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Just returned from a 7 night cruise with Royal Caribbean on Splendour of the Seas. We went to Key West; Costa Maya, Mexico; Belize; and Cozumel, Mexico. We had a wonderful time! The ship -- I think this was one of Royal Caribbean's smaller ships, and it's about 8 years old. The room -- to save some money we got an inside room. It was the larger one, but it was still quite compact. We really didn't spend too much time in the room, so it was ok, but I think next time we will get a balcony room, or at least oceanview. Balcony rooms were across the hall from us, and they looked so much nicer and roomier. The room had everything we needed, but its decor could use some updating. Meals -- We ate so much! They had a dining room (no specialty restaurants), buffet restaurant, and various places where you could get snacks throughout the day. The service and food in the dining room (The King and I) for dinner was great. They changed the menu daily which was nice. My fiance really enjoyed ordering more than one appetizer and meal so he could try different things. We mostly went to the buffet (Windjammer) for breakfast and it was pretty good. They had a large variety. I particularly liked the made-to-order omelets. I wasn't very impressed with their lunch buffets, but we were only on the ship for lunch the 2 days we were at sea, so it wasn't so bad. Drinks -- There are bars everywhere. The drink prices were similar to what we would find in DC, so it wasn't cheap, but not ridiculous either. We didn't drink too much, but they had drinks of the day that were pretty good, and I really enjoyed the strawberry daiquiris and margaritas! There are plenty of things to do on the ship to keep you occupied. There were two pools and Jacuzzis. They had lots of games by the pool, a rock climbing wall, putt putt course (I love miniature golf and play often, but the course really wasn't much to speak of), ping pong, shuffleboard, casino (lost too much money!), Bingo (also lost!) and shows in the theatre. They had a dance club open at night, and we went there 2 nights, but it was never very hoppin'. We went to two of the shows and they were pretty good -- one had snippets from different Broadway shows, and the other one we went to was a comedian/impressionist. Now on to the what I think is the most important thing -- the ports. We started off in Tampa. Boarding the ship didn't take as long as I thought it would. I would say that we were on the ship within an hour. Our next destination was Key West. I was very disappointed because we were originally supposed to go to Grand Cayman, but because of the hurricane rebuilding they were limiting the number of ships that could dock there. Grand Cayman was one of the main reasons we chose this cruise. (We booked last January!) Well, I shouldn't complain, because we were still on a cruise! I had been to Key West before, but my fiance had not. We docked there so it only took about 15-20 minutes to get off the ship. It was quite chilly (low 60's) for the Keys. Most people who planned to do water sports didn't end up doing them. Luckily we had just planned to tour the island and do some shopping. We took a trolley tour which was nice because it took you to all the different parts of the island and you could get on and off as you please. Key West is a very fun place with bars everywhere, definitely a party scene. We went to the different shopping areas, saw Hemingway's house, the southernmost point of the US, had lunch and some drinks. Their beaches aren't much to speak of, but if it had been warmer, it would have been nice to just hang out at one. Our next stop was Costa Maya. Our ship docked here also, so it was pretty easy getting off and back on the ship. This is a relatively new port for the cruise ships, and is really only being developed now. There were a few shops and restaurants in the port, along with some nice pools. We took an excursion through the ship to Mayan ruins of Chaccoben for the morning that we were there. It was beautiful, and it was nice to see the sight, but I don't think it was worth the $65 per person that we paid. I think we would have preferred just to get transportation there and walk around ourselves without a tour guide or tour group. Friends we met on the ship went to the Tulum ruins near Cozumel which are right on the water, and those seemed much more breathtaking. We will go there next time! In the afternoon in Costa Maya we took a taxi to the neighboring fishing village which had a nice beach, some shops and pretty good snorkeling. You had to take a 10 minute boat ride to the reef which cost $15 per person. It was nice and there were lots of fish (but nothing I hadn't seen before, but I have snorkeled in lots of places in the Caribbean). The water was pretty rough that day so we were tired out by the time our hour was up. I think it was definitely worth the time and money. The next