We took a weeklong cruise along the Brazilian coast, including Rio, in February 2014. Because this was an American cruise line, we never suspected that this is a cruise aimed at Brazilians rather than Americans. Out of 2000 passengers, only about 400 were English-speakers. Most folks who spoke Portuguese had little or no English proficiency. Both of us are experienced cruisers -- about 25 apiece -- so we chose to roll with the situation, but others might find it upsetting. In addition, this was the most disorganized cruise I've been on. The embarkation was a nightmare that took way too long. On the first night, there was no one to show us to our table in the dining room, so we wandered around 10 or 15 minutes until we found it. Even the waiters didn't know where the tables were unless it was a table they served. This was not an expensive cruise -- $900 -- but the air fare was $1300. We would have liked to get a little more for our money.
We booked a cabin on the Splendour of the Seas for the Feb. 16-23, 2014, cruise down the coast of Brazil, including Sao Paolo and Rio. Because Royal Caribbean is an American cruise line, it didn't occur to us that another language might be ;paramount on the cruise. But this is a cruise in Brazil for Brazilians, who speak Portuguese. Few speak much English, and few English-speakers know Portuguese. Out of about 2,000 passengers, 400 were English-speakers, and that was touted by the cruise director as the highest number they'd ever had. Some of the activities, such as exercise classes, were in Portuguese only. This isn't terrible, but Americans should know this before booking this cruise. In addition, the cruise was not well-organized. There was no one to show us to our dining table on the first night, so we had to wander around until we found it. Then when we did, our only tablemates were two ladies who spoke only Portuguese. The embarkation was a nightmare and took way longer than it should have. I've been on 25 cruises, including some considerably less expensive than this one, and I have neverexperienced this level of disorganization. The whole experience wasn't terrible, but it was less than we expected from Royal Caribbean, which we have sailed on before without these problems. The cruise itself wasn't expensive, but the air fare was, so be warned. I didn't hate this experience, but I would never take this cruise again.
Mediterranean 8 night cruise on Splendour of the Seas
My husband and I were on the May 26th sailing of the Splendour. A little about us - we are professionals in our early 30's - no kids yet - 2 prior cruses in the Caribbean on Celebrity. This was also our first time to Europe. With frequent flyer miles we arranged a free flight into Venice.
We boarded the Splendour about 11am on the 26th. We had every intention of checking in, dropping off luggage and going back into town but since we love cruises, we found ourselves by the pool bar and meeting friends from San Francisco. First impressions of the Splendour - nice, but no Celebrity Galaxy or Century. Not as clean or nicely maintained as the Celebrity ships. We quickly made friends with our pool staff bartenders - Lukas from South Africa, Allan and Marcio. We met another couple and looked forward to the next week ahead!
We were seated at the late seating - 9:15pm. We prefer the late dinner so when we get home from the day ashore we can relax or have a drink before rushingto dinner. One note, all the brochures and info stated 2 formal nights, 4 casual and 1 smart casual. There were actually 2 smart casual nights, not 1. Dinner was OK for the week. Again, hate to compare but not nearly up to the standards of Celebrity. We had to hail down the drink server and always ask for water instead of the ass't waiter just re-filling. This was the only disappointing part of our trip and because of it, we will probably not sail RCCL again. To give a glaring example, my husband ordered two appetizers on the final night of the cruise: risotto and soup. Only the risotto came. I'm sorry, but if you can't get the orders right ON TIP NIGHT, something is very wrong.
Anyway, we spent most of the evening in the casinos and exploring and making friends. There is no craps table but we were more than happy with the slots, roulette, blackjack and Caribbean poker. We did purchase the RCCL 12 drinks for $39.99 card which was very easy and a good deal. Also, we found MANY Americans. We thought it would be mostly Europeans and were pleasantly surprised. The ship is considered an American ship and accepts USD in the casinos. You can cash in Euros for USD but you cannot exchange USD for Euros as they are not allowed to carry. All tipping was in Euros for the tours so be sure to get some at one of your ports or before embarking. The tours are all day and long and barely time to find a cash machine.
Day 1 - Dubrovnik - Beautiful Port. Very hot. A tip, the steps around the wall were quite slippy, and very steep for the unfit to negotiate.Watch out for queue at entrance to walled city as this can become congested.
