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Jerry and I are the ones who drove 1890 miles to the cruise, Northern California to Galveston. We had a great trip, stopping along the way at Schulenburg, TX, for some great BBQ and also at Sonora, TX. If Sonora is on your way, make a stop there, the downtown is not to be missed. Very well restored. If you are very lucky (and we were), the "downtown lady" will give you a personal tour. We stayed several days in Galveston before the tour, going to Moody Gardens Rainforest Pyramid and the Railroad Museum. If you are a train buff, this is not to be missed. We got to the port at 10:30 AM, and Jerry dropped me and parked in the Port Parking Lot. You pay in advance ($80 for 11 days, which is reasonable compared to California ports), and they run a continuous shuttle. You have to drop your luggage at the ship first, there is no luggage allowed on the shuttle. We were on the ship by noon. We had booked a "C" mini-suite, and the suite folks (and frequent cruisers) had a special check-in area). Our luggage reached us within a half hour of our boarding, a new record. We ate lunch and did the emergency drill, then went to Joe and Paula's cabin (Joebat1) for cocktails, and to meet them and Doug and Pat. We've been corresponding on and offline for months, and its fun to meet. In fact, we hang around a lot, we enjoy each other's company so. The ship was well maintained and clean. About my only complaint was the fact that there were no bathrooms on Deck 4 at all. This is one of the two decks that have most of the public rooms. I guess RCI wanted to cram as much public space into the deck as possible, but its inexcusable. Many people complained about it during the course of the week. We took part in two "Academy at Sea" programs -- Photography with Nicholas and Hospitality with Allan. They met every sea day for one hour each (a total of four hours). The next to the last day at Photography you get to take a picture with the instructor's camera, which you are given the next day. Also a group picture is taken, and you are given that, too. The hospitality class explained all the various bar glasses, then how to prepare for a party. The third class was the history of beer, and graduation was a wine class. You got a wine tasting cup at that, in addition to the certificate you got at each class. If you bought the bar recipe book, you got a note on your receipt giving you one free drink, which brought the price of the book down to about $5-6. Most of the morning offerings on the ship centered around fitness. If you weren't into exercise, you better be able to amuse yourself. We played dominoes some, having brought our own. There were many people playing bridge and dominoes, and the game room had many games to choose from. There is also a well stocked library, which has a news summary from the New York Times each day. Several times I laid down a book or magazine of mine there for someone else. The art auction specialized in a core group of artists, one of whom was Fanch Ledan, who I like. Unfortunately, the prints are generally unframed, as opposed to on Princess where they come framed. But the prices were mostly good. Roy was the auctioneer, and I have to say he was very informative, and I liked him and his presentations. In the afternoons about 3 PM there were plenty of non-athletic activities, all at once. Poor planning. We did some trivia, and many of the art auctions. We'd requested a table for two for dinner. We like to have dinner together, and mingle at the other meals. When we boarded the ship, we found our cruise cards had one table assignment, crossed out, and another substituted, a table for ten! We went back out to see the headwaiter (who was in the terminal building for some reason), and he said he didn't know what he could do, early seating was full. Now if I wanted late seating...I told him no, I didn't, I'm diabetic. He put "medical" next to my request for a change. We were told to see him that night after dinner outside the dining room. We'd been changed to a table for two. I'm sure we had the best waiter and headwaiter in the dining room, Luis and "Go." When the kitchen was slow, "Go" would get the entree for the "duet tables" and serve us while Luis waited for the rest of the plates. He also made several pastas, and always brought a "taster plate" to each table in his section (not all the other headwaiters did). I thought the food was "middle America" good. Not spectacular, but certainly tasty. The veggies were crunchy, and the meat was mostly well cooked, except that some of the steaks were tough for some reason. The lobsters were much larger than on any other ship we've been on. There were many quiche-like tart appetizers (or even main dishes at lunch), and chilled fruit soups (think smoothie). There was always a rosemary chicken breast (delish!) and a steak and fish available (usually salmon), as well as Caesar salad. There were sugar free desserts at every meal. We ate most all of our meals in the dining room. We