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suekay

At last! Splendour of the Seas Med cruise review (part one)

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I have always enjoyed reading cruise reviews and despite my good intentions, have never returned the favour. My husband and I (early/mid fifties) flew to Barcelona from Manchester, England on 17/9/04. Our Iberia flight departed 20 minutes late, but was smooth and comfortable. We did notice some changes from 2003 - only Spanish newspapers offered onboard, and there was no meal served, but as the flight was only 2 hours, this was not a major inconvenience. Barcelona Airport was bizarre - the plane landed at Terminal A and when the baggage failed to appear, we eventually asked at the lost luggage desk. We were directed through customs, out of the terminal, walked along to Terminal B, up the stairs and joined a long queue of people waiting to get through the embarkation security checkpoint, through a restaurant and followed signs to Terminal B baggage reclaim. We never did find the reason for this as there was nobody to ask!

Exiting left from Terminal B we caught the aerobus from the glass shelter - 3.45 euros pp to Plaza Catalunya (the terminus). I believe the service runs every 15 minutes from 6am til midnight Monday to Friday (6.30am at weekends) . There was a fast moving queue for taxis, but we were happy to use the bus.

We had booked one night pre-cruise at the Hotel Continental (100 euros for a balcony room overlooking Las Ramblas) Last year we had rooms on the second floor near reception, but this year the room was on the third floor. There is a small lift up to reception level, but cases needed to be carried from there to the third floor - not a problem for us, but may be difficult for some people. Hotel Continental is very cheap for Barcelona and is on a perfect position on Las Ramblas (it is, however, shabby - but full of local colour) It has an electric flyscreen, fridge, microwave, hairdryer, safe, shower over the bath tub and an overhead fan (A/C was being installed in every room during our stay) The free breakfast was a bonus - cereals, toast, pastries, jams, hardboiled eggs, kiwifruit, apples, with tea, coffee and hot chocolate avalable 24/7. There is free internet access at reception - a nice touch (max 10 minutes) Decor is indescribably fussy - my husband confessed that his initial reaction last year was "OMG - what a dump!" - but he developed a strange fondness for the hotel during our 4 night stay, and was happy to return there this year. Be aware that the balcony rooms can be very noisy at times - we took earplugs but never used them until our post-cruise Saturday stay when the band/drums played outside our room most of the night! The hotel can be booked online at www.hotelcontinental.com

One change we did notice from 2003 - the staff have had personality transplants! - all were smiling and friendly (maybe they've read previous reviews?!)

 

After walking around the backstreets and shops in the Gothic Quarter, we ate at La Pom Pizzeria/grill opposite the hotel on Las Ramblas. We paid 28 euros for 2 main courses, 2 beers and a coke - be aware that you will automatically be charged 1.8 euros pp for bread unless you decline to accept it from the waiter (we didn't eat it but were still charged) We bumped into a group of Americans who were also due to sail on the Splendour - and were able to advise them that they could check in from 11am (they had planned to arrive at the terminal at around 2pm as advised in their documents)

 

On the morning of the cruise, we caught the cruisers blue shuttle bus from the Colon monument at the end of Las Ramblas (the stop is on the service road parallel to the harbour, and not on the main road round the monument - we missed several buses as we stood facing the monument instead of the harbour. However, the bus runs every 10-15 minutes and costs only 1.5 euros) Arriving at the port at 11.35am, we were directed to a free check-in desk, then to the Maitre d' as we wished to change our allocated dining time from 9.30pm to 9pm. Within 10 minutes of arriving at the port, we were onboard. The cabins were not ready until 1pm, but we were offered the option of leaving our hand luggage with a member of staff on each deck. The Windjammer opened for lunch at midday, but we preferred to hit the sundeck immediately, wearing swimwear we had previously donned at the hotel.

 

CABIN

Our inside cabin 3031 was small, but was well designed and had plenty of storage space. We were initially disappointed to find it had no fridge, but our steward Aloysius kept us well supplied with ice. The safe operated using a credit card - following advice gleaned from CC, I had taken an expired card which I kept hidden in the cabin. I do prefer a balcony cabin, but the difference in price was too much for me to justify, so we went for the cheapest possible option and were satisfied with our choice

 

FOOD

We had intended to eat some evening meals in the Windjammer, but enjoyed the company of our tablemates, so we actually ate in the King and I dining room every night. We were seated with 2 young American couples (twenties) and enjoyed discussing our experiences in the various ports. With their encouragement, John actually ate his first snail - I had to photograph the moment for posterity as he is strictly a "sausage and beans" man!

The food was generally very good, but the Royal steak was TOUGH - three of us returned it, and the replacement steaks were definitely a different cut - tender and tasty as we have come to expect on Royal Caribbean. I understand that the duck was also tough

We felt that giving a choice of 9pm and 9.30pm dining for the late sitting was a "con" - we never received our starter before 9.30pm. I'm sure it wasn't the fault of our waiter as he was prompt with the other courses. As a result we never left the dining room before 11pm - and went straight to bed, unlike our dining companions who usually went to the casino, then onto the Viking Crown lounge (which they said was very popular)

We enjoyed breakfast in the Windjammer every day - lots of choice and no problem finding seats. With such a port-intensive itinerary we were usually off the ship at lunchtime, and tended to visit the Windjammer on our return late afternoon. This is when we miss the Princess 24/7 buffet - we find both the teatime menu and the opening hours quite restrictive on Royal Caribbean.