Day 2 - At Sea - where do I start? We went to bingo (and picked up a $150 jackpot!)..Then I entered and WON first place the slots tournament (another $150 and T-Shirt, oh and a trophy) .My husband entered the blackjack tournament and made it the final round and didn't end up on top but did win another T-Shirt. Then went to the Art Auction and finally sat by the pool having drinks (I am Swedish and very fair so the sun is not my friend - need to have other activities to keep me from burning). We packed and went to our final dinner with our wonderful table and then headed off for 'farewell' drinks with friends from the week. I believe about 2am we were winning more money at the casino as they were getting ready to 'close'. Most of the ship was asleep but you have to make the most of it while away!
Day 3 - Mykonos - Loved the cobbled streets with the blossoms overhanging buildings which were all beautifuly maintained.
Day 4 - Kusadasi - before starting the cruise we booked a tour from a local company called Trans Balkan Tours. we can't say enough great things about them and the tours they provided. guide was waiting for us at the port, ready to begin our day. i requested that we try to avoid the ship's buses, and they did everything possible to make sure this occurred! it was a pleasure to enjoy the same places that the ship offered at our own pace, staying as long or as short as we wanted for a fraction of the cost! the fact that we were "alone" made it much more personalized. Our guide was very knowledgeable and friendly. we will most definitely use them on future cruises and from comments made from our group, i can assure you they will also!
Day 5 - Santorini - because this route arrives here on monday, the ruins at akrotiri are closed. the only tour available takes you to the picturesque town of ia (or oia in some books). visit the town on your own --- don't bother with the tour. this is one of the two big regrets of our cruise. this tour took us to the highest point of the island, the profitis illas mountain, where you can see both sides of the island,
Day 6 - Corfu - Waterpark experience awsome if you are young at heart.We did this on our own as cruise company cancelled due to lack of numbers.
Day 7 - At sea - we needed this time off at this point. we were just about "ruin-ed out" and needed a break. we took the tour of the galley that the chef offered and had massages in the beauty salon. the dinner that night included beef tenderloin and lamb chops --- both were excellent and we celebrated over a bottle of champagne our last evening on board with two other couples we had become fast friends with.
Day 8 - Headed home from the ship. We decided to get transfers from the ship to the airport at the last minute through our travel agent - what a GREAT decision! I am amazed at the organization and speed at which we were taken off the ship and onto the waiting coach buses. So worth the $19/per person cost. We checked out bags at Venice and since we were connecting in Heathrow, they actually checked our bags through to Newark! This was British Airways and we were then getting on a Virgin flight. Apparently, that is standard now to avoid having to re-claim your bags in London and then re-check. Saved so much time since we had to get from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3. Our flight from London was delayed an hour but they upgraded us to Business Class for no good reason so no problem with that!
All in all, the trip was beyond our expectations! We made some wonderful friends and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Unfortunately, having cruised in Celebrity a few times, we are spoiled and RCCL did not even come close to the service and cuisine that Celebrity provided. We are very, very 'low maintenance' people but in the future, will spend the extra couple of bucks and sail on Celebrity. We heard too many complaints from other people about the dining room so it was no just 'us'. Our stateroom attendant was EXCELLENT! The bar and casino staff were wonderful and really made this an adventure we will never forget!
After happily sailing on the Rhapsody of the Seas across the Pacific we booked on the 7 day cruise from Venice.
The ship was showing its age with water damaged prints on the junior suite walls and dented and scatched cabin furniture although its external appearance was good.
It was run as a 'fun'ship for holidaymakers, much like the early P&O short cruises in Australia-quantity rather quality of the food and services. The guest entertainers were quite good but the ship's dancers and singers were the worst we have seen on any cruise.
With the bigger cabin and bathroom we still enjoyed our trip up until the lunch of the second last day of the cruise. Then I was served a large piece of water glass in the middle of a salad. The actions of the Waiting function were to deny the event although there were nine witnesses and to later hint I may have put the glass in the food.
Since returning to Australia I have received a full apology and the offer of $100 off my next cruise but I feel it was 'too little, too late'
The Splendour is going tosail around South America next year so the south american waiting staff should feel more at home with Portugese rather than battling with English.