went to the buffet for lunch twice, and it just wasn't appetizing to me. I'm fussy, and the chafing dishes looked like troughs of food to me. But there were things there that weren't in the dining room, like pasta made to order at every lunch and dinner, and a cheese bar at dinner. There were also Panini sandwiches and hero sandwiches, and there was a pizza and hot dog and hamburger bar, which I didn't go to. There was coffee available outside the buffet most of the day and night. "Seattle's Best," is what they called it. I dunno. I don't like my coffee that strong. By the afternoons you could cut off a chunk it was so strong. We had room service coffee most mornings, and I ordered a container of milk with it for my coffee so I didn't have to use phony stuff. I also ordered dry cereal several times, or got some from the buffet, so I'd have snack food (one of the choices was a granola). After not being out of bed the third morning when room service came, I put "Please call first" on the tag at the bottom each day, and they did. We bought several water bottles on board, and when they were empty we filled them at the water container in the buffet. When we'd go up after dinner to do this, the headwaiter at the door was very gracious, telling us how good it was to drink a lot of water. We had a fridge, so we'd keep a full bottle or two in there overnight, to make it ice cold. Our suite was roomy, by ship's standards. The balcony had two lounge chairs and two regular chairs and a small table. The cabin had a sofa (converts to a bed, but there would be no space if it did) and two easy chairs, as well as three closets. There is plenty of room for suitcases under the rack-like beds. The mattresses sit on metal platforms, making them very firm. Fine for me, but not for Jerry or anybody who likes a soft bed. There was a tub with a shower over it. I had brought a bathtub mat, thanks to someone on Cruise Critic mentioning that the non-slid stuff in the bathtub wasn't good. They were right. Thank you! There were plenty of shelves, drawers, etc. Our room steward made some cute towel animals, but otherwise was only barely average. The room was clean, but he never changed the toilet paper, we had to ask for more Kleenex, and it took three days to get our cleaning back! He got the minimum expected tip (unlike Luis, who of course got more). We didn't go anywhere at all in Coz. In Costa Rica we took the Tortugero Canal tour, which I'd recommend. You see a lot of wildlife, and the guide is good at pointing it out. They turn the boat around so both sides can see things. In Panama we did the Two Oceans Railway. We paid extra for the observation car, but if I had it to do again, I wouldn't. It was very hot there, and you could see well from anywhere. They were running late, so when we got off the train near Miraflores, they did a "drive through" of most of the area except for the locks. We got to spend about a half hour there watching a ship be lowered. We'd seen our ship and the ship next to us be raised at Gatun locks in the morning. Joe and Paula had a starboard cabin, and we had a portside one, and we'd made a deal that whoever had the best view for the canal would invite everybody else over. It's a good idea to make an arrangement like this, because if you're not on the side of the ship where you've got another ship next to you, you really don't see much. We had a great view in Joe and Paula's cabin (Doug and Pat were there, too), and Paula ordered tons of breakfast. We could actually call out to the workers, we were so close to them. We did the Rose Hall tour in Jamaica. It was very hot there, but interesting. On the way back to the ship they stop at a local crafts market (where they *insist* that you bargain), and then we were taken downtown for about 40 minutes. I loved the Jamaican guide we had, Yvette, and her "No problem, mon," attitude to everything. The crafts market had the Jamaican version of Aloha shirts, with Rasta men on them, and many of the men on the ship wore their new shirts to dinner that night. In Grand Cayman we did the City Tour. Everyone tenders there, and there were seven ships in port. The tour terminal is a madhouse. Princess charged $30 for the exact same tour you could book on shore for $15 (the van even had the "City Tour & Turtle Farm $15" placard in its windshield). I'd suggest not using the ship for this tour. We did the turtle farm, went to Hell (sent postcards to my former employer) and were dropped back in the very expensive shopping area. We had a great time, made more so by all the friends from Cruise Critic and all the other people on the ship. Disembarkation was chaotic, as always. Once off the ship, the luggage was easy to find. Mine was the one with the unattached wheels sitting on top of it. Don't bring new luggage, another Cruise Critic member had a ruined suitcase on the same ship. The porter parked me in the waiting area, and Jerry went for the car. In 17 minutes he was back, we were loaded, and on the way. fmodena@yahoo.com June 2003

