Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Splendor Cruise Review
TomOgg at aol.com
| The Ship
The Carnival Splendor and
Mariner of the Seas Docked in Victoria, Canada
The Carnival Splendor is one
of Carnival's newest ships. Launched in July of 2008 at a
little over 110,000 tons, she is currently ported in Long
Beach, California competing with Royal Caribbean's Mariner
of the Seas on the Mexican Riviera run. With a maximum
passenger load of 3,700 and a crew of only 1,150 the crew to
passenger ratio of 3.1 to 1 is evident in both the level and
quality of service that is provided on the ship.
Cabin 7414 Balcony cabin on
deck 7 aft.
We enjoyed a balcony cabin on
the 7th deck of the ship near the aft elevators. The cabin
was well laid out and offered enough space for two people to
enjoy it during the cruise. The bedding was excellent and
was extremely comfortable with just the right density of the
mattress and thread count of the linens. Actually, the
bedding was one of the high points of the cruise and would
satisfy just about anyone I would imagine. However, there
were no reading lights which was odd and the table lamps
residing next to the beds were not bright enough to read by.
Flat Screen TV
A flat screen LCD television
adorned the wall adjacent to the bed and offered several
channels of programming, which included two movie channels
that played current movies each day. There was also several
pay-for-view channels for those that wanted to watch current
releases. Of course, there were dozens of channels of
advertising for Carnival Cruise Lines and their sister
brands. It got to be rather funny actually.
The Sitting Area, Closets
The sitting area is actually
quite large for the cabin category that we had. I can make
two recommendations though. First, if you bring your
computer, be sure to bring an extension cord with three
prong outlets. There is only one electrical outlet in the
cabin, so if you want to operate more than one electrical
appliance/gizmo at a time, you will need an extension cord.
Second, ladies bring your own hair dryer. Carnival must have
purchased the hair dryers that are supplied with the cabin
at an outlet sale for lousy appliances, as they simply do
not have enough power to dry your hair within a reasonable
The bathroom is ample enough
to actually take a shower, however one could literally take
a shower and shave at the same time. While Carnival is
generous with their towels, there are virtually no amenities
other than a body soap and shampoo dispenser in the shower.
There is a basket of give-away trial samples of various
products in the bathroom and I suspect that Carnival charges
companies to distribute them to their passengers, as there
are products there that make no sense at all.
The Balcony in Cabin 7414
Ummmm, we enjoyed leaving the
door to the balcony open at night to hear the ocean. Other
than that, we didn't spend much time there. As you can see,
it doesn't offer much in the way of space to enjoy. I
suspect that this is another Carnival gimmick. Maybe the
next ship will have "French Balconies". You know, the kind
where you can open a window and pretend there is a balcony?
All in all, the cabin is
probably the best part of cruising on the Splendor. I am not
sure that I would book a balcony again, but opt for the
cheapest thing available at the last minute. Tom and Sue (my
brother and sister in law) resided in a small suite (7270)
and it offered just that much more space and included a
Jacuzzi tub to boot. Was it worth the extra thousands of
dollars? Absolutely not.
Let's take a tour of the ship.
I will first go all the way forward and to the top and start
The Splendor's Miniature
I have never played a
miniature golf course in my life. But, if anything states
the difference between the Carnival Splendor and the Mariner
of the Seas it was the miniature golf course. As you can
see, this miniature gold course looks like one that someone
would put down for a kid's party. Instead of 18 holes, there
were only 8 or 9.
Mariner of the Seas
Miniature Golf Course.
I promise that I will not do
this again, but here is a picture of the Mariner of the
Sea's miniature golf course that I took a few years ago on a
Western Caribbean cruise. Can you see the difference? This
pretty much marks the difference between the two ships. Sure
Carnival is cheaper....but?
The Thunderball Pool and
Aft of the miniature golf
course is the Thunderball pool and slide. While this was
designed for kids, I saw mostly inebriated adults going down
the slide when it was open. One group of men in particular
took great pleasure in enjoying the slide by screaming all
the way down and then trying to make the biggest splash
possible. If they could get people laying in the lounge
chairs adjacent to the slide wet, they would howl with glee.