I was served glass in a salad. It was a piece of broken water glass about the size of a cent coin. The ship went immediately into defensive mode and a waiter inferred I must have placed the glass in the food. After raising the issue with senior ship staff it was accepted they had an OH&S issue and that I was not trying to sue them.
We docked next day so I had to take up the issue with the company in Australia. I did eventually receive an apology and an offer of $100 off my next cruise.
Not good enough so they have lost five cruise tickets and my patronage in the future.
We cruised the Greek Islands on Splendour of the Seas from Sept. 26 to Oct.3 out of Venice. It was our first Royal Caribbean cruise and it probably wont be our last.The service crew and ship were all outstanding and after some shabby treatment from Carnival we are now converts.
We were lucky enough to notice a price drop after we had made final payment and ended up with a $660.00 ship board credit and got upgraded to a Jr. suite.
We took the 4 hour drive to Toronto on a Thursday and flew out on Air Transat on the Friday to arrive in Venice via Montreal at 1:00 P.M. on Saturday. We used the R.C. transfer were met outside luggage claim and boarded a bus for the port. After a 20 minute trip we arrived at the pier. We simply unloaded our bags from the bus and a lady put some tags on them and away we went to the ship leaving our bags with her. Having just spent 10 hours on an overnight flight the details are a little blurry but I do remember filling out some forms whilewaiting in line. I think they were health related but since they were in Italian I’m not sure. I also know that we had preferred boarding because we were in a Jr. suite. This part went very fast and there was champagne and pastries for us before we boarded. I can see my watch in the boarding photo and it says 2:25 so that’s when we boarded.
Departure was set for 5:00 P.M. so we had lots of time to explore the ship. Though this ship was built in ’96 she seemed to be in great shape. Just a word about our cabin, a Junior suite. It was nice to be upgraded but I don’t believe I would pay for one. There just isn’t that much difference from a balcony cabin aside from preferred boarding and a bath tub. Our cabin steward ,Bruno from Brazil , was outstanding and very professional. Besides taking care of our every need he offered valuable advice about each of the ports we visited.
After the now life-jacketless boat drill we set sail. Tug boats actually tow the ships down the Qiudecca Canal and out to sea. I assume this is to limit damage to the shore from the ships’ wake. This has to one of the most spectacular sail-aways in the world. We stood spellbound on our balcony watching this vista unfold until we were in the Adriatic. We went to the dining room to arrange for a table for 2 and found out that we already had one. We over heard people trying to get times for My Time Dining and it seems that this is actually Their Time Dining. People were asking for certain times and were being told that time just doesn’t work. I think this plan is a dud.
We found the food in the dining room very good to excellent and the service outstanding,especially our waiters Iliu from Romania and Roderick from the Phillipines.
As for the ports,it would be hard to pick a favorite,each was wonderful in it’s own way.The only port we booked a ships tour was Santorini. This was only to take advantage of the bus to the top of the island and so avoid the cable car line ups.
All the other ports are easily seen on your own unless you want to see Ephesus from Kusadashi. Even there we had booked an independent tour guide at a fraction of the price of the ships tour.
We returned to Venice very early in the morning and were of the ship before 9:00 A.M. The disembarkation procedure was one of the most efficient we have experienced. The shuttle from the ship to Piazzale Roma dropped us off literally at the door step of our hotel (Santa Chiara). We dropped off our bags and had the day and evening to explore Venice. The next day we caught the bus across the parking lot and were at the air port 20 minutes later. Back in Toronto at 9 that night .
All in all this was one of the best cruises we have ever taken and I recommend it highly to anyone wanting to see the Mediterranean. Just be sure to spend some time in Venice before or afterward.
This was my first cruise and it was truly wonderful. All crew and staff were very friendly and helpful especially the Stateroom Supervisor (Marcus), the Stateroom attendant (Angelique) on deck 2 and the Chief Housekeeper. The food was exceptional and the Waiter, Assistant Waiter and Head waiter in the King and I Dining Room were great. We had table 77 for the 6.30pm sitting. The Entertainment Director and his staff were very helpful (especially Vicky) and the DJ Savio was Fantastic. Poolside attendants were also great especially Kalish.
