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Sailing on Carnival Splendor Cruise Review

New England & Canada, September 13, 2015

by Keith Henderson

Carnival SplendorMy wife and I sailed on the Carnival Splendor leaving on September 13th, 2015 out of New York City as a 7-day cruise to New England and Canada with stops in Boston and Portland before heading up to Canada to visit Halifax and Saint John and then returning to New York. It was our 9th Carnival cruise (25th overall). We have sailed on NCL 15 times and Royal Caribbean once. It was our first time on the Splendor. We booked a spa cabin which was also a first for us. We were curious about whether we would enjoy the added amenities of that cabin type and the fact that it was located on such a high deck.

Day 1 – Embarkation Day
It started as a sunny day with temps starting in the 60's F and rising to the low 70’s F in the afternoon. Sailing out of New York City is very convenient for us. We live in Connecticut, so driving to the New York cruise terminal is a short trip for us. We always drive down the Henry Hudson Parkway on Manhattan’s west side to get to the cruise ship terminals there. We look forward to our first view of the ship as we drive south of the George Washington Bridge along the river. The cruise terminals are located on 12th Avenue at 55th Street. They are next to the U.S.S. Intrepid, an aircraft carrier that is now a floating museum. It was an active day at the cruise port. Alongside the Splendor this day were the Norwegian Breakaway, Aida Luna, and Crystal Symphony.

We arrived at the cruise terminal at 12:30 pm that day. Despite having four ships in port, the traffic was relatively light. There are secure parking lots above the cruise ship terminals. Parking fees are $40 a day. We drove up the ramp to the parking level and paid for the parking with our credit card ($280 for the 7 day trip). There was a porter waiting for us at the elevator on the parking lot level, so we were able to use the escalator to go downstairs with only our carry-on bag.

When we walked into our terminal, there was a short line for security before lining up for the sign-in process. I had previously registered on line and provided all of our information, so we only needed to wait to get our keycards. It took almost an hour to wind around the lines to get to the counter to get our keycards and have our pictures taken. We walked onto the ship almost an hour after entering the terminal. The first thing that hits you is the color pink, which is the dominant color tone of the ship. We decided to head up to our cabin on deck 10 to drop off our carry-ons.

Our cabin was an inside spa cabin (room 1039) which was near the forward stairwell on deck 10. When we arrived at the cabin, it was ready for us to use. We dropped off our bag and headed to the buffet on deck 9 for a quick lunch before exploring the ship. The buffet on the Splendor is pretty impressive with many stations offering a variety of foods. This includes Tandoor (Indian), a burrito bar (made to order Mexican burritos), Mongolian Wok (made to order bowls of Chinese options), the Rotisserie (comfort food with oven roasted chicken), the Deli (made to order sandwiches), Pizza bar, plus 4 stations offering fish, beef, vegetables, salads, fruits, desserts, and the like.

Our exploration of the ship also included a visit to the spa on deck 11 to register as spa cabin guests. They gave us a tour and explained what was included in our package. New to us are spa cabins which are on decks 10 and 11 on the Splendor. Booking one of these cabins will give you access to the spa facilities using a private entrance to stairs and an elevator that lead up to the spa area located above. We are not spa people, but being able to have access to the therapy hot tub called the Thalasso pool appealed to us. We like hot tubs, but getting to use them on ships is not very convenient because they are so popular. The spa area has limited access, so we would not have to wait long to use the pool or thermal suite rooms that includes the Laconium, Tepidarium, Oriental Steam Pool, and Aroma Steam Pool. Included in our cabin were special robes, slippers, and various soaps and lotions not found in other cabins. Even the towels in the cabin were plusher than what we were used to having on Carnival ships.

After the visit to the spa, we headed down to our assigned station for the muster drill at 3:45 pm. We did not have to bring our lifejackets to the muster. (Just a side note: muster drills on Carnival ships entails having to stand in line outside for about 30 minutes with no room to move which can be uncomfortable especially on hot sunny days.) After the drill, we headed back topside to find a spot for the sail away even though it had started raining. We found a spot under an overhang on deck 10 near mid-ship to keep dry.

The Splendor pulled away from the docks around 4:15 pm and after we passed the other cruise ships, the Norwegian Breakaway pulled out as well to form a mini ship parade down the Hudson River. The rain started to let up for us. Just after we started down the river, a group of 4 fighter jets flew over us in tight formation. They had done a fly-by over the nearby tennis stadium in Forest Hills for the Men’s Tennis Finals there. Everyone made a lot of noise whistling and clapping as they flew over us and up the river.

