Splendour of the Seas Cruise Review by dreeves
Royal Caribbean Splendour of the SeasTransatlantic, Barcelona to Galveston 15 days
October 27, 2002 to November 11, 2002
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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