Carnival Splendor Cruise Review by WaynoVike
- Sail Date: October 2016
- Destination: Western Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Ocean View
We flew into Miami on Saturday the evening before our Sunday embarkation and stayed at the SpringHill Suites Miami Airport East/Medical Center. They had a free shuttle that picked us up at the airport after we called them an told them we were outside baggage pickup and what door we were at. It took about 30 minutes for the shuttle to arrive. The hotel was nice, with friendly front desk staff. We got sandwiches at their bar that evening and they were pretty good. The included breakfast the next morning included hot and cold items and was decent. There was a Winn Dixie store less then a 10 minute walk away that allowed us to grab a couple of things for the cruise. They also had a shuttle van to the Port of Miami the following day for $8 per person that we took advantage of. The shuttle left the hotel on the half hour with the last one leaving at 12:30pm. Our check in time was 12:30-1pm and were told that the ride only took 15 minutes so we chose the 12:30 shuttle. The van was pulling a trailer so there was plenty of room for all the luggage. I would stay here again.
Embarkation was really quick, though by the time we unloaded from the shuttle and got our bags to the porters it was about 12:55pm so I expected that we would be able to walk right into check-in, but the Carnival staff said they were not worrying about check-in times any longer and were checking everyone in so we had to go to the end of the line, which was only about 10 minutes long to get inside the terminal. Going through security check-in and screening was very efficient We had already completed online check-in so at the check-in with Carnival they just asked if we wanted to use the credit card on file and we said yes, so that took about 30 seconds. We were given a notice that they were not giving Sail & Sign cards out at this point. We were given a notice that they would be in our mailbox outside the cabin in a sealed envelop and we could use the barcode on our boarding pass for any purchases before we were cleared to our cabins. I think I heard that this was something new that Carnival was testing. They scanned the pictures off of our passports so when we were almost to the gangway and they scanned our boarding passes and didn't need to take our picture. Then we were on the ship by about 1:15-1:20pm.
We just hung out in the lobby/atrium area and yes the decor throughout the ship is very pink, but I kinda liked it, and we waited for 1:30 to go to our cabin, and our cards along with the first Fun Times were waiting for us. We quickly checked out our room and dropped our carry on bag and went to Lido for some lunch. Even though I had looked at the deck plans online several times I still got turned around and initially the only food options we saw was the Grill and Pizza Pirate in the pool area so we got something off the grill, and then we saw where the rest of the Lido restaurant/buffet was. During the week we tried all of the Lido food options except for the Tandor Indian buffet and we overall enjoyed everything and were pleased with the options. The pizza was thin crispy crust and that isn't our favorite and it didn't have much cheese on it so that wasn't our favorite. The lemonade was very strong, I think they could add a bit more water to it. The ice tea was un-sweetened and sometimes had a bit of a over brewed slightly burnt flavor to it. Most of the time I filled my cup about 2/3 ice tea and 1/3 lemonade and enjoyed that.
After getting lunch we went back to our room and started unpacking. Then we had the muster drill and while this wasn't necessarily fun, it went relatively well only taking about 30 minutes from leaving our room and getting back. We continued un-packing until the ship started moving and went up to deck 11 and watched leaving Port of Miami. We finished unpacking and walked around the ship a bit more and then showered and got ready for dinner.
We had chosen Your Time Dining which was in the Black Pearl 3 Forward Dining Room. To get to this dining room you had to go to the forward stairs and walk through the lobby to the dining room entrance. We ate at various times between 7 and 8:30pm and never had a problem with being seated quickly. We sometimes had to wait in line for the hostess if there were a lot of guests arriving around the same time, but after checking in we were seated immediately at a table for 2. We absolutely loved our Main Dining for the whole cruise. The food was excellent and we tried different things every night and enjoyed the variations of the menu. We thought the portions were about right and didn't feel too guilty about trying 2 appetizers and 2 main dishes most nights. On our very first night we got a great serving team with head waiter Leslie and we asked for him every night and were able to enjoy his service all but 1 night. And that night, while our service wasn't bad we realized why we liked Leslie and his team so much!
We went to the Sail Away show at 9:30 and enjoyed finding out more of what to expect from our Cruise Director Chloe, who did a great job with announcements and was so cheerful and upbeat when around the ship.