stop was Belize. The ships have to anchor about 30 minutes from shore there because it's too shallow to dock. The tender ride was the biggest pain. We got to the tendering area at 8 a.m. thinking we would have plenty of time to make to our 10 a.m. excursion that we had booked outside of the ship excursions. We finally got on a tender at about 9:30, and barely made it to our tour! We booked a snorkeling excursion through Coral Breeze which I found on the internet. The trip was for snorkeling at a coral reef, snorkeling and swimming with sharks and stingrays in shark/ray alley, and lunch at a small island called Caye Caulker. The snorkeling was very disappointing, especially after all the good things I had heard about snorkeling and diving in Belize. They took us to Coral Gardens and we had to snorkel in a "trail" following in a line behind the guide and other snorkelers. I had never followed a guide before, just kind of snorkeled about on my own on these sorts of trips before. Most all of the coral were dead, and we didn't see hardly any fish -- mostly I just saw bubbles from the person in front of me kicking their flippers, even though I tried to keep a large space between us. They even had us snorkel where it was only about 3 feet deep, which I didn't think was very safe with there being fire coral around. Our next stop was shark/ray alley, which I thought made the trip worth it, even though the snorkeling wasn't great. We stopped in an area that was about 3-5 feet deep (no coral around) and the crew put out bait to attract the rays and nurse sharks. There were tons of rays and I saw two sharks. If you were standing they would swim between your legs! I snorkeled for part of the time and they would come right up to you and let you pet them. It was a great experience. I took about 20 pictures with my underwater camera! This stop really made the trip. We then went to Caye Caulker and had lunch. I got a chicken sandwich, and it was ok. It was nice to relax for a little while on the island before heading back to Belize City. When we got back to the port we just did some last minute shopping and headed back to the ship. I would really like to return to Belize someday to visit the jungle and find better snorkeling spots. Cozumel l-- This was our last stop and the best day of our trip. We had from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on the island, so it was nice not to be rushed. We just decided to spend the day exploring on our own. We took a $12 taxi ride to Playa San Francisco which was recommended in my guidebook for snorkeling from the beach. The beach was beautiful, we actually ended up on the adjacent beach called Paradise Beach. I highly recommend it. We liked it so much we just stayed there all day. There was a bar/restaurant there, free (comfortable!) lounge chairs and umbrellas. We got there at about 9 and had the place basically to ourselves for the next two hours. Then other people started rolling in after 11, but it still wasn't too crowded (and there were tons of ships in port that day). There was one section of the beach that had a trampoline and floating climbing wall for the kids, but we stayed on the other side of the beach which was much quieter. We had a great Mexican lunch and margaritas at the restaurant there. They also had a pool and clean bathrooms at this beach. But the best part was the snorkeling! You just go right from the beach and they have a snorkeling area roped off. The only bad part was that I got stung by a jellyfish (I only saw a few small ones), but it wasn't bad enough to keep me out of the water! My fiance saw a lobster and eel, but I wasn't lucky enough to see them too. Later on when we were snorkeling together, we saw a starfish, what I think was a flounder or something similar, which when he saw us buried himself in the sand for camouflage. We snorkeled to the edge of the roped off area and found a huge piece of brain coral and there were tons of colorful fish swimming around it. It was the best thing I had ever seen. There had to have been at least 10 different kinds of fish there. I saw a few I had never seen, including an interesting medium sized brown and white spotted fish that I'm trying to figure out what it's called. Now I will stop going on and on about snorkeling! We stayed at the beach until about 5 and went back to the port area for shopping and dinner. Cozumel was our favorite port, and we plan to take a trip back there one day. Our last day at sea we just relaxed and played some Bingo and spent too much money in the casino. Unfortunately it was too cold and windy to sit by the outdoor pool. Getting off the ship went a lot more smoothly than I expected. We were through customs and had our luggage within about 45 minutes or less. We have decided that we will definitely cruise again, but probably upgrade to a nicer room, and also to a newer and/or bigger ship. We'll stick to Royal Caribbean or try out Celebrity.