Even though this would be our tenth cruise sailing out of New York City, we never getting tired of the fantastic views. It is always special for us because we get to sail down the Hudson viewing the Manhattan Skyline on the port side and then Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty on the starboard side. After that, our ship passed under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and headed out to open water.

For dining, the Splendor has two main dining rooms; the Black Pearl located midship and the Gold Pearl located aft. For this cruise, we chose the “Your Time Dining” option. So, if we wanted to eat at the MDR, we would go to the Black Pearl restaurant to be seated. The dress code for this evening was Cruise Casual. For tonight, we decided to just grab a bite in the buffet for dinner. After 6:00 pm, the options in the buffet are limited to one station offering a choice of fish, pasta, another meat, and a meat carving option along with the Deli and the Pizza bar. The Tandoor, Mongolian Wok, Burrito Bar, and the Rotisserie are all closed (not a good thing).

The ship was swaying a little bit this evening as we were heading into a strong headwind as we sailed east towards our first destination, Boston. After dinner, we decided to check out the spa and use their facilities. We went to the counter and gave them our keycards after which they gave us wristbands and keycards to use for the various rooms. We started by going to the Thalasso pool. It is large hot tub. Unfortunately, it does not have bench seats. It only had metal loungers to lie down on. It was uncomfortable trying to lie on the bench as the water was sloshing back and forth from the swaying of the ship. Next, we went into the Laconium room which had heated stone lounge chairs. We stayed there for about 15 minutes before we decided that we should go to the aft of the ship and use the hot tubs located on deck 9 next to the Liner Lido Pool. The lido pool itself had unheated water and was quite chilly. The hot tubs were very comfortable and we enjoyed being able to just sit and soak in the warmth. We decided that the spa facilities were not for us.

After going back to our cabin to change, we went down to the Royal Flush stage area in the casino (terrible location if you want to watch a band play or to dance) to listen to a band called “Music Boardwalk.” They were a quartet of musicians playing a variety of music styles. They were pretty entertaining. The one show for the evening was the “Welcome Aboard Show” show in the Spectacular Main Lounge at 10:15 pm. The Spectacular Spectacular Main Lounge holds about 1,000 people and has a variety of seating with most having good views. The show was hosted by the Cruise Director, Kevin Donohue. He did a fun audience participation game and then had two of the comedians on board come out for a few minutes. Jason Blanchard and Tim Cavanaugh were funny. After that, they had the singers from the production shows come out backed by a full show band (a surprise on Carnival these days). That was a treat.

In addition to the band playing on the casino stage this evening, they had a solo guitarist (Greg) in the lobby, a Latin band in the Robusto Lounge, a DJ providing dance music in the disco nightclub (The Red Carpet), and in the Grand Piano Bar, they had a pianist playing sing-along songs. Down in the Punchliner Comedy Club located at the El Morocco lounge on Deck 5 aft they had the comedian, Jason Blanchard performing this evening for one show at 11:30 pm (18+). We ended our first evening on the ship by going to the comedy show and thought Jason did a great job.

Day 2 – Boston, MA
It was a mostly sunny day with temps in the high 70’s F and a strong cool breeze. The waves were a little rough due to the winds, but the ship did not seem affected. We slept in, waking up at 9:00 am. We checked the TV to find that we were off the coast of eastern Long Island going along at 19 knots.

We were originally scheduled to arrive in Boston harbor at 2:00 pm with a 10:00 pm planned sail away. Around 10:00 am, we heard an announcement from the captain. He said that due to issues with the engine propulsion systems, we would be late arriving into Boston. Our scheduled arrival was to be 2:00 pm, but they said it would be delayed until 4:00 pm. Oh well, so much for planning ahead. We went to the Lido buffet for breakfast before heading down to the atrium lobby to play some trivia. After that, I went back to the cabin to change and then headed up to the sports deck on deck 12 to run 3 miles on the jogging track.

Later on in the early afternoon Kevin, the cruise director, made an announcement that they were able to fix the issue with the propulsion system, but we would still be arriving around 4:00 pm due to the strong winds. After my run, we went to the buffet for a light lunch and then found a spot in the shade to watch our arrival into Boston Harbor where we pulled up to the dock at 3:30 pm. The ship docked at the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal which is located about 2 to 3 miles from the Boston Common and other nearby sites. The ship was not cleared until 4:15 pm.

We have visited Boston several times over the years. I am a history buff and Boston is chock full of historical sites related to the early days of our country. We had decided to buy e-tickets for the Boston Old Town Trolley in advance of our cruise. On days when a cruise ship is in port, they add a stop at the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal. We wanted to re-visit the Faneuil Hall Marketplace area as well as the Boston Tea Party Museum (included in the cost of the tour). With us arriving so late and the fact that the trolleys stop running at 5:00 pm, we decided to stay on board for our port visit to Boston. (The e-tickets are good for 6 months. So we planned to drive up to Boston before winter sets in to take advantage of the tickets and enjoy a full day in Boston on our own).

