January 2016 - Carnival Splendor to Caribbean - Western
I gave my husband this cruise for his birthday because he's always wanted to go and I've always resisted. Will I choose cruising again, maybe not, but I wouldn't be opposed to going again with someone for whom I care deeply!
The staff onboard were very friendly and I felt the service was outstanding. I'm not used to having my bed turned down with a cute little towel critter sitting on top. Now if my husband would have refrained from decapitating, mutilating or otherwise committing involuntary towel slaughter...but I digress! Our wait staff knew and used our name during our evening meals, as did our steward for our cabin. This through me off a bit because It was unexpected but I give them an A+ for doing this week after week with new passengers! So bravo!
The excursions were amazing!!!!!! We had one that was cancelled due to lack of participation. Admittedly, my husband was excessively disappointed, but this is out of control of the cruise line and we can find another scuba diving opportunity on a future vacation. We chose to find a beach in Cozumel to snorkel and read our books on the beach. Had the most amazing chicken tacos there. In Belize we decided to kayak up a little waterway into a lagoon at the Ecobab nature reserve. Fascinating to drive through the streets and hear about the culture, the government, the schooling, etc. Our guide up the river was so friendly and so open with sharing her knowledge and love for her country! Such a different world of medicine, pet owning, politics, etc. I would do that one again, but could've used more time to take a dip in their amazing pool and recreation area! We were given the buffet there as part of our tour and a locker for our belongings could be purchased. But if you hate cilantro as I do, you better bring a lunch!
Rhoatan, Honduras! Iguana farm, was my favorite, but I also enjoyed being exposed to the countryside from the bus and from the great knowledge of the tour guide! It was difficult being herded through 15 minute stops when I would have liked to linger, but again, that is just me, and no fault of the tour!
Grand Cayman, oh man, I can't say enough good things about that stop! Holding a sea turtle??? Swimming with the stingrays???? Priceless!!!!! Made the whole trip worth every penny!
We enjoyed the movies on board, even though there was invariably people, who had an entire ship to roam around on, that congregated and talked and laughed while we were trying to hear the movie. Course, they had to talk loud because the volume of the movie was high. Usually they left after multiple passengers gave them the stink eye! We also enjoyed some of the movies available in the state rooms. We aren't big into the music scene and this particular cruise was bigger on the music scene so we didn't attend any shows which was a disappointment. We would have liked to see something a little more in the way of Broadway type shows. But this comes down to us being complete novices and not having the faintest idea how to find the cruise that would best meet our particular desires.
The ships decor and general condition was outstanding if you could get past the fried egg decorations all over the ceiling of your dining area! Supposed to be pearls in their shells, but I'd say that decor idea got a little out of hand! But truly, it was beautifully maintained and not shabby at all! Our room was pleasantly roomy and in very good condition! The hot water was instantaneous! Only complaint on the room is that maintenance decided to paint some of the balconies on board and the paint fumes were sucked into the intake and blown through our air conditioning vent! It was potent and two days we had to complain because it was making us woozy. The second time I told them they had to give us a new room if we came back from dinner and it was still like that. They used some sort of an ozone cleaning or filtrating machine to clean out our air and we had no more fumes! But honestly, they should not use oil based paints next to the intakes during times when passengers are on board. They should reserve those for short term dry dock. Sorry, I didn't spend the money to be poisoned by fumes in my room!
Food, if you've made it through this review this far, you've come to my opinion about the food. Yes, there is a ton of it. Yes, you can eat all day. No you can not have soda unless you pay extra. Here's the thing, as mentioned earlier, I hate Cilantro, but evidently it is so loved by the general population that it must be added to everything! I simply didn't enjoy my meals much. The lobster and shrimp night was delicious, the melting chocolate cake with ice cream was beautiful, the rottisserie buffet had the most amazing mac and cheese for the first few days, but then that same mac and cheese became blase on the last day....what's that about? The souffle with orange cream sauce on the last night was to die for! The breakfast buffet provided me with cold food that should've been hot! I enjoyed the pizza and I all but lived on the fries from the grill! All in all I didn't starve and I didn't have to make it myself, but I can't rave about the food. This does not mean that you will not! On the plus side I could make all the mocha I wanted and my husband must have visited the 24 hour ice cream bar twice a day at least if not more! Yummy ice cream!
If you don't mind standing in long lines throughout your vacation cruising can be very relaxing. You can do as much as you want or as little as you want. You can learn new cultures and experience new things. I don't regret giving in to my husband's wish to cruise and we are grateful for the good service that we were given!