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Carnival Splendor – September 2009

Mexican Riviera Cruise 052

Getting there and embarkation: For me getting to Long Beach was a simple ride of just over thirty minutes. Although I will admit there are times for other cruises I have spent the night at the Queen Mary in Long Beach just to watch my “ship-come-in”.

A day or so before the cruise, Carnival called and requested that we not show up until 2pm on the date of departure. Since I usually get to Long Beach at around 11am and am having my first DOD by noon, I compromised and got there at around 12:30pm. Unlike my last cruise I ran into absolutely no lines during the check-in or embarkation. Well, there were about 20 people in front of me on the gangway, but that is because they stopped the line to move something around on the walkway.

All-in-all it took me less than 25 minutes from arriving at Long Beach to get on the ship.

There were people at the elevator directing people to go to the Lido deck to wait for their cabins, which they said would be ready by 2pm. Since I am so good at following directions I hustled up to the Lido deck for a DOD. The “Fun Ship”, always one of my favorites! I grabbed some lunch, another DOD, wandered the Lido deck, and dang it wasn’t 2pm yet. Headed toward my cabin anyway, and found that pesky sign hanging on the hallway doors saying that the cabins were not ready yet. So, I opened the door and walked through. Not a soul in sight. Opened the cabin door no problem, and looked around.

The Cabin: I had booked a Category 11 suite. I was absolutely surprised. On the Paradise I get a Cat. 12 suite, which I typically never use the sitting area, and I swear this Cat.11 on the Splendor was so much more efficiently set up. Because of the proximity of the sitting area in this suite, it was actually used more! There were two closets, one in the dressing area before the bathroom, and one by the beds. Now, when you have multiple people in the cabin this is priceless. There also appeared to be larger drawer spaces. The balcony was of ample size it just seemed less deep than the Paradise.

Unpacked, ready to go, I headed back toward the Lido deck where some nice folks from, had planned on a Meet & Greet.

Then off we go to the Muster Drill… After Muster drill I go back to the Lido deck for a bit of the Sail Away party, than back to the cabin to clean up for dinner.

I spent a bit of time at the various game shows, and the like after dinner, than off to the Casino.

The Ship: I have heard many complaints about the ship being too pink. Actually looks like a washed out mauve to me, but I found nothing distasteful or gaudy with it. Personally, I like pink polka dots! I found her easy to navigate. Being basically in the center of the ship had it’s advantages.

The Ports of Call, etc: Monday and Tuesday were sea days. They went by rather quickly. These days were spent eating, going to various ship activities, eating, gambling, drinking, and eating some more. Monday was the first cruise elegant night on the ship. So, before my (almost) last meal of the day, I got all dolled up and went to dinner. Where, yes I did order both the prime rib and lobster. On Tuesday, some of us from the CruiseCritic’s group got together and did a cabin crawl and were able to see a variety of cabins across the ship. This was fun and useful, in helping me plan where I might want to be located next cruise.

Wednesday, I was up early and watched us dock in Puerto Vallarta. By 9am it was already 90 plus degrees outside with 89% humidity. I had only one thing planned for PV, and that was a signature swim with the dolphins. I had breakfast and headed for my excursion.

We were water taxied over to the swim sight. That took about 15 – 20 minutes. There was a 20 minute introduction to dolphins, and safety measures. After which we were herded off the dolphin pools (tanks). There was no “locker” as it stated in the brochure, you were given a cubby hole to put your belongings. They did provide towels at the end, so if you go, there is no need to lug the towel from the ship. Leave all your jewelry in the safe on the ship, because you cannot wear your watches and rings into the pool. They fit you with a life vest and you get in the water. You are in a group about 10 people, with 2 dolphins that are yours for the next hour. My dolphins were both 10 months pregnant. They were a mother and daughter. Every now and then the alpha male dolphin or one of the younger dolphins would start a ruckus on the other side of the pool, so we had to stop and go back to the edge of the pool. While you are in the water, there is nothing but the edge of the pool to hang on to. You cannot touch bottom. The dolphins swim in and around you, they take various pictures and the last thing you do is “ride” the dolphin back to the point were you get out of the pool. You can pay a reduced price for someone in your party to just observe and take pictures if you want. The pictures they take are pretty expensive. $99 for 8 pictures, and since they only really take 3 or 4 of you, you may wind up buying more than you need. It is a very nice efficient photo system. They put them on a computer and you chose the ones you want. They can print them or put them on a CD. They also feed you lunch, but I was told by some that ate it, it really was not very good. I had bottled water and a soda, both free.

After taking the water taxi back to the ship, I decided it would be best to shower and put on fresh clothes before venturing back out into PV.

Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men (or apparently women on a cruise). When I got back to my stateroom, I went in to wash my hands, and there was no water. Nope none! Not a drop. I opened the stateroom door and there were some workers in the hallway which I apparently was oblivious to when I walked in 2 minutes prior. A pipe had burst leaving my cabin and 6 others without water. It would be about an hour before it was fixed. So, seeing how I already had my suit on, and it was hotter than heck. I headed toward the Lido deck, to get a nice cold DOD. (And, of course some food…) Probably would have showered in one of those showers near the pool area, but decided that taking my shampoo and room towel up there was probably not a good idea. Since I was already hot and sweaty and my cabin mate needed to get some closed toe shoes for our “Behind the Fun” tour of the ship on Saturday; we decided to walk over to Walmart. Yep, I just sailed for two and a half days to go shopping at Walmart! We stopped at the little flea market outside the area where the ship docked. There is also some shopping and places to eat after you enter the controlled area. When we got back to our room, our water was back on, and the shower felt terrific!

