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198 Splendour of the Seas Cruise Reviews

Let me start of by telling you a little bit about us. We are a family of (3); two adults (34) and one child (7). We live close to Galveston (about 1.5 hours) and have cruised on two previous cruises. Our first cruise was RCI-Grandeur of ... Read More
Let me start of by telling you a little bit about us. We are a family of (3); two adults (34) and one child (7). We live close to Galveston (about 1.5 hours) and have cruised on two previous cruises. Our first cruise was RCI-Grandeur of the Seas and the second was with Carnival-Glory. GREAT LAST MINUTE DEALS: Because of my husband's work situation, we need to usually schedule at the last minute (2-3 weeks prior to leaving). We were able to book one inside cabin for $1100. However, about 1 1/2 weeks before departure, I checked the RCI website and the inside cabins had gone down in price by $100; so I called them and they made the change. With only 5 days to go before our ship left, I re-checked the RCI website and was able to get an oceanview cabin for $300 less than my inside cabin. Again, I called RCI and they changed the cabin for us and credited our account for the difference. Now we had an oceanview cabin for $700!!! How awesome is that?? Be sure to check the RCI website regularly for deals like this!! ARRIVING IN GALVESTON: We drove in and were going to park in the suggested parking facilities (Port of Galveston parking lots) for approx. $70 (according to RCI info). However, once we arrived we noticed that EZ parking offered 5 day parking for $35 and that is where we parked. It's just as close and about half price. Service was good. SHIP: I understand that the Splendour of the Seas is about 10 years old. Despite her age, she has been maintained admirably. Yes, there is some wear and tear; but nothing to really complain about (especially considering the great deal we got!) WEATHER: Since we went in the beginning of December, it was a little chilly leaving and arriving back into Galveston. Nothing horrible; but chilly and windy. The windy conditions made for a less than stable cruise; but our weather (despite 60% forecast for rain) was incredible in Cozumel & Costa Maya. We may do our next cruise either earlier in the fall or spring/summer next time to avoid the windy conditions though. Pool time was not optimal on sea days because of the wind; although we had "warm" weather. Since we had a "rocky" beginning and ending (cold front caused excessive wind), my husband needed to have some help and he prefers non-medication methods. I heard (via the boards) that ginger is very good for sea sickness and it worked wonders for him. He did feel a little queasy; but did not get "sick". The recommended dosage is 2 per day with meals. It's safe for kids too. Just FYI. FOOD: We always enjoy the food on the ship. We are not cuisine experts; but all in all, we enjoyed the offerings and variety. There really is something for everyone (adults) although the selection is limited for picky children (pizza, hot dogs and hamburgers round out their menu). We don't usually do the dining room experience, although I hear that it is pleasant. My husband prefers to eat solo and absolutely loves the buffet concept; so that's where we take most of our meals. One note, they do offer dining room options in the Windjammer. So check out the menus and see what is available. The staff will be happy to get you that longed for NY strip steak and shrimp cocktail too! My absolute favorite was in fact the NY strip steak (made to order) and the desserts-tiramisu (absolutely delicious!) and the chocolate mousse (to die for!). They also had a very good stir fry option and made to order creme filled crepes (which were my husband's fave). ADVENTURE OCEAN: Because we consider this to be a FAMILY vacation, we try to limit the time that our son spends in the kid's program. However, on this trip... He told us: "This is my vacation too!"; which we thought was funny. Therefore, we let him spend more time there than we would have liked; but he had tons of fun. The staff is great and they plan plenty of activities for them. It's hard not to let them go; when they enjoy it so much! Despite having school in session, there were plenty of kids on board; which made it easy for him to have a good time. They had a pirate presentation and also a talent show; which he also enjoyed. The Adventure Science program was also a hit with him and his new friends. COZUMEL: As many may know, hurricane Wilma hit Cozumel pretty hard. It was very evident in the vegetation. It was very sad to see all the palm trees blown over and nothing green. However, the beaches still looked great! We rented a Jeep to sight see on our own through Budget Car Rentals. Even with full coverage, we only paid $75. You CAN negotiate the price with almost any vendor. The jeep started out at over $100 plus tax & insurance. After haggling for a few minutes, were were able to get the jeep (including "full coverage" and taxes) for $75. We did not go through the cruise line for this. (FYI). We drove all along the west/south side of the island (only roads available) and even visited the Cozumel Country Club. Not much of a club house; but the course was very nice. It runs $165 for a full day and $99 for twilight (after 12:30pm). Club and shoe rentals are available for an additional $29 each. We drove to just about every beach and spend most of our time at Paradise Beach (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ON THE BOARDS). There is no cover charge to enter this beach facility and use the beach chairs / umbrellas and but they do expect you to buy food/drinks. Prices are comparable to U S restaurants. Drinks are good. (frozen margaritas for $6.50 and sodas/beer for $2). This beach had life jackets, an "iceberg" and several trampolines that were available for an additional $8 per person. I think they also offered wave runners for an additional charge. The restrooms were in pretty good condition and the service staff was great. We also went to Punta Sur; and checked out the beach there. It's beautiful; but not for swimming with kids (too rocky). Great for pictures though. There were some vendors there too and had some nice handcrafts for purchase. For lunch & shopping, we went to Cinco Soles (ALSO HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) and really enjoyed our food / drinks / atmosphere. The prices were a little steep for us. We ordered one order of fajitas for one (nothing compared to what you get here for one order of fajitas for one), an appetizer (cheese quesadilla) and two margaritas. Price: $60 (with tip). I think we could have gotten a better deal elsewhere; but the ambiance was great! Shopping was nice here too although not too much haggling goes on at this location. Better to shop elsewhere. We wanted to go to the San Gervasio ruins; but they close early (at 4pm); so we missed out on this... Maybe next time. I think it's only a few bucks per person to enter. We tendered in and it went very smooth. 15 minutes, at most from the ship to the pier (including waiting in line and waiting for the tender to get full). Not bad! COSTA MAYA: We were able to dock in Costa Maya. We went directly to the little cruise terminal and found the shopping was great (even better than in Majahual!). We tried to rent a car, then a golf cart... They are also willing to haggle the price (for a jeep $60-golf cart $30-all day); but by the time we were decided on which option, they were all out vehicles. In the end, we took a taxi ($3pp to Majahual) and it worked out even better. Turns out that you can only drive to Majahual and then it's walk only in the village. WAY CHEAPER TO TAKE THE TAXI. We initially wanted to go on the ruins tour offered by David and Ivan (ALSO HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ON THE BOARDS); but we got up too late to make the tour. They charge $43 pp (adult) and $40 (child). There are other tours available for similar pricing at the pier; but David & Ivan were so highly recommended that we really wanted to go with them... It's a shame that we were too late to make their tour! We ended up walking through the village (Majahual) and finally made it to Pez Quadro (beach facility at the end of the road); which had also been highly recommended on the boards. We had an incredible time there. Beach chairs were available, bar and restrooms too. Beers $2 and Margaritas $4. Massages were available here too; but a little more expensive $30 bucks for 30 minutes. I heard others charged $20 for 40 minutes; but I don't know if the quality was the same. We took a taxi back to the pier and did some shopping. They won't haggle the pricing at the pier but the pricing is still better than in Majahual, where you do haggle and still pay more. BOOZE & OTHER DRINKS/FOOD STUFF: We took our own soda (allowed) in a checked cooler and packed our rum and whisky in our checked luggage. No problems there. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone; but for us, it was cool. :) We still ended up buying drinks on board :) One of my husband's favorite things about RCI was the room service we had on our prior RCI cruise. This time, it was not so pleasant. The wait was very long and they no longer offer delicious ice cream in the room service menu. I guess since they have Ben & Jerry's, they don't need to. B&J ice cream runs a little over $3 per cup and the coffee shop charges similar to Starbucks; but the quality is not up to par. I ordered a Cafe Frio (which was supposed to be like SB's Frappuccino) and ended up throwing it away, it tasted awful!! B&J's ice cream was only so-so. ON-BOARD ENTERTAINMENT: We really enjoyed the show productions. They singers and dancers did a great job. We especially liked the SWING production. We played bingo and went to the casino. Lots to do for everyone! My husband liked the gym too. CROWN & ANCHOR SERVICE: Since this is our second cruise with RCI, we were already signed up to their C&A membership. We didn't find our C&A coupons (2 books) in our room; so I asked for them and our room steward made sure we got them. We also got a little bathroom organizer (2) about 3 days in to the cruise. Nice little perks. We used also of our coupons and left the rest in the safe for someone else to enjoy. I hear that others can freely use them on the subsequent cruise. ALL IN ALL, WE HAD A GREAT TIME ON A LIMITED BUDGET. WE WOULD DEFINITELY CRUISE WITH RCI AGAIN. WE ALWAYS HAVE A TON OF FUN ON AND OFF THE SHIP. TAKE THE RECOMMENDATIONS TO HEART. THEY REALLY ARE THE BEST OPTIONS OUT THERE! :) If anyone has questions or would like pictures, just email me and I'll be sure to respond. My email is minisann1@juno.com Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
This was our second cruise on the Splendour. We enjoyed a week on her last Spring Break and decided to take a short cruise before Christmas. The ship was only at about 80% capacity which meant no lines at the Windjammer or King & I ... Read More
This was our second cruise on the Splendour. We enjoyed a week on her last Spring Break and decided to take a short cruise before Christmas. The ship was only at about 80% capacity which meant no lines at the Windjammer or King & I dining rooms. There was always plenty of seating at the shows and not nearly as difficult finding a lounge chair at or near the pool. We traveled with 15 and 16 year old boys and they were concerned that there would be no teens aboard since it was between Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. They were excited to see and meet several teens and enjoyed the trip. We put them in their own oceanview cabin (yes, next to ours) and had no problems. Our cabin stewards did an excellent job meeting all of our needs and kept the rooms nice and tidy. Cabin was showing a little wear from its age, but was always very clean. Our waitress was our favorite from all of our cruises. She never hesitated when we asked for extra of anything. She was great! The ship was undergoing some facelifting in the pool area, but it never caused a problem. The photographers did not seem to be in our faces (no pun intended) as often. As a matter of fact, they forgot to stop at our table on formal night. The only night we insisted that the kids attend. We had to be tendered into Coz since the piers were damaged from the hurricane. We have always docked so this was a first for us. It went very smooth and the boats were nice and clean. We all went on the Catch the Wave Snorkel Safari and Bond Adventure. The staff and crew were very friendly. We felt safe leaving camera, purse, and other belongings in their care. There was not much to look at underwater other than fish and other marine life. The coral and reefs and just now starting to come back. The Bond Adventure was a new experience as well. Difficult to explain, but would describe as an individual underwater motorized scooter. You go down about 20 feet and buzz around looking at stuff. Your head is in a bubble that is constantly being filled with oxygen. I thought it was fun and the kids really enjoyed it. Free food and booze for the adults available as well. We did some shopping in Coz. Most of the shopping areas have been repaired. Carlos and Charlies, Senior Frogs, TGI Fridays and the mall in that area were whipped out. Very few leaves on the trees. Lots of destruction still noticeable on the northern end, but they are doing a great job of getting things up and running. Watch the taxi drivers. The signs posting the standard fares have not been replaced and they are trying to make up for lost wages. We were disappointed that we could never get in to see the future cruise specialist. There was only one woman working and she stayed busy! Overall a great trip, but just not long enough. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
My husband and I along with our 5 year old son decided to take a week off from the hustle & bustle of the holiday season and boy are we glad we did!!! This was my husband and my 5th cruise (4th RCC) and my son's 1st. The splendor ... Read More
My husband and I along with our 5 year old son decided to take a week off from the hustle & bustle of the holiday season and boy are we glad we did!!! This was my husband and my 5th cruise (4th RCC) and my son's 1st. The splendor was just splendid!!! The King & I was delicious every night and our waiter, Maxson was a doll!!! Our stateroom attendant, Elmer was charming, but I did feel he could have done a better job remembering our names. (oh well, no biggie though!!) I should mention that the windjammer was only ok. If you can, eat breakfast and dinner in the King & I and do the solarium for lunch! Here's the best part....the children's activities!!!!! My son is an only child and doesn't normally like being away for us. We had a hard time getting him to leave!!! The activities ranged from, pirate parties to pajama parties to super hero parties and an astronaut party!!! During the day there were science projects, ice cream parties, music, games and even a movie day! They ate lunch together one day and dinner together 3 nights which gave my husband and I some alone time, which for us was much needed!! I have to give this program a 2 thumbs up!!! Way to go RCC!!! Since it is Christmas time, RCC made sure we didn't forget that. This ship was beautifully transformed to a christmas paradise with christmas trees decorated to the T on every floor. Garland draped with ribbon and bows were arranged along all the railings and fresh red and white poinsettia's were neatly placed throughout the ship! We will make this cruise on this ship every year here on out! LOVED EVERY MINUTE WE WERE THERE!! Now for the ports... You should all be aware that Cozumel was not only hit hard by Wilma, it was destroyed. My husband and I were there in May of 2004 on the Rhapsody and returning this December was heartbreaking. I honestly had to hold back tears. I will keep Cozumel and its residents in my prayers throughout the year. On a good note though, we found a fabulous beach...Paradise Beach, which was to die for! Free admission and exclusive use of its water sports such as a water trampoline, kayaking, water rock climbing and floats...all of this was free! Not to mention the use of its chairs, tables and umbrella's. There is a restaurant and full service bar. The staff is extremely pleasant and will serve you till your heart's content. If traveling to cozumel, Paradise Beach is a MUST!!! (We also rented a jeep all day for only $45) Costa Maya: This was our first trip to this beautiful hidden getaway. We rented a golf cart and took it into the town of Mahajual. I HIGHLY recommend doing this!!! Not only is it MUCH cheaper to shop, but eating and drinking all day while being served on the beach is a must!! We stayed at El Faro which is on the beach and Ricardo treated us like royalty! I received a 30 minute full body massage on the beach for a mere $20. (no worries, you are in a tent like area but are still in full range of the ocean and sounds that come with) Talk about relaxing....this BEATS the prices on this ship any day! I should tell you that our total bill (excluding the massage) was only $37. This included about 7 beers, 2 pina coladas, a pina (which is a kids drink), a large guacamole, shrimp tacos and combination fajitas!!!!! And all this while sitting under an umbrella less that 15 feet from the water!! FABULOUS!!! Again, we'll be back next year, same place, same time!! Miniature golf was actually pretty challenging and extremely fun. You can even golf at night as the exterior lighting on this ship is wonderful!! The shows on the ship were mostly excellent with 1-2 good/ok. But the crew was extremely funny and personable. We loved this ship and everything it had to offer. For the price...this trip was 2 THUMBS UP!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
Remark: First of all I did not want to publish my review on this board. But reading the other reviews of this cruise, I changed my mind, that you can read another review with some total different experiences. And second, written from a ... Read More
