The tri-level, 1,400-seat Spectacular Spectacular sets the stage for the main evening entertainment. The program kicks off with a "welcome aboard" song-and-dance performance, and rotates out several Broadway-style spectacles throughout the course of the cruise (typically with two seatings per night) that tout themes like the high-energy rock 'n' roll show, Epic Rock, and '80s Pop to the Max. In other evening time slots, the show lounge plays host to game show-style interactive events such as Hasbro, The Game Show. During the day, it stages orientations, lectures, Dr. Seuss Story Time, bingo games and more.
What would a Carnival cruise be without trivia contests (on everything from Dr. Seuss to Star Wars), bean bag tosses, towel animal theatre and the men's hairy chest contest? Now that's entertainment. The busy daily program on any given day might highlight spa seminars, cooking demos, art talks and auctions, sports tournaments (such as lobby bowling, volleyball and ping-pong), shop talks and sales, card/gaming tournaments (Texas Hold'em, blackjack, etc.), early-morning stretch classes and more. Look, too, for one-off events such as a sailaway party, ice-carving demo, and a Dr. Seuss character parade and Story Time event. DJ-spun or live music is typically held poolside and/or in the main lobby during the afternoon.
The smaller aft-side 425-seat theatre/lounge El Morocco exudes an exotic Northern Africa-inspired aesthetic (animal prints, lanterns and tiles), with lounge-style entertainment anchored on evening comedy sets from Carnival's Punchliner Comedy Club program. Sailings rotate a changing roster of comedians who typically perform two nightly sets, one for families and ones for adults only.
The 790 square-metre (8,500 square foot) Royal Flush has capacity for close to 500 gamers, comes with about 200 slot machines and plenty of casino prize games and gaming tables. The decor plays up the "royal flush" theme with a playing card motif that covers the ceiling and literally comes out of the walls with card-inspired sculptures.
Art talks/auctions, karaoke and shop events continue through the early evening. On one night of the cruise, there's a grown-up late-night scavenger hunt held onboard, dubbed the Carnival Quest. Another big evening draw are the photo ops -- Carnival is quite good at setting up diverse photography backdrops around the ship, and getting pro shots taken is a big draw, especially on elegant nights.
For live music, look to the lobby stage for a live band or acoustic performer playing a variety of music or the casino stage for lively party music. The Grand Piano Bar puts on live piano tunes nightly. There's a beach party on the Lido Deck one night of the cruise, and a handful of special scheduled evening gatherings (held at assorted venues) that cater to LGBTQI+ groups, singles (ages 40-plus) and more.
Another fun Splendor feature is its Dive-In Movies, held poolside on the Lido Deck, under the stars (a retractable roof ensures all-weather access), with films screened nightly on a 25 metre (270 square foot) screen.
About half of the Splendor's 20-plus lounges and bars are distinctive spaces touting their own personalities, while the other half are more discreetly hidden away in eateries and in the main theater. The Promenade Deck, on Deck 5, is the social and imbibing center of Splendor. Drinks are priced a la carte; unlimited alcohol (with a 15-drink daily limit) and soda packages are available at a daily rate.
Splendor Bar (Deck 3): Though this pink-and-gold hued lobby bar itself only has seating for 10, surrounding tables with comfy seats invite lingering near this always-crowded ship hub. The space anchors the soaring, illuminated atrium above, and touts a stage (and dance floor) for live music, trivia events and more.
RedFrog Pub (Deck 4): The most lively bar on the ship, the RedFrog Pub has plenty of seating and a stage where popular Carnival band Music Manila rocks the house most nights. When things get going, it can be hard to even get through the door of this popular venue.
Our House (Deck 5): Don't miss the big game just because you're at sea, thanks to this 55-seat sports bar outfitted with numerous flat-screens, brown leather banquettes and stadium-inspired decor, set just off the casino.
Oceanview Bar (Deck 5): This slender strip of a lounge proposes intimate seating nooks with expansive windows overlooking the sea on one side and a bustling pedestrian promenade on the other. Great for people-watching, the bar boasts a stage for nightly musical entertainment and is serviced by a busy bar just adjacent to the casino.
Grand Piano (Deck 5): Tune in to near-nightly singalong piano music at this atmospheric piano bar, with seating for 100. Pull up a stool at the fun keyboard-themed bar that encircles the pianist, and be first in line for requests.
Alchemy Bar (Deck 5): This circular cocktail bar is an intimate space with bar stool seating at high tables, and a handful of highly sought after seats at the bar. It's the place to come for sophisticated cocktails and entertaining Martini Making and Tasting Classes.
