This cruise was easily one of the most unique cultural experiences I have ever had on a ship. Most cruises offer the on-board diversity of a mall in Montana. Not this cruise. What made the difference was that about 80% of the passengers were Portuguese speakers (either from Brazil or Portugal). That fact alone made this cruise worth every dollar.
I chose this transatlantic cruise because it originally included stops in Brazil, Morocco, and Portugal. Touching three continents on one cruise was the chief reason I chose the Splendour. Vision class ships are too small for me -- I prefer the Radiance class ships. My first disappointment came just after the final payment was due when RCI announced that all three Morocco ports were cancelled. Instead, we would stop at Tenerife, Madeira, and Cadiz. I had been to all three, and like each of them. My disappointment was short-lived.
I will not bore you with the flight from Portland to Sao Paulo. Flying economy class on international flights must be the equivalent of 100,000 years in purgatory -- and this from a non-catholic. We flew into Sao Paulo and were efficiently bused to Sao Paulo's port: Santos, where we waited to board the ship. It was here that I learned my first cultural lesson. Brazilians are not handicapped with the northern European notion of lining up -- massive rugby scrums are closer to the truth. And I must admit that I am not certain that germanic order is any more efficient than a good old-fashioned crowd-shoving stampede. (For some reason, this cultural attribute seemed to disturb most of the outnumbered English-speaking guests more than anything else.)