Remark: First of all I did not want to publish my review on this board. But reading the other reviews of this cruise, I changed my mind, that you can read another review with some total different experiences. And second, written from a woman and third from German, because some kinds of view are different between American and German passengers. So maybe it´s interesting for you to compare. Cruise with the Splendour of the Seas/Royal Caribbean Cruise Line november 12th - november 26th 2005 Itinerary: Transatlantic westbound Barcelona  Alicante, Spain  Malaga, Spain - at sea  Tenerife, Canary Islands - 6 days at sea - Nassau, Bahamas - 2 days at sea - Galveston, Texas Translation kindly supported by Petra and Andreas Halamoda Arrival: Flight with Lufthansa German Airlines from Dusseldorf, Germany, to Barcelona, Spain, without any problems; arrival in Barcelona at 9.30 am, reception and luggage pick- up by RCCL- service staff at the airport. We had to wait about 20 minutes for the arrival of some more fellow cruise passengers on another flight. We got in a bus together with some more german passengers and some American passengers, who had just arrived at another terminal. Because of our early arrival we had a little sightseeing tour of Barcelona for free which took about 1 ½ hours. Unfortunately it was raining all the time and there weren't any photostops. However at all attractions were already long waiting lines, although day time was still early. Arrival in the port of Barcelona was at 11.30 am, the check-in procedure took approximately 10 minutes, very fast. The corridors and hallways to the cabins were blocked by boards, telling that the cabins would be ready no sooner than approximately 1.00 pm, which was acceptable for us. So we had an early lunch in the Windjammer Cafe and took a first look around the ship. Cabin: "Large" inside cabin, #7583, large is pretty over the top (see photo) with 149 sq. ft. After the cabin attendant changed the double- bed- configuration into two single beds alongside to the walls was enough space to use the cabin, first with the double- bed it wasn't. Wall closet had acceptable space, but only to hang up clothes, there were no shelves for shirts or other clothes inside. Only 3 bigger and 4 smaller drawer cabinets and 4 drawers near the beds. Bathroom was of normal size, with space below the washing stand and behind the mirror. The cabin is equipped with one arm chair, one chair and a small writing desk, a safe, a refrigerator is missing. When asking the front desk about the cabin size, they told us that the Splendour has the smallest cabins in the fleet (which is wrong) and we should be lucky, because we have obtained a larger cabin (normal inside cabin 138 sq. ft.). We asked for a larger outside cabin and they replied, that they all were booked out. This also was not correct. Later during the cruise I received a list from the Cruise Director for my review about the passengers and the nationalities. Partly refurbished: The cabin had been partly refurbished during our cruise. It was done within 2 hours. Unfortunately we had not been informed that our cabin was part of the refurbishment of 547 cabins. So they left after having made a mess with our clothes lying on the arm chair. Partly refurbished means, that the arm chair and chair got new covers, as well as the head board and new curtains in front of the beds. New carpets will laid during the next weeks. But to me the choice of colors was not the best, it doesn´t really match together. A specialist company from Finland has been on board for this refurbishment with its own workshop. As a counter example, the superior inside cabin measures 172 sq. ft. and the balcony cabin has 193 sq. ft. plus 38 sq. ft. balcony. Passenger Nationalities: 1.572 passengers from 30 nations. USA: 931, United Kingdom: 335, Canada: 86, Germany: 56, Netherlands: 45, Mexico: 23 and the rest from many different countries ranging from Australia to Uruguay. Decks: Passenger decks 2, 3, 6, 7 and 8. Deck 1: medical facilities and ship entrance and exit while in port. Deck 3: conference center, newly refurbished Deck 4: Atrium, open from deck 4 up to deck 8, very tasteful, with pastel shaded green and blue armchairs and sofas and glass- tables. Champagne bar: enclosed by beautiful glass walls; out to the Atrium with a large band- stand for Live music, changing several times on evening, ranging from duos or trios to even a Big Band with 10 musicians. Also space for a dance floor (sadly not for me, because my husband belongs to that species of man, who are stick- in- the- muds when it comes to dancing). This was one of our favorite places in the evening, to enjoy a cocktail (starting at 4,25 $) or a beer (16 OZ 3 $) and to observe the parade of our fellow passengers. 42nd Street Theater,an obvious difference to the other ships we know is that it stretches only over one floor. Good view from everywhere, even when seated in the back of the theater, which we prefer, so that we can leave without any disturbance, if we don´t like the show. Comfortable sofas for 2 or 3 persons, still in good condition. Quality of the shows very different, but I must admit, that we did not see all the shows. Band with 10 musicians surprisingly big, 10 dancers, 4 singers. Schooner Bar, which we did not like as much as on the other RCCL ships. Smaller and darker, piano music too loud, so it was almost impossible to have a conversation with other people. Casino, like all Casinos loud and smoky, because passengers were allowed to smoke there. If we wanted to go from the atrium to the theater we had two choices, either through the casino or over the deck below the lifeboats. We preferred the latter. King & I Dining Room (lower floor) tastefully decorated, with blue or red chairs and dark wood. Tables for 2 to 10 persons, very spacey, even for the waiters for better service. Lunch: to be able to write about the lunch in the dining room, we have eaten there once and were very disappointed. Like our experience on other ships, the staff is during open seatings not as polite as in the evening to their guests at their dinner tables. In this case it was so terrible, that we spoke with two of the headwaiters and complained about both the service and the food. The result was that the headwaiters had a meeting with the dining-room-staff and discussed this. I told them, people could have the impression that the waiters are only friendly to those at their own tables because they know, that they'll receive a good tip at the end of the cruise. This is both not correct and not acceptable for me as a guest. The food quality also was not good and our waiter expected that we'd use the same cutlery for all our courses. He was not inclined to bring us new cutlery after clearing up the plates. So we got it by ourselves from other free places. He also did not serve the ordered soft drinks (we had a soda-package - 14 days - 102 $ per person), even as we asked him again to serve Sprite. It was so different to the excellent service at our table for dinner. Deck 5: front desk and shore excursion desk, Shopping"mile", Top Hat Lounge and upper floor of the Dining Room. Boutiques with different small stores and a free space in the middle for daily changing offers. Hallway to the Top Hat Lounge - biggest lounge on the ship, used for events as Captain's Welcome Party , Repeat-Cruisers Party (445 Gold-Members, 190 Platinum-Members, 71 Diamond-Members and 3 Diamond-Plus-Members), several other events, dancing classes, catholic mass and much more. Tasteful furniture and in good condition. King & I Dining Room (upper floor) Dinner: for dinner we were 7 Persons at a table for 10. We have been seated together with two friends of us (a german couple) and a wonderful american couple from California and their female friend, a wonderful lady from Texas, all very sophisticated people. It was a pleasure having dinner with all of them and you could not find better tablemates. Very obliging service by our waiter from India and the Assistant waitress from the Philippines and the Headwaiter, also from India. There was a choice of 4 starters, some of those were repeated too often, 2 soups (partly chilled soups, the best I have ever had), 2 - 3 salads with a choice of dressings, if desired also our favourite dressing (Blue Cheese). 4 Entrees and 4 daily available standard alternatives. 4 - 5 different desserts plus different ice- cream both in really good quality. If desired, French Fries and other extra wishes were fulfilled. During the first two days food was slightly cool, but it improved day by day. The meat-quality was excellent, the fish-quality above average. Our waiter served most of the time one or two more dishes (appetizers, main courses and desserts), that we all could taste something different. The Executive Chef was from Austria, we had some nice conversations with him. The Maitre D' Orlando P. Rosa came recently from the Jewel (where we met him last year), a couple of other crew members of the Jewel management will follow him to the Splendour within the next weeks. Deck 6: photo gallery for the usual photos of passengers and a Cafe, but hardly enough places to sit and enjoy coffee or ice- cream. Deck 7: Library - also tasteful and discreet furniture, with deep red and half round green leather- armchairs. The choice of books in the library was relatively small and most of the times lent, because a lot of passengers spent their time reading. A sheet was on display, on which you could register for a tour of the bridge of about half an hour for 15 persons each group on days at sea with 4 tours in the morning and another 4 in the afternoon. Card room - 10 tables with 4 chairs and some separate chairs, all in green leather. There were exceptionally beautiful wooden folding shutters at the windows. Deck 8: Crown & Anchor Society an area for those, who want to inform themselves about future RCCL cruises and to make a reservation. There was also the popular Internet-Cafe: equipped with 16 IBM-Computers, loudspeakers, a separate Laser printer, but no webcams. Cost: per minute 50 cent or package for 25 $ - 59 minutes, 35 $ - 89 minutes, 50 $ - 151 minutes. Deck 9: Pool deck - we found the pool, heated to 72 - 75 degrees, with two different depth levels. There were two roofed jacuzzis as well. Adequate number of deck chairs with plastic strings, which I found very comfortable. Some were close to the pool in the sun, some were under a roofed area at both sides of the deck. Several tables with 4 chairs on the side and in front of the Windjammer Cafe. Smoking section on one side of the ship. The sliding- windows could be opened towards the sea. There was blue astroturf cover (which was in strong need of a renovation) and partly timber floor. A small stage for small bands was found here, but they did not play all the time. An area for activities, like some pool games or dancing was in front of the pool. Solarium - a roofed area towards the stern on the same deck, with several deck chairs and tables, 4 chairs each, pool heated to 90 degrees, 2 jacuzzis, a Bar serving Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, French Fries and Vegetarian Pizzas (very good) on different hours until 1.30 late at night. Hallway to the stern where we found Spa and Gym with several equipment, like treadmills, cross trainer, dumb- bells and more. Some of the equipment were out of order. Behind the Spa and Gym was a wonderful sun terrace for about 40 people, partly roofed and really quiet. Windjammer-Cafe: at the bow of the ship, offering about 450 seats, a panorama view to three sides, and so a beautiful place to eat and see. Smaller than on other RCCL ships, offering tables for 2 to 6 persons, in a very worn and torn state. Really not acceptable any more, they should be removed completely. Chairs were still acceptable. But the ship is scheduled for drydock in Lisbon next may and the Windjammer will be completely renovated then, similar to the one on the Legend OTS. breakfast: starting at 6.15 am on days in port and at 7 am on days at sea. Divers sorts of bread, rolls, small cakes, donuts, and danish. Some warm meals, a small selection of cold meat, sausage, cheese and fish. A station for warm pastries like Toast, English Muffins and more, 2 stations for coffee, water and milk, several sorts of tea, 2 stations for juices like orange and ACE. Adequate choice of fruit, fresh or cut, or canned ones. Then my husband's favorite station, the egg cook, who prepared fresh omelets with a wide selection of ingredients, and fried eggs, turned or sunny- side- up. Lunch: from 12 am to 3 pm. A choice of several salads, already prepared or a selection of fresh ingredients and dressings to create your own, unfortunately without any variation during the 14 days of our cruise. Two soups, freshly cut meats, a diversity of vegetables as side orders, different warm main courses, and every day freshly prepared pasta, excellent both in quality and taste. As desserts there were daily changing custards and different cakes (which we'd prefer for tea- time) As beverages always lemonade and iced- tea, sometimes brought to the tables by the waiters. Like in the dining room at dinner- time, the service staff was always helpful and they assisted older or handicapped persons with their meals. Tables were cleared up relatively fast. Tea- time (Coffee- time for us germans): starting 3.30 pm, a selection of cookies and dry cakes, sandwiches (yummy), waffles, several warm dishes and every day Tacos and Tortillas with the usual toppings. Dinner: we never had dinner at the Windjammer. But the restaurant manager told us, that more than 200 people were dining in the Windjammer every evening. Deck 10: Jogging track (4 laps - 1 Mile) and sun deck with two roofed areas for about 12 deck chairs. There were plenty of deck chairs to place individually all over the deck. At the stern of the ship was a mini golf course, 2 Shuffleboards and the rock climbing wall, a special feature of RCCL. Deck 11: Viking Crown Lounge - a very tasteful interior in this bar area with outstanding circumferential visibility, during the day a wonderful place to rest, relax, observe and read. In the evening it turned into the Disco with a DJ. But I admit that it was too late for us to visit the Lounge at night. But I met people, who were there every night until 2.30 am. separate lounge for cigar smokers. weather: The weather on a transatlantic crossing is a hot discussed topic on our German cruisers forum. Many questions arose, so I decided to write down the weather conditions every day. The First Officer told me, that we had an unusual course, different to normal crossings, almost in one line from east to west. If we would have left Tenerife two days later, we would have been facing a really bad storm. Here is my weather report: Barcelona - rain, 63 degrees; in the afternoon less cloudy and warmer Alicante - rain, 57 degrees; in the afternoon warmer up to 68 degrees Malaga - 48 degrees; in the afternoon 64 degrees Day at sea Malaga  Tenerife; sunny, 68 degrees, waves rising between 4- 6 Meters, rough seas Tenerife - sunny, 70 - 79 degrees, calm seas 1. day at sea- sunny 70 degrees, calm seas; 2. day at sea- sunny, 77 degrees, calm seas; 3. day at sea- fog, rain, 75 degrees, rough seas; 4. day at sea- in the morning sunny, 77 degrees; in the afternoon cloudy, calm sea; 5. day at sea- rain in the morning, in the afternoon sunny, 73 degrees, calm seas, strong winds (force 6); 6. day at sea- around 79 degrees, rough seas, again Wind force 6-7; Bahamas - warm, 75-79 degrees, during the night very rough sea due to crossing the gulf stream, wind force 8; 2 days at sea - warm, 75 degrees, windy, very calm seas, almost like a lake; I have to remark, that it was really windy at almost every day at sea. The worst part of the cruise was disembarkation. We were called ½ hour later than scheduled and had to wait outside the terminal for about 20 minutes because the terminal was overcrowded. After entering the terminal we had to pick- up our luggage, only very few porters were available and they only took the luggage of some groups. We stood in a long waiting line for about 1 hour, before we reached the US customs and Immigration booth. A very nice and friendly officer handled the immigration process in approximately 5 minutes, including fingerprints and photos both with and without our glasses on. But then we were confronted with the next lack in organisation. Torrential rain poured down with thunderstorms and floodings. There was not enough service staff present to help you with the transfers and to guide you to the right bus, which were even not allowed to stop in front of the Terminal whereas private cars could stop there. We got wet to our bones on our way from the Terminal to the Transfer bus. So we had to change all of our clothes when arriving at the Houston Airport. Even the luggage was completely wet, too. This was badly organised by RCCL. From our point of view there is not much to tell about our ports of call. In Alicante and Malaga we had a free Shuttle-Transfer to the city, because we docked far away from downtown. Because of the rain, we made only short sightseeing on our own. In the afternoon, when the sun came out in Alicante, we took a taxi to a Fortress with a wonderful panoramic view over the coast with its beaches and the port. We paid 20 Euros (about 24 $) for the whole trip with the four of us, 20 minutes waiting time for the driver at the Fortress included. After having a private walking tour in the center of Malaga, we took a taxi back to the ship. Cost was 6 Euros (7,20 $) Remark: there were almost no english speaking taxi drivers, in spite of the fact that we were asking for them. So communication was very difficult and I had to use my small knowledge of Spanish. In Tenerife we took the public bus number 103 nonstop from the port in Santa Cruz to Puerto de la Cruz. That was an advice by a member of the visitor information center. They were standing at the pier and provided information about Tenerife Island. So we rode in 45 minutes for a price of 1,90 Euro (2,30 $) one way. I can't imagine a cheaper way to get around the island. People who want to visit the famous Loro Parque (like a zoo, but famous for their parrots) have to pay an entrance fee of 33 Euros (40 $) for an adult and 19 Euros (23 $) for children. As the bus- stop was in quite a distance to the ship we took a taxi for our way back, costs: 6 Euros (7,20 $). Puerto de la Cruz is worth visiting, highlights are its black beaches (because of their sands of lava) and the artificial saltwater pools in the center of town close to the sea, well- known for their exceptional design. Bahamas - again we did a private tour, hiring a van and a driver for 2 ½ hours costs were 20 $ per person. Our driver showed us different sights of the island, different beaches and the famous Atlantis Hotel on Paradise Island. Our opinion about Nassau: One day is more than enough. The city center was too crowded (Splendour, Zenith, Sovereign, World, and Regal Empress were docked) and there is too much traffic. Besides it is too expensive, what is very important. If you take the advice of the cruise line for serious, that you can make a bargain here, it turns out as a lie, if you know the prices on some caribbean islands like St. Thomas and St. Maarten. The days at sea were very pleasant and really relaxing for us. We took part in only a very few activities, like the Crown & Anchor member wine-tasting-seminar, a roll- call- meeting with members of another board, a tour of the bridge and two visits of the arts & crafts activities, with handicrafts on the level of Kindergarten- kids due to my opinion. Every time we desired to sit outside in the sun we found deck chairs at our favourite place, or we found a nice place inside to relax or to read a book. Many conversations we had with many crew members were always interesting, from Asst. Waiters to different cooks up to the Executive Chef and the Captain. We met the Captain in a private atmosphere and not during the usual Captains Reception. We were very pleased and honoured being invited to the Captains Table. It was an interesting and informative dinner and not too formal. Captain Yngvar Knutsen took command of the Splendour in Barcelona when we came on board. He decided to become master of the Splendour, because he did not want to be Captain on any larger ship. Like many other RCCL-Captains he is from Norway also like the majority of his officers. He told us that the Splendour is scheduled for drydock in Lisbon after the transatlantic Crossing in may 2006 for 9 days, as it is usual almost every 5 years. Several exterior renovations are on the to- do- list and a complete renovation of the Windjammer Cafe. We heard from the Sous Chef, a nice guy from Holland, that the refurbishment will be done in the same style like they did it on the Legend of the Seas, the Splendour's older twin sister, the year before. Totally 547 inside cabins will be partly redecorated, like I wrote before. These redecorations will be done while cruising. Because of the Splendour's new itinerary next year departing from Venice, Italy they prepare themselves for another passenger mix, more German and italian guests. So they are changing a part of the Management. The hotel director Luis Acosta left the ship in Galveston, the cruise director Tim Seivert finishes