Carnival Splendor is a big vessel with a huge personality -- and it sets itself apart from the Carnival pack in grand style. Splendor is designed around the loosely realised theme of "splendid things" with cheery and playful -- if sometimes jarring -- decor. We're not architects, but when we first walked onboard -- and we are not alone in reacting this way -- we felt under assault by a design that we can only describe as overwhelming.
Carnival's longtime interior designer Joe Farcus sees "whimsical" in the massive dining room chandeliers. We see a DNA helix. He sees "drama" and "excitement" in the squiggly pink and black image that appears on table tops, elevator panels and walls. We see an amoeba. And we've never stayed in a cabin that had bright-pink crown molding. Let's just say there is nothing understated about Splendor.
However, decor notwithstanding, Splendor has great bones and a festive spirit. We talked to a lot of passengers, many of them Carnival loyalists, and asked a single question: "Are you having fun?" In just about every case, the answer was an emphatic "yes". Splendor has 14 decks and touts enough diversions to appeal to everyone from kids to seniors. Remarkably, there is only an occasional sense of overcrowding, and there are plenty of quiet spaces -- like Serenity, the adults-only sun deck -- to seek respite.
The 113,300-tonne Splendor marks its own class of vessel for Carnival, basically a larger version of the ships from the line's earlier Conquest Class. One of Splendor's most impressive features is its expansive spa, among the most elaborate in the fleet. Pan-Asian in design, the Cloud 9 Spa spans two decks and includes a state-of-the-art fitness centre that easily rivals any at sea. With more than a dozen lounges and bars, water slides, mini-golf, multiple age-appropriate kids' programs, nonstop activities and a singing wait staff, Splendor makes good on delivering what Carnival passengers have come to expect: fun.
Carnival Splendor sailings attract an overwhelming majority of Australian residents, followed by New Zealanders, looking for close-to-home, value-packed cruise vacations. The ship attracts lots of families and groups of as many as 80 people. The age spread is all over the place -- from retirees to kids in strollers. Shorter sailings and itineraries that overlap with school holidays host the most kids onboard. The focus remains firmly on fun, so passengers are looking to have a good time, whether it's by the pool, catching a show or hitting the dance floor in the lively Red Frog Pub.
Daytime: During the day you'll see all kinds of T-shirts, shorts, sundresses and bathing suits with cover-ups. Remember to bring appropriate clothes and gear for shore excursions and other activities. Note that even in the Lido buffet, shirts, bathing suit cover-ups and footwear must be worn.
Evening: There are two evening dress codes on Carnival Splendor: "Cruise Casual" and "Cruise Elegant." On casual nights, men will want to wear longer dress shorts or pants -- jeans are OK -- and a collared shirt. Women can wear sundresses, skirts and tops, dress shorts and capris.
Cruise Elegant nights, of which there are usually two on a seven night cruise, calls for a slightly fancier outfit, such as dress slacks and dress shirts for men and dresses, fancy blouses and pants or skirts for women. Some people go all out in long gowns or a suit, but that's the exception, not the norm.
Not permitted: Swimwear is only allowed in open deck and pool areas. Flip-flops, sleeveless shirts (for men), cut-off jeans, T-shirts and gym shorts are not permitted in the dining room.
For more information, visit Cruise Line Dress Codes: Carnival Cruises.
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