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November, 2002 Monday, Nov 11 We left Austin at 10 a.m. and arrived in Galveston at 3 p.m. (stopped and did some last minute shopping at the Galleria in Houston). The loading period of the Splendour was listed at 1 - 5 p.m. and leaving ... Read More
November, 2002 Monday, Nov 11 We left Austin at 10 a.m. and arrived in Galveston at 3 p.m. (stopped and did some last minute shopping at the Galleria in Houston). The loading period of the Splendour was listed at 1 - 5 p.m. and leaving at 6 p.m. I was surprised to find no cars in the unloading area in front of the terminal bldg. It took only 1 minute to unload the baggage, and then drive about a ¼ of mile to the parking area. Hint: you must have cash to pay for the parking, which was $80 for 11 days. There were plenty of spaces even with two ships leaving together this day. We sat on the shuttle about 15 minutes before proceeding to the terminal again. The x-ray of our carry on luggage was very fast. Then we entered the new terminal area for check in. It was big, clean, effective, and cool. We stood in line maybe 15 minutes. There were plenty of agents on hand for check-in. I would say that this was the easiest check in of any of my six cruises. Hint: Fill out your embarkation form over the web and the agent will not have to enter all of the info while you stand around waiting. We came on board and found our room with no problem. Luggage showed up around 6 p.m. The first action was to get some seasick pills for my wife in case she needed them. You can get them only at the purser's desk, five pills no charge. Went to Windjammer and ate some lunch. Food was okay. We bought our excursions over the web a few weeks before, and the pre-paid tickets showed in our room about the same time as our luggage. Glad we did, as the line at the excursion desk was very long already. Ok, after all the reading about the drink cards on RCI, I decided to give it a try. We went up to the Viking Crown lounge before dinner and asked for a drink card. They said that they did not have any, and that we would have to go to the Schooner bar to get one. So we ordered a couple of beers instead. Do not know if they were telling the truth or not, but we had no problems with getting the card later and using it anywhere. We were the second seating, which was at 8:45 p.m. for the first two days. I had baked Cod, and Glenda had the Chicken Cordon Bleu, both were very good. Just about everyone else at our table ordered steak, which is always available. The entertainment show was at 10:30 p.m. today and tomorrow. Afterwards, the schedule changed to Show at 7:15 p.m. and dinner at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov 12 - (Day at Sea) We ate breakfast at the Windjammer as we heard that breakfast and lunch were going to be buffet style in the main restaurant also. This lasted two days until I guess the complaints from guests made them switch back to the traditional style of eating with waiters. The waiters explained that Europeans preferred buffet style. We met a couple that had been on the Splendour for its Atlantic crossing, and were staying on for this cruise, and the next one also. They really enjoyed the crossing, the ship, and crew. The weather was overcast with occasional rain, so we spent our day at the Solarium. The water was cool, but refreshing. We rushed over to the shopping talk in the theatre where we heard a very detailed description of Cozumel shopping. We went back to the Solarium for lunch. I think most people agreed that the hamburgers were not very good here. However the hot dogs and pizza were good. We went to the Windjammer for some more lunch and had Chicken Fajitas. It was funny that the flour tortillas had run out, so we asked the serving staff for more. Since this was their first time to make Tex-Mex, they did not know what a tortilla was. But they were so helpful to try and understand. We finally got the tortillas and had a nice lunch poolside. At 3 p.m. we tried the Shuffleboard competition, but were eliminated in the 1st round. We played some miniature golf, and then did the walk a mile event. We dropped by the Internet cafe and checked some email. The setup was fantastic, very modern and user friendly. The charge was 50 cents a minute. The Captain's reception was before dinner, and was very nice with a band and big dance floor. There were lots of people dancing too. I have to give RCI credit. Their ships are more dancer friendly than others that I have been on. Dinner was very good again with Filet Mignon and Duck. However our table was near the Captain's table, so our service was spotty since the waiters were taking extra care of the Captain. The show tonight was Marty Allen and his wife, and it was very, very good. We decided to stay up late and see the "Village People" at the disco in the Viking Crown lounge. The audience was a little too old however to really get into the act. When we returned to our room we had a message that our excursion had been canceled due to lack of participation. We had signed up for the Reef Snorkeling. We were disappointed since I had heard that Cozumel had great snorkeling. However, I believe that the fact that we had a much older passenger base than I had expected contributed to the lack of participation. The oldest average age on a cruise until this one was a Holland America cruise in Alaska. I would say that the average age on the Splendour was around 65 - 68. The fact that this was an 11-day cruise probably appealed to an older crowd. Wednesday, Nov 13 - (Cozumel) We decided to just shop and stroll around the town instead of booking a new excursion. As things turned out, most excursions were canceled due to problems with docking vs. tendering and bad weather. Per the captain, we were supposed to dock in Cozumel, but a Celebrity ship was already there when we arrived. So we had to tender with little warning, plus due to the currents and wind, we could not anchor. So the crew spent all day hovering the ship in place with its engines. The first two tenders left at 9:30 a.m. Here is what I have heard from several persons and the crew. When the tenders came up to the pier, they discovered that the pier and tender were significantly different heights. After trying to work something out, and running into each other, one tender got caught in a rope and broke the propeller guard. Finally around 11:00 a.m. a system was devised for the tenders and the people put ashore. Meanwhile the rest of us waited until some Cozumel tenders could be procured at late notice. By 11:15 am, we were on shore. Hurray. It stayed cloudy and windy all day, but little rain (thank goodness). There were 7 or 8 cruise ships at Cozumel that day, but it did not seem that crowded on shore. We ate at Poncho's on the Patio, which has a wonderful outside seating area with music and garden. We shopped most of the day, but prices were not as good as Laredo in my opinion. We caught the 4 p.m. tender and barely had time to change and go to our Cruise Critic party. The party was held in the back area of the Viking Crown lounge, which is the area reserved for smoking cigars. I was disappointed that we had to sit in a smoking area for the whole party. It would have been nice to have half the area for smoking and the other half for non-smoking. The party was a minor affair, but it was interesting to meet the people behind the screen names. For dinner we changed tables to sit with two couples from Houston, one being a Texas Aggie like myself. Warren and Gilda were about our age and very similar to us. This really made the cruise even more special. Warren mentioned that their private scuba dive had been called off due to rough weather. We were now 6 people total at a 10-person table. Concerning the first vs. second seating, the first seating was the overall choice for most people as there was a waiting list to change. The second seating had over a hundred seats empty, so it was easy to change. However, people were scattered all over the dining room with many tables less than half full. The next night another two couples joined us since they had been by themselves at a 10-person table. We noticed this happening all around us as people switched tables to be with a larger group. The crew was very helpful in taking care of all requests. Thursday, Nov 14 - (Day at Sea) Not much to report except that Glenda, my wife, won the gold metal for Ring Tossing! Surprised me. We continued to walk a mile each day on the ship. This was just a nice lazy day at sea to relax and enjoy. We got to learn more about Warren and Gilda and their wonderful French canal trip in Burgundy wine country. Friday, Nov 15 - (Puerto Limon, Costa Rica) We arrived two hours late in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. This caused the cancellation of several excursions, including all but one of the Rainforest Aerial Tram excursions. Lucky we had the tickets for the only Rainforest Aerial Tram that was running. We started on our excursion around 12:30 p.m. Due to leaving late and having to get back to the ship, we were not served a lunch as planned. Later, we asked the excursion desk about this, and they refunded $40 each for the shorten trip and missing meal. Excellent service and concern on their part, I must say. We rode in a very nice air-conditioned modern bus. It takes about 1.5 hours to reach the rainforest area, but the scenery was beautiful and the guide very good. Once you arrive at the rainforest, you have a chance for a rest room break, and then you can take either a shuttle or tractor pulled wagon to the tramway, about ½ mile. You walked about 100 feet and then board the tram. It holds 5 visitors and one guide. We thought the rainforest was simply amazing, but let me warn you. During the visit, we did not see much in the way of wildlife, just one bird and a few butterflies. Be expecting to see a fantastic plant and tree show, but do not expect much in the way of birds or other animals. We definitely will want to come back to Costa Rice and do this again. The tram ride was almost an hour. There is also a nice gift shop and snack bar when you return. We arrived back at the ship around 6:30 p.m. (Last tour to return). Comment about Green Train. People who had their excursions canceled were advised that there were plenty of seats on the Green Train. The people that I talked to were not too happy with the experience. The train was very slow, jerky, and not air-conditioned. The