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This was my 14th cruise, and probably the best cruise we have been on. My DW and I are in our 50's (her 13th cruise), and we sailed with our 2 DD, 12 and 11 (their 4th cruise). We also sailed with my wife's service dog, Duncan (his 5th cruise - 2nd on the Splendor). And we had a small group of friends joining us (15 people total). Even though we had a few minor problems, we all had a fantastic time.
We arrived on Saturday and 8 of us stayed at the Hotel Maya. Very nice hotel. Beautiful grounds. Got the Carnival discount for a garden view room ($109), and got a $15 upgrade to an ocean view balcony. The Carnival rate included leaving our van in their parking lot for the week, and free shuttle service to-and-from the Splendor. Rooms are very nice, with free wifi. Nice pool which my girls spent hours in. The city's free Passport bus stops right in the hotel parking lot, and takes you to many places including Shoreline Village, where there are lots of restaurants and stores. I woke up early on Sunday and it was overcast, but I could see the Splendor arriving between 5-6 a.m.
On Sunday we took the free shuttle to the Splendor and arrived at about 10:45. We had received a call from Carnival a few days before suggesting we arrive later in the afternoon, but really, I like getting on the ship A.S.A.P.!! DW and I are both platinum members, so we checked most of our luggage, and then headed to VIP check-in. Check-in took about 15 minutes, mainly because of Duncan. They had to make copies of all of his records, and fax them in to Corporate headquarters (even though we had faxed it the day before). By around 11:30, we were headed onto the ship. Since we had Duncan with us, they had us get onto the ship first, even before the wedding parties. But as soon as we inserted DW's sail-and-sign card into the scanner, it said "invalid card" and they took about 5 minutes making her a new card. So much for being the very first onboard! As soon as you board you are on the outside deck of deck 3. This deck has neon blue lights which are beautiful at night. Make sure you get a chance to go out on this deck later in the cruise. We then entered into the atrium lobby, and the ship looked fantastic. Headed to Guest Services to put down a cash deposit for our sail-and-sign cards, and to find out where Duncan's litter box was located. Since we had a lot of carry-on stuff for Duncan, we asked if we could go immediately to our room to drop it off, and they said no problem.
We noticed Duncan, the Hotel Manager, when we got on the ship and remembered him from 2 years before on the Splendor. He didn't remember us, but did remember Duncan (the service dog). He was really happy to see the dog, and welcomed us back on board.
Room 1002 is a Spa disabled cabin for 4 on the Panorama Deck (deck 10). It is ALL THE WAY to the front of the ship. It is slightly bigger than a standard outside cabin, with a bigger doorway and entry hall to allow for a wheelchair. The bathroom is also bigger, and you can wheel directly into it and into the shower. They did a good job of making everything accessible, with lower drawers and lower hangers. Even though my DW is not confined to her wheelchair, we were impressed with the room layout.
We headed up down to the Lido Deck for lunch, and DW and I had the Mongolian Grill. It's great to do the first day, before everyone finds out about it and the lines get long. We enjoyed the food. Started to slowly meet up with others from our group. We ordered 2 Funship drinks, and were surprised to see they no longer come in the souvenir glasses! And that the price had gone up to $8.75. However, they had them on special the first day for $7.75.
PROBLEM #1: I tried to use 2 prepaid drink coupons, which had a face value of $5.75 each, expecting to pay the additional $2 for each drink. The coupons were refused! They said that since the drinks were already on sale for $1 off, we couldn't use the coupons. This didn't make any sense to me, but I figured I would wait till the next day to handle it.
PROBLEM #2: We noticed that our group of 15 was split for dining room seating and the tables were something like 30 numbers apart (something like table 506, and 536), with 1 cabin split between 2 tables. So we went to see the Asst. Maitre'd Larisa at 1:30. Turns out the 2 tables were next to each other, 10 at the large table, and 5 at the other. And she told us we could freely move between the 2 tables. So this turned out not to be a problem.
After seeing the Maitre'd, the rooms were available, so we went to our room to unpack. Unfortunately, none of our bags had arrived. We figured maybe they found our Rum Runners (they didn't) and were holding our luggage. We put away all of our carry-on stuff, and met our room stewards (Denis and his assistant Pan). They were both FANTASTIC. Room always looked great, they gave us 2 ice buckets (which we requested) instead of one, and knew our names the first day. They were always helpful and friendly, and loved talking with our girls. And they had no problem with Duncan.
4:00 was the lifeboat drill. Nothing new, but I wish people would pay attention more after the recent incidents in the last couple of months. Oh well. We told our friends to meet at our room for a sail-away party after the lifeboat drill. We carried on 2 bottles of champagne (most of our friends are not drinkers) and 4 bottles of sparkling cider. We all went out onto our "fairly private" balcony for the sail-away. I call it "fairly private", as it is really the front deck of the ship which is just outside our window. Great view from this deck, especially when coming into or leaving a port, but it can really get windy.
Our dining room was upstairs in the Gold Pearl (rear) dining room. Unfortunately, you can't see any of the shows the wait staff do each night from upstairs. But service was very good (Bruno and his asst.). Most meals were good to very good. A few items no one seemed to like (meat loaf). DW had Tender Braised Beef Brisket in Gravy, I had Sweet & Sour Shrimp, DD had Gourmet Burger, and I had the Linguini with Italian Sausage, Bell Peppers and Mushrooms as a starter. All were very good.
