right after dinner in the Schooner bar, right after a nightly round of trivia naturally! In the evenings, we listened to karaoke, then, we'd head up to the Viking Crown for some dancing and great conversation with our new friends. Unfortunately, I think someone forgot to tell the crew that many of the passengers actually wanted to stay up past midnight, as they would make a last call for drinks about 12:45 am, and then close the bar at 1 am. Many of the passengers found this highly irritating as with six days at sea, what did we have to get up for the next morning? Our first port of call was Key West, Florida. It was a beautiful day in Key West and we took a tour through the Mel Fisher Museum, explored some of the shops, and then, had a nice cocktail before heading back to the Splendour. Our crossing was very smooth and the captain opted for the more northern route into Ponta Delgada. Our weather during the day was in the 70's and sunny. We had lots to do during the day, trivia, dance lessons, art auctions, so the six day crossing went by very quickly. We arrived in Ponta Delgada, Azores at 7am. Since we had been there last year, we opted just to explore the town. I used my ATM card to get my euros. It cost me just over $136 for 100 euros. The bank fee was $1.36. Many stores in Ponta Delgada accepted dollars, so currency exchange was not a problem! We had a very nice day, spring like weather and as we were due to sail at 1:30 pm, we made our way back onboard about 12:30. The ship did not receive the fuel it needed to continue our voyage, so the captain extended our time until 4 pm! We now had 3 hours to make up to get us into Cadiz, Spain. The captain told us that we would be one hour late into Cadiz and that he was going to have to travel at top speed to get us there. This was not a problem for any of the passengers except for the fact that we were entering a storm outside Ponta Delgada! The near gale kept us rocking and pitching until we reached Cadiz, but it wasn't too bad, just a very heavy wind across the deck. We arrived in Cadiz at 2:00pm. We docked in the heart of the commercial district, but it didn't do us much good as the Spanish take a siesta from 1:30 until 5:30pm! We roamed the pedestrian district and stopped off at a couple of Tapas bars. We returned to the ship at 5:30pm to pick up Dad, then off to eat onshore. We had a very nice dinner at La Candela, then roamed the shops on our way back to the pier about 8pm. Our next day was calm and sunny enroute to Barcelona. We arrived in Barcelona at 5am and we were off the ship and on our way to the airport at 7:30. Disembarkation in Europe is better than anywhere else! Our bags were tagged and loaded on buses and arrived when we did at the airport! We had a bit of a wait prior to check-in for our 1:05pm flight. We had a great flight back on Delta, cleared customs in Atlanta and arrived back home in Las Cruces at 9:15pm. All in all, our cruise critic members made this a terrific and memorable cruise. To RCI, the ship could be cleaner, better maintained and service could be improved upon. Read Less
Sail Date April 2007
We were traveling with my three children (10, 12, 14) and my husband and I... My favorite way to read reviews is by subject, so I wrote mine in the same fashion. Hope it helps with your amazing cruise planning! We flew Southwest from ... Read More
We were traveling with my three children (10, 12, 14) and my husband and I... My favorite way to read reviews is by subject, so I wrote mine in the same fashion. Hope it helps with your amazing cruise planning! We flew Southwest from Tulsa to Houston Hobby - stayed in Galveston for 1 night before our cruise sailing date so we could be sure to get there in time. A friend of ours from the Houston area picked us up and delivered us to our hotel - Harbor House. The hotel was across from Pier 21 - great location - great bay view - we could see the ships from our hotel window. No pool and the continental breakfast was very slim - but so close to the pier. Whatever we missed at breakfast was definitely made up on the ship. Embarkation - We left the hotel on foot around 10:30 pulling our luggage. Very short walk - all even ground. We arrived around 10:45 a.m. and a porter was there to greet us, take our luggage stack and direct us to the right place. We waited in a short line (one couple in front of us) and were completely checked in, photos taken, passports shown - in less than 10 minutes. We sat down in some blue chairs in this warehouse type building for just a few minutes. At 11:30 sharp the gangway door opened and we proceeded up to the gangway to embark on our wonderful cruise. We wondered around the public deck areas trying to learn the layout for a few minutes -took lots of pictures and then headed to the Windjammer for a buffet lunch. We snagged a window table and hung out there until 12:30 ish. Then we headed out to find the rock wall, put-put course and Solarium. Took lots more pictures and video (wanted to get this done so I wouldn't forget later). Our cabin was ready at 1:00 sharp. Cabins - We were in the Royal Family Suite 8032- amazing room. The verandah was huge. It had a small table with four chairs. The living area had a fold out couch (queen size, I think) and then the master suite area had a queen bed with a dressing table and its own bathroom/shower. The shower was in the tub - very nice - large area - no shower curtain sticking to you while you showered! The boys had their own room with twin beds and two nightstands. Also there was a Pullman bed above one of the twin beds but we didn't use it. They also had their own bathroom/stand-up shower - that was a life-savor with 5 of us in the room! There was so much storage we didn't even use it all - and we had quite a bit of stuff. Each person got their own closet space there were small closet nooks everywhere!! Our cabin steward was Lucky - he was from St. Vincent - the kids thought he was so cool! I would consider us a bit of a challenge with 3 children - he never missed a beat - we kept trying to catch him there - he was so good about coming in the moment we left. Our room was spotless. He made the most awesome towel animals - the kids looked forward to those each night. We tipped Lucky a $20.00 bill at the beginning just as a token of our appreciation for all that he would be doing for us. Our cabin (#8032) was located just below the pool deck. Yes, it was very, very noisy - until very late ( 2:00 a.m.) we heard chairs scraping and being pulled across the deck as well as people running. And then around 5:30 a.m. the morning deck crew re-organized each and every chair by pulling them back to their spots. It was annoying, however, we did get to enjoy the sunrise each morning because we were up. The cabin was very nice - but next time we may look into a couple of suites that are located under other cabins or a nice quite computer lounge or library. (: Oh yes and the Pillow Menu - I finally figured out what that meant! It was literally a menu to order pillows from. Everything from body pillows to posturpedic (sure I didn't spell that one right?!). Very, very cool! We let each of the kids choose one and then husband and I chose one too. We had so many pillows in that room - so much fun!! No free laundry service on this cruise (Holland America offers this for its suite guests) so we never used that service. Concierge's Lounge - Total disappointment. On HAL the concierge's lounge is a huge deal. A concierge was always on duty - foot was plentiful - they knew your name the first day. Hmmm.... We dropped by the concierge's lounge numerous times, no concierge - never met him/her the entire cruise. My daughter and I went at 7:00 a.m. one morning and picked up some fruit and hot chocolate but were told not to leave the room with the plates/drinks. Weird. The choices were slim (maybe three small plates of food/muffins) so we didn't return. There was a lady in there folding towels on the morning we went for the food. She was the one who asked us not to leave with the food. You can make a plate from the Windjammer and return to your room anytime - so we totally didn't understand this rule. Perhaps it was to get you to not come back?!?! If so, it worked. We were so disappointed in the concierge's lounge as we had high expectations - no big deal. We heard there were free drinks in the evenings but never went down to check. Pools - the pools were salt water - for some reason we weren't expecting this as they were chlorinated on HAL. My 10-year-old daughter didn't like it so she only swam a couple of times the entire cruise. The Windjammer Buffet (deck 9) - Great food - amazing view. They have several stations throughout the buffet area. Each station carried different foods. Never had long lines - so many stations throughout the buffet area - really cut down on lines. Very, very smooth buffet service! The waffles on the breakfast buffet are the fantastic! They serve those every day. They had all the normal foods - muffins, eggs, omelets, bacon, sausage, ect... Room