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16 Mexican Riviera Spa Cruise Reviews

This was our 12th cruise. We have cruised to Mexico, Alaska, Caribbean and Transatlantic. This was our 4th cruise to Mexico. Our first on Carnival to Mexico. 3rd Carnival cruise. Other lines we have cruised are Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, ... Read More
This was our 12th cruise. We have cruised to Mexico, Alaska, Caribbean and Transatlantic. This was our 4th cruise to Mexico. Our first on Carnival to Mexico. 3rd Carnival cruise. Other lines we have cruised are Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Princess, and Costa. We are equal opportunity cruisers. We have sailed on the large ships over 4000 passengers and smaller ships under 2000. And the best deal gets us as passengers. We are both gamblers so we usually get casino rates or free cruises through the lines. We are in our mid 50's and have been cruising since our early 40's. (wished we had started earlier.) Now that is our background We did a faster to the fun pass on this cruise. (best thing ever) I almost hate to even mention it here as only so many are allowed and I want it the next time I cruise Carnival (maybe Dec). You are treated as priority on the same level as diamond and platinum. When we got to the port to check in there was a long line. We were taken to the front. Then we went to the holding area. (Long Beach is not my favorite port because it is not as well organized as other ports I have been in) Once they put all of the special needs people in 1 line they opened a line for us. Once we got to the ship we were welcomed as the first to board. We went and dropped our carry-ons (luggage was already there). I unpacked and pored a glass of champagne. and then set out to explore the ship. had some lunch and went back to the room so I could see the wake as we sailed off. All of the people above and below us were talking and laughing. It was a good way to start a cruise The Miracle is one of my favorite cruises. While holding over 2100 passengers it never felt crowded. I love to spend my days at the pool and there was never a problem finding a chair open. That was a big plus. Waiters were plentiful but not too pushy as other ships have been. Was always comfortable at the pool. We always book a balcony room. Usually the first room forward that we can go. I used to be a smoker so there was no other option. now there still is no other option as I still love to sit on the balcony and also love sleeping with the door open. (my only drawback to Carnival is that their doors are not sliding doors so they have to be propped open.) This trip I wanted to try an aft balcony and I was able to. It was glorious. I would highly recommend. There are usually only about 20 of these rooms on a normal size ship so book early. I was lucky to get one that was saved for 3 people. And I had to keep checking the website to be able to get it. finally got it 2 weeks before the cruise. For dining we choose the anytime dining. I usually like the late seating and sitting with a group of people and getting to know them. This time we went this route. We are people that like to go in, eat and get out. sometimes you cannot do that with a large group. We were luck to get the same waiter every night. and he never forgot our names or what we liked to drink. I do not eat any seafood so he always would suggest what I should eat. And if there were 2 things he thought I would like and he would suggest we get 1 of the other and both at least taste it. I also eat the warm chocolate melting lava cake every night on the cruise. (best ever) he would always have that waiting and then while I was eating it make sure that I also got one of the special desserts of the night. I might not eat them all but I at least tried it. His name is Pong. And he never failed when he saw me anywhere on the ship to come up and say hi and call me by name. We also ate one night at Nick and Nora's steakhouse. It is an extra $35 but so worth it. One of the best steakhouses I have eaten at. They bring the steaks to your table to choose which you would like. They explain about each steak. I would suggest ordering the steak without the special rubs on it. And the cook it in the room where you are sitting. Nice touch. Horatio's buffet is really one of the best buffet's on a ship that I have had. There was more variety than I have seen on other ships. There were never lines because there were so many sections. They have pizza 24 hours a day. Best pizza ever. I highly suggest the 4 cheese. They also have a deli to order. I loved being able to order a sandwich and have a panini made right there on the spot. There was a Chinese food space, Salad space, a few hamburger stands, all American food sections, dessert section, omelette station. Too many to list all. These are the ones we went to. We were supposed to be at sea 1 day then stop at Cabo, Puerto Vallarta and then 2 days at sean on the way back. Well as we all know how mother nature works there was a storm near Cabo. (didn't hit but did make the water rough there and the tenders would not have been able to make it to shore) so we bypassed it and did 2 days at sea, then Puerto Vallarta, Cabo and 1 day at sea. All great weather. I have a friend who lives in Puerto Vallarta so we spent the day with him and his partner. I suggest that people go to Old Puerto Vallarta. There are a lot of cute stores there. The cruise lines will not advertise them because they do not pay the cruise lines to advertise their stores. A lot of people own the from the U.S. We booked an excursion in Cabo San Lucus. I was not sure if we would since we have been there a few times. (I prefer to stay on the boat but my husband likes to get off on land. Since he lets me cruise when I want, 3 times in last 13 months, I get off on shore.) I booked at the last minute and it was one of my favorite tours ever. Camel & Mexican Outback Adventure. We had Chicas as our tour guide. He was great. This was a 30 minute bus ride and before we knew it we were on our safari trucks. They took us to a section of the beach where there was camels waiting to be rode. We took photos with them and then we climbed the stairs to get on the camel. We got on and my first thought was (we need to get off this) but I stayed on and we were lead down to the beach. a camel ride is not what you expect. very strange feeling. after about 30 minutes of riding on the beach we were taken back and got off. we then got back in our safari trucks. we were driven about 4 minutes away and lo and behold there was a desert with lots of cactus. We got out of our trucks for a 30 minute walk. Chicas gave a wonderful nature talk. then we went back to the truck and took a short ride to an outdoor eating area where the cooks were making us some lunch. It was fantastic. Some very spicy. (which I like) I also added sauce. Well when Chicas saw me doing that he took me back to where the employees get their sauce and I had that. muy caliente and delicious! We had some tequila learned how to make tortillas and then back to our truck for the ride back to the bus. I don't ever by photos from tours (even the dolphins) but I did buy these. really worth the $50. I am glad I did not book my shore trip thru a private company as we would not have been there the day we were supposed to. To me it is worth the security and extra money to know I will make my tour and that the ship will not leave without me if we are late getting back. (we weren't but I have seen ships leave without people as they are standing on the dock yelling for the ship to wait, it won't) We then had another day at sea. I have always wanted to take a behind the scenes tour of a ship. I booked this one. (only 16 passengers can go on the tour) worth the $99. 3 1/2 hours of all the workings of the ship. If you have ever wondered how they run it, this is for you. everything from the freezer where ice cream is stored, meat locker, engine room, the crews dining rooms, laundry rooms, to bridge and visiting with the captain. With photos that they gave us. They wash the sheets and then have a machine that dries and folds it all in one. amazing. Also was taken to the kitchen where we saw how everything was run. It is hard to believe that they can put out so many meals like clockwork. (our waiter Pong saw me and came over to say Hi Ruby and at dinner that night ask me for details of the tour.) The people who worked in the casino were excellent. From the 1st night we got on the ship I was offered a free drink and every night and day they would come and talk and offer me drinks. My husband always wonders why everyone knows my name as we walk on the ship. He is shy. I am not. My only problem was I had read about the chef's dinner here on Cruise Critic, so as soon as we got on the ship I went to book it. They had 2 dates. I choose the second one (only 12 people on each date) Extra charge but I wanted to try it. Well the next day ours was cancelled and then they moved us to the 1st day. Then they called the next day and canceled. I was disappointed. After we got back from port on day 3 there was a message that it was back on so we were happy. Until the next day and it was canceled again for the final time. When we took the tour of the ship I ask the head check, Wellington, (I could not make that up) about it. He explained how there has to be at least 8 people as it is a big production. He also said that this was the 1st cruise he has ever been on where there was not one. And usually they are booked before a ship every sets sail. I now know for the next cruise to call the line and book ahead of time. And everyone on our tour heard us talking about it and had never heard of it and everyone said they would have done it. It is not advertised. Since we were faster to the fun we could get off of the sip when we wanted. Our luggage was in a special area. We got it and was heading to the car before most people were even out of the room. 10:30am arrival in port so it was not too early. Made me sad to see all of those people waiting to get on "MY" ship as I was getting off of it. a little jealous as they were heading to Hawaii for 15 days. Until next time "Bon Voyage"   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Arrived at Pier 93 in San Pedro at approximately 10:30 am. Plenty of parking at cruise terminal. Cost for parking was $12 per day. Easy walk with luggage to the cruise terminal. Was met by numerous porters wanting to take our luggage. I am ... Read More