The bad part about early dining is that if you really want to dine in the dining room, it is almost a rushed occurrence at the end of the day. Late dining is too late for me, and I know there is always the Lido deck. But I do like the sit-down thingy. I believe in January, the Splendor goes to the “anytime dining”.

Thursday we got to Mazatlan, where again it was painfully hot and humid. Heat index of about 112! I got off the ship long enough to take a ride around town and get back on to the comfort of my favorite Lido deck bar, and the DODs. Now, the ride through town lasted about 90 minutes and my cab driver gave quite a bit of history, and even stopped a few times for some photos. Total charge $20 plus tip! During dinner, the ship stopped for a medical emergency and took someone off the ship.

Friday, we tendered into Cabo San Lucas, went to a beachy area, went to some shops, petted a baby tiger, and had some breakfast. Cabo is a quick stop, and we were lucky to get off the ship and back on during the time the wait for the tender was not long.

Saturday, our last was our last sea day. I took the 3 ½ hour “Behind the Fun” tour. The cost was $95, but it was worth it. They must have given us over $50 of goodies after the tour. We got to go to the main galley, the Steak house galley, the laundry, the crews quarters and mess, the infirmary, the morgue, the “jail”, behind the stage, the engine control room, the bridge, the bow of the ship by the ships bell (which is the crews deck area), the Captain’s dining room, and the environmental area where they recycle everything. It was very informative, and the time passed rather quickly. (Files/Behind the Fun.pdf)

The Food: Since I keep bringing up food… let me just say this…. There is NO food shortage on this ship. I was amazed at the variety. There is a Burrito Bar, Mongolian BBQ, a Sushi bar (hrs from about 5 to 8pm), a Rotisserie Chicken place, a nice deli, a grill, the pizzeria, and then the buffets. (and I think I forgot a couple of places!) Numerous drink and ice cream stations are located all over the place. The lemonade and icetea were better than most ships I have been on. Plus the glasses and coffee cups are larger than I have normally seen. If you want to spend the extra $30/person you can eat at the Pinnacle Steak Room. The folks that I talked to that went raved about the food. All I can say that anyone that goes on this ship and tells me they can’t find anything that they can eat, needs to stop cruising! I found the quality and variety of food to be much better than on my July sailing on the Paradise.

Now, my dining table was in an odd location in the Black Pearl. Table 164 was located basically in the rear lower level entrance of the restaurant. Strange place to put a table, and I may have requested a change had my table mates not been so pleasant, and the wait staff so fun and attentive. We actually got a lot of attention as the folks at the other table never showed up. One night we invited the only couple there to our table. On the last sail night I mentioned this to Miguel the Maitre ‘D who just shrugged. I also mentioned the fact that compared to breakfast and other ships I seemed to have less silverware. He said it was something new they were trying, and that I receive new silver for each part of the meal. When I told him that I was told my my waiter to hang on to my fork, I thought he was going to burst out in flames. So, I told him, it wasn’t a big issue, and he knew by table number who my waiter was and said he would talk to him. When I commented “great, now he will spit in my food”… Miguel went through the whole story about how that is impossible since the food is covered in the galley and there are cameras throughout the process. Well, needless to say, the last night, I was brought new silverware for every part of the meal. Really didn’t make a big difference to me, I don’t change forks for everything I eat at home, and if they save 10 gallons of water and some electricity not washing them, I am all for it!

I was more than pleased with all the service on this ship. The crew was exceptional. From Goose the cruise director, Michael, and Leslie the asst. CD. My room steward Rio was absolutely the best. My wait staff, Richard and Mohammed were funny and efficient. My favorite bartender Yulia, served me on both the Lido deck and the aft lounge in the evenings. The Maitre d’ Miguel was a sharp tongued witty person.

So, in a nutshell here is what I enjoyed on this cruise:

The service – from stem to stern was stellar

The food – was good, some was terrific, didn’t have anything bad

The activities – plentiful

My “Behind the Fun” tour and pictures with Captain Pagano (he is the one in the commercial that tells the kook that sounds the horn to get out!)

I enjoyed not losing my butt in the Casino, and becoming an official members of the Player’s club and enjoyed some free drinks there.

Here is what I didn’t enjoy:::::

Hmm, well, actually, there was nothing that I didn’t enjoy. The weather was not Carnival’s doing, so I can’t blame the heat and humidity on them. Although I know there are some out there that will try! Now, the broken water pipe, well although it was a minor inconvenience, I think it was handled in a timely efficient manner and really with little disruption. I was never worried, as I knew too many people on the ship that would have “loaned” me the use of their shower.

The extras:

We had a Captain’s reception on the Promenade Deck where drinks were a dollar off.

We had a past guest party with free drinks and snacks. Pins and invitations delivered to the room.

We had a farewell party with free drinks.

We had two cruise elegant nights, Monday and Friday. Monday was Lobster or Prime Rib. Friday was Prime Rib, and they had escargot for an appetizer.

We were able to buy $100 certificates for the next cruise. It is a good deal, gives you $100 toward the down payment when you book and $100 on board credit (depending on cabin type). It is good for 5 years and if you can’t use it, you just send it back and they send you your $100 back.(Files/Future Cruise.pdf)

I hope if you go on this ship you have a Splendid time!

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