Gee, they were really having fun.
Aft of the Thunderball Pool
and Slide is the Jogging Track on deck 11. 10 laps equals
one mile, but be forewarned, it is open to the elements and
difficult to run on when at sea.
Entrance to Cloud 9 Spa
While Joanie nor I did any of
the spa treatments, those that did felt that they were
pressured to purchase stuff during their treatment. The
Splendor aggressively markets its spa treatments and has a
special nearly every single day. Port days find specials of
multiple treatments for discounted prices.
The Spa Treatment Rooms
The spa actually takes up two
decks of treatment rooms It is quite dark in some places in
the spa, which seems out of place.
The gym has some excellent
machines and offers enough equipment to do a maintenance
workout. I found it too warm for comfort while Joanie used
the cardio equipment everyday.
There is a thalassotheropy
pool that adjoins the gym and that can be used for a $25.00
per day user fee. It was never that crowded, but those using
it were on clear display for people working out in the gym.
I am not sure what the thinking was behind the design, but
there was no privacy whatsoever.
One of the Sculptures in
Some of the strangest artwork
I have ever seen exists throughout the ship. The Splendor
uses nude sculptures in several locations and I found it
very weird given no one on the ship looked anything like
More Spa Sculptures
There are two Jacuzzis located
one deck above the Lido Pool that are far removed from a lot
of traffic. This is a great place to hide out during
Aft on deck 11 one finds the
Pinnacle Restaurant. This is the Splendor's alternative
restaurant. The service fee was $30.00 to dine in the
Pinnacle. Now, I have to share that Joanie and I love good
restaurants and generally dine in alternative restaurants on
a ship by choice. We find the nominal service fee is
generally made up for by increased quality in the service
The Pinnacle Restaurant
We had made two advance
reservations to dine in the Pinnacle and had decided to
enjoy it when it was available on top of that. Our first
dining experience left all five of us questioning our
wisdom. All five of us came to the decision to simply cancel
our reservations in lieu of dining in the main restaurant
My Pinnacle Lobster
I ordered a shrimp
cocktail, Caesar Salad and broiled Lobster. The shrimp
cocktail was OK, the Caesar salad was limp and yucky. The
Caesar salad in the main restaurant was much better. But, it
was my lobster that shocked me. The presentation was
interesting, but when I extracted the meat from one of the
tails, I realized that it had been over cooked to the point
of almost being rubberish. I decided not to send it back
since all entrees were served simultaneously and service had
been exceedingly slow until this point. Another delay would
have pretty much ruined the entire experience.
My brother-in-law ordered the
Porterhouse Steak and was served an enormous 24-ounce chunk
of meat. While huge, it wasn't the best quality and Phil
could only finish about half of it. In all fairness, Joanie
ordered a Filet Mignon and completely enjoyed it. Our dining
experience in the Pinnacle was marked by slow and
unprofessional service coupled with intermittent food
quality in both preparation and delivery.
Our wine steward (definitely
not a sommelier) was extremely put off that we did not want
to order bottles of wine. We already had open bottles in the
main restaurant and each of us enjoyed our own bottle, as
our tastes varied. We decided to simply order a glass of
wine in the Pinnacle for that reason. I got the impression
that the wine boy was under pressure to sell bottles of wine
to increase onboard revenue and really didn't care about
what made sense to the guests.
When I ordered a second glass
of Pouilly-Fuisse and it was served in a small carafe and
then poured into my existing wine glass, I decided that the
Pinnacle Restaurant wasn't for me.
While this particular cruise
did not seem to have many children on it, the Camp Carnival
program was raved about by people who did have their
children with them. I tried to get a picture of the main
Camp Carnival location, but there were children in it every
time that I went.
The Rotisserie is kind of an
odd dining venue. It offers comfort food in its own little
environment, but also it is used as additional seating for
the Lido one deck below. This would be a great venue for
finicky eaters as it offers mac and chesse every day.