Splendour of the Seas

Splendour of the Seas Cruise Review by Mindy97

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 1899
  • Destination:
Jerry and I are the ones who drove 1890 miles to the cruise, Northern California to Galveston. We had a great trip, stopping along the way at Schulenburg, TX, for some great BBQ and also at Sonora, TX. If Sonora is on your way, make a stop there, the downtown is not to be missed. Very well restored. If you are very lucky (and we were), the "downtown lady" will give you a personal tour.

We stayed several days in Galveston before the tour, going to Moody Gardens Rainforest Pyramid and the Railroad Museum. If you are a train buff, this is not to be missed.

We got to the port at 10:30 AM, and Jerry dropped me and parked in the Port Parking Lot. You pay in advance ($80 for 11 days, which is reasonable compared to California ports), and they run a continuous shuttle. You have to drop your luggage at the ship first, there is no luggage allowed on the shuttle.

We were on the ship by noon. We had booked a "C" mini-suite, and the suite folks (and frequent cruisers) had a special check-in area). Our luggage reached us within a half hour of our boarding, a new record.

We ate lunch and did the emergency drill, then went to Joe and Paula's cabin (Joebat1) for cocktails, and to meet them and Doug and Pat. We've been corresponding on and offline for months, and its fun to meet. In fact, we hang around a lot, we enjoy each other's company so.

The ship was well maintained and clean. About my only complaint was the fact that there were no bathrooms on Deck 4 at all. This is one of the two decks that have most of the public rooms. I guess RCI wanted to cram as much public space into the deck as possible, but its inexcusable. Many people complained about it during the course of the week.

We took part in two "Academy at Sea" programs -- Photography with Nicholas and Hospitality with Allan. They met every sea day for one hour each (a total of four hours). The next to the last day at Photography you get to take a picture with the instructor's camera, which you are given the next day. Also a group picture is taken, and you are given that, too. The hospitality class explained all the various bar glasses, then how to prepare for a party. The third class was the history of beer, and graduation was a wine class. You got a wine tasting cup at that, in addition to the certificate you got at each class. If you bought the bar recipe book, you got a note on your receipt giving you one free drink, which brought the price of the book down to about $5-6.

Most of the morning offerings on the ship centered around fitness. If you weren't into exercise, you better be able to amuse yourself. We played dominoes some, having brought our own. There were many people playing bridge and dominoes, and the game room had many games to choose from. There is also a well stocked library, which has a news summary from the New York Times each day. Several times I laid down a book or magazine of mine there for someone else.

The art auction specialized in a core group of artists, one of whom was Fanch Ledan, who I like. Unfortunately, the prints are generally unframed, as opposed to on Princess where they come framed. But the prices were mostly good. Roy was the auctioneer, and I have to say he was very informative, and I liked him and his presentations.

In the afternoons about 3 PM there were plenty of non-athletic activities, all at once. Poor planning. We did some trivia, and many of the art auctions.

We'd requested a table for two for dinner. We like to have dinner together, and mingle at the other meals. When we boarded the ship, we found our cruise cards had one table assignment, crossed out, and another substituted, a table for ten! We went back out to see the headwaiter (who was in the terminal building for some reason), and he said he didn't know what he could do, early seating was full. Now if I wanted late seating...I told him no, I didn't, I'm diabetic. He put "medical" next to my request for a change. We were told to see him that night after dinner outside the dining room. We'd been changed to a table for two.

I'm sure we had the best waiter and headwaiter in the dining room, Luis and "Go." When the kitchen was slow, "Go" would get the entree for the "duet tables" and serve us while Luis waited for the rest of the plates. He also made several pastas, and always brought a "taster plate" to each table in his section (not all the other headwaiters did). I thought the food was "middle America" good. Not spectacular, but certainly tasty. The veggies were crunchy, and the meat was mostly well cooked, except that some of the steaks were tough for some reason. The lobsters were much larger than on any other ship we've been on. There were many quiche-like tart appetizers (or even main dishes at lunch), and chilled fruit soups (think smoothie). There was always a rosemary chicken breast (delish!) and a steak and fish available (usually salmon), as well as Caesar salad. There were sugar free desserts at every meal. We ate most all of our meals in the dining room. We went to the buffet for lunch twice, and it just wasn't appetizing to me. I'm fussy, and the chafing dishes looked like troughs of food to me. But there were things there that weren't in the dining room, like pasta made to order at every lunch and dinner, and a cheese bar at dinner. There were also Panini sandwiches and hero sandwiches, and there was a pizza and hot dog and hamburger bar, which I didn't go to. There was coffee available outside the buffet most of the day and night. "Seattle's Best," is what they called it. I dunno. I don't like my coffee that strong. By the afternoons you could cut off a chunk it was so strong.