Arrived at Pier 93 in San Pedro at approximately 10:30 am. Plenty of parking at cruise terminal. Cost for parking was $12 per day. Easy walk with luggage to the cruise terminal. Was met by numerous porters wanting to take our luggage. I am a little uncomfortable using porters. I would prefer to handle my own luggage. When I arrived at entrance to the terminal, I was told by a Princess cruise representative that I couldn't proceed until I had used a porter to check in my luggage. So had to turn around and go find a porter. No big deal. Check in was fast and efficient. The only problem we had was, there was confusion as to what line to put us in. On the Golden Princess there are two Deluxe Ocean View Staterooms located on Deck 15. Our room is located right next to a row of suites. The code for our room which was S704 listed it as a suite. So we were put into a line with other suite passengers. Again no big deal as there were no long lines. The check in rep had to go to another area to find our stateroom keys which took some time to locate. After check in. We were directed to the waiting area to await boarding that was supposed to start at noon. Boarding didn't start until approximately 12:45 pm. The waiting area was comfortable. The only problem I had with this area is the fact that the gangway is located right in the middle between the check in area and the waiting area. So when the ship boarding process began you had people making there way from there seats to get in line with there group. but you have people entering the waiting area and getting mixed up with the passengers heading to the gangway. caused a lot of confusion. Once on board we headed straight for our cabin to drop off our carry on's and to call the Dine line and made or reservations to eat at the Crown Grill. Once this was done we headed to get some lunch at one of the Main Dining Rooms. We asked a rep on board which MDR was open. We were told that none were open for lunch that we had to go to the Horizon buffet. Having eaten in the MDR in the past, I questioned the rep about this. and she finally told us which MDR was open. Lunch was wonderful and not very crowded. Hmmm I wonder why. We loved our room. The bed was comfortable and the floor to ceiling windows were fantastic. The room had crown molding and pictures on the wall. The air conditioning worked great. The bathroom was typical with the small shower. But the sink and counter had upgraded features like tile work and fixtures. The only issues we had were as follows: Overhead speaker in room didn't work so P/A announcements were heard from speakers outside of room. remote for the TV didn't work very well. Our room steward (Frenchy) was pleasant and informative and kept our room clean. However, we never got the robes that we requested and he kept all 3 of his cleaning carts right outside of our room. Which would get banged around every so often and he would have long conversations right outside our door with his assistant. Also our room was directly in line with the elevator hallway so we got a little bit of noise from people waiting on the elevators. This wasn't to bad because there are so few people in this area of the ship. Surprisingly the make up of passengers on this cruise was mostly older. If I were to guess I would say 85% were age 50 and above. There were only maybe a dozen kids on board. We dined in the Canaletto Main Dining Room We had originally requested a table of 6. I have a hard time hearing so anything bigger than a 6 person table can be a little hard on me to carry on a conversation. We were put at a 8 person table. Luckily we had wonderful table mates and wonderful servers. Natalia (Head server) and Marina (Asst server) Did a wonderful job and kept us well feed and entertained. We ate at the Crown Grill, one of two Specialty restaurants on board. The food was great and the service was fantastic. Well worth the $25 cover charge per person. The Entertainment on the ship was only so so. This time around we managed to see the show The British Invasion. Kind of a college production. The singing and dancing was just ok. We say comedian Phil Tag. He was entertaining and well worth watching and we also attended the Culinary arts show hosted by Maitre d Giuseppe Gelmini with Executive Chef John Convery. Both were very entertaining and put on a great class. One disappointment I had was there was no Wine Sommelier on board and I never saw the Maitre d during the entire cruise with the exception of the culinary arts class. In the past the Maitre d would make it a habit to at least introduce himself to each table and welcome everybody. Also dining at the Chefs table wasn't offered on this cruise. Another issue was formal night. There was supposed to be one formal night on a 4 day cruise. Many passengers had brought formal wear on board only to find out later that there was no formal night. Santa Barbra was wonderful. The beaches were pristine and the weather was gorgeous. Had to take tenders ashore. that went nice and smooth. Ensenada, I could have done without. It was dirty and I don't like dealing with beggars and the children trying to sell Chiclets. In my opinion there should have been more excursions offered besides going on a city tour and going to wineries or two the blow hole. Bought a few cheap gifts and enjoyed some good chips and salsa and beer at Papa's and Beers. Disembarkation was horrible. received info notice two days before which was a sea day. didn't read notice until the night before. My mistake. On the day the notice was distributed you were supposed to contact passenger service to arrange your luggage to be picked up outside your stateroom the night before. If you didn't it was assumed you were a walk off passenger. Well I would have to say that probably 75% of the passengers were walk off. We were the very last group to be let off the ship. Our meet time was 11:45 am. We had to be out of our stateroom by 8 am. We had to carry all of our luggage and not leave it unattended for 3 hours and 45 min. Also the ship had to do crew emergency drills that also slowed down the disembarkation process. We didn't leave the ship until shortly after noon. No wonder our embarkation process at the beginning of the cruise took so long. Princess you can do a lot better. As a result of our late disembarkation. we got charged for another day of parking. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
I try to sail on a HAL ship once every 2 years. I normally go to the Mexican Riviera in the winter to use their excellent thermal suite and work out equipment. I consider it my spa week to relax. This was my first time on the Zaandam. ... Read More
I try to sail on a HAL ship once every 2 years. I normally go to the Mexican Riviera in the winter to use their excellent thermal suite and work out equipment. I consider it my spa week to relax. This was my first time on the Zaandam. I liked the layout of the ship; smaller than most but not crowded even though it was Easter break week. We ( my son and I ) were upgraded to a partial blocked outside cabin, 3383. This was not an upgrade. The cabin was large but from the moment we entered I knew we would have a problem. The diesel fuel smell in the cabin was overwhelming and the A/C was hardly working. We immediately called downstairs; they said the smell would go away when we started sailing and sent someone up to look at the A/C. The repair man came up and said that the cabin was hot and that they would adjust it downstairs. We went off to sign up for the thermal suite package and I did not think about it again. When we came back to the cabin after dinner the smell was still bad and the A/C was still not working well. Our cabin steward apologized and got us a fan. He did what he could but he looked like this was not the first time this cabin had a problem. I tried to sleep with the fan blowing the fumes in my face. At 1 am I gave up; I had a terrible headache from the fumes and felt sick to my stomach. I went to the front office and asked if there was anywhere I could sleep. The lady said ; sorry we are completely booked. She was sorry I was sick from the cabin fumes but there was no room in the inn. I offered to sleep in the infirmary, I just needed some sleep and some clean air. No the infirmary was closed. So I told her I would sleep in the library. I went up and slept on the library couch for 2 hours, woke up without the headache and went back to my smelly cabin. The smell did get better the next day, the A/C never did and after 2 days of asking for help we gave up and kept the fan going. The toilet in the cabin worked most of the time; only had to have it fixed 2x. Avoid this cabin. The rest of the trip was fun. Went on the whale watching trip and saw a couple of whales ( the end of March is really too late in the season). We enjoyed the thermal suite and worked out everyday on the new equipment. We spent some time in the casino , contributing to the casino's retirement fund. The casino manager was great. The comedian , Dan Grueter was wonderful and we were sad that he only did one show. The singers and dancers were good and did their best with the small stage and the simple sets. We enjoyed the cooking demo, the computer classes and the DJ in the Crow's nest. We ate in the lido restaurant for all of our meals. We have done this before on 2 other cruises with HAL and normally we found the food there to be as good as the dining room . But not this time, HAL's food quality is slipping. Overall, we had a nice time. But for me the quality of service was seriously lacking. When you are paying so much for a room on a ship ; you should be able to sleep in your room and not the library couch. I was too tired and had too bad a headache to care. I wish someone on the HAL staff could have cared a little more. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Background: Two 30 year olds (husband and wife) from Anchorage, Alaska. First time taking a vacation without our 2 year old (missed her like crazy). This is also a good review to read if you are on the short side. I am 4'11 and was ... Read More
Background: Two 30 year olds (husband and wife) from Anchorage, Alaska. First time taking a vacation without our 2 year old (missed her like crazy). This is also a good review to read if you are on the short side. I am 4'11 and was concerned with a few of the activities we had planned, but all turned out well. Day 1 Boarding: We took Super Shuttle from our hotel (La Quinta LAX) to the port. It was $50 for both of us...I guess that would be cheaper than a taxi but if I am sharing with others all going the same direction then I think it should be a tad cheaper. But I digress. We got there about 1045. In my opinion the porters and general organization was A LOT better here than it was in Miami (we have cruised 3 times from there). Boarded around 1145. Enjoyed lunch on Lido and just walked around. Did the spa tour so we could go ahead and get a couple's week pass to their Thassotherpy (sp?) pool and heat rooms. We heard they only gave out so many so we wanted to make sure we got one. We also booked a couple of appointments for facials and massages. We don't normally "splurge" on stuff like that, but like I said it was our first time alone together in 2 years and we thought we'd go all out. Did muster drill, walked around more, got in our room (our first balcony, we always did interior before), yada yada. We had Any Time Dining (which I loved). Did not do the show, I usually think those first night shows are boring. Day 2 at Sea: We both had facials at 0915. Yep, I talked my husband into one. He was nervous at first, but later said "it wasn't bad" lol. He said he enjoyed the old fashion shave part. The guy took his time and his face was actually the smoothest and least red I have ever seen. I thought the woman doing mine was very friendly and funny and she did a great job. She didn't try and hard sell me anything. At the end she did hand me a card with the list of items she used on me and said if I was interested in anything I could let her know anytime this week. I don't consider that a hard sell at all, just something that she had to do. Right after we used our passes and spent an