Deck 9 Elevator Bank
Moving all the way forward to
the forward elevator bank, we start our exploration of the
Lido deck. There are really only two main elevator banks on
the Splendor and the way the ship is laid out, several decks
are not passable from forward to aft making using the
stairwells and elevators mandatory. This causes serious
waits in certain circumstances. As an example, when
debarking the ship, one must get to the forward elevator
bank to access deck 3's gangway. The crowd of people waiting
for an elevator with their luggage is overwhelming. Booking
a cabin near the forward elevator bank would be the most
desirable location, while being located aft requires
traversing the ship on deck 5 to access decks 4 and 3, which
is not desirable.
The Splendido Lido Pool
Deck 9 has a lot going on. The
main pool area on the Splendor is known as the Splendido
Lido Pool. It features a retractable two-story cover, which
was covering the pool during the entire cruise because of
inclement weather. There is also a huge screen for playing
"movies under the stars", which also acts as a television
during the morning and throughout the entire day. This is is
also the location of the Splendor's fabulous pool side
activities like the hairy chest contest and scavenger hunt.
If you want a loud and crowded public area to watch T.V. in,
you can't beat this place. If you want a little peace and
quiet, head elsewhere. I suspect that the noise was
exasperated by the roof being in place and would have been
more suitable during a sunny day with the roof retracted,
but it was what it was.
One of the Lido Bars
Because of the level of noise
in the pool area we didn't frequent any of the bars or
dining venues located here. There are two bars forward of
the pool that serve the pool area and those that want to
drink at the bar. Carnival has a very liberal drinking
policy in that the waiters will serve you no matter where
you want to drink. Drinks are served in the pool and in the
The Pool Grille
Located on the aft side of the
pool starboard is the Lido Grille. This is the hamburger and
French fry frill for those wanting to dine pool side.
The Pizzeria is located on the
port side and offers several types of pizzas. Since we never
dined at either location, I can't speak as to the quality of
food served at either venue.
The Lido Buffet
The main buffet area on the
Splendor is the Lido Buffet. This is quite a large area and
features several different options for breakfast, lunch and
dinner. Notable is the Stir Fry Station in the center of the
most forward buffet line. Everyday is offered freshly cooked
stir fry to order. It was set up Mongolian Bar B Q style and
one could pick and choose their own ingredients to have stir
fried to order. However, it was so wonderful compared to the
rest of the buffet, that long lines always prompted a 15 to
The Lido Dessert Buffet
The aft section of the Lido
Buffet features another complete buffet line and an omelet
station in the morning. I would liken the quality of food in
the buffet (other than the stir fry station) as "Home Town
Buffetish" There was never any fresh vegetables, the fruit
was tasteless and ho hum, the fish just not up to speed
(other than the fish and chips served on one day) and the
overall selections boring. The salad bar was OK, but that is
Soft Served Ice Cream
One of the features that was a
hit with the kids on board was the free ice cream that was
always available. There was a machine on each side of the
buffet and they were used heavily by kids and adults alike.
Coffee Cups in the Buffet
Tandooori Aft of the Lido
There was also an additional
grille aft of the buffet area that served specialty items
such as curry, Mexican and other ethnic dishes. It was never
very busy when I was back there.
The Deli was open from 11am
until 11pm serving panini sandwiches and other deli treats.
There was always a long line here, hence we never tried it
once. Based on the continual lines, I suspect that it was
The Linear Pool and
The Linear Pool area was
supposed to be for adults only and for the most part it was.
This was my chosen area to enjoy what little outdoor time we
had on the Splendor. The Jacuzzi on the right is where I
learned all about tattoos, life in the Phoenix jail, Mexican
jails and generally what it is like to get DUIs and other
such trivia all while enjoying beer from a bucket served by
the adjacent bar.
The Linear Bar
Next to the Linear Pool one
finds the Linear Bar. This bar was never crowded and was an
excellent place to head to enjoy breakfast and lunch from the
buffet. In my opinion, this entire aft area was the best
spot on the entire ship.
