Carnival offered a terrific deal for its Splendor repositioning cruise from the Mexican Riviera run to New York. We bit even though we knew the Splendor had a troubled past and some bad reviews. After signing up, we read a lot of bad stuff about the last cruise to Mexico and the final run to Hawaii and back. Then the Carneval Triumph took the news for weeks and friends declared us crazy.
But it was a dandy cruise all in all. Good food mostly, and mostly in the main dining rooms as we tried assigned seat dining for the first time. Better than average cabin service. Pretty good entertainment. Lost of push for Fun Fun Fun! And a dandy CD, Malcolm (WooHoo!) who merits his high repute.
Splendor is too big for our taste -- three feet wider than Panamax. The crew seems to have conquered chair hogging, but we didn't get a lot of good sun days and the lid over the Lido deck never got opened. We took only two cruise company excursions -- to and from the ship. Both illustrated the main problem: the ship was in uncharted water, using pickup crews for embarkation, debarkation and excursions. (We had several great excursions; thanks CC pals.)
At the Santiago airport, the CCL folks had a loose grip, and arrangements at Valparaiso were a little crazy. At the Buenos Aires end, the price of transport to the airport including a little tour was out of sight. So we took just transportto the airport. The bus dropped us at a downtown hotel and the driver told us to hang out there for the 11 hours before our flight left. We had a basement conference room with some pop, coffee and pretty good pastry. After a while we hooked up with a private tour around town that offered more and cost a third of the price for the CCL arranged tour. When it was finally time for us to transfer our luggage from the luggage truck back to the coach and head for the airport, there was no CCL representative in evidence. All of that was manageable, but it really suffered in comparison to the HAL treatment of Veendam cruisers who were with us most of the way around. The crew flubbed a couple of itinerary points evidently from lack of experience on the run. We did get $100 OBC credit each when the ship got to the Chilean Fjords after it was too dark to enjoy them.
The most exciting moment on the cruise came when the captain was executing a sharp turn to begin the circumnavigation of Cape Horn (which is a small island). A stiff wind caught the ship broadside as she turned and she heeled over steeply enough to dump the pools and hot tubs.
We are really glad we got home while the rest of them still had two weeks to get to New York.
We had an inside handicapped cabin on Deck 6 midships, on the ship map handy to most everything, but in reality long hike to the forward elevator for the theater or the aft elevator down to the entry to the Gold Pearl main dining room. We infer the plan is to guide folks through the casino and shops, but it isn't fun for someone who needs a walker or chair. The bathroom is huge including a roll-in shower. Closet and drawer space is barely adequate, and the desk is tiny.
We got a really great excursion from a company contacted through the roll call. Went out to Estancia Halbertson and took a Zodiac out to an island in the Beagle Channlee with thousands of Magellanes penguins, several hundred gentoo breeding pairs and one odd visiting King. I think I am not allowed to mention the company in this review, but I may get an opportunity to answer a question in the ports threads.
Another great excursion arranged through CC roll call, but the weather didn't let us see the volcanoes and the hike up to see the falls was really wet.