I say A-, the wife says B+: Carnival Splendor Cruise Review by mojomorris

Carnival Splendor 4
Member Since 2009
94 Forum Posts

Overall Member Rating

I say A-, the wife says B+

Sail Date: May 2013
Destination: Bahamas
Embarkation: New York (Manhattan)
My wife and I are both 50+ and now cruise at least twice a year. We've cruised on Princess (Platinum card), Carnival (Platinum card) and Celebrity. We're easy to please, always use a AAA travel agent, always book a balcony cabin always on the lookout for a good deal. We normally book an aft cabin on a deck or two below Lido and the casual buffet eateries. That way we're close to the food but always use the stairs so we do get some exercise {*_*}. Since I am a former teacher (5 years was enough) I decided to give letter grades for each component I reviewed.

We booked our Jet Blue flight from Central New York State (Syracuse) to arrive on the day of the cruise. The Carnival shuttle to the ship turned out to be a Lincoln Town Car just for the two of us (nice - much better than a bus). I thought the ship was leaving from Brooklyn BUT instead it was Manhattan - joke was on me. The ride was close to 50 minutes and we had a chance to see More Manhattan hustle & bustle and traffic jams - (YIKES!!) arriving at the pier approx 1:30. The driver said normally the traffic was heavier and it takes up to 2 hours to make the trip - double YIKES! I'm just not used to NYC it seems. Because we are Platinum, we boarded quickly and by 2:00 PM we were eating on the Lido. I had a huge Burrito and my DW grabbed something from the buffet. Being Platinum has its perks.
Town car to ship = A+, embarkation = B+

We were on Deck 7 aft cabin 7406 - two decks below Lido. The cabin was the usual that you would expect but having that balcony and the "wall of glass" makes me feel less claustrophobic. And to me there's nothing like sitting on the balcony reading a book or watching the sun go down to make you feel like you're on vacation. Sometimes/rarely some noise floated down from the Lido but it wasn't much distraction. Our room steward Ketut (pronounced Kay-toot) was very pleasant, helpful and never showed any sign of negativity (we gave him an extra $30 @ cruise end). He also spoke English well so there were no communication issues and we even spoke several times. There is plenty of storage space BUT the closets are across from the bathroom so you have to be careful opening the bathroom door and closet doors at the same time. The shower was ample and had a high enough lip around it so that the water didn't flow onto the floor. There's a thermostat on the wall and we could change the temp in the cabin. I'm not wild about all the pink fixtures and crazy ship amenities (kinda like the Carnival Triumph etc) but I'm there to vacation and not critique ship architecture.
Cabin = A-, attendants = A+

We had anytime dining in the Black Pearl Restaurant but only went there on two nights (both formal nights). Service was very good and there was enough time to make the meal feel enjoyable and not rushed. The offerings were enough to satisfy us but we were there specifically for the lobster tail(s) & shrimp and chocolate melting cake on Formal Night #1. Shrimp cocktail was on the "available every evening" menu so that was a plus. We enjoyed the meal but I know some people consider themselves "foodies" and might be difficult to satisfy. We even splurged a little extra and ordered (California) champagne with our meal. I persuaded DW to go to the MDR on Formal Night #2 so that I could have seafood. DW had a custom burger. I was happy but DW was informed by the waiter that her burger would have to be cooked "well done" (it was REALLY well done) and she was not happy with it. I've learned that steak and other red meat type meals are often a disappointment so I personally bypass them rather than send them back to the kitchen or put up with the aggravation of unmet expectations. Give me chicken or seafood and I'll usually be happy as a clam (pun intended).
Overall = B+

Lido buffet:
We usually had breakfast ~10:00 - 11:00 AM with small or no lines - timing can be everything when it comes to dealing with 3,000 passengers. I usually had an omelet, hash browns and fruit. Omelets are made to order. We never tried the coffee (regular or specialty).
Grade = C+

We usually bypassed the regular buffet and did the other stations.
No grade

There always the daily specials, and would start with a salad then get back in line to pick and choose something that struck our fancy. On one night, I had the meatloaf and liked it (some people are gonna roll their eyes at that one). For other meals it was like eating at Ponderosa or Applebee's.
Grade = C+

Other food areas:
Punchliner's Brunch in the MDR:
We went to this to redeem our free drink coupon (gotta love those freebies). The brunch offered a larger selection than the usual Lido buffet breakfast and I had some great Huevos Rancheros while DW had bagels and other things. B+
Rotisserie: upstairs (Deck 10) from the aft buffet - corn on the cob, various salads, baked potatoes and very good rotisserie chicken.
Grade = B

I really enjoy this stuff and it is served piping hot. The meat/seafood selection changes daily.
Grade = A

Your choice of precooked meat/seafood, veggies and sauces. This is the first time I have sampled Indian/Pakistani/Asian food while on a cruise and I really enjoyed it. My wife had Hummus for the first time and actually liked it. If you're not familiar with this type of food, go easy on the condiments at first - I had some vegetable relish that was incredibly spicy. B+
Burrito bar: Good choice of options and you can have whole wheat or corn tortillas. Great stuff.
Grade = A

Open 24/7 - calzones and Caesar salad are also available. Possible line(s) depending on time of day, what's going on around the pool and if you want a particular type of pizza.
Grade = A-

Great sandwiches/wraps/paninis. Open noon > midnight (from what I remember). Usually a line but it moves rather quickly. Due to the number of sandwich requests, they might get your sandwich order wrong (oops!).
Grade = A

Room service:
Never used it.
No grade

Specialty restaurant:
Never used it.
No grade

Soda/drink packages:
Never used them.
No grade

More info for each is in the Shore Excursion Reviews

Grand Turk: This was our 3rd time there and this time we opted for the Ultimate Snorkeling Adventure. The wife doesn't snorkel so she stayed on board the catamaran and read her book while I snorkeled. I enjoyed it quite a bit. After the snorkeling we went back on-board and bypassed the souvenir vendors and the HUGE Margaritaville complex there.
Grade = A