We had booked a Junior Suite for 2 adults and one child. The stateroom was adequate. There were plenty of drawers and wardrobes although the wardrobes were very dark inside and could do with an internal light.
The bedding, carpets, sofa and chairs were clean and fresh. The dressing table was large with plenty of mirrors and storage space, but they were looking rather tired.
I can cope with that as long as everything is clean -- which is was.
We were on deck 8 and did get lots of noise from people walking above. We also had a couple of mights when high wind whistled throughthe balcony and made a huge racket keeping us all awake. However if we hadn't have had the balcony, we would have missed the dolphins and a fantastic lightening storm and pouring rain on our last night. We could have gotten any other view from the deck above. When the rain came the public were told to go inside and were not allowed back on deck until it had stopped.
The pool in the Solarium and outside were both salt water.
There are 2 jacuzzi's outside and 2 in the solarium. We used the gym which, although small, had a good selection of equipment. For a charge of $10 you could do the spin class, which was always busy.
The pitch and putt was well worn and bland but we still played. The rock climbing wall was busy at times, but the staff were very encouraging and didn't hurry anyone. The wall was open many times during the week and once a week they would open it at night, which was a totally different experience -- great fun.
The entertainment was good in 42nd Street and the bands that played in the lounges and on deck were very good.
My 15 year old son was rather bored as there wasn't really that much for him to do.
I met some truly interesting people on the cruise and made a few friends. It was nice to see that the crew members were so multi-cultural as were all the passengers. I can truly say I had a dream cruise and would recommend this cruise to all of my friends. Thank you all once again.
Shore excursions were available although quite expensive. For some of the port calls like Santorini and Kusadasi we booked private tours in advance. We contracted with local tour operators.
PORTS OF CALL Venice, Italy: The highlight was Venice and I would advise anyone sailing from Venice to go out a couple of days early and have a good look around, because it's wonderful.
Dubrovnik, Croatia: Dubrovnik is easy walking around the old town, although the walk around the old city walls is worthwhile but quite energetic.
Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey: Our group of six toured Ephesus with a guide that Denizhan (www.transbalkan.com) had arranged. We had the best tour with him -- better than in any of the other ports. The guide took many pictures of us with stunning views as backgrounds.
Santorini, Greece: We had a fabulous time on our tour in Santorini. Booked a private tour from Anna (www.santorinidaytours.com). Our guide took some great pictures and she did a terrific job in tailoring the tour around our needs, while at the same time making sure we saw all of the island's highlights. We truly enjoyed it.
Corfu, Greece: We took the Paleokastritsa and Corfu town tour which first took us to the resort area of Paleokastritsa where four busloads of tourists visited a small 12th century Greek Orthodox monastery. We saw the Greek Orthodox church of St. Spiridon in Corfu. People commented that Corfu didn't look like Greece. It doesn't have those old whitewashed buildings, and it has a strong Italian and French flavor. There is a picturesque old town and a great old fort jutting out into the sea.
All in all, the cruise was fine -- a small, clean, if tired ship with a friendly staff.
There isn't much for teenagers to do, so I wouldn't really recommend it for older families.
You do feel the engine and movement on this ship.
I am 58 years old and have taken 14 cruises. This review is meant for people like me who constantly puzzle over which cruise line to book, based on Princess, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and Holland America. I have sailed on Princess 4 times, RCL 4 times, Celebrity once on the Century, and never on Holland America.
My most recent cruise was with my grown daughter on The Mercury Jan.16 to 23rd 2000 Western Caribbean with ports of key West, Calica, Cozumel, and grand Cayman, with only two days at sea (not enough!) First a comment about this itinerary at this time of year. While warm enough at 78 to 81 degrees, we escaped the prior week with cold tamperatures and 15 foot seas. The eastern or southern itinerary would have been a better guarantee, I would think, of warmer seas and air.
It's probably most helpful, without giving you a detailed rundown of every last aspect of the ship which can easily be found in other reviews, to instead compare my general impressions of the Mercury with my last sailing on Royal Caribbean's Splendor of the Seas, and also mention in passinghow this ship struck me in comparison with her sister ship the Century, which I sailed prior to RCL's takeover. Celebrity is billed as a cut above. Not necessarily so.THINGS TO LOVE ABOUT SPLENDOR:
1. The Splendor's gorgeous, much-loved centrum , a natural meeting place, surrounded by shops. This is lacking on Celebrity ships. There is instead a lobby, albeit a very attractive one, but lacking in glamorous ambience of a true centrum.