Service - We ordered room service a couple of days for breakfast and ate out on the balcony. What a fantastic way to start our day together. We enjoyed eating outside and munch away while gazing at our ever-changing scenery. You could order muffins, eggs (scrambled or omelets), bacon, sausage or ham, hash browns, yogurt, cereal, juices, And coffee - a whole pitcher - it stays hot quite a while. We always tipped $3.00 because our orders were always so big - of course, this is optional. We really enjoyed the delivery guys. They were very nice! The King & I Dining Room - We had first seating (6:00 p.m) Table 114 right by a window. Carolina and Cliff were our servers (I can't remember their official titles) - they were very pleasant. They did a good job - not great but they seemed to want to please. Our experience on HAL set the bar so high. Had we not been on the Westerdam last May we probably would have been fine with the level of service. They don't put the bread in a basket on the table - they continually bring this huge basket to you and have you choose (from three different types) - while we seemed to have plenty of bread constantly - our drinks were left empty a lot. I would ditch the bread service - basket on the table works fine - and focus more on the other needs of the pax. Strange - the bread thing really annoyed me. Okay - I'll move on. Cruise Staff - We had a brand spankin' new cruise director. This was his first cruise. His name was Abe. He did a good job. You could tell he was a little nervous and getting his feet wet. But he was funny - same cruise director jokes as usually - and personable. The activities staff were great - funny group - they do love their job and it shows. As soon as they begin to mesh with Abe - they will be 100%! Adventure Ocean - We had one child in the 9-11 age group (age 9-11). Each night their itinerary would arrive with the main itinerary. She would sit down with her colored highlighters (each person in our group had their own color) and they would highlight the activities that interested her.. RCL allows kids 9 and up (either 9 or 10) to check themselves in and out. Tons of activities - strange time schedule: 9a.m. - noon. 2-5 p.m. and then 7-10 p.m. They had an after hours club - 10pm - 1a.m. but we never utilized this service. There were about 20 kids in this program. The counselors have food names - ours was Mashed Potato Marie - no I'm not kidding - my daughter loved her - we tipped her a $20 on the last night. The Optix Group (ages 12 and up) - Another huge disappointment. I have two that would have fallen into this age group. On our HAL cruise - sorry to keep referencing - the boys were totally plugged in and rarely missed. I add that information to let you know they usually enjoy these kids' activities. But I felt no effort was made to get them lured in. Teens are probably the most difficult pax to keep happy. We understand that. But, the two times they went to their Optix club either no counselor was there - no activities were carried out or it was so "lame" (their description) that they didn't stay. They may need to revamp this area - my husband and I checked the Optix several times throughout the week to try to get them back in there and they were right - no one was there - the room was either empty or being used by the younger group. So, this consequently left our 12 & 14 year olds romping around the entire cruise - hanging out and making new friends. Not a bad thing - but they have such good memories from other cruise kids' programs we were disappointed in this one. Weather - The weather was absolutely perfect!! 85 ish and blue skies!! Cozumel - beautiful - beautiful weather - about 86 degrees - with a bright blue sky - and warm sunshine. - Costa Maya - Excellent weather - partly cloudy with about 85 degrees. Ports of Call/Excursions Galveston - We arrived at Houston Hobby via Southwest Airlines around 9:00 p.m. A friend of ours picked us up and delivered us to the Harbor House. Beautifully renovated warehouse type hotel right on the bay. We had a bay view and awoke to the Princess Sun right outside our window! Spectacular. We walked out onto the pier to see our Splendour of the Seas right behind the Princess. It was a great sight to see - no delays from Cozumel - right on time! Cozumel - Cozumel was experiencing gorgeous weather so when we woke up around 6:00 a.m. and headed out to the balcony we were greeted with balmy weather, clearing skies and a beautiful start to a sunrise. The captain spun us around and we docked. We were the only ones at the pier; however, we could see another ship in the distance just down the shoreline. Never confirmed but think it was a Norwegian ship. We planned a couple of excursions for our Cozumel visit. First, our family of 5 rode Segways, aka The Segway Tour. What a blast. These things are amazing. On a side note - my 10 year old daughter was too young to go through the ship, the RCL age limit was 12 and up. So I signed the boys and my husband up for the excursion through the website. Then, when we docked we strolled up to the Segway guy and asked if he had room for two more that we would like to go along too. He, of course, said yes and we were on our way as a whole family Segwaying!! We put on all the safety gear, practiced riding in the parking lot and then we (and two other couples making our group 9) were ready! We rode our personal transport systems on a bicycle path toward the beach for about 20 minutes - led by our fearless leader, Darwin and followed by Jeep (holding all of our personal belongings) by Alan. Once we got to the beach we stashed our stuff at a Mansion/type house with a pool, Jacuzzi, shower facility and bathrooms and headed out across the beach to snorkel. The guides were excellent and we saw a ton of fish. After about an hour we headed back to the house and enjoyed the snack bar (for an extra fee) and showered and swam. Then we got back on our Segways and headed back to the shop where a taxi was waiting (thanks to Alan radioing in the taxi for us) to take us to our next excursion - Chankanaab Park for our Royal Dolphin Swim. Ahhhh - the Royal Dolphin Swim. This excursion was book directly through Dolphin Discovery (www.dophindiscovery.com) because we wanted to do the Royal Dolphin Swim - the ship only offered the Dolphin Swim and while it was cheaper - it did not include some of the activities we wanted to experience with the dolphins. This single excursion was about $800.00 for our family of 5 and yes, my husband needed oxygen when I told him. However, after the experience we all agreed it was well worth the money. There were 7 of us in our group. Our family of 5 and two women who were sisters. It was a good blend. We watched a 5-minute video before getting into the water to explain all that we were going to do and what would be expected of us. Then we got into the water with our guide. We then kissed, hugged, rode and were propelled out of the water (this one thing is why we upgraded to the Royal Swim) - you float on your stomach - arms and legs outstretched. The dolphins (2) swim to your feet and with their noses they push your feet down into the water - then get underneath you and then push you out of the water superman style. Unbelievable!! The most fun thing we have ever done. Then, after about an hour you are escorted back inside to watch the video that was made during your adventure. They sell these for $50.00 and then pictures for an additional fee. Ours were wonderful - we bought everything - great memories to take home!! After this we headed down the beach in Chankanaab and snagged some great beach chairs with umbrellas - awesome snorkeling and a platform out in the water for the kids to swim to. Dad and I relaxed (okay collapsed) and observed. It was about 4:30 p.m. by now. We hung out there until about 5:30 and then headed back (via taxi) to the pier to board the Splendour. The shower felt wonderful! We were so tired we skipped the dining room and headed to the Windjammer. Costa Maya - perfect relaxation day!! It was about 80 degrees when we docked - great pier - brand new - beautiful. The Costa Maya pier was very commercialized - just like I had read on the boards. There was an Olympic size pool (salt water) and restaurants as well as tons of stores with souvenirs. So we took the advice and headed to Majahaul or Mahahaul (Can't remember?) to the Cat's Meow. Barbara came out to greet us and we started our tab immediately - everyone was thirsty. We also rented 3 beach chairs ($5.00 each) right on the beach. George was our waiter and kept us happy the entire day. We drank cokes all day long, a virgin pina colada and strawberry/banana daiquiri along with two plates of nachos, chips and salsa and coconut shrimp - at the end of the day the total was only $48.00! WOW! How can you beat that?!? Costa Maya was a short day - we had to be back on the ship by 2:30 p.m. for a 3:00 p.m. departure. So, around 1:00 p.m. we headed back to the pier ($3.00 each to get there and then $2.00 