We then went down to the atrium lobby to listen to Greg the singer/guitarist who was entertaining. To get off and back onto the ship, everyone used the atrium lobby which is where the ramps to the cruise terminal were located. By 5:00 pm, people were coming back onto the ship as they found out that there is nothing to see or do near the cruise terminal.

For dinner in the main dining rooms, the dress code for this evening was Cruise Casual. On the menu was filet mignon which my wife enjoys. We decided to go to the Black Pearl dining room to dine there. We figured that it would a quiet night there due to so many passengers being off the ship visiting Boston. It was shortly after 6:00 pm and there were hardly any guests in the dining room. We asked for a table for two and they sat us down at a table along side a window with no one near us. Just a few minutes later though, they sat another couple down at the table right next to us (about 4 inches away) even though they were at least 10 empty tables in front of and behind us. We decided that we would head back up to the buffet for dinner instead. We did let the waiter know that we were disappointed with the seating arrangements. I understand that they try to group dining parties close together so that the wait staff can take their orders and minimize handling food. But, this is where I think that Norwegian Cruise Line’s freestyle dining system works much better.

After leaving the buffet, we listened to a singing duo called “ImprompTwo” at the casino stage before going to see the big show in the Spectacular Lounge at 8:15 pm. The evening’s entertainment in the Spectacular Spectacular Main Lounge was a singer named Marcus Anthony who was backed by the show band. Marcus sang quite a few songs, most of which were Motown hits. He had a great voice and was very entertaining. The show band, Rich Ellis and the Afternoon D-Lites were terrific (We missed hearing live bands during the production shows on our recent Carnival cruises). At the Lido pool midship, they closed the dome and were showing full length movies on the large screen located there. They also offered freshly popped popcorn.

After the show, we returned to the casino stage area on the deck 5 promenade to listen to ImprompTwo again for a while before going to the Punchliner Club located in the El Morocco lounge to see the two comedians with each having a show. One was at 10:30 pm and the other was at 11:30 pm. Both shows (18+) with Jason Blanchard and Tim Cavanaugh were funny. While we were busy listening to music and the comedians, the ship had pulled away to start our journey to Portland, Maine our next port of call.

Day 3 – Portland, ME
It was a sunny day temps in the mid 80’s F and a comfortable breeze. We were scheduled to arrive in Portland at 8:00 am and a leave at 6:00 pm. At 7:50 am, they announced that we had arrived at the pier. At 8:15 am, they announced the all clear to go ashore. The Splendor was the only cruise ship in port that day.

Portland is the largest city in Maine with a regional population of 230,000 people which accounts for a quarter of the State’s entire population. The city has been revitalized in the recent past and has turned into a tourist attraction with its historic waterfront and Victorian urban architecture. The area near the cruise terminal is very walkable with plenty to see and do with shops, pubs, and restaurants.

After a late breakfast, we walked off the ship around 11:00 am. We started exploring by go to our right to walk by the Shipyard Brewery that offers tours and have a store. Next, we followed Fore Street to the west passing by Bull Feeney’s Irish Pub and Gritty McDuff’s brewpub. Portland and Maine in general has a terrific craft beer culture. There are 45 breweries in the state with a good majority in the Portland area. Just walk into any pub or restaurant and you will be astounded with the variety of brewers and their offerings. Gritty McDuff’s on Fore Street started it all in Portland in 1988 when they opened their micro-brewery, a first in Maine. It is a fun place to visit.

We then headed north uphill to Congress Street and passed the large city hall building and then went west to go by the Wadsworth-Longfellow House. Just past the house is the modern city library (restrooms are available there). Next we headed downhill on Center Street and went by the Brian Boru Irish Pub before reaching Commercial Street. There, we headed east passing by the King’s Head pub and the Liquid Riot Brewpub.

Our only planned activity was to take a harbor cruise to see the lighthouses located there. We had purchased tickets online ($24 ea) with Portland Discovery Land & Sea Tours located on Commercial Street only a few blocks from the ship. We had a reservation for a 1:30 cruise and arrived at the ticket booth to pick up our tickets. There was a long line of people looking to buy tickets for cruises or trolley tours. Someone in the booth spotted that I had a printout of our reservation and waved me to the side where she printed out our tickets and told us that would board the ship at Gate 2 of their pier at 01:15 pm. We had a half hour to kill so we walked back to Bull Feeney’s that was within sight of the pier for a relaxing drink. The lighthouse lover’s cruise was a 90 minute cruise on a small boat that had 2 decks for seating that offered shade and restrooms along with a snack bar with drinks and snacks. The cruise started off by passing the Splendor and then went out and around the harbor area to view lighthouses and forts located there. The tour guide narrated as we passed the sites. It was a beautiful day with smooth water and clear blue skies. We thought the tour was very good.

