Carnival Splendor Cruise Review by drkwe
- Sail Date: December 2011
- Destination: Mexican Riviera
We drove to Long Beach the night before and stayed at the Hotel Maya, using the Carnival rate that included a week's free parking. We took their free shuttle to and from the pier which was very convenient. We would definitely stay here again.
Departure/Embarkation was far smoother than I had anticipated. We arrived about 1115am, were met by a porter who took our luggage, checked in quickly and were given zone 3 boarding cards. We started boarding about 1230 or so and easily walked onto the ship. The Lido Buffet was open, and options were plentiful. I liked the Tandoori grill.
Our rooms were ready by 2pm and our luggage was there already.
Rooms were well designed. We had a balcony and an interior room across the hall. Rooms were spotless. Balcony was great. bathroom was more than adequate, and did not feel cramped. Storage was really impressive, so the room felt as spacious as possible. Our steward kept our rooms immaculate all week. Even the room with 3 teenage boys! Staff we would encounter in the hallways were universally pleasant and friendly.
We had late dining. Staff was accommodating, but not on par with a good restaurant. Had to ask for refills, remind them when we had ordered a 2nd appetizer or salad, had some issues with the wine selection (and a single occasion of the wine having turned--cracked cork).
After the first night, the dining room had a very unpleasant smell every evening. You got used to it once you had been there a few minutes, but it was noticed every night.
Food was good for the most part. The lobster was wonderful, chicken dishes were good, red snapper was fishy/not good. The warm chocolate melting cake and creme brulee were our favorite desserts. We did not care for the cheesecake. We did not try the Steak house (supplemental dining). Sushi bar was good the first night and less so subsequent evenings. The 'specialty' dining areas: Grill, Mongolian, Burrito, Deli, Tandoor etc were good for lunch. My kids enjoyed the soft serve ice cream cones, and the 24 hour room service (sandwiches were uniformly good).
The stage shows in the Spectacular Theater were entertaining. We went to 3 or 4 of them. The costumes were quite elaborate, and the performances were enjoyable.
I attended an art auction, a late night comedy show (not very funny), and had a morning at the spa. I was disappointed to find that many of the 'events' on the daily schedule were designed to extract more money from attendees...where to shop, eat, play on shore etc. Look younger by buying our products, get a flat belly by buying our spa treatment, etc... They seemed less informational than pressure to buy. The spa was pricey, and also designed to sell, sell, sell. It was tiresome and after 2 days, I stopped going to these events. Chalk it up to my cruise inexperience!
We enjoyed the gym several days and found it less and less crowded as the cruise went on. It was more extensive than we anticipated.
Our teenagers spent a little time in the teen club (club O2). They found it easy to meet other teenagers. My 12 year olds did not at all enjoy their age group program (Circle C). Events were often during late dining, so that was not convenient, and when they stopped by the Club area randomly, they found little going on, so stopped going. This was surprising to me given we travelled during the school break and there were a lot of kids on board.
Our rooms (6365, 6367) were just over the casino area and unfortunately, over where a band played EVERY NIGHT until 1230am. It was impossible to sleep while the music was going on, even with industrial earplugs. It sounded like the band was playing in your room. It seemed totally unnecessary to have the band play so loudly--it wasn't like it was in a dance club or nightclub area, but just off to the side of the casino. If you have young kids, these rooms would be dreadful. I wished I had known this before booking, as I never would have chosen these rooms (or accepted them from the travel agent). Our friend's rooms were on the 8th deck, and had some noise from the Lido Deck up above. We wondered if the 7th deck might have been the way to go.
We arranged our own excursions for the port days. In cabo, we hired a glass bottom boat to take us out around the Arches, Lover's Beach etc and then to Medano Beach where we spent the day at the Baja Cantina, and then they returned for us to bring us back to the dock. All 9 of us enjoyed this day the most--great weather, relaxing, plentiful food and drink, and we even enjoyed bargaining with the many, many, many vendors!! In Puerto Vallarta, we did a ziplining excursion with Los Veranos. It was awesome and their bus took us directly back to the dock after our day with them was completed. We enjoyed the little flea market at the PV Dock---kids enjoyed buying trinkets.
Sea days were a little cool. We had 3 warm days and 3 chilly days. Seas were a little rough the next to last day but smoothed some by the last day.
Debarkation was very smooth, we did self debarkation and were off the ship by 730am. We called for the hotel shuttle after getting through customs and it was there for us in less than 10 minutes.
Overall, we had an enjoyable vacation. Interestingly, we all loved our days in port far more than the days on the ship. For that reason, our next vacation will likely be to the Mexican Riviera itself. While we aren't saying we will never cruise again, it is unlikely to occur any time soon.