each to get back) and let the kids swim with dad while I shopped for those necessary souvenirs for family and friends back at home. Great shopping - nice selection. Then, we boarded at about 2:00 p.m. We didn't get to leave by 3:00, however, some pax didn't seem to get the memo. The captain blew the horn several times, they finally got the message and they came running down the pier. Everyone clapped from the balconies. Funny! Entertainment - The entertainment was good - we made it to a couple of shows - typical ship entertainment. The cruise director, Abe, was brand new - this was his first week at sea - so that was interesting. Dress Code - On causal nights - the pax really went casual. A lot of men and teens wore shorts - most women were dressed in capris. On formal night most dressed up - only saw a few tuxedos - mostly shirts with ties - some jackets/sports coats. Women were dressed from everything from church-type dresses to formals. We had read that this was the norm and for once did not over pack. Disembarkation - We opted for the walk-off - carrying our own luggage - so did about 500 other people. Utter chaos! Unless you have an early flight - skip this mess! They said that only 100 or so pax could sign up for the early walk-off - but when we got to deck 4 at 7:00 a.m. there was mass exodus. Everyone with every kind of luggage tag walked off at the same time. No one was checking any departure tickets. Customs went uneventful - and we were outside ready for our friend to -pick us up by 8:00 a.m. We were at the airport by 9:00 a.m. - plenty early for our 11:30 flight with Southwest. To sum it all up here are some not to be missed items: 1. All you can eat ice cream cones and on deck 9 by the pool. 2. Board the ship early - snag a window seat and enjoy the view while you dine on your first shipboard lunch in the Windjammer. 3. Enjoy the solarium - this area is adults only - nice, padded chairs - very quiet - nice! 4. If the sea is rough - take the kids to swim in the pool - there is a magic wave machine - they had so much fun. 5. Get the all you can drink coke pass - worth it and very, very easy to get cokes - bartenders were pleasant and didn't seem to mind the kids. 6. If you were able to splurge for the balcony be sure and try room service for breakfast one day - it was great having a quiet start to our day on the balcony with the entire gang. Most of all have a blast - the cruise goes by so fast - participate in as much as you'd like - take long walks on the deck with someone you love and enjoy the sunset (and sunrise if you're an early riser). Great family vacation! Read Less
Sail Date March 2007
Party of four: me, DW, DD6, DD4. This was my 7th cruise, DW's second, and the girls' first. If you're like me, you're trying to eke every last minute detail out of these reviews, so I'll do what I can to sate your ... Read More
Party of four: me, DW, DD6, DD4. This was my 7th cruise, DW's second, and the girls' first. If you're like me, you're trying to eke every last minute detail out of these reviews, so I'll do what I can to sate your appetite for cruise info. We flew from California to Houston Hobby via Southwest Airlines on Friday. The cruise departed on Saturday and returned Thursday. I'll put info on what we did before and after the cruise at the bottom, if anyone cares. DAY 1 - BOARDING We arrived at the Galveston Cruise Terminal at about 3pm via free hotel shuttle. As Platinum members, we got to jump to the front of the check-in line. It went very smoothly and we were processed in just a few minutes. Unfortunately, the freebie food table was being shut down already (looked like they had cookies, mimosas, and more). Also, there had been a maitre d' type who had a table set up to handle seating assignment issues, but he was packed up and leaving by 3pm as well. There was a separate check-in station for the kids. They each received a plastic wristband showing their muster station number which they had to wear 24/7 for the entire cruise. We had two connecting ocean view cabins on the 2nd deck aft. This turned out to be a great arrangement for us, with the parents in one room and the girls in the next. The difference between having 4 people in 2 rooms vs. in 1 room was only a total of $80 more, easily worth it. Our stateroom attendant was Dorla. We did not have much interaction with her, but she performed her duties sufficiently. The girls particularly liked the towel animals left on their beds each night (as well as the chocolates!). There are no clocks in the room (or in most parts of the ship). No irons either, for fire reasons. We were booked for main seating in the King & I Dining Room. We had asked for a table for just us 4, but were placed at a table for 10. It worked out fine. The other 6 were three generations of a family, including kids a little older than mine. Our waiter was Diaro from Colombia, asst. waiter was Sherman from Costa Rica, and head waiter was Geraldo (forget where from). We put a lot of demands on Diaro, and he held up admirably. Geraldo visited us daily, and usually cut up the girls' food. On Day 1, we didn't really do much activity-wise. We checked out Adventure Ocean's open house, had dinner, then went to an AO orientation that night. DAY 2 - AT SEA We slept in until around 10am, but the girls were pumped up for AO so we had them do the last hour or so. I participated in a ping pong tournament. We had lunch in the Windjammer, and were impressed by the selection. On our last cruise (RCCL 1995), the poolside selection was just hot dogs and hamburgers. Instead, Windjammer had a full lunch buffet with many options, salads, soups, hot foods, pastas, a carvery, etc. Definitely a viable option. After lunch, we went swimming in the salt water pool, then took the girls back to AO. DW and I took salsa dance lessons, which were fun. Unfortunately, we never ended up trying them out at any of the late-night dancing sessions. On at-sea days, AO runs from 9-11:45, 2-4:45, and 7-10:45. There is also a "Late Night Party Zone" from 10pm-1am which costs $5/hour/kid. Our girls loved the AO program and wanted to do activities whenever possible. We kept them with us for all meals (although you can arrange to have them eat with AO) and only did the LNPZ on one night. The counselors were all good. There seemed to be some changeover in the staffing during the cruise, perhaps picking up and dropping off some of them at the ports. All of the counselors have fun AO names: Superfly Sergio, Fishy Trishy, Cookie Claudia, Turbo (never found out her real first name), Jolly Julia, Lollipop Lucy. Our girls were in different age groups (3-5 and 6-8), but they played in the same room. In the afternoon, we did an informal meet-and-mingle at the Viking Crown. It was nice meeting people who posted in the Roll Call thread. 2nd night was formal night. We had pictures taken, which are later up for viewing and purchase in the Photo Gallery (no commitment). This again was an improvement over our last cruise, which had only one formal photo station so there was a huge line. Instead, Splendour had I think four photo stations (with different backgrounds) so we only had to wait 5-10 minutes. On past cruises, I always wore a tux on formal night. This time I wore a suit and tie. Other than wedding couples, I didn't see any men in tuxedos. We had one formal night and four casual nights. This surprised me, as I was expecting 1-2 smart casual nights. We were strict about following the dress suggestions. However, we saw many people in shorts, jeans, etc. For some reason, the Solarium is not crowded at night for swimming. We went a couple nights and were the only ones interested in the whirlpool. DAY 3 - COZUMEL We dragged the girls out of bed at 6am for breakfast in the Windjammer, then met at 7:15 for our shore excursion to Xcaret Eco-Park. Cozumel is on an island, so if you do a shore excursion on the mainland, you have to take a 30-minute tender to Playa Del Carmen first. From PDC, we had a 10-15 minute walk to the buses, then perhaps a 10 minute ride to Xcaret. We got to Xcaret a little before 9. It was already open, and not very busy. Note: RCCL says children 4 and under are free. Xcaret park actually regulates this by height, not age. Kids 40" and under are free. Keep this in mind if taking a tall 4 year old (or a short older child). I originally bought a ticket for DD4, but received a credit to my SeaPass account before the excursion at the Excursions Desk. Xcaret is awesome. Don't miss it. We only covered maybe 1/2-2/3 of the park in the 5 hours we were there. We may do a later Playa del Carmen trip just to go back. We started off with a boat ride through a river. It was nice, but I would say skip it because you have to walk for about 15-20 minutes on a windy jungle path to get to it. There are some nice orchid and mushroom greenhouses along the way. The highlight is the underground river. Took us about an hour to complete it. Watch out - the water is very cold, and there is no easy bathroom access along the