hour in the T pool, steam rooms, and heated chair rooms. Later in the day we hit the casino. We were at the black jack tables with a stone faced dealer at first, but then they did their change out and the friendliest guy came over and was working our table (Joseph from Philippines). He makes jokes and is smiling and even if you are losing you are somehow having a good time, lol. He asked our names and remembered us all week long. After dinner we went to the Punchliner Comedy Club. His name escapes me at the moment, but he was very funny. The opener and club manager Matt is also pretty funny. This was the first formal night too. Day 3 at Cabo: Since we did not have a planned shore excursion, we decided to let the masses leave first before we tendered off. We ended up not getting off till 1030! We got to the pier and people aren't kidding when they say you become bombarded by people trying to sell you tours. We just pick a random guy and took a water taxi to Medino Beach. We got there and it was...horrible. We sat down on our towels and literally every 5 seconds we had to say "no thank you" to people selling stuff. I get it, I know they are trying to make a living, but just be prepared. This is not a "relaxing" beach. We got up and paid for parasailing and off we went for that. That was kinda weird too, as you have to hop back up in one boat (this is where being short was kinda tough) and then out in the water you would hop from that boat into another for the parasailing. My husband actually cut his knee doing this. But, the actual parasailing was a blast. I had never done it before and was surprised at how peaceful it is. The boat below is going fast, but you are just gliding softly. After that we went back to the beach. My husband went jet skiing while I tried to read a book on my towel. And saying "no thank you" every 5 seconds. When he returned from jet skiing I wanted to leave and return to the ship. There were still lots of time left in Cabo, but I was just agitated and done. Once we were on the ship we did our daily routine of using our Spa pass, dinner, time in casino. Day 4 at Cabo: This day was much better! We booked an excursion through Baja Buggies (specifically, we booked through cabosanlucastours(dot)net and chose the Baja Buggy Xrail Tour Cabo). We were told to meet them at 815am at Senor Frogs (at the dock -- can't miss). Then we got in their van and were introduced to the others going on the trip (they were hotel guests, not cruisers. All were very friendly). We drove out to their location and the guides go over safety and the proper handling of the Xrail buggy. Everyone got a helmet, shades, and a bandana (keep the dust out of your mouth/nose...this was a dirty adventure!!!). Those of us who wear glasses got the swimming looking goggles, while you perfect vision people got the cool close to your face kind. You people have all the fun ;P. It was a good 3 hours of driving through sand obstacles, trails, up a mountain, and then back down to the beach. We stopped for water breaks many times. Back at their building we were given more water and chips/salsa (you could purchase soda if wanted). Our van then took all of us back to our hotels and the dock. Oh also, my husband did all the driving. I did not want to, but then once I sat in the Xrail I noticed I would not have been able to anyway. My legs didn't reach all the way (remember I am 4'11) nor did the seat move. Once we were on the ship we did our daily routine of using our Spa pass, dinner, time in casino. Day 5 at Puerto Valhalla: This was an awesome day as well. We booked the Extreme Canopy tour through Carnival. The local company is Valhalla Adventures. After booking this I became nervous and thought "what have I done"! Zip lining, rappelling, suspension bridges, mule riding, etc. But I'm telling you, you CAN DO IT. It's fun and you do leave with a sense of accomplishment. The guides are always with you and they are good at their job and funny to boot. Lots of water breaks and chips/salsa at the end. If I had to say there was something I wasn't crazy about it was the mule ride. My little mule wanted to go rogue a few times but luckily a guide was behind me and would steer him back. Oh, and from the "short" perspective...some things were tough. The rope bridge was hard because taller people naturally hold the high rope a little higher, and you are having to tough down on it pretty hard to get it near your arm length. But it's doable. And at the zip line bases I would have to jump up to help the guide unhook my zip line. Ah well. Once we were on the ship we did our daily routine of using our Spa pass, dinner, time in casino. Day 6 at Sea: Another formal night. Did usual at Sea day things; spa, casino, lounged in the sun, eat a lot, saw a show, etc. Seth at Punchliner comedy club was awesome. Day 7 at Sea: Like previous sea day only we also did a couple's massage at the spa and packing throughout the day. Day 8 Debark: Like all debarks, this one was hectic. But it is what it is. Caught the Super Shuttle over to the airport to pick up our rental car. We stayed in California for 2 extra days before flying home to Alaska. Random after thoughts: I LOVED anytime dining and will now always book that. There were days we wanted to eat at 545pm, and days we would eat at 800pm. I love that we weren't confined to a specific time. We always ask and got a table for two. Some of the two people tables are close together, and sometimes we would chat with the other people. But I personally like it like that instead of being sitting right at a big table with people. The Adult Serenity Deck is very lacking on the Splendor. I was really shocked by this because my last cruise was on the little Carnival Imagination and even they had a great Serenity deck. All the Splendor had was the nice padded chairs in a labeled "adults only" section. I kept looking for the bar, the umbrellas, the Jacuzzis, etc. I walked all around and all it was was the loungers. I almost feel like I must have missed an obvious section somewhere...those who cruised the Splendor...did I miss a section somewhere? Gym was packed all the time. That surprised me actually. I didn't care for the fitness classes offered (they had yoga, an ab workout, spin I think). I am really into Turbo Kick and was hoping for something like that. Ah well. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Embarkation: was a breeze. My boyfriend and I met a friend for champagne brunch at 11 a.m. next door at the Queen Mary ($50 a person but the food was good and they were quick to refill the champagne.) We finished brunch and boarded at ... Read More
Embarkation: was a breeze. My boyfriend and I met a friend for champagne brunch at 11 a.m. next door at the Queen Mary ($50 a person but the food was good and they were quick to refill the champagne.) We finished brunch and boarded at 1:30 p.m. and literally walked right through, no waiting. This was a birthday cruise for both me and my sweetie; the steward delivered a cake sent by a friend before I could even close the cabin door! I personally ordered several things through Bon Voyage and everything was accurate and showed up on time. Interior Spa Room: I would say YES to the spa cabins but NO to cabin 1051. It is the last of the interior rooms and closer to the middle of the ship so I chose thinking I'd feel less of the ship movement. However; this room is right next to the stewards galley for the deck and every morning at 6 a.m. I awoke to the banging of various carts being pulled out. The picture of the cabin on the Carnival website is it, I was wondering what the rest of the room looked like but the answer is there is no more, lol (besides a bathroom and closets.) There was TONS of closet space, and with our luggage stored under the bed we had plenty of storage room. Spa: We spent at least 30 if not 120 minutes using the spa daily. The steam/sauna rooms and the Thalossotherapy pool that come with the spa rooms are all wonderful. Bring your own spa shoes/flip flops though because there was none in the room (despite advertisements to the contrary). Also, the spa rooms were supposed to come with a yoga OR pilates class and we found out at embarkation this had changed to just a yoga class. We took advantage of the spa cabins getting first dibs at spa appointments and booked a 2 for 1 Rasul at embarkation ($95 for two). The Rasul was fantastic and I would highly recommend. It was a fun couples thing and my skin felt softer for days after. The hour flew by though so if you can afford to book 2 hours do it! We didn't do any other spa treatments. Cabo/Puerto Vallarta: We got off the ship at our own pace a little later in the morning to avoid the lines. We didn't do any excursions, just wandered the city. Met a couple later in the cruise who told us they "crashed" some local resorts. Although they paid the resort fee in Puerto Vallarta ($40 for two) they were able to use the resorts pools and services as well as score some free drinks; think I will try this myself next time! Food/Alcohol: The food, meh, I give it a 3 out of 5. Not bad but nothing spectacular. We paid the extra $30 a person, plus a $15 fee to drink our own bottle of wine in the steakhouse. Had the surf and turf, it was very good but not out of the park. I'd give it 4 out of 5. A fun experience though if you can afford it. I went to a lot of trouble to bring some extra "spirits" on board and I can tell you, don't waste your time! Days 1 and 2 they sell alcohol from the gift shop at excellent prices and it's just not necessary. Wish I had known this ahead of time. Plus it's just nice to order something right from the bar or from one of the roaming cocktail people. I'm a booze hound when I'm on vacation and I found the ship options affordable and adequate. Kids vs. Adults: Yes I saw kids but they didn't interfere with my vacation (I am 40 and kid-less). There are plenty of adults only areas (the one next to the spa has the spa music piped in) and Carnival does a great job of keeping the kids entertained with camp carnival, the waterslides and family pools. Seasick: YES I WAS, despite Bonine twice a day. I heard the crew complaining that 2/3 of the ship was sick all week. Not sure why it was so rough but I saw a lot of people with the little patches behind their ears and found out about the nausea wrist bands AFTER I got back. Illness ruined me for a good 2 days and I had sea legs for a solid week after returning. Not sure I'll be cruising again for this reason. Service: I have to make a special comment that the service was by far the best part of my vacation. Our cabin steward Edwin was wonderful, and everyone (except for one slightly grouchy bartender) was smiling, helpful and pleasant. They all seemed genuinely interested in giving us a great experience. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Little background about us. Married couple in our late 20's early 30's. No kids, and love to vacation on the younger generation atmosphere. My wife and I went into this cruise with our guards up at all time. We were reading ... Read More