Splendour of the Seas - Western Caribbean

Splendour of the Seas Cruise Review by laurenmfoster

Trip Details
Just returned from a 7 night cruise with Royal Caribbean on Splendour of the Seas. We went to Key West; Costa Maya, Mexico; Belize; and Cozumel, Mexico. We had a wonderful time!
The ship -- I think this was one of Royal Caribbean's smaller ships, and it's about 8 years old.
The room -- to save some money we got an inside room. It was the larger one, but it was still quite compact. We really didn't spend too much time in the room, so it was ok, but I think next time we will get a balcony room, or at least oceanview. Balcony rooms were across the hall from us, and they looked so much nicer and roomier. The room had everything we needed, but its decor could use some updating.
Meals -- We ate so much! They had a dining room (no specialty restaurants), buffet restaurant, and various places where you could get snacks throughout the day. The service and food in the dining room (The King and I) for dinner was great. They changed the menu daily which was nice. My fiance really enjoyed ordering more than one appetizer and meal so he could try different things. We mostly went to the buffet (Windjammer) for breakfast and it was pretty good. They had a large variety. I particularly liked the made-to-order omelets. I wasn't very impressed with their lunch buffets, but we were only on the ship for lunch the 2 days we were at sea, so it wasn't so bad.
Drinks -- There are bars everywhere. The drink prices were similar to what we would find in DC, so it wasn't cheap, but not ridiculous either. We didn't drink too much, but they had drinks of the day that were pretty good, and I really enjoyed the strawberry daiquiris and margaritas!
There are plenty of things to do on the ship to keep you occupied. There were two pools and Jacuzzis. They had lots of games by the pool, a rock climbing wall, putt putt course (I love miniature golf and play often, but the course really wasn't much to speak of), ping pong, shuffleboard, casino (lost too much money!), Bingo (also lost!) and shows in the theatre. They had a dance club open at night, and we went there 2 nights, but it was never very hoppin'. We went to two of the shows and they were pretty good -- one had snippets from different Broadway shows, and the other one we went to was a comedian/impressionist.
Now on to the what I think is the most important thing -- the ports. We started off in Tampa. Boarding the ship didn't take as long as I thought it would. I would say that we were on the ship within an hour.
Our next destination was Key West. I was very disappointed because we were originally supposed to go to Grand Cayman, but because of the hurricane rebuilding they were limiting the number of ships that could dock there. Grand Cayman was one of the main reasons we chose this cruise. (We booked last January!) Well, I shouldn't complain, because we were still on a cruise! I had been to Key West before, but my fiance had not. We docked there so it only took about 15-20 minutes to get off the ship. It was quite chilly (low 60's) for the Keys. Most people who planned to do water sports didn't end up doing them. Luckily we had just planned to tour the island and do some shopping. We took a trolley tour which was nice because it took you to all the different parts of the island and you could get on and off as you please. Key West is a very fun place with bars everywhere, definitely a party scene. We went to the different shopping areas, saw Hemingway's house, the southernmost point of the US, had lunch and some drinks. Their beaches aren't much to speak of, but if it had been warmer, it would have been nice to just hang out at one.
Our next stop was Costa Maya. Our ship docked here also, so it was pretty easy getting off and back on the ship. This is a relatively new port for the cruise ships, and is really only being developed now. There were a few shops and restaurants in the port, along with some nice pools. We took an excursion through the ship to Mayan ruins of Chaccoben for the morning that we were there. It was beautiful, and it was nice to see the sight, but I don't think it was worth the $65 per person that we paid. I think we would have preferred just to get transportation there and walk around ourselves without a tour guide or tour group. Friends we met on the ship went to the Tulum ruins near Cozumel which are right on the water, and those seemed much more breathtaking. We will go there next time! In the afternoon in Costa Maya we took a taxi to the neighboring fishing village which had a nice beach, some shops and pretty good snorkeling. You had to take a 10 minute boat ride to the reef which cost $15 per person. It was nice and there were lots of fish (but nothing I hadn't seen before, but I have snorkeled in lots of places in the Caribbean). The water was pretty rough that day so we were tired out by the time our hour was up. I think it was definitely worth the time and money.
