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Background: We are an Oregon family of four: two 50-something parents, a 23-year-old daughter, and a 15-year-old son. This was the third cruise for my husband, son, and me; the first for my daughter. All cruises have been on RCI: Mariner of the Seas to Mexican Riviera, Rhapsody of the Seas to Alaska, and now Splendour of the Seas to the Eastern Med. Cruise Highlights: * The staff, the staff, the staff. From stateroom attendant Germano to bartender Dimitri to the very helpful pursers (all of them) to cruise director Anthony ... RCI knows how to make passengers feel special. But I'd like to give a special shout-out to the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers. They were, simply put, fantastic. The entertainment they provided and their gracious offstage presence are the stuff of sweet vacation memories. We had the occasion to chat at length with the incredibly gifted Jeff Blair and Brittany Mazur, and they are both warm, charming ambassadors for their ship. Port Highlights: * Venice, Dubrovnik, Kusadasi, Santorini, and Corfu = a beautiful itinerary. Every port is worth visiting. See the Jewish Ghetto in Venice (with its barbed wire and guardhouse still in place); the Terraced Houses of Ephesus, Turkey, an active archaeological dig; the breathtaking, white-washed Oia, in Santorini, Greece; and the "old town" in Corfu, Greece, with its tiny beach and incredible olive wood buys. Stay at the Marriott Courtyard in Venice if you want a fairly priced room (20 minutes outside of Venice, with bus service across the street to "downtown" Venice). * Gonca Kizilhan of Kusadasi Tours made Turkey the most memorable port on our trip. A freelance tour guide, she was pure sunshine as we toured Ephesus and spent additional time at port. She is knowledgeable, professional, and exudes great pride in her country. * The RCI Excursion to Oia (in Santorini) provided us with a way to bypass the cable car/donkey issue (the only way to get up to Santorini from the primary pier). Meeting time for our group was 6:45 a.m.; we then boarded a tender that took us to an entirely different pier, where a bus awaited us for the steep ride up the mountainside to Oia. With its white-washed, blue-domed churches that seem to tumble into the sea, Oia is both fairytale and photographer's dream, punctuated by gentle breezes, church bells, and warm, friendly merchants selling high-quality goods. If you visit, look for my heart. Note: This excursion saved us time during our limited stay. We waited for one hot hour for the return cable car trip from town to the tender in the afternoon. We wouldn't have wanted to waste that time in the morning, too. (Waiting times vary.) This excursion also includes an enjoyable wine tasting. SPECIAL OBSERVATIONS: Cleanliness and design: Splendour of the Seas is one of the older ships in RCI's fleet, but it is beautifully maintained. All public areas were lovely. There were just a few minor issues, possibly due to the older ship design. For instance, it was often very hard to find a seat in the Windjammer Cafe. My advice is to make greater use of the main restaurant, which always had a seat available (plus really good food). The second quirk was the lack of announcements in the staterooms (though some folks consider this a plus). I loved them on the Mariner, and really missed them on Rhapsody and Splendour. I suppose this is a wiring issue on the older ships. Just make sure to read the daily Compass, or prop your door open to hear the announcements as soon as they begin. Embarkation and debarkation: Went without a hitch. Incredibly organized. Fellow passengers: There were many, many non-English-speaking passengers on this ship. It might have been due to time of year (August) and favorable exchange rate for Europeans. If you're seeking a cruise that is predominantly American or English-speaking, check with RCI or your travel agent about current trends on this itinerary. Note: RCI's staff all speak English and did their best to make everyone feel at home. Evening shows and other activities were introduced in multiple languages. Entertainment was generic. This issue, however, is the reason I rated our overall experience a 4 instead of a 5+. Cuisine/seating style: No complaints at either of the two restaurants in terms of food. I am not a proponent of the My Time Dining being introduced on all the cruise lines. There's something to be said for getting to know your tablemates and wait staff, and being able to give all family members a precise time and table number at which to meet every evening. Smoking: We're non-smokers, and we were fully aware of RCI's policies: no smoking in the staterooms; smoking allowed on the balconies. We hoped to luck out. We didn't. We paid extra for a balcony, and got extra: our adjacent neighbors' smoke. RCI, please designate one side of your ship non-smoking at the very least. The scenery in the Mediterranean is poetic. Chocking on cigarette smoke is not. It isn't fair to pay a premium for it. Teen club: Our son loves to dance, and there's been a teen club with dance floor (and arcade) on each of the three cruises we've taken. We rarely saw our son on our cruises. If you're bringing a teen for the first time, make sure they go to the club on the first day. They'll feel more at home on the rest of the trip. Really active teens might prefer the newer ships that have more bells and whistles. In summary, Royal Caribbean is a wonderful cruise line, and this was a beautiful trip. Kudos to RCI for working hard to provide a fantastic vacation product.

Gorgeous ports, attentive staff

Splendour of the Seas Cruise Review by j.a.m.

