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Splendour of the Seas Transatlantic cruise - 4th December 2007 Itinerary: Day 1 Lisbon, Portugal Day 2 At sea Day 3 Funchal, Madeira Day 4 Santa Cruz de la Palma, Canary Islands Day 5 At sea Day 6 Mindelo, St. Vincente, Cape Verde Islands Day 7 At sea Day 8 At sea Day 9 At sea Day 10 Recife, Brazil Day 11 At sea Day 12 Salvador, Brazil Day 13 At sea Day 14 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Day 15 Santos (São Paulo), Brazil Introduction: This is a fairly long review, but justified because it is the first Royal Caribbean cruise to South America since 2001 and is likely to be read with keen interest by both CC members who have a South American cruise booked and those who are interested in booking one. Any vacation, whether on land or on the sea, is essentially what the guests want to make of it. It is always easy to be critical, but that is just as likely to spoil the enjoyment of the occasion for the criticizer as for those being criticized. The unexpected will always happen, so the best advice is to "go with the flow" and not let any small inconvenience detract from the pleasure of a cruise - in my opinion the greatest holiday experience on earth, whatever cruise that may be. General opinion: I had been eagerly awaiting this cruise for many months, so expectations were very high. In reflection, it passed by too quickly as we enjoyed every minute. It was a holiday never to be forgotten. Departure port: Lisbon. Lisbon is a good port of call and has the facilities to be used as a departure port. It's closeness to the center of town makes it easy to get to, being only 20 minutes away by taxi from all leading hotels. Lisbon is a friendly city and the fresh, mild and dry weather made for a pleasant pre-cruise stay for those that took advantage of the opportunity. Embarkation: RCL's first South American cruise for 6 years and the use of an "occasional" departure port of Lisbon made this a difficult experience for most guests. Although we had priority check-in, being in a suite, it took us over an hour, with delays caused by having to fill in Brazilian immigration forms at the check-in desk, while the clerk and all other guests were waiting. Then there was the Port's own baggage check and passport control, with only two gates, causing a bottle neck and finally a queue at the only entrance to the ship for the photos on the seapass. The confusion was added to by a breakdown in the on-board computer system for printing seapasses. At check-in the clerk could not find our seapass so gave us a voucher that we had to present at the purser's desk later to exchange for a seapass. This led to a further queuing of one hour later that evening. As it happens, we should be grateful for the requirement to complete the Brazilian immigration form at check-in, because it saved us the need for presenting passports at Recife, the first Brazilian port of call. The passports were collected and only returned on the penultimate day of the cruise. The authorities stamped them in Recife in our absence. One suggestion to speed up the process of embarkation could be to require guests to complete the immigration papers and present them with their passports for collection at muster. Sail-away and muster: This went smoothly and on-time. The drill was conducted in Portuguese and English, for the benefit of the majority of passengers (about 70% Portuguese speaking, 20% English and 10% other). A thick fog spoilt what would have been a fantastic sail away view. General appearance of the ship and quality of service: Splendour of the Seas is one of the older and smaller ships in the fleet, but as they say, everything is relative and she would be considered the best and most modern in many other cruise lines. We were particularly impressed by the standard of the ship, beautifully maintained and looking as impressive as she did in her maiden years. The service on-board was good, with ever crew member trying their best to be helpful and impress the guests. Being the repositioning cruise before a winter season in Brazil, there were inevitably some difficulties caused by many new staff entering in Lisbon. Because of the language and Brazilian law, most new crew members were Brazilians, but they seemed to fit in well with their more experienced colleagues. Staterooms: All staterooms are of the highest quality on Splendour of the Seas, being slightly bigger than on other category ships. We were in a Grand Suite and our travelling companions in an aft balcony on deck 6. We were very pleased with the rooms and the attendance. In the Grand Suite, we were greeted with fresh fruit, a pillow menu, a card to enter the concierge lounge and bath robes and slippers. They had not yet replaced the old Video cassette player and TV with DVD and LCD, but as it turned out, we had little time to watch TV anyway. The grand suites are excellent sizes, square in shape to give plenty of room, including a large square bathroom. We have never had an excess of cupboard space on a cruise before, but we had this time, including the luxury of one clothes hanger per garment. It is a pity that there was no internet available in staterooms. I had to take the laptop to a designated "hotspot" to access the RCL "wi-fi". Dining: As on most Vision-class ships, dining is limited with no speciality restaurants, no Johnny Rockets and no Seaview Cafe. However, in my opinion, this was compensated by a fine selection of varied food and good service in both the main dining room and Windjammer. The 14-day menu has a few repeated dishes, but there was always