We decided some months ago to go on Splendor's first cruise out of Sydney, mainly to meet some of the crew who have become friends after many cruises on Carnival Spirit and it was certainly great to catch up with them all.
Our first impressions were OMG, who designed this ship? Someone obviously obsessed with pink and doughnuts..oh and eggs in the ceilings of the main dining room. To say it is very gaudy is an understatement. However, you soon get over that as being normal and the obvious thing is to compare it with Spirit and Legend who have been in Australia for many years.
Yes, it is a bigger ship, which means more people and some more queues. There were 3600 people on our cruise which included 1500 children, so thankfully this will be the last cruise we ever take in School Holidays!
There are now 2 main dining rooms, Golden Pearl for fixed time dining and Black Pearl for anytime dining. We were in Golden Pearl, at the stern of the ship on decks 3 and 4. The food was the same menus as on Spirit and the same variable quality. Golden Pearl is smaller than Empire on Spirit and it is initially difficult to access because you cannot walk the full length of deck 3, so stopping at Alchemy before dinner was not something we did on Splendor.
The Steak/Fine Dining Restaurant is called Fahrenheit 555, not Nouveau, and this is a larger restaurant with the same amazing food and service. We went there 3 times in our 8 day cruise, one for a special Italian themed night which was nice.
Serenity, the adults only retreat at the rear of Deck 9 was, for us, a disappointment. Not enough shade and it was always packed. The only day we got a 'pod' there was in Noumea because we did not go ashore. Every other day it was almost impossible to find a space. There is still a bar tucked away in the corner and also there is the deli, where you can get sandwiches etc and also an Indian Cafe, Masala Tiger, which served lovely fresh Indian food...a nice addition.
Were found our quiet place at the starboard front of Deck 12, where Serenity used to be. There were free loungers and pods most days...and a nice quiet bar, away from the rabble!
The shows were excellent with a very energetic and talented team on board and some funny comedians which now perform in a much larger room at the rear of deck 5.
We were lucky enough to have Tim Mitchell in the piano bar. He is excellent, one of the best we have seen on any cruise line. That said, the piano bar does not have a bar, so getting drinks was often slow and I felt sorry for the poor waiter who almost single handedly worked his backside off each night to try and serve what was always a packed room. I did mention this to the Hotel Director, but nothing changed.
As always the staff were very obliging, polite and helpful and we did have a lot of fun, as always with Carnival. Desi, Andrej and their team in Golden Pearl and Vlad and Dragana in the steakhouse were all just brilliant.
Embarkation and disembarkation was excellent, mind you we are Platinum guests, so we do not have to queue, but even then the process was quick and efficient.
Splendor is certainly a different and certainly larger ship compared to Spirt and Legend. In many ways better, but some not. Yes, there were a few teething problems, Internet was slow at best, in fact everyone was refunded 75% of the fee, people were complaining about the layout of the ship etc but I am sure Splendor will quickly become much loved part of the Sydney cruise scene for a few years to come.