In the weeks before the cruise, my DW had been communicating with John Heald (Carnival's Senior Cruise Director) on his blog, and mentioned we were on this cruise celebrating our 25th wedding anniversaryWhen we got back to our room after dinner, we found a gift from John Heald, Todd (the Splendor Cruise Director), and the entertainment staff. It was a bottle of champagne and a "solid gold" plastic ship on a stick. We were very touched by this. Unfortunately, the note had John's name spelled wrong, so the gift actually came from "John Healh" (whoever that is)!
The rest of the night we just relaxed. Didn't go to the Welcome Aboard Show as we have done it so many times before. Family night at the Seaside Theatre tonight, and the movies were The Lion King and Toy Story. Movies on TV were Mr. Popper's Penguins, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Rio.
Independence of the Seas Mar 29, 2014, Allure of the Seas Nov 17 2013, Oasis of the Seas May 25 2013, Liberty of the Seas Nov 25 2012, Liberty of the Seas Nov 29 2012, Liberty of the Seas March 2012, Carnival Freedom Sept 2011, Majesty of the Seas Jan 2011, Mariner of the Seas May 2010, Carnival Fantasy September 2009, Majesty of the Seas March 2009, Freedom of the seas May 2008, Carnival Triumph July 2007, Majesty of the seas July 2006, Explorer of the Seas May 2005, Carnival Destiny April 2002, Sovereign of the seas July 2001, Monarch of the seas January 1999, Sovereign of the seas Feb 1998, Viking Serenade April 1997, Big Red Boat June 1996, Song of America October 1995
Woke up to a beautiful sunny morning. We decided to have breakfast on the Lido Deck. Lines weren't too bad, including for the omelets. All of the food was good. Hot foods were hot, cold foods were cold. We had no trouble finding a table. After breakfast, the kids went straight to the pool and to make friends, and my DW and I (with some friends) started our assault on the Trivia games! During the week we played as many as we could (other than the Sports Trivia, which none of us know) and won many Ships on a Stick and Medals for our efforts (and fun).
For lunch, DW ate at the Grill (cheeseburger) and I ate at the Tandoori station. Both enjoyed the food. Duncan (DW's service dog) had worked hard, so we treated him to a hot dog from the grill. No, he didn't eat at the table with us (he knows we never feed him there), but after leaving the eating area we fed him. He gave it a 10 out of 10.
After lunch there was an ice carving demonstration on Lido Deck. The carver turned a block of ice into an Indian Chief.
After that on the Lido Deck we saw Last Man Standing, a contest where the final contestants get very wet. It was a lot of fun to watch.
Then tried the Casino Vault. This is a machine in the casino where you insert cash ($1, $5, $10, or $20) and try to win a prize of $100, $200, $1000, or $500 + an iPad. Very easy to play, but VERY difficult to win. It's considered a game of skill, rather than a game of chance, so it's the only machine in the casino that's on even when the casino is closed. The machine really loves money. Trust me!
That night was Elegant Night in the dining room. Most people were dressed up, and we took lots of pictures with the professional photographers. Take all the pictures you want, you aren't required to buy any of them. If you do like them, you'll have a nice souvenir of the evening. On the way to the dining room I was shocked when I passed my cousin and her husband on the Promenade Deck. I hadn't seen her in years, and had no idea she was on the ship! Small world!!
Dinner was great. I started with 3 appetizers! The Baked Stuffed White Mushrooms were great, as were the Spicy Alligator Fritters and the Spaghetti Carbonara. I then followed it up with the main course, Broiled Maine Lobster Tail and Jumbo Black Tiger Shrimp. Excellent! DW and DDs all had the Strawberry Bisque and loved it. DW had the Lobster and Shrimp, DDs had the Barbecued St. Louis Style Pork Spare Ribs. All great. For dessert I tried the Caramelized Apples on Puff Pastry which also was great.
After dinner we got into some more comfortable clothes, and went to the first big show, The Beat. We had seen it before and really enjoyed it, but for some reason Duncan was restless from the loud music, so we left early. Just roamed the ship some more, and then back to the cabin.
We found a nice gift when we returned to the cabin. Duncan (the Hotel Manager, not the dog) had left us a Bon Voyage/Welcome Back gift basket. Filled with fruit, cheeses, crackers, and a bottle of wine. We know how fond he was of seeing Duncan (the dog) again, and we were really shocked with this gift.
I took one DD out late for our traditional hot chocolate on the Lido Deck. We try to do it on every cruise. It's so nice sitting out there with her talking about her day on the ship. It's one of our "special moments".
Around midnight I took Duncan (the dog - this is confusing with 2 Duncans) out to do his final "business", and stopped for a slice of pizza. It was really good, and seemed better than the last cruise.
The Seaside Theatre tonight was "Best Picture Movie Night". The 2 movies were Lord of the Rings - Fellowship of the Rings, and The Sting.
The three free in-cabin movies were The Iron Lady, You Again, and Just Go With It.
Love your pics and LOVE Duncan!! Such a beautiful baby. I was wondering how he was onboard, like if he was nervous or not. I think I am going to take the Splendor out of NYC in May of 13.so the pics and infor was very usefull. Thanks for sharing your vacation with all of us!
Triumph April 03
Miracle April 05
Legend November 06
Glory May 2011
Glory July 2012
Splendor May 2013