way. Everyone is in lifejackets floating along. You can rent/bring snorkels and fins. Before you go in the water, you put all your gear into a padlocked plastic bag, which the park then transports to the end of the river for you. It is very well organized, efficient, and secure. The underground river passes through a waterfall, several caves, and some stick-tunnels. Very cool. It ends up in the northeastern corner of the park. We walked from there to the nearby lagoons to have lunch. pricey, but tasty. We had mixed steak/chicken fajitas, seafood ceviche, and grilled garlic shrimp. The lagoons are gorgeous sand and placid crystal water, with free inner tubes available. There are lots of beaches and inlets. After some beach time, we went to a large butterfly pavilion, then a Mayan village and ruins. Then it was time to leave the park (2:30pm). We got back to the ship around 3:45pm. The girls wanted to do the last afternoon hour of AO, so we dropped them off. DAY 4 - COSTA MAYA Another early wake up, Windjammer breakfast, and dropping the kids off at AO. We booked the RCCL-sponsored Chacchoban Ruins tour. Thought about David & Ivan's independent tour, but we didn't want to risk something going wrong with us apart from the kids. As it turns out, the early-morning AO program supposedly is only available to parents who are on RCCL-sponsored excursions. But nobody checked. The tour was very good. Our guide was Ariceli, who clearly came from an academic/historian background. It was a half-day tour, with about 1.75 hours actually on-site at the ruins. Most of the ruins are not fully reconstructed, but there are a couple large buildings up. You can climb a little bit. All in all, a good experience, but nothing breathtaking. Picked up the girls, Windjammer for lunch, then dropped them off again at AO. DW and I went up to the Viking Crown for drinks and watched the bellyflop contest and sexy legs contest from above the pool. Later on, we played cash bingo with the girls, but won nothing. At night, we had the girls in LNPZ. We did our first late-night activities: the Quest and Adult Late-Night Comedy. Both were very good. Don't miss the Quest. I hit the late-night Gala Buffet (12:30am-1:30am). DAY 5 - AT SEA This was catch-up day for everything that we intended to do on board, but hadn't done yet. I climbed the rock wall. We played mini-golf. We played blackjack. Watched an ice carving demonstration and a towel folding demonstration (how to make all those animals). More swimming on the pool deck. At night, we watched the farewell show featuring Luis Dalton. He's a juggler and balancer, good entertainment. DAY 6 - DISEMBARK We chose to do the Express Departure, meaning you carry your own luggage off the ship and get off first (7:00-7:45). The alternative was to wait in a lounge until our color code was called, projected to be at 9:30. You have to be out of your stateroom by 7am. Express Departure was very crammed and it looked impossible that they would get everyone off the ship by 7:45, but they did. Customs went smoothly, and we were free to go by 8:15. All in all, a good trip. BEFORE AND AFTER THE CRUISE Before the cruise, we stayed at the Holiday Inn On The Beach in Galveston. There are actually two Holiday Inns in Galveston. The other one looked nicer and is closer to the cruise terminal. We picked this one because of the name, but really they're both on the beach. Our hotel had a free shuttle to and from the cruise terminal, and allowed us to park our rental car at the hotel for free while we were gone. We had dinner the night before the cruise at the Blackeyed Pea, a chain restaurant that we love but do not have in California. The morning before the cruise, we went to Moody Gardens. They have three large glass pyramids, and we visited two: the Rainforest Pyramid and the Aquarium Pyramid. It's a good attraction, and manageable before embarkation time (we even fit in a short IMAX movie). After the cruise, we went to a mini-golf place along Seawall (the girls liked mini-golf so much on the ship, we went for a full-size course). We had lunch at Mosquito Cafe (highly recommend) then visited Bishop's Palace, one of the top 100 U.S. historic homes. We went to Stewart Beach Park, which was kind of disappointing. The sand is fine, but the water is brown (from sand and silt) and simply does not compare to the Yucatan waters. Dinner at Casey's, the casual sister restaurant of local mainstay Gaido's. The next day we had lunch at Rudy and Paco's in downtown Galveston, then drove to Houston for Johnson Space Center, home of NASA. This is a fun place, but the lines are huge for the most popular attraction, a tram tour of the astronaut training facilities. We skipped it because of a 2 hour wait. If we go again, we will get there right when the Center opens. Dinner in Houston at El Tiempo Cantina, an excellent Mexican restaurant (get the deluxe mixed grill). We spent all of Friday at the Children's Museum of Houston. It is supposed to be one of the best children's museums in the country, and we wholeheartedly agree. We have been to many, many children's museums and this is easily the best. If you have kids under 10, this is a must-see. Read Less
Sail Date March 2007
I'll start by saying that we had a fine time on Splendor...embarkation was extremely easy, and disembarkation was smooth and quick. Service staff was very gracious and eager to please. I would definitely take this ship again, and ... Read More
I'll start by saying that we had a fine time on Splendor...embarkation was extremely easy, and disembarkation was smooth and quick. Service staff was very gracious and eager to please. I would definitely take this ship again, and I'm strongly considering taking it to Brazil when it starts that route later this year. Special Note: Reynaldo at the poolside bar, and, Daniel, who seemed to be everywhere, make the strongest drinks. My group of approx. 12 folks was made up of several single African-American women, aged 33-62, one married couple in their 50's, a grandpa, and a 21 year old, and there was something for all of us. Most of us were repeat cruisers, but even the first-time cruiser did just fine. We spent most of our time poolside, either playing games, listening to the band, or simply relaxing. Because of the ship's size, we never had problems finding one another, yet we also never felt suffocated. Food: The food was surprisingly good in the Windjammer Cafe. We never expect buffet style to be fresh or tasty, but the Windjammer served up both. In fact, a couple of us skipped the always lukewarm dining room food one night to find hot, delicious dining room menu items right in Windjammer. Very good grub, and we didn't have to change clothes. Stay away from the room service chicken wings! Entertainment: While we thoroughly enjoyed the band's company, as it was comprised of a few nice-looking Jamaicans, we quickly grew tired of hearing every single song sung to a reggae beat. They were fun, but their repertoire could stand to expand beyond every reggae song ever written and a couple of Lionel Richie songs in between. The Viking Crown Lounge (disco) was very nice and comfortable, but the DJ is limited. A couple of nights of Ghostbusters and Sweet Home Alabama nearly took us out. Word to the wise: load the DJ up with requests if you want to hear music worth dancing to. I only attended one show in the theater and slept through most of it. Not very entertaining at all. Cabin: Three of us stayed in a junior suite and I think I'm spoiled now. It was about the size of a small hotel room, with lots of storage space, and great attention from housekeeping. I think only the suites are on deck 8, so any time we mentioned our cabin number or deck, we noticed a little special treatment. Cleanliness: It was amazing to all of us how often and just what did get cleaned every day. The day we saw someone on our balcony washing it down was so reassuring and yet a little scary at the same time. In the end, we really appreciated the care that went into ensuring all areas of the ship were spotless. Ports: If you're into beauty, get up early and spend all day on and around the beaches of Costa Maya. It's gorgeous. If you're into overpriced goods sold by desperate locals, spend your time in the marketplace on Cozumel. Summary: This was a great trip for the price, particularly for anyone in the Houston area. Having cruised on Celebrity and Carnival, I can say that Royal Caribbean Splendour gives nice combination of great service with a little "cornyness". Read Less
Sail Date January 2007
This was our first cruise on RCI having sailed several times on Celebrity and Princess. We arrived a day early in Galveston and stayed at the historic Hotel Valdez. The room was very comfortable and they let you leave your car at the hotel ... Read More
