Let’s cruise.

 
Carnival Splendor Mehico Cruise:
As a first time Cruise traveller,  I rate the cruise experience 8/10. I would recommend a cruise vacation for family, friends and couples.
The price of just my cruise was $715 per person for a Balcony State Room. Please don’t be cheap and opt for the windowless rooms; having a balcony makes all the difference.

We embarked from Long Beach Port and it was done flawlessy. Porters are taking your luggage, clerks are checking you in and security is efficient. Once you are on the boat, nothing matters except your Sail & Sign card; a card linked to your personal profile and credit card. This card is to be used for all purchases, entry throughout the ship and identification. (Go to the casino and ask for a free lanyard, it comes in handy!) Don’t lose it!


Aesthetics:
The interior design was excessive and beautiful. It was dorned in golds and purples with abstract shapes throughout the boat. It was enhanced with natural lighting during the day and led lights that sparkled the staircases in the evening. A variety of art paintings were showcased a long the walls.
The bedrooms was standard and in unflattering colours of orange and brown. It seemed that it may need newer some things but not quiet yet. The highlight of the room was the window with its vast ocean view.  The bathroom could have been out of an RV; the shower is tiny divided by a ridge to the floor and don’t think about having more than one person getting ready at once.
The decks were spacious and entertaining. It was always kept in a very clean and appealing manner with tanning chairs ready to be used at any moment. It boasted 4 pools and multiple whirl pools equipped with a slide and a children’s water park.
The dining room was formal but not enough. I feel perhaps this is because it’s geared towards ‘families’. Again, decorated in nice patterns and colours but missing the Wow factor.

Food/Drinks:
Well isn’t that why we all came on the cruise in the first place? To eat!? With the cruise package, it included unlimited (and I mean UNLIMITED) food and beverages of lemonade/ice tea/coffee/tea. 
The ‘Lido’ deck is where you wanted to be for the food. This is the 24hrs deck equipped with the food you crave: sandwiches, pizza, fries, burgers, ice cream etc.
It also served your breakfast/lunch buffets that featured Mongolian, Western and Indian cuisine. The spread of foods were satisfying as it had just a little bit of everything. The complaint here is of course the line-ups. Though they had two separate buffet areas, it was crowded! I suppose when you are feeding 3500 people it could get  a bit hectic.
Dinner was a fancier affair where you dined in the restaurant. You had 3 servers that accommodated to your needs. The menu offered appies, entrees and desserts. You may order as many as you like from each category. As many as you like. Bear in mind that you do have a 2hr seating limit. Interesting foods offered were Escargots, Frog Legs and Shoulder of Lamb. Otherwise there was your norm, steaks, chicken, lobster etc. I was impressed most with the dessert selections and the amount of chocolate they had in various forms. The food was presented beautifully and tasted good but again, not ‘wowed’ as if this was the very best thing I’ve ever been blessed to eat.
Please use your 24hrs Room Service, I only did so once during my trip but wish I did more. They offer great selections and there’s something awesome and out of routine having food sent up to your room.
The drinks were expensive, $8+ for cocktails. But hey, you are on vacation are you not? This is where it loses to the resorts. Just a few rounds and you’ll be building up quite the tab on your Sail & Sign card. Ask for this program, if you order certain drinks they offer you a $5 match play for the casino tables which can help (or not) make your drink money back.   Oh as well, if you need ‘souvenir’ glasses, the ‘drink of the day’ allows you to take home glasses.

Entertainment:
I am not sure where you can fit in ‘tanning’ time. There is so many activities offered on the boat that it is hard to be bored. Every night you are given a schedule of the ongoings for the next day hour by hour. One minute you are participating in a Scavenger Hunt (which we won!) or attending a Bingo game (which I lost!). There are shows to watch, contests to participate in or dancing classes to attend. It’s great for individuals who have a hard time deciding what to do.
For the active ones, there is a Sports deck with an outdoor track, basketball court, mini-golf and volleyball. Also let’s not forget about the modern beautiful gym with the treadmills facing towards the ocean.
In the evening, you can visit the casino  (age 18+), the nightclubs (surrogated by ages), lounges of comedy shows, live Karaoke (featuring YOU!), arcades and outdoor movies.
I liked this form of vacationing as I can choose whether I want to participate or just grab chair to relax.
Also, please note that I have a theory it depends on which week you go,  the activities will be planned differently. For example, if you were going during Spring Break, I doubt there’d be as many Bingo games scheduled.

