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RCL Splendour, May 28-June 4, 2005, 7-day, out of Barcelona This was our 10th cruise, the 3rd on RCL (the other 2 were on the Monarch and Rhapsody). The other cruises were on Carnival (Sensation, Victory, Jubilee, Ecstasy), Celebrity (Galaxy and Mercury) and Norwegian Sea. We really like RCL cruises, but will cruise any line based primarily on price, departure port (Galveston is close) and ports visited. We took this cruise with just the 4 of us, myself (47), husband (50) and two daughters (20 and 18). This cruise was a whirlwind of activities and VERY busy. Had we been with a bigger group (like my whole 11-member family), we would have gone insane trying to organize port activities. As it was, we did a mixture of ports on our own, with a couple of RCL shore excursions and one private tour. We spent 2 days in Barcelona pre-cruise and 1 day in Chicago post-cruise making for 10 long days of travel. On the cruise, we went to Marseilles, Villefranche, Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Citavecchia (sp? Rome) and Naples. We especially like Florence and Pisa and would like to visit the Isle of Capri again without doing the Blue Grotto. Here's my overview of the trip: Pre-Cruise: Stayed at the Hotel Continental Palacente for two nights in Barcelona pre-cruise - great little hotel located 1 block North of Placa Catalunya and the start of Las Ramblas. Rate was 130 Euros for a queen-bed room, 120 Euros for a 2-twin-bed room - get the 2-twins room as the Queen bed felt pretty small. 24-hour buffet included hot food (soup, paella, etc.), fruit, candy, bread, olives, wine, beer, bottled water and soda. There's also a free stand-up internet terminal. AC in the hotel was great and it's a very pleasant hotel. Rooms are not large but the bathrooms are. Views from the room were of the building room next door - we could have paid more to get a better view but it didn't seem worth it for 2 nights. We took taxis from airport to hotel, hotel to port and port to airport. Costs for these trips were 25-30 Euros with tip. Taxis around town were 5-12E before tip. Some drivers charged extra for 4 people, some didn't. The most expensive taxi ride was to Park Guell at about 12-13E each way. We decided against the Bus Turistic as the 17E cost/pp added up to 68E total and there was a LONG line at Placa Catalunya to get on the bus. While in Barcelona, we walked up and down Las Ramblas (first evening) and on Friday went to Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Panera Apartments (designed by Gaudi) and had a fabulous tapas dinner with Sangria Friday night. We really loved Barcelona and would like to return there some day. Embarkation: We left the hotel at around 11:30 a.m. on Saturday and took a taxi to the port. It cost about 27E. We waited in a pretty long line that moved fairly quickly and were on the ship about 12:45. We got all our luggage around 5 p.m., which is early for us - usually we don't see it until 8 p.m.. Cabin: We had a Cat. H outside (3032) and a Cat. N inside cabin (3029). 3029 is right under the Schooner Bar piano and the girls (ages 18 and 20) had to endure Billy Joel music every night until 12-1 a.m.. We enjoyed the cabin locations as they were 1-2 decks up from port exits (either Deck 4 or Deck 1) and 1 deck from the casino and dining room. The only time we took the elevator was to go to the Lido deck for pool or snacks. We didn't miss a balcony and weren't in the rooms much at all. There were two plugs in the room - one with US electricity (110V) and one with European electricity (220V). Food: We found the food in the dining room to be mediocre to good. We sent steaks back on several nights because they were overcooked. The lobster was delicious though and the service was great. We did eat in the dining room 6 out of 7 nights and the food on this cruise was just not that good compared to other RCL cruises and even other Carnival cruises. Food at the buffet wasn't much better. Snack food at the indoor pool was quite tasty - especially the French fries. Overall though, we were not very impressed with the food on this cruise - it probably has to do with the weak Euro against the dollar. Entertainment/Other: Can't say much about the Entertainment as we didn't participate in hardly any of it. We played a couple of times at the Putt-Putt golf course - a little 10-hole course that was very lumpy. Never did the rock