This was our first cruise on RCI having sailed several times on Celebrity and Princess. We arrived a day early in Galveston and stayed at the historic Hotel Valdez. The room was very comfortable and they let you leave your car at the hotel during the cruise. When we arrived back to Galveston, we called the Valdez and they quickly picked us up. When we arrived at the hotel, they had our car ready with the engine running and the trunk open ready for our bags. Day 1 - The hotel shuttle took us to the terminal around 11:30. The embarkation process was fast and easy. We had lunch at the Windjammer buffet. The rooms are not available until after 1:00 p.m. Baggage arrived around 3:00 p.m. The room was extremely clean considering the age of the ship and the bedding was comfortable. The crew was extremely helpful and happy. Day 2 - The seas were moderately rough. There were many first time cruisers who were not feeling well. There were children of all ages on board but they never were any kind of problem during the cruise. The entertainment was average for this size ship and length of cruise with an above average cruise director. The food was fine but not up to Celebrity standards. If it had been up to Celebrity standards, then Celebrity would not be Celebrity. Day 3 - We docked in Cozumel at 7:00 a.m. My wife went scuba diving with an outside vendor she found through cruise critic recommendations. After a nice dive, we spent the afternoon in downtown Cozumel. Cozumel appears to be recovering from the hurricane. Downtown was busy and the merchants and cab drivers were very friendly. Day 4 - We docked in Costa Maya at 7:00 a.m. We took an excursion to the ruins which we enjoyed. Afterwards, we had time to walk through the shops near the pier. These shops are a disappointment after Cozumel. Not much had changed since we were there in February. It appears that there is a slow effort to make more things to do at Costa Maya. Day 5 - The seas were extremely rough. We had strong gale force winds averaging about 45 mph. Outside activities were cancelled and the cruise director made attempts to create more inside activities. Many people were not feeling well due to the rough seas. We arrived about an hour late the next morning due to the rough weather. However disembarkation went fast once clearance was received. Overall this ship is a good value. The ship is clean for its age and the crew friendly, professional and helpful. The food and entertainment are average for this type and length of cruise. I'm sure those that were sick due to the weather did not have as enjoyable a time. Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
Our December 23, 2006 Christmas Cruise on the Splendour of the Seas was most enjoyable, but unfortunately many flaws and weaknesses appeared throughout the week which kept this cruise from being an outstanding one. For the most part the ... Read More
Our December 23, 2006 Christmas Cruise on the Splendour of the Seas was most enjoyable, but unfortunately many flaws and weaknesses appeared throughout the week which kept this cruise from being an outstanding one. For the most part the ship was wonderfully decorated for the holiday event and public areas were clean and well maintained. Yet, as we sat in the Crown and Anchor lounge during our sailaway we were faced with recently used gum stuck prominently on the hardwood floor, unvarnished outside railings and an unwanted sight of a dead bird on the Promenade Deck. Our Junior Suite cabin was quite nice, and the duvet and duvet cover were excellent appointments. The cabin's ambience was marred by a closet door which rattled often during the night and carts being rolled above our heads on Deck 9 all night long. Having purchased a premium cabin our disturbance level should have been lower. The balcony was larger than balcony cabins, but for a larger balcony and a bathtub the cabin didn't seem worth the extra money for a junior suite. The King and I Dining Room was very well decorated, both in its regular design and for the holidays. The menu selections were diverse, interesting and tasty, if sometimes not hot enough. Our waiter and assistant waiter were outstanding. But again a superior level of service was ruined as it appeared Royal Caribbean has hired too few personnel to serve too many tables. More distressing was the deplorable wine service situation. More than 100 couples, had purchased the Diamond level wine package on the first night of the cruise. By Tuesday one of the wine selections from the package list was unavailable. By Thursday, 4 wines had been depleted and by Friday, 6 wines were no longer available. While the wine steward failed to speak with us directly, the dining room head waiter attempted to mediate substitute wines, a wholly unsatisfactory solution for anyone knowledgeable about wine, and attempted to convince us that the wine package is subject to availability. After we maintained over 100 couples being denied access to what they had been sold was more a symptom of inefficient inventory management than unavailability he became more candid but again the Splendour's chance to define herself through the dining experience was seriously harmed. The pool and hot tub facilities were a positive note. Always plenty of chairs available, buffet food on the pool deck was readily available and always hot. Deck attendants, both regarding towels and bar service, were efficient and ever present. Even inclement weather requiring children to be temporarily allowed in the Solarium pool area generally reserved for adults was handled well by the staff, if only the parents handled their own children as well. The salon services were reasonably priced, though the nail specialist seemed slightly sullen on the two occasions she was engaged. The fitness center was well equipped, regularly utilized but having an additional fitness coordinator would have been helpful. Again there were too few staff members available to meet all cruise guest needs. A comment about the Casino. Granted cruise ships cannot expect the level of competence one sees in a Las Vegas casino, but when dealers on more than one occasion pay losing hands there needs to be better training. Sure, if you get paid when you should have lost it makes you happy, but other players aren't so delighted with their losses and overall the integrity of the game, and honesty of the casino, comes into doubt. The 3 ports visited, Costa Maya, Cozumel and Key West were pretty routine. Having been to the latter 2 before, we were content with exploring on our own. In Cozumel, rent a cheap car, drive to Playa Bonita on the opposite side of the island (40 minutes at most) and relax on their beach with plentiful food, drinks, sun and beach chairs. Costa Maya was a nice warm place for those of us escaping winter but the port is a tourist set-up and a ride into town is overpriced and a waste of time and money. Save yourself the cost and effort and enjoy the free beach chairs and resist Mexican vendors. Embarkation and debarkation were a very pleasant plus. Perhaps because we were able to arrive in a line set aside for suite passengers, but our initial check-in was smooth, quick and efficient. Royal Caribbean's Cruise Lite was also a nice opportunity to leave the ship in the first minutes after docking and carrying one's own luggage was a very small inconvenience for the ease it afforded at the end of the cruise. Overall the Splendour of the Seas seems to have left her sterling days behind. It doesn't have to be this way. All of the problems we experienced can be corrected and Royal Caribbean can present a fabulous product with this ship. Having cruised a dozen times on various lines and in conversation with fellow cruisers on this ship, we know most won't sail on the Splendour again, but that's really too bad. Her smaller size and ambience deserve more devotion from the cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
Splendour of the Seas cruise from Dec 4th thru Dec 9th from Galveston to Cozumel and Costa Maya. Boarding: Boarding process was quick and easy, with hardly any wait at all. We live near Galveston so had driven down and parked at the Port ... Read More