rails were in very bad shape. From the pictures that I have seen, the views were similar to the views that we had on the bus. So if you like a slow train, and have friends to talk and enjoy the views with, then you should be ok on the Green Train. Saturday, Nov 16 - (Panama Canal) We started going thru the locks on schedule at around 7:00 a.m. Warren and Gilda invited us to their balcony cabin to watch the action. Seeing the Panama Canal was well worth the trip and cost. It took about 3.5 hours to go thru the locks and anchor in the lake. Since many persons had been confused about the schedule and options of the Panama Canal, the ship's crew director made a special program played on the TV the day before. Here is what I understood. No one would be allowed off of the ship while anchored in the lake except persons with an excursion ticket. All others had to stay on board until the ship returned out of the locks, and docked at Colon. Person who was on an excursion would return to the ship when it docked. So under those conditions, we bought some tickets for the Kayak and Eco tour. Now just about everyone else had bought an excursion to get off the ship, so there were MANY people waiting to be tendered. The crew had us report to the 42nd theater and wait. As a tour was called, you would go up to the front of the theatre, get a numbered sticker, and sit in another waiting area. Later, your number was called and you proceeded to the tender station. Pretty good plan, but badly executed. It took us two hours of waiting before we were called and left the ship. Glad we waited. The tour was very nice. We stopped at the observation deck of the Gatun locks and watch ships enter and leave for a while. We then had a tour of the old US military base, which is now part of Panama. We were issued life vests and a 2-person kayak. The guides were excellent, and there was a chase boat, which followed us in case one of us overturned. The chase boat also would take pictures of you if you gave them your camera. It was relaxing and very nice. We arrived at the Colon pier, but the ship was not there yet. It showed up an hour later. The shopping area here is nice, and is more like a flea market with lots of native items. I loved the $1 Panama beer and $1 pizza here. There is a business center here where you can call home, and use the Internet for $4.50 for 30 minutes. Sunday, Nov 17 - (Day at Sea) Monday, Nov 18 - (Montego Bay, Jamaica) We docked on time for the 1st time. Hurrah. We left for Dunn's Falls on our excursion at 7:00 a.m. We had some people go in a nice large modern bus, but we unfortunately wound up in a 20-person mini-bus. The problem was the 2-hour ride to the falls and back on a very rough small road. If you have back problems, this 4-hour bus ride is a killer. However I would do it again after seeing the falls. You have a choice of climbing the falls on rocks in the water, or stay dry by using steps next to the shoreline. We were prepared to get wet, so up we went in a daisy chain holding hands. Hint: one thing to remember is to bring some cash, as you will need some tipping money for the guides at the end, and to buy the famous "I survived Dunn's Falls" tee shirts on the way out. We were able to run to the bus and change clothes and return for just a few minutes to buy some items. The vendors are very pushy here, so be prepared to just keep walking. Later we found out that we could get them cheaper at the dock shops near the ship. It came a huge rainstorm about this time, so everyone was soaked by the time they had made it back to the ship. I was very upset to find out that the pay phones in Jamaica (and Grand Cayman) would NOT accept a US calling card number. You had to buy their calling card. Tuesday, Nov 19 - (Georgetown, Grand Cayman) Early in the morning, an announcement was made that all water related activities had been canceled by the tour operators due to bad weather. The previous day no ships had been able to anchor and visit due to a storm. At least we were able to tender to the shore. Warren and Gilda called their dive shop and the owner said that it was useless to try and scuba since the water was so stirred up. So we got together and spent the day shopping and looking around. We bought tickets at the pier for a mini-bus tour of the island stopping at the Hell post office, turtle farm, and rum cake factory outlet. Cost was $15 per person and lasted 1.5 hours. We were able to get into the turtle farm for $4.50 instead of $6 by mentioning the driver's name. Reaching in and grabbing a small sea turtle was interesting and made a nice picture opportunity. Back in town, we wander down to the Hard Rock cafe and made the nicest discover on my trip. Hard Rock cafe served Tennent's beer on draft! I was in heaven as this is one of my favorite beers from Scotland, and is hard to find in the states. The food and beer was great, and Warren and Gilda such good company, it made this last stop so special. And this was also the island where Glenda found the best shopping for jewelry. Guess we will have to go back and visit the stingrays some other time. Wednesday and Thursday, Nov 20 - 21 - (Days at Sea) Nothing much to report, except lots of relaxing, reading, swimming, etc. This is a great way to end a vacation. Plenty of time to pack. Friday, Nov 22 - (Galveston) We docked in Galveston right on schedule. Colored tags were issued to everyone the night before, and we were called by colors to the theatre to visit US Immigration. Then you wait to be called off the ship. We departed the ship at 10:00, found our luggage easily, went thru customs (no waiting), and went outside. Glenda stayed with the bags as I jumped onto a shuttle to the parking lot. There were a few cars in line after returning to the terminal bldg to pick up the luggage, but nothing that bad. We were out of there by 10:30 a.m. All in all I was very pleased with the departure system. Food Yes, some of the food was only fair, but there were good items also. I believe that this is just a learning experience that will be solved on future cruises. The reason I say this is one couple at our table was always upset over the food. They mentioned that they had only 2 months before cruised on the Rhapsody of the Seas out of Galveston and that the food was excellent. Since the two ships get their food in Galveston from the same suppliers, then it is only a matter of time before the chef changes his style of cooking from European to Texas on the Splendour. The biggest complaint was that some of the steaks were too tough to cut or eat. Hint: You can always get good meals if you follow this simple rule: If you get something that is not to your liking or expectations, ASK the waiter to bring something else. They are more than willing to do whatever it takes to make you happy. Most people that complained about their food would not let the waiter do anything about it. They were happier to be mad and have something to complain about than getting something good to eat. What a terrible attitude. Shore Excursions- This was probably the oldest crowd out of our 6 cruises. That put the more active shore excursions at risk for lack of participation. The most popular excursions were bus tours of the ports as I found out from the excursion desk. Being the first cruise on this itinerary and some bad weather, there were problems with late arrivals at port and canceled excursions. We were always told up front what was going on and our options. The crew took great lengths to do the best that was possible under the circumstances, and so I am happy with their effort. However, that "Green Train" in Costa Rica still has some people fuming, so think twice before signing up for it. Be prepared to wait a while to get to the tenders at the Panama Canal, as everyone is trying to get off at the same time. Ship A very beautiful ship. We loved the dEcor and lounges. This crowd love to dance with the dance band, and that was very enjoyable. The casino was the largest that we had seen on a ship this size. I had no problems with the drink card anywhere on the ship. The solarium was nice to hang around in as the weather turned cooler nearer to Galveston. Greg.Watkins@motorola.comDecember 2002 Read Less
11-Night Circle the Caribbean Cruise Splendour....the very word itself conjures up visions of magnificence. Entering the beautiful Centrum area with the wonderful brass hanging sculpture certainly gives you a splendourous introduction ... Read More
11-Night Circle the Caribbean Cruise Splendour....the very word itself conjures up visions of magnificence. Entering the beautiful Centrum area with the wonderful brass hanging sculpture certainly gives you a splendourous introduction to 11 days of sailing. But wait, let's back up to the beginning of this cruise, and some of the basic information. We are a couple in our mid 50's, live in the Midwest and have been on several cruises. This was our second with RCI. Our cruise was booked with a pre-package from RCI at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Miami. The morning of our cruise, we pre-registered for the ship at the hotel, received our sign and sail card, room keys. Transportation from the hotel to the ship was by bus. RCI picked up our luggage at the airport, and within 1/2 hour of being on the ship, it appeared in our room. We did not have to handle it after checking it at the airport in St. Louis. Our cabin, just aft of the Centrum, was a Category C on the Bridge deck. The verandah was a good size, with 2 chairs, a small table and a lounge chair. We found this a great place to have breakfast, and late nights just enjoying the quiet. One interesting point is that C category cabins forward of the Centrum are slightly larger than those aft. Cabin furnishings consisted of a king size bed, a hide-a-bed love seat, 2 chairs, glass and brass coffee table, two padded stools, that double as storage, and shelves and storage in every nook and cranny. Our cabin was quiet, with the exception of a few footsteps overhead that came from the entrance to the Solarium area. There is a tub shower combination, and the bathroom was large enough for two people. Dining...Our table was on the balcony level of the King and I Dining Room next to the staircase and directly above the piano and violin. This proved to be a spot where it was difficult to carry on a conversation because of the music. We learned this was a problem only in this area. My usual dilemma in a cruise ship dining room is choosing