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Background Info: We completed the Splendour of the Seas May 23rd sailing, embarking and debarking in Venice, with stops in Split, Kusadasi, Santorini, and Corfu. I booked through USAA travel and got an incredible price. I reserved a guaranteed Oceanview room, and was upgraded to a Balcony on the 7th deck, port side. I booked our flights through Orbitz and we arrived in Venice on the day of departure. We spent an extra day in Venice after the cruise.Hotel Info: We stayed at the Marco Polo Airport Courtyard Marriott after the completion of the cruise. The hotel was nice and clean as expected. Make sure to get a guarantee on non-smoking room and bed type if this is important to you (not all rooms are non-smoking), and bring a copy of your reservation. There is a bus stop directly across the street from the hotel. You can buy bus tickets (1.10 euro each way) at the hotel's front desk. You can take a bus to Palazzo de Roma (Venice). Buses leave every 30 minutes and it takes about 25 min to get there. Note: If you are planning to take the vaporetto (public water taxi) around Venice, consider getting a 24 hr pass. The hotel also provides a free shuttle to the airport, which was the main reason we stayed here.Ship Info: Although the Splendour of the Seas is 13 years old, the only true wear and tear we noticed was on the miniature golf course, which was in desperate need of TLC. Other than that, I thought the ship was well-maintained and kept clean. Hand sanitizers are located throughout the ship and you will be asked to use them before entering any of the dining facilities. I had a massage and mini-facial while onboard (RC was offering $99 ladies' night and gentlemen's night treatments on specific days) which was wonderful. If you are planning on buying anything from the gift shops, wait until there is a sale onboard. Entertainment & Activities: We only attended one of the evening shows which was decent. We watched a few of the others on the RCTV channel and they were pretty good. Had the ports not been as amazing as they were, we probably would have made more of an effort to see the shows. Most shows had two seatings depending on what time your dinner seating was. A lot of daytime activities were also offered, it seemed like there was something for just about every age group-daily lectures, art auction (including works of Picasso and Chagall), poolside activities, daily walks, etc. The activities seemed well organized and thought out.Service: We were happy with the service onboard. Every request we had was quickly met. Our room was cleaned twice a day and the dining service, especially the evening, was excellent. The recommended tipping is about $10/day. You can choose pre-paid tipping (added to your seapass account) and are given vouchers to hand in envelopes to room attendant and waiters on the last night. This method seemed very easy and took the hassle out of getting cash and exact change.Port & Shore Excursions: We pre-booked excursions in Split, Croatia and Kusadasi, Turkey with RC before we left. We toured Santorini and Corfu on our own, and were happy with that decision.Split, Croatia: Our reasoning for booking the Split tour (2 hr Historic Walking Tour) was that we worried some things may be closed since we would be there on a Sunday. Many shops were closed, so we were glad to have done the tour. However, it would have been cheaper to just arrive in Split and purchase a local tour. The main site to see is Diocletian's Palace. There was also a small Chagall Museum, but it was closed so we didn't get to see it. Croatia runs on their own currency (ATMs are available and within walking distance from the ship), but the two places we bought items (gelato stand and souvenir shop) both accepted dollars. In general, I recommend bringing small denominations of cash with you, so you don't get stuck with foreign currency. Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey: We booked the Ancient Glories Tour (8 hours) through RC and it exceeded our expectations. I highly recommend booking a tour here; the main site to see is Ephesus, and it is not possible to walk there from the port, and I imagine that the price of a taxi there and back would be very close to what you'd pay for a tour anyway. On our tour we visited Ephesus, Magnesia, Miletus, and the Temple of Didyma. None of these places were easy walking and most are still under some level of excavation or restoration. Definitely wear comfortable walking shoes, bring water, and extra batteries for your camera. You could easily spend 2-3 hours just walking through Ephesus. The tour also included lunch at a local restaurant which was tasty. Santorini, Greece: All of the cruise ships anchor out, so we took a tender to reach the port of Skala. RC hand outs tender tickets the morning of, so run down and grab your (free) tickets as soon as they are available so you don't have to wait too long for a tender. Once you reach the shore (about 20 min on the tender), there are three options to reach Fira and have access to the surrounding towns: walk up a pathway on a steep cliff, take a donkey up (on the same walking pathway), or take a cable car. The cable car costs $6 (4 euro) each way and only takes 5 min to reach the top. We did not have to wait in line, but we were one of the first groups to come ashore. Once in Fira, we walked to the bus station (which is behind the taxi station) and took a local bus to Oia (also spelled Ia), one of the most beautiful places I've ever been-white-washed buildings, bright blue roof tops-incredible (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was filmed here). The 20 min bus ride to Oia costs 1.40 euro and you buy tickets on the bus only. Taxis are approx. 18 euro. Oia has walking streets only and is easy to get around. Not all restaurants accept credit cards, but there is an ATM at the bus station in Oia and in one the town itself.Corfu, Greece: This island was also beautiful, but in quite a different way from Santorini. Corfu is green and lush, and much larger. Instead of booking a tour, we hired a taxi for 4 hours with another couple that drove us all over the island to some very scenic spots. We negotiated the price and ended up paying 40 euro per person (or per hour), and also gave a tip to our driver because he gave us such a wonderful tour of Corfu. It's about a 5 min walk from the pier to the taxi stand, but the ship offers a free shuttle. In addition, the ship offered a shuttle from the taxi stand to Corfu Town for $5 person each way (tickets purchased in advance on ship). Otherwise, it is an easy 30 min walk along the shoreline to Corfu Town. We hired the taxi right away and visited Corfu Town last. Our taxi driver took us to several scenic spots to take photos, and then to a restaurant/hotel, called the Golden Fox, that is about halfway up the mountain. We ate the best baklava here, then headed to a small "farm" where we purchased fresh olive oil and tried local wine. The olive groves throughout the mountains are really neat to see. After that we visited Paleokastritsa which is a gorgeous (but small) resort and beach area. If we had more time, I would have liked to have taken a boat out to see the caves and grottos here. We ate dinner at a small restaurant in Corfu Town and walked back to the ship.Venice, Italy: Venice is an expensive city, but there are several easy ways to save a little bit of money. First, don't eat at any of the restaurants in San Marco Square-they seem to be the most expensive. Second, if you want to do a gondola ride, you can hire one in a residential district for about 60 euro for 30 minutes (the Grand Canal gondolas are much more). Also, the cheapest way to see the Grand Canal is to take a vaporetto-public water taxi (line 1 or 2) around. Since I had already been to Venice, we didn't see all of the main sites. We did go up the bell tower in San Marco Square which was well worth the 8 euro pp for the best views of the city. We took the vaporetto (12 euro pp r/t) over to Murano, which is where the famous glass is made and a great place to get glass souvenirs. While most shops have credit card stickers on the doors, they don't always accept credit cards, or have a minimum charge, but there are ATMs nearby. Unfortunately we didn't have time on this trip to go to Burano, another island just beyond Murano. Burano is known for its lace and brightly painted doors on all of the houses. The food in Venice was great, especially the pizza.Travel to Port of Embarkation: We took USAir to Venice, and while our luggage was never lost and flights were on time, the food was awful and there weren't individual tvs in coach like most other international airlines have. We had reserved the RC transportation from the airport to the ship. There were RC reps waiting outside customs for us and made the transition to the ship seamless. Once we got to the pier, we were able to check in at 11am, and then board the ship. A buffet lunch in the Windjammer Cafe was ready at noon, and our rooms were ready at 1pm with our luggage already in them.Stateroom: We had a balcony room on the 7th deck, port side, which was had great views leaving Venice. The shower was smaller than I expected, but manageable. There was a small tv in the room and a European electrical outlet as well as an American electrical outlet, so the converter I brought wasn't necessary. Our tour