his contract with RCCL in january and more responsible managers will be switching over from the Jewel of the Seas to the Splendour. Summary: A great and relaxing cruise for us. Besides, our first Transatlantic Crossing. We would love to repeat it, but this time on an Eastbound Crossing, to have minor problems with the time changes. We have set our clocks 7 times back, and then there was the flight back from Texas to Germany with 7 hours ahead time difference, causing a huge jet- lag. Important to know for some of you, that we had 3 formal nights. The appears were totally mixed ranging from evening gowns, smokings, dinner jackets (I even saw a swallowtail) to also nice suits or other beautiful combinations. My husband was dressed in dark grey with changing ties, correct due to my impression. On the other evenings, he never wore a jacket, a nice dress shirt instead, a vest and a nice slack (but no jeans) worked out well. For me I wore every evening something special like a nice pant or pantsuit combined with a chic shirt or blouse. I never felt underdressed. Those people, who didn´t like to dress up, had their dinner in the Windjammer-Cafe. I never saw someone dressed inappropriately in the Dining-Room. Because we knew in advance that the ship was not in a newly- like- condition any more, we were pleasantly surprised how good she appeared, especially compared with Celebrity's Zenith. But we have heard, that the Zenith has been into drydock and redecorated after our Southern Caribbean cruise in february 2005. The size of the Splendour was pleasant. You did not feel being together with 1.570 passengers. The ship was never overcrowded, in fact it was opposite and we always found a quiet place to relax. We never saw rude or drunken passengers, although we have never been around the ship in the late evening hours. Our latest was midnight and this was just for taking photographs of the Gala-Buffet. Only a few children were on board and they've never been bothering. Food was much better than on the Zenith in february this year, service was really good and we had no officious wine stewards. Considering it all in all it was a wonderful cruise, with many quiet moments, but also a lot of nice and interesting conversations with people from many different countries. Our personal summary for other cruisers: absolutely recommendable. During the winter season the Splendour is based in Galveston, making four or five day cruises to the western caribbean with ports of call like Cozumel. Exception is one cruise during christmas holidays, which lasts 10 days. On April 23th 2006 she will be departing for the Eastbound Transatlantic Crossing to Lisbon, Portugal. After drydock she will be cruising out of Venice, Italy weekly for 8 days. There are 2 weekly changing itineraries with the following ports of call: Piräus (Athens), Greece- Kusadasi (Ephesis), Turkey- Heraklion, Greece- Korfu, Greece or alternatively Piräus- Mykonos, Greece- Rhodos, Greece- Dubrovnik, Croatia. The captain told us, that the Westbound Crossing in fall 2006 will be very unusual. It will take 20 days, starting October 29th until november 17th 2006 with the following ports of call: Venice- Dubrovnik- Messina (Sicily), Italy- Barcelona, Spain- Alicante, Spain- Malaga, Spain- Teneriffa (Canary Islands), Spain- 6 days at sea- Bahamas- Key West- Galveston. Surely a very interesting cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
St Louis airport is quite easy to navigate for a newbie. Intermediate parking was $11 a day and was directly across from the main terminal. A shuttle was readily available for the swift trip to the terminal. I flew United and was quite ... Read More
St Louis airport is quite easy to navigate for a newbie. Intermediate parking was $11 a day and was directly across from the main terminal. A shuttle was readily available for the swift trip to the terminal. I flew United and was quite relieved to discover that my baggage would be checked all the way through to Barcelona (I had to switch planes twice and would switch airlines once). All my flights were on time except the 7:25am flight out of London. It departed 35 minutes late. Chicago and London airports were easy to navigate and they each had well marked signs. Barcelona airport was a different story. Everyone on the flight assumed that since we landed in Terminal A our luggage would go to Terminal A baggage claim. NOT! Always check the screens because once you enter a claim area, you have entered a secured area- you cant go back inside the terminal and you cant exit the claim area without having to reenter the general terminal. In short: you have to go through security. After four attempts at Spanish and 40 minutes, I finally found WHERE to go. Luckily most folks on my flight made the same mistake. Our luggage was later found in Terminal B. I found an ATM and withdrew 140 E as I waited for Beckys flight to arrive from Paris. I discovered I had to retrace my steps and go back to Terminal A. Once back at A, I waited about 35 minutes before she walked out of the baggage claim area. We hugged and immediately set outside to get in the taxi line. The line moved quickly and we were ushered into a cab within 2 minutes. Our driver didnt speak English, but we got to our destination, Hotel Regencia Colon. The taxi ride cost us 35 E. HOTEL: We paid $155 for a regular double sized room. The location was perfect! Its located in the heart of the gothic quarter directly across from the Cathedral. It is a short walk to La Ramblas. Bus Touristic has a stop nearby also. There are several restaurants across the street, including Cafe Bisbe which I give high marks. Pharmacy also nearby (and a Starbucks, but I refused to even consider that!) The room was small, typical European. There were two twins pushed together in our double room. The bath was small, compact with a narrow shower/tub combo and toilet & bidet. Dental kit, shampoo, bath milk, soaps, hairdryer were provided. Room had an AC thermometer but it didn't work, so no AC. Room was very warm during the day, but we opened the window at night which cooled our room to a comfortable level. Room was furnished appropriately but nothing to write home about. It seemed tired and in need of replacing. The lobby consisted of a reception area and lounge. The daytime front desk workers were not the most pleasant individuals, but they did speak English. The nighttime desk worker was very funny and very helpful. The elevator is very small and has a manual door. We were allowed to store our luggage during our check out day in the lobby. Overall, the hotel was fine for our needs- a place to rest our head after a transatlantic flight and a day full of sightseeing. We didn't spend much time in the room. BARCELONA: We arrived in Barcelona before noon on Friday, Oct 21. The weather was in the mid to upper 70s with clear blue skies. We checked into our hotel and immediately set out to discover Barcelona. We opted to use the Bus Touristic, a double decker hop on/hop off bus. Be aware that the live commentary is scripted and read in 3 languages (Spanish, English, and French). We had a difficult time understanding the English. It seems that all the narrators need a lesson or two in speaking English properly. In fact, the French commentary sounded very butchered too. But the convenience of hopping on and off made the bus well worth our 14 E per person. We got off to visit Sagrada Familia first. We noticed many beggars here- specifically women holding babies and rattling a tin cup. They worked the entrance line to Sagrada, hovering dangerously close to unsuspecting tourists. Be aware and dont take out your money in front of them. Entrance to Sagrada was 7 E with a coupon or 8E without one. An audio guide can be purchased inside for an extra 2 E. There is an elevator, for an additional 2 E, which takes you up one of the towers. The views are spectacular and I highly recommend paying the extra $. The only way out is by walking down the narrow stairway. Next, we hopped back on the bus and got off to visit Park Guell. We didnt spend much time here due to the quickly setting skies, but I would definitely recommend spending some time here. The views of Barcelona are beautiful! We rode the bus back to Cataluyna, and boy was this place buzzing! The sky was nearly completely dark and the I think this area was busier than times square! We walked back to our hotel to freshen up for dinner. We decided to eat nearby our hotel at Cafe Bisbe. I ordered Fish Paella followed by Profiteroles. We chose to eat inside since sunset brought cooler weather. Plus, this cafe charges an extra 20% to eat on the patio. After some melatonin, we called it a night. On day 2, we checked out by 10am and stored out luggage in the lobby. We walked across the street to visit the Cathedral de Barcelona (free to enter). Then we chose to do Frommers Bari Gothic walking tour which I dont recommend since it provides incorrect directions! However, we did enjoy walking around this area and seeing the sights listed on the tour. Plaça de Sant Just, Plaça del Rei , and Temple d'Augustus. We stopped and had an espresso and croissant for 1.30 E. After commencing the walking tour, we decided to stroll down La Ramblas to the sea. This area was lively with lots of shops, flower markets, and tourists. Back at our hotel, the front desk clerk called a taxi for us. The taxi ride was 25 E and dropped us off at the Splendour! Ahh! Embarkation was a breeze and within 10 minutes we were onboard. Our luggage was brought to our room within 30 minutes. We met our friendly stateroom steward, Javier, and decided to check out the ship. We grabbed some lunch in the Windjammer and celebrated with the drink of the day ($4.25). The muster drill began at 5:30 and ended at 5:45. We had the 1st Late dining time (8:45pm). Our waiter was Enrique (from Chile), our waiter assistant was Ivana (from Poland), and our head waiter was a lovely man from India. Our dinner lasted until 11:10pm, but our waiter apologized saying it was his first night back from a 3 month long break. After dinner we sit at the Champagne bar and listen to live music as we sip martinis. We then head up to the Viking Crown Lounge to finish our strong drinks and people watch. We get in bed around 1:30am. MARSEILLE: We awake at 7am by the humming of the ship docking. The sky is dark and cloudy; I decided to pack my umbrella in my purse. The Splendour docks in an industrial area and walking to town is not an option. RCI offers a shuttle to Marseille for $5 per person, per ride. The shuttle drops passengers off at Vieux Port, the heart of Marseille. It began to pour buckets of rain during our drive to the port and it did not let up until lunchtime. The Splendour docked in Marseille on a Sunday, so many of the cafes and shops were closed. However, there is plenty to do and see despite this fact. The old harbor is very beautiful as it is filled with beautiful yachts and fishing boats. There was a fish market that morning, so the locals were out and about despite the weather and a local bus/train strike. We began our morning by walking down to the Abbey of Saint-Victor (open daily from 8am-7pm, free admission). The cruise ship provides a map of Marseille in the Compass, but the Office of Tourism (near the shuttle drop off) can also provide one. We arrived during Mass, so we waited outside for a few minutes until it let out at 10am. The structure dates back to the 5th century and the crypts date back to the 3rd and 4th century. By request, you can gain entry to the crypts for 2 E. We then walked to nearby Bas Fort Saint-Nicolas but it suddenly began to monsoon. We were soaked, despite an umbrella, and feeling quite miserable so we walked back to the Vieux Port to catch the Petit Train (5 E per person). The train has 2 itineraries with running commentary, Notre Dame De La Garde and Old Marseille. The Notre Dame is the highest point in the city and offers panoramic views, so this itinerary is popular and well-worth the 5 E. You can hop off at the top to view the cathedral (but be sure to save your Petit Train ticket so you can hop on the next train). The rain, by now, had stopped and the views of Marseille and the sea were spectacular! After returning to Vieux Port, we chose a cafe for lunch. We had ravioli stuffed with white cheese served with tomato and basil. With 2 glasses of vin rouge, the price comes to 32 E for both of us. Later in the afternoon we opted to take the Old Marseille Petit Train (runs less frequently, no hopping off, 5E). When the tour finished, it was time to head back to the ship. We took the RCI shuttle. VILLEFRANCHE (visited Monaco & Eze Village): This port of call is a tender port. We did not experience lines getting off the Splendour nor getting back on. The tender drops guests off at a picturesque harbor. The harbor is lined with cafes and quaint little shops. This port was the most beautiful of our trip. We walked along the harbor to the train station, a leisurely 10 minute walk. When you get to the stone wall, look left for a hidden staircase. A small, blue SNCF points you in the correct direction. You can buy train tix at a billet machine or from the ticket counter (which I did). The train to Monaco leaves on the 45 of the hour, every hour. Be sure to validate your ticket in the yellow machine, or you could be fined a hefty amount if caught without a validated ticket. The train was on time & it whisked us away to Monaco/Monte Carlo. In Monaco, follow the signs that say Sortie. We went up an escalator, then an elevator, then another escalator before we saw the sunshine of Monte Carlo. Walk right, out of the train station following the road. Its best to have a map since the winding roads of this town are very confusing. We followed the road until we saw a pedestrian staircase on the left. This stair case brought us to Av. Du Port, near the foot of Monaco. You can walk up to Monaco, or take the #1 or #2 bus at the Place DArmes bus stop (1.45 E fare). The drive is short and sweet and dead ends at the top of Monaco. Monaco is a small, walkable area. We went to the Monaco Cathedral (free admission) located at 4 rue Colonel Bellando de Castro. Here we saw the final resting places of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier. Next, we got in position for the 11:55 changing of the guards. The best position is near the entrance of the palace (where all the action takes place) and not the aisle. The ceremony is brief and lasts approximately 5 minutes. Following the ceremony, we walked over to the Princes Palace to see the State Apartments (6 E for audio guide). The tour lasts 30 minutes. Please note that there are free public restrooms on the far end of Monaco near the Aquarium. Bring your own toilet paper. After seeing Monaco, I planned to visit Eze Village (different from Eze Sur Mer). You must take a bus, not a train to this medieval village perched high above the sea. Bus 112 is the bus you need if youre coming from Monte Carlo. This bus stops at La Cremaillere stop (near the casino) irregularly (8:00, 9:45, 11:25, 1:20, 3:15, 5:05, 7:00). We caught the 1:20 bus, but discovered the bus driver did not speak English. So, we momentarily had a bit of a problem about how much the fare was . . . alas we worked it out and we were on our way to Eze. The drive took about 10 minutes and the hairpin turns up to Eze were a bit nerve racking, but the scenery outside the window was amazing. The bus stops directly in front of the village. There is a public bathroom at the entrance for a small fee. Eze consists of small roads, archways, stone houses, and arts/crafts boutiques. We dined on crepes and wine at a cafe before exploring the cobblestone streets of Eze. We stopped at the spice market and Fragonard, a perfume shop, before leaving Eze. We chose to hike down the Nietzche path to the train station. The hike offers splendid views and should not be missed (unless you are physically unfit or afraid of heights). It took us 45 minutes to reach Eze Sur Mer. The small train station is directly across the road and Villefranche is about 3 stops away. The train station is small with two tracks. With the help of our Cruise Critic friend Billy we were able to figure out the Billet Machine- unfortunately the train was 20 minutes late and packed with commuters. We had to run down the track, trying to find a car with enough room for the 2 of us. It wasnt wasy and the French kept telling us there was no room (or at least, thats what I figured they were saying!). The warning bell sounded, so we jumped into the nearest car and pushed our bodies in. The doors shut, or tried to shut but couldnt. Our departure was delayed as the doors attempted to reshut. Finally we were off! The next two stops were nightmares as more passengers tried to cram in the train. By the time the train pulled up to Villefranche, I had a French mans arm wrapped around me, holding me up and Becky wasnt visible. It was a battle trying to exit the train, but we survived. We chose to sip on red wine and watch the sun set at the cafe directly next to the tendering terminal. By the time we were on the tendering boat, the sky was black. We were able to snap some beautiful photos of the Splendour lit up in all her glory. LIVORNO:We purchased the Historical Florence & Accademia Museum tour ($142pp) Description: This full day tour will give you the opportunity to visit one of the most famous cities in the world, Florence. The tour combines the important sites within the city including Ponte Vecchio, Church of Sante Croce and the Accademia Museum. In Florence, you will begin your walking tour through the city visiting the Accademia Museum to view one of Michelangelo's most treasured creations, the statue of "David." Having survived the outdoor elements of Signoria Square, the magnificent sculpture was moved inside the museum in 1873, where it remains today. Also on display in the museum are paintings by Botticelli, Daddi and Raphael. You'll stop at Cathedral Square to view the Duomo, the Baptistery and Giotto's Bell Tower, which date back to the 14th century. Your tour will continue to Signoria Square to view a copy of the statue of "David" before arriving at a local restaurant. An authentic Florentine lunch will be served. After lunch, you will pause to the nearest point to view the elegant Ponte Vecchio. Meaning "old bridge," the Ponte Vecchio dates back to 1345, when it was built to replace a bridge that was swept away by a horrible flood. Today, the bridge is visited by many tourists, and is home to gold and jewelry vendors. You'll visit the Church of Santa Croce, known as Italy's Westminster Abbey for the Italian monarchy buried there. Its 14th century interior is one of the finest examples of Florentine Gothic decoration. Afterwards, you will have limited time at leisure to explore and shop. Drive to Piazzale Michelangelo for a panoramic view over the city with the Ponte Vecchio crossing the Arno River. We awoke to a cool morning with heavy fog. Luckily, it warmed up to blue skies and moderate temperatures. Our RCI tour bus had 45 cruisers onboard. It was a mix of old and mid-aged and a few young. Ignazio was our tour guide for the day and he spoke English quite well. We were each given a radio and 1 ear piece to wear for the day since Ignazio spoke into a microphone. The contraption was painful and I could never get the ear piece to stay in my ear. The Accademia line lasted about 30 minutes, then we were able to cut in front of the others waiting in the same line. We had to pass through a metal detector upon entry. Unfortunately, we only saw the front hallway featuring Michael Angelos work. Then, it was the David. WOW! It was larger than life and so beautiful. After viewing the David, we were immediately ushered out