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.
Shall I continue with day 2? Let me know!