tickets were also waiting in our room upon our arrival. There was plenty of storage space for all of our clothes.Dining: We had the late (9pm) dining which worked out very well since we got back from most of the ports late. Our servers were excellent and the food was good. There were several choices on the menu, and it seems like it wouldn't be too hard to find something you liked. The Windjammer Cafe offered a nice buffet for breakfast and lunch. If you prefer to be served, you can also eat in the King & I Dining room for lunch and dinner. Room service is available 24 hrs a day, but there is a $4 charge for orders late at night. My husband got the soda package for $6 plus 15% gratuity a day, which seemed like a good buy. There were not any alcoholic drink packages, except for wine, so we just bought drinks individually. The drink of the day was $4.75 plus 15% gratuity, most other drinks aside from beer and wine were around $10 each. Also, if you order a bottle of wine at dinner and don't finish it, your server will save it for you for the next night. If you prefer espresso drinks to regular coffee, there is a Seatle's Best Espresso Bar onboard as well, for a small charge.Children's Clubs: There were a few children on the ship, but I wouldn't recommend this cruise for young kids unless you have a lot of family with you to help out. We decided against bringing our toddler with us and were happy with that decision because it would have been difficult and I don't think he (or us) would have enjoyed ourselves as much.Disembarkation: RC offered the option to do an express check out where you carry your own bags off the ship. We chose this option since we only had a few bags and could carry ourselves, so we did not put our bags out the night before. At 7am they made an announcement for the Express Checkout and we simply walked off the ship with our bags-it was really that simple. There were taxis waiting just outside the pier and we took one to the Courtyard Marriott by the airport for 35 euro.Summary: This was a fantastic cruise and I would love to do it again. I thought RC was well organized and the food and service were good, so I would cruise with them again. Split was probably my least favorite port (I would have rather visited Dubrovnik ) but wasn't bad to say the least.

Tips and Tricks for Carefree Travel on Splendour

Splendour of the Seas Cruise Review by bumblebee2

Trip Details
Background Info: We completed the Splendour of the Seas May 23rd sailing, embarking and debarking in Venice, with stops in Split, Kusadasi, Santorini, and Corfu. I booked through USAA travel and got an incredible price. I reserved a guaranteed Oceanview room, and was upgraded to a Balcony on the 7th deck, port side. I booked our flights through Orbitz and we arrived in Venice on the day of departure. We spent an extra day in Venice after the cruise.Hotel Info: We stayed at the Marco Polo Airport Courtyard Marriott after the completion of the cruise. The hotel was nice and clean as expected. Make sure to get a guarantee on non-smoking room and bed type if this is important to you (not all rooms are non-smoking), and bring a copy of your reservation. There is a bus stop directly across the street from the hotel. You can buy bus tickets (1.10 euro each way) at the hotel's front desk. You can take a bus to Palazzo de Roma (Venice). Buses leave every 30 minutes and it takes about 25 min to get there. Note: If you are planning to take the vaporetto (public water taxi) around Venice, consider getting a 24 hr pass. The hotel also provides a free shuttle to the airport, which was the main reason we stayed here.Ship Info: Although the Splendour of the Seas is 13 years old, the only true wear and tear we noticed was on the miniature golf course, which was in desperate need of TLC. Other than that, I thought the ship was well-maintained and kept clean. Hand sanitizers are located throughout the ship and you will be asked to use them before entering any of the dining facilities. I had a massage and mini-facial while onboard (RC was offering $99 ladies' night and gentlemen's night treatments on specific days) which was wonderful. If you are planning on buying anything from the gift shops, wait until there is a sale onboard. Entertainment & Activities: We only attended one of the evening shows which was decent. We watched a few of the others on the RCTV channel and they were pretty good. Had the ports not been as amazing as they were, we probably would have made more of an effort to see the shows. Most shows had two seatings depending on what time your dinner seating was. A lot of daytime activities were also offered, it seemed like there was something for just about every age group-daily