wall as we always seemed to be in port on the few hours during the day that it was open. We did go to the casino quite often and for the first time, came back with about $200 more than I started with. I came in 2nd in the Blackjack tournament but they limited the number of players so I only got $164 but that was still great. Slots seemed tight and we had all our luck on the roulette and craps tables. I did finally get a straight flush on 3-card poker betting $5 so that was probably my $200 profit. Internet on the ship is expensive ($.50/minute) and slow. Also, we could NOT get internet mail to work at all for AOL and also couldn't read my work mail. We tried using it the first day and gave up after that. Marseilles: Did the Nostradamus tour Sunday afternoon in Marseilles - waste of time - hot and boring. Also missed the RCL's M&M because of it. Would have been better off doing a taxi tour. Villafranche: tendered in around 10:30 and tried to take the train to Nice but didn't quite get the right train schedule and ended up waiting an hour until the next train. Moral to the story: look up the route online before the trip. In Nice, we walked downhill from the train station (2nd Nice train exit) to the ocean - it took about 45 minutes through a congested, construction-ridden city. Didn't care that much for Nice. Came back in time to take the 4 p.m. train to Monte Carlo where we took a cab to the casino (10 Euros). The private tables (you pay 10 Euros each to go in) open at 4 and we got there around 5:20. Played a little Roulette (with 5 Euro minimum chips) and won 30 Euros but since it cost 40 for 4 of us to get in and 13 Euros for a Gin and Tonic, I think we lost money. It was fun anyway - Blackjack table minimums were 25 Euros and up. Took a taxi back to the train station and just missed the next train by minutes. Waited another hour to return. Got back around 8 p.m.. Livorno: did a tour with a group of 4 Australians to Florence and Pisa with Limo in Rome tour guide - I enjoyed Florence even though it was hot and pretty crowded. Saw David at the Accedemia without waiting in the hour-long line - our private driver had made reservations for us and walked us right through - cost 11 Euros/pp. There isn't much to that museum except for David. I've heard the Uffizzi is much better for its collection but we weren't in the mood for more museums. Found an air-conditioned internet cafe in Florence and spent about 30 minutes there for about 3 Euros. We next went to Pisa and had a whopping 40 minutes to spend there - I'd have preferred 2 hours as Pisa is nice and we wanted to climb the tower. We didn't because we didn't have enough time. Our guide didn't offer much to our group of 8 other than getting us into Accademia without lines and a pretty uneventful trip to Florence. But, it was still cheaper (75 Euors/pp) and less crowded than doing a ship's excursion so that was good. Naples: we took the hydrofoil to the left of the ship around 10:35 to the Isle of Capri for about a 45-minute ride. Then we stepped off the hydrofoil and caught the last jet-boat to the Blue Grotto. They didn't leave again until 3 p.m. - maybe this has to do with the tides. At the grotto, we ended up waiting about an hour in choppy water for our rowboat to take us in. I got seasick - my Ginger pill didn't do it for me. Then, once I climbed from the speed boat into the rowboat, I got sick again - if you've ever had any hint of motion-sickness, take Dramamine or Bonine before this trip or you'll be sorry. I managed to quit being sick right before we entered the grotto and it was really lovely with the water lit a neon-blue from the bottom. We stayed about 5 minutes, took the boat back to Capri-town, ate lunch outside at an expensive cafe and then took the hydrofoil back around 3:30. Hydrofoil cost 22 Euros each for a round-trip ticket and Blue Grotto cost about 17 Euros each without a tips. Would I do the Blue Grotto again? Nope - I'd rather see more of the Isle of Capri. Rome: Did the "Rome: Eternal City" Tour with the ship for $190 each. We waited about 30 minutes in line to get into Vatican Museum and then spent about 2 hours in the museum, another hour in St. Peter's and a shop and then on to a marvelous lunch. The afternoon was spent at the Colosseum (no waiting in line) and then back to the ship by 5:15. It was a good tour but the Vatican was hideously crowded and all those crowds were gone by noon (the museum closes at 