unless we wanted to purchase souvenirs at the gift shop. I bought two photos of the David since photography was not allowed. Next we walked to the Duomo. This place was packed with tour groups, tourists, and pickpockets. Ignazio pointed out some fake tourists who were actually pickpockets in disguise. The area was shoulder to shoulder with people so I felt very unsafe and held my purse and camera close to my person. Next we walked to Signoria Square to view the fake David along with other statues. There were LOTS of people selling fake Louis Vuitton purses and suitcases here. Next, we walked over to peer at the Ponte Vecchio bridge. Then, it was lunch. This was the most enjoyable part of this tour! We were served a yummy 3 course lunch served at Tirovino (www.tirovino.com). After lunch we went inside the Santa Croce church followed by 1 hour of free time. Overall, I didnt enjoy Florence. I blame the tour. There were approximately 45 people on this tour so just the sheer size of the group limited our sightseeing. We constantly had to wait for everyone since the streets in Florence are narrow and often require people to walk in single line formation. We also walked by the sites, except the Church of Santa Croce. I slept on the bus during the 1 ½ hour drive back to the ship. Civitachecchia: We hired, along with 4 others from Cruise Critic, Claudio from Limo in Rome for a full day tour of Rome. Description: This excursion is dedicated to discover Rome, the Eternal City."Your driver-guide or I will pick you up at the ship to start your tour. Enjoy a leisurely 1.5 hour drive through the Etruscan countryside straight to Piazza Venezia, the main square of the City. Start by exploring the Rome of the Emperors. Stops will be made at the Roman Forum, the Colosseum and the Mouth of Truth. Then take a panoramic drive past the Circus Maximus, the Palatine Hill and the Baths of Caracalla. Spend a half hour exploring the Catacombs with a guide on the Ancient Appian Way, 3 miles from the ancient walls. Back in the heart of Rome, stop for a visit inside the Pantheon, the best conserved monument of Ancient Rome as well as the nearby Santa Maria Sopra Minerva housing Michelangelo's "Risen Christ" . You can stop for an optional lunch and enjoy traditional Italian cuisine. Continue with a stroll through Baroque and Renaissance Rome: from piazza Navona through the narrow streets of Antiques Row to Campo de Fiori and Piazza Farnese. See Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, Capitol Hill and Piazza del Popolo. Stroll through the narrow streets admiring statues, fountains and discovering curiosities. Your tour continues with a drive to St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel (2/3 hours private guided tour is available). If you are particularly interested in art and architecture, the tour can be tailored to include masterpieces by Michelangelo or Raphael, Bernini or Caravaggio in various churches, time permitting. Your tour ends with a return transfer back to the ship." Claudio was waiting for us at 8am at the pier. The six of us comfortably sat in his VW 8 passenger mini bus for the drive to Rome. Claudio drove us by the thermal baths of Caracalla before heading to our first stop, the Roman Forum. Claudio parked directly in front of the entrance. The six Claudio gave us a brief commentary about the buildings. Then we drove to the Colosseum and got out for a 15 minute photo session (we opted not to wait in the 1+ hour line). Next, we drove to the Panthenon followed by a potty break at a McDonalds. I was surprised to see the fast food chain was packed (with locals and tourists alike). Afterward we were dropped off near the Trevi Fountain for a 15 minute photo op. The fountain was very crowded with tourists and vendors. Claudio warned us about pickpockets here. Becky and I snapped photos of the fountain and posed for photos. Yes, we both threw in a coin guaranteeing our return to Rome. We hopped back into the van and were whisked off to the Spanish Steps for a 20 minute photo op. The area was buzzing with tourists, but we didnt mind. It felt wonderful to sit and soak up the warm rays. Across the street from the steps are all the wonderful, high-end shops like Gucci. We couldnt resist . . . we walked over and browsed inside for the rest of our allotted time. Then the 6 of us, none of which bought anything, headed over to Campo Fiori for our lunch break. We had an hour to walk the market and grab a bite to eat. Becky and I both bought a slice of pizza wrapped in paper. We walked while we ate, eyeing the Gelato shops. We found a seat on the edge of a fountain near a beautiful flower booth. The birds hopped around us, hoping for a bite. They got lucky because the last bite of my pizza slipped through the newspaper. Ah, shucks! Unfortunately, I was full from my feast, but Becky had saved some room in her stomach for Gelato. After snapping some photos and after Becky had finished her ice cream, we met back up with our group and Claudio. Off to Vatican City!! Here we met up with our lovely historian tour guide. For the next 3 hours, she led us through the museum, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peters Basilica. The highlight, for me, was the Sistine Chapel. Guards shouted every 1-2 minutes BE QUIET! as tourists are told to enter in silence. Of course, who can do that?! So the constant shouting kinda ruined the moment. Oh well! After NAPLES We overslept this morning (still worn out from Rome), so our time was limited. We exited the terminal to see another beautiful, cloudless day. We had a map and decided to attempt the walk to the Circumvesuviana train station. We were hollered at by the sleazy looking cab drivers who shouted Bella, but we ignored them and continued waking. Well, we got lost. We discovered that we were all alone among locals. We retraced our steps and luckily did find an English family who knew where they were going. So, we followed them and finally found our way. The walk took us a long time, definitely 30 minutes. When you enter the station, you walk down a flight of stairs to the ticket windows. Dont use turnstiles opposite counter, but go down the corridor to the turnstile at end. Follow signs or just follow the stray dogs. We followed a dog, who didnt have a ticket to get through the turnstile I might add. He then proceeded to chase the trains as they entered and departured the platforms. He knocked some people over . . . luckily he didnt know them into the tracks. Get off at Pompeii Scavi stop. The train ride takes approximately 40 minutes but we were entertained by impoverished Italians playing bizarre instruments and begging for coins. Pompeii opens at 8:30 and admission 10 E . You can hire a guide outside of the gates for an additional amount. We had a limited amount of time so we didnt hire a guide nor did we rent the audio guide. After quickly seeing a small portion of Pompeii (its HUGE and you really need a whole day here), we decided to go to Sorrento (we still needed to buy some souvenirs). Take the train to the last stop, Sorrento. Sorrento was a charming little town. We walked the pedestrian streets lined with wine shops, ceramic shops, typical tourist trap shops, and limoncello shops. We walked into Limonoro, a shop that sells its own version of the lemon liquor. They sell the stuff in a variety of funky bottles. In addition, they sell chocolate, candies and olive oil. We had pizza at a small little café/deli. We walked up to view the pizza behind the counter and a young Italian man walked up to us and attempted to explain, in English, the varieties of pizza they had. He was quite charming and offered us champagne (for free). I ate and drank everything put in front of me. Later we walked down to the sea to buy our 4:30 hydrofoil tickets. We dined on gelato and wine at a seaside café before boarding our vessel back to the Splendour. DAY AT SEA: We were quite sad that our hours were limited. Our adventure had come to an end. Becky spent the day at the pool and I spent it at the art auction sipping my free champagne. We had a small get-together at the Viking Crown Lounge with those we met from Cruise Critic. It was nice to reminisce and to meet those from the online boards that we had not had a chance to meet yet. We were sad to leave the ship. I had a 11:25am flight so I signed up for early departure from the ship. Everyone had to be out of their rooms by 7:00am (not 8am like many previous Caribbean cruises)!! I was given beige tags, the first group to be called, and I was told the first group would be announced at 7:20am. And guess what? Everything was on time. Beige was called and I immediately proceeded to get my luggage. I was outside and in a taxi by 7:35 and at the airport by 8am! HOWEVER, it took me 2 hours to check in. The lines at Barcelona airport were HUGE! By the time I was checked in and thru security, I only had 1 hour before my scheduled departure. My flight was an Iberia flight but operated by British Airways. The flights were uneventful, but I didnt get home until late at night. A bottle of limoncello, intended for my brother as a Christmas gift, broke in my suitcase. Otherwise, everything arrived in sound condition. In conclusion, this cruise was AMAZING! Becky was a wonderful travel partner. Since we have similar interests, we were able to make the most of our trip. We booked the cruise 1 year in advance (taking advantage of the amazing early-bird pricing) and immediately began planning. She was in charge of planning our days in Barcelona, Marseille, and Rome. I was in charge of Villefranche, Florence, and Naples. It worked out perfectly and I wouldn't change a thing. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
This was our fourth Royal Caribbean cruise but by far the most spectacular. Previous trips were all about the ship but this time it was all about the ports. We arrived in Barcelona a couple of days prior to cruise to become accustomed to ... Read More
This was our fourth Royal Caribbean cruise but by far the most spectacular. Previous trips were all about the ship but this time it was all about the ports. We arrived in Barcelona a couple of days prior to cruise to become accustomed to the time change which paid off not only in being refreshed for the cruise but in having enough time to appreciate how special a stop Barcelona is. We stayed near the Gothic quarter and enjoyed that area as well as the Las Ramblas and Sagrada Familia. Check-in was a snap, due in part to registering online ahead of time. It was late October and we weren't sure what to expect from the weather but it was great during the entire week. As I mentioned previously, this trip was not about the ship but my wife and I liked the size of the Splendour, finding it easy to get about and do the things we wanted to do. (eat and sleep!) Service was up to our expectations as was the main dining room fare but I found the Windjammer suffered by trying to offer perhaps too wide a variety of items on their menu. (e.g. biscuits?) However, my vocabulary is not adequate to describe our experience with every stop on our cruise. Seeing the sheer beauty of southern France and coming face to face with the history of western civilization in Italy are experiences I will always cherish. Our experiences in port were absolutely enhanced by taking advantage of Royal Caribbean sponsored tours. We found our tour guides to be not only knowledgeable but passionate about their subject which added immensely to our visit. Because we scheduled shore excursions which for the most part left early in the morning, we were too tired to try the late shows onboard. With the time change that took place as we left we would leave ship at sunrise and when in Florence and Rome on all day tours we wouldn't get back to the ship until after sunset. Certainly not what we experience when in the Caribbean! Although we didn't try the nightly entertainment we did enjoy the musical acts performing in the Centrum. On several occasions the combination of good music and the mood of a unique mix of passengers onboard provided for spontaneous dancing and enjoyment of the moment. Departing the ship was almost as easy as the check-in, removing any remaining fear we had at the beginning of traveling to foreign country. This was by far the best vacation we have ever enjoyed and I certainly encourage anyone contemplating this trip to leap at the opportunity. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
This is the second time I have cruised with Royal Caribbean. I have been happy with both cruises so far but the food on this ship was far better. We were delighted by the service and the bar even made great drinks not the usual watered ... Read More
This is the second time I have cruised with Royal Caribbean. I have been happy with both cruises so far but the food on this ship was far better. We were delighted by the service and the bar even made great drinks not the usual watered down gross tasting cheap liquor kind...lol. Our first port was Toulon (it was supposed to be Marsaille but we couldn't dock there due to "civil unrest".) The French government was very kind to allow our ship to dock in their military base and our huge white ship looked amazingly beautiful against all the smaller grey battleships. We took the full day excursion here...it was fantastic except for the lame sales pitch at the perfume factory. Other than that I had no complaints. Second port was Villefrance. As far as beauty goes, I would have to say the French Riviera and Capri and Sorrento were the most beautiful places I had ever seen. The tall green mountains decorated with fuscia bougainvillea and speckled with white and coral houses with terra cotta roofs against the deep turquoise Mediterranean Sea was a jaw dropping visual. You actually felt like you were in a James Bond film! Third port was Livorno. We took the day long excursion to Florence and Pisa. Everything on this excursion was excellent. We drove through the Tuscan countryside and walk through the streets of florence and then a bus ride back to Pisa. I am glad we took all the tours because I know on our own we would not have had the time to see everything. The Leaning Tower of Pisa was not what I expected. In pictures it kind of looks cheesy...like the cover of a pizza box. I had no idea it was so elegant. Forth port was Citivec....Citeve....Rome. Again, the all day tour was the way to go. Our tour guide was the best. He knew how to get us through the lines quickly and we even got to see the Pope! My favorite was St. Peter's Basilica...it was even more amazing than the Sistine Chapel if that is possible. You have to experience it if you do nothing else. In fact the most interesting places for me were St. Peter's and Pompeii. The fifth port was Naples. Capri, Sorrento and pompeii was the excursion we took. Shopping down cobblestone streets and enjoying the views was soo relaxing. Then on to Pompeii...Don't miss it! Unbelievable, trust me! The Next day we were glad was at sea. We needed the rest. I am still in a daze. I know I have left out sooo much. I wish i was a poet so I would have the words needed to describe this part of the world. Luckily, I am an artist and you can bet this experience will be seen in my work for the rest of my life. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
This was the first cruise for me and my wife. Even though we enjoyed this cruise, we viewed it more as a way for us to see Europe. Therefore, we did not get to spend a lot of time on the ship. Briefly, we enjoyed the food for the most ... Read More
This was the first cruise for me and my wife. Even though we enjoyed this cruise, we viewed it more as a way for us to see Europe. Therefore, we did not get to spend a lot of time on the ship. Briefly, we enjoyed the food for the most part. The poultry and beef were made very well. However, the seafood was overcooked frequently. Dessert for the most part was good. Service was good. The 2 pools were small. The 4 hot tubs were not very hot; the indoor hot tubs were always closed around dinner time. Music and entertainment were above average. As for the ports of call, we first stopped in Toulon, France. The first stop was suppose to be Marseilles but due to a local port-worker strike, the stop was changed to Toulon. Hopefully this won't happen to you because if you haven't planned for a stop, the day maybe somewhat chaotic as you don't know what to do. Of course, the other option is to pay $ and go on one of the shore excursions. One advice from stopping at this port is that if the cruise is offering a shuttle service from the port into the city ... take it, even if it costs you $5 USD per person each way. Usually when the shuttle service is offered, it means the port is far far far away from the city. When we docked in Toulon, they gave us a map from Celebrity cruise about this city. On the map, they showed where the ship docked (which is actually the Celebrity ship instead of Royal Caribbean). The walk into the city according to that map would have been a few minutes. However, where we actually docked, the walk would have been ~2 hours. In VILLEFRANCHE, the ship will dock at sea and you will be tendered into the port. The walk from the port to the train station is only about 10 minutes. From here, you can go to Nice or Monte Carlo. At LIVORNO, there is a shuttle that takes you from the port to Piazza Grande. From there, it's another 5-10 minute taxi/bus ride to the Livorno Centrale train station. To save money and time, negotiate with a taxi driver at the port to go straight from the port to the train station. (When you get dropped off at the train station, you might want to ask where the ship is docked at and write it down. This way when you're getting a taxi ride back to the ship, you'll know what to tell the taxi driver.) The train ride to Florence from Livorno can take up to 1-2 hours each way. Be careful ... take the express train to Florence. Don't accidentally end up on the local train like us; otherwise, it'll take about 2 hours to go from Livorno to Florence. At CIVITAVECCHIA port, there's a free shuttle that runs from the port to the port gate (from 7:30am to 6:15pm). From the port gate, you can walk to the train station in about 10 minutes. It's a 1 hour ride on the train into Rome's central station (Termini). Beware ... the Rome train station is HUGE!!! We missed our train back to Civitavecchia because we didn't plan enough time to run through this huge train station. Luckily, we caught the next train that barely gave us enough time to get back on the ship. At the last stop in NAPLES, we did a shore excursion because we were so tired from doing all the previous cities on our own. We did the Amalfi coast drive/Pompeii shore excursion. This excursion was wonderful but a bit long. Beware if you get motion sickness. Overall, this is a great cruise if you can get a good deal on the internet. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
This cruise exceeded my expectations. The Splendour was a beautiful ship and the solarium was a really nice feature. It was very clean and our room, which was a large inside cabin was perfect (no need to upgrade). I have tons of pictures ... Read More