Services:
I really enjoyed the service I received on the boat. The wait staff, casino dealers and room attendants all called me by name and remembered my preferences only after merely a few days. Our room was cleaned twice a day and was always left with cute towel animals. (C’mon, how can you resist towel animals?!).
The cruise automatically deducted $10/day to tip out the various staff that meet your needs. It is your choice to adjust this amount as you choose.
They had photographers every night with different background scenes to take your photos. The pictures are free to take but if you want to buy they become expensive at $21 for 8×10. I think that is a great service, how often do you get to have your picture taken with your loved ones professionally? It’s not just one or two shots either, the photographers make the effort to make sure you get some great photos.  ( I should know, I ended up purchasing 3!)
During the dinner service, the servers put on a dancing show for us and I thought it was delightful because one moment they are serious in their jobs and the next they are breaking it down for your entertainment.


Ports:
Originally we were suppose to be at 3 ports but we ended up spending two days in Cabo and one day in Puerto Vallarta. I didn’t participate in any excursions but my family members that did say they enjoyed it immensely. Yes you can find cheaper excursions when you port and have the locals offering you better prices but I don’t recommend it. First of all, they are not associated with the boat. If you were harmed or injured, the boat will have no responsibility given that you are in a foreign area. 
The Cabo port was a bit annoying as we didn’t port directly but had to take turns taking tenders out to the port which caused a bit of delay. It was hot, really hot. There is a lot of tourist souvenirs and many places to drink! Walk around to make sure you try them all! My family and I ended up at Lovers/Divorce beach by a sketchy water taxi that basically threw us off the boat. The beaches are beautiful and clean with a great view. Truly a ‘I am on vacation’ spot. The next day we walked around town more and found hilarious bars that offered free internet/long distance phone calls if you bought a drink!
Puerto Vallarta was a bit more run down and we had a chance to see more culture than we did in Cabo.  We ended up at a beautiful beach that had umbrellas and chairs set up for you to enjoy and kick back. THIS felt amazing; drinks service right at the beach with the sun beating down. Only con was the constant volume of locals trying to sell you their goods.
I was unhappy that the ports time was short. For instance, we only got to spend about 6hrs in each port which I don’t think is truly enough but I do recognize the vacation is more about the crusie than ports.

Best Memories:
My first would probably be being surprised with Champagne, flowers and strawberries by my boyfriend to celebrate our 1 year. The romantic in me just swooned at our surroundings, what we were celebrating and the gesture that is so sweet. (The boat has all the services you need for every occasion, birthdays, anniversaries etc).
The second would be dinner time with the family. I love seeing my cousins ordering 3 entrees each and laughing/sharing food with one another while we are dressed up to the nines.
The last would be simply doing nothing but staring at the vast ocean from the balcony. It created in awe in me that there is so much out there I don’t know but at the same time it’s so peaceful.

Overall:
– Go on a cruise with a group of people you enjoy spending time with
– Book early and in groups to receive a better discount. Ask for rooms on the same floor as one another.
–  I was lucky I didn’t get sick but still bring Gravol or Pepto Bismol just in case!
– Keep track of your spending as they rack up quick. It can be viewed on your room’s tv
– Take the stairs!! Elevators take forever and trust me you need the exercise after all that eating
– Time flies by fast so nix the sleeping! ( I can’t believe I am saying that).
– Eat only foods you like and not everything or else you’ll get full too fast
– Walk around the boat as often as you can as there is many things to see
– Don’t wear a hat near the railing
– Don’t be late for your port!
– Tip generously
– Go with someone you love, it’ll be unforgettable.

Happy Cruisin’!

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