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Splendor review, Dec. 20-27, 2008 Our group included my wife and me (40's), a friend (20's), and our two kids, 9 and 12. We have only cruised once before, on the Disney Magic in 2004. Overall, the reaction of all five of us was excellent, and we all had a great time. EMBARKATION: this was the weakest point of the trip. Disney handles this so much better. We arrived at 1:00 and were on board in a little over an hour, but the kids did not enjoy the long, hot waits. But we did not let it dampen our enthusiasm. STATEROOMS: we were on Deck 2 in outside view staterooms. We saved some money by changing our booking from a large window to double porthole rooms, located just a few doors away. We decided early on that it wasn't worth it to us to pay for the balcony because you spend little time in your room. The views were not great, but it really felt like you were on a ship, and the portholes achieved the goal of letting us know it was morning and providing a quick check of our location. We were below the theater and did have some noise from the show props moving around before and after the show, but not as much noise as I expected, and not a problem. Also, we had a lot of noise from the side thrusters as we were pulling into port and this disturbed our sleep sometimes. But a little ship noise only added to the experience. STAFF: High marks go to all of the staff for friendliness and service. SHIP: Overall, very clean, with crew members constantly cleaning and polishing. With 3,500 guests on board, that is no small task. I personally did not like the Las Vegas-like dEcor, but it does accomplish the goal of transporting you to another type of place, and by the end of the week I was used to it. As noted in many reviews, the dEcor included a lot of pink and it appeared that they tried to decorate almost every inch of the ship. It was kind of weird actually. We did like the corridors, which had a 1940's art deco look. I have read reviews about elevator problems. We never saw any elevators out of order. Also, the sliding roof over the pool worked fine and was open the entire trip, except when some rain showers occurred in La Romana, when it was quickly closed. SPA: My wife and friend did the spa, but not me. They gave it mixed reviews, with some parts excellent (massages and the special whirlpool) and others not so great. The seaweed wrap was a waste of money and the spa receptionist was not overly friendly. Generally, the staff performing the services were friendly, but they did not go out of their way to ensure a superb experience given the inflated prices. FOOD: Overall, excellent. How they can feed that many people and do it well is amazing. The Pinnacle was very good, but not a whole lot better than the main dining room, and I would skip it next time. The kids loved the 24-hour pizza (very tasty) and ice cream and the room service grilled cheese sandwiches. Not all of the food was spectacular, but I am not picky and overall it was excellent. ENTERTAINMENT: The main shows were first rate. My kids loved being able to sit in the front row of a Broadway-type show. We felt the productions were better even than on the Disney Magic. We also saw a hypnotist and juggling act, which were also very good. The comedian was so-so. The lounge acts (typically duets) were good, a little cheesy, but this is a mainstream cruise ship after all. The piano bar was excellent. The Cool and the Red Carpet dance clubs could have done better with the music selection. Overall, no complaints at all except the lounges and clubs seemed empty at times and some things closed at 10 p.m. The Library was a nice addition to the amenities where you can borrow books and board games, although the hours were so limited that we never took enough advantage of it, and it would help to have board games available 24-hours. Also, we were disappointed at the lack of shuffleboard. KIDS PROGRAMS: My 9-year old was in the 9-11 group in Camp Carnival and loved it. She made new friends and liked being able to pick and choose activities and get to them on her own. She liked that several of the activities were in the disco. My 12-year old was in Circle C and did not like it very much. You had to get there early to get a spot in some of the activities (Wii and PS2). That's a tough age group to satisfy. But he did enjoy a few events with them. Part of the problem may be that we heard that there were over 1,000 kids on board, the most ever so far for the Splendor. SAN JUAN: We started with a horse-drawn carriage ride, which we located on our own along the pier. It was $65 for 30 minutes for 5 people, which was pricey, but there is not much time in this port, so it was a good way to get a quick look around. Then we walked all over, and enjoyed the locals selling crafts in booths. Also, look for the free rum in the port... Overall, we thought Old San Juan was a neat cultural experience and I wished that we had more time there, but it was getting late and the kids were tired of walking, so the short visit was ok if you have small kids. Felt very safe there. ST. THOMAS: We booked Coral World and Magen's Bay Beach through the ship. Enjoyed both, although again, felt like we did not have enough time. Such is life on a cruise ship, however. Coral World is no Sea