This cruise exceeded my expectations. The Splendour was a beautiful ship and the solarium was a really nice feature. It was very clean and our room, which was a large inside cabin was perfect (no need to upgrade). I have tons of pictures if anyone wants to e-mail me. The ports that we visited were spectacular. The French Riviera was sooo beautiful. What a great way to see everything. Now, word of warning, the cruise is very port-intensive. This is not a cruise for relaxing. The last day is the only day that you are at sea, but that's why we booked it. The food was average - above average. Obviously not as good as cruise food was 20 years ago, but definitely worth it. The Windjammer was always very busy. It was difficult to find a seat in the morning for breakfast (and you had to rush to get a bite in to meet your excursions or order room service). The King and I main dining room was where we ate dinner every night. I would have enjoyed dinner more if I wasn't just diagnosed with fish/seafood allergies. Obviously, on a Mediterranean cruise, you will find lots of fish/seafood. That was disappointing, but not a flaw of the ship in any way. We also ate lunch at the King and I one day, which was a nice change and it was very good. Oh, I forgot to mention, the worst part about eating was that they were on the European schedule, so dinner was very late. We literally got done eating and went to bed to be up early for our excursions the next day. Excursions -- Since we were far from some ports, we booked Royal Caribbean's excursions and we were very pleased. Safe drivers, good tour guides who were very informative, and we covered a lot of territory. Well worth it. You can easily hire your own driver in Capri, which we did and it was wonderful. They have these canopied taxis, which are very cool. Getting on/off the ship was very professional and you feel very safe because they do a thorough check each time. Disappointments (very minor) -- You are required to use a credit card to program the safe. I prefer locking my credit card in the safe, so this was frustrating. You can't use it on the ship, so why carry it around with you? On the Majesty of the Seas, you program your own code, which worked out nicely. Also, due to our late dinner time, we weren't able to partake in the evening entertainment (again, because we had to be up bright and early for our excursions). On the Majesty, they had the entertainment before the late seating, which worked out better. I would recommend this cruise to anyone. The itinerary and the ship were just perfect. Every time I look at my pictures, it makes me want to go back! Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
I don't know if cruising is the best way to see the Mediterranean. We saw great sites and beautiful cities, but we didn't spend much time on the ship. Our days were packed full and we usually left the ship at 8:00 a.m. and ... Read More
I don't know if cruising is the best way to see the Mediterranean. We saw great sites and beautiful cities, but we didn't spend much time on the ship. Our days were packed full and we usually left the ship at 8:00 a.m. and returned from our excursions about 6:00 p.m. We had late seating for dinner and always finished by about 10:30. Our shows were at 11:00-12:00 and we always skipped them because we needed to get some rest for the next long day. We used the ships excursions for all days except the last day in Naples. We hired Jack the driver at jackthedriver.com for the entire day. He was excellent. We had made the arrangements via the internet and he was right there at the port at 8:00 waiting for us. His Mercedes van is immaculate--as is he--very well groomed. He speaks very good English and is knowledgeable about the area and serves as a tour guide as he drives. We went to Pompeii and spent a couple hours there. We then went on the beautiful Amalfi drive tour through Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello. Jack gave us the time we needed for shopping and eating. He was very polite and helpful. We would certainly use his services again if we were in the area. The ship's excursions were well planned and coordinated with great tour guides, but they tend to be a bit pricey. If you are more adventuresome, you may want to use local tour services. Drivers are often waiting for you as you get off the ship. The ship had been updated a couple years ago and was tastefully decorated. The food was not as good as on some of the ships we have recently cruised on. Our waiter was the most aloof of any we have ever had. We did have nice dinner companions though, and they made dinner enjoyable. I don't have a lot more to say about the ship because we did not spend much time on it. On the last day, a number of people did feel sick. We had a day at sea as we drove from Naples to Barcelona. It was our first day of having to travel at a faster speed and the waves were 5-7 feet. Our travel companions got very sick that day and did not make it to dinner that night --as was true for many people. We will probably come back to visit France and Italy, but on our own tour so that we can see more of the countryside. Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
Just returned from our Mediterranean cruise yesterday. My quick bio: Have been to Europe 10 times, been on 6 cruises and visited over 30 countries around the world. First thing first. THE FOOD was excellent. All the reviews I read before ... Read More
Just returned from our Mediterranean cruise yesterday. My quick bio: Have been to Europe 10 times, been on 6 cruises and visited over 30 countries around the world. First thing first. THE FOOD was excellent. All the reviews I read before I went said the food was lousy. I actually asked our waiter how people could have thought this. He said they just got a new Head Chef from France. Well, he does a fine job. The Windjammer is just a buffet. Basically as good as a 'buffet' can get. The Main dining room food was just as good or better than any cruise I've been on. Everyone - 10 people - at our table fully agreed. THE SHIP is a bit older. I've been on a Voyager class ship twice before. Don't expect that size, age or perks, but understand they really aren't needed. When I first was on a Voyager class ship, It took me 5 days to explore the whole ship. Even though the Splendour of the Seas is MUCH smaller, I didn't see the whole ship until the last day. The itinerary is just WAY too good - and intense - to be walking around the ship. The bottom line is if you want to go on a nice relaxing vacation to get a tan and party all day - this probably is not the cruise for you. However, if you want to explore one of the most exciting, beautiful regions of the world, then this cruise will not disappoint. The ports of call are all great. Each one is a little different from the previous one. Marseilles is a very nice place. We - my girlfriend and I - took the excursion thru RCCL to Cassis. It was beautiful. It left early - 8 AM - and we were back by 1 PM. On the way there we got to see most of Marseilles, so we sorta saw 2 places. The road was one hair-pin turn up a cliff after another. Really awesome. I wish we had more time in Cassis though. Next day was Villefrance. We did it all on our own. No problem - Just walk up the hill to the tourist office. Grab a bus for 3 Euros R/T and you can either go to Monaco - one direction - or Nice - the other. We went to Monaco. It was unreal. Beautiful. We spent the whole day there then went back to the ship. A couple at our table did both Nice and Monaco on their own, so it is possible. Day 3 we took the Florence and Pisa 'on our own' thru RCCL. I was expecting just a bus ride, but was pleased to find out it came with an awesome tour guide - Patricia - She spoke perfect English and told us EVERYTHING we needed to know for Florence and Pisa. I would recommend just doing Florence though. It is spectacular and ALL Pisa has is the Leaning Tower. Pretty lame. Day 4 was Rome. We toured it with a private company. Our guide - Fariezio was awesome. We were in a new Mercedes van with 2 other couples for about 200 euros per couple. We ended up seeing about 20 different sites in Rome. About twice as many as the RCCL tour people saw, and 5 times as many as people on their own saw. Do not attempt Rome on your own. Hire your own guide - best way - or at least get a tour thru RCCL. Day 5 was Naples. Fabriezio drove all the way down from Rome - for the same price - and picked us up again. We left Naples and went down the coast to Sorrento and Positina. Breath taking! Also, both days our guide brought us to 'local' places to eat lunch that were really great and inexpensive. The one in Positina was up on a cliff over looking the sea. It didn't even have a sign. By the way, buses aren't allowed on most of these roads near Positina. Day 6 we SLEPT all day. So, most days we were up at 6:30 AM - returned to the ship around 6 PM. Relaxed, got ready, had a couple of drinks and ate at 8:45. We then went to bed by midnight. see what I mean - There's really not much time to hang out on the ship. The staff and service were all excellent. QUICK TIPS -#1 Stay an extra day and explore Barcelona - really nice city - especially on Saturday night. #2 They have tables on the balconies that are fine to eat on. #3 If you buy wine at the ports - or liquor - they do NOT stop you from bringing it to your room - they kinda look the other way because all the Europeans would flip I was told. This would never happen in the Caribbean. #4 Be ready to walk about a million miles. I have already recommended this cruise to my family and friends and will continue to do so. If you don't enjoy it you have Serious Issues or really bad luck. - Bon Voyage Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
This was our 13th cruise in the last 5 years, and the second with RCCL. My wife and I were also travelling with Splendour of the Seas on the same itinerary, in August last year. The ship is of some age but nevertheless it is well cared ... Read More
This was our 13th cruise in the last 5 years, and the second with RCCL. My wife and I were also travelling with Splendour of the Seas on the same itinerary, in August last year. The ship is of some age but nevertheless it is well cared for, but we really hope that it will only take a few years before the cabins will be renovated. We found both the service from our cabin attendant from Nicaragua and the service in the King and I, from our waiter and asst. waiter better than the team who were servicing us last year. We were on the 21.15.hrs sitting for dinner on deck 5 of the King and I. Our waiters provided an enhanced dining experience for both of us, at table 49. Also we find the food in this restaurant better than last year. We always ask for the late dinner sitting, but we find the 21.15 hrs sitting a bit too late. We have never had that late dinner sitting on any previous cruise. On deck 4 of the King and I, I think you could start dinner at 20.45 hrs, and we had preferred that sitting or still a bit earlier. In addition to the King and I, you have the buffet restaurant, Windjammer. We really love the location and the interior of this restaurant. The restaurant staff is also very fast to clear and clean the tables. Concerning the food, we however find the food for breakfast and lunch on the average side (we have never eaten dinner there). In addition to those to restaurants, you can eat fast food from the Solarium Bar. POOL-There are 2 pools; a general one for all ages, and a Solarium for ages 16+. Last year I think the Solarium was for ages 18+. My wife and I like to relax in the Solarium, with the hope that we could be out of the presence of noisy children, who often jump and dive in the pools, even if it is not permitted by the pool rules. Unfortunately, on this cruise trip we found the pool attendant/pool guard to be very lazy to look after that the pool rules was living up to, even in the Solarium pool. We find that very disappointing, people travelling without children have paid for this cruise too and should if they want a relaxing atmosphere, expect to find that in the Solarium. The age restrictions in the Solarium were also not looked after. Last year, we had no trouble at all with the mentioned problems in the Solarium. When starting on a new cruise vacation, we always wonder if there is any change in ships/company rules. On this cruise RCCL had established a new liquor policy. You can no longer buy bottles of spirits on board the ship, for consumption in your cabin (even not to a higher bottle price). All bottles bought on board, will not be handed over to you before the last evening of the cruise. The Splendour had also established a new policy concerning distribution of bath towels. Every day you have to ask the pool attendant for towels, and the number of towels and your cabin number will be recorded by the attendant. You must now also pay, $5 one way, for all shuttle bus service from the ship and in to the towns were that service is offered. If you not are a first time traveler abroad, and if you like to learn about the places you shall visit before you start on your cruise vacation, you can easily travel on your own from most of the ports of this itinerary, to several places of interest. Going on your own, can perhaps give you better memories than going on organized excursions, and you can also save money. Read Less
Sail Date August 2005
I took the Western Mediterranean Cruise aboard the Splendour of the Seas on July 16-23,2005. Check-in was a breeze! It took literally 2 minutes. It helps if you have all of your paperwork done ahead of time prior to going there. No ... Read More
I took the Western Mediterranean Cruise aboard the Splendour of the Seas on July 16-23,2005. Check-in was a breeze! It took literally 2 minutes. It helps if you have all of your paperwork done ahead of time prior to going there. No problems whatsoever with the luggage. The cabin was surprisingly larger than I expected. The bed was comfortable as well. The tv was small, but quite frankly, I didn't go to Europe to watch TV! They did have a very good assortment of different movies playing all day for the time when u were there. As far as cleanliness (sp?) goes, this was a very clean ship, although a little older. In a couple of years, they may have to refurnish the whole thing, but it works for now. The service and helpfulness of the staff was outstanding. The cabin service was excellent, as was the dining room service. The waiter had been working with that same company for 12 years, and believe me when I tell you that he KNEW that menu like the back of his hand! He was also very good with wine suggestions. As far as the food goes, it was very good as well. The steaks were excellent, as well as the coq au vin!! AND THE TAPAS BAR!!! For those of you fellow foodies, this is like the holy grail of food areas... and Spain has the wonderful tradition of tapas.. YOU MUST try the tapas served next to the pool daily, especially after the tours... Tapas, sangria, music, wine, and the Mediterranean.. enough to double the world population in nine months!!!! The assorted tapas included serrano ham, manchego cheese, stuffed olives, meatballs, garlic cloves, toasted French bread, roasted potatoes, and others. Very very yummy! My biggest disappointment with food was breakfast, by far. The scrambled eggs were horrible! You were better off eating cheerios and milk every morning or tanking up on fruit. The entertainment was decent, although not as fancy as the other cruise I went (Carnival Pride to Western Caribbean in 2003). The Gaucho show SUCKED! But the Flamenco show is a must see. As far as shore excursions go, I have to say that I was not disappointed, and they were well worth the money! Now, I am myself not a big fan of excursions, and am more of a free spirit. But taking into account that I had never been to Europe before, and that we only had 12 hrs in each port, and most things were far from port, the cruise-arranged excursions were by far the best option for my parents and I. The first day, we went to Les Baux in Provence. Beautiful half day tour, and rather inexpensive, considering that it was only $45 (all our other excursions were $150 for a full day), and it gave us a chance to see rural France up close and visit a medieval town. Beautiful artisan shops and a nice Chateau on top of a hill. They sell the best caramel there! Oh, and when you go, please be nice and say Bonjou, Merci, and Au Revoir to the people at the shops. It will make a HUGE difference in your trip, and it will completely change your perception of the french and their attitude towards you. (THEY ARE VERY NICE) The second day we took a marathon tour of Nice, Eze, and Monaco. Again, convenient in that we got to see 3 beautiful places in a day and the lunch in Eze was awesome! Eze was gorgeous! I took some of my best pics there. I was somewhat disappointed with Nice, but I think it was that it was early in the am and everything was closed. Monaco was gorgeous,albeit overrated in my view. If you have a good knowledge of the area and want to venture this port on your own, this is possibly your best bet to do so, since good local transportation is available (trains, etc) and the distances are close to each other. Not only that, the boat left at 10 pm this day, so it gave us extra time. Livorno is far from Florence. The bus took 1 1/2 hrs to get there, and it poured rain all the way there! I must say, that, overall, Italy needs a good pressure washer and some soap, compared to Barcelona and France. But otherwise, Florence was beautiful. Lots of walking. Rome was hot, but also remarkable. TONS OF WALKING - get GOOD COMFORTABLE SHOES!! For men, I strongly recommend broken-in sneakers. I got this pair of Ecco shoes that you can use with khakis, jeans, or shorts that are absolutely AWESOME! For ladies, NO HEELS!!!! This lady in my tour was wearing heels! IS SHE INSANE??? By the way, don't be stupid and think that you are going to persuade the Vatican police or the Swiss Guard to let you in St Peter's Basilica in shorts or showing your shoulders, cause ITS NOT GONNA HAPPEN!!! I saw plenty of disgruntled people kicked to the curb when they tried the trick and got their butts kicked out in front of everyone. So save yourself the trouble, wear a pair of comfortable khakis, some nice walking shoes, and enjoy one of the most amazing sights you'll ever see in St Peters Basilica. Quite overwhelming, especially for a good ole catholic boy like me! In Naples we went to Pompeii, Sorrento and Capri... Amazing pics also. Very nice watches in Capri.. I do have to say that the Cameo Factory visit was a total rip-off, but that's the way these tours work. Also, CAPRI WAS OH SO CROWDED!!! And anyone who has been to Italy knows, Italians are not known for their excellent scheduling or organizational skills.. But everything worked out well, in its own chaotically-controlled manic sort of way. The day at sea was a good day for sleep! The ship casino is adequate, not spectacular. Then again, I don't gamble much. Barcelona was my favorite town, and we spent 3 days prior to the cruise and 1 day afterwards there. We found an excellently located hotel in the middle of Las Ramblas (Citadines Aparthotel - 200 euros a night for 4 people in your own apt). Great food everywhere! Now, as far as Barcelona goes, you need to remember a few things. First, the touristic buses are AWESOME to see the city. Go to Plaza de Catalunya and you will see their stops there... they are cheap and efficient. Second, people in Barcelona LOVE TO EAT! They eat all the time, and THEY ARE SKINNY AND GORGEOUS! Their food is fresh, delicious, and with excellent variety. There are plenty of restaurants around Las Ramblas to go. We went to Restaurant Euskadi, where they serve food from the Basque region of Spain - outstanding, if you never had it before. We also went to an italian place called Restaurant Caruso. My dad loved their lasagna - I could've used more sauce in mine, but it was good. By the way, if u are like me and love to eat, you must try the bocadillos, which are these sandwiches that the Spaniards love. THEY ARE AWESOME and their bacon is great too, because it has much less fat than the american version, and it is very tasty. You must also visit the Mercat Saint Josep, also known as the Boqueria Market. This is where you will see some of the most beautifully displayed meats and fruits you will ever see. All the locals buy here on Saturday, so you should visit it if you want to mingle with them. And finally, know that people in Barcelona are NIGHT OWLS!!!! They eat after 9 or 10 pm, and stay out walking until 3 or 4 am EVERYDAY! It was not rare to see tens of thousands of people strolling the street at midnight. WHAT A BEAUTIFUL SIGHT! One final note : AVOID GYPSIES and ANYONE that approaches you to give you a flower or anything else. THEY ARE MASTERS AT PICKPOCKETING!!!! You will get robbed and never even realize it until is way too late! My mother lost 90 dollars this way. A lady approached her at a local park selling her a flower for a dime, and somehow, she or one of her accomplices took the money from her bag! don't carry your passport unless you have to. And wear a money belt. I was also not fond of their metro subway system. Having said that, this was a trip of a lifetime! The ship was very good and served its purpose. If you are looking for luxury cruising, this is not for you. But if what you want is a good, dependable, enjoyable cruise with amazing ports and good food and great value, this is your trip! Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