After the tour, we went back to the ship passing by the Ri Ra Irish Pub. We enjoyed our time in Portland. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing trivia in the atrium lounge. While there, they announced that our 5:00 pm sail away was to be delayed until 6:30 pm due to ship traffic. Around 6:00 pm, the large Novastar Cruise Ferry arrived at the docks next to our ship. The ferry runs between Portland and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

The dress code for this evening was Cruise Casual. We went to the lido Buffet for dinner before checking out the evening's entertainment. They had movies being shown by the lido deck pool area. For tonight, they had the same two comedians as the night before. With Jason Blanchard having a show at 7:30 am (PG) and Tim Cavanaugh having a show at 8:30 pm (PG). Both shows were funny. The main show in the Spectacular Spectacular Main Lounge was a production show called “The Beat”. We went to the 10:15 pm showing that we thought was very good. We ended the evening listening to quartet “Music Boardwalk” in casino stage area.

Day 4 – Sea Day
It was a sunny day with temps around the mid 70’s F and breezy. The seas were calm with a bright blue sky. Getting up at 9:00 am, we checked the map and saw that we sailing along at a speed of 9 knots. Someone joked that we were going so slow that they saw a whale pass us by. After breakfast in the lido buffet we did some trivia in the atrium lobby (it was very crowded there). After the trivia, I went for a run on the jogging track on deck 12.

We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the shade and then playing some more trivia. One of the trivia games was called a super duper trivia where they split everyone in the lobby into two groups and we went head to head for points. Our team was called Joe’s team and we were getting every answer correctly while the other team was missing some answers even though they were googling on their smart phones (I guess their phones weren’t so smart). At the end, the cruise staff member said that we would continue the match on the last sea day. It was a fun time.

The dress code for this evening was Cruise Elegant as it was captain’s night. In the Spectacular Spectacular Main Lounge, they had another Production show. This one was called "Fiesta Latina". They had movies showing on the lido pool area. We went to the casino stage area to listen to Music Boardwalk before going to the Punchliner Club to see the same two comedians as before. We stayed for 2 shows each given by Jason Blanchard and Carl Faulkenberry and thought they were all very funny. Again, we ended the evening listening to the band in the casino stage area. They also had a Latin band playing in the Robusto lounge on deck 4 as well as someone in the piano bar and the atrium lobby.

Day 5 – Halifax, NS
It was a day that was sunny in the low 70’s F and with a very comfortable breeze. PLEASE NOTE: the ports of Halifax and Saint John are both in the Atlantic Time Zone which is one hour ahead of the Eastern Time Zone. The ship’s time always stayed on Eastern time. So we needed to be aware that the local time was not the ship’s time. I do not know why they didn’t change the clocks on the ship to match the local time as on other cruises we have had in the past.

We were scheduled to arrive in Halifax at 8:00 am and depart at 4:00 pm. We arrived at the dock at around 7:30 am and heard announcements that passengers could disembark at 8:15 am. At this port, we were sharing the pier area with Holland America’s Veendam and nearby, the Marco Polo was docked. The city has a population close to 400,000 people and is the capital of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. The local currency is the Canadian Dollar where One CAD was equal to $0.79 USD. Every place accepted US dollars, but some would only give change in CAD.

This was our second visit to the city. On a previous cruise visit, we spent a few hours at the Citadel. It is a large fort that overlooks the city’s harbor that is very interesting. Our plans for this day were to rent a car and drive over to Peggy’s Cove which is about 25 miles from the center of Halifax. I wanted to drive over to the town of Lunenburg. But that would require a 90 minute drive each way and we would not have enough time to do so and spend any more than an hour or so there before having to return. That will be on our wish list for a return trip to Halifax when we would have a full day (8:00 am to 6:00 pm) in port.

We got off the ship at 8:45 am. I had a reservation with Avis and they had their office on Grafton Street near the Citadel. It took a half hour to walk there. I had instructions and a map ready to go, so we hopped in and drove to Peggy’s Cove. It took about 50 minutes to arrive there following a winding road (route 333) that went around lakes and bays. It was a pretty drive to get there. We parked at the visitor center lot and walked the few blocks over to the iconic lighthouse located there. The area was loaded with tour buses and visitors. The views were very interesting. It is a quaint location.