Splendour of the Seas cruise from Dec 4th thru Dec 9th from Galveston to Cozumel and Costa Maya. Boarding: Boarding process was quick and easy, with hardly any wait at all. We live near Galveston so had driven down and parked at the Port of Galveston lot ($45 for this cruise prepaid). You drop your luggage off with the porter and then park and a bus brings you back to the terminal. We found RCI boarding in Galveston much easier than Carnival's was, and the check-in staff friendlier. Room and room steward: We had an Ocean View room on deck 3 because we took a special offer deal they had offered. The room was nice and normal size for cruise ships, but the shower was a little on the small side if you're a large person. Our room steward was Dior (or Diobeth) and she did a wonderful job. She couldn't memorize everyone's names as some do, but she made sure she remembered any special requests like extra towels. Main Dinning Room: If you like cruise ship dinning with assigned seating you will like Splendour. The food varied a little but to me was a little better than some other ships. We also really lucked out with our table mates. Both couples were great company and became good friends. The service was very good as well. The only small fault was that they couldn't seem to bake soft bread, everything had a hard crust on it, but still tasted good. Windjammer: The windjammer buffet was normal for RCI and you could most always find something you liked. I've seen comments about the breakfast buffet having runny eggs on some RCI ships, but I've never found that to be the case, and it wasn't on Splendour. You could get eggs to order and omelets, if you didn't mind a short wait. Entertainment: We didn't make it to all of the shows, or hear all of the bands so I'll only comment on those we did see. The Taylors are a dance and comedy couple. Their dancing is better than their comedy, but since their dancing is great, the comedy wasn't all that bad either. Los Pampas Gauchos is a family act I have seen in Las Vegas and also on Rhapsody of the Seas. The act on Splendour is the youngest team, and aren't quite as good as their parents, but if you have never seen the act you will enjoy it. The RCI singers and dancers were the normal talented group, but they had a featured dance pair and only six dancers. I thought the group on Rhapsody was better. The cruise director was Simeon Baker. He was like a lot of other cruise directors, right down to using the same joke we have heard before. Ports: Cozumel, is Cozumel. We love the place! I would warn anyone who hasn't been there before that if you take a tour that goes over to Playa del Carmen by tender, this time of year is can be very rough! It's about a 20 minute trip, and anyone with any tendency to become seasick will. The up side is that this time of year the temperature is mild and the weather was wonderful. Costa Maya: This was our first time to Costa Maya and we loved it! So far I haven't heard any bad comments about this port. Like most of the ports, make sure you discuss the price with any of the shops. They can now dock three ships at Costa Maya, and we had three there, Splendour, Carnival Liberty, and HAL Veenland. Despite this, it didn't really seem too crowded. Now for the down side of the trip, and Splendour. For some reason, the pursers desk, and personnel on Splendour just aren't up to RCI standards. One of my bags got placed in the wrong room the first day. When I tried to report it to the pursers desk, they weren't helpful or even very interested. I also had a problem when I tried to use a coupon from RCI's book to get an extra $5 credit on WiFi internet. After three tries with the pursers desk, I gave up and never got the credit. Each time they assured me it was taken care of, but it never was. Then when the toilet wouldn't flush, we reported it to maintenance and saw the men working on the problem (it was in that area of the ship). But when my DW asked the pursers desk how long it might take to fix, she was told that there was no problem and the maintenance wasn't working on anything in that area! Of all the people I talked with, I only heard one good comment about the purser's staff, and that was about one person in particular. The same person rated the rest of the pursers staff as rude and unfriendly. RCI really needs to look into this, there's something wrong. The other down side to the trip wasn't RCI's fault. The first day out it was really cold and windy, but we were prepared for that. The last full day at sea (Friday) we had force 9 winds (45MPH) and seas over 20 feet! Anyone prone to motion sickness had a really rough time of it. Both pools were closed and drained, and the Windjammer buffet had spray beating against the windows! Things did settle down a bit after dark. I found one other thing a bit unusual, as did many other passengers. We heard from the Captain on the PA system at least once a day, but I only met one passenger who actually saw the man. The Captain's reception was handled by the Staff Captain, and the one person who did actually see the Captain commented that he wasn't very sociable. I don't know if this is really a problem, he did have a lot to do, but on other ships you normally see the Captain several times, and most of them take part in some of the functions at least once. Overall I would have to say that one shouldn't judge RCI in general by any experience with Splendour of the Seas. Mostly due to the purser's staff, Splendour is well below normal RCI standards. Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
We used EZCruise Parking. #1 lot was filled so we were escorted to lot# 2 by a shuttle bus. Parked and the shuttle took us to the port. Check in was a breeze. We walked right through in a matter of minutes. SHIP: Appeared clean and laid ... Read More
We used EZCruise Parking. #1 lot was filled so we were escorted to lot# 2 by a shuttle bus. Parked and the shuttle took us to the port. Check in was a breeze. We walked right through in a matter of minutes. SHIP: Appeared clean and laid out similarly to the Rhapsody and we felt right at home. STATEROOM: Well laid out. Lots of storage. New bedding is very nice. The carpet was iffy. We didn't have loungers on the balcony however our stateroom attendant, Jesus, brought them the next day. Jesus was extremely efficient, called us by our name and anytime he saw us coming he hurried to open the door for us. He made wonderful little towel animals. We didn't have to ask him for a thing after the loungers. As it was COLD he was able to bring us robes which we greatly appreciated.( no robes in the D1 stateroom). No amenities in the bathroom other than soap and something in a dispenser in the shower. The speaker in the stateroom didn't work so we had to open the door to hear any announcements. The vent under the bathroom door rattled...maintenance fixed it with masking tape...nuff said! DINING: Not as good as on other RCCL ships. Breakfast in the King and I was lacking in choices and the food didn't seem freshly prepared. We ate breakfast after that in the Windjammer. The made to order eggs and omelets were good. Forget the biscuits (cold) and gravy (bland, and pasty);-) and the chef needs a lesson on making grits. Lots of fresh fruit and many choices. We didn't go hungry. LUNCH: We either ate salads or went to the Solarium for hot dogs, hamburgers or pizza. Don't miss the crepes in the Solarium. Dinner: Food was average...some really good other not so great. Our server, Judy and assistant Diane were wonderful. Efficient and helpful in making choices. Head waiter Boas, stopped by every evening to chat for a moment, called us by our name. The main distraction was the table of 8 next to our table for 2. 4 adults and 4 children.....the children vied for everyone's attention..all at the same time, whined, talked badly, scooted out of their chairs onto the floor. Nuff said. My husband and I were unable to carry on a conversation in a normal tome of voice. We hoped this was a first night only occurrence, unfortunately it was just the wind up. I would think RCCL could seat people more efficiently. Normally dining is one of the highlights of our cruise....this was not the case. THANKSGIVING DINNER: We ordered a traditional Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner. I fixed turkey and stuffing on Sunday.;-) Ports: Cozumel: the weather was still cold but we decided to go to our favorite place..Paradise Beach. After a very rocky tender ride we hopped a cab to PB ($12 US) The sea was very rough and the wind was blowing. It got a bit better later in the day. We finally left about 2PM ($13 for the cab)and went back to the ship. Costa Maya: A perfect day. The sun was shining, it was warm and we docked. We took a bus to the beach. Lots of little places and everyone trying to get you to come at see his place. We walked to an area that seemed less crowded. Got sun loungers and an umbrella. The area was very shallow. No snorkeling, but it was an enjoyable morning. We had one banana smoothie, one order of bean and cheese nachos and one order of guacamole...$$30 US dollars. Lesson learned...ask before you order! The first 2 & 1/2 days were cold and rough sailing ....the latter part of the trip was perfect. STAFF: Some were outstanding.....but most we encountered seemed to not really care. Few smiles. Pursers Desk was the worst I have ever encountered. I tried to get paper for the printer in the Cyber Cafe...I was told someone would get it in a half hour or so...I went back every 15 minutes for 2 hours and paper never arrived. Entertainment: Average, some good some just OK. We did the self assist off the ship. There were no RCCL staff to coordinate....people were all over the place, some of us in lines and others just pushing their way through....line or no line. RCCL needs to take control and organize this quickly. Did we enjoy ourselves...YES It was a relaxing trip for us. Could it have been better....YES And yes, we will sail RCCL again..it's our favorite line. My overall rating is a 3 - 3 1/3. RCCL can, and has done better in the past and we are hopeful they will again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
