CRUISE REVIEWS: Our Family's Carnival Splendor Cruise
As mentioned in My Cruising Family's previous blog post, I have written cruise reviews, excursion reviews, and more, to share my experiences, and to, hopefully, help other cruise-planning/cruising moms and families to plan the best cruise vacation for their families. That being said, I will share some of those reviews in this week's blog posts, starting with a review of our family's Carnival Splendor Cruise.
My family and I cruised on the Carnival Splendor from October 8, 2013 to October 16, 2013, and we had a truly wonderful time! This was my third cruise... my first was on the Disney Magic in March 2005, and my second was on the Carnival Dream in January 2013, which is when I booked the October 2013 Splendor vacation. I loved both of my earlier cruises, but my experience on the Splendor is my best cruise experience thus far! My husband and our two-year-old son cruised with me in January 2013 as well, but enjoyed themselves more on the Splendor. My mom, who hadn't cruised before, joined us on the Splendor, and she loved it! Cruising and Carnival now has a new fan... my mom :-) It is almost inexplicable... it was just great!
The service was spectacular! From our room steward, Ariel, to our wait staff, Mr. Z, Julius, and Bryan, and our favorite bartender, and probably the most humble guy onboard, Hery, we truly felt at home... we felt like royalty! I am overwhelmed by the sincerity and warmth of the Carnival Splendor staff and crew.
We had balcony rooms, 7344 (my hubby, our son, and me) and 7348 (my mom), which were great rooms. We slept comfortably, and had the option of stepping onto our balcony to enjoy the ocean view and ocean breeze during our son's naps. Our son joined us on the balcony a few times as well, and, for any other parents wondering about the balcony and toddler safety, the weight of the balcony door, the height of the balcony railing, and of course the reasonable attention of a parent, all combine to ensure toddlers' safety. No worries. The rooms themselves are a good size, and we had enough closet, drawer, dresser and counter space for two adults and one child. My mom, who had one stateroom to herself had more than enough room for herself, and was able to easily accommodate her grandson on a number of occasions (especially since he didn't stay at Camp Carnival... we took him on the first sea day, but, within 30 minutes, Camp Carnival called me to say that he had been crying and wanted me to come to pick him up, so I did... although we asked him on each sea day, he didn't want to go back to Camp Carnival... nothing against Camp Carnival... the camp seems like a great experience for the children, but parents should be prepared to have their younger children with them during the cruise because every child won't be a fan of Camp Carnival).
The food was wonderful! There was more food on the Splendor than there should ever be in one place... lol. There was something for anyone and everyone... yes, even the pickiest eater. If my two-year-old can find food there that he likes to eat, anyone and everyone can :-) The breakfast buffet provides a good spread, from various fruit, to varying breads, pastries, cold cuts, and other meats, eggs, and more. Note: sit-down breakfast/brunch is also available in the Gold Pearl Restaurant (which was also our assigned dining room for dinner)... the breakfast choices there include delicious dishes, such as steak and eggs! My favorite food station onboard the Splendor is the lunchtime Mongolian Wok (available on some other Carnival Funships as well). Be prepared for the wait there, because each guest gets personalized attention in the preparation of his/her meal... so there is a wait, but the wait is worth it. We also had lunch at the Grill and Tandoor. We like the options at the Grill, and we think Tandoor was good, but wasn't as good as Mongolian Wok. We had dinner during the early seating at the Gold Pearl Restaurant, and the experience there was great, from the wait staff (already mentioned by name above), to the Maître D, Ramesh, we felt truly special. In case any of them happen to read this review, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU AGAIN!!!
The ports were awesome...
Grand Turk (we took the Grand Turk Experience excursion),
Half Moon Cay (we enjoyed the sand, sun, and water at the beach) ,
and Nassau (we took the Discover Atlantis and Beach Day excursion).
I honestly felt rushed in Nassau, trying to get in all we wanted to see and do within the scheduled time, but, hey, a taste of Nassau is better than none at all.
I think the itinerary is great! Two sea days, then three port days, and another two sea days... the sea days really allow for exploration of the ship, more participation in onboard activities, i.e. games, tons of raffles for great perks and gifts, the art gallery's seminars and auctions (which include free works of art for attending), Fun Finds gatherings (which provide info on shops and products in the ports and on the ship, as well as raffles and freebies... lol), and time to simply relax onboard if you so choose.
Malcolm "WooHoo" Burn is an awesome Cruise Director! He provided information that all cruisers should know and wanted to know, allowing each cruiser to decide when/how to spend his/her time, and he made himself available for cruisers who wanted to interact. He allowed for just the right amount of interactivity during the cruise... it's a fine balance when dealing with New Yorkers... New Yorkers generally don't want folks "in our faces" all the time, Cruise Director or not, but we want access to whatever we need when we need it, and we want to get our money's worth for vacation... the Carnival Splendor sails from New York, and it's Cruise Director knows exactly how to strike that necessary balance. Don't get it twisted though, cruising out of New York on the Splendor is FUN and FRIENDLY, with SWAG... WooHoo!!! LOL.
Sigh. I miss my ship :-) I look forward to cruising on other ships, exploring other ships, and exploring other ports... but, there is just something special about the Splendor that makes me want to take another Splendor cruise, and another, and another. THANK GOD FOR A GREAT FAMILY VACATION!!! THANKS TO THE STAFF AND CREW OF THE CARNIVAL SPLENDOR!!!
UPDATE: Carnival Splendor received its FunShip 2.0 upgrades during dry dock in 2016, and the ship no longer sails from NYC. Carnival does not presently have any ship that homeports in NYC.