On Board – Briefly – The Carnival Splendor From Los Angeles To Mexico
Well, I’ve had my first cruise ship experience.
Kind of anyway. (I’ll explain that in a moment.)
I had never before been on a cruise or a cruise ship (other than the permanently docked and historic Queen Mary). I have always preferred my holidays to be mostly land destinations, where I could move around to different areas to suit my mood and the crowd. I did not necessarily want the crowd to move with me.
I always felt that – despite their massive size – cruise ships would be a bit confining and what if I didn’t like the passengers on board (say it was mostly elderly people or groups of married couples, for instance). Then I would be stuck with them for several days. Although I suppose with 3,000+ people that those things hold now, I could find some people to hang with that fit my personality and style.
So when I had the chance to go on board the Carnival Cruise Lines Splendor, I jumped at it. The cruise line was having an event for press and tour operators to officially open its new passenger terminal in Long Beach and we were invited to go on the ship for lunch in one of its restaurants. Afterward, as passengers were coming on board for their cruise to ports in Mexico, we would have to leave the ship.
So here’s my initial impressions of it, tho keep in mind it’s a mere snapshot – a selfie, really – based on my limited time on Splendor.
My first though was that of “hey, this reminds me of being in a Vegas casino.” There were several lobby bars, colorful decorations and then – you guessed it – a casino! The casino even had that old Vegas stale smell of cigarette smoke. I was not the only one to note this, by the way.
We went to a restaurant, a sit-down one and not one of those famous cruise ship buffets I’ve heard so much about, and it, too, reminded me of Vegas.
It looked like one of those casino buffet restaurants, which is kind of like a ballroom or a place for a wedding reception rather than an intimate dining experience. There’s nothing wrong with this, mind you; I’m just saying I kept thinking I was in Vegas.
The food, I must say, was excellent. I started with lobster bisque, which strangely enough did not have any bits of lobster in it but had plenty of lobster flavor. The filet migon was fantastic. At first glance it appeared to be a bit dry but the taste was sensational. Here, I was impressed.
The house wine, tho, was far from splendid (tip: go for the red and not the white).
By the time our lunch was over, the passengers began to come on board and it was here I was most curious about – the crowd. After all, to me it’s the other people on board that would determine whether or not I would have a great time, not a good piece of meat in a restaurant.
Overall – and keep in mind, this is the smallest sampling possible, one trip on one ship – I was not impressed. Frankly, they looked like the typical people you see in Vegas casinos playing the slot machines. They stuck to their groups and did not mingle with other passengers. There were a lot of families, too.
Now, if I had seen waves upon waves of fun single people making mad dashes for the bars and several good-looking single girls – say, a parade of blondes on leave from the Swedish ski team – then my impression would be far different, of course. But I did not see either.
What I saw was not enough to deter me from taking a cruise but I decided that just to be safe, I should go with a group of fun friends that I could either hang out with or peel off if something (someone) came along to divert my attention.
I’m sure that a Carnival cruise to Mexico would be boatloads of fun regardless, but it’s always nice to stack the deck (or decks) in one’s favor whenever possible while on vacation.