World, but is just a local attraction and not fancy. But the kids loved it, including the iguanas walking around and the lorikeet bird enclosure, where they land on your arm and drink from a cup of nectar you hold. We noticed that Coki Beach next door was very packed. But there were 5 ships and about 12,000 passengers that day, so it was all crowded, including Magen's Bay. LA ROMANA, DR: Great stop. We booked Altos de Chavon in the morning through the ship, and the Countryside tour in the afternoon through the ship. Altos de Chavon was really quaint with spectacular views. The tour guide didn't leave enough time for shopping. The shopping there was unique with some very nice hand-made local items. The countryside tour was especially notable and fun. We really liked giving our kids a brief view of life in a foreign country, which you really don't get in ports like St. Thomas and Nassau. The drive through the sugar cane fields was really great, and the kids loved eating raw sugar cane right from the field. You go in an open air jeep and the ride is wild and exciting. We even got stuck in the mud once (fortunately, there was rum on board). La Romana was probably the highlight port of our trip, and about as good as you can get on a cruise vacation in terms of getting a quick taste of local life. We felt very safe there, although we did have a local guide to watch out for us. He was great, and spoke French, English, Spanish and Russian. NASSAU: We booked the Atlantis Aquaventure through the ship. Although very expensive, it gave us a glimpse of Atlantis and allowed us to swim there. We spent most of the time on the huge lazy river, and then did a quick walk through the Dig and the grounds. The lazy river was fantastic, with warm water and lots of crazy waves. The smiles all around made me think that the money was worth it. The time there was definitely too short. FT. LAUDERDALE: Our flight did not leave until mid-afternoon, so we booked the Everglades tour through the ship, which gives you not only the Everglades, but also a bus ride to the airport and the handling of your luggage. We rode on airboats and saw several alligators, birds, and a cute raccoon, so it was worthwhile and a good ending to the trip, especially if you have time to kill before your flight out. It also made the debarkation very easy. Overall, it was a wonderful week. Yes, it was expensive, but we saved money on a porthole room, kept the alcohol consumption reasonable (that can really add up) and avoided the casino. I might like to try a smaller ship and different cruise line next time, but we have no regrets at all with the Carnival Splendor.

Splendid Splendor Christmas Cruise

Carnival Splendor Cruise Review by Cruise9999

Trip Details
Splendor review, Dec. 20-27, 2008
Our group included my wife and me (40's), a friend (20's), and our two kids, 9 and 12. We have only cruised once before, on the Disney Magic in 2004. Overall, the reaction of all five of us was excellent, and we all had a great time.
EMBARKATION: this was the weakest point of the trip. Disney handles this so much better. We arrived at 1:00 and were on board in a little over an hour, but the kids did not enjoy the long, hot waits. But we did not let it dampen our enthusiasm.
STATEROOMS: we were on Deck 2 in outside view staterooms. We saved some money by changing our booking from a large window to double porthole rooms, located just a few doors away. We decided early on that it wasn't worth it to us to pay for the balcony because you spend little time in your room. The views were not great, but it really felt like you were on a ship, and the portholes achieved the goal of letting us know it was morning and providing a quick check of our location. We were below the theater and did have some noise from the show props moving around before and after the show, but not as much noise as I expected, and not a problem. Also, we had a lot of noise from the side thrusters as we were pulling into port and this disturbed our sleep sometimes. But a little ship noise only added to the experience.
STAFF: High marks go to all of the staff for friendliness and service.
SHIP: Overall, very clean, with crew members constantly cleaning and polishing. With 3,500 guests on board, that is no small task. I personally did not like the Las Vegas-like dEcor, but it does accomplish the goal of transporting you to another type of place, and by the end of the week I was used to it. As noted in many reviews, the dEcor included a lot of pink and it appeared that they tried to decorate almost every inch of the ship. It was kind of weird actually. We did like the corridors, which had a 1940's art deco look. I have read reviews about elevator problems. We never saw any elevators out of order. Also, the sliding roof over the pool worked fine and was open the entire trip, except when some rain showers occurred in La Romana, when it was quickly closed.
SPA: My wife and friend did the spa, but not me. They gave it mixed reviews, with some parts excellent (massages and the special whirlpool) and others not so great. The seaweed wrap was a waste of money and the spa receptionist was not overly friendly. Generally, the staff performing the services were friendly, but they did not go out of their way to ensure a superb experience given the inflated prices.
