Great ports, ok ship: Splendour of the Seas Cruise Review by elsewhere1129
Overall Member Rating
Great ports, ok ship
Destination: Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
The ports of call were really great -- some I would not visit if I were planning a land trip, but very interesting and nice to visit and I am glad we got the chance to visit them all.
The weather was gorgeous throughout -- some drizzling rain at times, but was quick to pass, and happened most often in the afternoons after we had come back to the ship anyway and were leaving port.
Getting to the ship was not confusing, but the RCL folks were not very helpful. After we got off the plane (after flying red-eye), we saw a woman carrying an RCL clipboard, so we asked her what the best way of getting to the ship was. She said she did not have any spaces available on the shuttle, but the taxis would get you there for 15 euros/ppl -- More we were traveling with 6 people. We had done some homework beforehand and read about the ACTV (bus) that goes to Piazzale Roma (the fare increased to 5 euros by the time we went) and asked her about it, so she directed us to the electronic ticketing machine that did not have english written on it, so we were a little confused when we did not see what we thought was the correct fare or the Piazzale Roma written on it. Ended up finding a ticket booth with a live person behind it to buy the tickets. We felt the RCL representative was not very helpful -- it's not like she had slots and we refused to take the shuttle. She told us the most expensive way to get to the Docks. Once we were at Piazzale Roma, there is a free shuttle bus to the cruise terminal (we had asked in advance what to do once we got there, but some people were clueless and the buses are not terribly well marked).
The ship itself is an older ship, but I've never been on one of the newer ones anyway, so I didn't know what we were missing in terms of the new fancy restaurants, water slides, etc. Besides, once the ship was moving, it got a little chilly/breezy up on deck for me anyway. It was clean, the crew was painting the railings and trim, which was fine. Rooms were standard, and dining room standard. Didn't feel too crowded, at least not like the Carnival cruise we were on to the Caribbean 2 years ago.
The staff on the ship, like the woman at the airport, was hit or miss. the Pursers were not very helpful -- did not know how to catch the prepaid shuttle bus at the end of the trip, for example. Our stateroom attendant was good and our dinner dining staff was great. The food was so-so. I thought there would be much more seafood -- after all, you're in the Mediterranean! I thought we would have an abundance of seafood -- fish, at least? Instead, they never have sea bass, though it's on the menu. And one lunch on the sea day, we ordered the trout and got salmon. When we asked about it, the chef said that a trout is a baby salmon -- what? When we were still confused, the head waiter came and said that "they're the same color anyway" and walked away. No appologies, no offer to order anything else. Even our own waitor had said that a trout and salmon were 2 different fish! We were very turned off, and she was a HEAD waiter, too! So the food was only so-so. The breakfasts were actually pretty good -- and I've always hated breakfast foods. The Windjammer was better for breakfast than the King and I Dining Room.
The entertainment was good overall, but only a few were great. Maybe part of it is because we felt very young on the ship -- lots of older folks. They even had a 40's and 50's song night! We didn't know many of those songs, but they did a good job.
The sea days were okay. definitely needed them to recup after running around for a few days. I was turned off that activities now required a fee -- scrapbooking was $5 for this packet, $10 for that, and if you wanted it for free, you had to stay the entire 40-45 minutes time and show her a completed layout before you left. Otherwise you'd be charged $5 for the packet. And the 2nd sea day, scrapbooking, even to sit and continue to work on the layouts you already did -- not getting new material -- or watching other people work on their layouts were $10. If you were there, they charged you. Jewelry making was almost as bad -- the first one was free, and the 2nd one was $10, but they let you stay and watch for free -- you just didn't get a kit to make the jewelry. I've never been on a cruise ship where even the arts and crafts cost you money. It felt too much like they were out to get your money.
I was also put off by the transportation fee -- getting to Venice from the docks, you could either walk (which I imagine would've taken you a bit of time) or you paid $15 for the RCL shuttle -- or in Mykonos, they docked at the Cruise line docks, about 1 mile away from the town. It's walkable, but if you're dropped off somewhere and have no clue where you're going, you are more likely to cough up the money ($10/pp) to just get there in one piece. If we had tendered, it would've been free, like the other cruise lines in Mykonos. we were the only ones to dock.
The actual process of disembarking the ship was well-organized -- much better than Carnival! The only problem was that no one directed us where to go AFTER we left the ship. there were no signs or people directing us where to go. And we pre-purchased RCL's transfer back to the airport! No one seemed to know or care where we were supposed to go. Disappointing.
One last note: if you're prone to seasickness, May was a fantastic time to go -- I can get pretty bad seasick, and I was fine, and my mom, who ALWAYS gets seasick did fine without any meds or bracelets or ginger tabs or anything! I've heard that other times of the year are not so calm, but May was PERFECT! Less
Cabins were standard. Didn't really like the showers -- water got everywhere, and it took me a few days to figure out how to turn on the hot water (it's sort-a like a throttle lever, whereas the other knob controls how strong the stream is), and it's a rather cramped area, even for me -- i'm a very petite person -- have trouble finding clothes that fit petite. I can only imagine how anyone else fared showering, and women especially -- long hair, don't wash our hairs EVERY day, necessarily. Otherwise, standard. They had our beds separated, initially, but our stateroom attendant asked if we wanted them combined, and they did it before we came back to our room. We also did not have a wet bar set up when we got there, nor did we want one, and that never became a problem when it came time to reconcile the charges. We had an ocean view and I have to say that I loved it! Would definitely get an ocean view again! I've known this about cruise ships, but it always weirds me out -- you can hear people around you from the insides of your cabin, and it's not really that they are being loud so you can hear them. I imagine that they're just thin walls.
Port and Shore Excursions
I'll put our 2nd port here, because it's a new addition to the itinerary, and cruise critic does not have it as one to choose from. Our 2nd port was Kotor, Montenegro, and they tender you to the city. It's a beautiful ride into the fjord all the way until you reach Kotor. we simply walked around the town -- small, easy to finish in an hour or so. It has that old world charm that you always dream of. No cars are allowed in there, so you're not really worrying about getting run over like in a big city. We took a small map (though not very accurate), wandered around (really can't get lost), and went into every church imaginable (though as an FYI -- they'll let you into the churches with shorts and t-shirt, but there are signs posted that they'd rather you be in more modest clothing, so we respected that preference and did not see EVERY church... just the ones where they welcomed us in). you are able to walk up the fortress, but the rocks are slippery and it was about to rain, so we opted not to go. I later spoke with someone on the ship who did go up, and he said the view was spectacular, so in retrospect, I wish I had just ventured to go up.
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