So last March I lucked out and got to do more than spend an afternoon doing a ship inspection – I got to sail on Carnival Cruises brand spanking new ship, the Splendor! It was a 3 day/2 night cruise to nowhere out of San Francisco. Okay, I can see some of those heads cocking to the side like a cute poodle… A cruise to nowhere is when the ship simply sails around and does not stop at a port. There’s this long boring regulation called the Jones Act, which simply says any foreign registered cruise liner (in which 99% of them are – the NCL Pride of America is the exception and it will be discussed in another posting at a later date) must make at least 1 stop in a foreign port. Otherwise, it can only do an itinerary and say it loudly, “A Cruise to Nowhere.” In our case, we just putted along in the Pacific far enough out that we did not see the coast.
Of course, I did not sail alone, as I had my partner in group travel, Rita & my agency owner Anita along for the ride. Lots of fun, lots of laughter and of course, LOTS OF WINE! Why not? It was free! Not that has ever stopped this crowd before…
Now let’s talk about this ship – she is the competition for RCCL’s Mariner of the Seas (see earlier posting), doing 7 night Mexican Riviera out of Los Angeles. Personally, I think even though they both cater to families, I would actually prefer to put clients with young children on the Splendor, than the Mariner. The reason – I found the children’s areas and programs great! RCCL has great entertainment and amenities (like the rock wall, inline skating, etc…) that older kids would totally enjoy.
They even thought of the little people when designing their bathroom in the play area, called Camp Carnival.
I thought this was a really nice ship, with 1 exception. When the designers got together, I picture someone shouting out in the meeting “PINK POLKA DOTS” and everyone must have agreed how brilliant. Really? They went a little overboard in that department…
The two story dining rooms were impressive. Not as beautiful as Mariner, but still very nice. They are named the Gold Pearl and Black Pearl.
In regards to food, I have always been pleased with Carnival. This is surprising, because I don’t think that highly of their other brand – Princess Cruises’ cuisine. Don’t get me wrong – they are not as good as Celebrity Cruises, but the food was good and plentiful onboard. I still really enjoy their pre-dinner sushi bar (and, one night they did Tapas), located on the Promenade level. Because you know when you cruise, one MUST feed every few hours!
I found that there were a lot of bars on this ship vs. places to just lounge around. However the décor of the public spaces are great and I loved the casino the best!
The staterooms were what I have come to expect from Carnival. Décor was strange, while also being on the plain side. I like the size of the standard balcony stateroom. Plenty of space, lots of mirrors and a nice sized seating area. And, of course, no Carnival cruise is without coming back at the end of the night to your towel buddy…
Carnival has some of the best pricing and I would be happy to discuss booking your next family vacation and include some extra amenities!