Carnival Splendor

carnival splendor

The main pool area of Carnival Splendor is covered by a sliding Sky Dome, allowing bathers to enjoy the water no matter what the weather

The July 10 christening of the 113,000-ton Carnival Splendor certainly delivered a spectacle. With the White Cliffs of Dover and Dover Castle as an imposing backdrop, Myleene Klass, a well-known British musician, singer and television personality, pronounced: “God bless this ship and all who sail on her.”

Then Klass sat at a black baby grand piano to deliver a light classical solo. Simultaneously, Christian Rumming, a Royal Navy diver in full scuba gear, shimmied 60 feet up the $500 million Carnival Splendor, smashing the christening bottle against the ship’s bow as Klass’ music reached a crescendo. Fireworks erupted off the top deck and streamers engulfed the guests below.

It was an appropriate beginning for this 3,006-passenger, Splendor-class ship. “We took the name to heart when considering the interiors,” says Joe Farcus, the ship’s architect. “So the ship is filled with splendid things and splendid concepts.”

Entering the atrium, cruisers encounter Carnival’s off-the-wall decor with gold-leaf beams and arches, hundreds of sparkling lights, a black marble floor, and, overall, a copper-and-pink design look. Farcus says he chose pink for its peaceful, non-aggressive nature.

What’s different about this ship from previous Carnival vessels? For starters, the main pool now boasts a sliding Sky Dome. When the weather is sunny, this area is open-air; when it’s rainy or cold, the line simply shuts the dome, allowing light to penetrate, but keeping Mother Nature out.
As a result, the main pool area is now transformed into a comfortable living-room space with a 270-square-foot, high-resolution video screen. Large hanging floral baskets add color and a park-like feel. This space can host events, activities or meetings in any weather. Two whirlpools were moved up one deck and under cover with unobstructed sea views.

In turn, the aft pool area is now a nautical-themed open-air space, featuring a pool and two whirlpools. Check out the half models on the walls; they depict the historic liners Normandie and Queen Mary.

Another sizable enhancement is Carnival Splendor’s 21,000-square-foot Cloud 9 Spa, the line’s largest at sea. Spa guests enjoy a huge thalassotherapy pool, a thermal suite with multiple relaxation spaces, 17 treatment rooms and a well-equipped fitness center.

Near the spa are 68 new spa cabins and suites with Asian decor and rich appointments, a cut above Carnival’s normal cabin decor. Spa cabin guests also receive pampering in-cabin amenities and priority spa reservations.

In the aft El Morocco lounge, so named for the 1930s-era New York nightclub, the stage was moved to a more central locale, providing more flexibility for hosting activities, entertainment and meetings. With an exotic flair and a large dance floor, El Morocco boasts lanterns, palm trees, zebra-pattern sofa coverings and Moroccan murals. It was my favorite public space on Carnival Splendor.

For the younger set, Camp Carnival serves kids 2-11 with an expanded 5,500-square-foot play area, 30 percent larger than similar play areas on other Carnival ships. One deck up is a new kids’ water park with spray apparatus. The ship’s separate Circle C facility is for kids 12-14, while Club 02 for teens 15-17 has plasma TVs and bubbling water tubes. Carnival President Gerry Cahill says more than 600,000 kids are expected to sail on Carnival’s ships this year; six times what the line carried just 12 years ago. Kids and adults alike will enjoy the 214-foot-long Twister Waterslide on the top deck.

As for nighttime shows, the elegant Spectacular Spectacular (so nice they named it twice) show lounge is less garish than some theaters on other Carnival ships. I personally liked its understated gray decor, sparkling blue and gray stage curtain, and such curtain-like design touches as fiberglass folds and curves on ceilings and wall surfaces.

Most of the ship is nonsmoking, including many lounges. Smokers have limited spots to light up onboard. In addition to the casino and one portion of an outside deck, two popular smoking spots are the Robusto Bar, a comfortable Cuban-style lounge for drinks and cigars, and the Our House Sports Bar.

black pearl

The elegant Black Pearl dining room features accents of pearls, spiral horns and oyster shells

Techies who want to stay in touch will appreciate shipboard Wi-Fi and cell phone service. However, we’d like Carnival to relocate the Internet Café, which, as with some previous ships, is literally buried with the only entry through smoke-filled Robusto.

On the dining side, the Pinnacle Supper Club, with a glass dance floor, occupies a new aft location atop the Lido buffet restaurant. Two main dining rooms—Gold Pearl and Black Pearl—feature design touches of pearls, spiral horns and oyster shells. The Lido buffet features robust dining choices. Personally, I couldn’t resist the buffet’s Mongolian grill, where I quickly became a regular. Advise clients to head up the aft Lido stairs for rotisserie chicken.

Carnival Splendor is now sailing 12-night northern European cruises from Dover, England, followed by 12-night Mediterranean cruises from Rome. After repositioning to Port Everglades, FL, in late fall, the ship will operate a series of Caribbean cruises. Between January and March 2009, the vessel will sail around South America, offering 14- to 18-day itineraries. Then, starting March 29, 2009, the ship will operate Mexican Riviera sailings year-round from Long Beach, CA.

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