As we left the Peggy’s Cove village, we took a left on route 333 and went about a mile down the road to visit the Swissair 111 Memorial. It is one of two memorials to remember the passengers and crew lost on that flight that crashed into the nearby waters on 09/02/1998. After leaving the memorial, we drove back to Halifax via route 333 to 3 and then 102 into town. We returned the car and then walked over to visit St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica. It is a large church that was built in the 1800’s. We were impressed by the building and its gothic features. We ended our day in Halifax by visiting the Alexander Keith’s Brewery Tour. (Only a few blocks from the cruise terminal) The hour long tour ($25 CAD ea) had people dressed in Victorian clothes act and sing as they told us the story of the brewery and the brewing process. The tour ends in a sampling room where you get to have 2 pints of their beers while the hosts sing and dance. It was a fun time.

We were back on board by 2:00 pm. We grabbed a sandwich at the deli and then spent the rest of the afternoon playing some trivia games, we won a ship on a stick at one of them. We went top side to find a spot in the Serenity area to watch the 4:00 pm sail away and relax a little bit. We ended our afternoon listening to ImprompTwo in the lounge staying there until 7:00 pm.

The dress code for this evening was Cruise Casual. The entertainment for the evening was a little light this evening. In the Spectacular Lounge you could dance with the show dancers at 8:15 pm. At 10:15 pm, they had the Love and Marriage show hosted by Kevin the CD. At the lido pool, they had movies being shown. There were no comics this evening, but they had a magician having a show at 1:30 pm in the El Morocco lounge. There was plenty of live music to listen to around the ship though.

We went to the lido buffet for dinner before using the hot tubs at the aft lido pool. We did head over to the spectacular Lounge for the Love and Marriage show. They had 3 couples up on the stage answering semi-embarrassing questions. It was a fun show thanks to Kevin’s banter. We ended the evening listening to Music Boardwalk in the casino stage area.

Day 6 – Saint John, NB
It was a partly sunny day with temps in the 70’s F and a cool breeze. We were scheduled to arrive in Saint John at 10:00 am and depart at 6:00 pm. At 9:00 am, we were in the harbor. At 10:00 am, they announced that we had the all clear. We were docked at the Marco Polo Cruise Terminal. The Splendor was the only cruise ship in port that day.

Saint John is the second largest city of the province of New Brunswick with 70,000 people. It is located on the north shore on the Bay of Fundy at the mouth of the Saint John River. The cruise terminal is located just a few blocks from the center of the city which is very walkable. We had gone on line prior to our cruise and found walking tour maps of the city. We thought we would spend our time in town exploring the area and its architecture.

After breakfast in the buffet, we walked off the ship around 11:30 am (ship’s time) and walked along Water Street north to King Street. At that intersection, they had several large statues that were incorporated into benches that we thought were interesting and cute. We then walked uphill on King Street for a few blocks to visit a small city park called King’s Square. In the center of the park was a large double decker gazebo. The park was very pretty with a lot of plants and flowers. It was lunchtime and the park was filled with workers having lunch and enjoying a nice day outside.

Across the street from King’s Square is another park-like area called the Loyalist Burial Ground. After leaving King’s Square, we walked a few blocks to visit the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. A large magnificent structure built in the 1850’s by Irish immigrants. We had just missed the daily mass, but we did meet up with the priest as we were leaving who told us of the church’s history. He was about to leave to be a chaplain on a Holland America cruise ship for the next two months.

After visiting the church, we walked through the Loyalist Burial Ground talking with some workers tending to the flowers in the park. From the park, we walked through the City Market, a large indoor market that had stalls with vendors offering a variety of goods and food. It was very colorful as we walked through. Across from the city market is a large indoor mall with a lot of shops. After the City Market, we walked back to the ship stopping at O’Leary’s Irish Pub located on Princess Street. We spent a few hours there listening to a guitarist singer and talking with the owners of the pub.

It was only a few blocks to walk back to the ship from the pub. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the Serenity area and stayed there until the 6:00 pm sail away. The dress code for this evening was Cruise Elegant. We went to the lido buffet for dinner.

In the Spectacular Main Lounge was a third production show called “Vroom” which was good. They were showing movies by the lido pool. Down in the Punchliner Comedy Club, they had two new comedians performing. Rob Little had 3 shows (1 PG and 2 18+) and Tommy Drake had 2 shows (1 PG and 1 18+). We did go to see a few of the comedy shows. We had seen Tommy Drake on a previous Carnival cruise and he did the same jokes and stories, but he was still funny. Rob’s shows were very funny.

Day 7 – Day at Sea
It was a nice day with mostly sunny skies that started off with a little drizzly rain until the late morning. The temps were in the low 70’s and calm seas. All day, they had plenty of activities for passengers to choose from; art auctions, bingo, dance classes, basketball and bean bag tournaments.