The next stop was Belize. The ships have to anchor about 30 minutes from shore there because it's too shallow to dock. The tender ride was the biggest pain. We got to the tendering area at 8 a.m. thinking we would have plenty of time to make to our 10 a.m. excursion that we had booked outside of the ship excursions. We finally got on a tender at about 9:30, and barely made it to our tour! We booked a snorkeling excursion through Coral Breeze which I found on the internet. The trip was for snorkeling at a coral reef, snorkeling and swimming with sharks and stingrays in shark/ray alley, and lunch at a small island called Caye Caulker. The snorkeling was very disappointing, especially after all the good things I had heard about snorkeling and diving in Belize. They took us to Coral Gardens and we had to snorkel in a "trail" following in a line behind the guide and other snorkelers. I had never followed a guide before, just kind of snorkeled about on my own on these sorts of trips before. Most all of the coral were dead, and we didn't see hardly any fish -- mostly I just saw bubbles from the person in front of me kicking their flippers, even though I tried to keep a large space between us. They even had us snorkel where it was only about 3 feet deep, which I didn't think was very safe with there being fire coral around. Our next stop was shark/ray alley, which I thought made the trip worth it, even though the snorkeling wasn't great. We stopped in an area that was about 3-5 feet deep (no coral around) and the crew put out bait to attract the rays and nurse sharks. There were tons of rays and I saw two sharks. If you were standing they would swim between your legs! I snorkeled for part of the time and they would come right up to you and let you pet them. It was a great experience. I took about 20 pictures with my underwater camera! This stop really made the trip. We then went to Caye Caulker and had lunch. I got a chicken sandwich, and it was ok. It was nice to relax for a little while on the island before heading back to Belize City. When we got back to the port we just did some last minute shopping and headed back to the ship. I would really like to return to Belize someday to visit the jungle and find better snorkeling spots.
Cozumel l-- This was our last stop and the best day of our trip. We had from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on the island, so it was nice not to be rushed. We just decided to spend the day exploring on our own. We took a $12 taxi ride to Playa San Francisco which was recommended in my guidebook for snorkeling from the beach. The beach was beautiful, we actually ended up on the adjacent beach called Paradise Beach. I highly recommend it. We liked it so much we just stayed there all day. There was a bar/restaurant there, free (comfortable!) lounge chairs and umbrellas. We got there at about 9 and had the place basically to ourselves for the next two hours. Then other people started rolling in after 11, but it still wasn't too crowded (and there were tons of ships in port that day). There was one section of the beach that had a trampoline and floating climbing wall for the kids, but we stayed on the other side of the beach which was much quieter. We had a great Mexican lunch and margaritas at the restaurant there. They also had a pool and clean bathrooms at this beach. But the best part was the snorkeling! You just go right from the beach and they have a snorkeling area roped off. The only bad part was that I got stung by a jellyfish (I only saw a few small ones), but it wasn't bad enough to keep me out of the water! My fiance saw a lobster and eel, but I wasn't lucky enough to see them too. Later on when we were snorkeling together, we saw a starfish, what I think was a flounder or something similar, which when he saw us buried himself in the sand for camouflage. We snorkeled to the edge of the roped off area and found a huge piece of brain coral and there were tons of colorful fish swimming around it. It was the best thing I had ever seen. There had to have been at least 10 different kinds of fish there. I saw a few I had never seen, including an interesting medium sized brown and white spotted fish that I'm trying to figure out what it's called. Now I will stop going on and on about snorkeling! We stayed at the beach until about 5 and went back to the port area for shopping and dinner. Cozumel was our favorite port, and we plan to take a trip back there one day.
Our last day at sea we just relaxed and played some Bingo and spent too much money in the casino. Unfortunately it was too cold and windy to sit by the outdoor pool.
Getting off the ship went a lot more smoothly than I expected. We were through customs and had our luggage within about 45 minutes or less.
We have decided that we will definitely cruise again, but probably upgrade to a nicer room, and also to a newer and/or bigger ship. We'll stick to Royal Caribbean or try out Celebrity.
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