Little background about us. Married couple in our late 20's early 30's. No kids, and love to vacation on the younger generation atmosphere. My wife and I went into this cruise with our guards up at all time. We were reading reviews for the last three months, and a big majority of reviews were not very great and left us almost not wanting to go. Plus those cruisers in Puerto Vallarta that got robbed got us very scared of not wanting to even get off the ship. We were actually very bad misinformed and I personally found out why a lot of bad reviews from prior cruisers (I will get into that ahead). It turned out to be the best experience ever. I'm gonna give you the only bad comment right now, so you can decide if you should even continue reading this review and not waste your time. The only bad thing we can say is that this cruise is very ROCKY!! Everywhere you go you feel this ship move very bad. If motion sickness bothers you, I personally recommend you to DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY IN THIS CRUISE. Fly and vacation on land instead. Don't get me wrong, we hated it moving like that, but we used the patch and we were fine the whole trip. I'm sure you out there will be fine too, but we highly recommend you to either take stuff for sickness or the patch. After all, it's a cruise and they all move, right? Now, if this is not at all an issue for you, keep on reading because I got the bad comment out of the way. Embarkation: It was not bad at all. Like I said earlier, I was very prepared to expect the worst due to last reviews. Everyone agreed on a long waiting to get checked in and a big hold up. WRONG!!! We did not even take 20 minutes and we were on the bar at the Lido Deck drinking Foster Beers. Here is something you need to know. You have to prepare all you paper work before you come in. You can get you boarding passes online and luggage tags online. Trust me, that will save you the hassle and pain in the butt that everybody is talking about. If you prefer to get all your documents and tags in the port, trust me, all the bad reviews you read about embarkation will be true and you will be asked to move from area to area, then to get the room keys, then to get this and that. You can leave your luggage with the porters, and everything will arrive at your stateroom. Just tip him/her 1 dollar per bag. Nothing will be stolen. Those porters have tons of luggage to load for them to worry about robbing just yours. And believe me, we packed very valuable stuff in our luggage, and I would had been in a lot of trouble with my wife if anything was missing. Cabin Room: We got a Spa Ocean View Room at the very front of the ship. To be exact, our cabin was the 1003. Panorama Deck. If you are one of those people that demands a lot of space and storage, this is the room for you. When we came into the room, everything looked very clean. However, I'll give you a little tip. Even though the room was very clean, I would recommend you to bring some Wipes and a disinfection spray (1 dollar at Wal-mart) to do your own clean up at the beginning our your trip. Don't get me wrong, you don't have to do this, the room is spotless already. That's only if you are one of those people that rather make sure to kill germs your self. After all, that's going to be your house for 8 days. Our steward "Edwin" did a great job from the beginning to the end. He learned our names right away, made sure we were having a good time, if we were able to sleep well, etc. He was supposed to clean this room twice a day, but we only needed him to clean it in the AM, and he was so kind that he asked every night if we needed at least clean towels, fresh ice cubes and clean wine glasses. Plus he insisted one night to let him clean our room so he could make animals with the towels. That was very nice of him. I would recommend you that even though you already paid gratuity, give your steward like 15-20 bucks at the end of your cruise. Trust me, we are not rich people, but those guys go the extra mile if you treat them nice. However, make sure your steward is being nice to you the entire time and going the extra mile. It sucks that you don't have your own balcony, but the cool thing about it is that you can go around your room and you have a sun deck pretty much for yourself. It's not a private balcony, but nobody really walks around there. I couldn't sleep one night, and I went out there to look at the stars. It was like having a balcony for myself. The room has two HUGE windows, compared to other ocean view cabins. I even sat in the window a couple of times. Did I mention storage everywhere? Yes, yes, yes. This room has a very spacious closet with a lot of cabinets to put your stuff. The bathroom here is very comfortable too as far as space. It was well worth it investing in a spa room, since you have a different robe than everyone else, plus you get to use the Spa facilities every single day. I liked it too that they give you Spa products in your room everyday. I believe they charge like $35 a day just to use their facilities if you do it that way. It also has the typical mini bar, small safe, and more storage cabinets anywhere you look. It also has a Vanity very comfortable with bright lights for the misses' to get ready. My wife did appreciate that one. FOOD= For breakfast the first three days, we did room service continental breakfast. Since we are adults into fitness, we woke up early to get our workouts out of the way. We brought our pre and post workout supplements, so we calculated to have our pastries and coffee in our room by the time we were done with the gym, spa pool and sauna time. Anyways, we are talking about food. I'll get into gym and spa later. Prior reviews said the food wasn't good. I though the food in this cruise was very good. Not the greatest top of the list, but it will do for 8 days. The room service foods are mainly sandwiches and salads. They are not the greatest, but they are not bad either. If you go to the Lido Deck breakfast buffet, it's a hell to try to grab food. TOO MANY people at once trying to get food. We never went there since we decided to have breakfast at the Gold Pearl Restaurant and in our walk to the restaurant, we had to see how the buffet Chaos was. I'm pretty sure the food was good too. Now, on the Restaurant, the food was good. They let have as many bakery as you want, and even main dishes too. Many people complained in prior reviews about the waiters being jerks, but I personally saw why some of them can be very unpleasant. This Chinese group of old people were very demanding, talking to the waiter any way they wanted and pretty much telling him they were better than him. Off course the dude was a total jackass to them. The same dude was our waiter, and he was cool to us. Off course, we joked around with him, and we were not being a$$holes to him. He gave us very good service and was not feisty to us. So, I will recommend you out there to respect those workers. Don't be a Jack hole demanding Bitch. They are human beings too and have to do the same job over and over without a day off. I'm not gonna tell you here that I'm Jesus Christ and I never break the rules. Just have some consideration and treat those workers nice. Leave your grumpy attitude at home. And trust me, the way you treat them, they will treat you. Like I said, we saw it happen in front of me. Lunch at the MDR is good too. I got the Philly cheese steak sandwich and that thing was very good. Not the healthiest thing I'll be honest with you, but it was DELICIOUS!! I couldn't finish it, and I'm a big eater dude. Lunch at the buffet was good. We did go to the buffet for lunch twice, and they had a big variety of food. We mainly wanted french fries and hot dogs, so I can't deep comment here too much. It's cool to eat here if you don't feel like wearing your t-shirt. Moving on, we dined at the Gold Pearl Restaurant early dining (6:00pm). Man!! do I keep saying good food. Yes!!! food was great. You go there to EAT!!!. Three course meals every night. Plus the waiters and waitresses sing and dance for you at the end. Not the great thing, but it's just funny. We sat with 2 other couples celebrating their anniversaries and another couple on their honeymoon. We were glad they sat us with young couples and not with families with kids and grandparents. Nothing against them, it's just not for us. Elegant nights were on Monday and Friday. The restaurant looked very pleasant to be in. Jonathan was our waiter. I forgot the other guys names. They treated us great. By the second night, he knew what was our drinks, and he didn't even have to ask again. Like I said earlier, don't be a demanding A$$hole. Treat those guys with respect and put a smile to them and you will get it back. If you wanna have your shitty attitude, just go eat at the buffet. PINNACLE STEAKHOUSE= I forgot to mention. This cruise was for my wife and I 5th anniversary, so we decided to give it a try one of the nights to the famous Pinnacle Steakhouse. Previously I read the reviews and they all said it was worth it, and I thank all those people because they were not wrong. It's $30 per person, but it is the best. 5 course meal here people. I wanted to try the lobster, but I had lobster almost every night at the MDR and in Puerto Vallarta, so I tried to the Cowboy Steak. That thing was huge!! 18oz. My wife had the Ribeye steak also 18oz. I tried a little piece, and it had even more flavor than my steak. Both of them were delicious though. It was pretty cool also that the waitress comes and give a little live show of their entries uncooked (they are in plastics) in a rolling cart before you order. They make sure you are making you extra money worth it. The last waitress knew that it was our anniversary, so he brought us our dessert with candles, and demanded for my camera because she wanted us to take a bunch pictures home. I didn't get her name, but she scored a 10 with us, because it is very difficult to be bothering people to take the picture for you. And she was on top of that telling us how to pose for the photos. Anyways, YOU HAVE TO COME TO EAT AT THE PINNACLE STEAKHOUSE. I'll recommend you to make reservations before you get on the cruise. Just e-mail them, and they respond very fast. Public Rooms= On previous reviews, everyone concluded that this cruise is bathed in Pepto Bismol. Well, it is very true about the walls and almost everywhere you look is very Pink. Pink dots everywhere. We didn't get upset or bothered by it. We went to a cruise to have fun and do lots of activities, not to be in time-out like a bratty kid looking at the wall. Don't let this PINK SITUATION bother you. It's ok that you are an Art critic but whatever, four hours later you will ignore those pink dots. This cruise have lounges and bars for every occasion. If you want to smoke a cigar, there is a lounge for it. If you want to watch sports, there is a sports bar behind the casino. If you want to sing, there is the piano bar. I can't really comment too much on the other ones because we just didn't go there. But as far as cleanliness and pleasant to be there, you won't regret it. I will not comment on public places on the cruise if you have kids, because I did not bring kids with me. Red Carpet nightclub= This is the famous adults nightclub. We went there one night, and it was a lot of fun. We only stayed there for like 30 minutes because we wanted to have energy for Cabo San Lucas the next day. I have to tell you this: put your parents and kids to sleep and come out at 11pm. We saw a lot of single people here, men and women. The cruise director (Todd) comes here to mess and