a good selection of new items that we always enjoyed our meal in the main dining room. We went to the Windjammer for dinner three times. This was always good and fast, with the best steaks available, grilled to perfection while you wait. The Solarium bar had the usual selection of pizzas, hamburgers, chips and hot dogs. Their general aspect did not lead us to want to try them. Best here was the made to order pancakes. With new staff being taken on for this cruise, there were inevitable learning difficulties in the restaurant and the waiting time was erratic (some nights acceptable, others a little too long). I have never seen the head waiters working so hard before - they are usually just people you see around in red coats who only talk to the clients on the last evening when the tips are being distributed. On this cruise, our head waiter, from Germany, spoke to us every evening and helped the waiters with everything from serving bread and water to collecting deliveries from the kitchen to clearing away dirty plates. I was impressed by this spirit of co-operation. The Lattitudes cafe was one of favorite haunts. My wife had to have her morning "espresso" there and I loved the cookies and muffins (better than in the Windjammer) and the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. There were two special nights, one by the pool with a buffet and BBQ, the other the inevitable midnight buffet in the dining room. Concierge lounge: Set up in the "card room" on deck 7 (centrum) this has to be the prettiest concierge lounge afloat, with magnificent sea views. The evening canapes and drinks were very good. They were always the same every day, but we didn't complain about that. It was very thoughtful of them to add an additional overflow lounge in the deck 3 conference center. We used this on several nights as it was far less busy than the main CL. The concierge, Giovanna, from Brazil, deserves maximum praise for the efficient way she managed the lounge and for her helpfulness in trying to resolve problems. Entertainment: The Splendour of the Seas singers and dancers were very good, particularly the two feature dancers, a couple from Utah. As they were accustomed to doing two production shows per week on the normal routines, on this cruise we saw them only twice in 14 nights. However, they made up for this with some very good invitation acts, with only one night being repeated. Cruise director, Leo Papa did a good job. Away from the main theatre, there was also plenty of live music in the centrum, Top Hat Lounge and Schooner Bar at night and by the pool during the day. Spa and gymnasium: Although the gymnasium on Splendour of the Seas is small, it was just about adequate for the amount of use it got. Perhaps it was the enthusiasm and professionalism of the staff in the training center that led to more people joining the classes as the cruise went on. The lectures and classes in the gym were the best on the whole ship and the only "intelligent" activities available. The training center staff were all from Brazil and deserve maximum credit. The spa staff were also excellent, very friendly and never pushy to sell their products. The pools were heated to a decent temperature throughout and very well maintained. Activities on board: Considering that this ship normally runs a seven day, port intensive itinerary, it was to be expected that there would be a lack of decent activities on board. Apart from the lectures from the fitness center and spa, there was nothing intellectual at all, just the usual belly-flop, men's sexy legs and marriage games, plus the bingo, casino, art auction etc. and a most pathetic ceremony when we passed the equator. Notwithstanding the above comment, it has to be said that we were never bored at all and the wonderful sea days passed by so quickly. The weather was good and the seas calm all of the time. The ports and shopping guide and lectures were the most pathetic I have ever seen. Out of six ports of call Helene from the USA could only manage to recommend two stores, one lacecraft shop in Madeira and an "oversell" jewelers' in Rio de Janeiro. At least the jewelry shop did a good job for Royal Caribbean in Rio by offering the shuttle service free of charge. Shore excursions: Excellent shore excursions were made available in both Madeira and Santa Cruz de la Palma. The ones we chose can be highly recommended. They were "A taste of Madeira" and Volcano & Wine" respectively. Considering that both Mindelo and Recife are seldom-used ports, RCL made little attempt to offer decent shore excursions here. Indeed, in Cape Verde it is difficult to find anything for a tourist to do. We took a taxi out to a local beach area and walked around the town a bit. After two and a half hours, we were back on the ship. In Recife, we booked a private excursion to Maragogi, a beautiful beach area 120 km away. It is a pity that RCL only offered excursions to the run-down old-town when there is so much to see away from the town. In Salvador, we did not need an excursion, as the ship docks in the historic center itself and everything can be seen on foot. In Rio de Janeiro we took advantage of the shuttle to go into the Ipanema district where we spent a pleasant day shopping and eating a spectacular "Rodizio". (We have been to Rio several times before, so we did not visit the tourist sites again). Debarkation: This was a slow process, as had been embarkation. We had a "preferential" time of 8:30 marked, but were only allowed to leave at 10:00. Once inside the terminal, there was plenty of queuing to hand in customs papers at a single exit.

