My husband and I (ages 29 & 28) cruised on the Splendour out of Galveston March 25, 2004 with my parents who will both turn 60 this year. To give you an idea of where our opinions come from, I'll give a brief background. We are both middle-income families. My parents are retired and travel mostly by fifth wheel and cook their own meals. We on the other hand, enjoy finer vacations with nice hotels (Hilton Garden Inn types) and restaurants. This was our third cruise and my parent's first cruise. We were on the four-night cruise visiting only Cozumel with two full days at sea. We all had a marvelous time and enjoyed the ship, service, and food. My husband and I cruised the Rhapsody out of Galveston in Nov. 2003 and found the Splendour to be a much nicer ship. They are sisters and therefore quite similar. However, we found the Splendour to have better décor and appear more upscale. Both were comfortable and offered a nice cruise vacation, but we would pick the Splendour over Rhapsody every time.
While the common areas on the Splendour were well kept, the wear and tear was obvious in our deck 2 inside cabin. The décor was out dated and the sofa and desk chair both had obvious stains. Most likely from someone carelessly sitting down in a wet bathing suit, but stains non-the-less. The size of the cabin was standard for an inside, so it was compact, but offered enough closet and storage space. There was plenty of room for two adults who are fond of each other. We did peak in the cabins on higher decks and found the décor, especially for outside cabins, to be more up to date and appealing. The décor in the King and I dinning room was spectacular! This room appeared like it belonged on a new ship. New chairs, carpets, etc. and the Siamese décor was done very well. The service was mid level. Good but not great, but of course, this is determined strictly by the personnel assigned to you and should not be considered the norm. The food was enjoyable as well. My husband and I eat out a lot and found the meals to be well presented and tasty. My parents, who are more conservative and cook at home a majority of the time, were very impressed with the food. My mother is borderline diabetic and found something in every course she could eat. She took advantage of the Ship Shape offerings and the sugar-free desserts with each meal and always had compliments. The production shows the first three nights were well performed, just too provocative for our taste. I would have been terribly embarrassed if I had brought children with me. We would have not been able to watch the entire shows. My mother is usually the one who is too "uptight," but even I, at 28, was offended.too many thrusts and obviously sexual over tones. The last two shows were fabulous though and we all enjoyed them. The jugglers and Big Band/Swing Show were remarkable. The talent these people possess is amazing. Embarkation and debarkation went smoothly. We drove to the port and parked in the Dolphin lot on the right before you get to the ship (lots of signs-can't miss it). They charge the same rate as the Cruise Terminal, but your entire group travels to the ship together with the luggage. It cost $45 for the four-night cruise. You could pay additional if you desired covered parking. We arrived at the Dolphin lot around 11:30 AM and were to the terminal and checked in by 11:45. They wouldn't allow boarding to begin until noon, so we sat down at a table and pulled out our cards. We hadn't gotten started very well when boarding began. We packed up and got right on the ship. We went to our stateroom to drop off our carry-on bags and headed to the buffet. This was actually the best welcome aboard buffet we had experienced. It didn't take us long to navigate the ship and feel comfortable with our surroundings. We then went up top and played a round of mini-golf. We were glad we played when we did. The course is bumpy and would have been near impossible with the ship moving. Besides, the rest of the trip the course was crowded with people. Disembarkation went just as smoothly. Since we drove and stayed in low category cabins, we were almost last getting off the ship. We set up in the card room and played games for the two hours instead of sitting around bored. Once our color was called, we went through customs easily and made it back to our waiting vehicle in a very short amount of time. Everything was simple and straightforward. In short, if you aren't accustomed to luxury liner cruising, you will enjoy this ship. I can only imagine how enjoyable a Mediterranean cruise on her would be.