We slept in late before heading up for breakfast at 10:00 am. After that we went to a future cruise presentation at 11:00am. I wanted to get a brochure showing all of the itineraries of Carnival ships through the spring of 2017. At noon, I went up to the jogging track for a run before we went back the buffet for lunch. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing a few trivia games that included the second round of the Super Duper Team trivia. Our team, Joe’s team, ended up winning the contest and everyone on the team was given a Carnival medal. We had a fun time.

Before going to dinner, we packed our bags and put them out into the hallway. We needed to have our luggage outside of our cabin between 8:00 pm and midnight since we were not using the self assist disembarkation option.

The dress code for this evening was Cruise Casual. We went to the lido buffet for our last dinner on the ship. In the Spectacular Main Lounge, the main show had Carnival passengers singing along with the production show singers and dancers. They were showing movies once again by the lido pool. We chose to see the comedians instead.

For tonight they had the same two comedians as the previous evening with five shows to choose from: Rob Little had 2 shows (1 PG and 1 18+) and Tommy Drake had 3 shows (1 PG and 2 18+). We stayed for all of the shows and enjoyed them. We ended our last evening on the ship listening to Music Boardwalk at the casino stage area.

Disembarkation Day – New York City
It was a sunny day with temperatures in the low 70’s F.

In port with the Splendor were the Norwegian Breakaway and the Aida Diva. We were scheduled to arrive in New York by 8:00 am. And they announced that we were docked at 7:15 am. Our instructions had told us that we needed to be out of our cabin by 8:30 am. This was to allow the cabin stewards to have their cabins cleaned and ready for new passengers later that day. I went up to the buffet at 7:30 am to get some tea for us. We went to the buffet for breakfast at 7:30 am.

At 7:15 am, they announced that the first wave of self-assist passengers could start heading to the gangway on deck 3. We headed back to our cabin to pack our carry-on bag and then headed up to the lido pool seating that was located on deck 10 to wait for the announcement of when we could disembark. They had the pool area covered, so it was comfortable waiting there. At 9:10 am, they made the first announcement for passengers with checked bags could disembark.

At 9:40 am, they announced that the numbers we were assigned could disembark. We headed to an elevator to go down to deck 3 where we found a very short line of other passengers waiting to get off the ship. By 10:00 am we were walking to our car after getting off the ship, picking up our bags, and going through border patrol. It was one of the easiest debarkations we have experienced.

The Ship –
The Carnival Splendor was built in 2008. It was originally ordered for the Costa Cruise Line as a sister ship of the Costa Favolosa and the Costa Fascinosa. But, Carnival then decided to use it for Carnival Cruise Line. The ship’s layout is very similar to the Carnival Conquest class of ships. So if you are familiar with the layout of those ships, it will easy for you to navigate the Splendor.
The theme of the ship is based on splendid things. I am not sure how to depict that. All of the hallways had art deco type pictures of happy people.

The Spa, Gym & Sports Deck –
The Spa on the Carnival Splendor is one of the largest in the fleet. It is located on decks 11 and 12. It has several treatment rooms with separate locker rooms for men and women along with steam rooms and saunas. They offered spa treatment specials during port days. The hair salon and gym are located there as well.

Hours: 11:30am-10:00pm
2 saunas (men/women)
2 steam rooms (men/women)
15 treatment massage rooms
2 locker rooms (men/women)
V.I.P Couples Suites (Treatment Rooms) with whirlpools
Thelasso Therapy Pool
Thermal Suites: Dry Heat Chambers (Lanconium and Tepidarium)
Thermal Suites: Steam Chambers (Oriental and Aroma Steambaths)
Rasul Bath: special treatments including mud bath
Flotation Therapy
European-style treatments and services

Hours: 6:00am-10:00pm
The large fitness center is located on deck 11. There are a wide variety of treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, and other pieces of equipment available at all times at no extra charge. All of the equipment faced out to large windows. They offered optional classes in the aerobics room for a fee. The entrance to the gym was found in the spa area.

Sports Deck
The sports deck (deck 12 mid-ship) has a small running track. A sign posted stated that it takes 10 laps to complete a mile. On the same Sports deck was a small basketball court surrounded by a net.

The Splendor has three swimming pools all of which are 4 ½ feet deep and were unheated. On deck 9 mid-ship you had the Splendido pool (there were two hot tubs located just above this pool on the sides of deck 10). This pool was able to be covered during rainy or cool days. Also on deck 9, the Liner Lido Pool is located aft and has 2 hot tubs located there as well. On deck 11 forward was the Thunderball pool that had one hot tub. The water slide ended near this pool. Also on deck 11 mid-ship was a splash park for small kids.