interview people. Don't get too excited about the Red Carpet being a huge night club Studio54 style. It's very small, but it will keep you drunk and having a good time with other cruisers. Casino= The layout is pretty cool. Not that big of a floor but it does its thing. Let me tell you this, we are gamblers and Vegas goers. Get this in your head, THIS IS NOT LAS VEGAS!!! and those tables and slot machines are loaded. Carnival regulates the Casino, so don't think you are going to come here to make money or encounter fair gambling. Don't get me wrong, we played here a couple of nights and it was fun. We just didn't play a lot of money, and we were willing to lose what we brought downstairs. They have this machine called the "CASINO VAULT", and it's like those arcade games you find outside of Denny's to get stuffed animals. With the difference that what you find here is straight cash, and an Ipad2. It's just funny because you play this thing, and everyone is watching you but don't dare to put their dollar in it. Ohh, I have to warn you about this: If you have kids (minors), leave them in the pool or in the room. You don't see it, but Carnival workers are watching every move and they will ask minors to get out of there. We had to see this dad playing the Casino Vault and his daughters got involved in the game, and next thing you see is a Carnival worker kicking them out. So my advise for minors trying to play with the adults is to still try it, but be willing to be embarrassed by a Carnival worker. And they won't ask you nice to leave, so I'll leave it up to you. =) Like I said, it's just a Casino. Don't be too excited about gambling here. I played craps and was broke even. Nothing special about the casino in this cruise. Spa= If you are not staying in a Spa Room and have to pay the 35 dollars it's not worth it. Just use the dry sauna in the gym. They are free for everyone. Like I said, we had a Spa room, so we were entitled to use their TalazoTherapy pool, relaxation rooms, and two private steaming rooms. They are nice. After a good workout session, it's a good idea to take a very cold shower and get in the TalazoTherapy pool. I used the steaming rooms every single day, then showered, then went into their hot tiled relaxation rooms. Man, what a way to cure hangovers also, lol. Ohh, as a cruiser staying in a Spa Room, you are entitled to a Yoga class and an ab conditioning class. We passed on this since we are not yoga people, but just so you know. If you are a spa person, I would recommend you to book a Spa room, that way you don't have to pay the extra $35 a day to use it, nor need to get a massage. Talking about massages, wait until the very last day at sea. If you decide to get them, they charge over 200 dollars normally. But the very last day at sea, they drop it to $129 for like a 110 massage. It's a full package, then they start dropping down the prices even more. I would recommend you not to book any massages prior to getting on the cruise. Just do it there. Gym= Go first thing in the AM or late at night. It gets packed!! Their gym is actually a good size gym. The ceiling is pretty low though, so be careful if your workouts included jump squats, jumping jacks or burpess. You will not hit your head, but you can easily hit the ceiling with your hands every time you jump high. Talks a guy that is 5"10". Imagine if you are taller. I can say it has easily 12-15 treadmills, 8 elliptical, and 10 stationary bikes. It also has a good variety of weight machines, I can easily say one for each main muscle group. Can't complain about that. On the weight area, their biggest dumbell goes up to 60 lbs only, so don't expect this gym to be World Gym or 24 hours Sports. No cable machines either. In the AM's of sea days, it's just like every other reviewer said; very hard to get on a treadmill. On Friday (Sea Day) we actually went at 2pm and it was pretty empty by then. But like I said, the gym has enough stuff to burn a good amount of calories and wear out muscles before the 3 course meals and all the junk food you will eat later, because you will, trust me on that one. Entertainment= Their shows are OK. I can't complain too much about this because they are just free shows to entertain people while cruising. Don't expect either a Las Vegas Cirque Du Soleil, or a Broadway show. Other reviewers were really deeply criticizing these shows but I don't understand why, they are free. When we ported in Puerto Vallarta, they brought Mariachis from there into the cruise, and folkloric dancers. That show was pretty good. We did enjoy that one. And the typical of Carnival, on every show the host and performers interact with the audience and make fun of them. We did take a bunch of professional pictures all over deck 5 on elegant nights. There is no obligation to buy them later, but I would like to make you aware of the price. It's 22 dollars per picture, and they will not go any cheaper either. If you bring a good camera and a good tripod, you can take your own pictures on the scenario. The photographer will NOT take the picture with you camera, just so you know. Or you can have somebody come around to take the picture for you (that's kinda harder). Ohh, and even at the last day if you want to purchase the photos, they are still $22. Now the Adult Comedy Show. To be honest, this show wasn't really that funny. We thought it was very funny when we were there because we were very drunk and having a good time with other cruisers. That old dude comedian is just vulgar and interacts with the audience a lot. So for you adults out there that get bother easily by the F word, don't go to the Morocco room at nights. I highly recommend you to have a few drinks before you come in here. Then it will be funny. Cabo 1st day= Pretty cool how you arrive to Cabo. For those of you who never been in a cruise to Cabo, there is no port for the cruise. Little boats (tenders) take you to the Marina. The cruise just stays out in the Ocean. Now let me tell you a little about excursions and budgeting. We did not book anything through Carnival and we are glad we didn't. Nothing wrong with Carnival sponsoring activities, but they charge more than double for the activities. I understand that they have to make money for the convenience and lunch provided, but that was just too much for us. We did para sailing, wave runners and off course drink beer the whole day (2x1). Carnival charges $90 for para sailing activity per person. I wanted to do it, but my wife didn't due to being afraid of heights. We went with Sky King on the Marina, and they charged me $35 and $10 for my wife just going for the ride. I figured I should share this info in the review since people want to know how much to expect to be charged. When you are done with the para sailing, you can tell those guys to drop you off at Medano beach, and they leave you there with no problem. When we were done with parasailing, we walked to a bar next to "the Office" and drink a bucket of 5 beers for 11 dollars. This bar is not roped off, so all the vendors come around here and try to sell you stuff. Tip: Just be firm and tell them NO GRACIAS. They'll leave you alone. From that bar we rented a jet ski for an hour. All those vendors try to ask you for $90 an hour. As you walk away they follow and follow until they drop the price to $60 an hour. Tip for wave runners: Make sure to take a little video of the jet ski with your camera and inspect it very well of any chips and defects already there before you take off. A you make the little video, record the guy that is inspecting it with you and make him confirm everything you say. Just for your protection. I heard that those guys try to pull a fast one often to people claiming about damages that you "supposedly did" and they even threat you with calling local authorities to make you pay. I was aware of that before I did this thanks to prior reviews on this website, so thanks to all of you. From the Jet Skis, we wanted to eat at the famous "The Office", but they were with wait list so we decided to leave. Instead, we went next door to Baja Cantina (restaurant bar owned by Cabo Villas). This bar is roped off (no vendors bothering). We ate here and drank 2x1 margaritas for the rest of the afternoon. Another thing to share: I know you are in Mexico, but you spend dollars just like if you were in the USA. Food is kinda pricey here, but it's very good. Moving on, some guy from the water activities at this hotel came over to offer a timeshare presentation. Let me tell you this, if you want freebies but can't handle selling pressure and being called names just don't do it. We went ahead and signed up for the next day to do it, and they offered us a lot of good stuff. If you do this, get as much stuff as you can from the guy. Example: Massages at the spa for two people 100 minutes for 80 bucks, 60 dollars credit for food and ALCOHOLICS DRINKS on Baja Cantina, and the future staying there. You can even ask for more stuff, like ask him to rent you jet skis for $45-50 an hour if you sign up. He'll ask you for a $20 deposit, but you DO get it back believe it or not. Cabo 2nd day= First thing we did was get that stupid timeshare presentation out of the way. It didn't go that bad at all. The seller called me names, got so frustrated that had to just let us go with our freebies. hahahaha. After that presentation, OFF COURSE we went back to Baja Cantina to drink and drink more with our credit at the bar. We did not spend a penny here. Only what we paid in tips for the waiter which was like 10 bucks, and that was actually too much, but whatever, he deserved it. We decided to do massages at the beach in this resort, so we paid 60 dollars a person for an hour. We actually paid a lot for this, but we just didn't feel like going to the Marina to Lolo's to pay $25 dollars an hour. Plus we were kinda scared that the seller from the timeshare had buddies outside waiting for us to harm us. lol. Let me tell you, I frustrated that man so much that I was kinda scared of our safety. Anyways, the massages we did here at Cabo Villas were THE BEST. I'm not a massage person and actually didn't want to do it, but my wife loves getting massages so I went ahead and did it too. I did it for her. What the heck, I'm on vacations and I didn't spend any money today by doing a timeshare presentation. lol. Let me tell you this, those massage ladies resuscitated us I would describe. Forget the Spa in the cruise. Just wait until you arrive in Cabo and do them on the beach. Nobody will be around watching you. They have their little cabana, and they close it down when they are massaging you. Expect to pay between 30-60 dollars per hour when you do massages on the beach. It all depends on where you go. Like I said we paid $60, but you can find on the Marina and even on the beach somewhere else for $30. From there, we went back to the Marina. We didn't want to take the long walk aroud the whole Marina again (because is a LONG WALK), so we took a water taxi and took us right in front of our tenders to go back to the ship. It was just 4 dollars per person. When we got to the MArina, we still had time to spend in Cabo, so we went to drink in sports bars close by, and found out is even cheaper than Medano Beach. They have little stores and vendors around here, and talk about BARGAIN!! If one vendor doesn't want to lower the