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Joined: 10/26/2014
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About lhappel


lhappel's Past Cruises

Carnival Splendor

November 2015 - Carnival Splendor to Caribbean - Western

Very nice cruise!

We were on this ship in January 2015.  Being an older, refurbished ship we weren't sure what to expect.  We were pleasantly surprised the first time and when we saw a great deal on this cruise we decided to try it again.  We were not disappointed!

Embarkation was one of the best.  We were on the ship and eating lunch within one hour from arrival.

I would like to comment on the smoking policy.  I'm aware that smoking is frowned upon everywhere, however, there are still quite a bit of smokers.  Since it is no longer permitted in the cabins (or balconies if you have one), there should be an additional designated inside area.  And all areas where it is permitted should have ample ashtrays. 

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Carnival Splendor

January 2015 - Carnival Splendor to Caribbean - Eastern

Enjoyable cruise overall.

Embarkation was organized but a bit slow.  We were pleasantly surprised with the colorful, festive decor upon entering the ship.  Our balcony stateroom was a good size with plenty of storage space.  The balcony itself was on the small side.  When making reservations I always request a foam topper for the bed.  It hadn't been put on and mentioned to the room steward.  He tried by adding a comforter under the fitted sheet but wasn't enough.  We went to Guest Services and within a short while we had a foam topper on the bed.  Ship and room were always kept clean.

Buffet food was good to very good with a large variety.  The thin crust pizza was excellent and available 24 hours.  There was a nice omelet station every morning.  There were items every day, such as the very delicious grilled sandwiches, grilled cheeseburger and French fries, salad bar, fruit, ice cream and frozen yogurt machines.  But there were also different items daily, for example Mexican or Italian dishes.  Lemonade, iced tea, hot tea, coffee, water and ice were available 24 hours.

In the main dining room, the Anytime dining was a complete disaster.  Very long waits, no organization for seating and not enough waiters.  The first night seating time and service was acceptable.  The second night which was formal, we waited close to an hour and once seated, service was very slow.  We noticed many tables available and yet many people were still waiting to be seated.  The third night they were giving out pagers, but had run out.  Too make a long story short, after waiting about an hour, we decided to switch to the 8:15 seating.  Our table happened to be ready at this time, but we spoke to the maître d, Ramesh and told him we wanted to switch.  Not a problem!  We had our choice of two tables for two.  Since it was around 8:15, Ramesh escorted us to the table we selected.  Turned out the waiter, Howard, and his team were one of the best we ever had.  (On the NCL Epic we had no problems with the Anytime dining.)  Food was good.  The beef dishes were better then the fish, which were very dry.  We also tried the dining room for one of the sea day brunches.  We were seated at a large table which had very slow service, but noticed the tables for two were much quicker.  Some interesting selections, food was good.

Compared to RC Oasis with its ice skating and diving shows, the NCL Epic's Blue Man Group and the Michael Jackson show on the MSC Divina, we found the evening entertainment lacking on the Splendor.  The Las Vegas/Broadway style shows in the main theater, sadly, were boring except for maybe the last show of the cruise.  The dancers were great, but needed some fresher, new choreography.  Then there were the comedy acts, mostly adult shows.  There were a few different comedians which performed many shows each.  We saw one of the shows which was funny but nothing special.  The décor in the main theater and the El Morocco room where the comedy acts performed were beautiful, though.  And there were several very good bands playing throughout the ship.

During sea days, it was almost impossible to find a deck chair anywhere.  Unless you went early and saved them, which you aren't supposed to do.  During the evening, the main areas and walkways inside were very congested.  It didn't help that along these areas were the many photographers crammed in taking pictures with the different backgrounds.  Some of them very annoying and aggressive.   We had a few taken and even though they weren't bad we didn't purchase.  

On the RC Oasis there were twice as many guests, but you would never know.  The Splendor just had too many passengers for the size of the ship.  

St. Maarten is a great island for jewelry shopping.  You just need to take a short water taxi ride.  It's $7RT pp.  There's a nice little beach right there as well.  In San Juan we also did a little shopping right off the pier.  It was our first time in Grand Turk.  There was a small newly built shopping area right off the pier.  It was nice but very expensive.  It took us about 45 minutes to walk through.  Then we spent some time in Margaritaville.  Best margaritas!  Looked like a lot of others decided to do also, as it was packed.

The debarkation process went smoothly and at a good speed.  The suitcases were on a turntable like the airport, rather than on the floor like they usually are. 


