Carnival Splendor

019290c1352a6975f2e3ce4dcd0dbd4834232922deQuite a stressful 24 hours! We were out of our Caribbean Princess cabin by 8am and had a last breakfast overlooking the waterways of Fort Lauderdale. We could feel the heat and the humidity already. Soooo hot. We were off the ship at about 1045 and went down to the large luggage hall to claim our bags and then pass through US Customs and Immigration. We had to have a porter for all our bags. There was quite a queue. I suppose it took us about an hour to get through.
We had to get to the Hilton Marina hotel where we were booked overnight. We got a taxi from the rank and although the meter read 7$, he wanted 20$. Had a bit of an argument but in the end just paid him. The Hilton was a madhouse. There was a children’s Tai Kwon Do tournament on; a huge number of people checking out to get on Princess plus a whole load of people checking in to get on Carnival Splendor. The room wasn’t ready so we plonked down in the lounge and just tried to block it all out. Finally got our room about 230 so not too bad. The room was fine, no complaints there at all other than that it was the first room after the lifts and there was a lot of noise from people – I think Tai Kwon Do mothers – coming back quite late at night after celebrating by the sound of it.
We walked down the road to a sushi restaurant for dinner. It was nice but pretty expensive.
Bob woke up at 430am and for some reason misread his watch and thought it was 630. So he got up, put the lights on and made us both some coffee. Then we realised….. Of course there was no going back to sleep after that. By 9am I was absolutely exhausted!!! We lay around in our room till about 11am and then called for someone to help with the baggage. By 12, we gave up and ferried it all down ourselves. There is a shuttle that runs from the hotel to the cruiseport and we just caught it as we got down. Not at all impressed with the Hilton. Wouldn’t recommend anyone stayed there and we certainly wouldn’t go back. Thank heavens it was only one night!!
When we got to the Carnival cruise terminal there were already a lot of people there dropping their baggage and checking in. How to put this?? Let’s just say that they weren’t the usual cruising crowd … We were expecting it to be a younger crowd and largely it was. But we were possibly the only people without tattoos, and I felt perfectly sylph like. There were some BIG BIG mamas! Over 3000 people, all very noisy and ready to PARTAY…..
The check in process was chaotic but thankfully pretty quick and we were aboard by 115. The ship interior is unbelievable. There is a lot of pink and gold. Really, a lot…. The atrium is about 9 decks high. Everywhere is glitz and pink!!!!! A reggae band was playing at deafening volume in the atrium which was crowded with people piling into the cheap cocktails. We couldn’t go to our cabin at this point and lunch was being served up in the buffet, so we went up there. We emerged from the lift, blinking into blinding heat and sun, crowds of people around a large pool, drinking cocktails and another reggae band playing at top volume. We found the buffet which is very large and has a good range of food on offer including grills, fresh pizza, burgers, Indian food, salads etc. Felt better after a bit of lunch and especially when we found the tandoori oven bar on the aft deck near the adults only pool, which was much quieter.
After lunch our cabin was ready and we were very pleased with it. Large with a full couch and a nice big window. Plenty of storage space. At 330 we had lifeboat drill which was the worst I have ever experienced. Very badly organised and we were all herded out on deck in the heat and had to stand there in 4 deep rows for 45 minutes listening to a briefing. On every other ship we have sailed on, you go to one of the large lounges and sit in comfort for it.
Once it thankfully ended we went up to the spa. We bought a cruise long couples pass to the spa and wanted to pick it up. Its an amazing facility. We have access to the private thalassotherapy pool, herbal essence showers, ceramic hot beds and chairs etc and mineral springs. Just beyond it is an area called The Sanctuary with lovely hammocks and day beds. We’ll be in there a lot. Possibly all the time! LOL
One great coincidence. When we were standing in line waiting for the lifeboat drill we noticed a couple standing next to us. They were very familiar and at first I thought they’d been on Princess but then they said hello and we remembered they’d been on the Aurora World Cruise and the Arcadia Half World with us!!! They had come over on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship, were now on Carnival and like us going home on QM2. They were a bit shellshocked too. I’m sure we’ll get used to it and all will be fine!
Our bags arrived at the cabin by about 530 and we got unpacked. Always amazes me how easily it all goes away.
Tonight, we met another very nice British couple who were also on Princess and they asked us to have dinner with them. The restaurant was really gorgeous – two storey, and with comfortable tables and booths and good lighting. The food was excellent. I had calamari for starter and then a very good steak – really thick cut meat. Bob had an Indian thali which was just enormous and so good. I must say the restaurant was quiet and we have begun to feel more settled in. I am fighting off Bob’s cold so after dinner we turned in. It’s still so warm outside that people are swimming in the pools. Hopefully tomorrow we will be able to join in!