Some of the reviews for the Splendour remind me a bit of reviews I read about Monarch of the Seas a few years back just before it was sold. The Monarch proved to be a well-run happy ship and the same was true of Splendour.
The ship may not be the newest or biggest but it’s well-maintained and the crew is still 100% committed. Fares are very competitive so if you pay $500 for a 7 day cruise in reasonably exotic waters you can’t expect the experience you might get on, say, Seabourne. What we got was honest value and a very pleasant cruise.
Embarkation was good, possibly because we arrived at about 12 Noon and had completed all the online check-in documents. We were quickly aboard, said hello to our steward Annie, dropped our bags and headed for the Windjammer which I found surprisingly quiet for an embarkation day.
Food everywhere, while not the best, was more than adequate with plenty on offer in the Windjammer and reasonable variety in the dining room where our waiters Maria and Maricel made every evening an event. We were travelling light but managed to make a fist of Formal nights. A jacket and tie was enough to avoid you feeling uncomfortable.
We took the occasional breakfast and lunch in the MDR too. Options were reasonable.
Some of the secondary dining locations such as the dog house and Park Café offered variety as did the enthusiastic ice cream lady on the pool deck.
We had an inside (3081) and crowded in a third adult – my son. Not as nice as a balcony but it wasn’t exactly hardship either. The TV showed some watchable films – Ant Man, Jurassic Park, National Lampoons Vacation etc. they came on a loop and I think we eventually saw them all. Not sure what German guests were making of continual repeats of Allo Allo though! There was just about enough room for us to organise things. There was plenty of storage. The shower curtain could have been a bit more generous but it’s a small grumble.
A better bet was to head for the pool deck to see some blockbusters on the big screen including Everest, A Walk in the Woods (Bill Bryson) and The Walk. Blankets were provided.
Entertainment looked adequate too although the only time we went to the main theatre the lighting of the acrobats seemed to be out of synch. Acrobatics and shows in the Centrum were better I thought – especially the Beatles tribute bend who were excellent.
Ports of Call were unusual. We took a dhow up the fjords at Khasab which was really pleasant. We got to see dolphins following the boat and had 30 mins in which to swim off Telegraph Island – and get ashore to see the ruins of the old British telegraph station.
In Muscat we walked around the town under our own steam. It was reasonably interesting. We managed two half days of rain there which was unlucky given they get 12 days of rain all year.
In Abu Dhabi we visited Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque which was very impressive, The visit to the Heritage Village was cancelled because of the Red Bull Air show which was disappointing. The alternative offered – a coach tour of Yas Island wasn’t as attractive.
For the last day the ship docked back at Dubai. Since we had a few days booked in Dubai after the cruise we took the opportunity to stay aboard which was a relaxing end to the trip.
To be honest, I wonder why I go sometimes. I tend to stay in insides, never go to the shows, don’t drink, don’t pay for speciality dining, don’t gamble, don’t use the spa or gym or climbing wall or mini-golf and only take a few excursions. Despite that I enjoy being on ships and the Splendour was a nice ship to be on. It says a lot for the commitment of the crew that they kept standards sky high just a few weeks before the ship is sold to Thomson.
We had an inside (3081) and crowded in a third adult – my son. Not as nice as a balcony but it wasn’t exactly hardship either. The TV showed some watchable films – Ant Man, Jurassic Park, National Lampoons Vacation etc. they came on a loop and I think we eventually saw them all. Not sure what German guests were making of continual repeats of Allo Allo though! There was just about enough room for us to organise things. There was plenty of storage. The shower curtain could have been a bit more generous but it’s a small grumble. On the plus side we experienced no noicse problems at any time and the air con worked just fine allowing us to select either cold or warm and everything in-between.
Basic cruise terminal. Deep inside the commercial port requiring a taxi to connect to the ship.
Not yet geared up for tourists so it was interesting just to walk around. The Corniche - promenade - was pleasant and ran for miles around a headland. There were interesting fortifications around the town and a Souk that seemed to be pitched at locals rather than tourists. We bought some useful t-shirts for 1 Rial - about £2. Also a bag of Frankincense for about £6. I have no idea what it should cost but it looked like a bag of meth. No idea how our bag didn't get pulled on the way home.
The Mosque was excellent on a mind-boggling scale and we got a good commentary from the guide. Not just on the architecture but on Islam and local cultures etc. Unfortunately the second part of the trip to Heritage Village was cancelled due to the Red Bull Air Show which was disappointing.