Splendour of the Seas Cruise Review by Fernando Duque
- Sail Date: May 2005
- Destination: Western Mediterranean
- Cabin Type: Superior Ocean View Stateroom with Balcony
05/28/05 We arrived in Paris after a 11 hour flight from Los Angeles. We made our way down to a crowded shuttle bus that took us to terminal 2F. There was almost no air conditioning in terminal 2 at the CDG airport. Near the entrance to terminal F, I exchanged $500 in traveller's checks for euros. There was a family from England waiting for the same flight to Barcelona that was also booked on the RCCL cruise. The flight out of Paris was delayed and we arrived in Barcelona at 3:15pm. After collecting our luggage we left the airport and quickly found a taxi. The taxi ride from the airport to Port Vell took 20 minutes and cost 25 euros. At 4pm we checked in with no wait and boarded the Royal Caribbean Splendour of the Seas for a seven night cruise of the Western Mediterranean. Our cabin stewardess was named Narva. After finding our cabin, we explored the ship until the announcement was made for all passengers to put on their life-vests and report to their muster station. We met a couple from California during the muster drill. At around 6:30pm we went to eat dinner in the King & I Dining room. Our waitress was Nery Gonzales from Chile. Her assistant was Charlton Rodrigues from India (with Portugese ancestry). I had the Prime Rib and my wife Rosie had the salmon dish. The ship left port as we began our meal. Following dinner we strolled through the ship. At the shore excursion desk we bought the last two tickets for the Sunday afternoon tour of Marseille. Our luggage arrived in our cabin sometime after 9pm. Later that evening we attended the Adventure Ocean kid's club orientation meeting in the Top Hat Lounge. Then we went to see the opening night show in the 42nd Street Theater. The main act was a group from Argentina called Los Pampas Gauchos that played drums and did tricks with a whip. The cruise director Rico acted as MC and welcomed everyone onboard. Before going to sleep my son Max and I played a round of miniature golf.05/29/05 After a good night's sleep we awoke and went to have breakfast in the King & I Dining room. We were seated with two other couples from Portugal (Santiago, Raza, Rachel, and Eugenio). For breakfast I ordered the granola which came on top of sliced fruit and was covered with yogurt. Max and I went swimming later that morning. At the side of the pool Rosie and I played a game of bean bag toss. After a relaxing morning by the main pool we returned to eat lunch in the King & I Dining room. We were seated with couple from Ireland, a lady from Virginia, and another couple from Florida. Max took a nap at the table. After lunch we dropped off Max at the kid's club. Rosie and I then went on our afternoon RCCL tour of Marseille. The tour bus first stopped at the Palais Longchamp, where we walked up the steps and took pictures. Then the tour bus drove along the water's edge to a spot where we could take pictures of the harbor. The tour continued with a drive to the top of the hill overlooking Marseille, where we stopped at the Notre Dame de la Gard cathedral. Rosie and I entered the church and heard the lord's prayer in French. When we returned to the ship, we picked up Max from the kid's club and returned to our cabin. We then dressed for the first formal dinner. I wore my black tuxedo and Rosie wore a black cocktail dress. We dropped off Max at the kid's club and then went to the King & I Dining Room. After a quick dinner, Rosie went to the spa for a hot stone massage. As the ship left Marseille it sailed around the island from the Count of Monte Cristo story. At around 9pm I went to pick up Rosie at the Spa. Rosie and Max went to bed early so I went to see the Rumba Flamenco show staring Ole Ole in the 42nd Street Theater by myself. Our cabin steward, Narva created a towel animal that looked like a creature from the sea.
