Splendour of the Seas Cruise Review by PT-109
- Sail Date: December 2006
- Destination: Western Caribbean
For the most part the ship was wonderfully decorated for the holiday event and public areas were clean and well maintained. Yet, as we sat in the Crown and Anchor lounge during our sailaway we were faced with recently used gum stuck prominently on the hardwood floor, unvarnished outside railings and an unwanted sight of a dead bird on the Promenade Deck. Our Junior Suite cabin was quite nice, and the duvet and duvet cover were excellent appointments. The cabin's ambience was marred by a closet door which rattled often during the night and carts being rolled above our heads on Deck 9 all night long. Having purchased a premium cabin our disturbance level should have been lower. The balcony was larger than balcony cabins, but for a larger balcony and a bathtub the cabin didn't seem worth the extra money for a junior suite.
The King and I Dining Room was very well decorated, both in its regular design and for the holidays. The menu selections were diverse, interesting and tasty, if sometimes not hot enough. Our waiter and assistant waiter were outstanding. But again a superior level of service was ruined as it appeared Royal Caribbean has hired too few personnel to serve too many tables. More distressing was the deplorable wine service situation. More than 100 couples, had purchased the Diamond level wine package on the first night of the cruise. By Tuesday one of the wine selections from the package list was unavailable. By Thursday, 4 wines had been depleted and by Friday, 6 wines were no longer available. While the wine steward failed to speak with us directly, the dining room head waiter attempted to mediate substitute wines, a wholly unsatisfactory solution for anyone knowledgeable about wine, and attempted to convince us that the wine package is subject to availability. After we maintained over 100 couples being denied access to what they had been sold was more a symptom of inefficient inventory management than unavailability he became more candid but again the Splendour's chance to define herself through the dining experience was seriously harmed.
The pool and hot tub facilities were a positive note. Always plenty of chairs available, buffet food on the pool deck was readily available and always hot. Deck attendants, both regarding towels and bar service, were efficient and ever present. Even inclement weather requiring children to be temporarily allowed in the Solarium pool area generally reserved for adults was handled well by the staff, if only the parents handled their own children as well. The salon services were reasonably priced, though the nail specialist seemed slightly sullen on the two occasions she was engaged. The fitness center was well equipped, regularly utilized but having an additional fitness coordinator would have been helpful. Again there were too few staff members available to meet all cruise guest needs.
A comment about the Casino. Granted cruise ships cannot expect the level of competence one sees in a Las Vegas casino, but when dealers on more than one occasion pay losing hands there needs to be better training. Sure, if you get paid when you should have lost it makes you happy, but other players aren't so delighted with their losses and overall the integrity of the game, and honesty of the casino, comes into doubt.
The 3 ports visited, Costa Maya, Cozumel and Key West were pretty routine. Having been to the latter 2 before, we were content with exploring on our own. In Cozumel, rent a cheap car, drive to Playa Bonita on the opposite side of the island (40 minutes at most) and relax on their beach with plentiful food, drinks, sun and beach chairs. Costa Maya was a nice warm place for those of us escaping winter but the port is a tourist set-up and a ride into town is overpriced and a waste of time and money. Save yourself the cost and effort and enjoy the free beach chairs and resist Mexican vendors.
Embarkation and debarkation were a very pleasant plus. Perhaps because we were able to arrive in a line set aside for suite passengers, but our initial check-in was smooth, quick and efficient. Royal Caribbean's Cruise Lite was also a nice opportunity to leave the ship in the first minutes after docking and carrying one's own luggage was a very small inconvenience for the ease it afforded at the end of the cruise.
Overall the Splendour of the Seas seems to have left her sterling days behind. It doesn't have to be this way. All of the problems we experienced can be corrected and Royal Caribbean can present a fabulous product with this ship. Having cruised a dozen times on various lines and in conversation with fellow cruisers on this ship, we know most won't sail on the Splendour again, but that's really too bad. Her smaller size and ambience deserve more devotion from the cruise line.
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