Travelled with my husband, 14 year old son and 82 year father. I have to say we had a fabulous time. As previous reviewers have said the ship is of some age but nevertheless it is well cared for. Of particular noteworthiness was the ... Read More
Travelled with my husband, 14 year old son and 82 year father. I have to say we had a fabulous time. As previous reviewers have said the ship is of some age but nevertheless it is well cared for. Of particular noteworthiness was the service provided to us during pre dinner drinks and at dinner. In the Champagne bar it was Venice who provide an excellent level of service. We were on the 19.00 hrs sitting for dinner on deck 5 of the King and I and it was Tatjana and Filip who provided an enhanced dining experience for all of us. Now down to the ports we visited. We undertook the Florence and Pisa excursion but beware it is very very tiring. The pace set by the guide in Florence was too quick we were almost running at one stage and given the heat ..... at the end of the Florence section we were ready for our beds never mind a journey to Pisa. Although Pisa was lovely it is a fair hike form the bus to the Field of Miracles. After this trip we decided to cancel the trip the following day to Rome (which meant that we lost almost £400 in fare money). But something had to give and we were looking forward to Capri, Sorrento and Pompeii, we took a vote and decided it was best to rest. As with all trips like these it is very trashing but the sights visited are truly wonderful. The food during the cruise in the King and I could not be faulted and the selection of wines enough to satisfy our needs. We do share the views of others regarding the Windjammer if you want a quick meal and do not wish to dress for the occasion well that is the place for you - relaxed. My party liked the sense of occasion and we loved dressing uu for the formal nights and trying to look our best for the other nights in the King and I. We thought the shows in 42nd Street were good to very good and entertaining. My son joined th "teen scene" and enjoyed it. We tried all the bars but settled for the ambiance of The Champagne Bar ask Venice to make you one of special Bellinis (to die for!) Sun Bathing on the ship we preferred the stern of the ship next to the Solarium and Spa it was quiet and there were always sunbeds available. Also good to know that if you want some quiet time during the day up to 18.00hrs go the Viking Crown Lounge it appear that this is a place that no one has discovered during the day. Whenever we went there was only us and perhaps a couple of others. Our cabin steward was very good and our towels were changed at least twice a day! Now for the down side well none except that I have lost my camcorder - I think I left it either on the ship or on a tour bus during the Sorrento/Capri tour. I have to call RCI back at 14.00 hrs to link up with the Miami office hope I get it back! Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
The Splendour is a nice ship. It is older, but generally in good shape. The decor is a bit dated, we had a few stains on the cabin floor and the window had some large paint or something spots on it. There was a also a small tear on the bed ... Read More
The Splendour is a nice ship. It is older, but generally in good shape. The decor is a bit dated, we had a few stains on the cabin floor and the window had some large paint or something spots on it. There was a also a small tear on the bed spread which was where the cabin steward always placed our towel animals each night. We could tell in making the bed, he tried to overlap this to be less noticeable. Overall, for the wear that a ship receives, this one is pretty well maintained, but shows some age if you look at the details. We thought the food was slightly better than average. We ate 3 nights in the King and I dining room and 3 nights in the Windjammer Cafe. (buffet style) On a scale of 1-10, we would give the overall food a 6-7. One of the best meals we had was the outdoor BBQ, with ribs, chicken, burgers, grilled by the pool. The rest of the ship must have agreed because it was one of the busiest meal times on the ship. The dining room service was great, the waitress and her assistant were very nice and paid close attention. I thought the overall staff was more friendly then on my previous Celebrity cruise. The head waiter told us the ship consistently rates as one of the highest for RCCL in staff service areas. We had a table for 10, but there was only 8 of us assigned. All 8 sat together the first night and then didn't all show up again together until the last night. So we ate alone one night at a table for 10. Funny, that during the trip, each group, had one night alone. Overall comments on the dining experience was that the service was excellent, while at times the meals lacked that extra touch to make them special. Unfortunately, some of the issues are just common problems with the type of meal.(ie, 5 out of 8 had prime rib and all thought it was very dry/another night several had lamb chops and while excellent in flavor a couple were very fatty and the portions were small) After that, most of the guys said they ordered extra entrees, lol. The nights at the Windjammer were generally good for buffet style. One night was especially buffet like and the couple we sat with commented it was a little too "top ten" buffet foods, but otherwise it was good. The carving station had prime rib, lamb, roast beef, etc., and was pretty good. The Windjammer has iced tea, tea, coffee and lemonade for free, everything else is charged. Table service was good and it was nice to see so many of the crew eating with the guests. They were always better dressed than the rest of us. (ie, on formal nights, the crew in the Windjammer were in tuxes and dresses while eating, the rest of us were casual. There is an ongoing burger, hot dog stand by the solarium pool and an open ice tea, coffee, milk and soft ice spot by the outdoor pool. This was very helpful because it was hot all week in the Med. It was 85-90 everyday. By the way, the sea was dead calm all week, hardly a ripple on the water. I get very motion sick and had all the preparations, never needed any of it. It was great. On to shore excursions. We booked all our tours through RCCL. First let me say that we are seasoned travelers and are not picky or critical and have a high degree of tolerance. On the first stop, we did the Palace of the Popes and wine tasting tour. (It was one of the longest and most expensive offered in Marseille.) I have to say it was a disappointment for many of us. The Palace of the Popes in France was the seat of the Papacy in the 1300's. If you have been to Europe before you know they difference between a palace and a fortress. This place was a fortress, not a palace. The building was restored, but there was no grandeur, no furniture, no art. Yes, there were large rooms, some interesting architecture, but very very plain inside like you expect in a fortress. The description gives the impression you are going to see Vatican like features, it is more a fortress on the Rhine River or similar. In fact, what remains of the frescos and art could be combined on one small wall. We had wine tasting in a large room in the fortress. There were three types of wines offered. They took probably only 1/2 hour to distribute all three to about 100 people and it was disorganized and mass distribution. It really did not come off very well. I felt like I was at a water station at the end of a marathon or food distribution after a natural disaster. It was just odd. All that is said on Cruise Critic about feeling like a herd of cattle on cruise mass tours came to mind and I feared it would be similar on the rest of the trip. Next we walked a while to a very nice outdoor restaurant for lunch. After lunch there was free time and shopping available. There were two buses from RCCL on this tour. During lunch, discussion in the area focused on the fact that some folks from one of the buses wanted to go back to the ship early. Our lunch companion was an officer of the ship and when they asked his opinion he rejected this immediately. "Not everyone on the tour joined us for lunch, we had a pre-assigned meeting time, RCCL would not want it known that a tour was so unsuccessful that people wanted to leave 2 hours early, coordination and possibility of leaving someone 1 1/2 hours from the ship etc." In fact, he was a little aggravated the tour guide even discussed it openly. I would not recommend this tour. Next we did Monaco and the Grand Casino of Monte Carlo. French Riviera is a truly beautiful place. Wow, it was just spectacular. The tour was well done. The port of Villefrance is simply stunning. You take a tender into the heart of Villefrance and many from the ship did the beaches and village on their own. On the tour you see Nice, Monaco, Villefrance and Monte Carlo. The great thing about the area is that the port is so beautiful and there is so much to do just off the ship. The other ports are in industrial areas, but Villefrance was great. I would recommend any tour of this area, or to save $$, go to the beach and enjoy the port city. We did Florence/Pisa on our own. It was very very busy. You can see Florence pretty easy on you own or take a tour. Everything is very close to walk and the town was very friendly. Because of the lines we did not get into the Douma or see the David. We did enjoy Florence, the bridge, etc. Pisa, was a long hot walk from the parking area. Interesting, not overwhelming. Glad we did it, wouldn't do it again. For us, we would do Florence again to see more, but once is enough for us in Pisa. Rome. What a wonderful place. The history here is unbelievable. You will love it if you understand it. If your not a history nut, do your research and it will mean so much more. Our tour was the Eternal City tour. We did the Vatican Museum, the Colosseum and St. Pieters. It was great. I could spend a week in the Vatican, not just a day. I highly recommend this tour. The Vatican, is truly a wonderful place and the tour of Rome alone made the trip worthwhile. Our next stop was Pompeii/Naples. We did the 4 hour tour of Pompeii and it was interesting. Do some research first. Its hard to imagine how advanced the Roman society was in 79 AD. Pompeii was a real learning experience and the tour makes you feel that humanity has not advanced as much as we thought in 200 years. Well worth the time and cost. We arrived in Barcelona on Friday am before our Saturday departure and stayed three days after the cruise. We stayed at a hotel near La Ramblas and based on the city maps thought we could walk to the cruise ship. Well, that was a mistake. You could have walked to the old cruise ship port, did that, but guess what? There is a new one. Asked several vendors, 4 police officers, etc. Probably walked 2 extra miles with luggage to find it. But no luck. RCCL is in the new cruise port terminal across a massive bridge and 2-3 miles from the old place. It was an experience. Even 2 of the cops that gave us the wrong directions realized their mistake later and drove over to take us to the right spot. That was nice, but the car was too small and the luggage wouldn't fit. So they tried to explain their error, were very apologetic and helped us get a cab. It was a workout, funny, and now is a story about Barcelona. Just take a cab or if your close to La Ramblas, you can walk down to the Columbus statue and take a cab from there. We really enjoyed the Bus Touristic in Barcelona. You pay 17 euros each or 21 for 2 days and can hop on or off anywhere on the route. They have three routes that hit all the high points. It was well worth it and helped us to enjoy BCN. Also did a tour of Monserrat on our own in Barcelona and it was great. Well, I hope this helps. I read the Cruise Critic reviews often before my trip and it helped me a great deal. I thought I owed it to the group to write my own. Sorry it was so long. Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
Sailed on Splendour of the Seas on June 4 from Barcelona. Traveled with 3 teenagers and 10 yr old. My first advise is, if you can afford it, take a cabin with a balcony... it makes a world of difference! You can even order room service ... Read More
Sailed on Splendour of the Seas on June 4 from Barcelona. Traveled with 3 teenagers and 10 yr old. My first advise is, if you can afford it, take a cabin with a balcony... it makes a world of difference! You can even order room service (it's free) and eat under the stars...very nice. Our ports of call were Marseille, Villefranche, Livorno (Florence), Civitavecchia (Rome) and Naples. Second advise... skip Marseille unless you have booked an offshore excursion. Ship arrives on a Sunday and everything (not much of anything, really) is closed. The city itself is depressing and the streets are dirty. If I had known this, we would have stayed on board and taken the time to rest and enjoy all the amenities the ship has to offer. A small letdown on the ship was the entertainment (or lack of). The shows were a bit boring, not what I had expected. Third advise... book private offshore excursions. They are cheaper than the ship excursions and since you have a private guide/driver, you can pick where to go and what you want to do (or they will give you ideas of the best places to go). I booked with Bob Frazini, an Italo-American on http://www.colosseumlimos.com and had a great driver, Guiseppe (aka Peppe). The cost for a full day for five of us was around 450 euros. Also, Peppe got us a private tour guide in the Vatican for 100 Euros and we didn't have to wait in line for the tickets (ticket are paid separate). In Naples, we booked with Jack, a wonderful driver/guide. His website is jackthedriver.com -- He that took us to Pompeii (again we paid for a private guide for the five of us for approx 85 euros total -- the guide wanted 100 euros, but you can negotiate). Pompeii is HUGE and easy to get lost in the ruins, so I strongly recommend a guide. Jack waited for us and then took us to his favorite restaurant in Sorrento... absolutely beautiful, then to Positano, the most beautiful place on earth! The cost for the five of us was 250 euros. Once we were on the ship, I noticed my digital camera was missing and realized my daughter had left in Jack's van. We notified Jack by email and he was so wonderful that he took it upon himself to send it to me in the U.S. and didn't want me to reimburse him! We were very lucky to have had Jack as our guide... it sure made the trip more memorable with his knowledge of Naples, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. Our trip ended back in Barcelona, where we headed to Girona and stayed four days in a 700 year old castle (another awesome experience). Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
Ship: Splendour of the Seas 6/25/05-7/2/05 Ports of Call: Barcelona, Spain; Marseille, France; Villefranche (Nice), France; Livorno (Florence), Italy; Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy; Naples, Italy; Barcelona, Spain We highly enjoyed this ... Read More
Ship: Splendour of the Seas 6/25/05-7/2/05 Ports of Call: Barcelona, Spain; Marseille, France; Villefranche (Nice), France; Livorno (Florence), Italy; Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy; Naples, Italy; Barcelona, Spain We highly enjoyed this cruise! Knowing that this was a mid-market cruise, we did not want to have high expectations. Our main focus was to enjoy the ports, and overall, we were pleasantly surprised. EMBARKATION Embarkation was a breeze. There was no one in line, except those that wanted to change their dining options. We were able to change to a two-person table with no problem. Thankfully we decided to pack lightly, only carryon luggage. It proved to be a smart move, as we heard of numerous guests having their luggage lost by the airline, and not making it in time of departure. Some were still waiting for it at the third port! Additionally, with just our carryons we were able to go directly to our cabins and change to pool attire, instead of waiting for the porter. CABIN Arriving at our cabin, it was what we expected: small. That was OK. The window was big, and we kept the curtains open for most of the cruise. We met our room steward, who was nice and friendly. He was able to deliver 2 feather pillows in short order, and for those that know me, high thread count and feather pillows make me a happy woman! The sheets' thread count was not as high as I would have liked, but at least it was not LOW. It was not to the level of uncomfortable sleep. Again, I have pleasantly surprised. POOL-There are 2 pools; a general one for all ages, and a Solarium for ages 16+. There were some parents that complained about the age restriction, saying "we paid for this!". It was nice that RCCL enforced this, so adults and mature teens can have a place where there were no kids allowed. Parents seem to think that everyone should enjoy to be in the presence of their screaming children. News flash: We don't. WE have paid for this too. This is the only open area with the age restriction (besides the bar). We spent a lot of time here. It was nice to relax, and see the beauty of where we were. We spent some lounging time on the deck above the pool, where it was quieter, and there were sails that covered the pool chairs for shade from the sun, whilst still enjoying the open air. Bar service is still prevalent here, and we did not feel neglected at all. PORTS  We liked all of the excursions provided by the ship. Always on time, and organized. well worth the money we paid. Marseilles- Reading the other reviews that Marseilles is basically closed on Sundays, we knew we had to book an excursion. We decided on Cassis, as small fishing village. On the way there was stopped atop a cliff that offered breathtaking views. Cassis was beautiful. Unfortunately, the excursion only allowed for a approximately 50 minutes of free time, which was too short to even relax at a cafe. We had time to rush to the restroom, take some harbour pics, and buy a baguette. Literally. Villefranche- This was the only port that we decided to not participated in an excursion. Great decision! This is a tender port, which meant that ferry boats took the passengers from the ship to the port. This probably explained why this was the nicest and cleanest port. The waters were blue and clear. We lounged at the Villefranche