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We flew into Houston Hobby on the day before the cruise. We had reservations with Galveston Limo to take us to Galveston. They were very dependable and efficient. We had reservations at the Harbor House on Pier 21. I made the reservation on-line at www.galveston.com. It was cheaper than calling for a reservation. The Harbor House is an old hotel, but we loved our room. It was a corner room with two giant windows and you could see the cruise ships parked at the pier. I must warn you though, there was no bellman. The hotel did provide a limo to take us and all our luggage to the ship the next day. Embarkation We arrived at the pier about 11:45 a.m. We checked our luggage and jumped into the repeat cruiser line and were processed and in our room by 12:30 p.m. Everyone from RCI was friendly and helpful. Cabin 7060 This was our first balcony room and we were very excited about that. The cabin was a nice size but was badly in need of refurbishing. The carpet and draperies were in bad shape and needed replacing. The door on the refrigerator cabinet flopped off each time the door was opened. We had to call maintenance about the water pressure in our shower three times. They did respond but each time it would be back to a trickle the next day. Several passengers on the ship mentioned this same problem, so perhaps it was ship wide. Despite these problems, we loved having a balcony and it was well worth the money. It is a pleasure to order coffee from room service in the morning and drink it out on the balcony. We also loved the location of the room. It was very close to the action. The Ship This is one of the most beautiful ships we have been on. This was our second cruise aboard the Splendour. We last sailed with her on 1/99. Four years is a long time in the life of a cruise ship, but the public rooms still looked very good. It has a lovely two-story dining room with floor to ceiling windows. The ship has an excellent layout and everything is easy to find. Some other ships we have been on are like a maze. Another thing that I really like about this ship is the solarium. It has a pool and hot tubs and is completely enclosed with windows. You have a wonderful view of everything without the wind. They have many comfortable chairs with plenty of towels. Some cruise lines ration the towels. There is also a snack bar there where they cook delicious hot dogs and hamburgers with French fries. They also have pizza there, but it was only so-so. I am not a sun worshiper, but my husband enjoyed sitting by the pool and listening to the calypso band. They have a nice library on board and a great card room. They show movies daily in the 42nd Street theater as well as on the TV in your room. I didn't use the beauty salon or spa services, so I cannot comment on those. I did use the gym which was small but well equipped. I also enjoyed jogging on deck in the mornings. The shops are only so-so in comparison to other ships we have been on. The King and I Dining Room My husband and I always request the second seating because we think it is too much of a rush to try to be dressed for dinner by 6:00 p.m., especially on port days. The second seating is very late on RCI (8:30 p.m.). The dining room wasn't very full. It is my understanding that the main seating was packed. We like to sit at big tables so that the conversation doesn't lag. When we reached our table of ten, we found we were the only ones assigned there. The head waiter Hans (very witty) assigned us to another table. The next night we joined three other couples at Table 31. Our new table mates were all from Texas and were delightful. We were on the top floor of the dining room. For some reason you can feel the ship vibrate. We sat on the bottom floor at breakfast and we couldn't feel it there. It didn't bother us, but it will make you a bit sleepy as the night wears on. The Food Quality Breakfast We ate breakfast every morning in the dining room. We think it is the best way to meet other passengers and compare notes about travel. The food was good in the morning with the exception of the orange juice. For some reason they couldn't seem to figure our how much water to mix with the concentrate. One morning it would be like orange water and the next day it would be as thick as paint. Lunch We ate lunch in the dining room, the Windjammer and the solarium. I liked the cookies and lemonade in the Windjammer. My husband liked the hamburgers in the solarium, and the pasta in the Windjammer. The view is wonderful in the Windjammer. Afternoon Tea They do have an afternoon tea in the Windjammer, but it is nothing like they have on Princess. Princess has gloved waiters serving tea out of silver pots and delicate sandwiches and lovely scones. They also have live music during the tea. I missed that aspect very much. It is another way to meet and talk with your fellow passengers. RCI just kept the buffet open another two hours. Dinner My husband and I are not "foodies" and we are usually always pleased with the food on cruise ships. This was our 11th cruise, and the third on RCI. The appetizers were very unexciting. The soups (usually one of the best items on cruise ships) were either too salty, tasted canned, or were not served hot enough. I usually always order the fish selection on cruise ships. They generally have an outstanding selection of nice fish, and they usually serve delicate sauces to accompany them. Not on the Splendour. The sauces were mostly heavy and strange. I tried them without sauce too and still they weren't good. The snapper was especially bad and the grouper wasn't much better. It wasn't just our opinion either. One couple at our table was on their 25th cruise, and they said they had never had such bad meals. One evening my husband and I ordered the prime rib. We could not cut it. Our dining room steward was Ebru from Turkey. She was ultra efficient and did her very best to please all of us. We felt sorry for her, because passengers tend to gripe a great deal even when the food is good! I must say that although the dinners weren't good, the desserts were all very good. The ice cream is very nice in the dining room too. Entertainment The entertainment was pretty disorganized. They would put the night's featured entertainment in the cruise news and when you got there, the cruise director would announce that instead of the act in the cruise news, it would be something completely different. There was a problem with one act not being able to get on as planned, but it happened more than once. On the plus side, we saw two famous entertainers on this cruise. Remember Charro (cootchie-cootchie) and John Davidson (Hollywood Squares)? You are probably thinking "has beens", because we thought that too, but they turned out to be great. They also had a comedian, and