2. The Splendor's huge indoor Solarium with its splash pool, hot tubs, classical music, roman luxury decor, and pizza parlour was the place we headed after every day in port. On The Mercury there is instead only a small indoor pool at aft, no hot tubs, and without the lofty design and beauty.
3. The Splendor's entertainment, whether headliners or broadway shows, were excellent. On the mercury, on the other hand, the headliners were great, but the broadway shows lame, and my daughter refused to attend another.
4. The Splendor's passenger talent night is always one of the surprising hightlights of the cruise. On the mercury, there was none. it was cancelled due to non-participation. No doubt this was influenced by mercury's policy of never announcing anything, leaving your only source of info the daily cruise journal. This lack of announcemnets had other ramifications for me as well. (read on)
5. On the Splendor, the captain addresses passengers daily from the bridge - not to be missed - with details of our voyage and often bits of humor. On the Mercury, silence. On Splendor meals are announced with a series of soft bells and a wish for a bon appetit. I have grown to expect and like this cruise detail. On Mercury, silence. On Splendor at the Welcome Captain Party, the captain makes an interesting speech with details about the line and a joke or two. On the Mercury, a very dour captain says about two sentences. Very disappointing for a welcome party.
6. Splendor's food was consistently good. On Mercury, when it was good, it was very good, but it was not consistent. Lunches in the dining room were uniformly awful, pasta was inedible, and desserts were inconsistent. I think that corners have been cut here. Food was fresh and served hot however, and beef was perfectly cooked.
7.. RCL ships have lots of greenery whereas on the Mercury this is lacking. RCL's Pool deck is pretty and designed well On the mercury, there seems to be this odd space around the pool which does nothing and would be better used for either lounges or greenery.THINGS TO LOVE ABOUT MERCURY:
1. On the Mercury's aft pool deck, behind the palm grill was a lovely area with umbrella chairs for meals with a stunning view of the ship's wake. One deck below, was a beautifully quiet, narrow deck for sunning with partial shade at times of the day. perfect!
2. The Mercury's SPA thermal sea water pool, with a an extra charge of $15 per day, was a treat for sore muscles. Especially nice if you wanted to be out of the sun and noise of the pool deck. However, on Splendor, the solarium hot tub, which was free, worked just as well for me.
3. The Mercury's Palm Court Grill on the pool deck was spacious, airy, and pretty with 4 serving stations so there were never long lines. A very nice touch here was linen placemats on the trays and the fact that there was always a waiter on hand to carry the tray to a table, and there were always tables! the dining area was partitioned for a feeling of intimacy and it was great. Frozen yogurt was served at tea time and was marvellous!
4. Mercury has 600 fewer passengers, hence more space. There were always vacant seats in the theatre, in fact often a lot of them.
5. Mercury's very good cabin soundproofing . I don't want to make too much of this owing to the fact that our cabin was on the sky deck (the highest) and so may have been unusually quiet.
6. One of Mercury's pleasant entertainment perks was an archipela group who sang at random around the ship delighting everyone.
The most disappointing thing about the Mercury for me was that I had expected the same exquiste food that had been served on the Century, which was not to be. Secondly I was looking forward to the same fabulous, two tiered dining room elegance. Another disappoinment. On the Century the entire aft wall of the dining room is soaring cathedral windows and the centre of the dining room dominates. On the mercury, the centre had been sadly encroached upon by the expanded tiers, leaving the wall of glass diminished and the soaring feel gone. For that alone, I would choose the Century in a heartbeat over the Mercury.
In summary, both are lovely ships, gleaming and immaculate with a different cruise experience. All in all, my personal choice would be RCL over Celebrity, a surprise even for me. The only Princess ships I have sailed on were older ships, not a fair comparison, apples to apples, with Splendor versus Mercury. I would love to hear from anyone who has sailed a great Princess and can compare it to my experience.