This was our second cruise on RCI, the first being on the Rhapsody in August and September this year. This was our fourth cruise total, having also cruised twice on Carnival. We arrived in Galveston on Saturday, November 25, 2006, around ... Read More
This was our second cruise on RCI, the first being on the Rhapsody in August and September this year. This was our fourth cruise total, having also cruised twice on Carnival. We arrived in Galveston on Saturday, November 25, 2006, around 1:00 p.m., and had no trouble with embarking. Saved time by presenting the pre-printed Seapass and got our Gold Member cards quickly. Found our cabin, # 3028, and were truly glad we booked an oceanview cabin again as we found the inside cabins to be somewhat confining feeling. After finding our cabin, we proceeded to the pool deck as usual for our usual departure drink to begin the cruise mood! (We had more than one departure drink as usual!! ;-) Went through the mandatory drill, which took sometime as several other passengers arrived late. Afterwards, found our way back to the pool deck for more drinks and people watching. The first sea day passed as uneventful, some gambling at the casino, onboard shopping, etc. Arrived in Cozumel early on Monday, and got off the ship quickly, around 7:30 a.m. We rented a car (cheap travel for all day @ $58.00), and took off exploring as we enjoy doing. Went downtown for breakfast at Palmeras downtown, had a fantastic Mexican breakfast! Departed there, shopped, and then drove to the northeast side of the island, stopping for lunch at Marlitos. (good, traditional tacos and Dos XXX !!) After lunch, we drove to Chankanaab Park for snorkeling. (We were surprised how much the price had increased there since our last time there in 2002. $16.00 per person, basic.) Departed there around 5:00 pm, as the ship was to depart at 7:00 pm. Stopped and purchased some Rum and Tequila, and drank a couple of Sol's before reboarding at 6:00 p.m. As we had previously been to Costa Maya, we rented one of the golf carts again to travel, avoiding the crowds at the taxi stands. Did the Olinca Beach party for $20.00 per person, while my wife went snorkeling for their $15.00 excursion. She loved it, and claimed it was the best snorkeling ever. After drinking many, many, Sol's and Pina Coldas, we departed drove back to the port for light shopping before boarding the ship. Overall, we enjoyed the cruise on the Splendour, but, did not like the way we felt ignored and rushed on the last night by the staff. They shut the pizza and burger bar down early that night, around 6:00 p.m., so we opted for the Windjammer where the food was only fair in quality and taste. Disembarking the ship seemed to take longer than usual, and, as we did not use the porters and carried own own luggage, we waited for at least 30 minutes for Customs. I'd recommend RCI to anyone, and will probably book another cruise with them this April. Save your money though, and do your own thing off ship, as we saved $$$$ by doing our own excursions each time we cruise. I also recommend renting your own car, as you can move at your own pace, and enjoy the stops much more in my opinion. Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
We were on Splendour of the Seas over Thanksgiving Week. The ship was very clean and in good shape for her age. The windows were dirty though, which surprised us. Our room was a Junior Suite and was quite spacious. We loved having the full ... Read More
We were on Splendour of the Seas over Thanksgiving Week. The ship was very clean and in good shape for her age. The windows were dirty though, which surprised us. Our room was a Junior Suite and was quite spacious. We loved having the full bathtub! The only negative was over deck 8 is the pool and we heard kids running or chairs being moved over our ceiling until the wee hours of the morning. It was pretty noisy in our stateroom. The food on the ship was ok but not great. I liked the dining room food except for the holiday meal which wasn't very good and was cold. The Windjammer buffet just didn't thrill my DH or I. We skipped meals a few times as it just wasn't inviting. (Not that it hurt us) LOL.. We got on the ship early and very fast. Maybe 15 - 20 min total. Getting off took a bit longer but still was not bad. The worst part of the week was traveling with so many kids that were not supervised by their parents. They were running in groups, removing door decor, pushing all of the buttons on the elevator, throwing items that hit one of our friends and running into us. Would I travel on Splendour again? Most likely. Would I travel on a holiday week? Probably never again! Dsg560 Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
SPLENDOUR OF THE SEAS. We recently returned from a seven-night Croatia and Greek Islands Cruise on board the Splendour of the Seas. The itinerary included the ports of Piraeus and the beautiful ports of Mykonos, Rhodes and Dubrovnik. The ... Read More
SPLENDOUR OF THE SEAS. We recently returned from a seven-night Croatia and Greek Islands Cruise on board the Splendour of the Seas. The itinerary included the ports of Piraeus and the beautiful ports of Mykonos, Rhodes and Dubrovnik. The cruise departed and returned to the port of Venice. We had chosen the air/sea option, flying from Manchester airport (United Kingdom). At the airport, Royal Caribbean Representatives were on hand to answer any last minute questions. The flights to and from Venice, departed on time, they were charter flights and were comfortable but the food served during both flights was poor. On arrival at Venice airport, again there were a large number of RCI Representatives to direct passengers, after they had claimed their luggage on to the waiting coaches for the short transfer to the port of Venice. At the docks, luggage is checked in for the cruise at an out-building and passengers then walk to the terminal building a short distance away for check-in. Even though there were large queues for check-in these moved swiftly due to the efficiency and professionalism of the staff on duty. If passengers check-in in advance by the Sea Pass system on line, the process is even swifter. After check-in and security procedures, passengers then board another bus that takes them to the ship. If passengers have mobility difficulties, the port of Venice is not sympathetic to those guests with special needs or those with walking difficulties. The Splendour of the Seas has now been in service for 10 years. Despite its age, the ship is very well maintained and is spotlessly clean throughout. Seating I n public rooms is comfortable and cabins though compact have all the necessary facilities to match any four-star hotel on land. The one drawback is that they do not have refrigerators, but ice buckets are replenished twice daily during cabin servicing. The beds are really comfortable. The staff on board are friendly and eager to please. Food in the main restaurant is well presented, varied and served by a staff who take pleasure in their work. They will go the extra mile to cater for any special requirements and to satisfy guests needs. The restaurant itself is bland and lacks character and warmth. In the less formal, buffet style restaurant, whilst the standard of food and presentation has greatly improved since our last cruise on this ship, the food does become repetitive. There is only the availability of the basic fruits, very few exotic fruits such as mangos, papayas etc. The choice of cheese is limited. The selection of breads and desserts is excellent. Fruit juices are noticeably watered down and again limited in selection. A number of self-service vending machines were out of order for the duration of the cruise. Entertainment on board was poor. The Production Shows were very loud and certainly not of the standard expected. During the 1st show, some 28 people walked out of the theatre, which was never full, during the show. On one particular night there was no professional show or individual headliner entertainment. The three items on offer to guests were a game show, Karaoke or a Greek Party. If we had wanted to see a Love and Marriage Game Show, we could have watched one on television at home. If we had wanted Karaoke, we could have visited the local pub. A Greek Party Night  not everyones cup of tea. The musical and vocal groups on board were good. There are far too many on-board unnecessary announcements for Bingo, Art Auctions etc, creating a sort of holiday camp atmosphere rather than the ambience of a Four- star cruise ship. The entertainment programme lacked focus and direction. There are numerous bars throughout the ship, serving reasonably priced drinks. The drinks were well presented and full of flavour. Prices on board as in $ USD. Be aware, especially guests from the United Kingdom. Royal Caribbean asks on the form that you sign and present to them for on-board credit, if you wish them, to convert, at the end of the cruise, your total billing from $ (USD) to £ (GBP). We said no, but they did it anyway, but will change this on demand. They convert at the Royal Caribbean Rate and not at the current bank rate. Thus the difference in the Royal Caribbean Rate and the then bank rate at the time, for my account was $30.00 (USD) in their favour. Guests should note that on this itinerary, first seating dinner is at 6.30pm and second seating is at 9.00pm. The show for second seating guests usually commenced at 11.15pm, although on two occasions, second seating guests had pre-dinner shows. Another thing to watch out for is that no two ship clocks on board show the same time, some were up to three-quarters of an hour out. I reported this twice but nothing seemed to be done about it. With years of experience behind them, Royal Caribbean offers and provides a good cruise experience for the masses. If you require individuality and a more personal level of service with finesse, you will probably be disappointed. This seven-night loop cruise is an ideal way to visit the Eastern Mediterranean, and provides a good experience for the monies paid. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
