Splendor Diaries: What CC Members Are Saying About Life on the Crippled Cruise Ship

November 16, 2010
Splendor-Docked-in-San-Diego-Post-Fire (5:30 p.m. EST) -- It's been more than a week since we first heard the news about Carnival Splendor and its unexpected date with destiny off the Baja California coast -- and we're still transfixed by the reports trickling out about life onboard the 113,000-ton ship, which was crippled by an engine-room fire.

Since November 12, when Splendor was pulled into San Diego's harbor by six tugs, Cruise Critic members have come forth with full-fledged reviews, shorter reports on our message boards, photos on Facebook -- you name it. Here's a compilation of what our readers are saying.

The First Report

Bob-Flynn We can't help it. We just love Bob Flynn, a former Chicago cop who weighed in on his Splendor "adventure" mere hours after getting off the ill-fated ship in California. Among his observations: "We were without electricity since the fire and, yes, there was a rather unpleasant odor from the unflushable toilets, which were eventually fixed. There were no hot foods or coffee because of the outage. The rumor that we were surviving on 'Spam and Pop-Tarts' was untrue. Breakfast consisted of cereals, bread, sweet rolls, yogurt, fresh fruits and hard-boiled eggs on one occasion. On the last day we were given Pop-Tarts." See his full report here.

The First Published Cruise Reviews

No doubt about it -- Cruise Critic members work fast, and we're glad to share their fascinating stories with others. Still, even we were a little surprised to find that two of the first three reviews awarded the power-free voyage the highest rating possible:

One fan, Trash Queen, explains the kudos this way: "All in all, this was a never-to-be-forgotten vacation. We learned a lot, we grew to respect the crew and staff much more than ever before, and we appreciated the tremendous logistical effort the entire staff (both on the ship and on shore) went through to ensure our safety and comfort, in that order."

Ditto britishcolumbia, who had nothing but high praise for the staff: "Feeding three thousand people three meals a day without cooking facilities and having to move that food up the stairs to the dining rooms is no small feat. Each and every of the crew carried and eventually set up 'bucket brigade' lines up the stairs moving tons of food and supplies to the dining areas. Up as many as 10 floors. Wow, what a sight, and they did it singing and smiling to the guests."

And for2une shared this interesting tidbit, among many others: "A few passengers, who were still a little scared despite the lack of evidence of physical danger or sinking, carried their life jackets around with them for a few days. On the rear lower decks I think there was just enough smoke and smell to run some people out of their cabins for a day or two. Some passengers, from smoky areas and inside cabins camped out in public areas like the show lounge, other lounges, the lobby, and Lido deck."

For the full reports, check out our Splendor review page.

One Boards Review We Love

From the title ("What I Did on My Winter Vacation") onward, Georgia Peach2 had us hooked with her review, posted on one of the numerous Splendor forums that sprouted up last week. She reports: "After it got dark each night we hung out in the corridor outside our rooms. We called it our front porch and we really got to know our neighbors. A couple neighbors were magicians onboard for a convention and they did some tricks for us. We had no working toilets until Tuesday overnight. We slept with our cabin door open and a chair blocking the door with the minimal corridor lighting keeping us from being in total darkness."

A Photo That's Haunting Us

Splendor-Food There's been much said about the food onboard, and, understandably, it wasn't to everyone's tastes. But, thanks to ChadsJewel, we actually have a visual of some of what was served, along with these thoughts, posted on Facebook: "I just couldn't eat it. So we chucked them and split a fiber bar we brought from home and had a pear. The rest of our meals we would choose to eat the cold cereal and warmish milk and yogurt. Sometimes there were crioissants that you could choke down and I had a bagel one day with BUTTER!! but I rationed that and ate half for lunch and half for dinner. We just couldn't stand in the 2 hour food lines after the first day. It was really too much."

And Don't Forget the Video

One of the more intriguing things to come out of the saga is this mesmerizing 3-minute-16-second pastiche of two passenger videos, which appears courtesy of the Associated Press. We think it's far and away the most accurate depiction of conditions on the ship. Check it out here.

The Aftermath

Now that Carnival has canceled all Splendor voyages through mid-January 2011, we're keeping on top of what the ramifications are. Check here for the latest news stories, and let us know if you think the compensation for the canceled cruises (full refund, air-transportation costs and a 25 percent discount on a future cruise) is fair by voting in our poll.

--by the Cruise Critic Editorial Staff

--First image appears courtesy of Carol Sottili.