The Red Carpet (Deck 5): This red-hued 18-and-over dance club (you'll be greeted with mannequins waiting in line on the "red carpet" out front) is the ship's hub for late-night action, with a live DJ spinning tunes with themes like '80s hour and "electric white night".
The Cool (Deck 5): Designed as a jazz club, with a stage and dance floor, leather seating (with room for nearly 90 patrons) and murals depicting jazz great Miles Davis, this lounge is quiet most nights.
El Morocco (Deck 5): A secondary theatre/lounge, El Morocco recreates the famous 1930s' New York supper club of the same name with its zebra-patterned banquettes and palm trees. Nightly comedy shows are held here, along with frequent karaoke events.
Blue Iguana Tequila Bar (Deck 9): As well as serving tequila based drinks, this bar turns out buckets of beer, glasses of wine and frothy cocktails to the daytime pool crowd and evening drinks on Dive-In Movie nights.
Red Frog Rum Bar (Deck 9): Located next to the Splendido Pool, this bar serves different rums, rum cocktails, draft beer and other drinks to cool you down on a hot day.
Serenity Bar (Deck 9): This popular daytime watering hole services the adults-only aft-side swimming pool, and also dispenses beverages for diners in the adjacent Lido Buffet.
Not surprisingly, Splendor's pools, sun decks and sports decks are big draws. In all, there are two pools and five hot tubs, along with a water slide and water-spray park for kids.
The central Splendido Lido pool is popular with families, featuring a large, open, glass-walled area that's two decks high. It can be closed in inclement weather with a retractable sky dome. A highlight of this dramatic space is the Seaside Theatre with its 25-metre (270 square foot) outdoor screen, which shows concerts, sports, movies and more throughout the day and into the night.
Splendor's aft pool deck is airy and welcoming, offering transporting views over the ship's wake and open sea. Because of its proximity to the buffet and bars, its two roomy hot tubs and adults-only status, it's a favorite hangout for those traveling without kids.
Scare yourself silly on the Green Lightning waterslide, which launches with a 11.3-metre freefall drop as the capsule floor opens, followed by a slingshot curve, and quick exit into a giant green swirling bowl. There is also a much tamer spiraling Twister waterslide (access to the slides is from Deck 14). Nearby, a small kids' splash park offers slides and water features geared toward the 11-and-under set.
On Deck 14, look for an elaborate pirate-themed nine-hole mini-golf course that's free to play, as well as a convertible basketball/volleyball court. Deck 10 is home to a pair of Ping-Pong tables. There is also a nearly life-size chess set for alfresco strategizing on the Lido Deck.
All pools come with surrounding sun decks that are equipped with cushioned loungers; there are some additional loungers up on Deck 12, overlooking the main pool. Adults traveling alone will enjoy Serenity, the quiet adults-only sun deck, way up on Deck 12 at the front of the ship.
In the main lobby, at the base of the ship's multistory atrium on Deck 3, passengers can access the guest services and shore excursions desks; guest services is open around the clock, though you'll need to consult the daily program for shore excursion desk hours. Travellers interested in booking a future cruise can check in at the designated reception desk on Deck 5.
Atlantic Deck, on Deck 4, houses the library, which, while tastefully appointed with leather seats and Alexandria-inspired murals, has limited hours. Our advice? BYOB -- bring your own books. You will also find the Internet cafe on this level. Passengers can also use their laptops throughout the ship, which offers wireless Internet access. Pricing is the same for the ship's computers as it is to access the web on personal laptops. The Social Plan starts at AU$36 for a three-night cruise; the Value Plan starts at AU$40 for 24 hours; Premium starts at AU$50 for 24 hours. Bulk full-cruise plans are also available.
Splendor also has several do-it-yourself laundry and ironing rooms. There are two or three washers and dryers, and one iron and ironing board in each launderette. The cost is AU$3.25 per washer load and AU$3.25 per dryer load. Vending machines dispense small boxes of detergent and water softener at AU$1.50 per box.
An art gallery is located near the entrance to The Black Pearl restaurant on Deck 3. To review photos or purchase camera- and photo-related gear, visit the Pixels Gallery on Deck 4.
Also on Deck 4 is a boardroom for meetings, hidden away in a little-trafficked area of the ship. A doctor-equipped medical centre is situated on Deck 0.
Shops come clustered together on Deck 5, outside of the entrance to the show lounge. There is a special-occasion shop selling candy, flowers and the sort; as well as a duo of duty-free shops. One focuses primarily on apparel, Carnival-branded gear, chocolates and alcohol; the other on perfume, jewellery, watches and cosmetics.