one meal out of the many offered. This time I had trouble selecting one meal period. Everyone at our table seemed to have the same problem, and we all asked for substitutions at different times. One gentleman at our table summed it up saying "I think they are trying too hard." I found this to be a rather accurate description. The breads were excellent. Prime rib was offered two different nights, and was tender and tasty. I generally associate lobster as being a special meal served on a special night. Our lobster dinner was served on a casual night, and the side dish was boiled spinach. Salads were good and varied. The King and I dressing is a personal favorite. There was also an alternative dining offered. I cannot comment on this as we opted for the dining room each evening. Breakfast at the Windjammer was basically the same each day serving bacon, sausage, eggs, hash browns, a choice of fruits, cereals, breads. The design of the buffet lines area in the Windjammer leaves a little to be desired. At the end of each side of lines you come together to an area that is not easily accessed when it is crowded. In this area are the drinks, and fresh fruit. One of the midnight buffets was held in the galley area. This was great as you got to see the workings of the galley, along with all the great ice and food sculptures. Another nice touch on several nights was the strolling waiters offering canapes, fruit, hors d'oeuvres, etc., in the lounges, casino, and public areas. Bars and Lounges. There are many choices of bars and lounges, from loud and rowdy depending on the time to relaxing and quiet. One of our favorite spots was the Viking Crown Lounge before dinner. It was not at all crowded, and since we had early dinner, we watched several sail aways from high atop the ship. Late at night the Viking Crown turned into the disco. Pool Area, The pool area is generally easily accessed. However, one problem, as we have found on other ships, is the towel and book in the chair problem. I did notice that the stewards around the pool periodically removed towels if no one was seated in the chair. Counting the number of people in the pool and the number of saved chairs did not compute. There were two hot tubs adjacent to the pool, and I was told getting into these proved to be a bit tricky. Activities...The activities ran the gamut from Bingo to fitness, with some just plain fun thrown in the middle. The old standards of Horse Racing, Not so Newlywed, shuffleboard, belly flop contest, and trivia were present. I was not overly impressed with the Cruise Director, but learned toward the end of the cruise that this was her last cruise. I don't know if that explained her rather lack luster attitude, or if the attitude created this being her last cruise. The miniature golf course high on the ship is a fun diversion, and a real challenge on a windy day. For $30, you receive a cap, 3 RCI golf balls, and unlimited play on the course. There were Art auctions offered several days, along with a silent auction, and what they called a special reserve price sale the last day. We were told this special sale was because this was the end of the Art Gallery's contract. I can only hope this was the end of the so called Art Auctions. Spa and Solarium...The solarium is covered with a glass canopy, and has a pool, hot tub, lounge chairs, and sitting areas with tables. But I will never figure out why there is a food bar offering hamburgers, hotdogs and pizza in this area. It just doesn't seem to fit. Or maybe it does, if you indulge in too many pieces of pizza, you can immediately go into the fitness area, and work them off. There were lots of specials offered on massages, facials, etc., and free clinics on skin care, hair care, make-up. There is a fitness area equipped with treadmills, bicycles, etc., and exercise classes offered on every level of ability. As more and more people become fitness conscious, the classes were often crowded. 42nd Street Theater... "Go before you go"is the best advice when attending an event in the theater. There are no restrooms close on this floor. In my opinion, a major design flaw. Access to the theatre is through the Casino, so no restrooms also is a problem for those playing in the casino. As for the entertainment, we found nothing really outstanding. For the most part, we felt it was "Same show, different ship." The headliner entertainment was comedian, Robert Klein, who was very funny. Casino....The casino is crowded, and difficult to navigate when busy and had the usual assortment of slot machines ranging from .25 to $5 machines, black jack tables with $5. min., Caribbean Stud tables, craps table and roulette wheel. Excursions and Islands...We are not a big believer in ship excursions on most islands, so wandered around on our own. Jamaica would be the exception to this for us, and Dunns River Falls is the main attraction there. Our day in Grand Cayman was affected by wind and high waves, and being a Sunday, most of the shops were closed. We missed going to Sting Ray City because all water activities were canceled. I love coming into Curacao, and entering the island under the bridge. Curacao could be a great place, but I have always felt it needed a good scrubbing. One plus is that we always find the people to be very helpful and friendly. I was struggling to figure out how to use one of their pay phones, and a lady sitting close by came up and handed me two coins to use. She spoke not one word of English, but saw my dilemma, and offered to help. Later on, we were waiting for the ferry on the other side of the island, and she tapped me on the shoulder and said hello. I can't comment on Key West. Because of a medical emergency with a member of our party, we spent the day there at the hospital. Cozumel was in a party mood the day we were there. Many street dancing groups, and parades going on. It really added to the atmosphere and fun of this island. Cozumel is an easy island to get around, and jeeps can be rented for the day. Just beware of the tourist on the Moped, and you have all heard about Mexican taxi rides. Carlos and Charlies is a must do in Cozumel. Why, oh, why, did they put that bar up all those steps?? Aruba is one of my all time favorites. Again, we always find friendly people there, willing to help, but not aggressive. There are two shopping centers within walking distance. The beaches in Aruba are some of the prettiest anywhere. Children's programs....In talking with couples who had children on board, they all said that the program was excellent with varied activities from quiet times to active games. The debarkation was easy. We still hang on to our old luggage and can spot it easily in the sea of black, green, and burgundy. We were off the ship and getting in a taxi by 9:30am. Overview...Little things, as always, can make the big difference. Most all of the crew seemed to genuinely enjoy what they do. We are not hard to please, but when we asked for changes, they were made with a smile, from different choices at dinner to extra towels in the cabin. Most of the people on this cruise were in the 50+ age group. We did see some families with children, and couples in their 20's, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. I would definitely cruise on Splendour again. Read Less
Splendour of the Seas to the Western Caribbean, Mexico, and Honduras My husband and I, along with our great friends Len and Jo, sailed on the 10-day January 3rd departure of Royal Caribbean's Splendour of the Seas from Galveston, ... Read More
Splendour of the Seas to the Western Caribbean, Mexico, and Honduras My husband and I, along with our great friends Len and Jo, sailed on the 10-day January 3rd departure of Royal Caribbean's Splendour of the Seas from Galveston, Texas. This was our 18th cruise, but it had been some time since we had been on a larger ship like this. Royal Caribbean has always been known as a good choice if you are fairly new to cruising, or if you want a family vacation with the kids and/or the grandparents. We can now add another reason for taking this cruise. If you live within driving distance of Houston and Galveston, or if you live on the West coast or in the middle section of the United States, Canada, or Mexico, and you don't want to take a long airplane flight to Miami, Fort Lauderdale, San Juan, etc., consider a cruise out of Galveston. You could even come early or stay a few days after the cruise and check out the sights in Galveston, Clear Lake, and Houston. In Galveston, there is the Strand, the 1894 Grand Opera House, Moody Gardens, and the beach. In the Clear Lake area, there is Space Center, NASA, and the Kemah Boardwalk. In Houston, there are many museums, parks, sporting events, restaurants, theaters, shows, and lots of friendly people. Since we live in the Houston and Clear Lake area, our trip began with driving the 40 miles to Galveston. Luggage handlers took our bags while we parked the car ($75.00), and then we were shuttled back to the ship. No luggage, except for carry-on, was allowed on the shuttle. We were given a group number card, and were called after a few minutes to proceed to check-in. The Cabins We had booked a balcony cabin for the first time, and I enjoyed being on the balcony as we came into or left the various ports. The cabin is 190 square feet with a big bed, and a huge couch in the sitting area section. The bathroom was an adequate size, although there was only a shower, not a tub/shower combination. There was also a very generous vanity in the sitting area, and more storage space than we needed. We had 4 suitcases, and everything fit! Fellow Passengers this was our sixth Royal Caribbean cruise, and there was a larger group of Senior Citizens than I had remembered on our previous cruises. However, at our dining room table of 10, all of our dining companions were younger than us, and we really enjoyed our dinners. There were very few children, but most families with school aged children wouldn't be taking a January vacation! Dining The food was quite nice. I missed the small ship open dining times, but we had an excellent waiter, assistant waiter, and dining manager. Len celebrated his birthday on the cruise, and they treated him like a king. The food in the Lido buffet restaurant was not as good as the dining room. The Casino There are lots of slot machines and blackjack tables in the casino. There was also one craps table and one roulette table. They held 2 blackjack tournaments and 2 slot