illusionist, a pianist and the production shows of which cruise passengers are so fond. We have been on Princess the last couple of cruises and although we like that line very much, they have cut corners on music available in the lounges. RCI still had some nice music available. I am 44 and my husband is 48. We like to watch the ball room dancers and listen to the beautiful old standards. They have a disco in the Viking Crown Lounge where a DJ plays music for the younger set. They also have karaoke there. The casino is small and the machines are very close together. It was also very smoky. You needed a gas mask if you wanted to stay in there very long. Drink Card We bought a drink card for $44.85 including gratuities. This entitles you to 12 cocktails or house wines. You can get house brands or some call brands, but no good scotch or bourbon. They add the 15% gratuity on every drink, like on most ships. We don't mind the 15% but it certainly takes away the incentive for the wait staff to be friendly and helpful. If you have ever been on a cruise line that doesn't apply the auto tip (HAL), you can see a great deal of difference in service level. The Galveston Deal After boarding the ship and finding our cabin, we went looking for a bar for our first cruise cocktail. Imagine our surprise when they told us there were only two bars serving drinks until we left Galveston. Also, the only drinks they were serving were beer, wine and spirits from Texas. My husband got a stricken look when they told him no Bud Light until we reached international waters. Every bartender told a different story about why this was the policy. You couldn't buy a drink card or even get the cocktail of the day. I ordered a glass of chardonnay at the pool bar and the bartender told me it was his last glass of Texas wine. We spoke to another passenger on board who claimed he was on the Texas Liquor Commission. He said that Texas was charging 14% tax on every drink sold within 12 miles of Texas. The ship didn't like paying this tax, and so they didn't encourage drinking until we had reached international waters. We don't know if this is true, but it was very strange. Usually, they are pushing the drinks at you when you first get on. The Ports of Call Ocho Rios The first port was supposed to be at Montego Bay, Jamaica. When we registered at embarkation they were circulating a letter that stated the port was changed to Ocho Rios because of some problem with the pier at Mo Bay. This was fine with us as we think the bay at Ocho Rios is one of the most beautiful in all of the Caribbean. We have been to Jamaica many times and have seen most of the sights. We chose to stay on board during this port visit. Grand Cayman The weather was windy the day we were supposed to go to Grand Cayman. They closed the port so we were unable to stop there. We have been there before but we were disappointed nonetheless. We love to go to Stingray City. You should be aware that they close that port quite often. We talked to one couple who have been on four cruises with Grand Cayman on the itinerary and have yet to stop there. A side note: RCI keeps your port charges. Cozumel After not getting off at Jamaica or Grand Cayman, we were ready for some solid ground in Mexico. Cozumel used to be a sleepy little port with beautiful vistas. The day we stopped, there were eight other ships docked. It was like St. Thomas. It was so crowded you could barely walk down the street. We decided to do a bit of shopping and then we stopped at a lovely open air restaurant for some chips and salsa and Coronas. Roatan This was the only port we had not visited before. I read many favorable reviews about Foster's at West Bay. We met another couple at breakfast who was interested in going to the West Bay, so we arranged a time to meet and grab a taxi. The taxi driver agreed on $40 roundtrip for all four of us. He then tried to increase the price once we were in the car, but when we all started to get out; he went back to his original agreement. You should be aware of how primitive this island is. We drove through the town and saw children playing in open sewers. There were skinny little dogs everywhere. When we arrived at Foster's, we were expecting a resort. The pictures on their website are deceptive. The road to Foster's was washed out and it was very scary. We had to go through some deep standing water too. I felt sympathy for the taxi driver. Thankfully we had not made reservations at Foster's, so our taxi driver, Jonathon, walked us down the beach to a better place and he told us he would bring the car around so that we wouldn't have to go through the road to Foster's again. The place we went was called Henry Morgan's and they encouraged us to use their beach chairs. We tried to pay them, but they wouldn't take any money. We were going to snorkel, but it began to rain, so we sat under a thatched cabana and drank some local beer. (The brown bottle was better than the green bottle.) We found the people on the island to be very polite and helpful. There are little kids who stand outside of the cruise port and beg you, but for the most part it was a positive experience. They really need the tourist dollars there. Key West There was some kind of a Customs problem in Key West and we weren't able to get off the ship until 10:30 a.m. despite docking at 7:00 a.m. Since we had to be back on the ship at 1:30 p.m., there wasn't time for exploration. We have been there before so we opted to do a bit of shopping and then we stopped in at the Hog's Breath for some giant peel and eat shrimp. There were many passengers who were angry about the delay. The captain blamed it completely on the Customs Service, but there were some non-U.S. citizens that we spoke with who claimed the ship was slow with everything. We don't know who was at fault, but I do know that some other cruise ships were delayed too. Key West is a great place. My husband and I think we might like to spend a week there sometime. Disembarkation Since we had already cleared customs at Key West, the disembarkation process was very quick. We were off the ship by 9:30 a.m. Final Thoughts Although we enjoyed ourselves very much, we will probably not book another RCI cruise. There are too many other cruise lines that do the same thing only better. That said, we must admit that this was a very cheap cruise. Our balcony room cost us less than an inside cabin when we first began cruising. We understand that they must cut corners, but they are going to have to reach a better balance. Many people go on cruises for the food, and the dinners were very disappointing. Also, compared to Ft. Lauderdale or Miami, it is more difficult for us to get to Galveston. I don't know if we would book another cruise leaving from Galveston, although we did enjoy our time there. roxanne5887@yahoo.com April 2003