Re ship tours: One further note for anyone going to Grand Cayman. Don't bother with the ships' snorkeling. To the right of the pier half a block away sits Eden Rock where there are lockers, equipment rental for $8, and a fabulous dramatic site only yards offshore with easy step entry. Similarly at Cozumel, you can share a cab for a five minute drive to Chancanab Park, enter for $7 and rent equipment for $5 and do everything at your own pace in relative peace. The ocean reef here is pleasant with step entry, and the beach a treat! Re sea-kayaking In Key West - watch the weather as wind and chop makes for a far less that relaxing experience. This was okay, but really all you do is paddle around and through a mangrove island at a very high cost for a brief bit of solitude. (Xcaret, at Calica ..by comparison is a huge cash grab. )
Just returned from a seven day cruise to Europe and the Mediterranean. Splendour of the Seas is a wonderful ship. Our cruise started in Venice, Italy. My wife and I arrived in Venice two days early and stayed at the Rialto Hotel on the island. We took a water taxi from our hotel to the port. We left the hotel at noon and arrived at the port around 12:20. Once inside the cruise terminal it took us ten minutes to check in and get our sea passes. By 12:30 we were on the ship and upstairs in the Windjammer Café eating lunch. Our room was not available until 13:00.
The ship underwent an overhaul last August. The Windjammer Café was completely redone. They added Ben and Jerry's Ice cream and Seattle's Best Coffee on deck six. You can also get Seattle's Best at most of the ships bars. The entire crew was wonderful; the bartenders were fun and would always be willing to have a conversation with you. The dining room wait staff was great. Our team was superb. The executive chef put together a great menu for our cruise and Ican say there were always at least three good choices for dinner.
The food was great.
Entertainment was awesome. We saw a magic show, Motown show, Argentina Gauchos, Female singer from Scotland, and the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers. The Cruise director did a wonderful job of keeping a steady pace. He was everywhere on the ship, and kept the passengers jumping.
Some new changes on the ship are: the solarium has a buffet from noon to 2am. You can get pizza, hamburgers, hotdogs, salads, and sandwiches. Outside the windjammer café you can always get coffee, ice tea, and soft serve ice cream. I highly recommend Royal Caribbean and My wife and I have been on the larger ships, but Splendour was just the right size. When we arrived back in Venice, it took us less than five minutes to leave the ship.
The entire crew and staff did a wonderful job of keeping everyone in the loop, and made sure everyone had a great time. The ship is in great shape for being 11 years old. It looks much newer. The hotel staff went out of their way to please us. My room steward was always chatting with me, and doing little favors for me. I rate this vacation a solid 10.
Our cruise was delayed due to a medical emergency that took place on the prior cruise. We should have boarded by 1:00pm Thursday afternoon and be sailing for 5:00pm. We did not board until 11:45 pm. The ship left dock after midnight. We stood in line for hours, with no place to sit, nothing to eat or drink. It was after midnight before we got to our room, and then our luggage was misplaced. Our room numbers were changed which caused the problem with the luggage. It also gave us problems in the dining room, the table numbers were changed, so they made us switch tables with other guests. Of course, it also delayed our trip to Cozumel. We didn't get there until 10:00 am instead of the 7:00am advertised time. With the late arrival at Cozumel, everyone was trying to leave the ship at once. We were packed into a very small area waiting for tender to Cozumel. There were no RC employees in sight as we waited in line, once again, for a very long time.
Royal Caribbean gave each guest a $20.00 credit to use on the shipfor the delay. I called and spoke to Royal Caribbean and they said that they are not planning any additional compensation for the delay. I feel that is totally out of line. We paid for a 4 day cruise, and got 3 days and a miserable day of waiting.
Royal Caribbean said that the delay was beyond their control. A medical emergency is beyond their control. But part of the delay was due to computer problems with the terminal that we had to leave from. Their terminal in Galveston is only used during the day, and it is not lighed for a nighttime sailing. So we had to use Carnival's terminal. The trouble with the computers and terminal is something that they should have a back up plan for. And we felt totally abandoned by them, we heard nothing while we were waiting, and had no offers of even a drink of water (until about 15 minutes before boarding).
Even though a monetary compensation would not compensate us for the miserable time we spent waiting on Royal Caribbean to get us boarded, as well as the delays on all the other activites, it would have been a step in the right direction. It would show that they actually cared about their passengers.
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 online, 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.