Luchanik Travel & Cruises had so much fun on the Carnival Splendor on the July 17th seven day cruise to the Mexican Riviera. This cruise definitely was not boring, especially as Hurricane Dora just had to follow us along our journey, and threatened to crash into our path. However, with the skillful handling of Carnival Cruise Lines, and a little bit of an itinerary change – we stayed safe, and still saw all the ports we were supposed to visit. Instead of visiting Cabo San Lucas two days in a row, and Puerto Vallarta on the day after, it was determined that Puerto Vallarta should be sandwiched in between Cabo San Lucas to avoid the hurricane as the Captain had word from Miami and knew where the hurricane was headed.
Hurricane Dora affected our group, as we had the El Morocco Lounge booked on Wednesday afternoon at 4pm for refreshments for our group, as well as a rehearsal for our dance team – UCSD Zor, one of the top Bollywood dance teams in the USA. Due to the itinerary change, the rehearsal was rescheduled to Thursday. Luchanik Travel & Cruises cultural division called Bindi Cruises (http://www.bindicruises.com) provided complimentary cultural entertainment for the entire Bindi Group, as well as some lucky people on the Splendor, who got to see the entertainment that really should have been a private event. Normally, when you book a cruise, you only get the entertainment (public event) provided by the cruise line, and this does not usually include cultural entertainment. We think it is important for people to be exposed to other cultures and wanted people to enjoy the Bollywood and Bhangra performances by UCSD Zor. The performances went ahead as scheduled at 2:30 to 4:30 pm on Friday in the El Morocco Lounge and Saturday in the Red Carpet Disco. Video clips of the performances are available on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/luchaniktravel . More photos will be posted later.
The Splendor is an amazing ship. The food was plentiful, there were so many options to choose from – The Lido for buffet style dining; the Gold Pearl, or Black Pearl for sit-down service; the Tandoor on Deck 9 for Indian buffet style eating; the Pizzeria; a Rotisserie; and a specialty restaurant – which I believe is a Steak Restaurant – did not visit that one though. Sometimes we had breakfast in the Lido Dining Room, which is buffet style and sometimes we ate in the Gold Pearl Dining Room where breakfast was available from 8am to 10am. We had our dinner every evening in the Gold Pearl at 6pm. During a cruise, you have the choice of early dining – usually at 6pm – or late dining at around 8:15 pm. This is reserved dining, and the earlier you book, the better…… as you have a higher chance of getting the seating that you request. If you book too late, and want an earlier seating, you could be subject to being on a wait list. There is also “Any Time” seating between 6pm to 9:45 pm, however, this is not recommended as you might have to wait for a while for a table to become available, it is just nicer having a reserved table and time.
Our group had Indian food every evening in the Gold Pearl, however, we were free to change it to the regular menu in the event that we saw something we liked – some members of our group did that, and enjoyed salmon, lobster, shrimp, sushi and even snails (Escargot) one night! What is really nice about the Gold Pearl Dining Room and the staff there, is that you can ask for as many dishes as you like, extra ice-cream for the kids or even for a second or third dessert, and the waiters will bring it for you with a smile on their face. The same also applied to the meals, if we felt like salmon in addition to Indian food, the staff were very accommodating, and it was no problem.
The desserts were good in the Gold Pearl, especially the Bread and Butter Pudding, the Warm Chocolate Cake (melted chocolate sponge), and the Espresso Cake – this was was my favorite! On cruise ships, drinks such as soda are not included, so at dinner, we were limited to lemonade, milk or water for the kids. The lemonade was quite sweet, a little too sweet actually! We were also able to get Indian tea for our group, which was really nice, and really can make you feel at home.
The cabins are quite small, but this is nothing unusual as most cabins on cruises are approximately the same size for Interior cabins, which is what we booked. Interior cabins probably are sufficient for just two occupants, but we had four in our cabin, so that is probably why they appeared to be even smaller! Our cabin had a double bed, and two bunk beds on either side. We regularly bumped our heads into the bunk beds as we forgot they were hanging over on each end of the double bed. However, the cabins were always clean and tidy, and housekeeping did an outstanding job bringing fresh towels whenever they were needed (without us having to even ask!)
There were plenty of swimming pools, with the main pool being on the Lido Deck which is Deck 9, same as the Tandoor Deck. There is also a huge outdoor TV screen on the Lido Deck, so you could be in the pool, and watch the TV at the same time. In the evening, the Lido Deck looked spectacular when all the little lights were on. There was also an adults only pool, a kid’s pool, a Splash Area for the kids, a Twister Water Slide and various jacuzzi’s that were scattered around.
Gym and Spa
The gym and Spa are both on Deck 11. There are plenty of treadmills, bikes, and other machines to work of all those calories. Carnival also provides classes such as yoga, and nutrition classes, at a cost of $12 each session. The Spa was a luxury that I did not take advantage of unfortunately, but I did see the Member’s Area, where you could pay something like $268 and soak in a giant hot-tub.
Suggestions for Carnival
Three suggestions – the first suggestion is that Carnival really needs to provide vegetable samosas for Indian people who travel with them. The Tandoor on Deck 9 (Lido Deck) provided only beef samosas and beef is against the religion of many Indian people. Also, needless to say – if you provide an appetizer that is an Indian appetizer – you should not offend the people of that region and insult them by putting something in the food that they love, and that they will not be able to eat! The second suggestion is that Carnival really needs to put changing tables in the public bathrooms and make the cruise more family friendly by doing so. It was a struggle once or twice changing my two year old in the bathrooms. The third suggestion is that they really need to provide more beverages for kids, and the lemonade needs to have less sugar!
We had a great time on the cruise, and I would definitely recommend the Splendor to anyone wishing to take a cruise. Carnival is very family oriented, and the Splendor is a beautiful cruise ship. I would not hesitate to go on this ship again.
If you would like to book the Carnival Splendor, please contact me and I would be happy to assist you.
More photographs can be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.248969871794696.70400.182290738462610&type=3
My ship inspection video of Carnival Splendor made prior to the cruise can be found here: Carnival Splendor Ship Inspection