Transatlantic cruise – 4th December 2007

Splendour of the Seas Cruise Review by Mines

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2007
  • Destination: Transatlantic
  • Cabin Type: Grand Suite
Splendour of the Seas
Transatlantic cruise - 4th December 2007
Itinerary:
Day 1 Lisbon, Portugal Day 2 At sea Day 3 Funchal, Madeira Day 4 Santa Cruz de la Palma, Canary Islands Day 5 At sea Day 6 Mindelo, St. Vincente, Cape Verde Islands Day 7 At sea Day 8 At sea Day 9 At sea Day 10 Recife, Brazil Day 11 At sea Day 12 Salvador, Brazil Day 13 At sea Day 14 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Day 15 Santos (São Paulo), Brazil
Introduction: This is a fairly long review, but justified because it is the first Royal Caribbean cruise to South America since 2001 and is likely to be read with keen interest by both CC members who have a South American cruise booked and those who are interested in booking one.
Any vacation, whether on land or on the sea, is essentially what the guests want to make of it. It is always easy to be critical, but that is just as likely to spoil the enjoyment of the occasion for the criticizer as for those being criticized. The unexpected will always happen, so the best advice is to "go with the flow" and not let any small inconvenience detract from the pleasure of a cruise - in my opinion the greatest holiday experience on earth, whatever cruise that may be.
General opinion: I had been eagerly awaiting this cruise for many months, so expectations were very high. In reflection, it passed by too quickly as we enjoyed every minute. It was a holiday never to be forgotten.
Departure port: Lisbon. Lisbon is a good port of call and has the facilities to be used as a departure port. It's closeness to the center of town makes it easy to get to, being only 20 minutes away by taxi from all leading hotels. Lisbon is a friendly city and the fresh, mild and dry weather made for a pleasant pre-cruise stay for those that took advantage of the opportunity.
Embarkation: RCL's first South American cruise for 6 years and the use of an "occasional" departure port of Lisbon made this a difficult experience for most guests. Although we had priority check-in, being in a suite, it took us over an hour, with delays caused by having to fill in Brazilian immigration forms at the check-in desk, while the clerk and all other guests were waiting. Then there was the Port's own baggage check and passport control, with only two gates, causing a bottle neck and finally a queue at the only entrance to the ship for the photos on the seapass.
The confusion was added to by a breakdown in the on-board computer system for printing seapasses. At check-in the clerk could not find our seapass so gave us a voucher that we had to present at the purser's desk later to exchange for a seapass. This led to a further queuing of one hour later that evening.
As it happens, we should be grateful for the requirement to complete the Brazilian immigration form at check-in, because it saved us the need for presenting passports at Recife, the first Brazilian port of call. The passports were collected and only returned on the penultimate day of the cruise. The authorities stamped them in Recife in our absence. One suggestion to speed up the process of embarkation could be to require guests to complete the immigration papers and present them with their passports for collection at muster.
Sail-away and muster: This went smoothly and on-time. The drill was conducted in Portuguese and English, for the benefit of the majority of passengers (about 70% Portuguese speaking, 20% English and 10% other). A thick fog spoilt what would have been a fantastic sail away view.
General appearance of the ship and quality of service: Splendour of the Seas is one of the older and smaller ships in the fleet, but as they say, everything is relative and she would be considered the best and most modern in many other cruise lines. We were particularly impressed by the standard of the ship, beautifully maintained and looking as impressive as she did in her maiden years.
The service on-board was good, with ever crew member trying their best to be helpful and impress the guests. Being the repositioning cruise before a winter season in Brazil, there were inevitably some difficulties caused by many new staff entering in Lisbon. Because of the language and Brazilian law, most new crew members were Brazilians, but they seemed to fit in well with their more experienced colleagues.
Staterooms: All staterooms are of the highest quality on Splendour of the Seas, being slightly bigger than on other category ships. We were in a Grand Suite and our travelling companions in an aft balcony on deck 6. We were very pleased with the rooms and the attendance.
In the Grand Suite, we were greeted with fresh fruit, a pillow menu, a card to enter the concierge lounge and bath robes and slippers. They had not yet replaced the old Video cassette player and TV with DVD and LCD, but as it turned out, we had little time to watch TV anyway.
The grand suites are excellent sizes, square in shape to give plenty of room, including a large square bathroom. We have never had an excess of cupboard space on a cruise before, but we had this time, including the luxury of one clothes hanger per garment.
It is a pity that there was no internet available in staterooms. I had to take the laptop to a designated "hotspot" to access the RCL "wi-fi".
Dining: As on most Vision-class ships, dining is limited with no speciality restaurants, no Johnny Rockets and no Seaview Cafe. However, in my opinion, this was compensated by a fine selection of varied food and good service in both the main dining room and Windjammer.
