Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Supreme Plate Road Trippin' "Carnival Splendor"

The Supreme Plate recently took a little time to experience a 7 day cruise to Mexico, via the Carnival Splendor. The Splendor, a massive ship spanning over 3 football fields that’s able to carry over 3300 passengers was loaded and ready to set sail in just under 3 hours once in port from its previous week at sea. Known primarily as the beautiful new ship that caught fire and had to be towed to safety a few years ago, we were not concerned as we had heard nothing but great remarks from reliable sources who have sailed since that rare freak accident.

We left the Port of Long Beach on a Sunday afternoon, after about an hour or so of getting registered, going through customs and obtaining all the needed id cards for making onboard purchases and getting on/off the ship once in port.
Passengers are kept from their rooms for an hour or two once finally onboard the ship, as Carnival wants to ensure that everything is ready before allowing any of the 3300+ passengers to settle into their “homes” for a week.

Having all of the passengers on deck at one time creates a slight amount of mayhem, that Carnivals attentive staff keeps a diligently trained and watchful eye over. It seems everyone and we mean everyone is hungry 24 hrs a day on a cruise. The good thing about constantly being hungry is that there are various buffet stations that open early and stay open late enough to fill everyone’s appetite. Offering a wide selection of dishes such as traditional staple /standbys like burgers, hotdogs, salads, sandwich’s and the like on over to Tandoori chicken, a burrito bar, chocolate buffet, a traditional Sushi counter and much, much more, The Splendor is ready to fill any appetite at any moment of the day. And if that wasn't enough room service was available 24 hrs a day at the quick dial of the phone. 

The lines for the various buffet stations although long at times, moved rather quickly and you could take as much as you wanted, so getting your fill was never a problem.

Once you get to your room you will find more than enough space to unpack all that you have brought for a weeks stay. We actually over-packed on purpose and still had plenty of room, even after purchasing a lot of things at the various ports in Mexico.

Our state room staff stayed on top of everything we asked for and even things we didn’t ask for. They kept us loaded with cold fresh ice, clean linens and the flyest towel animals we had hoped to see. Being greeted everyday by someone who deals with thousands of people in a month, and having them remember your entire groups names and likes / dislikes is what we were treated too. It was like dealing with family in that aspect instead of having someone act like they were put off by doing their job. A huge thank you to Agung for being around each and every time we looked for him.
View from the room while at sea
You will find a flat screen in every room playing pretty up to date movies as well as having access to a few different news channels, cartoon channels for the kids and the usual junk on TV.
You could also purchase access to the wi-fi network for pretty unfair prices. It kind of struck me as odd how they broke down the fees when everyone already paid to get on the ship in the first place. People who need access to the internet for work while taking 7 days away from their jobs would greatly appreciate something of that nature, especially when its free everywhere else on the planet.

Golden Pearl Restaurant & Dining Area
A few tips for those of you looking to eat gourmet food all day long, you will want to reserve as many spots as you can at the Pinnacle Steakhouse (which costs $30 per person but is worth triple that price,) eat more often at the restaurant where you are served your nightly dinners sit and avoid the buffets during the rush hours. Make friends with the buffet staff as they remain in their position the entire week.

A few passengers were just downright rude to the staff and if you had a connection with those employees, you would find yourself getting fresher food, faster. Now I am not saying that the Carnival staff gave anyone preferential treatment, but when your consistently a jerk to someone, you will get overlooked every so often. A fact of life some people have yet to accept I guess.
When dealing with as many people as this ship routinely does things happen and it is to be expected. What caught us off guard was more than a few times we found hair in our dishes or even worse a large chunk of plastic in the middle of a bowl of Sorbet. These mistakes were quickly corrected and we were given more than one or two apologies, especially when the managers of each location would come to our table and address the concern of the moment.

One of the many highlights of the trip were the times spent dining at the Pinnacle Steakhouse where everything was executed with the utmost of class and precision that you would hope to find on such an elegant ship.

The Pinnacle Steakhouse
Lobster Chowder Amuse Bouche

Filet Mignon & Lobster Tail

Filet Mignon Butterflied

Apple Crisp

Chocolate Sampler (Bittersweet Chocolate Cake, Banana Pannacotta,  Tiramisu & Chocolate Marquis)
Arriving in Cabo San Lucas early was a great thing to wake up too, which allowed everyone two days of much needed onshore activities such as shopping, drinking, parasailing, guided tours and just about anything else you could think up. The heavy police presence at the docks lets you know that no games will be played, especially when it comes to hassling any passengers coming from the cruise lines. The beautiful coastal lines and great authentic food was better than anyone could have expected and after the strong drinks found on just about every corner you were ready to hit the club, but after that we arrived in Puerto Vallarta another welcoming port with beautiful scenery.
Lovers Cove Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas as you approach the shore in a reliable tender
With more bars, restaurants and shops to buy local handmade goods at, Puerto Vallarta is truly a great stop and somewhere everyone should visit at least 3 times during the course of their life. With top notch restaurants such as La Leche, Punto, Casa Corazon and La Palapa all readily available you can’t go wrong taking some time to enjoy the recently rebuilt Malecon boardwalk, which was all but wiped away a decade ago, by stage 5 Hurricane Kenna. 
Malecon, Puerto Vallarta
After a long day of eating, drinking and hauling all of the stuff we bought from The Malecon, we headed back to the boat to enjoy more great food and a showcase of authentic Mariachis and dancers who got down and performed the Jarabe Tapatio, better known as the Mexican Hat Dance. By far the best show of the ship the live band blew away everyone else who performed during the week.

Overall the trip was a complete success by far. Sitting off to the side and watching as the staff were helpful to both the young kids who got on everyone’s nerves after a week onboard as well as the elderly groups of people who rightfully deserve that extra bit of attention was a beautiful thing. It takes a tremendous amount of patience to work on a ship of that nature, where unfortunately sometimes the worst thing about the trip itself is the guests who act pig headed or like they have no home training at all. A huge round of applause to everyone we came in contact with especially those who took the time to ask us how we were doing and if they could do anything for us, other than sell us a drink.

Check back next week for more detailed photos of our shore excursions and all the other good things we got into over the week.


  1. A much better review than i found on any cruise website. Thanks for the honesty.

    Johanna K.
    san diego ca

  2. Im glad i caught the rt for this post. Great info photos and a killer site. Im gonna check back often.

  3. Something tells me you had a great time. Im curious were there any fees after u wrapped up the trip / tips? Pls email me a response if you care too