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MSC Divina

October 2014 - MSC Divina to Caribbean - Western

Enjoyable cruise overall.

Our first experience on MSC a few years ago was exceptional.  It left from NY.  Upon entering the ship there was a line of crew members with white gloves.  As each group/couple entered the ship the next crew member in line would take your carry-on luggage and escort you to your cabin.  My husband and I have been on 20 cruises and never saw this before or again. 

That cruise had amazing food with many choices.  At lunch in the dining room a different pasta dish was prepared as you walked in and there were many other choices as well.  The second MSC cruise we were on had this also.  This cruise, our third with MSC did not and didn't have as many choices in the dining room.  However, the food was still good to very good.  The pizza in the buffet was excellent, as well as all the rolls and desserts.  

The ship is beautiful and clean.  The steps on the staircases in the main Atrium area  were made of Swarovski crystals.  They were amazing! 

The service is good, however, not all the crew speaks English very well.  Our room steward was quick to make up the room each day, however he missed turning it down the first and last nights.  The last morning we asked him about it and he said maybe he forgot.  He did a good job, but not great. 

The waiter  in the main dining room was one of the best we ever had.  Very friendly and attentive.   

A few minor  complaints:  There weren't enough public restrooms in the buffet area.  The photographs taken were bad compared to the previous cruises.  They really did a great job in the past, very professional with air brushing which you don't normally see. We've purchased quite a few but none this cruise.  The ship seemed very crowded, especially in the shopping areas and to get a deck chair.  When you arrived at the ports, you could not hear the announcements in your cabin regarding when and where you could disembark.   And there was only one indoor area to smoke, which was very crowded most of the time.  We were on RC Oasis of the Seas where there were 2000 more passengers but you would never know it.

The shows were good.  Had a few opera singers if you like that sort of thing.  There was a Michael Jackson show one night, one of the best shows of any cruise!  You thought you were actually watching Michael Jackson dance, it was amazing.  After the show he came down and was taking pictures with everyone. 

On the last day we discovered an Indy car simulator and kind of a 3-D action short movie theater.  There was a charge but well worth it for the experience.

Overall we had a good time.  It's a little different atmosphere compared to other cruise lines.   

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lhappel's Tips

Cozumel, Mexico - We enjoy shopping in Cozumel. You can get some really good deals on silver.
George Town, Grand Cayman - Not a big drinker, but always look forward to Margaritaville. Worst margarita ever, anywhere. They were very nice. Apparently the mixer machines were not working so they each had to be hand made. After the third try it was close, but very disappointing overall. Should have gone to the one in Cozumel.
Miami, Florida - Parking right at the port is very convenient, safe and reasonably priced.
Grand Turk Island - First time on Grand Turk. Nice little newly built area off the ship. However, rather expensive. Make sure to stop in at Margaritaville for a fabulous margarita!
San Juan, Puerto Rico - Nice area to shop if you are there during the day. There's a Guess clothing store, Guess shoe/accessory store, Dooney & Bourke and Coach. You can get a good buy, but can probably do just as good in the States.
Philipsburg, St. Maarten - Take the $7 RT pp water taxi, rather then just shop right off the dock. There's also a nice little beach right there. One of the best islands to jewelry shop. You just have to be careful and have knowledge (expecially of price) on the items you want to purchase. Always ask for the best possible price and request a writtien appraisal which should be free of charge. You can usually get a little better deal if you can pay cash.
Carnival Splendor Carnival Splendor - Check out the Taste Bar. Great for a quick little bite while walking through the ship, without having to go to the buffet.
Cozumel, Mexico - When shopping, never accept the first price. Always bargain and pretend you don't really want it.
MSC Divina MSC Divina - Don't miss the fabulous Swarovski staircases in the Atrium! Beautiful!

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received a helpful vote on their Carnival Splendor cruise review - Enjoyable cruise overall.

received a helpful vote on their Carnival Splendor cruise review - Very nice cruise!

received a helpful vote on their Carnival Splendor cruise review - Very nice cruise!

received a helpful vote on their Carnival Splendor cruise review - Very nice cruise!

received a helpful vote on their Carnival Splendor cruise review - Very nice cruise!

received a helpful vote on their Carnival Splendor cruise review - Very nice cruise!

received a helpful vote on their Carnival Splendor cruise review - Very nice cruise!

received a helpful vote on their Carnival Splendor cruise review - Very nice cruise!

received a helpful vote on their Carnival Splendor cruise review - Very nice cruise!

added Nov 29, 2015 cruise on Carnival Splendor to their profile.