Splendour of the Seas

Splendour of the Seas Cruise Review by dogsdogs

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 1899
  • Destination:
We flew into Houston Hobby on the day before the cruise. We had reservations with Galveston Limo to take us to Galveston. They were very dependable and efficient. We had reservations at the Harbor House on Pier 21. I made the reservation on-line at www.galveston.com. It was cheaper than calling for a reservation. The Harbor House is an old hotel, but we loved our room. It was a corner room with two giant windows and you could see the cruise ships parked at the pier. I must warn you though, there was no bellman. The hotel did provide a limo to take us and all our luggage to the ship the next day.

Embarkation

We arrived at the pier about 11:45 a.m. We checked our luggage and jumped into the repeat cruiser line and were processed and in our room by 12:30 p.m. Everyone from RCI was friendly and helpful.

Cabin 7060

This was our first balcony room and we were very excited about that. The cabin was a nice size but was badly in need of refurbishing. The carpet and draperies were in bad shape and needed replacing. The door on the refrigerator cabinet flopped off each time the door was opened. We had to call maintenance about the water pressure in our shower three times. They did respond but each time it would be back to a trickle the next day. Several passengers on the ship mentioned this same problem, so perhaps it was ship wide.

Despite these problems, we loved having a balcony and it was well worth the money. It is a pleasure to order coffee from room service in the morning and drink it out on the balcony. We also loved the location of the room. It was very close to the action.

The Ship

This is one of the most beautiful ships we have been on. This was our second cruise aboard the Splendour. We last sailed with her on 1/99. Four years is a long time in the life of a cruise ship, but the public rooms still looked very good. It has a lovely two-story dining room with floor to ceiling windows. The ship has an excellent layout and everything is easy to find. Some other ships we have been on are like a maze. Another thing that I really like about this ship is the solarium. It has a pool and hot tubs and is completely enclosed with windows. You have a wonderful view of everything without the wind. They have many comfortable chairs with plenty of towels. Some cruise lines ration the towels. There is also a snack bar there where they cook delicious hot dogs and hamburgers with French fries. They also have pizza there, but it was only so-so.

I am not a sun worshiper, but my husband enjoyed sitting by the pool and listening to the calypso band. They have a nice library on board and a great card room. They show movies daily in the 42nd Street theater as well as on the TV in your room. I didn't use the beauty salon or spa services, so I cannot comment on those. I did use the gym which was small but well equipped. I also enjoyed jogging on deck in the mornings. The shops are only so-so in comparison to other ships we have been on.