3 p.m.) - if you have the choice, go in the afternoon. Would I visit the Vatican museums/Sistine Chapel again - nope, too crowded and hot. I might go back to St. Peters though - it was gigantic, cool and impressive. Was this tour worth it - probably not at almost $200/pp. We probably could have done a private tour for much cheaper and bought us a REALLY nice lunch for the difference. But, by Thursday, we didn't want to have to think about anything - we just wanted to be led around. Debarkation: We were one of the middle colors and were off the ship by about 8:45. However, we waited quite some time for our luggage to come out on the luggage treads - like at the airport. The problem with having to wait for it to come out - by the time we got all 6 pieces of luggage, everyone seemed to get all their luggage and then we ALL went out to wait in a long taxi line. Still, we got to the airport around 10 a.m. for our 1 p.m. flight. The light plan home was: Barcelona-London-Chicago-Dallas with an overnight planned in Chicago so we could see the Art Institute on Sunday. Our flight to London was 90 minutes late and with a 2-hour layover, we literally RAN through the airport to catch our flight to Chicago. We made it but our checked bags didn't. We stayed at the Hyatt Chicago O'Hare Airport hotel for a Priceline rate of $55/night with just our carryons and checked out Sunday morning. We took the shuttle back to the airport and then the shuttle to the rental cars and rented a nice car for $35/day. We drove into Chicago and easily found the Art Institute and it is FABULOUS. That's one of the best museums I've ever been to. We drove back to the airport with a stop at Super Dawg Hot Dogs (had to try it but it was just OK, not great hot dogs) and were back in the airport by 2 p.m.. We entertained ourselves until our 5:30 p.m. flight and got home just fine. Our 5 bags were delivered 6 a.m. Monday morning. Yippee! Overall Impressions: I liked Florence, Pisa and the Isle of Capri. The cruise itself was exhausting and I don't think I'll do another 7-day Med. cruise. We may look into 10-12 day cruises or just come back to Italy and go to Venice and Florence/Pisa. The people in Barcelona and Italy were very friendly and helpful. Not so much so in France - I don't think I'll return to the French Med for an extended stay. The Splendour is a very nice, well-kept ship and I wouldn't mind cruising on it again.

Splendour of the Seas - Western Mediterranean

Splendour of the Seas Cruise Review by lucyjohnz

Trip Details
RCL Splendour, May 28-June 4, 2005, 7-day, out of Barcelona
This was our 10th cruise, the 3rd on RCL (the other 2 were on the Monarch and Rhapsody). The other cruises were on Carnival (Sensation, Victory, Jubilee, Ecstasy), Celebrity (Galaxy and Mercury) and Norwegian Sea. We really like RCL cruises, but will cruise any line based primarily on price, departure port (Galveston is close) and ports visited.
We took this cruise with just the 4 of us, myself (47), husband (50) and two daughters (20 and 18). This cruise was a whirlwind of activities and VERY busy. Had we been with a bigger group (like my whole 11-member family), we would have gone insane trying to organize port activities. As it was, we did a mixture of ports on our own, with a couple of RCL shore excursions and one private tour.
We spent 2 days in Barcelona pre-cruise and 1 day in Chicago post-cruise making for 10 long days of travel. On the cruise, we went to Marseilles, Villefranche, Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Citavecchia (sp? Rome) and Naples. We especially like Florence and Pisa and would like to visit the Isle of Capri again without doing the Blue Grotto. Here's my overview of the trip:
Pre-Cruise: Stayed at the Hotel Continental Palacente for two nights in Barcelona pre-cruise - great little hotel located 1 block North of Placa Catalunya and the start of Las Ramblas. Rate was 130 Euros for a queen-bed room, 120 Euros for a 2-twin-bed room - get the 2-twins room as the Queen bed felt pretty small. 24-hour buffet included hot food (soup, paella, etc.), fruit, candy, bread, olives, wine, beer, bottled water and soda. There's also a free stand-up internet terminal. AC in the hotel was great and it's a very pleasant hotel. Rooms are not large but the bathrooms are. Views from the room were of the building room next door - we could have paid more to get a better view but it didn't seem worth it for 2 nights.