Half Moon Cay:
We planned no excursion or activity. This is a beautiful island that is also used by Holland American Lines. This was our 2nd time on Half Moon Cay - I like to go there just for the chance to relax and NOT be pestered by merchants selling their souvenirs.
Grade = A+

Nassau: This was our 4th time there and we planned no excursion or activity and instead had a non-alcoholic drink at the Hard Rock Cafe and then hit the T-shirt shops for some souvenirs.
Grade = B

The Internet Cafe inside the Robusto Bar has about 10 terminals and several Internet "plans". You could: pay 75 cents per minute, purchase 45 minutes, 120 minutes and so on. On the first day you could get add'l free minutes if you bought a plan. We opted for the 120 minute + 10 minutes free ($64 including activation) plan just to check e-mail a few times during the week. BE AWARE ----- the service is painfully S-L-O-W. On the last day when everyone was working on flights, I knew that the system w/b really slow so I waited until 6:00 PM to check in and print boarding passes.
Grade = C

One of the nicer touches on the trip was the past guest party (by invitation). It was on Sea Day #2 in the afternoon. There were free drinks (we had rum type punch in 16 oz tumblers) and snacks. Hey, free booze is free booze!! I tipped the waiters $1 each time they came around and toward the end, one server came up to me and said "Try this" We wound up taking 2 drinks EACH back to the room - that was drinks for the next day. We also had tickets for a free drink in the MDR for breakfast/brunch/lunch and used it on Sea Day #3 @ the Comedy Brunch. I think I've never had a Bloody Mary that spicy. YOWZA!! We don't cruise for the booze BUT we'll take it if it's given.....and drink it later {*_*}.
Grade = A-

We didn't use the Spa although I used the gym in the early afternoons so I had no issues with finding an open T-mill, elliptical or life cycle. The treadmills, elliptical and pedal machines were in great shape and the weight machines were primo.
Gym = A-

We didn't buy any photo packages and ignored most (but not all) photographers who tried to snap our pix.
No grade

We didn't use Passengers' Service desk but there was a separate line for Platinum/Diamond cardholders.
No grade

The boutiques/stores had their usual "sales" which were mostly for old stock and watches. We only bought a couple of small souvenirs.
Grade = C

We didn't go to any of the clubs at night - not enough time it seems but we did spend some time listening to a Karaoke session. I think it's nice that people take the risk and sing but after 20 minutes or so I was ready to leave. Maybe we didn't have as much to drink as the people singing??
Grade = C

We ate our breakfast in our room using food we brought down the day before and then waited outside Spectacular Theater for our tag number to be called. Since we had Platinum perks, we were Zone 1 - first off. There was no room inside the theater and the hallways were clogged with scooters, wheelchairs and walkers etc. It's as if Carnival was new to this or something. The process needs to be tweaked a bit so there isn't a log jam with people packed in like sardines. However, by 9:15 AM or so we were out the door, down the gangway, thru customs and on our way to the shuttle for the airport. Unfortunately, the shuttle ride was in the pouring rain thru Manhattan traffic. It took about 1 ½ hours to get to the airport and then a 4 hour wait for our flight (our choice). Life is an adventure - or misadventure if you let it get to you.
Grade = C-

It was great to start off with $250 OBC which we spent on the mandatory tips and internet. We spent about $45 additional for alcohol drinks that was it. We prepaid for Shore Excursions on our Carnival MC so we could have more points for future cruise credit. A few years ago, we were on the Splendor when it cruised out of LA doing 7 day Mexican Rivera cruises so it was like visiting an old friend. The ship may have three thousand people but it's big enough so that we never felt crowded. Just don't wait until "rush hour" to eat or go to the shows. Since our cabin was aft, we usually took stairs up to the Lido food or walked on our floor (Deck 7) toward the bow and then took elevators to get to MDR or wherever else we needed to go. We knew how to avoid the casino and other congested places that some people complain about. It's a good plan to have the Splendor sailing out of NYC and doing 3 different 8 day itineraries. We're probably going to do an 8 day that goes to Puerto Rico, Grand Turk etc. {*_*}. I say A-, the wife says B+ Less

Published 06/02/13

Cabin review: 8B7406 Balcony

Plenty of storage space BUT closets are across from the bathroom so you have to be careful opening the bathroom door and closet doors at the same time. There's a thermostat on the wall for changing the temp in the cabin. Relatively low noise level.

Read All Balcony (8B) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

This is a beautiful island that is also used by Holland American Lines. Carnival now sends many of its cruises here and it’s easy to see why. Prior to departure, the passengers meet in the theater and are assigned to groups. When the tenders are available passengers (by groups) are brought ashore by double deck boats rather than by the lifeboats. You can rent floating toys, snorkel, para-sail, or just sit on the beach that is composed of sand so fine that it feels like powered sugar. Unfortunately, it was a bit windy and para-sailing was cancelled along with some other excursions/activities. We found a semi shady spot under a scrub pine and since we had a full breakfast, bypassed the BBQ lunch. There are “real” restrooms here and you can buy souvenirs as well as alcoholic drinks.

There were two other ships docked in addition to us and this was a slow day. The big attraction here seems to be Atlantis and you can get excursions to explore some or all of it. For most of Atlantis you need to walk and walk so wear comfy shoes. There is a beach but I didn’t hear anyone say that they went there. Other than Atlantis, you can find lots of places to eat & drink and buy souvenirs. Be prepared to deal with vendors selling all sorts of services. A pleasant “no, thank you” should suffice in rebuffing their sales pitches.
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