With the bi-level Cloud 9 Spa, one of the largest and most elaborate in the Fun Ship fleet (spread out over Decks 11 and 12), Splendor outdoes itself. First, the two-story spa, with its Pan-Asian design, is gorgeous and features another first for the line: a soothing thalassotherapy pool covered by a glass dome and featuring heated, ionised water and pulsating water jets. There's a thermal suite of climate-controlled rooms, including steam rooms, offering varying degrees of warmness and coolness. Heated ceramic loungers are lovely. A day pass to the thalassotherapy pool and thermal suite is a AU$40, though it's free for passengers booked into one of the 68 spa cabins and suites.
Cloud 9 offers an impressive menu of services in 17 treatment rooms: facials, various kinds of massages, acupuncture and body treatments, such as Ionithermie cellulite reduction and seaweed massage. Elemis beauty products are used exclusively. One interesting offering is the Elemis SkinLab Facial Mapping Analysis, where therapists use advanced clinical imaging to identify specific skincare concerns (this was carried out next to the busy spa reception desk on our visit which wasn't ideal). The spa services can get pricey -- AU$120 or more – but the quality is excellent. It's a good idea to check for port specials, which tend to be less expensive.
The salon offers everything from conditioning treatments, to shellac manicures and pedicures and tooth whitening. Grooming services are also available for men.
There's also a YSpa concept, offering teen-inspired treatments, salon services and fitness classes for passengers ages 12 to 17. Salon services are available for all ages.
The fitness centre, open from 6 am to 10 pm is first-rate. In addition to free weights and resistance weights, there are more than 30 treadmills, ellipticals and stationary bikes, each with its own TV screen. For a fee, consultants are available for personal training, metabolism testing and nutrition planning. The gym also offers seminars like 'Eat More to Weigh Less' and 'Secrets to a Flatter Stomach'.
Finally, you have no excuse to give up your daily walk while you're onboard. On Deck 12's open-air track, six circuits equal one kilometre.
It's difficult to imagine how Splendor's programming for kids and teens could get much better, with three dedicated spaces for younger kids, tweens and teens and a Dr. Seuss partnership.
Camp Carnival, for ages two to 11, is a 510 square-metre (5,500 square foot) playroom on Deck 10 that has an arts and crafts component, a plasma movie screen and video and board games. Scheduled activities typically run from 9 am to 3 pm and 6.15 pm to 9 pm followed by Night Owls (for-a-fee group babysitting), and dinner accommodations can be made. On port days, activities begin from port arrival until noon. A Kid's Only Lunch is offered, then scheduled activities resume at 1 pm until 9 pm followed by Night Owls.
Just above the playroom, connected by a private, secured stairway, is a fun-filled water-spray park. Age groups for supervised activities are two to five, six to eight and nine to 11. Specialty programs include H2Ocean, a science-based program that involves hands-on projects; SeaNotes, which introduces kids to different musical instruments and genres; and ExerSeas, a recreational fitness program. Note: Unlike many other lines, Carnival does not require that children be potty-trained. Parents leave nappies, wipes, etc for staff to use.
With the line's popular "Seuss at Sea" program, families can expect character encounters with interactive Dr. Seuss story times, parades, a themed Green Eggs and Ham breakfast, photo ops and more.
Splendor also offers babysitting services -- infants through age 11 -- in the Camp Carnival playroom from 9 pm until midnight and during specified hours on port days. The cost is $8 per hour, per child. For under-twos, there is also paid babysitting services (from 8 am to 10 am on sea days and select hours on port days) at the same rates. Parents and guardians are also free to use the Camp Carnival facilities under their own supervision at select times on sea days only. In-cabin babysitting is not provided.
Circle C, catering to ages 12 to 14, is a club on Deck 4 that features gaming consoles, late-night movies and a state-of-the-art sound system. Activities include dance parties, karaoke and a Wii Sports showdown.
With its hip decor, Club O2, a lounge serving 15- to 17-year-olds on Deck 5, could easily be mistaken for an adult lounge. Activities include dance classes, smoothies and ice cream socials, teens-only parties, and mini-golf and foosball tournaments.
Activities for both teen spaces are typically scheduled from mid- to late afternoon through to late night.
Adjacent to Club O2 is a 24-hour video arcade, loaded with plenty of games (though at an extra fee). The on-deck basketball court, ping-pong tables and waterslides are also popular with teens. Even the spa caters to teens via its YSpa concept, with salon and spa treatment geared specifically toward cruisers ages 12 to 17.