We took taxis from airport to hotel, hotel to port and port to airport. Costs for these trips were 25-30 Euros with tip. Taxis around town were 5-12E before tip. Some drivers charged extra for 4 people, some didn't. The most expensive taxi ride was to Park Guell at about 12-13E each way. We decided against the Bus Turistic as the 17E cost/pp added up to 68E total and there was a LONG line at Placa Catalunya to get on the bus. While in Barcelona, we walked up and down Las Ramblas (first evening) and on Friday went to Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Panera Apartments (designed by Gaudi) and had a fabulous tapas dinner with Sangria Friday night. We really loved Barcelona and would like to return there some day.
Embarkation: We left the hotel at around 11:30 a.m. on Saturday and took a taxi to the port. It cost about 27E. We waited in a pretty long line that moved fairly quickly and were on the ship about 12:45. We got all our luggage around 5 p.m., which is early for us - usually we don't see it until 8 p.m..
Cabin: We had a Cat. H outside (3032) and a Cat. N inside cabin (3029). 3029 is right under the Schooner Bar piano and the girls (ages 18 and 20) had to endure Billy Joel music every night until 12-1 a.m.. We enjoyed the cabin locations as they were 1-2 decks up from port exits (either Deck 4 or Deck 1) and 1 deck from the casino and dining room. The only time we took the elevator was to go to the Lido deck for pool or snacks. We didn't miss a balcony and weren't in the rooms much at all. There were two plugs in the room - one with US electricity (110V) and one with European electricity (220V).
Food: We found the food in the dining room to be mediocre to good. We sent steaks back on several nights because they were overcooked. The lobster was delicious though and the service was great. We did eat in the dining room 6 out of 7 nights and the food on this cruise was just not that good compared to other RCL cruises and even other Carnival cruises. Food at the buffet wasn't much better. Snack food at the indoor pool was quite tasty - especially the French fries. Overall though, we were not very impressed with the food on this cruise - it probably has to do with the weak Euro against the dollar.
Entertainment/Other: Can't say much about the Entertainment as we didn't participate in hardly any of it. We played a couple of times at the Putt-Putt golf course - a little 10-hole course that was very lumpy. Never did the rock wall as we always seemed to be in port on the few hours during the day that it was open. We did go to the casino quite often and for the first time, came back with about $200 more than I started with. I came in 2nd in the Blackjack tournament but they limited the number of players so I only got $164 but that was still great. Slots seemed tight and we had all our luck on the roulette and craps tables. I did finally get a straight flush on 3-card poker betting $5 so that was probably my $200 profit.
Internet on the ship is expensive ($.50/minute) and slow. Also, we could NOT get internet mail to work at all for AOL and also couldn't read my work mail. We tried using it the first day and gave up after that.
Marseilles: Did the Nostradamus tour Sunday afternoon in Marseilles - waste of time - hot and boring. Also missed the RCL's M&M because of it. Would have been better off doing a taxi tour.
Villafranche: tendered in around 10:30 and tried to take the train to Nice but didn't quite get the right train schedule and ended up waiting an hour until the next train. Moral to the story: look up the route online before the trip. In Nice, we walked downhill from the train station (2nd Nice train exit) to the ocean - it took about 45 minutes through a congested, construction-ridden city. Didn't care that much for Nice. Came back in time to take the 4 p.m. train to Monte Carlo where we took a cab to the casino (10 Euros). The private tables (you pay 10 Euros each to go in) open at 4 and we got there around 5:20. Played a little Roulette (with 5 Euro minimum chips) and won 30 Euros but since it cost 40 for 4 of us to get in and 13 Euros for a Gin and Tonic, I think we lost money. It was fun anyway - Blackjack table minimums were 25 Euros and up. Took a taxi back to the train station and just missed the next train by minutes. Waited another hour to return. Got back around 8 p.m..
Livorno: did a tour with a group of 4 Australians to Florence and Pisa with Limo in Rome tour guide - I enjoyed Florence even though it was hot and pretty crowded. Saw David at the Accedemia without waiting in the hour-long line - our private driver had made reservations for us and walked us right through - cost 11 Euros/pp. There isn't much to that museum except for David. I've heard the Uffizzi is much better for its collection but we weren't in the mood for more museums. Found an air-conditioned internet cafe in Florence and spent about 30 minutes there for about 3 Euros. We next went to Pisa and had a whopping 40 minutes to spend there - I'd have preferred 2 hours as Pisa is nice and we wanted to climb the tower. We didn't because we didn't have enough time. Our guide didn't offer much to our group of 8 other than getting us into Accademia without lines and a pretty uneventful trip to Florence. But, it was still cheaper (75 Euors/pp) and less crowded than doing a ship's excursion so that was good.
