Carnival Splendor


113,000 tons 952 feet in length 116 feet wide Passengers: 3,006 Cabins: 1,487 Crew: 1,150 Registry: Panama

Quality Rating: 4stars

Value Rating: 5 bucks

Carnival Freedom

Best For People Who Want: Exciting and ritzy nightlife; numerous singles; alternative dining venues; one of the largest ships in the Carnival fleet; spacious cabins for three and four passengers; cabins with balconies; excellent fitness and spa facilities; high-energy atmosphere with varied daytime activities, including abundant children's programs.

Should Be Avoided By People Who Want: An elegant, quiet and relaxing cruise; private areas away from the public, especially children.

Onboard Experience: Carnival Splendor, as well as Carnival Conquest, Carnival Glory, Carnival Valor, and Carnival Liberty are the big sisters of Carnival's Destiny class. Splendor comes in at 113,000 gross tons with expanded children's facilities, comprising a separate children's pool, a mini-movie theatre, and an indoor playground, as well as a 5,500 square foot Cloud 9 Spa, the largest in the Carnival fleet.

There are 22 bars and lounges throughout the 13 passenger decks. Other amenities include an Internet café, four swimming pools, and a 21,000-square-foot health club. The ship has no lack of entertainment of all varieties, featuring the Cinn-A-Bar sing-along piano bar and White Heat disco, along with gorgeous production shows and side-splitting comics in the main theater called Amber Palace.

A host of new features includes all staterooms with flat screen TVs, a spectacular 21,000 sq foot, two-level spa and gym facility, 5,500-square-feet of children's playrooms and other facilities and a mid-ship pool covered with a two-deck-high Sliding Sky Dome.

Inside the Sky-dome is the Seaside Theater movie screen. The 270 square foot, 12-foot-high by 22-foot-wide screen utilizes the same technology featured in large stadiums and New York's Times Square and can be seen during both the day and evening hours. In addition to superior picture quality, the state-of-the-art entertainment system includes a 70,000-watt sound system, providing concert quality sound, even outdoors.

In January of 2009 this ship is scheduled to go to Long beach, California, to sail regular 7-night cruises to the Mexican Riviera.

Decor: Carnival's ship designer, the renowned Joe Farcus, chose "Splendid Things" as the theme for Splendor. Each of the rooms is dedicated to an event or idea that exemplifies the concept of "splendid", especially "splendiferous" things that people covet, such as jewels or precious metals like gold. The main thing that is different on this ship from other Carnival megaships is the mid-ships Pool Deck. The other is the exceptionally large spa area offering massage, facials, flotation therapy and other body treatments, even acupuncture!

Public Rooms: The Splendor Lobby is the ground floor for the atrium where guests find the shore excursions, information desk and a small stage for non-imposing background music. Behind the musicians glass elevators rise to the top deck, and forward of those are the entrances to the main showroom "Splendid, Splendid" the showroom so nice they... well you know. The entrances to the Black Pearl and Gold Pearl restaurants are also here on deck three as well as the "Pink Pearl" conference room and the "Art Room".

Deck four has the top floors of the dining rooms, the library, the Board Room and "The Web" Internet cafe. The Robusto Bar is one of the more elegant watering holes, although the decor is the main attraction - not much activity actually happens there.

The "Promenade" on Deck 5 includes the Oceanview (wine bar), a kid's area called Club O2, The Royal Flush Casino, The Grand Piano sing-along piano bar, The Cool for combo music and the Red Carpet Dance Club disco. El Mojito is like being in Havana, Cuba. wrap a cigar label around yourself and lie down. There are lamps from Cuba and other authentic artifacts on the walls, and table bases and stools in the shape of cigars. It features jazz music and dancing before dinner

At the aft end of Splendor is the El Morocco Show Lounge inspired by sets from the movie Casablanca. The coffee Shop features special coffees for a small price accompanies by free pastries.

Other diversions include the various boutiques selling a wide range of duty-free jewelry, perfume, and alcohol along with the usual cruise items.

Cuisine: Splendor offers attractive breakfast and lunch buffets ,including an excellent salad bar and made-to-order dishes. For those with a sophisticated palate, the new menus feature chateaubriand, rack of lamb, and lobster, along with chocolate desserts. On the other end of the scale, delicious pizza and Caesar salad are available 24 hours a day. Delightful specialties can be found near the Prometheus Lido including the Sur Mer seafood station and an Asian food station that regularly rotates its dishes. There's a complimentary sushi bar on the Promenade Deck in the evenings, and vegetarian and low-salt items on every menu and at all stations.

Restaurants: Carnival's Total Choice Dining provides for two seating times for a table in the midships (Black Pearl) dining room at 6:00 pm and 8 p.m. Of the two main dining rooms, the Gold Pearl, located aft, is framed by three walls of windows so it boasts better views. Splendor is the first Carnival ship to experiement with "anytime dining". Guests can arrive at anytime and in groups of any number. The Maitre D' will attempt to seat them at a suitable table.

The Pinnacle Restaurant is located forward on the Spa deck, at the top of the Atrium. There is a glass floor one can see through, looking down some 10 decks to the stage far below. The friendly atmosphere is encouraged by the attentive service for tables seating between two to six people. There is a $20 service charge per person, and it is worth it.