tournaments during the cruise, which were a lot of fun. Entertainment On the first formal night, Charo was the headliner. Please don't laugh - the woman plays a terrific classical guitar and is laughing all of the way to the bank. It was a very enjoyable show. On the second formal night, John Davidson was the entertainer, and he got a standing ovation. In between, there was a magician and a comedian; both were very good. The production shows were O.K., but not as good as Royal Caribbean shows I had seen in the past. The Itinerary Our first stop was supposed to be Montego Bay, Jamaica, but we were advised at check-in time that they were doing repairs to their dock, so we went to Ocho Rios instead. Our next stop was supposed to be at Grand Cayman, but the water was a little rough, and the Cayman Port Authority closed the port. Cozumel was next. We had not been there for 12 years, and I was stunned by the changes. It's not a sleepy little fishing village anymore. There were 10 ships in port, so everything was very busy. Roatan was the next stop, and this was our favorite. Be sure and take a port trip here. The government is re-doing all of the roads in the small town, so it was quite muddy, and exploring on foot would get a little messy. Also, we were there during the rainy season, but that is why the island is so green and lush. It did not rain while we were on our tour. I heard good comments about the Dolphin Encounter, and we really enjoyed our East End Discovery Tour. If you like big cities, Roatan probably won't impress you, but the people were very sweet, and their hand-crafted items are wonderful. Check out the conch shells that have a cameo image carved into them. They are not cheap, but they are some of the most beautiful art work I have ever seen. Our last stop was Key West, and it was much too short a time there. All too soon, we were sailing back to Galveston. It's hard to believer that ten days could pass so quickly. Summary Royal Caribbean is offering very attractive prices for the cruises out of Galveston. They have 7 day itineraries available on the Rhapsody of the Seas, and longer cruises on the Splendour that do a partial Panama Canal route, besides this route. In addition, there was a small senior citizens discount available on this cruise for anyone 55 and over. There are tons of activities available every day, so you can do as much or as little as you wish. There's a very nice indoor pool with 2 hot tubs, as well as the outdoor pool area. At the top of the ship is a miniature golf course. The card room was filled most afternoons with bridge players. The exercise room is more than adequate. Everyone we met seemed to be enjoying themselves. What needs to be improved? 1. Like a lot of large cruise lines, Royal Caribbean does not want you to bring your own liquor on board to consume in your cabin. There is a liquor store on board, however, and we discovered, by sheer accident, that on the first night of the cruise, you could buy a bottle of liquor (they always add a $9.50 surcharge per bottle to the price), and they would include a bottle of 'Brand X' gin or vodka at no extra charge. I did not see that special advertised anywhere, so ask. I didn't see any other specials for the rest of the cruise. 2. It took 5 hours for us to receive the last of our four bags in our cabin. You might want to keep a few extra goodies in your carry-on bag if you need something before dinner or for dinner. There were a lot of blue jeans in the dining room the first night. 3. After you get off the ship, you are truly on your own if you drove your own car. We got the luggage without any problem, but then one person has to guard the luggage while the other person uses the shuttle to retrieve the car. Remember that they don't allow luggage on the shuttle. It took my husband 45 minutes to get back to the dock with the car, and the one with the luggage is standing outside (it was 45 degrees that day, as we had a rare cold front come in), with no cover, bathrooms, heat, or air conditioning. They need buses that can take you and your luggage to the car. This would prevent the big logger-jams at the dock, also. arichter1@houston.rr.com April 2003 Read Less
About Us We are Gary (51), Lisa (44) and David (9) Hoover from Brazoria, Texas - about 60 miles from the Port of Galveston. This was our 4th cruise and our 1st cruise on Royal Caribbean. Our other cruises were: - Celebrity Mercury ... Read More
About Us We are Gary (51), Lisa (44) and David (9) Hoover from Brazoria, Texas - about 60 miles from the Port of Galveston. This was our 4th cruise and our 1st cruise on Royal Caribbean. Our other cruises were: - Celebrity Mercury (December 1998) - Carnival Celebration (February 2001) - Celebrity Millennium (December 2001) Before we started cruising, we traveled to the Caribbean almost every year since our honeymoon in 1980. The Ship What can I say, the Splendour is just gorgeous. We are so thrilled to have a ship this nice sailing from Texas. She is big, but not too big and very easy to get around. She's immaculate and does not show her age, as far as I can tell. The only thing I saw in disrepair was the glass on our balcony railing, which was cracked. The Cabin We had cabin 7130, which is Category D. It's one of the famous aft balconies and was a fun neighborhood, too. The balcony is big enough for 2 lounge chairs and a small table with plenty of space left over. There was hardly any wind, even when the rest of the ship was about to blow away. Often, we had a choice of sun or shade. We will try to book aft cabins from now on. However, if you don't like to walk, don't book an aft cabin on the Splendour. There are no stairs or elevators back there. You have to go amidships to go up or down. I liked getting the extra exercise. I didn't gain a pound on this cruise. The cabin is long and narrow, with two twins beds pushed together and a full size couch, which looked brand new. The couch folded out to make a futon size mattress. My son had no trouble sleeping on it. The only thing is that once it was made into a bed, it never tucked back in quite right and was hard to sit on at times. All of the cabin furnishings seemed brand new - except the TV and the lounge chairs. There was more than enough storage space for 3 people on a 10-day cruise. There were plenty of hangers in the closet and shelves everywhere. The Service The overall service was excellent on this cruise. Our cabin attendant did a great job. Our son really enjoyed the towel animals. I ordered room service every morning and it came on time and was mostly what I ordered. On the last two days, they sent decaf tea (ick). I called and they brought me regular right away. A note for Earl Grey drinkers: In the Windjammer they only have Lipton's Earl Grey, which I thought wasn't worth brewing. However, for room service they brought Twinings, which is pretty good for tea bags. (I drink loose tea at home.) Our dining room service was outstanding. We had table 111, on the top level. It was a table for 10. In addition to the three of us, we had six wonderful tablemates. After the first night, they took the extra place away. Our waiter was Pedro, our assistant was Thomas, and our headwaiter was Miguel. Pedro was very entertaining, for the kids and adults alike. He showed the kids how to make things out of the napkins. One night he made roses out of paper napkins for the female contingent (3 women and 1 girl) at the table. We saw Miguel more on this cruise than any other headwaiter we've seen. He was very helpful with kids food and the wine. There were more bar servers around the pool than we've seen on previous cruises. They walked around saying "bar service, cocktails." I don't remember that on Celebrity. I guess that is a difference between Celebrity and RCI. The Food Now I leave the world of rave reviews to talk about the food. Just to let you know, I'm a picky eater and food - growing it, cooking it and eating out - is my hobby. I had read enough to know that I was not going on this cruise for the food. I was right. The Windjammer I always found something in the Windjammer to eat. Twice I found something really good - a spicy pasta dish and vegetarian chili. The first day I had breakfast in the Windjammer. The scrambled eggs had a weird taste. They have eggs and omelets to order, but you had to wait in line for them. So, after the first day, I ordered omelets from room service - which were pretty good. The rolls in the Windjammer were good and they had prepackaged butter that was tasty. The salad bar was the same every day. The lettuce was romaine with some mixed greens. The salad dressings that I tried weren't very good. The blue cheese wasn't very blue cheesy and the ranch was too sweet. The iced tea on the ship was awful, but I made my own with hot tea and a glass of ice. The cheese was presliced and somewhat bland. That in itself saved me a ton of calories. I could go on, but I won't. The Mexican Buffet by the Pool They had refried kidney beans! The chips were from a package. The chili con queso was too thick and very bland. The guacamole was prepackaged. But, if you put enough jalapenos on it, it was okay. :-) The King and I Thank goodness for the King and I dining room. It is lovely and airy. The service was outstanding and the food was good. The garlic soup was yummy. There was no problem ordering multiple entries or sending things back. There were a couple of great chocolate deserts. I was a little disappointed in the chocolate soufflE. I'm a chocolate junkie and it wasn't chocolaty enough for me. But the flourless chocolate cake was rich and wonderful. Our tablemates and the food service made the meal special. The Wine Evidently, RCI recently did away with wine stewards. They shouldn't have. Our wine service was confused, to say the least. On the first night, we ordered a wine package. It was 6 bottles for $129 plus tip. This package was a good value and had much better wines than the 10 for $155 package did. However, the service team didn't know about the package, even though we picked up the flier outside the dining room. They eventually figured it out. We ordered a Barbaresco almost every night. It was regularly $32 on the wine list. There was also a nice French red on the list that our tablemates liked. I liked it too, but liked the Italian better. One night we ordered a Puilly-Fuisse, which was also on the list. It was also very good. Pedro kept getting the wine mixed up. One night, he swapped our bottles. We