price for you on hats or shirts, don't worry; the next one will work with you. Ohh before I forget. I know you want to go drink and get on CABO mode, but don't over do it. Remember that the only way to get back to the cruise is in Tenders, and they move awful. In our tender, this chick was so DRUNK that she was just throwing up and spitting on the Ocean. We were off course laughing and taking pictures of her but it was just disgusting. So keep that in mind, lol. I believe if you go even deeper in Cabo, you find even more cheaper restaurants and bars. But, I will find out about that one when we come back in our free stay. Puerto Vallarta= I'm going to be honest with you in this one. We were very afraid of doing anything in this city. After what happened to prior cruisers about getting robbed at gunpoint, We were very unmotivated to even get off the ship. We did anyways, we took a cab to El Malecon beach and messed around the beach. We were drinking beer for 20 pesos and doing shopping. We did not do any excursions due to what I just said, but everything seemed to be fine for other cruisers. I think security implemented after that horrible incident, that I'm pretty sure you will be ok doing any excursions here. A couple in our table did the tequila tasting, and gave us the best reviews about it. Like I said earlier, we did not do it but it looks like it's very worth it. They said they paid like us$60-70 a person with Carnival for like 3 or 4 hours, plus they give you lunch. Ohh wait, we did go eat to a Restaurant called RIO GRANDE, and ordered the Mariscada for two. That thing had a big lobster, Red snapper, other fish (I forgot the name), oysters, shrimp rice, vegetables, bread, tostada shells, and other stuff for 55 dollars. Let me tell you this. At dinner that night on the cruise, they had oysters, fish and lobster. CRAP!!! they were very good, and we were kickin ourselves for eating that much at lunch the same thing. Don't get me wrong, the food at this restaurant in PV was great, but we could of eat the same for dinner without having to spend that much money and avoid the food comma for diner. LOL. Lido Deck Bars= Drinks at these bars are expensive. 8-9 bucks per cocktail and 6-8 a beer. Not that fancy cocktails like 7 and 7 is 6.25 after gratuities. Many new cruisers wonder how much is liquor in the cruises, so there it is. (All other bars have the same prices). It's pretty cool to hang out here bc it's just bars outside by the pool. And when you get a chair to lay there (if you can get one), you have someone from Carnival already on you making sure you need any drink, or having a good time. I like to mention about the pool on this deck because the buffet and Pizza Pirate is next to it. So if you get hungry and want to grab a piece of pizza or some little snack, just take a few steps. No need to go dress up like going in the MDR. The Pizza Pirate is open 24 hours. The Calzones are delicious. You have to order those right there, but it's worth waiting the 15 minutes. Disembarkation= It wasn't bad either. We weren't in a rush to get out, so we went ahead and put our luggage outside of the room the very last night with our disembarkation tags numbered. It was just funny that a lot of people were doing self disembarkation, and they didn't even realize that the luggage are already waiting for you outside in your zone. When your zone is called, it moves quick. It's not that disorganized like everybody reviews it. I saw also that it gets a little more complicated if you are coming with handicapped family members, but that's just like everywhere else. So don't panic. Now, Like I said many times already, it was just two of us in this cruise. If you are coming in this cruise just with your girlfriend/boyfriend or spouse; it will be very weird if you find issues and problems. If you come with a family of 25-50 members, you will find a lot of issues. Don't get me wrong, it's not your family size's fault. It's just extremely hard to accommodate big groups and coordinate every single one to be happy. Don't blame it on Carnival. They actually DO their best. Enjoy the CARNIVAL SPLENDOR. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
The wife and I live in San Francisco and like leaving from LA. We stay at the Double Tree because you can park your vehicle and take a shuttle to and from the port. It makes it very easy to cruise from there without having to fly. It also ... Read More
The wife and I live in San Francisco and like leaving from LA. We stay at the Double Tree because you can park your vehicle and take a shuttle to and from the port. It makes it very easy to cruise from there without having to fly. It also allows you to bring lots of extra things that you can't bring when you fly. The wife and I are Elite members with princess and have done the Mexican Riveria many times. We were really looking forward to the cruise to see how the referbished Sapphire had changed. Friends of ours had invited us to their son's wedding aboard the Sapphire. A great excuse to cruise. We wanted a mini but the owners suite was available so it was a great choice. The owners suite was beautiful with lots of space, a large bathroom with a tub with whirlpool jets. The best part though was the varanda. At the stern you have the best view and no wind, a great place to just hang out on the recliners. Only one very small complaint, they do offer priority baggage delivery but that never happened. We kept checking and they just delivered us last since we were at the stern of the ship. A quick word about the wedding. It was fantastic. The wheelhouse lounge was reserved for the wedding and the captain preformed the service. The captain was very gracious and the service was beautiful. After cocktails and hors d'oeuvres and many pictures all over the ship we were hosted for a private dinner at Sabatini's. A very memorable affair. The Sapphire Princess was in beautiful shape and all the new additions made her very special. All the additions to the Atrium are great. Vines wine bar, Alfredo's Pizzeria and international Cafe are a very warm and inviting. Many of the family of the newly weds had early seating in the MDR. We chose anytime dinning and ate at the 4 different dinning rooms. No problem getting a reservation anytime after 7 pm. We loved the Vivaldi and the Savoy dining rooms and their caring wait staff. All the dining rooms have thesame menus except each offer one entree that is special for each room. The special for the Savoy was osso buco, terrific. Our overall favorite restaurant was Sabatini's. For a small fee it had the best selection of plates on the Sapphire. We loved the wait staff here, they took care of us like family. We also ate there every morning, a special for suite passengers. This cruise had only two stops, Puerto Vallarta and and over night in Cabo. The only excursion we took was whale watching. It was well worth the effort to get up early, sleep late on vacation, to see the many pods of whales in the bay of Cabo. This was jammed packed with whale sightings. We were all glad we chose this tour. The only down side of the trip to the Mexican Riveria is that there are fewer and fewer stops because of the crime issue in Mexico. The last time we traveled to this area we were on a 19 day Panama Canal cruise on the Coral and the day we left LA Princess cancelled all five stops in Mexico due to the H1N1 flu. We still love this area and wish things will get better so we can again visit the place we enjoy. In closing, this was a fun cruise on the Sapphire. We enjoyed our cruise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
This is a good bargain for a family or entry-level cruiser. However, do not expect to pay Holiday Inn prices and get a Ritz-Carlton experience. If you know what to expect, you can have a good time. PROS: Good value. Loved the spa ... Read More
This is a good bargain for a family or entry-level cruiser. However, do not expect to pay Holiday Inn prices and get a Ritz-Carlton experience. If you know what to expect, you can have a good time. PROS: Good value. Loved the spa cabin which was larger than other interior cabins I have had on other lines. Enjoyed use of the big hot-tub, aromatherapy room, and other perks of the spa cabin. It was a nice place to get away from the crowds. Shore excursion in Puerto Vallarta was a highlight of my life (Rhythms of the Night) and well worth the $99 a person for a magical experience on an island off the coast. Liked the ability to access dining menus and fees as well as other stuff from the room TV. Extremely hard-working staff. Felt reasonably comfortable as a lesbian couple on a family ship. NEUTRALS: Food was mediocre. Generally good in the Golden Pearl and loved the people at our table as well as the wait staff (they can dance but they cannot sing). Be sure to try the chocolate melted cake. Lido deck was hit or miss, mostly miss. Was happy to find the rotisserie upstairs and eat the roasted chicken and good mac and cheese. Was not thrilled with breakfast until I tried the omelet bar and discovered you could get an egg however you wanted there. Overall my strategy was to eat things they cooked right there (Mongolian BBQ, etc).There were areas to get away from kids but the Serenity Deck is situated right below the miniature golf course deck so sometimes noisier than I would have liked. Entertainment also hit or miss. Vroom a great show. Comedian Russ Nagle hilarious. The others not so much. CONS: Wish we had spent two days in PV and only one in Cabo. Could have spent a week at the island of Caletas (near PV) where our offshore excursion went. Only educational thing on board was a great gourmet cooking demo at the Pinnacle (get there early). Would have loved something about the Mexican culture or Mexican cooking. Spa cabin services not available day of departure as they are giving tours. Had expected tai chi but none offered. Also, interior decor in atrium area was horrid. I actually detoured it as much as I could to not have to see it. WEIRDNESS: It was strange to turn on my cabin TV on Saturday morning to see a wrecked cruise ship (Carnival owns Costa). Surreal and very sad. At the same time, I felt safe on this ship, and our lifeboat drill was first thing we did. Our captain made an announcement and we had a moment of silence. Unfortunately, it was during the last minute of a playoff game, which was awkward. I have to say he sounded very touched and choked up about the Costa tragedy. Anyway, to sum up, I would do this again if I could stay in a spa cabin and go to Caletas Island again for Rhythms of the Night. Otherwise, I'll cruise with Olivia Cruises. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
This is a review of a trip I took last year. Splendor was great. Very pink if memory serves. Embarkation was good, we got on fairly quickly, managed to find a table on the lido deck and had lunch, while we waited for our rooms to be made ... Read More
