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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

Splendour of the Seas

Splendour of the Seas Cruise Review by arichter1

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 1899
  • Destination:
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
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