lectures, art auction (including works of Picasso and Chagall), poolside activities, daily walks, etc. The activities seemed well organized and thought out.Service: We were happy with the service onboard. Every request we had was quickly met. Our room was cleaned twice a day and the dining service, especially the evening, was excellent. The recommended tipping is about $10/day. You can choose pre-paid tipping (added to your seapass account) and are given vouchers to hand in envelopes to room attendant and waiters on the last night. This method seemed very easy and took the hassle out of getting cash and exact change.Port & Shore Excursions: We pre-booked excursions in Split, Croatia and Kusadasi, Turkey with RC before we left. We toured Santorini and Corfu on our own, and were happy with that decision.Split, Croatia: Our reasoning for booking the Split tour (2 hr Historic Walking Tour) was that we worried some things may be closed since we would be there on a Sunday. Many shops were closed, so we were glad to have done the tour. However, it would have been cheaper to just arrive in Split and purchase a local tour. The main site to see is Diocletian's Palace. There was also a small Chagall Museum, but it was closed so we didn't get to see it. Croatia runs on their own currency (ATMs are available and within walking distance from the ship), but the two places we bought items (gelato stand and souvenir shop) both accepted dollars. In general, I recommend bringing small denominations of cash with you, so you don't get stuck with foreign currency. Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey: We booked the Ancient Glories Tour (8 hours) through RC and it exceeded our expectations. I highly recommend booking a tour here; the main site to see is Ephesus, and it is not possible to walk there from the port, and I imagine that the price of a taxi there and back would be very close to what you'd pay for a tour anyway. On our tour we visited Ephesus, Magnesia, Miletus, and the Temple of Didyma. None of these places were easy walking and most are still under some level of excavation or restoration. Definitely wear comfortable walking shoes, bring water, and extra batteries for your camera. You could easily spend 2-3 hours just walking through Ephesus. The tour also included lunch at a local restaurant which was tasty. Santorini, Greece: All of the cruise ships anchor out, so we took a tender to reach the port of Skala. RC hand outs tender tickets the morning of, so run down and grab your (free) tickets as soon as they are available so you don't have to wait too long for a tender. Once you reach the shore (about 20 min on the tender), there are three options to reach Fira and have access to the surrounding towns: walk up a pathway on a steep cliff, take a donkey up (on the same walking pathway), or take a cable car. The cable car costs $6 (4 euro) each way and only takes 5 min to reach the top. We did not have to wait in line, but we were one of the first groups to come ashore. Once in Fira, we walked to the bus station (which is behind the taxi station) and took a local bus to Oia (also spelled Ia), one of the most beautiful places I've ever been-white-washed buildings, bright blue roof tops-incredible (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was filmed here). The 20 min bus ride to Oia costs 1.40 euro and you buy tickets on the bus only. Taxis are approx. 18 euro. Oia has walking streets only and is easy to get around. Not all restaurants accept credit cards, but there is an ATM at the bus station in Oia and in one the town itself.Corfu, Greece: This island was also beautiful, but in quite a different way from Santorini. Corfu is green and lush, and much larger. Instead of booking a tour, we hired a taxi for 4 hours with another couple that drove us all over the island to some very scenic spots. We negotiated the price and ended up paying 40 euro per person (or per hour), and also gave a tip to our driver because he gave us such a wonderful tour of Corfu. It's about a 5 min walk from the pier to the taxi stand, but the ship offers a free shuttle. In addition, the ship offered a shuttle from the taxi stand to Corfu Town for $5 person each way (tickets purchased in advance on ship). Otherwise, it is an easy 30 min walk along the shoreline to Corfu Town. We hired the taxi right away and visited Corfu Town last. Our taxi driver took us to several scenic spots to take photos, and then to a restaurant/hotel, called the Golden Fox, that is about halfway up the mountain. We ate the best baklava here, then headed to a small "farm" where we purchased fresh olive oil and tried local wine. The olive groves throughout the mountains are really neat