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Keith Toyne

Age: 53

Occupation:Computer software support consultant

Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Splendour of the Seas

Sailing Date: May 15th, 2004

Itinerary: Mediterranean Cruise

The only other cruises my wife and I have taken wer of the budget variety with Carnival and Sun Cruises. This we thought would be a step up. Things didn't start very well with my case being left in England whilst I was in Barcelona. We found out later that I was just one of about 44 other cruisers who had lost their luggage. It became quite stressful having only the clothes I stood up for 3 days until I could buy more or until my case caught up with me as it did in Villefranche.

The first thing we found when we checked in at the cruise terminal that the meal sittings hads been changed from 2 siitings at 18:30 and 20:15 to 4 sittings at 18:30, 19:30, 21:00 and 22:00. we had been moved from the 2 nd sitting to the 21:00 sitting so first job was to change this to 19:30. Then we found that on some nights the shows in the 42nd Street Theatre were only put one once at 20:00 and on other nights at 19:15 and 21:00. We thought that being on the 19:30 sitting we would be able to see the shows at 21:00 but we were wrong about that. Each night our dinner took 2 hours to serve. By the end of the cruise we realised it was not the fault of the waiting staff but must have been the fault of the kitchens so when we wanted to see the show on the Thursday evening we had to forego the sweets and coffee. Also we compared the quality of the food both in the King & I restaurant and the Windjammer Cafe with our previous cruises. Sorry RCCL but the budget cruises won hand down. Almost all the food in the 2 main eating areas was usually only luke warm. We were also looking forward to the "midnight" buffets which on our 2 previous cruises had taken place each night but were surprised to find that these did not exist on Splendour apart from the Thursday night when they had one called "The Grand Gala Buffet" at 0:45. Any later and it could have been breakfast.

Anyway onto the ports of call.
Day 1 - Marseille.

OK but bear in mind that it is Sunday so very few shops open (if you have to buy neew clothes). Otherwise quite a pleasant city.

Day 2 - Villefranche.

A very nice town and such easy access to Cannes, Nice, Monaco/Monte Carlo.We did Nice to buy clothes and Monaco/ Monte Carlo but this was busy due to the setting up of the equipment for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Day 3 - Livorno.

A word of warning for do it yourself siteseers like us. The train line between Florence and Livorno is not very reliable and many passengers had difficulty getting back to the ship before it sailed without spending a lot of money on taxis. Be careful about this. If you do want to go to Florence under yout own steam the n go in a group so that if you have to get a taxi back there are otheres to share the cost (£100, $170 or 150 Euros).

day 4 - Civitavechia.

Possibly the best day of the cruise. The ship will not inform you of the following or no-one would book the tours but each Wednesday morning the Pope gives a public mass in St Peters Square where ther could be as many as 100,000 people. A magnificent site. It also proved very easy to get round most of the other main sites in Rome by bus or taxi.

Day 5 - Naples.

Don't bother with Naples but you could get round Pompeii, Sorrento and Capri all in one day if you set off early. Get the train to Pompeii and spend 2 hours there then continue on the train to Sorrento for a few housrs and then take the ferry from there to Capri. At the end of the day return to Naples on the ferry which drops you off at the side of the ship.

Another warning to older passengers on the ship or any ship using Barcelona port. Beware of rogue porters. When we disembarked 2 ladied took the advice of RCCL and aske a porter to take their luggage round to the taxi rank but as they could not walk fast they did not keep up with the porter. When they reached the taxi rank there was no sign of the porter or their luggage and RCCL did not want anything to do with it.

Our cruise was a mixture of stress, dissapointment, great scenery and wonderful sites but it may be some time before we take a RCCL cruise again.

Just to top it off my wife had her hand luggage stolen on Barcelona on the morning we returned home.

I do hope future passengers on this ship experience a better time than se did.

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