knew it was our bottle since it was the second bottle we had ordered the previous night. We didn't say anything since we were tasting each other's wines anyway and it didn't really matter. This was just one episode of wine service confusion. Miguel, our headwaiter, picked up a lot of the slack in the wine department. Once we drank our 6 bottles, we ordered off the list. At one point, Pedro got confused and wanted us to pay for an extra bottle. He finally checked with the cellar master and got it all straightened out. I think. I was confused by this time also. Maybe he was right. Obviously, we are winos and have had a bottle of wine with dinner every night of every cruise we've been on. This is the first time that wine service was so mixed up. The best wine service on the cruise was from our neighbor Dobie. I walked out on the veranda one evening and she offered me a glass of champagne. It and the company were very good. Thanks Dobie! The second best wine service was from the pool bar. If you order champagne there, they don't have glasses. They pour it in a cup and you get a lot more that way. I took it back to our room and poured it in a glass to drink. The Wine Tasting Since we were not Crown and Anchor members, we paid $7 apiece for the wine tasting. It was disorganized at first. They didn't have enough cheese or places for everyone to sit. They did rectify that after a while. In addition, we didn't taste in wine glasses, but in those little silver colored, plastic cups that sommeliers wear around their necks. So, you couldn't swirl to get the bouquet or even see the color or the legs. You really need a glass for tasting wine. I won't do another wine tasting on Royal Caribbean. Shore Excursions Cozumel -- We rented a Jeep through LessPay for $60. It was pretty beat up, but it ran. We drove through town and up to the house we like to rent when we go to Cozumel. We ran into one of the caretakers, Rosie. It was great to see her. We will be going back there on our next vacation. After that, we drove to Dzul Ha and went snorkeling. The snorkeling was very good there, although above the water, the scenery is not so great. We ate at Dzul Ha. The food was okay and we didn't get turista. They had a really, really hot salsa that was incredible. We were not in Cozumel long enough. I think we had to be back on the ship by 4 and we didn't even get off until 10 or so. Grand Cayman -- We tendered here. We got a bus to the Holiday Inn beach. It was a nice beach, but too crowded. The day at the beach including the ride there, 2 beach chairs, lunch and 2 beers cost $100. Grand Cayman is expensive and has no soul. I wouldn't be sad if I never went back. Jamaica -- We love Jamaica, but Mobay is depressing. The shops at the port have mostly junk. We didn't go into town, so maybe it was better there. In the afternoon, we did a ship's excursion. It was the catamaran snorkeling and party boat. It was supposed to have rum punch, sodas and beer. All they had was rum punch and regular punch. The boat was a big, 2 story, motorized catamaran. It had viewing windows in the hulls; so, we got a glass bottom boat ride thrown in. We went to a reef and the snorkeling was pretty good. They were a good variety of fish, and some healthy coral. There was a lot of dead coral there too. After snorkeling, they took us to Margaritaville. We got to stay there a whole 30 minutes, and we had to tender from our boat. We were not too happy with that. However, I did have time to go down the water slide and it was a blast. Gary got to go down it also. We got a couple of margaritas for the ride back. They were very good. Next time we stop in Jamaica, we'll just take a cab to Margaritaville. Roatan -- Here we did our own excursion with some fellow Cruise Critics. We went to Paya Bay resort. It's an unspoiled, rustic resort on the east end of the island. It takes about an hour to get there from the ship. I loved it. It was remote and uncrowded and the scenery is beautiful. We had a lunch of shrimp and lobster. The shrimp were excellent and the lobster was ok. The sides were rice and potatoes, so I skipped that. (They served rice with everything on the ship.) The local beer (Salva Vida) was only $2 and very good. The resort filled a cooler with beer and soda for us to take down to the secluded beach. It's a small beach, but gorgeous. In the afternoon, we went in a small flat bottom boat to snorkel. It was a little rough, but I had no trouble snorkeling. This was the best snorkeling that I have ever seen. The coral was very healthy and diverse. There were many different species of fish. And, the reef was shallow, so the view was wonderful. Roatan was my favorite port. Key West -- We were only here from 7 to 2 and had to be back on the ship at 1:30. Plus, we had to clear immigration before we got off, so no one really got off until after 9. Here is where we had a bad experience with a shore excursion and it was RCI's fault. My husband and son booked the PT Boat ride for 9:30 am. We had planned to meet after that for lunch, since I wasn't interested in going on the excursion. The day before Key West, we got a note that the excursion had been changed to 11:30. They still decided to go. I went into town by myself to shop. There was an art fair in Key West that day and I bought a flamingo painting. I love it. I got souvenirs for David's class. Key West has some good shops for bulk souvenirs and I had a great time in Key West. When I got back to the ship, I ran into Gary and Dave. They said they couldn't find their boat. They thought that they missed it. They met at the pier at the appointed time, and the RCI rep told them that they needed to take the tram to town and go to the other dock. They did and there was no PT boat. They walked around a little and then came back to the ship. Since we were in Key West for such a short time and they spent most of tracking down a non-existent shore excursion, their day there was wasted. Later that afternoon, after we were long gone from Key West, we got a note in the cabin that said the excursion had been canceled. Of course they got a refund, but they didn't couldn't get back their wasted time. Entertainment and Activities The entertainment on board was great. We went to most of the shows and they were very good. I laughed so hard I cried at Joey Van's show. I loved the guitar player, Mario. The band was great and so were the dancers. I did fall asleep in one production show, so I skipped the other. Gary and Dave loved it. Marty Allen was funny and his wife was a great straight woman. I thought Gordon Whatman, the cruise director, was a hoot. He was always cracking me up. There were too many activities to keep track of. Since the weather was so nice on this cruise, we mostly stayed by the pool or on our balcony. There was a lot of stuff going on at night and we missed it all, I'm afraid to say. It looked like fun when we watched some of it on TV, though. :-) Adventure Ocean My son decided he didn't like the kids' activities on this ship. We were surprised, since on our last cruise on the Millennium, we couldn't keep him out of the kids club. Nor on our other Celebrity cruise. It took a while to figure out, but he didn't hit it off with one of the counselors, Brad. One day, I dropped Dave off and he asked Brad what they were going to do that day. Brad blew him off with "I can't tell you." and went back to what he was doing. Dave looked at me and wanted to leave then. He was the only kid over 5 that was there at that time. Another time, during the family water balloon event, Brad said, "If you drop it, you'll get all wet and look stupid." If Brad said stuff like that often, then I can see why Dave didn't want to go. Dave's not athletic and he's sensitive about it. Other stuff A guy down the hall from us got busted for having marijuana on the morning we were in Key West. We could smell it in the hall every night. He was smoking in his inside cabin. They bring on dogs in Key West and they sniffed it out. They took him off in handcuffs. In another Key West incident, a woman slapped a teenager that she didn't know on the crowded stairway when we were trying to get off the ship. Evidentially, the kid cussed and woman slapped him. His mother was a flight up and went ballistic. It was so crowded that she couldn't get down to the slapper. The rest of us were standing there in stunned silence. I heard that later they all ended up at the purser's desk. Summary We had a great time on this beautiful ship. We'll certainly sail Royal Caribbean again. The Good, in no particular order: Service Activities Ship People Entertainment Cabin Perfect weather Snorkeling Wine prices Dining room food The Okay Jamaica shore excursion Windjammer food The Bad Key West Shore Excursion canceled without notice Ice tea The Ugly The cracked glass on the balcony The slapping incident Well, that's all folks! Happy Cruising. lhoover@sat.net May 2003 Read Less
Jerry and I are the ones who drove 1890 miles to the cruise, Northern California to Galveston. We had a great trip, stopping along the way at Schulenburg, TX, for some great BBQ and also at Sonora, TX. If Sonora is on your way, make a stop ... Read More
