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Clay Cracklen

Age: 31 to 40

Occupation:Marketing Manager

Number of Cruises: First Cruise

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Splendour of the Seas

Sailing Date: January 7th, 2000

Itinerary: Circle the Caribbean - 10 day

Since this site was so helpful in determining whether we were making a good decision by cruising (YES) and assisting with selecting the right ship (WE DID) we are anxious to help others in their cruise evaluations.

First and Foremost this was the best vacation of our lives! We’re hooked on cruising and have intentions of cruising at least every couple of years; in fact we’re now discussing taking one for our upcoming honeymoon in January 2001. My fiancée, Susan, for years, was very apprehensive about taking a cruise for numerous reasons that I will discuss in due course. Suffice it to say her fears for the most part were unfounded and she is now a vocal advocate of cruising.

A little background on us so that you have some perspective. We are both in our mid to late 30’s and University graduates. I work as a sales & marketing manager for a software company and she’s a successful realtor. I’m extremely high energy, love to do things and see stuff, and require constant entertaining. Conversely, I can easily get absorbed for hours in a good horror fiction or thriller novel. I think I read 2 books on our 10-day adventure. Susan in a sun worshipper and is content to bake herself and simply relax all day long. She also loves to sleep to the late hours of the morning. We’re not souvenir collectors, are both very practical, and live far below our means. We’re not frugal but are very conscious of value (quality + price). She drinks very little, and I love a good party. We both have an appreciation for the finer things in life and are both good mixers. OK, enough about us. Our intent is too discuss the ports minimally but focus on the ship and shipboard experience. Again, it was an exceptional vacation and we’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Check in at the port took at least an hour because of waiting in multiple lines, therefore be prepared. We noticed that many passengers were bringing cases of soft drinks with them – great idea given that they were $1.50 plus gratuity on board, except at meals when they are free. Don’t bother bringing hard liquor because it’s dirt cheap to purchase it at the duty free on board. For example: 26 oz bottle of Bacardi Rum $8.00 US. Drinks, however, are expensive to purchase on board: Beer $3, Hard Liquor $4, cocktails $4 - $7 plus gratuity. Consequently, here’s my #1 suggestion: bring a large insulated cup and mix or buy mix at the ports, buy liquor from the onboard duty free and mix your drinks in your room (there’s always ice) and you’re laughing.

We had a standard inside stateroom on the B Deck (N2023). The stateroom was comfortable, attractive and functional. Sue complained of a constant urine odor in the washroom but I didn’t notice. Given that the only time you really spend in your room is to sleep, change and shower we don’t see the necessity of spending extra money getting a room with a porthole or a balcony. We just don’t think it would add that much, if any more pleasure to the trip relative to the substantial extra cost. Rooms are pretty soundproof. On days when we had high seas (up to 20 ft) the room creaked, but not enough to disturb our sleep. If you’re a very light sleeper this may be a concern. There’s a safe in the room and we had no concerns about our valuables. We rarely if ever saw our cabin steward and the room was always immaculate and fresh ice available. I called for ice once and it took half an hour to get but that was the exception.

One of Sue’s reservations about cruising was the potential of getting seasick. They offer free seasick pills on board and Sue also brought sea bands. We had high seas for a couple of days (up to 20 ft) and you could feel the ship swell. Although she was a little uncomfortable at times, she never got sick and we speculate the sea bands helped. We did however meet and hear of many people who did get ill including shipboard staff. My advice, if you’re susceptible take precautions. I think the seas we experienced were unusually high for a couple of days so I wouldn’t be concerned. Again, Sue has no hesitation to go on another cruise.

There are more activities then you could ever participate in. Given the variety and plethora of things to do, if you don’t have a good time on this cruise it’s entirely your fault and you should probably consider psychotherapy, as you must be seriously depressed.

The nightly entertainment is fantastic, fun and professional. Every night the cruise director’s staff hosts a game show in the Tophat Lounge that was a lot of fun. The production shows in the spectacular theatre featuring the Wave Revue dancers and singers were also very entertaining and worthwhile. We’ve experienced Broadway musicals, plays and Las Vegas shows and the onboard productions are very enjoyable. Unless you’re standards are exceptionally and implausibly high you should be very pleased with the evening shows. After the production shows ended (11:45 P.M. for our sitting) we typically visited the Viking Crown Lounge which is a disco and danced the night away. Great music and great fun.

The food on board is abundant, delicious and overall above average. We are both in decent shape, are not overweight and we both gained about 5 lbs. Warning – the temptation to over indulge given the abundance and easy accessibility of good food is extraordinary and you do need to exercise self-control. If you’re conscious of your waistline I’d lose a few lbs. before cruising so you don’t need to worry as much while on board. There is a great gym and walking/running track and I’d suggest you use it.

The Splendour of the Seas is a spectacular vessel with the look and feel of a 5 star hotel. You’re definitely living in the proverbial lap of luxury.

We both think the ports of call are secondary to the onboard experience. However, I am a scuba diver and the diving in Cozumel was spectacular – I’d highly recommend it.

The crowd was a real mix, but definitely slanted to an older set (45+). We made numerous acquaintances in a variety of age ranges (25 – 60) and from a variety of countries. In fact we made such good friends with one of our dining companions that we visited with them for a week this summer. We really lucked out with our dining room table assignments. The disco was usually quite full so there was enough young energy to make for a really great time.

I think that’s enough. It was an incredible experience, we have no regrets many very fond memories and great pictures.

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