Number of Cruises: 5
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Splendour of the Seas
Sailing Date: January 2nd, 2005
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
I traveled with my husband, his cousin and wife – all of us are late-20’s and early-30’s. We had a terrific time. The food was terrific, the ship was clean, and the staff was friendly.
There’s a lot of construction in Downtown Tampa, so finding the port was difficult. Once we were there, embarkation went smoothly. Within fifteen minutes of walking into the terminal, we were onboard.
The cabin was tiny, but then again, we didn’t spend that much time in our cabin other than sleeping. We had an adjacent cabin to the other couple that we were traveling with. Nina, our cabin steward, was terrific. The water temperature in the shower was good. There was a good selection of TV to watch – my favorites were CNN International, the sitcom station, and music videos.
It was a very white crowd, not as ethnically diverse as other ships that we’ve been on, which was a bit disappointing. There were people of all ages onboard, from small kids to senior citizens.
This port was clearly manufactured by the cruising industry. You won’t find anything resembling true Mexican culture here, unless you get on a bus. We booked a snorkeling trip through a local vendor. Including transportation to Majahual, a small fishing village about ten minutes away, this cost us $25 per person, as opposed to booking through Royal Caribbean, which would have been $54 per person. The snorkeling was ok, and I think we got some extra time out on the boat.
Here’s the part where we got most frustrated with Royal Caribbean. The night before, we were told that if we get in line between 7 and 8 am, we’ll get right on a tender boat to Belize City. This was not the case. We were on line at 7:45 am. There were a couple hundred people waiting by the time we got in line, so the line went up the stairs up to the third level. It was very disorganized with people getting off the elevator and cutting in front of others. Then, in spite of waiting for a while, they let a couple of hundred people who were booked on excursions cut in front of us. It was rather frustrating. So, we didn’t get ashore until about 8:45 am, barely arriving in time for our tour.
We booked Cave Tubing through www.ecotoursbelize.com because we had read some terrific reviews. The rave reviews were well-deserved. Our tour guide Junior was awesome. I highly recommend cave tubing; it’s a once in a lifetime thing to do. You float in a tube through caves with a headlamp on. Then we went for lunch to Amigos, a local restaurant. Once again, you can book through the ship for $89/person, or through any local vendor for $60/person.
We took a taxi to Paradise Beach, which we were told was free with free lounge chairs. But, nothing is free in Mexico. We either had to purchase drinks or food or a $5 wristband to use the kayaks, trampoline, and climbing rock. That was no big deal. The beach and restrooms were pretty clean.
Gavin, the Cruise Director, was good, other than his annoying overuse of the expression “wooohoo!” On the first night, we had magician Mark Taylor who was awesome. The next night was a show by the dancers/singers onboard. I forget the name, but it’s your standard cruise show of let’s find a lame plot line and throw together a bunch of scenes from musicals so that we appeal to every generation on board. It was done well. Then we had John Davidson, the former host of Hollywood Squares. He was somewhat entertaining. All I kept thinking through the show was, man this guy got old! Next was “Jump, Jive, & Swing” with the singers/dancers doing a little jig for the elders onboard – I fell asleep about 10 minutes into it. We also had Yakov Smirnoff, who of course was funny, but Al Romas, who is less known, was even funnier. The last night was Elaine Lesley, the “International Singing Star” – who??? So we skipped that one. We eavesdropped on the end, which was this terrible, melodramatic version of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”, and were glad we skipped it.
As I work out 5-6 days per week, I was there every day. I was impressed with the facilities. It was clean. There were plenty of treadmills, elliptical trainers, and bikes. There were also a few nautilus-style machines, free weights, stability balls, and mats.
Mmmmm yummy! The Windjammer, which is the buffet, had lots of choices and excellent food. The soft-serve ice cream machines were a nice amenity, though the ice cream was too icy, which I remember from working at a frozen yogurt place as a teenager means that the machine isn’t working properly. The King and I, which is the main dining room, was terrific for dinner. There were lots of choices on the menu, and there was always a listing of vegetarian choices. We gorged ourselves every night. Our waiter was good, but not the most friendly that we’d encountered, possibly because her English wasn’t so good. She would tell us that everything we ordered was a “very good choice” and “good I’m glad you like” when she picked up our dishes.
As a vegetarian, I feel obliged to mention my experience, as it’s a big consideration for me when traveling. The vegetarian options onboard were good and plentiful, even up in the Windjammer, and were far better than my experience on Carnival. However, there are only so many times that you can eat some variation of grilled vegetables on a bed of pasta/rice/starch. I would have liked to see vegetarian options with more protein, like a tofu stir-fry.
Not terribly punctual. On the first morning, we ordered room service to arrive from 9-9:30. At 9:35, I called down and was told they had not received our order, that “The children probably stole it” off of our door. So, we wandered up to the Windjammer. In the meantime, around 9:45 we’re told, our breakfast was delivered, but unfortunately, we had already left. Another day we ordered room service, it arrived toward the later end of the half hour block that we requested.
Though I didn’t plan on encountering them, I was impressed with the security officers on board. They were very professional. The issue that occurred was one involving a single employee, and I certainly don’t hold it against Royal Caribbean.
Debarkation was very smooth and ahead of schedule.