Jerry and I are the ones who drove 1890 miles to the cruise, Northern California to Galveston. We had a great trip, stopping along the way at Schulenburg, TX, for some great BBQ and also at Sonora, TX. If Sonora is on your way, make a stop there, the downtown is not to be missed. Very well restored. If you are very lucky (and we were), the "downtown lady" will give you a personal tour. We stayed several days in Galveston before the tour, going to Moody Gardens Rainforest Pyramid and the Railroad Museum. If you are a train buff, this is not to be missed. We got to the port at 10:30 AM, and Jerry dropped me and parked in the Port Parking Lot. You pay in advance ($80 for 11 days, which is reasonable compared to California ports), and they run a continuous shuttle. You have to drop your luggage at the ship first, there is no luggage allowed on the shuttle. We were on the ship by noon. We had booked a "C" mini-suite, and the suite folks (and frequent cruisers) had a special check-in area). Our luggage reached us within a half hour of our boarding, a new record. We ate lunch and did the emergency drill, then went to Joe and Paula's cabin (Joebat1) for cocktails, and to meet them and Doug and Pat. We've been corresponding on and offline for months, and its fun to meet. In fact, we hang around a lot, we enjoy each other's company so. The ship was well maintained and clean. About my only complaint was the fact that there were no bathrooms on Deck 4 at all. This is one of the two decks that have most of the public rooms. I guess RCI wanted to cram as much public space into the deck as possible, but its inexcusable. Many people complained about it during the course of the week. We took part in two "Academy at Sea" programs -- Photography with Nicholas and Hospitality with Allan. They met every sea day for one hour each (a total of four hours). The next to the last day at Photography you get to take a picture with the instructor's camera, which you are given the next day. Also a group picture is taken, and you are given that, too. The hospitality class explained all the various bar glasses, then how to prepare for a party. The third class was the history of beer, and graduation was a wine class. You got a wine tasting cup at that, in addition to the certificate you got at each class. If you bought the bar recipe book, you got a note on your receipt giving you one free drink, which brought the price of the book down to about $5-6. Most of the morning offerings on the ship centered around fitness. If you weren't into exercise, you better be able to amuse yourself. We played dominoes some, having brought our own. There were many people playing bridge and dominoes, and the game room had many games to choose from. There is also a well stocked library, which has a news summary from the New York Times each day. Several times I laid down a book or magazine of mine there for someone else. The art auction specialized in a core group of artists, one of whom was Fanch Ledan, who I like. Unfortunately, the prints are generally unframed, as opposed to on Princess where they come framed. But the prices were mostly good. Roy was the auctioneer, and I have to say he was very informative, and I liked him and his presentations. In the afternoons about 3 PM there were plenty of non-athletic activities, all at once. Poor planning. We did some trivia, and many of the art auctions. We'd requested a table for two for dinner. We like to have dinner together, and mingle at the other meals. When we boarded the ship, we found our cruise cards had one table assignment, crossed out, and another substituted, a table for ten! We went back out to see the headwaiter (who was in the terminal building for some reason), and he said he didn't know what he could do, early seating was full. Now if I wanted late seating...I told him no, I didn't, I'm diabetic. He put "medical" next to my request for a change. We were told to see him that night after dinner outside the dining room. We'd been changed to a table for two. I'm sure we had the best waiter and headwaiter in the dining room, Luis and "Go." When the kitchen was slow, "Go" would get the entree for the "duet tables" and serve us while Luis waited for the rest of the plates. He also made several pastas, and always brought a "taster plate" to each table in his section (not all the other headwaiters did). I thought the food was "middle America" good. Not spectacular, but certainly tasty. The veggies were crunchy, and the meat was mostly well cooked, except that some of the steaks were tough for some reason. The lobsters were much larger than on any other ship we've been on. There were many quiche-like tart appetizers (or even main dishes at lunch), and chilled fruit soups (think smoothie). There was always a rosemary chicken breast (delish!) and a steak and fish available (usually salmon), as well as Caesar salad. There were sugar free desserts at every meal. We ate most all of our meals in the dining room. We went to the buffet for lunch twice, and it just wasn't appetizing to me. I'm fussy, and the chafing dishes looked like troughs of food to me. But there were things there that weren't in the dining room, like pasta made to order at every lunch and dinner, and a cheese bar at dinner. There were also Panini sandwiches and hero sandwiches, and there was a pizza and hot dog and hamburger bar, which I didn't go to. There was coffee available outside the buffet most of the day and night. "Seattle's Best," is what they called it. I dunno. I don't like my coffee that strong. By the afternoons you could cut off a chunk it was so strong. We had room service coffee most mornings, and I ordered a container of milk with it for my coffee so I didn't have to use phony stuff. I also ordered dry cereal several times, or got some from the buffet, so I'd have snack food (one of the choices was a granola). After not being out of bed the third morning when room service came, I put "Please call first" on the tag at the bottom each day, and they did. We bought several water bottles on board, and when they were empty we filled them at the water container in the buffet. When we'd go up after dinner to do this, the headwaiter at the door was very gracious, telling us how good it was to drink a lot of water. We had a fridge, so we'd keep a full bottle or two in there overnight, to make it ice cold. Our suite was roomy, by ship's standards. The balcony had two lounge chairs and two regular chairs and a small table. The cabin had a sofa (converts to a bed, but there would be no space if it did) and two easy chairs, as well as three closets. There is plenty of room for suitcases under the rack-like beds. The mattresses sit on metal platforms, making them very firm. Fine for me, but not for Jerry or anybody who likes a soft bed. There was a tub with a shower over it. I had brought a bathtub mat, thanks to someone on Cruise Critic mentioning that the non-slid stuff in the bathtub wasn't good. They were right. Thank you! There were plenty of shelves, drawers, etc. Our room steward made some cute towel animals, but otherwise was only barely average. The room was clean, but he never changed the toilet paper, we had to ask for more Kleenex, and it took three days to get our cleaning back! He got the minimum expected tip (unlike Luis, who of course got more). We didn't go anywhere at all in Coz. In Costa Rica we took the Tortugero Canal tour, which I'd recommend. You see a lot of wildlife, and the guide is good at pointing it out. They turn the boat around so both sides can see things. In Panama we did the Two Oceans Railway. We paid extra for the observation car, but if I had it to do again, I wouldn't. It was very hot there, and you could see well from anywhere. They were running late, so when we got off the train near Miraflores, they did a "drive through" of most of the area except for the locks. We got to spend about a half hour there watching a ship be lowered. We'd seen our ship and the ship next to us be raised at Gatun locks in the morning. Joe and Paula had a starboard cabin, and we had a portside one, and we'd made a deal that whoever had the best view for the canal would invite everybody else over. It's a good idea to make an arrangement like this, because if you're not on the side of the ship where you've got another ship next to you, you really don't see much. We had a great view in Joe and Paula's cabin (Doug and Pat were there, too), and Paula ordered tons of breakfast. We could actually call out to the workers, we were so close to them. We did the Rose Hall tour in Jamaica. It was very hot there, but interesting. On the way back to the ship they stop at a local crafts market (where they *insist* that you bargain), and then we were taken downtown for about 40 minutes. I loved the Jamaican guide we had, Yvette, and her "No problem, mon," attitude to everything. The crafts market had the Jamaican version of Aloha shirts, with Rasta men on them, and many of the men on the ship wore their new shirts to dinner that night. In Grand Cayman we did the City Tour. Everyone tenders there, and there were seven ships in port. The tour terminal is a madhouse. Princess charged $30 for the exact same tour you could book on shore for $15 (the van even had the "City Tour & Turtle Farm $15" placard in its windshield). I'd suggest not using the ship for this tour. We did the turtle farm, went to Hell (sent postcards to my former employer) and were dropped back in the very expensive shopping area. We had a great time, made more so by all the friends from Cruise Critic and all the other people on the ship. Disembarkation was chaotic, as always. Once off the ship, the luggage was easy to find. Mine was the one with the unattached wheels sitting on top of it. Don't bring new luggage, another Cruise Critic member had a ruined suitcase on the same ship. The porter parked me in the waiting area, and Jerry went for the car. In 17 minutes he was back, we were loaded, and on the way. fmodena@yahoo.com June 2003 Read Less
Review of CruiseDennis and Sharon Reeves Royal Caribbean Splendour of the SeasTransatlantic, Barcelona to Galveston 15 days October 27, 2002 to November 11, 2002 Embarkation Embarkation was one of the smoothest and fastest we have ... Read More
