We stayed the night before at a Marriott near LAX and took an Uber to the port the next morning.
The embarkation in Long Beach, a disorganized three-hour lineup in heat, with no water and no place to sit down for the first two hours, was, in retrospect, a foreshadowing of the disappointing trip to come. It was as if Carnival staff had never done this before and was thus more concerned with following an invisible rulebook than doing things sensibly and with guest convenience in mind.
Most of our cruising experience has been with HAL, so at first it was hard to shake off the constant contrast between the Splendor and, say, the Westerdam or Rotterdam. (For instance, who builds a cruise ship that doesn't have a forward-looking lounge, like HAL's wonderful Crow's Nest. Carnival, obviously). As reported elsewhere, the garish pink decor is hideous; it wasn't in style the day the ship was launched.
It took a few days to stop comparing and start regarding the Splendor experience on its own merits, and those proved to be meager.
The interior stench of cigarette smoke is pervasive and extends, thanks to the atrium, far beyond the casino, which was Ground Zero for smokers, to several decks and corridors. (Why couldn't the sports bar have been closed off? Dunno. There was a doorway.) I would have played some casino table games but the smoke was too oppressive. Carnival should enter the 21st Century and ban smoking indoors. There is a more than generous outdoor area for smokers already.
Public areas are kept far too cold. I ended up with a bronchial issue that made me seek attention in the medical office, which is clearly another profit center for Carnival. It is shameful to make people sick and then cash in on their illness. (But, hey, I'm a Canadian.)
The public-address system blasts music at absurdly loud volumes from before dawn. I would watch sunrise out by the aft pool and could hardly hear myself think. Similarly, the entertainment around the main pool at lunch hour is emceed by hosts who use their microphones so cranked that normal conversation by anyone trying to enjoy their food is out of the question.
Speaking of qquestions: Why close two of the most popular food venues (Indian, deli, both excellent) on the aft deck at the end of the afternoon? They would be great dinner options, especially since the buffet is so darn cold. Why are there no Happy Hour deals at the bars (two-for-one beers, etc)?
That said, the 24-hour pizza joint midships is excellent. Food in the MDR was OK, but again no comparison with HAL in terms of variety, quality and presentation. The Sea Day Brunch is worth attending, probably the best "value-for-money" on the whole voyage.
Our tiny interior cabin (7320) had a good bed, good reading lights, only one electrical outlet, but only one desk chair and no couch, so there was no place for two people to sit unless one perched on the edge of the bed. The satellite was out for most of our voyage (during the baseball playoffs and the World Cup of Rugby, no less), so the in-room TV was effectively useless. There is no individual DVD player and no ship's library of DVDs at Guest Services. We were able to control the room's temperature to our liking.
The port visits were a mixed bag. Getting off in Honolulu and Maui was easy, but Guam was a nightmare that evoked the time-consuming chaos of the Long Beach embarkation. Malaysia and Vietnam were slightly better but still unnecessarily arduous. Cruise director Lee was put in the unenviable position of announcing muster points, then coming on 10 minutes later to contradict himself and send passengers somewhere else entirely. (There was a surprising degree of amateurishness about policies and procedures.) Disembarkation was easy, although despite the staggered schedule there was still a massive bottleneck in the Immigration Hall.
As is almost always the case on cruise ships, our cabin crew, most of the bartenders and MDR wait staff were professional and friendly. But despite that mitigating factor, I doubt I will ever sail with Carnival again.
Good bed, good reading lights, only one electrical outlet, but only one desk chair and no couch, so there was no place for two people to sit unless one perched on the edge of the bed.
The trishaw ride was a highlight, as was the visit to the War Museum, which was very controversial with our American passengers. (Obviously Vietnam is still an open wound that won't heal.)View All 104 City Tour Reviews