Decks 8, 7 and 6 are all
The Carnival Splendor
If you like pink and love
circles, you are going to think that you died and went to
The Spectacular Showroom
All the way forward on deck 5
is the Spectacular Showroom. This is the main entertainment
venue on the Splendor and other than a bunch of bad seats
with blocked views, it as a great showroom. I only spot
checked on the entertainment, which was on par with other
The Fun Shops
Just aft of the Showroom are
the Splendor "Fun" shops. The Fun shops featured the usual
stuff for sale on any cruise ship, but it was the way that
it was promoted that made me laugh. On most cruise lines the
cruise director will get on the mic and announce the going-ons
for the day. This might include entertainment, games,
enrichment seminars and so forth. Not on the Carnival
Splendor. The typical announce went something like this;
"Hi, this is Brad, you cruise
director speaking to you from the bridge. We have a lot of
fun activities for you today and I wanted to make sure that
you were aware of them. Be sure to visit the spa for today's
specials. You can have three treatments at a discount. And,
don't forget the art auction at 11 am. You can purchase that
once in a lifetime painting to take home with you. And as a
special for our guests, we are going to have a fun watch
sale in the fun shops at 11 am too." and on and on with every
sales pitch known to mankind. I suspect that Carnival could
pay people to take their cruises and make their money
selling them everything known to man. Paying to take a
cruise on Carnival is kind of like paying to go to your
The Fun Watch Sale
You thought I made it up,
Our House is the ship's sports
bar and features several television sets all tuned into
different channels watching sports. Unfortunately, this is
also a smoking bar and it is always laden with cigarette
smoke making it uncomfortable for those that do not smoke.
The Royal Flush Casino
The Splendor's casino is quite
large and was heavily populated with slot machine players.
Much of the casino was allocated for smokers, so once again,
cigarette smoke was an issue for those that did not smoke.
The Oceanview Bar
Pink, circles, oh my!
The Coffee Club
We completely enjoyed the
Coffee Club's specialty coffee drinks. They offer a prepaid
card for five specialty coffee drinks, which we purchased.
The gal working the coffee bar was efficient and made an
excellent latte and cappuccino. Specialty pastries were also
on sale here. While we did not purchase any, they looked
decadent and well worth the money they were asking.
The California Roll
While it was my understanding
that the California Roll was to be strictly a sushi venue,
it was actually serving tapas many evenings. Loving tapas, I
stopped on a couple of occasions, but was disappointed in
both the variety and quality of the tapas being offered. I
am not sure why they changed the venue, but I would
certainly go back to serving sushi exclusively here, even if
it were for an additional charge.
This seemed to pinpoint the
difference between Carnival Cruise Lines and others. If you
like healthy dining, you probably are not going to like
Carnival much. If you like all-you-can-eat comfort food
you will love Carnival. I got off the ship craving fruit,
vegetables and fresh fish and felt deprived of food that I
Club Oz was for 15 to 17 year
old passengers only. If I were a young teenager and had my
own club to go to that looked like this, the Splendor would
be my favorite ship. Club Oz was actually one of the better
designed cliubs on the ship.
The Red Carpet Club
The Red Carpet Club is the
disco for adults. It is large enough to hold a fair sized
group, but I never saw it very crowded, but then I was never
up all that late either.
More Nude Bodies Waiting to
Enter The Red Carpet Disco
I am not sure I got the
significance of these statues. Is the disco just for really
fit people? Do you have to undress to go into the disco? I
don't get it.
This was kind of a ho-hum bar,
but the gal running it from Thailand was spectacular. I made
it a point to come here to purchase a glass of wine if I
were any where near it to support the gal. If you are
cruising the Splendor be sure to stop by and introduce
yourself. You will find a new friend here. By the way, be
sure to remember her first name, as she has a very unique
The Grand Piano
We loved this bar and choose
to spend almost every night after dinner here enjoying the
music and antics of Ron the pianist. Extremely talented and
also entertaining, Ron can play just about everything and
completely enjoys doing so. This was one of the best piano
bars that I have seen on any ship.