Overall, this was our best cruise to date. We have taken three cruises and this one had the highest overall rating for the total experience. Ship: We found the ship to be very well kept, clean and modern. The overall passenger ... Read More
Overall, this was our best cruise to date. We have taken three cruises and this one had the highest overall rating for the total experience. Ship: We found the ship to be very well kept, clean and modern. The overall passenger demographics was quite evenly mixed which was a pleasant surprise. Not very many kids, but some. Overall a wide range of ages. About half of the passengers were from the US. Large contingent from UK and Australia. The Internet consoles were new and modern, but some of the connectivity was poor. They charge $0.50 a minute, so be careful, you may waste a lot of money. I recommend using Internet in port which can be as low as 5 euros for a full hour. Very minimal smoking on this ship which was very nice. Pretty much only areas was Schooner bar and the casino and fortunately not many smoked in casino. Entertainment: Not bad. Overall I think the sign and dance troupe were one of the best I have seen on a cruise ship. The comedian was not very funny and most of the vaudeville stuff was entertaining. Nothing was Vegas class, but overall the quality was decent and most people were entertained. Overall, the ports were pretty active and the ship kept everyone pretty busy, so there is little time to be bored. Staff: Generally, the entire staff constantly go out of the way to make the cruise exciting and fun. They are always working hard to meet your every need or request. No complaints here. Ports: Think HOT. Any later than the end of the May and these ports would be so hot, I would not want to visit. Most ports were upwards of 35 degrees Celsius at mid day. Most of the tours will I give you a bottle of water, but make sure to take extra. The ship will charge you $2 a bottle and you cannot get bottles of water on your coke card. Greece: Corfu is a beautiful island. Take some time to explore the countryside and relax. The wine tasting tour is nothing more than getting a glass of cheap local wine with your lunch. Enjoy the tour of the island, dont go for the wine tasting. Athens does not have much to do outside of visiting the Acropolis. But dont miss the Acropolis  this is a sight to see. Save your shopping for Turkey. There are some stores in Greece, but nothing special and no special deals. Turkey: This is the place to buy your souvenirs. If you pay any more than 50% of what their first offer is, you got ripped off. Kusadasi is where you can buy $15 Louis Vuitton imitation purses, $75 Patek Phillpe watches and $5 Lacoste polo shorts. A very fun and beautiful place. Definitely take the tour of Ephesus  it is an ancient city not to be missed and is simply amazing. Worth every penny. Food: The food was good, but not the best we have had as far as cruise ships go. Nothing to complain about, it just was not the best to date. The main dining room service was nice, but many of the wait staff had difficulty with English, despite their experience in working on the ship for 8 years! The pizza in the solarium was fair  nice when you needed a late night snack, but nothing to write home about. There will be 2 formal nights. We dressed up, but many people dont dress as fancy. Very few people actively dressed down, but there were a few. Most people seem to have fun dressing to the nines. Breakfast and lunch in the main dining room will be the same for the entire cruise. The coke card at $42 is a ripoff for adults. You would have to drink at least 6 sodas a day to break even  I dont think people can really drink that much soda. The wine package is overall a savings  but you still have to pay gratuity and VAT tax. But in the end, if you want to have a bottle of wine every day with dinner, this will definitely save you a few bucks. They had great coffee on the ship  Royal Caribbean blend of Seattles Best which many passengers went out of the way to compliment. Cabin: we had a junior suite which was quite spacious and had a lot of storage. The extra room and balcony eliminated any sense of claustrophobia and it was relaxing. Most of the furniture is new and the bedding is new. I found the air conditioning to be adequate on the ship unlike some older Carnival lines that we have taken which have been very humid and warm. Our cabin steward was attentive and helpful. On the first day, he ensured we had extra pillows (feather, my preference) on the bed and and egg crate foam on the top to make it softer. I think the junior suite is great value for the very reasonable cost. The bathroom was a little outdated, but very functional. Low water pressure, but plenty of hot water on demand. No outlets in room! Actually there is one by the desk  so dont plan on plugging anything in except your hair dryer. The one in the bathroom is in the ceiling and marked electric razors only. They give you bars of soap and a body wash dispenser in the cabin, but no shampoo or conditioner. Bring your own if you need it. Embarkation and debarkation: was a breeze. One of the fastest I have seen. I really did not feel we had to wait around to board or depart. When we arrived in Venice, we had booked the $30 transfer with the cruise line. They picked us up right from our flight, put us on a bus and took us to the terminal. They had nice cold lemonade in the terminal and we had to wait about 2 hours to board, but it was not too bad. Our flight got into Venice about 9 AM, and I think we boarded the ship by 11:30 or 12:00. Once on board, we grabbed a great lunch in the Windjammer and our room was fresh and ready by 1:00. Our bags were practically at our room by the time we finished lunch. It was nice that on the day of departure, we could leisurely eat breakfast, go back to room, grab bags and leave. We did not have to wait for hours to depart in a common lounge. A lot of people stress before the cruise about embarkation and debarkation and overall this is not something to worry about for this cruise. Getting to our hotel: We stayed at the Sofitel in Venice. We took the free shuttle from the cruise ship terminal which runs to Piazzo Le Roma. We then walked from the bus yard to our hotel about 100 yards away. We found the Sofitel to be very nice and very convenient for spending an extra day in the city post the cruise and then easily returning to the airport. Overall we paid around 247 Euros for one night which seemed to be a good deal given what we heard others paying. Deck activities: A lot of people played put-put golf, wall climbing and other activities, but I found it so windy, that it was often uncomfortable. We ended up spending most afternoons in the solarium which we found to be very comfortable, sunny, but without the wind or extreme sun. Venice: If you want to buy Murano glass, visit the factory which is neat on the island of Murano, but dont buy anything there. Everything will be at least 50% cheaper in the main shops of Venice. You can easily get back and forth between the islands for about 10 euros on the water taxi. You actually can eat reasonable in Piazzo Marco  just choose the lunch specials for a fixed price. Dont choose a-la-carte, you will pay a fortune. We only spent one day here, but that was fine for us. You can easily see the whole city in one day, although some may want to spend two to walk through it at a leisurely pace. Leaving Venice: This was a piece of cake. We walked about 100 yards from our hotel, hopped on the blue bus that runs every hour to Marco Polo airport for 3 Euros each. Some people choose to get ripped off by taking a 100+ Euros water taxi. Dont do it. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
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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