The sunny and spacious Grand Buffet restaurant, which features amazing views of the sea, offers breakfast and lunch buffets. Alternatively, you can enjoy a meal served alfresco poolside in the Splendido Lido Pool area just forward of the Grand Buffet, or the Linear Lido Pool area aft of the grand buffet. For those who prefer to dine when the mood strikes them, this poolside Lido restaurant offers buffet dinner between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m without reservations. Breakfast is also available in the Chic dining room. For those looking for a quick snack, the hamburger and hot dog stand, located in the stern pool deck, serves food throughout the afternoon. There are self-serve frozen yogurt and ice cream machines, and multiple lemonade, coffee, and iced tea stations. The Splendor's pizzeria has a great variety of pizza types on offer in addition to Caesar salad, both served 24 hours a day. There is also a deli for lighter lunch choices and new to Splendor is the Rotisserie Grill upstairs from the Grand Buffet. The room service menu features sandwiches, desserts and breakfast fare.

There is a Coffee Café; on the Promenade Deck serving delectable sweets and a range of coffees. The Sushi Bar, adjacent to the coffee bar is open evenings only and serves sushi.

For a cover charge of $30, guests can sample fine wines and dine on the excellent menu choices at Sun King Supper Club . There is a small combo playing behind a tiny dance floor, which proves to be ample for those couples obviously celebrating a special date together.

Service: The staff on Splendor is prompt, well-organized, and prone to showing off, as when balancing trays on their heads while serving dessert. The maitre'd makes a point of learning the names of all couples celebrating an anniversary.

Tipping: All Carnival cruises have a $10.00 per person per day (excluding children under two years of age) gratuity comprising $5.50 for the Dining Room service, $3.60 for the stateroom steward, and $.90 for the alternative dining rooms. This charge can be either automatically added to the Sail & Sign card or it can be prepaid (prepayment is mandatory on the Cruises-to-Nowhere). The purser's desk can decrease or increase this amount throughout the cruise. Tip room service, the maitre d', casino, spa, or other staff as you deem fit. The bar and beverage tabs all include a 15 percent gratuity to the bill.

Entertainment: The main theater, the Splendid Splendid Show Lounge, presents outstanding production shows featuring beautiful costumes and Vegas-quality light shows, but even the smaller venues have great acts and music, particularly the sing-along piano bar. There is a Caribbean band on the pool deck. More interactive activities include numerous bingo games, ballroom dancing, karaoke, and "game show mania".

Cabins: Another all new feature on Splendor is the collection of Spa Cabins located within sprinting distance to the Cloud 9 spa; largest in the Carnival fleet. The special staterooms feature access to a private (to the staterooms) outdoor deck with a small pool, hot tubs and private cabanas where one can summon a masseuse.

While the décor in the cabins is somewhat reserved, they are some of the largest available on any cruise ship, and many are fitted with lovely private balconies. The suites and ocean view staterooms come with complimentary bathrobes and a mini bar. The cabins located on the outside are 220 sq. feet and include a coffee table and plush leather sofa. The inside cabins are 195 sq. feet in area and are great for families or large groups of singles due to their pull-down berths that provide extra sleeping space. Families might prefer the 230 sq. feet cabins located next to the children's center. All the large bathrooms include a shower (the suites are the only cabins with tubs), basket of toiletries, and hair dryer. The cabins come standard with a color TV that includes ESPN, CNN, and movies. There is plentiful storage space, with three closets and a several drawers. Cabins for those of special needs are available.

Children's Programs: Splendor's children's program for youngsters aged 2 to 17 is about 30% larger than even the largest Carnival ships. At 5,500 square ft. of play area and over two decks, kids are split up into three groups: 2 to 11's get an activity room with toys, games and puzzles, a computer game room with PS2's, Xbox's and what not, and a dance area.

Circle C for the 12-14 year old "tweens" is oddly placed next to the Black Pearl dining room. It is just large enough to work as a meeting place.

Teens in the 15 - 17 age group get Club 02, their own dedicated areas on the Promenade Deck.

Club 02, gaming consoles aside, has an impressive D.J. booth and looks remarkably like a small adult nightclub, with a soda bar that almost invites the "can't wait to grow up" crowd to unveil the hip flasks. It is even close enough to the adult disco to share space with it, with only the video arcade between the clubs (there's access to the arcade through both as well).

Fitness/Spa: The gym's 21,000 sq. feet features a thelassotherapy pool and is full of treadmills, stationary bikes, stairmasters, rowing and hydraulic weight machines, and of course free weights. The strategically placed equipment allows you to enjoy the lovely panoramic views offered by the floor-to-ceiling windows. For runners, a lap on the jogging deck, which surrounds the smokestack, is equivalent to 1/11 of a mile.

Attire: Casual wear is standard during the day. For the two formal nights, men can rent a tuxedo, though most men opt for dark suits. The ship has men's and women's accessories available to rent for these formal nights. Jeans and shorts are allowed in the dining room, but they are not really recommended unless you just don't care how people see you.

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