The Cool is the ship's
dedicated Karaoke bar and was very busy every night. Because
we enjoyed the piano bar so very much, we never once came
here to enjoy it, but would have liked to.
The El Morocco is the
Splendor's other main entertainment venue. It is used for
the daily art auctions and turns into a dance / music venue
in the evening. We spent one evening dancing here and had a
The Photo Lab
One thing that there is no
shortage of on the Splendor is photo opportunities. While
many cruise lines have increased the number of types of
photos one can buy, the Splendor has taken it to the next
level. Each evening all along deck 5 there are small studios
set up where one can get portraits and themed photos done.
Remember that old west photo that you could have purchased
at the state fair? You know, the one where you dress up in
authentic western garb and hold a shotgun? They offer that
one and many, many more. It is crystal clear that Carnival's
photo business is highly profitable, as there is so much
attention paid to it.
The Alexandria Library
The library is quite small for
this sized ship and there are probably more board games than
books in it. Even so, the library was popular when it was
open, which was infrequently.
The Black Pearl Restaurant
Just aft of the atrium on deck
4 is the upper entrance to the Black Pearl Restaurant. We
dined at a table in this restaurant, but down one deck and
had a great time. Our waiter was from Bali, Indonesia and
went way out of his way to please us without being
intrusive. Our wine was always waiting at out table when we
arrived and he did an excellent job at orchestrating our
evening meals. Even though the food just was not up to par
(in my opinion) our waiter did an excellent job of making
dinners enjoyable. We all gave him an extra tip at the
conclusion of the cruise. I can't speak for any other
waiter, but ours was wonderful.
Carnival encourages the
waiters to perform songs and dance practically every evening
and the effort comes off as genuine from the waiter's
perspective. All in all, dinner in the Black Pearl was
excellent (all but the food itself)
The Board Room
Tucked away down a small
staircase one finds the Board Room. This is the ship's
meeting / special event venue. There were several meetings
in process during the cruise so I never got to capture a picture
of the inside. The Board Room was also used for an on-board
wedding that took place on the last day at sea.
The Entrance to the Robusto
Across from the entrance to
the second restaurant one finds the cigar bar known as the
Robusto Bar. This is a weird use of space simply because it
is quite a large bar and quite convenient to the main
The Robusto Bar
One would have thought it to
be a great location for an evening dance location rather
than a cigar bar. Obviously, we never visited the bar when
it was open, as smoke was an issue here.
The Web Internet Cafe
Thank God that the Splendor
offered excellent wi-fi connectivity throughout the ship. I
could not have spent much time in the Internet Cafe because
not only was it full of lingering smoke from its location
within the Robusto Bar,
The Web Internet Cafe
it was also small and crowded.
If you are going to go online during your cruise, be sure to
bring your own notebook computer with you. Rates are $.75
per minute open rate, $.60 per minute when you buy 100
minutes and $.40 per minute when you purchase 250 minutes.
The Gold Pearl Restaurant
Virtually the same layout as
the Black Pearl Restaurant the Gold Pearl holds
substantially more people. I assume that the experience in
this restaurant was the same as the Black Pearl.
The Main Atrium Lobby
I was told long before getting
on the Splendor that I wouldn't like the decor of the ship.
They were right, I didn't.
The Atrium Bar
There were entertainers that
performed every evening in the Atrium and we met here a
couple of times because a couple in our group liked to
smoke. The bar service was friendly but somewhat on the slow
The Reception Desk
The Reception Desk was always
manned, but the only time we used it was to request Express
debarkation, as we wanted to meet our son for brunch in
Corona. After describing what we wanted you would have
thought we were speaking in tongue. After three or four
minutes she finally got it. It was weird considering
Carnival was really pushing it on this cruise.
The Shore Excursion Desk
I have to give credit where
credit is due and the shore excursion staff did an excellent
job of sharing port information with the passengers. Each
port was extremely easy to do on your own and the staff was
sharing the details on how to do it.
| The Ship