The adult-only Serenity area is found forward on deck 12 with lounge chairs, hammocks, clam shells, and a drinks only bar. There were no pools or hot tubs here.

The layout of the ship is similar to the Conquest class of ships. Since it had a mid-ship dining room, there are certain decks where you cannot walk from fore to aft without taking a detour.

The hallways with odd number cabins were on the starboard side while the even numbered cabins were on the port side of the ship.

They did not have a bridge viewing room.

The guest services desk and the tours desk were both located in the atrium lobby on deck 3.

They had a disco bar that has a light-up dance floor. The Red Carpet dance lounge was located on deck 5 aft near the aft stair well.

The main show room was the Spectacular Spectacular Main Lounge which holds about 1,300 passengers and has entrances on 3 decks. There are some poles to contend with. We always found a seat for a show.

Laundrettes – There are 3 small laundry rooms located around the ship. They had keycard operated washers and dryers along with an ironing board and iron. They also had dispensers for soap packets. There are three small ironing rooms as well.

Main Deck 2 - midship / across from 2365
Empress Deck 7 - midship / across from 7339
Lido Deck 9 - forward / across from 9270

Ironing Rooms

Riviera Deck 1 – aft / across from 1425
Upper Deck 6 – midship / across from 6391
Verandah Deck 8 – midship / across from 8381

Spa Cabins –
The Splendor has a large spa area. It is an area with limited access either through buying spa passes or booking one of a group of cabins that include access to the spa. The Splendor is one of only a few Carnival ships that has Spa cabins. Besides having the ability to use the spa offerings, the cabins have amenities not available in other passenger cabins.

As a guest in a spa cabin, you receive several amenities:
Free access to the Thermal Suite facilities
Special Robes with Cloud 9 Spa logo & Slippers
2 Complimentary classes in the spa (Yoga or pilates)
2 Complimentary body composition metabolism tests
1 DIY Scrub kit
Discounted treatments in the spa (20% off for first, 30% off for second, and 40% off for third)

Our Cabin –
We prefer inside cabins. With the Splendor, the inside cabins, ocean view cabins, and most of the balcony cabins are all 185 square feet inside. Our cabin (1039) was one of a group of cabins designated as cloud 9 spa cabins. The cabin had more than enough room for the two of us. There were three closets. Two came with bars with 10 hangars each while the other closet had shelves. We stored our 2 large pieces of luggage under the beds. There were two terry cloth robes for our use. There is a safe and a small fridge in the cabin. The safe was locked by punching in a 4 digit code of your choice.

The bathroom had a shower with a cloth curtain with dispensers for body wash and shampoo. There was a soap dish. The hair dryer was located in a drawer by the mirror and desk inside the cabin. The desk had several drawers for added storage.

The location of the cabin was only a few steps from the forward stairwell. It was very convenient to go to any of the lido decks areas. Please note that the spa cabins on deck 10 are located under the spa and gym. Even though I thought our location would be quiet, we heard noise in the early hours of the morning from personnel cleaning and moving furniture above us. Some rooms under the gym have to deal with people using the free weights.

Dining –
There were several dining options on the Splendor. For dinner, the Splendor has two large main dining rooms with assigned early and late seatings; the Black Pearl located midship and the Gold Pearl located aft. Both main dining rooms have two levels on decks 3 and 4. They offer “Your Time Dining” which allowed you to show up at the Black Pearl restaurant on deck 3 and when they had an available table you would be seated for dinner. The Golden Pearl was open for breakfast and lunch as well.

In addition to the Black Pearl and Gold Pearl restaurants for dinner, they have the Splendido Lido buffet style restaurant on the Lido deck 9 and the Pinnacle Steakhouse found on Deck 11.

For lunch, the lido buffet area had several options for lunch that included Tandoor (Indian), a burrito bar (made to order Mexican burritos), Mongolian Wok (made to order bowls of Chinese options), the Rotisserie (comfort food with oven roasted chicken), the Deli (made to order sandwiches), Pizza bar, plus 4 stations offering fish, beef, vegetables, salads, fruits, desserts, and Carvery. By the pool, they was a grill for hamburgers, hot dogs, and fries. They also had a coffee bar where you could buy Starbucks style of coffees.

For dinner, the lido buffet was limited to just 2 stations offering fish, beef, vegetables, salads, fruits, desserts, and carvery. The deli and pizza bar were open as well. On the second sea day, they had a station in the Lido buffet used for a chocolate bar with a variety of desserts and fruits being dipped in chocolate.

The Pinnacle Steakhouse on deck 11 aft had an added fee of $35 per person and required a reservation. Its dress code was cruise elegant every night.

