We recently returned from a seven-night Croatia and Greek Islands Cruise on board the Splendour of the Seas. The itinerary included the ports of Piraeus and the beautiful ports of Mykonos, Rhodes and Dubrovnik. The cruise departed and returned to the port of Venice. We had chosen the air/sea option, flying from Manchester airport (United Kingdom). At the airport, Royal Caribbean Representatives were on hand to answer any last minute questions. The flights to and from Venice, departed on time, they were charter flights and were comfortable but the food served during both flights was poor.
On arrival at Venice airport, again there were a large number of RCI Representatives to direct passengers, after they had claimed their luggage on to the waiting coaches, for the short transfer to the port of Venice. At the docks, luggage is checked in for the cruise at an out-building and passengers then walk to the terminal building a short distance away for check-in. Even though there were large queues for check-in these moved swiftly due to the efficiency and professionalism of the staff on duty. If passengers' check-in in advance by the "Sea Pass" system on line, the process is even swifter. After check-in and security procedures, passengers then board another bus that takes them to the ship. If passengers have mobility difficulties, the port of Venice is not sympathetic to those guests with special needs or those with walking difficulties.
The Splendour of the Seas has now been in service for 10 years. Despite its age, the ship is very well maintained and is spotlessly clean throughout. Seating I n public rooms is comfortable and cabins though compact have all the necessary facilities to match any four-star hotel on land. The one drawback is that they do not have refrigerators, but ice buckets are replenished twice daily during cabin servicing. The beds are really comfortable.
The staff on board are friendly and eager to please.
Food in the main restaurant is well presented, varied and served by a staff who take pleasure in their work. They will go the extra mile to cater for any special requirements and to satisfy guests needs. The restaurant itself is bland and lacks character and warmth.
In the less formal, buffet style restaurant, whilst the standard of food and presentation has greatly improved since our last cruise on this ship, the food does become repetitive. There is only the availability of the basic fruits, very few exotic fruits such as mango's, papayas etc. The choice of cheese is limited. The selection of breads and deserts is excellent. Fruit juices are noticeably watered down and again limited in selection. A number of self-service vending machines were out of order for the duration of the cruise.
Entertainment on board was poor. The Production Shows were very loud and certainly not of the standard expected. During the 1st show, some 28 people walked out of the theatre, which was never full, during the show. On one particular night there was no professional show or individual headliner entertainment. The three items on offer to guests were a game show, karaoke or a Greek Party.
If we had wanted to see a Love and Marriage Game Show, we could have watched one on television at home.
If we had wanted Karaoke, we could have visited the local pub.
A Greek Party Night – not everyone's cup of tea.
The musical and vocal groups on board were good.
There are far too many on-board unnecessary announcements for Bingo, Art Auctions etc, creating a sort of holiday camp atmosphere rather than the ambience of a Four- star cruise ship.
The entertainment programme lacked focus and direction.
There are numerous bars throughout the ship, serving reasonably priced drinks. The drinks were well presented and full of flavour.
Prices on board as in $ USD. Be aware, especially guests from the United Kingdom. Royal Caribbean ask on the form that you sign and present to them for on-board credit, if you wish them, to convert, at the end of the cruise, your total billing from $ (USD) to £ (GBP). We said no, but they did it anyway, but will change this on demand. They convert at the Royal Caribbean Rate and not at the current bank rate. Thus the difference in the Royal Caribbean Rate and the then bank rate at the time, for my account was $30.00 (USD) in their favour.
Guests should note that on this itinerary, first seating dinner is at 6.30pm and second seating is at 9.00pm. The show for second seating guests usually commenced at 11.15pm, although on two occasions, second seating guests had pre-dinner shows.
Another thing to watch out for is that no two ship clocks on board show the same time, some were up to three-quarters of an hour out. I reported this twice but nothing seemed to be done about it.
With years of experience behind them, Royal Caribbean offers and provides a good cruise experience for the masses. If you require individuality and a more personal level of service with finesse, you will probably be disappointed. This seven-night loop cruise is an ideal way to visit the Eastern Mediterranean, and provides a good experience for the monies paid.