This is a review of my 6th cruise, this one on board the Carnival Splendor. You may have already read my reviews of the Carnival Elation, Carnival Mircale, Royal Carribean Oasis of the Seas, Celebrity Solstice, and Celebrity Sihouette. If you have, well thank you!
Now, unfortunately, this is not going to be a pleasant review. This was easily my worst cruise. It was a fail on many fronts. My first five cruises were so great that I hardly know where to begin writing this review.
The Short Version
Unless there are very specific circumstances, I recommend against this ship. I will clarify those limited reasons below.
I’ve created a separate article with more Carnival Splendor photos.
The Cruise Itself
This was an eight day cruise out of New York City. The first two days were spent going down to the Caribbean and the last two days were for returning. Unfortunately, the weather was rough during the first two days and most of the people on board were either sick or not feeling that great. Once the ship got to the Caribbean, the weather was great and everyone felt better. During the final two days, the weather was kind of cold and you wouldn’t really spend time outside.
The ports of call were:
- Orlando, Florida/Port Canaveral (There’s no actual port in Orlando so you take a bus to Disney. We went to Cape Kennedy Space Center which I highly recommend.)
- Freeport on Grand Bahama Island
- Nassau, Bahamas
Seriously, this was such an unmotivated and uninspired group of staff members. They are there to make things fun, yet they were clearly just going through the motions, waiting for the cruise to end. When cruise entertainment staff are excited, it becomes infectious and cruisers have fun. At some point, it’s difficult to even fake your interest and it showed with the staff on the Splendor.
A few exceptions were DJ Fayder who I was impressed with. DJ Ryan was ok. Steven was an excellent speaker (such as when introducing events). The rest were, well, I hate to say it, but they were “meh.”
Cruise director Malcolm “Woo Woo” Burn was missing something. He was clearly not interested in what he was doing. Maybe he was burned out (no pun intended!), I don’t know. He just didn’t have “it” like other cruise directors.
Even the main staff members throughout the ship appeared to be so miserable. Clearly this was a shipwide issue.
Of all the cruises I’ve been on, there appaered to be far fewer things to do on this ship. What’s worse is that given the bad weather during the four “at sea” days, people were just getting bored. You know things are getting bad when you would rather be home than on a cruise vacation to the Bahamas. I know it sounds like a #FirstWorldProblem but hey, I booked the cruise for a fun first world adventure, not the crap I got.
The stateroom was among the best I’ve had. I liked the spacious layout and commend Carnival for it. The bed was comfortable.
That said, the crappy, tiny Viewsonic TV with it’s poor screen resolution and quality was a shame. I rarely watch TV on vacation but with bad weather and not much to do on the ship, I came back to my stateroom a number of times to just veg out and watch TV. The channel choices were limited which isn’t a big deal but my computer screen is larger (and better) than the TV in the room.
Also, the balcony was touch small but I’m being nitpicky on that.
The food was one of the best parts of the cruise. I’d give it a 4.5/5. I found the options in the dining room to be really worthwhile.
The main nightclub was fun and had a good layout. If you’re looking to have fun at a “club,” this was a good choice. I spent a lot of time at the Punchliner comedy club. Of course, there’s a casino as well.
Organization (Or Rather, Disorganization)
This ship was very disorganized. It’s only becuase I’m an experienced cruiser that I knew as much as I did. Starting with the safety drill where we waited about 20 minutes in freezing cold weather for no apparent reason. We literally just stood there, freezing for twenty minutes. Get it done and let us go inside. Twenty minutes? Unacceptable.
As a side note, if there actually an emergency, do you really think those procedures would be followed anyways? If the ship is sinking, it will be chaos anyways. They said that the Camp Carnival counsellors would bring the children to their parents in case of emergency. As if. Total BS but that’s an article for another day.
Food Stations Organization (Again, More Like Disorganization)
The way food is distributed on this ship is ridiculous. Only a “designer” who knows nothing of user experience and who has little to no common sense coud have designed such a stupid system.
Here’s an example: While most of the people on this ship couldn’t stop eating as gluttons of bacon, sausages, and ham at breakfast, I prefer to stay healthy. Unfortunately, you have to wait in line with the rest of the guests just to get a few healthy options. This was so poorly designed that it bugged me every morning.
I love spas. I’ve been to many both on land and aboard cruises. This was the single worst on-board spa on any cruise ship I’v been on. The staff was phoney. They lied to me several times. The equipment (e.g., bikes and treadmills) didn’t work properly or at all. There was a large container of water with lemon in it. It would have been nice to actually drink it. There were never any damn glasses for the water. Even after I asked, several times, over days, there were never glasses.
It’s the “stupid stuff” like making it difficult to get to healthy food choices and the issues with the spa that get in the way of staying fit while on this ship. I recognize that most of the guests on this particular cruise, having left from New York City, appear to see it as a way to vacation but also pig out like nobody’s business for a cheap price.
This was a Thanksgiving cruise meaning that many people came aboard to spend the Thanksgiving holiday away from home. It’s actually something I hadn’t thought of with respect to children. I like to take cruises that don’t have a lot of kids aboard which leads to a more adult oriented, fun cruise. It didn’t occur to me that a lot of kids would be taken out of school for Thanksgiving week and brought on board. As such, lots of families came on board, clogging the ship with noise.
Should you go on board?
I would only suggest booking a vacation on board the Carnival Splendor under these circumstances:
- The price is about $300-$400 for a 7-8 days
- Your budget is very limited
- You’ve never been on a cruise and would like a step into cruising (although the new Celebrity ships and Royal Carribbean ships have set the bar so high, with so much exciting and fun things, this point may be null
- You live very close (i.e., within a short drive) to the departure port. For example, if it leaves from New York and you live in Manhattan, the NY boroughs or New Jersey
- You have kids who won’t know the difference anyways
- You have teens who will probably have fun at Camp Carnival
I strongly recommend against this cruise under the following ciruiusmtances:
- Kids running around will annoy you
- You will be bothered by unmotivated, unhappy staff
There are far better ships with the potential for a much greater fun experience than the Carnival Splendor. This was my third cruise with Carnival but I need break from this cruise line after this aggravating cruise. Don’t waste your time if you’re going on this cruise to de-stress. If it’s more for just having fun, it could be for you.