Splendour of the Seas Cruise Review by kirbysmommy
- Sail Date: November 2004
- Destination: Western Mediterranean
- Cabin Type: Junior Suite
I definitely recommend that anyone embarking or disembarking in Barcelona allow themselves some time to see this city. It is a really impressive. Embarkation on Saturday was a breeze. We arrived shortly after noon and hardly broke stride going through the embarkation center. Nearly everything on the ship was in full swing when we got onboard. We enjoyed sail away on our balcony (this is a tradition of ours). There are a lot of sights to see going in and out of port in Barcelona. In each of the five ports we took shore excursions booked through Royal Caribbean. I will not dispute that the cruise line's shore excursions are incredibly overpriced. It is much cheaper to go on your own. However, all of our tours were very organized, had knowledgeable guides, and made good use of the limited time in each port. Having never been to Europe before, we feel we would not have known where to go on our own once we got into town anyway as the cities are so large even with reading and preparation beforehand. What really sealed the deal however is the fact that some of the cities are over an hour from the port, and if the bus is late getting back odds are the ship will wait on you!
We took the following tours and are comfortable recommending each of them: In Marseille, we took the half day excursion into Aix-en-Provence. In Villefranche, we took the excursion to Monaco and Monte Carlo in the morning and the excursion to Nice and St. Paul de Vence in the afternoon. In Livorno, we took a full day excursion into Florence featuring the Accadamia Museum to see the David. In Civitavecchia, we took the Imperial Rome tour featuring the Trevi Fountain, the Forum, the Colosseum, and St. Peter's Basilica. In Naples, we took our best shore excursion by far going down to Sorrento to stroll around town, visit a local olive, grape and lemon farm for a tasting, and lastly visit Pompeii. Pompeii was the highlight of my trip. It is a fascinating place if you are at all interested in archaeology.
The ship is in excellent shape for its age. Our stateroom, a junior suite right next to the Crown and Anchor Study on Deck 8, was quite large, had what appears to be brand new bed coverings, upholstery, and carpeting, and the bathroom had a full size bathtub. The shipboard amenities were ample and there was a nice group of passengers onboard. Most passengers were couples age 40+. Many were quite a bit older. There were very few children onboard. The ones who were there were, for the most part, very well behaved and well supervised by their parents. This has not always been the case on our Bahamian and Caribbean cruises...
Here are our pet peeves regarding this ship as compared to the rest of the ships in the RCCL fleet we have seen: 1. This ship moved a lot. I think it was a combination of time of year, slightly stormy weather, and stabilizer problems. The ship has a distinct vibration when traveling that is especially noticeable in the dining rooms. Our glasses actually clanked against each other persistently one night. If you are at all prone to motion sickness, medication was an absolute necessity on this sailing. 2. A new wine list was being offered for the first time on this sailing. It lacks the variety on the old list we have had on the ships. Many of our favorites are no longer available. 3. Has anyone spoken with a Loyalty Ambassador on an RCCL ship lately?
Their knowledge of the fleet seems to be ever declining. The Loyalty Ambassador on this ship had relatively no details on Ultra Voyager to share (and this was the week it was named and the press releases were made - he didn't even mention that it had been named). He further told passengers at a Crown and Anchor event that the stretching of Enchantment of the Seas would double its total length (talk about a vast over estimate). If you are going to sell a product you need to know the product. Are these folks getting any regular training or updates from the company? If you read this website and Royal Caribbean press releases you will be more well informed on their fleet than their own sales representatives. 4. The Windjammer buffet area is poorly laid out, way over crowded at breakfast and the staff there seems to have given up. It is simply unpleasant to eat there. We got room service in the mornings when we could, but with early morning excursions, the Windjammer was often our only choice.
However, this is a wonderful ship and itinerary. It is a very active trip if you want to see the ports. We had a wonderful time and would not hesitate to go again. This seems to be the best way to see a lot of Europe in a small amount of time.
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