Trip Details
Background: We are an Oregon family of four: two 50-something parents, a 23-year-old daughter, and a 15-year-old son. This was the third cruise for my husband, son, and me; the first for my daughter. All cruises have been on RCI: Mariner of the Seas to Mexican Riviera, Rhapsody of the Seas to Alaska, and now Splendour of the Seas to the Eastern Med. Cruise Highlights: * The staff, the staff, the staff. From stateroom attendant Germano to bartender Dimitri to the very helpful pursers (all of them) to cruise director Anthony ... RCI knows how to make passengers feel special. But I'd like to give a special shout-out to the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers. They were, simply put, fantastic. The entertainment they provided and their gracious offstage presence are the stuff of sweet vacation memories. We had the occasion to chat at length with the incredibly gifted Jeff Blair and Brittany Mazur, and they are both warm, charming ambassadors for their ship. Port Highlights: * Venice, Dubrovnik, Kusadasi, Santorini, and Corfu = a beautiful itinerary. Every port is worth visiting. See the Jewish Ghetto in Venice (with its barbed wire and guardhouse still in place); the Terraced Houses of Ephesus, Turkey, an active archaeological dig; the breathtaking, white-washed Oia, in Santorini, Greece; and the "old town" in Corfu, Greece, with its tiny beach and incredible olive wood buys. Stay at the Marriott Courtyard in Venice if you want a fairly priced room (20 minutes outside of Venice, with bus service across the street to "downtown" Venice). * Gonca Kizilhan of Kusadasi Tours made Turkey the most memorable port on our trip. A freelance tour guide, she was pure sunshine as we toured Ephesus and spent additional time at port. She is knowledgeable, professional, and exudes great pride in her country. * The RCI Excursion to Oia (in Santorini) provided us with a way to bypass the cable car/donkey issue (the only way to get up to Santorini from the primary pier). Meeting time for our group was 6:45 a.m.; we then boarded a tender that took us to an entirely different pier, where a bus awaited us for the steep ride up the mountainside to Oia. With its white-washed, blue-domed churches that seem to tumble into the sea, Oia is both fairytale and photographer's dream, punctuated by gentle breezes, church bells, and warm, friendly merchants selling high-quality goods. If you visit, look for my heart. Note: This excursion saved us time during our limited stay. We waited for one hot hour for the return cable car trip from town to the tender in the afternoon. We wouldn't have wanted to waste that time in the morning, too. (Waiting times vary.) This excursion also includes an enjoyable wine tasting. SPECIAL OBSERVATIONS: Cleanliness and design: Splendour of the Seas is one of the older ships in RCI's fleet, but it is beautifully maintained. All public areas were lovely. There were just a few minor issues, possibly due to the older ship design. For instance, it was often very hard to find a seat in the Windjammer Cafe. My advice is to make greater use of the main restaurant, which always had a seat available (plus really good food). The second quirk was the lack of announcements in the staterooms (though some folks consider this a plus). I loved them on the Mariner, and really missed them on Rhapsody and Splendour. I suppose this is a wiring issue on the older ships. Just make sure to read the daily Compass, or prop your door open to hear the announcements as soon as they begin. Embarkation and debarkation: Went without a hitch. Incredibly organized. Fellow passengers: There were many, many non-English-speaking passengers on this ship. It might have been due to time of year (August) and favorable exchange rate for Europeans. If you're seeking a cruise that is predominantly American or English-speaking, check with RCI or your travel agent about current trends on this itinerary. Note: RCI's staff all speak English and did their best to make everyone feel at home. Evening shows and other activities were introduced in multiple languages. Entertainment was generic. This issue, however, is the reason I rated our overall experience a 4 instead of a 5+. Cuisine/seating style: No complaints at either of the two restaurants in terms of food. I am not a proponent of the My Time Dining being introduced on all the cruise lines. There's something to be said for getting to know your tablemates and wait staff, and being able to give all family members a precise time and table number at which to meet every evening. Smoking: We're non-smokers, and we were fully aware of RCI's policies: no smoking in the staterooms; smoking allowed on the balconies. We hoped to luck out. We didn't. We paid extra for a balcony, and got extra: our adjacent neighbors' smoke. RCI, please designate one side of your ship non-smoking at the very least. The scenery in the Mediterranean is poetic. Chocking on cigarette smoke is not. It isn't fair to pay a premium for it. Teen club: Our son loves to dance, and there's been a teen club with dance floor (and arcade) on each of the three cruises we've taken. We rarely saw our son on our cruises. If you're bringing a teen for the first time, make sure they go to the club on the first day. They'll feel more at home on the rest of the trip. Really active teens might prefer the newer ships that have more bells and whistles. In summary, Royal Caribbean is a wonderful cruise line, and this was a beautiful trip. Kudos to RCI for working hard to provide a fantastic vacation product.
j.a.m.’s Full Rating Summary
Value For Money
Embarkation
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Ages 13 to 15
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