beach all morning, then returned to the ship for lunch. We ventured off in the afternoon for Nice, as short train ride (literally 7 minutes) away. The train station was right above the beach, and was so convenient. It was a short walk to Nice beachfront. We were happy that we did the beach lounging in Villefranche. Nice's beaches are covered with large pebbles, in lieu of sand. Others opted to go to Monte Carlo or other city, which was also very convenient with the location of the train. Villefranche was my port by far, since we like to just relax and appreciate the beauty of little coastal towns. Livorno- We took the Florence and Pisa on-your-own excursion. This provided us with transportation to Florence and Pisa (a long way from the port, about 1 1/2 hours to Florence, and 1/2 hour to Pisa), but allowed us to explore on our own. This was very doable. Note that if you want to enter the major museums, reservations should be made in advance. We witnessed 2 hours plus lines, which would have burned up our free time. I actually tried to make reservations, but they were sold out, even a month ahead. We chose instead to just walk around Florence and have lunch in a local cafe. Afterwards, we went to Pisa. The small town boasted only the famed buildings, and was easy to experience all of this in the hour of free time we were allotted. Rome- We decided on the quasi Rome tour and on-your-own excursion. Rome was 1 1/2 hours from the port. We were lucky that the particular day that we went was the Peter/Paul holiday, providing us tremendous roads that were free of traffic. Even the tour guides were amazed. This allowed us more free time in the city, which was greatly appreciated, b/c you spend all your time walking from one site to another. If you want to enjoy Rome's architecture, bring your walking shoes! We met in the afternoon for the tour part of our excursion, beginning with St Peter's Basilica. Lucky, this was open to the public! Some places, like the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel were closed due to the holiday. We bought "paper pants" at a local vendor for my husband, as shorts were not allowed in the Basilica. Many were turned away for shorts or bare shoulders. The rest of the tour consisted of the Coliseum and other notable attractions. This was a 9 1/2 hour excursion! Well worth it! Naples- We decided on the Pompeii excursion. I was torn between this and taking the speed ferry boat to Capri, but we decided that Pompeii could not be missed. We were happy in our decision. Pompeii was amazing in the fact that it was not directly destroyed by Mt Vesuvius, but buried by the ash that the volcano created. The whole city was buried in 24 feet of volcanic ash, now still be uncovered by archeologists today. Amazing! DINING Opt for the later seating, since excursions return about 5 pm. This gives an opportunity for you to relax at the pool and dress for dinner at a more leisurely pace. However, the later dining option also provides a later show, which at 11PM on most nights, ended too late for us to get a good nights sleep for the next day's activities. The shows were not to our taste anyway, so on most nights, we would have a nice leisurely dinner, followed by some time at the casino. Note that there is no midnight buffet option, except for one night, so is earlier diners have a late night craving, room service or the hamburger/pizza bar are options. We decided to buy the unlimited soda/juice option ($6/day/adult), and we got our money's worth. We drank on average about 3-4 drinks daily (breakfast, lounging at the pool, lunch, dinner, etc.) We just did not want to be nickeled and dimed on our bill at the end of the cruise. $42 for the entire week was reasonable, IF you drink a lot of soda/juice. We ate at the King and I for 5 of the 7 nights, b/c I refused to go to the Windjammer, expecting the food to be horrible buffet food. Surprised again, we went for breakfast & lunch practically every day of the cruise, and 2 times for dinner. You just have to know what to get, like made to order eggs (we got eggbeater omelettes daily) and a freshly toasted english muffin. For lunch, you could get freshly made sandwiches around the corner. The salad bar was always fresh, my only disappointment was the salad dressings, which were very thin and watered down. The bbq buffet that they had on the "sea day" was great. The paella was the best paella I have ever had, and that speak volumes, since I am a paella lover. Again pleasantly surprised. Dinners at the King & I were also very good. The menu varied nightly and the service was outstanding. The portions were just perfect, adequately sized to order an appetizer, salad, entree, and dessert without feeling super full. We usually each ordered a salad and entree, shared the appetizer and dessert. On lobster night however, we each ordered 2 entrees, the lobster and prime rib. Again, the portions were not too large that this did not allow for it, and was not deemed wasteful. The steaks were a lot better than I expected; I ordered steak practically every night and was never disappointed. On the contrary, rather pleasantly surprised!  OVERALL As long as one kept their expectations in check throughout the cruise, you are more likely to be pleasantly surprised than disappointed. RCCL never claims to be the 5 star cruise line for quality, nor the foodie cruiseline, as its more expensive counterparts. But for the price that you pay, you get more than you could bargain for. Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
Overall experience on this cruise was very good. The best part of this cruise was definitely the ports. Staff service was wonderful as well. Dining: The food in the dining room was very good. The choices presented were varied and ... Read More
Overall experience on this cruise was very good. The best part of this cruise was definitely the ports. Staff service was wonderful as well. Dining: The food in the dining room was very good. The choices presented were varied and plentiful, presentation and quality good. The food in the Windjammer left much to be desired, and on the rare occasion we couldn't make it to the dining room for lunch -- the grill by the pool was a better bet. We were a little surprised that there was no midnight buffet, so don't worry if you have a late seating for dinner. (Although you can easily get it switched the first day.) Service: All the staff were extremely friendly and spoke English very well, regardless of their country of origin. Before the emergency drill, our cabin attendant introduced himself and called us by name -- impressive considering the number of rooms each must be responsible for. All staff members were very accommodating and a pleasure to talk with. Activities: Nighttime planned activities were a bit on the lame side (most shows in the theater excluded) and had low attendance. I can't speak to the day time activities because we were off the boat every port. Ports of Call: Took tours from the boat for each port. Overall, we were happy with the tours and tour guides. Aix-En-Provence was lovely, however most of the city is closed on Sundays which is the day that the boat is there. Villefranche is beautiful and not to be missed. Once docked there, it's very easy to get to Nice and Monaco on your own and a tour is unnecessary. Word of advice: use the bus to travel there, others complained that the train left them far away in Nice and it was quite a hike to the happening area, whereas the bus dropped you off in the heart of it. We loved all the ports and tours in Italy, but make sure you're properly dressed when going to Rome. Several in our group were told that their outfits were fine, but were then turned away at St. Peter's Basilica (which was amazing). Embarkation and disembarkation were both a breeze and literally took only moments. Overall rating of my experience from 1-10 would be about a 8. I'd consider going on another Royal Caribbean cruise but would prefer a newer boat. Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
Just back from our cruise on the Splendor of the Seas. I traveled with my husband, 2 sons (age 16 and 18) and my aunt, we had a terrific time. The ship is a bit dated but very clean. The food was good. The wait staff and cabin staff were ... Read More
Just back from our cruise on the Splendor of the Seas. I traveled with my husband, 2 sons (age 16 and 18) and my aunt, we had a terrific time. The ship is a bit dated but very clean. The food was good. The wait staff and cabin staff were outstanding. Our trip was a huge success mainly due to booking private tours at each location. In Marseille, Catherin D'Antuono a Provence Tour Designer provided us with an absolutely lovely tour of the provence area. The local market in I'Isle sur la Sorgue, wine tasting, the quaint villages of the Luberon were fantastic. You can find her at catherine@provence-travel.com or www.provence-travel.com. In Villefranche, we had another wonderful day with Sylvie Di Cristo. With her we explored Monaco and Monte-Carlo, Nice and some other "off the beaten track" areas. She was delightful! You can reach Sylvie at sylvie.di.cristo@wanadoo.fr or www.azur-guides-interpretes.com In Italy, our tours were arranged by contacting claudio@limoinrome.com. Although he could not personally be with us, he arranged the tours even accommodating a last minute request to see Nero's Golden House. In Florence, Fabrizio gave us a wonderful tour. I'm just sorry I don't have his email. His passion for the area and it's history were incredible. We had a private tour of the Vatican by Daniele Fortuna at danielefortuna@tiscalinet.it. As an art history major, he gave a informative tour of the Vatican, Sistine Chapel and St. Peters. In Pompeii, Antonio, also arranged by Claudio, brought the history alive. All of the guides were prompt, knowledgeable and able to speak English extremely well. Booking the private tours also save us ton of money as well as enabling us to see even more of the areas. I was thrilled with our trip. Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
My wife and I just returned from the May 14th sailing on the Splendour of the Seas. We have cruised about 8-10 times previously. My wife is 39 and I am 41. We have cruised several times on Celebrity, once on NCL and this was our second ... Read More
My wife and I just returned from the May 14th sailing on the Splendour of the Seas. We have cruised about 8-10 times previously. My wife is 39 and I am 41. We have cruised several times on Celebrity, once on NCL and this was our second RCI cruise. We had an amazing time. The ship is terrific. The food is delicious, and the Solarium pool is wonderful. I swam every night before dinner in the indoor Solarium pool, and most of the time I was alone in the pool. The fellow passengers were also fabulous. We flew in the day before the cruise and boarded at 5:30 p.m., after everyone else. It took us 2 minutes, and we had missed the dreaded muster drill. First thing you should always do when boarding the ship is to go check with the Maitre D' about your dining arrangements. We always request a table for 2 at the late seating, and invariably this is not what we are assigned. This is never a problem. The Head Waiter who ended up being our Head Waiter, Wilder, immediately sorted us out. Sometimes they need a day to sort it out, but we have never been disappointed. In Marseilles, the ship docks a few miles from the Old Port. My wife has family there so we were picked up and spent a great day with them. I would suggest doing some sort of tour to Aix-en-Provence or Les Baux de Provence. If you are going to see Marseilles, share a taxi with others to the Old Port, or take the RCI shuttle ($5 each way). In Villefranche, my wife also has family nearby. We were picked up and went to Cannes during the film festival. A fun time. Then we took a train to Nice. Be forewarned, the train station in Nice is about a half hour walk from Vieux Nice. But, in Villefranche, there is a tourist information desk as soon as you get off the tenders. You can take buses or trains to many places (Nice-7 mins, Monte Carlo or Cannes). The train station is a 5 minute walk to the right along the port. Schedules are available at the tourist information desk. From Livorno, we shared a taxi with 2 other people to the train station (15 Euros), and took a train to Florence. The ride is about an hour and a half. We walked around and visited three museums, the Accademia, to see Michelangelo's David, Museo di San Marco (Fra Angelico) and the Bargello (the sculpture museum). The # to call for reservations at Florence museums is 011-39-055-294-883. The cost is 3 Euros per ticket. You will need one for the Accademia and the Uffizi. The operators speak English. Sadly, the Uffizi was fully booked, and the line to get in was VERY long. We then took a train to Pisa (about a one hour ride), then hopped on a train at Pisa Centrale for the Pisa San Rossore station (4 minute ride). This lets you off a 5 minute walk from the Leaning Tower. You can book climbs online at their official website. We spent about an hour there, and did not climb the Tower. We then hopped a train back to Pisa Centrale, and then one to Livorno (20 minute ride), and shared a cab back to the ship (20 Euros). You cannot walk from the ship to the station in Livorno. In Civitavecchia, we took the port provided shuttle to the port entrance and walked to the train station (a 5-7 minute walk along the sea). We then took a train to Rome (60-80 minute ride, depending on where you are going). We first went to the Vatican Museums. I had booked a tour of the museums directly with the Vatican at a cost of 21.50 Euros. You can do this by going to the Vatican's official website and sending them a fax stating the number in your party and what tour you want. They will send you a fax back in about 3 days. If you have a tour, you do not wait in line, but instead go to the exit to the right of the entrance to the Vatican museums to get your tickets. We got there at about 9:45 a.m., and the line to get in for individuals without a tour or a reservation was about 5-10 minutes long, so we eschewed our tour and opted for that instead (12 Euros). I had a terrific guidebook of the treasures of the Vatican and we spent over 3 hours in the museums, culminating with the Sistine Chapel. Spectacular! When you exit the Sistine Chapel, go out the exit in the back on the right and that will lead you down so you can go into St. Peter's Basilica. The main exit from the Sistine Chapel on the left does not allow you to do this. We then spent about 45 minutes in St. Peter's, and then walked to the Castel Sant' Angelo, crossed over the river, walked to Piazza Navona, visited the Pantheon, walked by Hadrian's Temple, then to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, then along the Foro Traiano for a view a few blocks away of the Coliseum, then past the Mercati Traianei and to the Fountain of Trevi, then to Piazza Barberini to see Bernini's small but wonderful Fountain of Triton. From there we hopped on the Metro (2 stops) to the train station and caught a train back to Civitavecchia. Note: The train station is HUGE. Give yourself 10-15 minutes to find and get to your train. If you are going to the Vatican first, get off at the Roma S Pietro station. Then, it is a short walk (10-15 minutes) to the Vatican. You will easily see the Dome. In Naples, we shared a full day private tour with 6 others with DriveAmalfi (driveamalfi@hotmail.com) to the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. The cost was 81.25 Euros per person. We found the group on the Cruise Critic message boards. We stopped in Amalfi and Ravello, had lunch in Pontone (20 Euros, including wine, then visited Pompeii for 2 hours at the end. Normally, the tour begins with Pompeii, but there was a strike at Pompeii that morning. We had a wonderful day. Note: Salvatore, about whom everyone raves, can only be on one tour. I think DriveAmalfi had 6 tours that day. We had Marco who was VERY nice, but did not fill us in that much about the history, etc. I had books, so we saw what we wanted to. I would fully recommend this private tour. As an aside, I know 4 people who hired a cab at the ship for 5 or 6 hours at noon to take them to Pompeii and then around Naples. It cost them 35 Euros each. (Note: We were lucky to be in Italy during Culture Week when most of the museums and Pompeii were free admission.) We are not big on the ship's tours and only do them when absolutely necessary. Visiting the cities, as I described above, on your own is very easy and incredibly enjoyable. For a full schedule of trains in Italy go to http://www.trenitalia.com/en/index.html From there, you can get any list of trains you want. Just enter the stations' names, and the times you want to go. On the last day at sea we relaxed, took some sun, although it was a little chilly, and played minigolf. For debarkation, we were the last people off the ship, so we got right into a taxi for our hotel. The dining room and Windjammer were open until 8:30 for breakfast on the last day. We had a day and half in Barcelona before the cruise and a full day afterward. Barcelona is a great city. We visited Park Guell, Montjuic, walked around the Barri Gotic, visited Sagrada Familia, the Picasso Museum, Casa Mila and saw the Fountain show. We also had some wonderful meals. Three restaurants I can recommend off the tourist path are the intimate El Cafeti, 99 C. Hospital, www.elcafeti.com (known for their paella and rice dishes), Meson David, 63 C. Carretes, a boisterous and inexpensive place where I had a delicious Roast Leg of Pork and where the desserts are terrific, and La Paradeta, 7 C. Comercial. La Paradeta is a great experience. You pick your seafood from what they have as you enter, buy it by weight, tell them how you want it cooked, get a number and wait for it to be called. The food is divine. None of these three restaurants are expensive. Both Meson David and La Paradeta are crowded with locals. In Barcelona the subways are terrific. I recommend buying a T-10. It gives you 10 rides for 6.30 Euros, and can be used by as many people as you want. You can buy it at any subway station. We were thrilled beyond belief with our whole trip. To cap it all off, our Iberia flight from Madrid to NYC was overbooked and we were put in Business Plus Class. You cannot lose with this itinerary. Everyone with whom I spoke on the ship had a spectacular time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
Review:- We flew straight to Barcelona airport on Saturday & caught an airport taxi to the ship costing about 22 Euros. Embarkation was a breeze & we were on ship within 15 mins. There must have been 40 desk assistants at the pier. ... Read More
