Last year my husband and I went on our first cruise. We earned the trip as the LuLaRoe incentive trip. It was an amazing experience! Here’s my review of the Carnival Splendor.
Review: Carnival Splendor
This was our first time cruising and just stepping onto the ship we were overwhelmed. The boarding process was simple enough – it was made more difficult by being part of LuLaRoe but I don’t blame that on the cruise line.
When we got on board we went and found our room, we boarded pretty early and it was already ready for us. I like to board early and take advantage of the extra time while in port to tour the ship.
We were in an interior cabin – it was larger than I expected it to be. There was a king size bed, a closet, a desk and a small bathroom.
So, you all know, I’m all about the food. The ship did not disappoint. I’m cheap so we only ate at free restaurants.
If you haven’t been on a cruise before, there is food constantly. Many people don’t realize that you can eat in the dining room for free – not just the buffet.
The buffet was good – nothing spectacular but plenty of choices, especially for Sean who is hard to please.
The dining room was really good. Almost everything that I tried was amazing, and I tried a lot. One tip that newbie cruisers don’t know – in the dining room, you can order as much as you’d like, just order it all at once. If you want five steaks, go ahead.
The dining staff was spectacular. There was entertainment a few nights – think dining staff dancing and singing – for some reason it made me think of Beauty and the Beast with the staff dancing around. We loved our wait staff so much that we went to the same table every night so that we could have them.
Because this was a chartered cruise, not all entertainment options were available. We tried out some of the available options and had fun. Be sure and check the paper that they put in your room each night – it will tell you what is available the next day so you can plan out the fun!
The best activity that we did was a scavenger hunt. It required us to take photos with different items and people around the ship. It was fun and also gave us a chance to see parts of the ship we hadn’t before.
Sean enjoyed some time at the Casino – I didn’t try it much but he had some winnings.
Excursions and Ports
For this cruise, we stopped in three ports – the Cayman Islands, Cozumel, and Belize. There was a scheduled fourth stop in Mahogany Bay but due to weather, the ship was unable to stop there.
The Cayman Islands
In the Cayman Islands, we swam with dolphins and stingrays! It was amazing, and one of those experiences I think everyone should do at least once if you can.
We boarded a bus and took a quick ride to where the dolphins were. We got some safety instructions and then hopped in the water. The trainer is very close to you the whole time and explains things so it’s easy to understand.
A quick tip – if you wear glasses or want to wear your sunglasses, bring a strap to hold them on. They don’t allow you to wear any glasses without a strap and I’m sure it’s cheaper to bring one then buy one there.
There are two different “tricks” that the dolphin does with you – one you grab its fin and it swims you through the water. The other, it puts its nose on your feet and pushes you.
After we swam with dolphins, we boarded a boat and took a short trip out to the sandbar. We got into the water and there were tons of stingrays swimming around us.
The guides showed you how to touch them. Sean was more keen on touching them than I was.
After that, we boarded the boat for a quick trip back to the dock. You could grab a snack from the cafe and then board the bus back to the cruise ship.
In Cozumel, we took a ferry across to mainland Mexico. We went on an underground cave tour.
The cave was amazing – don’t take this excursion if you’re claustrophobic, don’t like water or bugs. We followed our tour guide down underground into the cave.
We were able to see natural formations and spent about an hour underground. The tour guide was very funny – telling us jokes the whole way. She was very patient, especially when we were unsure of where to step or how to do something.
Tip – if you are taking this excursion, bring a good pair of water shoes. They will make you wear some of their borrowed ones if you don’t have good, hard soled ones.
After the trip through the cave, there was a lunch of traditional Mexican food. After lunch, they bussed us back to the beach where we had time to spend about an hour on the beach before boarding the ferry back to Cozumel.
In Belize, we decided to go see the Lamanai Ruins. These are not as famous as some of the other ruins but they are a shorter trip which is why we opted for them.
You board the bus – it’s a long ride – about an hour by bus. The trip through Belize was pretty awesome though and the tour guide told us about the history and culture.
Next, you get off the bus and board a smaller boat. The boat ride was pretty short and speedy. Once there, you begin the hike into the ruins.
Tip – it’s a long hike. Bring water, comfortable shoes, and sunscreen.
Once we got to the ruins we were able to see some of the smaller ones and climb to the top of a larger one.
I loved learning all the history, both of Belize and the ruins. This was a definite must do – choose at least one of the ruins to go see.
After that, we took the boat ride back and had a traditional lunch. Then back on the bus for the journey back to the cruise ship.
I think cruising is amazing! Sean and I both can’t wait to go on our next one. The Carnival Splendor was a good ship, we didn’t have any issues while on board. We loved the staff and the food. The excursions were amazing. I highly recommend booking a trip.