This is a review of a trip I took last year. Splendor was great. Very pink if memory serves. Embarkation was good, we got on fairly quickly, managed to find a table on the lido deck and had lunch, while we waited for our rooms to be made ready. The spa was amazing - everything was clean and brand new. This was right after the fire, so brand spanking new shineies is to be expected, but was still much appreciated considering just how many people go through the spa in a month. We purchased spa access on board for both my husband and I and this was well worth it. We spent a lot of time during the sea days in the spa, I really enjoyed the heated loungers and the Thalassotherapy (spelling?) pool. The spa staff were very accommodating. All the cabin stewards were really friendly and helpful. The room was comfortable enough for two people. Very clean and quiet. We did the behind the fun tour on the last day. This was an eye opener and really neat. We got to see the kitchens (we did the chef's table which included a tour of this area, the cooks we ran into all remembered my Husband and I), the crew common areas, the electrical areas and propulsion stuff (room with lots of instruments and blinking lights), and go up to the bridge. I would recommend. The MDR was touch and go for me. Dinner definitely better than lunches. I found the lido to be surprisingly decent and enjoyed the premium (extra $) restaurant. At the premium restaurant we ordered a cheese plate - it was huge, they brought a massive pile of various really nice cheeses and then carved giant chunks - insanity! I also remember the ceviche from that meal, which was really great, very refreshing. Also room service each morning as really nice - bagels with cream cheese, orange juice, and hot coffee. :) Main theatre entertainment was entertaining, like blander versions of Vegas shows, but still enjoyable. We did have to walk out during one of the comedy shows (can't remember who it was, but he was being really rude about a transgendered passenger, I found this very inappropriate in a not very funny way and complained to service desk, who were polite and said they would forward my complaint to management - don't know if anything came of it though). The piano bar was okay, I liked it, however, my husband who normally loves piano bars did not. Main pool area was very busy and crowded, I did not get a chance to use. There were apparently a lot of children on board but I did not notice them. I did spend a lot of time in the adults only area, which was never crowded. Should note: I am not a fan of little kids, this was not an issue the entire cruise. The only annoying passengers were a group of drunk frat boys who made a number of "cat calls" (Ooooh! Baby!, I have a package for you!) at me and the other female passengers and almost hit me in the head with a foot ball. I played joiner one day, came in third place for trivia, hubby came in fourth for the manliness contest. Was fun. :) I marked public rooms as a 4 as smoking was allowed in the casino area. Cigarette smoke stings my eyes (I'm hypersensitive to it). Most of the areas surrounding the casino smelt of smoke. We arranged our own shore days - diving in Cabo and wandering in Puerto Vallarta. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
First and foremost I will start off as - no question - I had fun since went with my friends. That was my objective - spend time with close friends, sun, read, and eat lots of good food. I have been on the Mexican Rivera cruise on ... Read More
First and foremost I will start off as - no question - I had fun since went with my friends. That was my objective - spend time with close friends, sun, read, and eat lots of good food. I have been on the Mexican Rivera cruise on Carnival before. Due to hurricane we were diverted to Catalina (Come on! Catalina? Seriously? Who pays for a 7 day cruise to stop in Catalina?!) The weather may not be the cruise line's fault - but for the "Holland America brand" you would think they could have picked something else - like say - stay in Cabo for 2 days? We stopped in La Paz on the other day. La Paz is the cleanest city in Mexico I have ever seen. I will probably go back there for a week on my own someday. Cabo is excellent as always! My biggest complaint about cruising to Cabo - why does it always have to be the shortest port stay??? There were 6 of us all together in our group - all age ranges. I was VERY disapointed in this cruise and Holland America. This brand isn't even remotely luxury as was expected. The food is horrible. I've sailed Carnival 3 times and their food was so much better in selections and options. And I believe people's first complaint about Carnival is the food - so that's how bad it is on this ship. While we had a few bright spots (Maha in dining room was lovely, our room steward was excellent, and another waiter in the bar where we met every night made our nightly before dinner meet for drinks very nice) the rest of the service was lacking. Especially the lido deck. My first thought was no incentive for them to even clear plates and refill drinks. And how do you have a Taco special on the deck but out of tacos? Room service is very prompt and on top of it. But that's all I can say for that - zip selection - and zip taste. My best friend (her first cruise) and I splurged and got a balcony on the Rotterdam deck. While the balcony was beautiful - you cannot help leaving with that bad taste in your mouth of such good money wasted for nothing. We could have just flown to Cabo for the week much cheaper and guaranteed good food. On our way off we talked to two guys on our floor who we never met before who were complaining about what a waste of money this cruise is, now that makes us 6 plus two more. How many more? Oh and most of all - the shower is mostly warm, lukewarm and lots of intermitant cold water in between. Had to keep turning the shower off and let it run through the bath - I did not pay for 7 days of cold/lukewarm showers. Obviously the hot water doesn't reach that high up - or it's seriously out with everyone else showering for dinner. This ship looks and acts old. It seems like a cookie cutter ship. Nothing special about it. Important for non-smokers - not a lot of spots for smokers to go - and I certainly didn't appreciate having to have that smoke in my face all day long at the adult pool. No ventilation in the casino. You can't get away from it. On your balcony or on the deck. Sorry smokers - but all cruise ships need to adopt a smoke free environment. Clean air is first and foremost when sailing in the open waters! Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
This is our first cruise ever! It was an amazing trip. We've been planning on it forever. I nailed the cruise deal, ship, and date research while my girlfriend researched all ports activities. The ship was huge for first timer, 12 ... Read More
This is our first cruise ever! It was an amazing trip. We've been planning on it forever. I nailed the cruise deal, ship, and date research while my girlfriend researched all ports activities. The ship was huge for first timer, 12 floors hotel to be exact. Although we didn't really dig their decor (very old school casino feel, gold color bling bling every where) but the service was very personal. All staff were very professional and friendly. Our house keeper call us by names daily (we tipped him extra). We stayed at Empress level. It was quiet deck to stay at. High enough from busy casino and restaurants downstairs and two decks away from the pool upstairs, without all the pool deck noise. I think cabin location on a ship is the most important part of the cruise. We loved our room, cause it only took us few flight of stairs we were at pool and drinking martinis. But aft facing room was quiet a walk every day to the elevators. There is laundry mat on every other floor if you need to do laundry. Entertainment was fun, I mean not top notched, but I was on a cruise ship, I didn't expect much. It was good enough for me. What was the best experience for us were food and spa. The dining was nothing like I imagined. I thought all inclusive cruise dining must be some kind of lame joke. Turned out the food was gourmet restaurant level food. Dinner became something we expected every day on the ship. We were the first ones waiting by the door every night lol. Cloud 9 Spa was nice. We paid around $200 cover charge to use their thalasso pool, steam bath and thermal suite for the entire length of the cruise. I don't know, I think it was well worth it, we were there almost every night. What I should have done was I should have booked a cloud 9 spa room... Downside? yea, the "fun ship" had too much fun, there were many young kids on board, running around and screaming in the hall way... I guess that's ok, but not too cool with college drunks back flipped into the swimming pool with baseball cap and cargo shorts... sometimes even with beer in their hands... that kinda killed the mood. Get off the ship was a nightmare to us. Both at ports and last day, especially if you have a plane to catch or what not. To us, we were so nervous at Cabo when the tendering ship taking forever to unload people one group at a time, we almost missed our tour. (I guess that's the downside for booking the tour outside of the cruise line) Overall it was great experience. We can't wait until our next cruise to Alaska. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Embarkation-My traveling mate and myself flew in on the same day as our embarkation. Transfer through Carnival was very good. Once at the terminal, it was just as all of the reviews stated...Chaos! These people should learn from the ... Read More
Embarkation-My traveling mate and myself flew in on the same day as our embarkation. Transfer through Carnival was very good. Once at the terminal, it was just as all of the reviews stated...Chaos! These people should learn from the Carnival terminal employees in Ft. Lauderdale. Thankfully, my cruise mate was a platinum member. The VIP lounge was not organized and the attendants were stressed. Once through that part, it was very smooth getting onto the boat. However, the cruise terminal was completely empty, and it was 12:30pm. That meant all of the people outside were still waiting. The Ship-it is not the most tasteful in decor. Because I had sailed on Carnival Freedom, the layout was almost exactly the same. The room was fine, but the room attendant never introduced himself. It wasn't until the 3rd day that we met him. Dining-Our waiting staff at dinner was really wonderful. The food was mostly good, some nights being superb, others just OK. But for the price, it is really fine. For the Lido buffet, the Mongolian Wok is so good. I hit it at a time where there wasn't a line. The other that I really liked was the Tandoori Grill. If you like Indian, go for it. There was almost never a line there. Breakfast is best in the dining room. If you go to the Lido, I recommend the boiled eggs or the omelets. The scrambled eggs taste weird! The fruit was good. Just wish there were strawberries. Pastries were adequate. Pizza, Hamburger Grill, Hot Dogs- This is fine for the evening. The calzone is the best! Avoid the hot dogs with chili. My cruise mate got sick the last evening from it. Spa-This was the biggest disappointment. Workout spaces were small. Locker rooms were small. Lockers were broken. Showers didn't work. And the steam rooms and jacuzzi you had to pay an extra $150 to have access. I was expecting the same if not better spa amenities as the Carnival Freedom. When I approached the spa staff, they informed me they didn't work for Carnival and that their spa was a "different class". When I asked if their spa was a higher class from Freedom, the said yes. Well let me tell you it is NOT! Carnival Freedom has much larger spaces overall, better views, more amenities, and a less stuffy staff. This spa is poorly designed with terrible views of the sea. When I cruise, the most important thing to me is the spa. I go to workout every day and enjoy the steam room every night before dinner. So if you value a good workout space and don't want to spend the extra money, don't sail on Splendor! Entertainment-I didn't go on this cruise for entertainment. However the marriage show is great if you like to laugh. I can't speak much to anything else. This cruise for me was about relaxing and resting. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