05/30/05 The ship was already anchored in the Villafranche harbor when we awoke. We went to have breakfast in the King & I Dining room. At our table we met a family from Jacksonville and a group of ladies from London. One of the women looked like the queen of England's mother. After breakfast we walked around the top deck of the ship and played a round of miniature golf. I tried climbing the rock wall, but didn't get very far. Just after 9am we boarded the tender to Villafranche. A short five minute walk took us to the steps leading up to the train station. I left Rosie and Max and went to the other side of the platform where I bought 3 tickets to Nice. While waiting for our train we saw a woman screaming for her husband. After arriving in Nice we walked about twenty minutes before reaching the beach. On the way we stopped in a convenience store to buy water and arm floaties for Max. The beach was made of large stones that were painful to walk on barefoot. We considered taking the city tour bus that lets you hop on and off at over ten stops. Instead we took the tram for a basic tour of the city. The tram stopped at the top of a hill overlooking Nice. On the tram we meet a family from Indiana. After returning to the beach we walked back to the train station and returned to Villafranche. We spent an hour sitting on the beach at the bottom of the steps leading up to the train station. Max had fun playing at the water's edge and looking for sand crabs. We then walked to the dock and boarded the tender back to the ship. We ate a light lunch in the Windjammer cafe from which we had a spectacular view of the harbor. Around 5pm we got off the ship again and went to take the train heading in the other direction to Monaco. The office at the train station was closed and I didn't have change to buy any tickets from the vending machine on the platform. While trying to get change, I was told by a local merchant that there would be someone on the train who I could pay for our tickets. So we got on the train to Monaco without tickets and never met the ticket seller. Leaving the train station in Monaco we made our way to the Casino in Monte Carlo. It was somewhat confusing without a map, but we eventually found our way to the top of the hill overlooking the harbor. There we took pictures of the harbor and in front of the casino. We ate Häagen-Dazs ice cream in the park across the street from the Casino. We returned to the train station around 8pm. In the train station we met a couple from India who were buying tickets for the trip back to Villefranche. We just missed the train and had to wait almost an hour for the next train back to Villafranche that arrived just before the ship was scheduled to leave. After boarding the ship we went straight to the King & I Dining room for a late dinner and the head waiter was nice enough to find us a table. Max and Rosie went to bed and I went to see the Elvy Rose show in the 42nd Street Theater. The towel animal on this night was an anteater.
05/31/05 We awoke as the ship was arriving in the port of Livorno, Italy. Our RCCL excursion to Florence met in the 42nd Street Theater. Before departing on our excursion tour I grabbed a couple boxes of granola cereal and a few pastries at the Windjammer cafe. On the way to Florence we saw the town of Pisa in the distance. The tour bus stopped at a rest stop for a bathroom break and Rosie bought some coffee. When we arrived in Florence we drove through a residential area to the Michaelangelo park overlooking the city. There we took pictures and bought some bottled water. The tour bus then dropped us off in the middle of the old city. From there we went to see Michaelangelo's David at the Accademia Museum. We continued our tour on foot and walked passed the Uffici Gallery to see the Ponte Vechio. From there we walked for about 15 minutes to a restaurant on a plaza next to a church. The restaurant was made up of many themed rooms. The room we ate in had a map of Spain and South America on the walls. We sat at a table with a couple from Canada. The appetizer was lasagna and the main course was chicken. After lunch we walked through the cathedral were Michaelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci are buried. In the square outside the cathedral we bought some souvenirs and gelato. On the bus ride back to the ship I photographed some of the souvenirs we bought. After boarding the ship we went to eat dinner in the King & I Dining room. After taking Max to the kid's club, Rosie and I went to see the Jump Jivin' Swing show in the 42nd Street Theater. The towel animal was a dog or some other animal sitting and had floppy ears.06/01/05 This was to have been the day we went to Rome. However there was a change of plans due to the scheduled closing of the road to Pompeii on Thursday. The authorities were going to remove or detonate WWII bombs found near the road. The captain decided to take us to Naples instead of Rome so that those with plans to visit Pompeii could do so before the road closure. The ship arrived in Naples one hour late at 8am. We again went to have breakfast in the King & I Dining room and this time we sat with a group of loud Americans. We met in the 42nd Street Theater for our Amalfi Drive and Pompeii shore excursion. The tour began with our sick tour guide telling us about Mt. Vesuvius. Our first stop was to see how inlayed wood is made into artwork. We then began our three hour drive along the Amalfi coast. Rosie quickly got motion sickness from all the twists and turns. Max slept most of the morning bus ride. It was tough taking pictures from the moving bus. The delay in the digital camera was good for some laughs. We eventually stopped for a short break in the town of Amalfi. There we bought gelato and shopped for souvenirs. There was a store there that sold colorful pottery and tableware. Our tour bus continued along the coast until we reached a restaurant situated on a cliff overlooking the town below. We sat with an American couple from Georgia and another lady and her mother from Pennsylvania. After lunch we headed back to Pompeii. Before going into the ruins we visited a cameo factory. I wished we had spent more time exploring Pompeii. After an hour we boarded the tour bus for the return trip to the ship. After dropping off our bags we went to have dinner in the King & I Dining room. A couple and their daughter Lucy from England joined us at our table. Didn’t see the Love & Marriage Game show in the 42nd Street Theater. Took Max to see the Karaoke show in the Top Hat Lounge. The towel animal was a jack rabbit.