Review:- We flew straight to Barcelona airport on Saturday & caught an airport taxi to the ship costing about 22 Euros. Embarkation was a breeze & we were on ship within 15 mins. There must have been 40 desk assistants at the pier. Our dinner time was 6.30 which too early for us so the Maitre d' changed it to 7.00. The King & I dining room has 2 levels 6.30 sitting is on lower level which was not very busy & the second sitting at 7.00 is on the higher level. You can go into dinner 30 mins after set time. The third sitting is at 8.45 on the lower level which is the most popular & 4th sitting is at 9.15 on higher level which is less busy. The food is first class & nothing is a bother to the waiters. We always had dinner in the King & I restaurant & ate at the Windjammer for all our other meals apart from breakfast on disembarkation day. The Windjammer buffet food is excellent. The entertainment during the day & night was good & we went to 3 shows which again were good. We also tried the bingo on the Sunday as the top prize was an upgrade to a luxury suite. The cards are either a three pack or six pack which cannot be separated at $25 & $35 which I thought was very expensive especially if 2 or more are in your group. We didn't win & that was the last time we played!! Sunday we stayed on the ship relaxed in the beautiful warm sun around the pool until 5 p.m. when we had the M&M party in the Viking Lounge, I thought that the ships part in the party was disappointing with soft drinks & a few appetizers & a free raffle for the priceless RCI mouse which the 2 organizers who were waiters wanted to raffle at about 5.10 before everyone had arrived so we delayed that until later when most of the party had arrived. The party itself was made by ourselves who had talked over the months with each other on cruise critics. Everyone mixed & talked about everything for ages & exchanged small gifts representing each others geographical area. Monday, we tendered ashore, turned left & followed winding road up to the main street where we caught the service bus to Nice which cost approx 1.3 Euro. It was so easy & only took about 15 minutes. The train journey is just as easy, but one thing to be aware of in the train station, don't stand away from everyone as 2 people on the ship were mugged at one end of the station by several teenagers but I believe it was an isolated incident. Tuesday, we went on a private excursion to Florence & Pisa with Limoinrome. Florence is a beautiful city packed with so much art & beauty it is hard to appreciate. The statue of David is one of the finest masterpieces I have had the pleasure to see. Wednesday. The ship changed its itinerary & went to Naples because Pompeii & lots of other tourist centres were going to be closed on the Thurs because several unexploded bombs from the second world war were to be detonated. We stayed on the ship & enjoyed the onboard activities. Thursday. We shared a private excursion to Rome with our newly found friends from Australia. The excursion was booked with Limoinrome but because of the change of days Claudio had organized Vincent Macri to cover for him. He lives in Rome so knew every shortcut & took us everywhere & for lunch he took us to a beautiful restaurant near the Catacombs which had a large garden & we sat among the olive trees eating traditional Italian food. It was the climax to the excursion. On Thursday evening we had the pleasure of eating with the Captain on his table. It was such an experience & we had an unforgettable time. I honestly don't know why we were picked but I'm glad we were. Friday. Seaday :- we sat on a table at the pool from about 11.30 until about 4.00 celebrating our Australian friend's birthday drinking cocktails until they came out of our ears. We were joined by other friends we had met at the M&M party. Saturday:- Coloured tags were left in our cabins to be attached to our luggage for disembarkation. We had to be out of our cabins by 7 a.m. & disembarkation started from about 7:10 a.m.. Our time slot was supposed to be 7.20 but as we were travelling independently we went to breakfast in the King & I dining room at 7.10 & enjoyed our last breakfast in luxury before disembarking at 8 a.m.. The ship advertises a transfer service for 21.50 Euros each to the airport which can be expensive if there are 4 people travelling. Catch one of the many taxis available at the pier, total cost 27 Euro it was a doddle. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
We boarded the ship in the beautiful and user-friendly terminal in Tampa for my 1st and hubby's 2nd Trans-Atlantic. My 6th and his 8th cruise. We had read the reviews in this section, and had sailed before on the Rhapsody and had a ... Read More
We boarded the ship in the beautiful and user-friendly terminal in Tampa for my 1st and hubby's 2nd Trans-Atlantic. My 6th and his 8th cruise. We had read the reviews in this section, and had sailed before on the Rhapsody and had a ball, so we felt like we were ready. Ship is smaller and prettier than Rhapsody. It has elegant teak decks in several places, a more luxurious spa, more elegant decor in the atrium and was cleaner than the family-oriented, Caribbean-sailing Rhapsody. Our inside cabin was fine - a real bargain. One of the nicest features of this ship and its sisters is the bow to stern walking track - 1/4 mile once around!! It was always a popular place for the geriatric crowd you get on a Trans-Atlantic!! And some of my fellow walkers could really MOVE!! It was important to mind manners and not block the fast lane!! The relatively old crowd was a great mix of folks from all over the world. Meeting people from the various countries was such a treat!! We thought we remembered a piano and a dessert bar on the top level of the Windjammer Cafe on the Rhapsody, and that had been filled with tables and chairs on the Splendour, perhaps to alleviate the fact that it's small. We never had a minute's problem getting a nice place to eat. But sometimes the fish on the buffet was over-cooked -- probably hard to get it right in a mass buffet. But the food in the Windjammer was, other than that, uniformly good and the service was the best on any ship's mass-cafe we've ever been on, except for Sun Princess, vintage 2000. The food in the dining room was wonderful. I could've eaten their salmon every night for the rest of my life!! The veggie dishes and desserts in every eating venue were superb. In the Windjammer the breakfast bacon was soggy until passengers complained, and they got it right after that!! The King and I dining room was full nearly every night for the early seating, but the service was great and the table mates were fun and interesting. Look for experienced cruisers on a re-positioning cruise!! What a learning experience!! The pools were good temperatures - chilly for the salt-water swimming pools and REALLY warm and luxurious for the hot tubs. The shows were good - we went to two. I guess on a re-positioning you don't get the big names that we had on the Rhapsody Caribbean cruise - I guess they don't need to be stuck at sea! But there was ample talent and the shows were well-prepared and presented. As for onboard diversions, the only fly in the ointment was those ubiquitous, noisy art auctions!! ARRRGGHHH!! The trivia geeks were a huge population among this AARP-aged crowd!! We filled the Schooner Bar, so they moved us to the Top Hat Lounge. I thought the trivia -- and all the planned activities on board -- was tons of fun and well presented. Line dancing and fitness classes were fun. The beauty shop seminars were a nice way to meet another group of cruisers than the trivia geeks, and I learned a lot - probably not enough, but it was still fun!! Now, about that infamous Splendour vibration... We did not feel it in our forward, upper-deck cabin at all until they cranked up all five engines. Then you could definitely feel it, and the water in the glasses in the dining room would shake, etc. I'm sure it might have been perceivable on a lower, aft deck throughout, but we didn't feel it until we left the Azores on about the 8th day and had to make up time lost from not being able to go into port at the expected hour. It definitely was there. We're experienced cruisers, and it honestly didn't bother us. Other folks we talked to didn't seem to mind it as well. Likewise, we had read complaints here about the ship's stability, and we experienced two or three days of strong gale force winds and very high seas - we're talking 30 feet or more at times. We found the ship to ride like a dream -- the roll put us to sleep at night!! And considering everything, we thought it was relatively quiet. Our only shore excursion was in Malaga, Spain, arranged so that we could make the Alhambra Palace in Granada and still not get left behind when the ship sailed!! It was well-run. The only problem was that there were SEVERAL people on the tour who were not physically capable of the demands of this tour, and they should not have been allowed to participate with this group. We paid a lot for the tour and there was not time for us to be slowed down. I felt for those slower people involved, too - I have been in a wheel-chair on a cruise ship. For their comfort/safety and our convenience they should have been routed to another tour. Getting off the ship was the worst part of the trip - not because it had problems, because it was well-organized. But none of us wanted to leave, as far as I could see!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
Overall, our 7 night Western Caribbean cruise on Splendour was very enjoyable and a good value for the money. Our family party of 7 had 4 people who had cruised before (July '04 on Mariner of the Seas), so the only comparison I can ... Read More
Overall, our 7 night Western Caribbean cruise on Splendour was very enjoyable and a good value for the money. Our family party of 7 had 4 people who had cruised before (July '04 on Mariner of the Seas), so the only comparison I can make is the difference between our cruise on Mariner and the one we just took on Splendour. Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly with no problems on either end. Our first meal in the Windjammer Cafe was not promising because the food was lukewarm even though we were eating by 12:30 p.m. However, that was the worst meal of the cruise. Subsequently, food in the Windjammer was very good --especially at breakfast and tea time. Every meal in the King and I was outstanding, as was our server Darwin from the Philippines. He made a special effort to make our 73 year-old mother feel special, and she loved all of the attention. The best meal was the lobster on the second formal night. The best desserts were the flourless chocolate cake and baked Alaska. The salads were excellent every night. Service in the King and I was much better than our service in Rhapsody on the Mariner. We only ate 2 times in the dining room on the Mariner because it took 2 hours to eat dinner both times. Our dining room service with Darwin was speedy and efficient. Since 3 in our party drink wine, we ordered the $154 wine package and especially enjoyed the Malbec which we ordered twice during the cruise. My 18 year-old niece really enjoyed the food in the Solarium, which included hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries and pizza. They had a line during the afternoon on most days, but it moved fairly quickly. The food was very good and very convenient! I didn't feel the famed vibration on the Splendour in our cabin, but it was very visible in the souvenir shop ... the glass shelf was rattling while we were buying mugs. When I went to Cruise Critic's Meet and Mingle on the Mariner, there were several nice door prizes given away by the ship, all of which were won by 2 families. Thus, I was determined that all 7 of us would go to the meeting on the Splendour; and, after my big build up, we did, only to be disappointed when there was a drawing for one prize, a computer mouse. The beds in our Jr. Suite were hard as a rock ... they definitely need to be replaced. That said, I really enjoyed having a balcony, which was much more affordable on the Splendour than on the Mariner. Also, it was noisy at night on the Splendour, and I didn't hear any noise in our inside cabins on the Mariner. Additionally, on the Splendour, my mother's Sonic electric toothbrush disappeared out of the bathroom between breakfast and lunch on the second day of the cruise and never was found. On the last night, I also "lost" in our cabin a small make-up bag with nothing in it but a luggage lock. We didn't "lose" anything on the Mariner. One thing I think RCI needs to change is to make coffee/tea only available by 6:30 a.m. via room service. The first morning I ordered coffee and it came by 6:45 a.m., 15 minutes before the advertised time of 7-7:30 a.m.; however, the next day it had not arrived by 7:15 a.m., and I needed to make the 7:30 a.m. stretch class, so I called room service and cancelled and did not attempt to order room service coffee again. Instead, my brother-in-law made a coffee run to the Windjammer at 6:30 a.m. every morning. Regarding shore excursions, we were not able to go ashore in the Caymans, and because of the choppy seas, we went to Cozumel on Tuesday and Costa Maya on Thursday. In Cozumel, we took a cab to Paradise Beach and enjoyed the day there. In Belize on Wednesday, two of our party took the ship excursion for cave tubing and did not have any problems. The rest of us stayed on the pier and shopped. I made reservations with Ivan at chacchobenruins.com for a party of 7 on Tuesday @ 11 a.m. and we got there on Thursday. I couldn't notify Ivan of the change because AOL service was not available on Splendour. We got to the village of Mahaual and I spent 30 minutes trying to find their office. I finally found David (Ivan's partner) on the main street with a group of 11 from the Carnival ship going to the ruins, and we went with them. Ivan had taken another group at 7 a.m. and would not be back until noon and it was 10:30 a.m. at the time. Also, there had been a change in the government, and their vans were not available, so David arranged and paid for cabs to take us to the ruins and back to the port. After the dicey beginning, we thoroughly enjoyed our tour with David, and I can highly recommend him as a tour guide to the Chacchoben ruins. He was very knowledgeable about the ruins and the Mayan culture, which made the visit to the ruins much more interesting than it would have been without him. The $43 per person was well worth the cost, especially given that the advertised rate via cab to the ruins from the port was $45. Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
This was our first cruise experience. Embarkation was effortless and surprisingly hassle-free. We experienced a rough night leaving Tampa Bay-- we had the late seating and I ended up excusing myself from dinner to lie down. By day 2, and a ... Read More
This was our first cruise experience. Embarkation was effortless and surprisingly hassle-free. We experienced a rough night leaving Tampa Bay-- we had the late seating and I ended up excusing myself from dinner to lie down. By day 2, and a good night's rest, acquired my "sea legs" and luckily we never experienced anymore rough seas. Sadly, due to rough seas, the Captain made the call to cancel our tenders into Grand Cayman-- but we used the extra sea day to explore the ship (and RELAX on our balcony!!) We splurged on a balcony room for our Anniversary celebration, and don't regret it. I can't explain how calming it is to rest on the bed and hear the waves crashing against the ship each night. The room decor seemed a bit dated and worn, but clean, presentable. We had AMPLE space to store our stuff with plenty of unused cubbies/cabinets. Our cabin steward, Chris Silva, and his assistant were incredible and we made sure our tip reflected our sincere appreciation of their hard work. The King and I dining was incredible! We had no complaints whatsoever. Well, maybe just one complaint-- our stomachs weren't big enough :0). Because of not getting into the Caymans-- the Captain had investigated going into Costa Maya(as scheduled) and estimated rough seas there as well. So, we headed to Cozumel. Our initial concern was that our scheduled excursion "dates" would be affected-- but no worries, Royal accommodated all changes. We booked the Sian Kaan Biosphere excursion in Cozumel. We used the ferry to get to Playa de Carmen. I was not expecting the ferry to be so rough-- we had a couple of flights in the air off the water! But, it was all part of the fun! We visited the Muyil mayan ruins and enjoyed the beautiful, peaceful walk through the jungle. We were extremely fortunate to have only 3 couples on this excursion. So with 6 people, this was a very intimate tour and very educational. Our tour guide, Freddy, was very articulate and we learned so much about the Mayan culture and history. I miss Mexico already. In Belize, we booked the Xunantunich mayan tour. After a 2 hour bus trip nearing the Guatemalan border, we experienced an incredible history lesson and fell in love with Belize. Costa Maya was our day of play. We didn't book an excursion with Royal...instead chose a local snorkel company in the tourist village for an hour snorkeling experience. We had a blast. Afterwards, we went to Tapas for lunch-- shrimp fajitas/tacos and a bucket of Corona. We spent the rest of the day relaxing on the beach in Majuahal. We were hooked by the cruising bug and cannot wait to cruise again. We knew that the Splendour was one of Royal's smaller ships, but nonetheless, it is a beautiful ship. There're plenty of activities for everyone. We felt the Karaoke needed to be longer throughout the week. Overall, I'm glad we chose Royal as our first cruise. We had a lovely time and came away rested and re-charged to get back to the daily grind of work and responsibilities. Thanks to the hard-working crew of Splendour of the Seas, and thank you Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
We went on our cruise with three children ages 5,9 and 13. All of us had been on the Disney cruise 2 years ago. All of the children rated the children's programs on the Splendour far above those on Disney. Our five year old asked ... Read More
We went on our cruise with three children ages 5,9 and 13. All of us had been on the Disney cruise 2 years ago. All of the children rated the children's programs on the Splendour far above those on Disney. Our five year old asked every morning when he could go and I think he enjoyed his time there in the evenings almost as much as family time during the day. We had a bit of a delay in boarding because the ship was late coming back to port from the previous cruise due to severe fog in the area the night before. The staff were very friendly and tried to make our wait as pleasant as possible. Fortunately, there is a lot to do in the area just around the pier, so we had fun while we waited. I was worried about the vibration I had heard so much about. The only place you can feel it is in the dining room and it was very minor. The rooms were not lavish, but well-appointed,quiet and comfortable. We didn't have a balcony, but the window was big. Our cabin steward was excellent. The fitness center was wonderful with enough equipment to keep us in shape during the week. It was never crowded. The climbing wall was fun, but frequently opened late in the afternoon because it would get too hot while in port. Go early! Food in the King and I dining room was very good. The Windjammer was average, but the breakfasts there were great. My kids liked the burgers in the Solarium and the ice cream near the pool. I was happy to see choices to accommodate various diets at every meal. For shore excursions, we went the the Turtle Farm and Sting Ray City in Grand Cayman which was fun, especially with the kids. In Costa Maya, we rented a golf cart and drove to the nearby town of Mahaual. This was much better than the main area where the boat docks and the beach is nice and calm with plenty of water sports available. A massage on the beach there was $20 cheaper than at Costa Maya. In Belize, my husband and teenage son went on the kayaking trip and had a good time and the younger kids and I went on the zoo and river boat excursion. Our table mates went cave tubing and loved it. In Cozumel we went to Playa Mia which was a little too crowded early in the day, but as most of the other cruise ships departed before we did, it was much better in the afternoon. Overall, we had a great time. I would do it again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
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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