We had room service coffee most mornings, and I ordered a container of milk with it for my coffee so I didn't have to use phony stuff. I also ordered dry cereal several times, or got some from the buffet, so I'd have snack food (one of the choices was a granola). After not being out of bed the third morning when room service came, I put "Please call first" on the tag at the bottom each day, and they did.

We bought several water bottles on board, and when they were empty we filled them at the water container in the buffet. When we'd go up after dinner to do this, the headwaiter at the door was very gracious, telling us how good it was to drink a lot of water. We had a fridge, so we'd keep a full bottle or two in there overnight, to make it ice cold.

Our suite was roomy, by ship's standards. The balcony had two lounge chairs and two regular chairs and a small table. The cabin had a sofa (converts to a bed, but there would be no space if it did) and two easy chairs, as well as three closets. There is plenty of room for suitcases under the rack-like beds. The mattresses sit on metal platforms, making them very firm. Fine for me, but not for Jerry or anybody who likes a soft bed. There was a tub with a shower over it. I had brought a bathtub mat, thanks to someone on Cruise Critic mentioning that the non-slid stuff in the bathtub wasn't good. They were right. Thank you! There were plenty of shelves, drawers, etc.

Our room steward made some cute towel animals, but otherwise was only barely average. The room was clean, but he never changed the toilet paper, we had to ask for more Kleenex, and it took three days to get our cleaning back! He got the minimum expected tip (unlike Luis, who of course got more).

We didn't go anywhere at all in Coz. In Costa Rica we took the Tortugero Canal tour, which I'd recommend. You see a lot of wildlife, and the guide is good at pointing it out. They turn the boat around so both sides can see things.

In Panama we did the Two Oceans Railway. We paid extra for the observation car, but if I had it to do again, I wouldn't. It was very hot there, and you could see well from anywhere. They were running late, so when we got off the train near Miraflores, they did a "drive through" of most of the area except for the locks. We got to spend about a half hour there watching a ship be lowered. We'd seen our ship and the ship next to us be raised at Gatun locks in the morning.

Joe and Paula had a starboard cabin, and we had a portside one, and we'd made a deal that whoever had the best view for the canal would invite everybody else over. It's a good idea to make an arrangement like this, because if you're not on the side of the ship where you've got another ship next to you, you really don't see much. We had a great view in Joe and Paula's cabin (Doug and Pat were there, too), and Paula ordered tons of breakfast. We could actually call out to the workers, we were so close to them.

We did the Rose Hall tour in Jamaica. It was very hot there, but interesting. On the way back to the ship they stop at a local crafts market (where they *insist* that you bargain), and then we were taken downtown for about 40 minutes. I loved the Jamaican guide we had, Yvette, and her "No problem, mon," attitude to everything. The crafts market had the Jamaican version of Aloha shirts, with Rasta men on them, and many of the men on the ship wore their new shirts to dinner that night.

In Grand Cayman we did the City Tour. Everyone tenders there, and there were seven ships in port. The tour terminal is a madhouse. Princess charged $30 for the exact same tour you could book on shore for $15 (the van even had the "City Tour & Turtle Farm $15" placard in its windshield). I'd suggest not using the ship for this tour. We did the turtle farm, went to Hell (sent postcards to my former employer) and were dropped back in the very expensive shopping area.

We had a great time, made more so by all the friends from Cruise Critic and all the other people on the ship.

Disembarkation was chaotic, as always. Once off the ship, the luggage was easy to find. Mine was the one with the unattached wheels sitting on top of it. Don't bring new luggage, another Cruise Critic member had a ruined suitcase on the same ship.

The porter parked me in the waiting area, and Jerry went for the car. In 17 minutes he was back, we were loaded, and on the way.

fmodena@yahoo.com
June 2003
Mindy97’s Full Rating Summary
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