Monday, October 7, 2013

Boarding the Splendour of the Seas, Eastern Med cruise 2013

One of the great things about arriving to the port city a day early, is that there is no need to rush or feel stressed on the morning the cruise departs.  Dave and I slept in and didn’t even start moving until nearly 8:00.  We packed up and had a small breakfast at the hotel (it was good by Italian standards, the Italians being known for skimpy little breakfasts) and we did not want much anyway, so it was just fine for us.  Dave had some yogurt with granola and I had toast.

By 9:30 we were driving towards the cruise port.  The port has no address, per se, and our Navi had no idea what it was, but Google Maps knew right where it was and Dave has an EU wide data package, so we were all set.  We had prebooked a parking space at the port.  With our printed confirmation, we were able to drive all the way up to the taxi drop off point to drop our luggage, and then looped back around and parked only steps from the cruise terminal.  Here is a photo of the lot our car is in, taken from up on deck.  WOW that was easy (if only LEAVING had been so easy--but that is a story for another post)! 

We seemed to arrive at nearly the perfect time.  There was no line at the platinum level and higher repeat cruiser check in desk, and by the time we were checked in (with boarding card 4) the first group was already boarding.  Dave made a quick trip to the restroom and by the time he was out, we were already able to board (and it was not even 11:00 yet!).  They let us on so early that even the drink stations were not open for the first 15 minutes or so, but it was awfully pleasant to sit up on deck anyway and it gave me a chance to take some photos of the ship without too many people in them:

Deck 10 jogging track

The main pool

The Dog House (serves hotdogs and Bratwurst most afternoons and most of the day on sea days)

Solarium (covered pool area for adults only)

Still the solarium (there are two hot tubs, one on each side)

The seating area for the Park View Cafe snack and sandwich area, located near the solarium pool (but open to all ages).  

After about 30 minutes, staff came out from Windjammer buffet and let us know they were opening for lunch a bit early and to go on in.  The food was very good and fresh.  We recalled that the best food we have had on RCI was on the Splendour last year.  They seem to have an excellent head chef who really runs the kitchen well.  I had fried chicken, mashed potatoes, carrots and green beans.  I felt so American.
After lunch, Dave headed back off the ship to buy two more bottles of wine from the liquor store that I had noticed on the inside of the security check point.  This gave us 4 bottles total for the week, just about perfect to enjoy a glass before dinner every night.

At 1:00 we were able to go see our room, and drop off our carry on bag.  We had the smallest, most interior (Off an inner hallway between the two other main halls) and cheapest room possible.  We have been jokingly referring to it as “the broom closet” for weeks now.  We were actually pleasantly surprised by how manageable it was.  We really had no problems fitting all of our belongings into the closet and dressers, and even had space left to stow away all of the minibar items that had been left cluttering our vanity. 
  So, this is what the smallest rooms on the oldest and smallest RCI ships look like (sorry there are no photos of the bathroom.  It was really small and I could not even get a good angle where you could actually see anything).

Cabin 2735: looking into the room from the front door, while standing between the closet and bathroom.

And, looking the other way: closet on the left, bathroom on the right.

The mini bar clutter that we hid in a dresser.

and the note I left for the minibar stocker, so I would not have to have charges removed when they thought we used it all up (plus, then we'd have new stuff cluttering the vanity!).  They seem to have appreciated not having to hunt for the missing items (note the thank you).

We had taken out swimsuits in our carry on and decided to take a little dip.  Most people must have packed theirs and been waiting on luggage; we had the pool and hot tub completely to ourselves. 

We had a pretty relaxing afternoon, just wandering the ship, taking a spa tour, etc, and going to the required muster drill of coruse.

After the drill, we decided to head up to the Viking Crown Lounge and watch the sail away from in there, rather than out on deck with the masses and in the wind.  As soon as we walked in, we heard someone say “I remember you!”  Turning around, we saw that the bar tender, Luann, had been the bar tender in the concierge lounge when we sailed the Splendour last October.  We had been in the owner’s suite, rather than a broom closet, on that cruise so we were in the lounge nightly.  We were STUNNED she would remember us.  She must have 100s of guests in a month.  Not only did she remember us, she recalled that I always drink Coke with a lot of ice and with lime wedges, and she asked about the kids and recalled that Marika always ordered milk and Rio ordered Shirley Temples.  Talk about a WOW moment!

The lounge was offering $6.50 martinis (every evening from 5:30 to 9:00, worth noting!), so Dave and I were both happy to sip our drinks and watch the lovely sail out from Venice 

(technically we were on the “bad” side, but it was still lovely, and we were happy to be there and knew we would have the chance to see the other side when we sail the Serenade with the kids next month.  Here are some photos from the “bad” side of Venice:

The evening show was just so-so for us.  A strong and talented couple doing balancing and lift and ariel things.  It was much like other shows that RCI seems to always have, and not the best, or the most interesting music, etc.  Fine, but not our cup of tea.  We DID find it interesting, that for the first time ever for us, German was the “second language” on board, meaning that the majority of non native English speakers were German speakers and most things were translated to German.  It is usually Italian of Spanish.  Being a holiday week in Germany, there were many Germans on board.

At dinner, we were seated at a large table with 8 of those Germans.  At first we were worried that this seating would not work for us.  Two couples did not even look up or respond when we wished them a good evening and tried to introduce ourselves upon being seated, and the third was very busy trying to calm a fussy infant.  The fourth couple was seated a bit later and were very friendly, and after the baby finally fell asleep, the parents were friendly as well.   Thank goodness, because for the first 15 – 20 minutes we were really thinking we would have to change tables.  We would rather have to sit alone than with people who seemed to be set on ignoring us.

It was pretty late by the time we finished dinner.  We checked the singing in the atrium, but it was not really our kind of music and there were no seats available.  So, we just walked around a wahile to digest and then turned in around 11:30 to midnight.

And so ended our first day on the Splendour.


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