Embarkation: Boarding at Fort Lauderdale was easy because we used the VIP line. It was quick and we were on the ship lightening fast. The embarkation photo had nothing to do with the ship; background looked more like a forest or something. Not being big on pictures, no big deal but I do like embarkation pictures but we didn't even bother. First impressions do mean a lot. We entered the ship preparing to be WOWED, instead it was UGH!!! I know, I read the ship was pink, but it was PINK, and not a very pretty shade of pink-everywhere, even the wood railings. Little pink circles with zebra stripes, everywhere!!! It was so pink it looked cheap and tacky. We went straight to Lido for lunch and waited for the cabin to be ready. We were so excited we had booked a spa balcony cabin. Able to get into the cabin around 1:30, we found a tiny balcony cabin, much smaller than on other Carnival ships. On the counter, we found our two yellow (no, not pink) wrist bands that you couldn't take on and off for our spa privileges, and we were supposed to wear these all week. (Please rethink this, I don't want tan lines and a yellow wrist band would look great with a formal!) Nobody wore them; we carried ours in case we needed them but never did. Our two twin beds barely had room to walk between. The layout of the cabin was not what we were used to. It had a sofa but not in a functional place because the coffee table just didn't fit the room. There did not seem to be as much hanging nor drawer space. In the middle of the mirror was this awful pink and orange light fixture that blocked using the mirror for much more than the light fixture. With a tiny bathroom, where do you dry your hair, get dressed, and do makeup? The beds were the least comfortable I have had on a ship, very disappointing. Paying extra for the Spa Cabin I did not expect the noise level from the kids running up and down the hall. Running kids were bad and seemed to get worse outside our cabin as the week went on.
Dining: Lunches were fine, buffet has plenty to offer. The Asian grill was very bland. The rotisserie was excellent. Burgers were great. Lunch was satisfactory because there was plenty to choose from. Has Carnival trimmed their dinner menu? We were on Carnival Legend in July but the menu in Black Pearl seemed so much smaller and not nearly the selection from just a few months ago. Food was okay, but not great. Desserts were slim picking. Our waiter learned our names the first night and used them each night. I do appreciate waiters getting to know names. The Black Pearl dining room was hideous. The ceiling was decorated with what looked like fried eggs with black yolks-everywhere. More than me mentioned this. I overheard one person say they felt like burnt fried eggs were staring at them. UGLY!!! I know they are supposed to be black pearls, but -. Room service menu was very limited, only a few sandwiches to choose from. We ordered a couple of times late night, and my BLT was always overdone. DRINKS were a royal rip off. I don't cruise to get drunk, but the daily specials had NO liquor. I stopped buying them and this was the lowest on board bill I have ever had. I don't know why, but half of everything was always closed, lunch buffet, the second bar on deck was closed even on New Year's Eve. The ship was sold out supposedly.
Shopping: There were two small shops. Don't they realize people go to spend money?
Pools and decks: This definitely is not your typical ship design. All the others I have been on are tiered to allow for lying in the sun. Splendor, the main pool, which is very small, is three tiers high, but the top deck overhangs the second making it seem very enclosed, even when the roof is open. The pools were very small and empty too often. If you cruise for the pools and the sun, Splendor is not the ship for you. Guess New Years Eve caught the staff off guard. There were no seats on deck, but then it is a very small deck area. There was a constant stream of people dragging chairs from the Lido Grill and trying to find a place to put them on deck. They were selling bottles of champagne for midnight. Reading other ship's reviews, they gave out champagne. I thought it was a little tacky at the time, now I am convinced it was. Sell a bottle if you want more, but make it a New Year's Party for Pete's sake. Forego the Captain's Party and give out champagne on New Years. However, it was cool that we had New Years twice.
Spa: Exceptional, especially the bamboo massage. I really couldn't tell we had a private entrance; anybody could have gotten in and probably did because of the "wrist band" bad idea, so I felt a little cheated.
Sorry it sounds like I painted a rather dull picture of Splendor. Like I said earlier, any week on a cruise is better than a week at work, but the Splendor just didn't do it for me. Here is my word of advice, if you go for sun and pools, you will be dreadfully disappointed with Splendor. Splendor's design, maybe given an interior makeover, would do well in Alaska. I know there is a niche for Splendor, Carnival just hasn't found the right way to market it yet. For nearly 5 grand, I was disappointed. I really wish I had gone on Solstice.
Small and couldn't see the special spa privileges as marketed. Kids ran up and down the hall all the time. Location was too far forward to a smooth ride, I prefer the back of the ship. Would never pay the extra again for a spa cabin.