Posted by Nancy D. Brown
Out on the deck, the San Francisco bay spit water from the ocean floor and the skies above. A gray day in March, we were leaving all things familiar; Alcatraz, the Pyramid building, Coit Tower and the Golden Gate Bridge, heading for a two day cruise to nowhere. The 113,300 ton Carnival Splendor was pulling away from berth 35. I could hear the sea lions barking in the distance as they lounged like drunken sailors on the docks of Pier 39.
This was my first experience on a SuperLiner and the 3,006 passenger Carnival Splendor dazzled me with its magnitude and luxury amenities. In the interest of transparency, it should be noted that I was a guest of the Carnival Cruise Lines, along with several journalists and a ship full of travel agents. The company was introducing travel insiders to its largest ‘Fun Ship’ waiting to launch its maiden voyage from Long Beach, California to the Mexican Riviera. Beginning April 5, the Carnival Splendor will offer-year-round seven-day voyages to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas.
As a newbie cruiser, I couldn’t help feeling a little over-whelmed with the sheer size of the ship. With 13 passenger decks and 22 themed public rooms and areas, I got lost several times making my way from my cabin on the 10th floor to the main lobby. Fortunately for me, the spa was located one floor above me and the food courts were one floor below, by the Lido deck. If my kids were with me, I’d know to find them in The Cool. Designed for 15-17 year olds, The Cool has music, big screens for Guitar Hero and a karaoke bar. Parents will appreciate the children’s playroom, outdoor mini-golf, a game room specifically for tweens (thank you) and the three story outdoor water slide. There’s also an internet cafe for those experiencing social media withdrawl.
At 21,000 square feet, the health and wellness center is as big as my house. I was fortunate to land in a Cloud 9 Spa Stateroom, which entitled me to the use of the Thalassotherapy Pool and Thermal Suite, two complimentary fitness classes and allowed me to book priority spa appointments. Unfortunately, the Spa was too expensive for this writer’s budget. I did enjoy sitting in the heated tile spa seats and looking out onto the Pacific Ocean. Had I been in another cabin, the charge to the spa, including pool and steam rooms, would have been an additional $35 per day.
One of the many appealing features of this Italian-made ship was the international crew on board. With a staff of 1,160, I loved hearing all the different accents. We sailed back under the Golden Gate Bridge, as our cruise to nowhere came to an end. Now that I have aquired my sea legs and I’m no longer a virgin cruiser, it would be nice to let my family in on the cruise ship experience. I think they’d be excited to take a cruise ship to Alaska. Then again, my teenagers would probably be happy with a cruise to nowhere.