Naples: we took the hydrofoil to the left of the ship around 10:35 to the Isle of Capri for about a 45-minute ride. Then we stepped off the hydrofoil and caught the last jet-boat to the Blue Grotto. They didn't leave again until 3 p.m. - maybe this has to do with the tides. At the grotto, we ended up waiting about an hour in choppy water for our rowboat to take us in. I got seasick - my Ginger pill didn't do it for me. Then, once I climbed from the speed boat into the rowboat, I got sick again - if you've ever had any hint of motion-sickness, take Dramamine or Bonine before this trip or you'll be sorry. I managed to quit being sick right before we entered the grotto and it was really lovely with the water lit a neon-blue from the bottom. We stayed about 5 minutes, took the boat back to Capri-town, ate lunch outside at an expensive cafe and then took the hydrofoil back around 3:30. Hydrofoil cost 22 Euros each for a round-trip ticket and Blue Grotto cost about 17 Euros each without a tips. Would I do the Blue Grotto again? Nope - I'd rather see more of the Isle of Capri.
Rome: Did the "Rome: Eternal City" Tour with the ship for $190 each. We waited about 30 minutes in line to get into Vatican Museum and then spent about 2 hours in the museum, another hour in St. Peter's and a shop and then on to a marvelous lunch. The afternoon was spent at the Colosseum (no waiting in line) and then back to the ship by 5:15. It was a good tour but the Vatican was hideously crowded and all those crowds were gone by noon (the museum closes at 3 p.m.) - if you have the choice, go in the afternoon. Would I visit the Vatican museums/Sistine Chapel again - nope, too crowded and hot. I might go back to St. Peters though - it was gigantic, cool and impressive. Was this tour worth it - probably not at almost $200/pp. We probably could have done a private tour for much cheaper and bought us a REALLY nice lunch for the difference. But, by Thursday, we didn't want to have to think about anything - we just wanted to be led around.
Debarkation: We were one of the middle colors and were off the ship by about 8:45. However, we waited quite some time for our luggage to come out on the luggage treads - like at the airport. The problem with having to wait for it to come out - by the time we got all 6 pieces of luggage, everyone seemed to get all their luggage and then we ALL went out to wait in a long taxi line. Still, we got to the airport around 10 a.m. for our 1 p.m. flight.
The light plan home was: Barcelona-London-Chicago-Dallas with an overnight planned in Chicago so we could see the Art Institute on Sunday. Our flight to London was 90 minutes late and with a 2-hour layover, we literally RAN through the airport to catch our flight to Chicago. We made it but our checked bags didn't. We stayed at the Hyatt Chicago O'Hare Airport hotel for a Priceline rate of $55/night with just our carryons and checked out Sunday morning. We took the shuttle back to the airport and then the shuttle to the rental cars and rented a nice car for $35/day. We drove into Chicago and easily found the Art Institute and it is FABULOUS. That's one of the best museums I've ever been to. We drove back to the airport with a stop at Super Dawg Hot Dogs (had to try it but it was just OK, not great hot dogs) and were back in the airport by 2 p.m.. We entertained ourselves until our 5:30 p.m. flight and got home just fine. Our 5 bags were delivered 6 a.m. Monday morning. Yippee!
Overall Impressions: I liked Florence, Pisa and the Isle of Capri. The cruise itself was exhausting and I don't think I'll do another 7-day Med. cruise. We may look into 10-12 day cruises or just come back to Italy and go to Venice and Florence/Pisa. The people in Barcelona and Italy were very friendly and helpful. Not so much so in France - I don't think I'll return to the French Med for an extended stay. The Splendour is a very nice, well-kept ship and I wouldn't mind cruising on it again.
lucyjohnz’s Full Rating Summary
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