The King and I Dining Room

My husband and I always request the second seating because we think it is too much of a rush to try to be dressed for dinner by 6:00 p.m., especially on port days. The second seating is very late on RCI (8:30 p.m.). The dining room wasn't very full. It is my understanding that the main seating was packed. We like to sit at big tables so that the conversation doesn't lag. When we reached our table of ten, we found we were the only ones assigned there. The head waiter Hans (very witty) assigned us to another table. The next night we joined three other couples at Table 31. Our new table mates were all from Texas and were delightful.

We were on the top floor of the dining room. For some reason you can feel the ship vibrate. We sat on the bottom floor at breakfast and we couldn't feel it there. It didn't bother us, but it will make you a bit sleepy as the night wears on.

The Food Quality

Breakfast

We ate breakfast every morning in the dining room. We think it is the best way to meet other passengers and compare notes about travel. The food was good in the morning with the exception of the orange juice. For some reason they couldn't seem to figure our how much water to mix with the concentrate. One morning it would be like orange water and the next day it would be as thick as paint.

Lunch

We ate lunch in the dining room, the Windjammer and the solarium. I liked the cookies and lemonade in the Windjammer. My husband liked the hamburgers in the solarium, and the pasta in the Windjammer. The view is wonderful in the Windjammer.

Afternoon Tea

They do have an afternoon tea in the Windjammer, but it is nothing like they have on Princess. Princess has gloved waiters serving tea out of silver pots and delicate sandwiches and lovely scones. They also have live music during the tea. I missed that aspect very much. It is another way to meet and talk with your fellow passengers. RCI just kept the buffet open another two hours.

Dinner

My husband and I are not "foodies" and we are usually always pleased with the food on cruise ships. This was our 11th cruise, and the third on RCI. The appetizers were very unexciting. The soups (usually one of the best items on cruise ships) were either too salty, tasted canned, or were not served hot enough. I usually always order the fish selection on cruise ships. They generally have an outstanding selection of nice fish, and they usually serve delicate sauces to accompany them. Not on the Splendour. The sauces were mostly heavy and strange. I tried them without sauce too and still they weren't good. The snapper was especially bad and the grouper wasn't much better. It wasn't just our opinion either. One couple at our table was on their 25th cruise, and they said they had never had such bad meals. One evening my husband and I ordered the prime rib. We could not cut it. Our dining room steward was Ebru from Turkey. She was ultra efficient and did her very best to please all of us. We felt sorry for her, because passengers tend to gripe a great deal even when the food is good! I must say that although the dinners weren't good, the desserts were all very good. The ice cream is very nice in the dining room too.

Entertainment

The entertainment was pretty disorganized. They would put the night's featured entertainment in the cruise news and when you got there, the cruise director would announce that instead of the act in the cruise news, it would be something completely different. There was a problem with one act not being able to get on as planned, but it happened more than once. On the plus side, we saw two famous entertainers on this cruise. Remember Charro (cootchie-cootchie) and John Davidson (Hollywood Squares)? You are probably thinking "has beens", because we thought that too, but they turned out to be great. They also had a comedian, and illusionist, a pianist and the production shows of which cruise passengers are so fond.

We have been on Princess the last couple of cruises and although we like that line very much, they have cut corners on music available in the lounges. RCI still had some nice music available. I am 44 and my husband is 48. We like to watch the ball room dancers and listen to the beautiful old standards. They have a disco in the Viking Crown Lounge where a DJ plays music for the younger set. They also have karaoke there.

The casino is small and the machines are very close together. It was also very smoky. You needed a gas mask if you wanted to stay in there very long.

Drink Card

We bought a drink card for $44.85 including gratuities. This entitles you to 12 cocktails or house wines. You can get house brands or some call brands, but no good scotch or bourbon. They add the 15% gratuity on every drink, like on most ships. We don't mind the 15% but it certainly takes away the incentive for the wait staff to be friendly and helpful. If you have ever been on a cruise line that doesn't apply the auto tip (HAL), you can see a great deal of difference in service level.