For breakfast, you could go the Lido Buffet or the Golden Pearl dining room. The omelet stations is the buffet always seemed to have a long line. They offered 24 hour room service with a limited menu. The Coffee Shop on deck 5 midship offered coffees and pastries for a fee.

During breakfast in the Lido buffet area, they had fountains with OJ, Passa-Guava Juice, Apple Juice, and unsweetened ice tea along with water. For the rest of the day, these fountains offered lemonade, iced tea, and water.

Internet Service –
They had several plans for internet service which included wi-fi around the ship based on the speed you wanted to use.

Bar Service –

There were plenty of spots on the ship to get alcoholic drinks. On deck 3, there was the Splendor Lobby bar located in the atrium. On deck 4, there was the Robusto Cigar Bar. On deck 5, you could go to sports bar called Our House, the Oceanview Casino Bar, Red Carpet Dance Club, El Mojito Wine Bar, The Cool Lounge, the Grand Piano Bar, and the El Morocco Lounge.  On deck 9, you had bars located by the Splendido Lido Pool located midship and the Liner Bar next to the aft Liner Lido Pool. On deck 12 forward was the Serenity Bar.

We are beer drinkers and Carnival offered beer bucket specials where you would get 4 beers (mix and match) with a $2 discount for the bucket. Carnival did offer a craft beer on tap called the Thirsty Frog Red Ale as well as two Sam Adams beers (the Lager and the Rebel IPA) and a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale beer.

They did have daily drink specials as well. There were some martini tastings on a few occasions. They offer a Cheers program for $49 a day for up to 15 alcoholic drinks per day per person.

Past Guest Program –
We are rated as Gold Members of Carnival’s Past Guest Program (VIFP). This was our first cruise with the recently changed rules regarding attending the past guest party in which they now only invited Platinum and Diamond members. We were very disappointed to hear this. We always enjoyed that party.

When we first arrived in our cabin, we each received the following as gold VIFP:
A Bottle of water
VIFP pin with the year on it
Coupon for a free drink that could be used on the last day after 5:00 pm.

On our next Carnival cruise, we will reach their Platinum level (75 days).

Activities –
There were plenty of other things to do on aboard for all interests. They had the usual plethora of bingo games and art auctions as well as poolside games. We like trivia games and took advantage of the many trivia games they offered during the cruise. We met up with several friendly people and we enjoyed their company and conversations. We won a “Ship on a Stick” trophy and a set of medals playing at those games. We now have a SOS trophy from each of the nine Carnival ships we have sailed.

The casino is open during times at sea. We do not gamble, so we cannot comment on the slots and gaming tables.

Music –
We enjoy listening to live music and they had a variety of musical options on board to entertain people at various locations and times. The quartet called Music Boardwalk played in the Casino stage area most evenings. They had a solo guitarist; Greg that played in the atrium lobby. In the Grand Piano Bar, Christine was playing most nights. The two musicians called ImprompTwo played atrium lobby and the casino stage area. Latin Fever played Latin music the Robusto lounge on deck 4 aft. DJ Miguel played tunes by the lido pool and at the disco (Red Carpet).

Crew –
Cruise Director Kevin Donohue had a morning TV show and attended most events. His staff did a good job with the trivia games. We did see the captain at the first of the cruise elegant nights.

Our room steward Jose and his assistant Aris were assigned 28 cabins to service during our cruise. He did a terrific job meeting our requests and making sure that the cabin was cleaned and prepped twice every day. We always had fresh ice in the bucket waiting for us as well.

Overall –
We enjoyed our cruise on the Splendor. We had terrific weather and calm seas. The only complaint would be the timing of arriving and departing ports. Our itinerary had us scheduled to arrive in Boston at 2:00pm, which is the port city with the most to offer. Too bad that they could not switch departure times for Saint John and Halifax as we thought Halifax had a lot more to offer than Saint John.

The Production shows in the main lounge. We enjoy these with a live show band, dancers, and costumes. They appeal to us far more the Playlist Productions that we have had on our previous Carnival cruises recently.
The food in the lido buffet during lunch, especially the Tandoor and Burrito bar.

Smoking is permitted at the Red Carpet Night Club, the Cool Lounge, and the Casino bar.
The casino stage area. We like to watch and listen to live bands, but this venue has the stage facing the casino bar with seating along the side of the promenade along with dealing with the smokers in the casino. If guests wanted to dance, they were blocking the promenade walkway. It would have been better to have the bands play in the Cool lounge and move the smokers from that lounge to the Casino Bar area.
Lack of specialty food for dinner in the lido buffet (Indian, Mexican, etc).

Keith's Terrific Photos:

These are pictures of the places we visited

These are photos of the ship itself and spaces located on the ship

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