Review of CruiseDennis and Sharon Reeves Royal Caribbean Splendour of the SeasTransatlantic, Barcelona to Galveston 15 days October 27, 2002 to November 11, 2002 Embarkation Embarkation was one of the smoothest and fastest we have enjoyed in six cruises, four of them with Royal Caribbean. We checked our baggage immediately upon arrival at the terminal in Barcelona at approximately 12:30 p.m. We moved through the check-in line in about 15 minutes or less and immediately boarded the ship. The Ship Splendour of the Seas entered the market as a new cruise ship in the year 1996. It does not show much wear and tear, as good maintenance has obviously kept the vessel in near-new condition. During our cruise, for instance, carpets were continuously being replaced where needed. The only complaint we had was that the sofa in our stateroom was very soiled. We reported this condition to our stateroom attendant and he saw to it that the sofa was immediately cleaned and restored to good condition. Our inside, deck 2 state room was indeed adequate, and our attendant cleaned it very well twice daily. Public Areas of the Ship The two-story dining room is beautiful, with full length windows overlooking the sea. The 42nd Street showroom is only one story; however, it has excellent sight lines with no obstructions to views. There is a wonderfully appointed library and a large card room. The swimming pool areas, especially the indoor Solarium pool area, are very well designed and provide much relaxation and enjoyment for passengers. All other areas are well designed and are equal-to or better than the other "Vision Class" ships of RCL, with the exception of the Windjammer Cafe. The inside part of the Windjammer is too small to accommodate the passenger loads of this ship, and it is poorly designed. Each time we ate in the Windjammer we had trouble finding a table, were crowded in the buffet areas, and were continually bumping into other passengers. The flows of passengers through the cafe are confusing and poorly designed. An example of this is that the normal traffic flow of the breakfast buffet has the passengers arriving at the hot cereal station prior to arriving at the station for cereal bowls! As to maintenance and service in the Windjammer, we found it to be marginal at best. Tables are poorly cleaned, if at all, as dining parties left, and the number of waiters or maintenance personnel seemed to be greatly reduced from the numbers we experienced in the Vision of the Seas Windjammer Cafe in October of 2001. Entertainment and Activities On this fifteen-day cruise, we felt that the entertainment, with the exception of two nights, was outstanding. It is unfortunate that a mediocre magician and a fairly new lower quality comedian were allowed to taint an otherwise great entertainment experience. We greatly enjoyed comedian Marty Allen and his wife, world-famous tenor Renato Pagliari, concert pianist Charles Brunner, and other exceptional entertainers. Pagliari and Brunner even provided an extra matinee performance for us where they performed together. This was unplanned and was specially arranged by our Cruise Director Richard Cooper. Richard Cooper saw to it that we enjoyed "Academy at Sea" and many other activities to keep us happily engaged. We rate Richard Cooper as one of the finest we have seen on any cruise. Shore Excursions We were well-served by our cruise staff in handling of the shore excursions. All debarkations and embarkations went smooth, and the excursions we took were well worth the money and were educational and enjoyable. We highly recommend the city tours of Barcelona, Malaga, and Tenerife. Dining Our dining experience was very good. We were assigned to a dining room table of four, and were concerned that the cruise line may not be able to match us well with another couple. Our fears were misplaced, however, as we were paired with excellent companions from Canada (we are a retired couple from the United States.) My wife's birthday is June 11th, and Sandra's birthday is June 10th. My birthday is August 11th, and Scott's birthday is also June 11th!! Now, is that an excellent match or what?? The dining room food, as well as that of the Windjammer and the Solarium cafes was very good to excellent. A great selection of steaks, seafood entrees, and pasta dishes were available, as well as numerous other main courses, appetizers, and desserts. The desserts seem to improve with every RCL cruise that we take over the years. Our dining room service from Waiter, Assistant Waiter, and Head -Waiter were excellent, with constant attention to our every need and desire. We did find that since our cruise on RCL last year, soft drinks are no longer free in the dining room. They are billed to your account at $1.50 each. One small thing is that mints are no longer available to passengers upon exiting the dining room. A positive change is that on sea days there are buffet breakfasts and brunches available in the main dining room. This offset, to some degree, the negative experiences we had in the Windjammer cafe. Debarkation Our son was picking us up in Galveston. We wanted to get off the ship early, because he was waiting in the parking area for us. We, however, had one of the worst debarkation experiences we have ever had on a cruise, and were delayed getting off. Each group leaving the ship was assigned a specific color of luggage tags, depending upon type and time of transportation the group was planning. The debarkation process went very slowly. After about two hours of debarkation, I leaned over the deck four railing to watch the passengers leaving the ship. It soon became apparent that other than the first group or two, the crew paid little or no attention to which color of tags were possessed by the passengers. It was also apparent that there were very few passengers leaving the ship! I finally recommended to my wife that even though our color and others had not been called yet, we should start moving toward deck one and the debarkation point. When arrived on deck two, we overhead the Cruise Director say, "there is hardly anybody aboard ship, let's just tell everyone to go to deck one." Our son had to wait at least one or two hours for us to get off the ship, when I am not sure the wait would have been necessary. Overall Impression The cruise had the makings of an excellent cruise. With the exception of two poor entertainers, a negative Windjammer experience, and a poor debarkation process, it was. Thank you to all the RCL staff for their hard work. I trust they will learn from and improve the problem areas! dreeves@networld.com February, 2003 Read Less
As I prepared to go on my first cruise, I was excited to hear about all the fun things on the ships. Boarding the ship, I was still excited. However, after my first day aboard the ship, I was disappointed. I am 32 years old and single. I ... Read More
As I prepared to go on my first cruise, I was excited to hear about all the fun things on the ships. Boarding the ship, I was still excited. However, after my first day aboard the ship, I was disappointed. I am 32 years old and single. I was hoping to have fun and meet some people that would make my adventure all the more better. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the passengers were retirees. I think I saw a total of 20 people that did not have gray hair. Everywhere you looked, older people. Now that does not bother me at all, all the people I met on the ship were quite enjoyable. The only thing was there was nothing for a 30 something person to do. There were late night dances, but not only who are you going to dance with, but would you know the music? The entertainment was also geared to the older people and I didn't know any of them. Overall the service aboard the ship was very nice. Everyone was pleasant and it seemed as though they all loved their jobs and working with the passengers. The only thing that I would have changed about the service is my table assignment for dinners. Originally, I was at table "15" (don't remember the actual number) and because of seating with the group I was with, I switched tables to table "29" (again, I don't remember the actual number). The service was going from that of a restaurant serving $40 plates to McDonalds. Having to ask for NOTHING to having to ask for EVERYTHING, . . . TWICE! The cabin steward was WONDERFUL! He was kind and always happy and regardless where he saw us, he would say hello and call us by name. Overall, I was disappointed in the adventure on the Splendour of the Seas, but I am looking forward to doing more research and trying it again!! mjanikow@msn.com March 2003 Read Less
We took the February 24 Panama Canal cruise on Splendor of the Seas. This was our fourth cruise and first on a Royal Caribbean ship. I would rate this cruise worse than the others but that was not all bad. This was the easiest ship to ... Read More
We took the February 24 Panama Canal cruise on Splendor of the Seas. This was our fourth cruise and first on a Royal Caribbean ship. I would rate this cruise worse than the others but that was not all bad. This was the easiest ship to board. Even though we got to the ship early (we only live 30 miles away) boarding was quick and easy. Parking was no problem but have $80 ready as you must pay in cash in advance. We were on the ship in time for lunch and our cabin was clean and ready. About 2 hours after boarding our luggage was delivered to the cabin. The cabins showed their age but were well kept by our steward who was friendly and attentive. We had a mini-suite which was of good size with plenty of closet space and adequate drawer space. The beds were low and caused a problem when trying to store our suitcases under them. They were also hard and both my wife and I had problems sleeping. There are only 2 places to eat on the ship, either the main dining room or the buffet. There were a few mini-buffets on the pool deck for lunch. The dinner food varied from fair to very good. One fish dish seemed spoiled with a strong smell and was inedible. Service was very good, friendly and attentive. After only a couple of meals our waiters knew our preferences and catered to our wants without being asked. The headwaiter never failed to stop by our table and talk with us and ask if we needed anything. Breakfast was a weak point. Dining room service was slow and we only ate there a couple of times. Don't order huevos rancheros which was 2 eggs with some tomato sauce and a bowl of pork and beans. The breakfast buffet was a European menu, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and potatoes every day without variation. Pancakes and French toast were available but they were precooked and were invariably cold and served with cold syrup. There was a small selection of fruit and cold cuts and cheese. The breads were always good at all meals. There is an omelet station which was very good but it was impossible to get hot eggs and fresh toast at the same time since each involved waiting at different spots while they were prepared. There is no coffee service so a second cup is difficult if you are alone because you have to go back to the buffet to get it yourself and since the room is crowded in the morning you will probably lose your table. Lunch in the dining room was the best part of the dining experience. Service was fast and the food was always good with several excellent choices at every meal. We tried the buffet twice and while the food was adequate the room was crowded and it didn't compare to the dining room. The stage entertainment was some of the best we have seen on all of our cruises. The musical shows were all excellent with wonderful voices and dancers. The entertainers that were brought on the ship at various ports were all outstanding, including a couple of afternoon shows, and everything brought standing ovations. Daytime activities at sea were not as good but this was not a problem as we used the time to relax, read and just kick back. They had a lecture series on the Panama Canal and the Caribbean which was excellent. Other than the canal and Grand Cayman we didn't care much for the ports. Jamaica was especially bad as our "Best of Jamaica" tour was a total loss. We complained and the ship returned half of the cost. Going through the canal was awesome. We were perfectly positioned to watch from our balcony as we locked through. It was the highlight of the trip. Grand Cayman was beautiful. It was also clean and without all the pushy street vendors of the other ports. Overall we would rate the trip average. On a scale of 1 to 5 the ship was a 3, the food was a 3, the entertainment was a 5 and the ports were a 3 only because of the Canal, otherwise they would be a 2. Perhaps this cruise suffered from the fact that our previous cruise was Alaska. dicka@ev1.net June 2003 Read Less