FOOD: Overall, excellent. How they can feed that many people and do it well is amazing. The Pinnacle was very good, but not a whole lot better than the main dining room, and I would skip it next time. The kids loved the 24-hour pizza (very tasty) and ice cream and the room service grilled cheese sandwiches. Not all of the food was spectacular, but I am not picky and overall it was excellent.
ENTERTAINMENT: The main shows were first rate. My kids loved being able to sit in the front row of a Broadway-type show. We felt the productions were better even than on the Disney Magic. We also saw a hypnotist and juggling act, which were also very good. The comedian was so-so. The lounge acts (typically duets) were good, a little cheesy, but this is a mainstream cruise ship after all. The piano bar was excellent. The Cool and the Red Carpet dance clubs could have done better with the music selection. Overall, no complaints at all except the lounges and clubs seemed empty at times and some things closed at 10 p.m. The Library was a nice addition to the amenities where you can borrow books and board games, although the hours were so limited that we never took enough advantage of it, and it would help to have board games available 24-hours. Also, we were disappointed at the lack of shuffleboard.
KIDS PROGRAMS: My 9-year old was in the 9-11 group in Camp Carnival and loved it. She made new friends and liked being able to pick and choose activities and get to them on her own. She liked that several of the activities were in the disco. My 12-year old was in Circle C and did not like it very much. You had to get there early to get a spot in some of the activities (Wii and PS2). That's a tough age group to satisfy. But he did enjoy a few events with them. Part of the problem may be that we heard that there were over 1,000 kids on board, the most ever so far for the Splendor.
SAN JUAN: We started with a horse-drawn carriage ride, which we located on our own along the pier. It was $65 for 30 minutes for 5 people, which was pricey, but there is not much time in this port, so it was a good way to get a quick look around. Then we walked all over, and enjoyed the locals selling crafts in booths. Also, look for the free rum in the port... Overall, we thought Old San Juan was a neat cultural experience and I wished that we had more time there, but it was getting late and the kids were tired of walking, so the short visit was ok if you have small kids. Felt very safe there.
ST. THOMAS: We booked Coral World and Magen's Bay Beach through the ship. Enjoyed both, although again, felt like we did not have enough time. Such is life on a cruise ship, however. Coral World is no Sea World, but is just a local attraction and not fancy. But the kids loved it, including the iguanas walking around and the lorikeet bird enclosure, where they land on your arm and drink from a cup of nectar you hold. We noticed that Coki Beach next door was very packed. But there were 5 ships and about 12,000 passengers that day, so it was all crowded, including Magen's Bay.
LA ROMANA, DR: Great stop. We booked Altos de Chavon in the morning through the ship, and the Countryside tour in the afternoon through the ship. Altos de Chavon was really quaint with spectacular views. The tour guide didn't leave enough time for shopping. The shopping there was unique with some very nice hand-made local items. The countryside tour was especially notable and fun. We really liked giving our kids a brief view of life in a foreign country, which you really don't get in ports like St. Thomas and Nassau. The drive through the sugar cane fields was really great, and the kids loved eating raw sugar cane right from the field. You go in an open air jeep and the ride is wild and exciting. We even got stuck in the mud once (fortunately, there was rum on board). La Romana was probably the highlight port of our trip, and about as good as you can get on a cruise vacation in terms of getting a quick taste of local life. We felt very safe there, although we did have a local guide to watch out for us. He was great, and spoke French, English, Spanish and Russian.
NASSAU: We booked the Atlantis Aquaventure through the ship. Although very expensive, it gave us a glimpse of Atlantis and allowed us to swim there. We spent most of the time on the huge lazy river, and then did a quick walk through the Dig and the grounds. The lazy river was fantastic, with warm water and lots of crazy waves. The smiles all around made me think that the money was worth it. The time there was definitely too short.
FT. LAUDERDALE: Our flight did not leave until mid-afternoon, so we booked the Everglades tour through the ship, which gives you not only the Everglades, but also a bus ride to the airport and the handling of your luggage. We rode on airboats and saw several alligators, birds, and a cute raccoon, so it was worthwhile and a good ending to the trip, especially if you have time to kill before your flight out. It also made the debarkation very easy.
Overall, it was a wonderful week. Yes, it was expensive, but we saved money on a porthole room, kept the alcohol consumption reasonable (that can really add up) and avoided the casino. I might like to try a smaller ship and different cruise line next time, but we have no regrets at all with the Carnival Splendor.
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Cabin Review

Cabin 2221
Good location out of the way. Noise from thrusters when in port. Plenty of room for a family of four.
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