On our Sea Days and after coming back from shore excursions we spent most of our time on the Serenity area on Deck 12 just relaxing and reading. We enjoyed this area a lot and didn't really have a hard time finding deck chairs. We also spent some time in the Lido pool area, but by late afternoon, early evening those who have enjoyed several adult beverages were a bit obnoxious so it wasn't our favorite place to be. No one was out of hand and I never saw anyone completely wasted. While people were having a good time in the way they enjoyed, I wouldn't say it felt like a "party ship" as I have heard Carnival described as. We preferred spending time in the aft-pool area as it was a more chill, relaxing atmosphere. We didn't spend much time around the deck 11 pool near where the water slide (which I tried and it is really slow and not much fun) ended as that seemed to be where the families with kids hung out and we had left our kids at home so didn't feel the desire to hang out with other's kids. There were not a lot of kids on this cruise with school in session, and with those that were there wasn't much of an issue. There were a few pre-teen, early teen aged kids that were a bit obnoxious one time we went to play mini-golf, but it wasn't anything too bad.
We absolutely loved the Playlist Production shows each evening. We got to see 88 Keys, Studio VIP, 80's Pop to the Max, and Epic Rock. We enjoyed all of them! DW liked 88 Keys the best, and my favorite was probably Epic Rock. I would absolutely recommend making time to go to these shows. We went to one of the PG comedy shows and it was alright. We don't appreciate vulgar humor so didn't go to any of the R shows, so they seemed very popular based on the line to get in.
Our ports of call were Ocho Rios Jamaica, Georgetown Grand Cayman, and Cozumel Mexico. We booked an excursion through Carnival at each port and enjoyed all of them.
In Ocho Rios we did the Sky-Rider and Dunns River Falls. It was a short mini-bus ride to Mystic Mountain and we loved the views through the tropical forest and of the mountains and ocean and of the Carnival Splendor on the Sky-Rider chair lift to the top of Mystic Mountain. At the top we enjoyed their little museum on Jamaican History and Culture, and enjoyed the views and shopped for some souvenirs. They had a pool and waterslide here, but we didn't do that. You can also buy tickets for their bobsled or zip line, which we also did not do. Then we again had a very scenic ride back down the chair lift. Then Mystic Mountain loaded a mini-bus and took us to Dunns River Falls with one of their guides Mama Annette and she was awesome. She told us exactly what to expect and took us into the park and handed us over to our Dunns River guide Oliver and our videographer Oneil. We had a great time climbing the falls with our group. The video of the experience was $40 and we had such a good time we had to buy it. We are glad that we did as it turned out pretty well. It isn't the best quality and probably would feel better only paying $20 for it, but it is a good souvenir. As you exit the park you go through a number of shops selling souvenirs and the merchants are a bit aggressive, but it wasn't too bad. I would recommend this excursion. You
In Grand Cayman we did the Coral Gardens and Sting Ray City excursion. As we were meeting at the pier with the organizer we were told that due to the high winds and waves they only recommended that strong swimmers do the Coral Gardens snorkeling and they offered everyone a full refund. I am not a strong swimmer, so I was concerned, but really wanted to to the Sting Ray City and didn't want to try and book another excursion so we went with it. The excursion was ran by Don Foster's Dive Shop and it was a good experience. It was a beautiful 40 minute boat ride out to Sting Ray City and the staff were great with telling us what to expect and how to interact around the Sting Rays. Due to the wind and waves the normally stomach deep water had swells hitting our face and lifting our feet off the bottom so it wasn't super relaxing. But we saw a ton of Sting Rays swimming right around us, brushing up against us. One of our guides would catch a ray and hold it so we could touch and interact with it, and try holding it our self. It was a great experience. Then we boated out a bit further to the Coral Gardens reef and did some snorkeling. This was the first time snorkeling for both DW and myself and we had some difficulty getting comfortable and the wind and waves didn't help with that, but we eventually figured it out and the coral reef was very cool and we saw some need fish, though they weren't extremely plentiful. Overall I would recommend this excursion.
In Cozumel we did the All Inclusive Passion Island by Power Catamaran. This was a 5 hour excursion with about 1.5 hours being the Power Catamaran ride to/from the island and the rest being at the beach/island. We had a great time on Passion Island. The food was good, and the open bar was nice and the drinks were pretty strong. Due to higher wind and waves we couldn't use the kayaks, but the hammocks in the water were nice, though with the waves not super relaxing. The water inflatables were being enjoyed. The beach had very nice fine white sand. There were also some shops there and the proprietors were a bit aggressive, but not too bad. We enjoyed it a lot and only wish that we would have had more time on the island.
Debarkation went pretty well. We chose to carry off ourself. They started calling decks around 7:30, and we had to leave the cabin by 8:30 and then we hung out in the deck 5 atrium. Out deck 2 was invited to disembark around 9am and getting off the ship and through customs was pretty efficient and we were at the airport around 10:30.
We had a great cruise vacation!
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The cabin was under the Galley/Kitchen area so I was a bit concerned about noise and brought ear plugs along but it was never a problem. The temperature control seemed to work well. We would definitely stay in this cabin again.