Let me begin by saying that any critic of any of the 11 cruises we have been on is comparing "degrees of excellence". That said, there were some small annoying issues concerning this cruise. Our mattresses seemed to have seen ... Read More
Let me begin by saying that any critic of any of the 11 cruises we have been on is comparing "degrees of excellence". That said, there were some small annoying issues concerning this cruise. Our mattresses seemed to have seen better days and by the end of the cruise we were dreading another night regardless of how tired we were. We never had cold water from our basin, and our a/c never cooled the room to good sleeping temperature until about 3:AM . We kept it turned fully down the whole time and still could never cool it down. Getting a glass of water anywhere on the ship other than dining facilities required purchasing it for $1.73 per glass. The ship ran out of regular iced tea about the eighth day and had only a sickly sweet concoction. At our nightly dinner service, out assistant waitress went to the kitchen and brewed our iced tea. The noon dining staff refused to do this. Other than the filet; forget the steaks, as they were always overcooked. The other menu items were generally very well prepared and presented. This did not include the red snapper filet, which was tasted old and strong. The Windjammer was a very pleasant surprise, both in accommodation and quality. The entertainment was the best of any cruise we have been on, night after night. We have rebooked on this ship for 10 day carib cruise in March. We have been on the Rhapsody four times and believe it to be a better managed ship. Again remember we are talking about "degrees of excellence". Thank you for this opportunity.DSK250@cs.comMarch 2003 Read Less
Just returned from a fabulous vacation aboard "Splendour of the Seas." We did the 11 day Circle the Caribbean. November 27 - December 8. Saturday - Flew from Vancouver, Canada to Miami two days before hand (smart). Spent the ... Read More
Just returned from a fabulous vacation aboard "Splendour of the Seas." We did the 11 day Circle the Caribbean. November 27 - December 8. Saturday - Flew from Vancouver, Canada to Miami two days before hand (smart). Spent the evening hanging around our Hotel (Sonesta Beach Resort) and having drinks at the Pool Bar - great bartender - Gino! Sunday - Went exploring South Beach in the morning -- what an excellent place for people watching. We had a fantastic time. Stopped for lunch on Ocean Drive and watched the "creatures" go by. Then we took a cab to Bayside for a little shopping. Returned to the hotel for dinner. Monday - Took a cab to the port at about 11:30 did all the checking in which is a story unto itself. They seemed to think my Canadian Landed immigrant status had expired (I'm English) -- put the fear of God into me -- little did I know that they can't read but of course I didn't get my documents back until the end of the cruise so I spent 11 days dreading going through US Immigration and the threat of having to pay $170 US that RCI informed me I would have to pay. Turned out no problem with immigration and didn't pay a dime. B Boarded without incident we were in our cabin by about 12:30. We booked 7128 at the aft -- oh my goodness were we ever pleased with this cabin. The "Ds" on the side had two small chairs and one small table. We had one small chair, one small table and three lounge chairs. It was huge. Will always try to book an aft cabin from now on. Bought two litres of Vodka on board for $19.00 no problem taking them back to the cabin. On this subject -- we bought beer in Jamaica and Grand Marnier in Grand Cayman - no problem taking it to your room. Tuesday - Key West - we didn't book any excursions here, just did our own thing and walked around. The town is very easy to navigate. We walked the length of Duval Street, every second store is a T-shirt shop. Stopped at Margaritaville for Margs and a T-Shirt, cheeseburgers looked good but we just had a drink. More shopping -- on to the Key Lime Pie store -- yum!! Key West Aloe - we were thankful later in the cruise. Then off to Mel Fisher Museum - worth the $6. Bought pop and juice in Key West. Wednesday - At Sea - little cloudy so we relaxed most of the day. Played golf, played Bingo, drank, slept, drank, ate, danced, slept. Thursday - Cozumel - didn't book any excursion-went shopping in the morning, boy are they aggressive -- worse than Jamaica. Got tired of that after about 5 minutes and went to Carlos and Charlies for margaritas. After shopping we took a cab to Chankanabb (sp) this would have been a good trip if the weather was better, but it was choppy and cloudy. We watched the dolphins for about ½ hour, and lay on the beach until it started to spit then headed back to the ship. Friday - Grand Cayman - went snorkeling with the Stingrays - what a trip - we will never forget this - you have to do it at least once. The water was wonderful and the stingrays are so graceful not slimmy at all. One women freaked that "something touched her" well what did she expect. Went back into Georgetown in the afternoon for a little shopping, bought our Rum Cakes then the rain came and boy did it come down - I was offered money for my hat about three times. Saturday - Jamaica Mon! -- we had planned to spend the day at Sandals, but then we found out they want $40 each way for the Cab, never mind the entrance fee. Sandals Dunns River is only about a 7 minute drive if that and I'll be damned if I'm paying $80 US for a cab. So, instead we booked the ships excursion to Dunn's River Falls and were glad we did, we had a great group and tons of fun. Never stopped laughing. Yes, you get very wet! You have to go out through the "market" they are aggressive but in a very kind way if that makes sense, they really are charming if you get the right guy. We bought a $10 T-shirt and he made us a carving with our names in it. Next stop shopping malls -- we stocked up on our Blue Mountain Coffee here and I bought some Tanzanite - good prices. Sunday - It's raining -- must be a Sea Day - see Wednesday - but it's really raining this time. Monday - Aruba - my favourite. What a wonderful island -- the people were so friendly -- the sun was shining, by husband won $450 us on a nickel machine. We did the 5 hour, snorkel and sail with the barbecue lunch and beach break -- wonderful time, great catamaran -- the snorkeling wasn't great but a wonderful way to see Aruba the beaches looked wonderful. We will be returning to Aruba. Tuesday - Curacao - another great port -- we did the Liquor, plantation house and seaquarium tour -- was pretty good. A nice short excursion to get a little history of the island -- walked around downtown for the rest of the day -- nice little area, stopped at "time out" for some beers and food. They had good prices for jewelry. We pulled out of the port just at sunset - Aww! Wednesday - Day at Sea - have to get some sun! Sat on our deck most of the day, had a few cocktails, played a little golf. Thursday - last day - Day at Sea - how can I get sun with all these damn clouds? Lost money in the casino, played Bingo and didn't win. Have no talents so I couldn't participate in the Talent Contest. Packed - how depressing, played golf before the rain came again -- which it did! Friday - Disembarked - no problems -- just line ups. Then very long flight back to Vancouver. We had a six hour holdover in Dallas - just when they announced the Florida Supreme Court had voted for the recount -- not a happy place. This was a great vacation and having a balcony was wonderful, I don't think I could do an 11-day without one. Just the quiet times we spent together watching the water is priceless. Yes, there are more things that I could complain about, but I'm not going to because they are petty and didn't ruin the overall experience. Good Things: Our dinner table -- wonderful people, wonderful waiters, and the food was pretty good. Very attentive waiters. And my poor husband he was the only Canadian at the table and 7 brits. An Aft Cabin - the best! We had great neighbours too. The Ports - Cozumel and Jamaica are the only ones I wouldn't hurry back to. Western Quest - This is the funniest thing I have ever seen. We had half-naked people behind us because a team needed their pants. I've never seen women take their bras off so quick. Do not miss this. Not many kids The champagne terrace every night before dinner! Bad Things: Our Cabin Steward - she was new and maybe we expected too much, but no towel animals, took her a couple of days to empty the outside ashtray. We noticed a few cabin stewards cleaning the deck window -- ours was filthy. One night she completely forgot about us, no turndown service, no new towels, no ice -- she didn't come in the room. The other funny thing she did was we had a few excursions with water -- she never provided us with beach towels -- we had to get our own from the pool. Then the day we do Curacao with no water, we get beach towels. We did cut her tip by about 20 percent, and gave the extra to our waiters. The champagne terrace every night before dinner -- people this is a champagne bar, if you want a beer and want to sit down, go next door to the schooner bar. Our poor waitress was running back and forth getting your highballs when she should have been serving champagne. General Observations: Tons of Seniors Some people just don't understand the word "Formal" 12/13/00 Read Less
Splendour of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 3.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 1.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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