06/02/05 The ship docked in the port of Civitavecchia at 7am. Ordered room service for breakfast. We were running late and didn’t eat much of the breakfast. Met in the Top Hat Lounge for our Imperial Rome excursion. It was a bank holiday and there wasn't very much traffic in the city. First we went to see the Trevi Fountains. Bought a cappuccino for me and Rosie and gelato for Max. Tossed a coin into the Trevi fountain with the hopes of returning to Rome someday. The tour guide took his job very seriously and spoke with a thick accent that made his English hard to understand. The next stop was Vatican City. Due to the crowd, we waited 30 minutes in the sun to go into St. Peter's Basilica. Drove to a restaurant where we ate lunch with Lara and her boyfriend Michael's family. The appetizer was a pasta dish with the main entrée being veal. For dessert we had tiramisu. After lunch we continued the tour driving through the city. Max and Lara became good friends. Spent over an hour at the Coliseum. Returned to the ship and got dressed for the second formal night. I wore my grey tuxedo and Rosie wore her blue cocktail dress. Max put on his tuxedo and pretended to be James Bond secret agent 007. Had dinner with Graham, his wife Kay, and his daughter Lucy. Rosie and I both had the lobster. After dinner we took pictures of the gorgeous sunset and posed for the formal pictures taken by professional photographers in the Centrum. Took Max to the Explorer kid’s club. Rosie and I saw the Star Struck show in the 42nd Street Theater and then we went dancing on deck 11 at the Viking Crown Lounge. After we picked up Max, we returned to our cabin and Rosie went to sleep. Max and I went to the midnight buffet. Took video and pictures of Max with the ice sculptures and craved fruit. The towel animal was a monkey attached to a clothes hanger.
06/03/05 Day at Sea. Ordered room service for breakfast. Max and I left our cabin to allow Rosie to sleep in. Took pictures of the art work around the ship. Picked up Rosie and went to have lunch at the King & I Dining room. Sat with Elvy Rose and two other couples. One of the couples was from India and had been contestants on the Love & Marriage game show. Bought some ship souvenirs and then went to deck 6 to select our formal pictures. An American woman was very upset that she couldn’t find her pictures. She started arguing with one of the employees and demanded to see the manager. Spent the rest of the afternoon packing our bags. Ate dinner at the King & I Dining room. Took Max to the Explorer’s club. On the way back to the dining room, picked up the tip envelopes to give to our service staff. Gave our waitress Nery $80 and her assistant Charlton $40. Gave the head waiter $20 and our room stewardess Narva 60 euros ($78). Rosie and I went to see the Artistry of Floresance show in the 42nd Street Theater. This was the farewell show that also included a very good juggler from England as the closing act. Went dancing again at the Viking Crown Lounge. The DJ played nothing but Latin music and later Rico hosted a Merengue competition. The towel animal was a manta ray.
06/04/05 Arrived back in Barcelona. Had breakfast in the King & I dining room. Gave our waitress Nery the box of See’s chocolates that I had bought for the M&M party. Went to the 42nd Street Theater to join the RCCL Barcelona City Tour and Transfer excursion. Toured the city with stops at the top of Montjuic Hill, the Gothic Quarter, and the Familia Sagrada. Took out 70 euros from the ATM near Gaudi’s unfinished cathedral. The tour bus dropped us off at the Placa Catalunya where we took a taxi to our hotel Barcelo Sants for 10 euros. Ate lunch at the hotel's buffet restaurant. A couple from Panama that also had been on the cruise was staying at the same hotel. Exchanged $300 in traveler’s checks for euros at the front desk. After lunch we went down to the train station and bought round trip tickets to Placa Catalunya from the ticket vending machine. The train trip to Placa Catalunya took less than 10 minutes. After Rosie got a coffee drink at Starbucks we crossed the street to walk down Las Ramblas. We saw the many outdoor bird shops and the amazing human statues. It was getting a little chilly for Rosie so she bought a Barcelona t-shirt for 3.5 euros. We eventually made it to the food market and after seeing the fruit and fish stands we bought food for our picnic dinner. Leaving the food market we took the subway to the Palace Fountains. At the bottom of the steps we sat down to eat our picnic dinner of sliced salami, cheese on French bread. We walked to the top of the steps and took pictures of the city below. Around 9:30pm we walked back to the Barcelo Sants hotel. I was able to get a 3 euro refund for our return train tickets that we didn’t use. Throughout the day I heard the expression “vale” constantly, it’s the way the people in Spain say OK. The taxi drivers would also say “hombre” and “aye madre” all the time.
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