 

ENTERTAINMENT

Arriving in port at 7am, we preferred to go to bed at 11pm which is the time most of the shows started. I did intend to go to the pre-dinner comedy show on the final night, but with 17 foot waves, didn't want to risk feeling sick in the theatre. SO - we never actually got to see any of the entertainment on offer. We were real party poopers all cruise!

 

To be continued

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Thanks for the review. We will be on Splendour Nov. 13th for the transatlantic crossing. Who was the cruise director Splendour? and was she/he any good? Thanks again. mems

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Thanks Suekay for taking the time for the review and I am looking forward to Part 2. I love reading the various reviews and I get butterflies everytime thinking of our cruise next September.

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Thank you very much!! You reminded me of our cruise in May! :)

 

Ahhh memories!

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Still typing part 2 (slowly with one finger!!)

 

Rico was the cruise director and all I can remember about him is that he irritated me - can't even remember why:rolleyes: As we didn't go to any of the shows, quizes etc we really didn't have much to do with him.

 

A flyscreen is a net blind which screens the doorway from insects when the door is open. In the Continental, it rolls up and down electronically at the touch of a switch

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Thanks for the review. We will be on Splendour Nov. 13th for the transatlantic crossing. Who was the cruise director Splendour? and was she/he any good? Thanks again. mems

There was a brand new cruise director on the 10/16 sailing, can't remember his name though. He didn't seem new as in it's his first time as a cruise director, just new to the ship. I only saw him once so can't judge if he was good or not, but seemed like he wanted to be funny and often fell flat.

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Hi Sue,

Great review. Glad both of you enjoyed your stay in Barcelona. Any experience of pick pockets and bag snatchers? We saw one incident at the Jewish quarters and it happened so fast.

Await part 2 anxiously.

Fellow UK cruiser. j33 :)

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(it is, however, shabby - but full of local colour) It has an electric flyscreen

From the photo's on the website, the hotel looks shabby chic...more like a boutique hotel. Is it clean? What are the bathrooms like? Do you recommend the balcony room? Any idea what the "Special" room is that cost $40 more?

What in the world is an electric flyscreen? :eek:

 

Also, would I be able to use the plugs in the hotel for such US things as a sound machine, curlers, camera charging?

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Suekay: Thanks for posting your review. It gives me some useful information for our cruise on the Splendour in October 2005. We enjoyed a similar itinerary on the Celebrity Constellation in October 2003 and thought it would be a good idea to go around a second time as there is plenty to see in the ports. Looking forward to reading what you saw.

 

We have booked through an online TA who has a special offer of a free bottle of wine every night … wonder what that will be like … the RCCL wine package perhaps?

 

J33JWA: We stayed overnight in Barcelona last year and were targeted by pickpockets. And, yes, it all happened fast … so fast that we were left quite dazed. It took place on the metro, just as the train pulled into a station and the doors opened. Three men working together created a distraction so that we would not notice that we were being robbed. My husband caught one of the men with his hand actually in my husband's pocket. My husband starting shouting and pushed him away. They immediately feigned innocence and slipped away into the crowd. They obviously didn't want to draw attention to themselves … they were not looking for violence, just easy pickings. We were lucky but the thought of what might have happened caused us both a restless night.

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Hi Sue,

Great review. Glad both of you enjoyed your stay in Barcelona. Any experience of pick pockets and bag snatchers? We saw one incident at the Jewish quarters and it happened so fast.

Await part 2 anxiously.

Fellow UK cruiser. j33 :)

We had no trouble in Barcelona, but a guy did make an attempt at my bag in Pompeii. I had my purse strapped diagonally with it in front of me, had removed my sunglasses and unzipped the purse to put them inside. My husband was a few steps behind and to the left of me as we had gotten caught in a crowd. He saw a man reach his arm around my right side toward my purse but I finished zipping the bag and pulled it against my body with my arm across it so he gave up and stepped out of the crowd. My husband would have killed him and ended up in jail so it's a good thing nothing happened!

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Popping this thread back to page 1.:p

No sign of part 2. No worries Sue, we can wait a bit longer. Cheeeeeers....;)

 

Hi Selly and Suntanzi ~ yes folks from across the pond and this side of the pond should keep a look out for these petty thieves:eek: in places like Barcelona, Rome and Naples and not let them spoil our vacation.

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Aaaarrgh!!!

 

I can't believe it! I've spent hours over the past few weeks typing Part 2 and have just deleted it instead of minimizing it:mad: :(

 

I'll try to do it again over the next few weeks, but you know how it is.....all the fine detail slips your mind after a while

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We will all patiently wait for part 2 . Thanks for taking the time to write it ! I love reading these reviews and can't help dreaming about our cruise next September when I do !

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great review suekay. My husband and I want to do this trip in 2005. Thanks for such a great detail...

 

 

;)

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