The cruise itself was a lot of fun, it was the passengers on the ship that were different from any other cruise we have been on. Our neighbors on the balcony beside us brought a 'boom box' and were playing it very loudly whenever ... Read More
The cruise itself was a lot of fun, it was the passengers on the ship that were different from any other cruise we have been on. Our neighbors on the balcony beside us brought a 'boom box' and were playing it very loudly whenever we were in port and when leaving the ports. So much for relaxing on our deck when we left the ports. The neighbors above us jumped up and down on the floor and on the outside deck almost constantly. Made for a very noisy cruise. There were lots of empty beer bottle, glasses and dishes left in the hallways and near the elevator doors. Several passengers wore sleeveless t-shirts, baseball caps and were overweight. Truthfully, one way to describe cruises to others is by the average age of the passengers. On this cruise I would describe it by the average weight of the passengers, which had to be around 300 lbs. The few times we ate at the buffets were a real challenge, as we had o stay out of the way of passengers that butted in line, and there were a lot of them. On his morning show, the cruise director actually said that to maximize your cruise dollars, go thru the buffet line and fill up your try as high as you can, go eat it and come back for more! The sail-away band, was only 2 musicians and taped drums and backup instruments. Not much fun to sit by the pool and listen to 1/2 a band. Not all was bad. We has exceptional service at dinner from Raphael and Michael. We sat by a large Hispanic family, about 25 in all, and they were very polite and friendly. Our room steward did a great job, our room was always cleaned and we rarely saw him - Joe Louis was his name. Also room service was right on time every day. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
This was our 7th Carnival Cruise and our 4th in the region. We are a 40's couple and really look for value and quality when spending our vacation dollars. Carnival has again exceeded our expectations. We Cruised from Long Beach on ... Read More
This was our 7th Carnival Cruise and our 4th in the region. We are a 40's couple and really look for value and quality when spending our vacation dollars. Carnival has again exceeded our expectations. We Cruised from Long Beach on Feb 28, 2010. We were excited about the new Spa Category balcony cabin and we were not disappointed. The cabin was very spacious and has a unique asian inspired decor. Special appointments include special towels unique only to the Spa Cabins, Cloud 9 Spa robes and matching slippers, an assortment of Elemis samples and a higher level of attentiveness by the room steward. The only draw back we noted was the balcony is overlooked by the 12 deck and guests could look down onto your balcony. Spa Cabins include access to the Cloud 9 Spa at no additional charge. Spa access is sold in very limited numbers on the cruise to non spa guests. The Spa is an upscale feature and provides a higher level of service than has previously been available on other Carnival ships. We enjoyed the spa features. Ship layout was similar to the Spirit Class but much larger. The Lido deck offered a wide array of seating/dining/and entertainment options including movies at night (the blankets were a nice touch). The Serenity adults only section was a welcome relief from the hustle and bustle of the party atmosphere on decks 9 and 10. Entertainment options are similar to other ships in the fleet and showcase a wide array of talent in multiple venues. We chose the late seating option and enjoyed a predictable menu. Each night I would order multiple starters, entrees and desserts. All were well prepared and presented in typical Carnival fashion. Our Waitress Lina and assistant Vladimar exemplified the Carnival spirit in their desire to exceed our expectations, which they did each night. We were a little concerned with port days getting 3500 people off the boat, but we experienced little if any delay except in Cabo where tenders are used. But, this is not a Carnival fault, all cruise ships must tender here and some delays getting on an off are to be expected. This was not our first rodeo so we were well positioned for the experience. Overall I rate our experience at 4 1/2 stars and look forward to our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
Who cruised? My husband and I--early 60s, cruising alone just for a little rest and relaxation. Have been on one Carnival ship before (the Spirit). Departure date was January 3rd. Let me say that we had fun--but I'm providing this ... Read More
Who cruised? My husband and I--early 60s, cruising alone just for a little rest and relaxation. Have been on one Carnival ship before (the Spirit). Departure date was January 3rd. Let me say that we had fun--but I'm providing this honest assessment so it might help someone who is choosing a ship or cruise line. Pros: Great cabin! Chose the Ocean Suite for the room, rather than the aft cabin with wraparound balcony. I peeked in the aft cabin before leaving the ship and was SO glad we had the suite instead. Very roomy, with wonderful bathroom with full tub and shower (no flyaway curtains--great glass doors!). Double sinks too, with nice amenities. Nice robes, great bed, and nice balcony furniture. Cabin steward was excellent! Also--and this is important--the suite entitled us to VIP check in, so we skirted the huge lines, checked in at a separate area in about 10 minutes, and then went right on the ship. SO worth it! Very good massage in the spa, and pedicure. Pizza was great, as was the ice cream. Food in general pretty good (not spectacular). Cons: Where to start? In the fitness room, a very odd design that resulted in curtains that completely blocked the view of the ocean when on the treadmill, bicycle, etc. Weird...there were windows, but the curtains covered the top part precisely at eye level--I kept bending down to see the water. In the spa--this "new" spa concept means that you have to pay extra to use the steam room, sauna, etc (unless you are in a Spa cabin). That seems a little "chincy" to me. The "serenity" lounge area for adults was literally wall to wall with chairs (and people)and oddly enough is right under the miniature golf, so not exactly serene most of the time. And windy! Luckily we had a balcony, which was quite pleasant and quiet. Everywhere else was crowded and loud. Admittedly, the hairy chest contest and beer drinking contest aren't really our cup of tea, but for the twenty-somethings on the ship this kind of entertainment seemed to be a hit. But it was hard to find a quiet spot anywhere on the ship other than our cabin. Whole ship felt really crowded most of the time. Timing was everything with the lines on Lido Deck. Dining room was pretty standard, and food was mostly good. The Pinnacle ($30 surcharge a person) where we had anniversary dinner was nice--the food at a much higher level. But no live music or really special feel to the place. Last thing--entertainment was really disappointing. On previous Carnival ship we were impressed with the shows (and on other cruise lines). They missed it this time around--sorry to say. Other entertainment (like pianist in the lobby bar) were quite good, but the "big" shows left something to be desired. So, all in all we had an overall good time because we had a really nice cabin and we were on the ocean! Will definitely cruise again, but probably wouldn't do this ship again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
San Diego was incredibly convenient as an embarkation city. The proximity of the airport and the cruise terminal and the wide range of transportation options made it a breeze to get from airport to ship. We arrived the afternoon before ... Read More
San Diego was incredibly convenient as an embarkation city. The proximity of the airport and the cruise terminal and the wide range of transportation options made it a breeze to get from airport to ship. We arrived the afternoon before our cruise and stayed at the Holiday Inn right across from the cruise terminal - highly recommended. We wished we would have arrived earlier in the day to enjoy all that the San Diego wharf front has to offer - the USS Midway, maritime museum, etc are all right there in easy walking distance. The elephant and castle bar at the hotel was worth the visit and had a nice assortment of beers on tap. Embarkation was reasonably efficient. We had pre-registered on line and it took approximately 40 minutes from our initial arrival at noon to when we boarded the ship. We chose the late dinner seating(8pm)in the Vista lounge and were seated with 4 new friends who we enjoyed getting to know for the rest of the cruise. The food was above average, as was the service. The soups were excellent - and we are not really big soup fans. We had 2 servers for our table that we shared with several other tables. Those guys worked hard every evening to get it right for their diners. By day 2 they had our names down which was nice to be called by name. Since we had the late seating, we'd slip by the Lido buffet around 6PM every evening for a sneak (snack) preview of the dinner entrees and soups. Entertainment - we don't cruise for the shows but we did enjoy Derrick the comic and Charlie at the Piano Bar. Both very talented and crowd friendly. Derrick had some very funny material and connected extremely well with the wide range of people in the audience. Charlie was a lot of fun also, great on the piano and had everyone involved. We also joined in for the last wine tasting event. The Master Somm, Randall was very knowledgeable and we enjoyed learning some new wines we would not have tried on our own. The gym and fitness center was well equipped. We attended the seminar on body detox and diet. It was worth the time and we learned a lot. Tyrone and Hevin are two of the trainers - both will work you just as hard a you want and were great additions to the gym - good job, HAL in hiring these guys - they make your gym! We also signed up for the Thermal Spa which had to be closed on day 3 after the break out of the N Virus. The thermal spa was ok, not sure it was worth the price unless you are really a spa person. We enjoyed the thermal pool for the 2 days it was open but would have preferred to have had a fully functioning steam room, hot tub and dry sauna. They seemed to struggle slightly here in keeping these rooms up and working at the right temperature. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009

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