The 14-day menu has a few repeated dishes, but there was always a good selection of new items that we always enjoyed our meal in the main dining room. We went to the Windjammer for dinner three times. This was always good and fast, with the best steaks available, grilled to perfection while you wait.
The Solarium bar had the usual selection of pizzas, hamburgers, chips and hot dogs. Their general aspect did not lead us to want to try them. Best here was the made to order pancakes.
With new staff being taken on for this cruise, there were inevitable learning difficulties in the restaurant and the waiting time was erratic (some nights acceptable, others a little too long). I have never seen the head waiters working so hard before - they are usually just people you see around in red coats who only talk to the clients on the last evening when the tips are being distributed. On this cruise, our head waiter, from Germany, spoke to us every evening and helped the waiters with everything from serving bread and water to collecting deliveries from the kitchen to clearing away dirty plates. I was impressed by this spirit of co-operation.
The Lattitudes cafe was one of favorite haunts. My wife had to have her morning "espresso" there and I loved the cookies and muffins (better than in the Windjammer) and the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream.
There were two special nights, one by the pool with a buffet and BBQ, the other the inevitable midnight buffet in the dining room.
Concierge lounge: Set up in the "card room" on deck 7 (centrum) this has to be the prettiest concierge lounge afloat, with magnificent sea views. The evening canapes and drinks were very good. They were always the same every day, but we didn't complain about that. It was very thoughtful of them to add an additional overflow lounge in the deck 3 conference center. We used this on several nights as it was far less busy than the main CL.
The concierge, Giovanna, from Brazil, deserves maximum praise for the efficient way she managed the lounge and for her helpfulness in trying to resolve problems.
Entertainment: The Splendour of the Seas singers and dancers were very good, particularly the two feature dancers, a couple from Utah. As they were accustomed to doing two production shows per week on the normal routines, on this cruise we saw them only twice in 14 nights. However, they made up for this with some very good invitation acts, with only one night being repeated. Cruise director, Leo Papa did a good job.
Away from the main theatre, there was also plenty of live music in the centrum, Top Hat Lounge and Schooner Bar at night and by the pool during the day.
Spa and gymnasium: Although the gymnasium on Splendour of the Seas is small, it was just about adequate for the amount of use it got. Perhaps it was the enthusiasm and professionalism of the staff in the training center that led to more people joining the classes as the cruise went on. The lectures and classes in the gym were the best on the whole ship and the only "intelligent" activities available. The training center staff were all from Brazil and deserve maximum credit. The spa staff were also excellent, very friendly and never pushy to sell their products.
The pools were heated to a decent temperature throughout and very well maintained.
Activities on board: Considering that this ship normally runs a seven day, port intensive itinerary, it was to be expected that there would be a lack of decent activities on board. Apart from the lectures from the fitness center and spa, there was nothing intellectual at all, just the usual belly-flop, men's sexy legs and marriage games, plus the bingo, casino, art auction etc. and a most pathetic ceremony when we passed the equator.
Notwithstanding the above comment, it has to be said that we were never bored at all and the wonderful sea days passed by so quickly. The weather was good and the seas calm all of the time.
The ports and shopping guide and lectures were the most pathetic I have ever seen. Out of six ports of call Helene from the USA could only manage to recommend two stores, one lacecraft shop in Madeira and an "oversell" jewelers' in Rio de Janeiro. At least the jewelry shop did a good job for Royal Caribbean in Rio by offering the shuttle service free of charge.
Shore excursions: Excellent shore excursions were made available in both Madeira and Santa Cruz de la Palma. The ones we chose can be highly recommended. They were "A taste of Madeira" and Volcano & Wine" respectively.
Considering that both Mindelo and Recife are seldom-used ports, RCL made little attempt to offer decent shore excursions here. Indeed, in Cape Verde it is difficult to find anything for a tourist to do. We took a taxi out to a local beach area and walked around the town a bit. After two and a half hours, we were back on the ship.
In Recife, we booked a private excursion to Maragogi, a beautiful beach area 120 km away. It is a pity that RCL only offered excursions to the run-down old-town when there is so much to see away from the town.
In Salvador, we did not need an excursion, as the ship docks in the historic center itself and everything can be seen on foot.
In Rio de Janeiro we took advantage of the shuttle to go into the Ipanema district where we spent a pleasant day shopping and eating a spectacular "Rodizio". (We have been to Rio several times before, so we did not visit the tourist sites again).
Debarkation: This was a slow process, as had been embarkation. We had a "preferential" time of 8:30 marked, but were only allowed to leave at 10:00. Once inside the terminal, there was plenty of queuing to hand in customs papers at a single exit.
Mines’s Full Rating Summary
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