The Galveston Deal

After boarding the ship and finding our cabin, we went looking for a bar for our first cruise cocktail. Imagine our surprise when they told us there were only two bars serving drinks until we left Galveston. Also, the only drinks they were serving were beer, wine and spirits from Texas. My husband got a stricken look when they told him no Bud Light until we reached international waters. Every bartender told a different story about why this was the policy. You couldn't buy a drink card or even get the cocktail of the day. I ordered a glass of chardonnay at the pool bar and the bartender told me it was his last glass of Texas wine. We spoke to another passenger on board who claimed he was on the Texas Liquor Commission. He said that Texas was charging 14% tax on every drink sold within 12 miles of Texas. The ship didn't like paying this tax, and so they didn't encourage drinking until we had reached international waters. We don't know if this is true, but it was very strange. Usually, they are pushing the drinks at you when you first get on.

The Ports of Call

Ocho Rios

The first port was supposed to be at Montego Bay, Jamaica. When we registered at embarkation they were circulating a letter that stated the port was changed to Ocho Rios because of some problem with the pier at Mo Bay. This was fine with us as we think the bay at Ocho Rios is one of the most beautiful in all of the Caribbean. We have been to Jamaica many times and have seen most of the sights. We chose to stay on board during this port visit.

Grand Cayman

The weather was windy the day we were supposed to go to Grand Cayman. They closed the port so we were unable to stop there. We have been there before but we were disappointed nonetheless. We love to go to Stingray City. You should be aware that they close that port quite often. We talked to one couple who have been on four cruises with Grand Cayman on the itinerary and have yet to stop there. A side note: RCI keeps your port charges.

Cozumel

After not getting off at Jamaica or Grand Cayman, we were ready for some solid ground in Mexico. Cozumel used to be a sleepy little port with beautiful vistas. The day we stopped, there were eight other ships docked. It was like St. Thomas. It was so crowded you could barely walk down the street. We decided to do a bit of shopping and then we stopped at a lovely open air restaurant for some chips and salsa and Coronas.

Roatan

This was the only port we had not visited before. I read many favorable reviews about Foster's at West Bay. We met another couple at breakfast who was interested in going to the West Bay, so we arranged a time to meet and grab a taxi. The taxi driver agreed on $40 roundtrip for all four of us. He then tried to increase the price once we were in the car, but when we all started to get out; he went back to his original agreement. You should be aware of how primitive this island is. We drove through the town and saw children playing in open sewers. There were skinny little dogs everywhere. When we arrived at Foster's, we were expecting a resort. The pictures on their website are deceptive. The road to Foster's was washed out and it was very scary. We had to go through some deep standing water too. I felt sympathy for the taxi driver. Thankfully we had not made reservations at Foster's, so our taxi driver, Jonathon, walked us down the beach to a better place and he told us he would bring the car around so that we wouldn't have to go through the road to Foster's again. The place we went was called Henry Morgan's and they encouraged us to use their beach chairs. We tried to pay them, but they wouldn't take any money. We were going to snorkel, but it began to rain, so we sat under a thatched cabana and drank some local beer. (The brown bottle was better than the green bottle.) We found the people on the island to be very polite and helpful. There are little kids who stand outside of the cruise port and beg you, but for the most part it was a positive experience. They really need the tourist dollars there.

Key West

There was some kind of a Customs problem in Key West and we weren't able to get off the ship until 10:30 a.m. despite docking at 7:00 a.m. Since we had to be back on the ship at 1:30 p.m., there wasn't time for exploration. We have been there before so we opted to do a bit of shopping and then we stopped in at the Hog's Breath for some giant peel and eat shrimp. There were many passengers who were angry about the delay. The captain blamed it completely on the Customs Service, but there were some non-U.S. citizens that we spoke with who claimed the ship was slow with everything. We don't know who was at fault, but I do know that some other cruise ships were delayed too. Key West is a great place. My husband and I think we might like to spend a week there sometime.

Disembarkation

Since we had already cleared customs at Key West, the disembarkation process was very quick. We were off the ship by 9:30 a.m.

Final Thoughts

Although we enjoyed ourselves very much, we will probably not book another RCI cruise. There are too many other cruise lines that do the same thing only better. That said, we must admit that this was a very cheap cruise. Our balcony room cost us less than an inside cabin when we first began cruising. We understand that they must cut corners, but they are going to have to reach a better balance. Many people go on cruises for the food, and the dinners were very disappointing.

Also, compared to Ft. Lauderdale or Miami, it is more difficult for us to get to Galveston. I don't know if we would book another cruise leaving from Galveston, although we did enjoy our time there.

roxanne5887@yahoo.com
April 2003
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