to see. After that we visited Paleokastritsa which is a gorgeous (but small) resort and beach area. If we had more time, I would have liked to have taken a boat out to see the caves and grottos here. We ate dinner at a small restaurant in Corfu Town and walked back to the ship.Venice, Italy: Venice is an expensive city, but there are several easy ways to save a little bit of money. First, don't eat at any of the restaurants in San Marco Square-they seem to be the most expensive. Second, if you want to do a gondola ride, you can hire one in a residential district for about 60 euro for 30 minutes (the Grand Canal gondolas are much more). Also, the cheapest way to see the Grand Canal is to take a vaporetto-public water taxi (line 1 or 2) around. Since I had already been to Venice, we didn't see all of the main sites. We did go up the bell tower in San Marco Square which was well worth the 8 euro pp for the best views of the city. We took the vaporetto (12 euro pp r/t) over to Murano, which is where the famous glass is made and a great place to get glass souvenirs. While most shops have credit card stickers on the doors, they don't always accept credit cards, or have a minimum charge, but there are ATMs nearby. Unfortunately we didn't have time on this trip to go to Burano, another island just beyond Murano. Burano is known for its lace and brightly painted doors on all of the houses. The food in Venice was great, especially the pizza.Travel to Port of Embarkation: We took USAir to Venice, and while our luggage was never lost and flights were on time, the food was awful and there weren't individual tvs in coach like most other international airlines have. We had reserved the RC transportation from the airport to the ship. There were RC reps waiting outside customs for us and made the transition to the ship seamless. Once we got to the pier, we were able to check in at 11am, and then board the ship. A buffet lunch in the Windjammer Cafe was ready at noon, and our rooms were ready at 1pm with our luggage already in them.Stateroom: We had a balcony room on the 7th deck, port side, which was had great views leaving Venice. The shower was smaller than I expected, but manageable. There was a small tv in the room and a European electrical outlet as well as an American electrical outlet, so the converter I brought wasn't necessary. Our tour tickets were also waiting in our room upon our arrival. There was plenty of storage space for all of our clothes.Dining: We had the late (9pm) dining which worked out very well since we got back from most of the ports late. Our servers were excellent and the food was good. There were several choices on the menu, and it seems like it wouldn't be too hard to find something you liked. The Windjammer Cafe offered a nice buffet for breakfast and lunch. If you prefer to be served, you can also eat in the King & I Dining room for lunch and dinner. Room service is available 24 hrs a day, but there is a $4 charge for orders late at night. My husband got the soda package for $6 plus 15% gratuity a day, which seemed like a good buy. There were not any alcoholic drink packages, except for wine, so we just bought drinks individually. The drink of the day was $4.75 plus 15% gratuity, most other drinks aside from beer and wine were around $10 each. Also, if you order a bottle of wine at dinner and don't finish it, your server will save it for you for the next night. If you prefer espresso drinks to regular coffee, there is a Seatle's Best Espresso Bar onboard as well, for a small charge.Children's Clubs: There were a few children on the ship, but I wouldn't recommend this cruise for young kids unless you have a lot of family with you to help out. We decided against bringing our toddler with us and were happy with that decision because it would have been difficult and I don't think he (or us) would have enjoyed ourselves as much.Disembarkation: RC offered the option to do an express check out where you carry your own bags off the ship. We chose this option since we only had a few bags and could carry ourselves, so we did not put our bags out the night before. At 7am they made an announcement for the Express Checkout and we simply walked off the ship with our bags-it was really that simple. There were taxis waiting just outside the pier and we took one to the Courtyard Marriott by the airport for 35 euro.Summary: This was a fantastic cruise and I would love to do it again. I thought RC was well organized and the food and service were good, so I would cruise with them again. Split was probably my least favorite port (I would have rather visited Dubrovnik ) but wasn't bad to say the least.
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