Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Splendour of the Seas
Ship: 379 out of 500
Accommodation: 142 out of 200
Food: 240 out of 400
Service: 262 out of 400
Entertainment: 75 out of 100
Cruise: 273 out of 400
Overall Score: 1371 out of 2000
Splendour of the Seas Statistics
Size: Mid-size Ship
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean International
Former Names: none
IMO Number: 9070632
Builder: Chantiers de l’Atlantique (France)
Original Cost: $325 million
Entered Service: Mar 1996
Length (ft/m): 867.0/264.2
Beam (ft/m): 105.0/32.0
Draft (ft/m): 24.5/7.3
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel (40,200kW)/2
Passenger Decks: 11
Total Crew: 720
Passengers (lower beds): 1,804
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 38.3
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.5
Cabins (total): 902
Size Range (sq ft/m): 137.7-1,147.4/12.8-106.6
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 355
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 17
Wheelchair accessibility: Good
Cabin Current: 110 and 220 volts
Casino (gaming tables): Yes
Slot Machines: Yes
Swimming Pools: 2 (1 w/sliding glass dome)
Hot Tubs (on deck): 4
Self-Service Launderette: No
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No
Onboard currency: US$
Try this lively mid-sized ship for family-friendly cruising
Overview. Realizing that small cabins don’t please passengers, Royal Caribbean International (RCI) set about designing a ship with much larger standard cabins than in its previous vessels (except for sister ship Legend of the Seas). The (originally glitzy) interior decor was toned down during a refurbishment of the ship in 2011.
The Ship. Splendour of the Seas has a contemporary profile that looks somewhat unbalanced - although it grows on you - and it does have a nicely tiered stern. The pool deck amidships overhangs the hull to provide an extremely wide deck, while allowing the ship to navigate the Panama Canal. With engines placed amidships, there’s little noise and no noticeable vibration, and the ship has an operating speed of up to 24 knots.
New dining venues and lounges, 124 new balconies, remodeled cabins, and some upgraded technology were all part of a 2011 refurbishment, as were finger-touch digital ‘wayfinder’ screens to help you navigate your way around the ship.
The outside light is brought inside in many places, with more than two acres (8,000 sq m) of glass that provides contact with sea and air. There’s a single-level sliding glass roof over the more formal setting of one of two swimming pools, providing a large, multi-activity, all-weather indoor/outdoor area, called the Solarium. The glass roof provides shelter for the Roman-style pool and good health and fitness facilities and slides aft to cover the miniature golf course when required - though both can’t be covered at the same time.
Inside, two full entertainment decks are sandwiched between five decks full of cabins. A multi-tiered seven-deck-high atrium lobby, the ship’s central social point, has live acrobatics within its entertainment-based environment, plus its iconic ‘R’ Bar. The Centrum connects with a Viking Crown Lounge via glass-walled elevators. The Casino Royale (for gamers and slot machine lovers), which has mirrored walls and lights flashing everywhere, is really expansive, glitzy, and always busy. The library, outside of which is a bust of Shakespeare, is a decent facility with more than 2,000 books. Ship-wide Wi-Fi is provided, for a fee.
Niggles include the fact that RCI charges for shuttle buses in many ports of call; the cost of bottled water is high; and receipts show an extra line ‘for additional gratuity’ when a gratuity has been added automatically.
Families. Royal Babies and Tots Nursery is available for young families, as are youth staff and special family-friendly programs.
Accommodation. There are many different cabin price grades, depending on size and location. All cabins have iPads, flat-screen TVs, a sitting area, and beds that convert to double configuration, and there is ample closet and drawer space, although there’s not much space around the bed. Also, the showers could have been better designed. Cabins with balconies have glass railings rather than steel/wood to provide less intrusive sight lines.
The largest accommodation, the Royal Suite, is a superb living space. It is beautifully designed, finely decorated, and includes a baby grand piano and whirlpool bathtub. Quiet sitting areas are located adjacent to the best cabins amidships.
Some cabins on Deck 8 have a larger door for wheelchair access in addition to the 17 cabins for the disabled, and the ship is very accessible, with ample ramped areas and sloping decks.
Dining. The King and I dining room has dramatic two-deck-high glass side walls, so many passengers both upstairs and downstairs can see both the ocean and each other in reflection. It would, perhaps, have been even better located at the stern, and it is quite noisy when full - call it atmosphere. When you book, choose one of two seatings, or My Time Dining which allows you to eat when you want during dining room hours. So, what’s the food like? It’s like you’d get in a high-class American family restaurant, but with better presentation, table settings, and service.
Other dining options. A Chef’s Table offers wine and food paired five-course dinners co-hosted by the executive chef and sommelier - a nice treat (a hefty cover charge applies) for a special occasion perhaps.
Chops Grille, added in 2011, is adjacent to the Viking Crown Lounge and features classic American steaks and grilled seafood - all cooked to order. There is a cover charge, and it’s open for dinner only.
Izumi features pan-Asian cuisine, with items cooked on hot rocks, and a sushi bar (open for lunch and dinner). Individual items have à-la-carte pricing.
For casual meals, there’s the Windjammer Café, a self-serve buffet venue (with good forward views, because it’s located at the front of the ship). It can get a bit cramped when it’s busy, however.
Entertainment. The 802-seat 42nd Street Theater is a single-level showlounge with tiered seating levels. The sight lines are good from almost all seats. Strong cabaret acts are also presented here, and the orchestra pit can be raised or lowered as required. Other cabaret acts are featured in the Top Hat Lounge, and these include late-night adult comedy, as well as live music for dancing. A number of other bars and lounges have live music of differing types.
Spa/Fitness. The Vitality Spa is located on Deck 9, aft of the funnel. It has a fitness center, with a small selection of high-tech muscle-pumping equipment and weights. There is also an aerobics studio where classes in a variety of keep-fit regimes take place, a beauty salon, and a sauna, as well as rooms for such pampering treatments as massages, facials, etc.
While the facilities are quite small, they are adequate for the short cruises this ship operates. The spa is operated by Steiner. For the more sporting, there is a rock-climbing wall, with several separate climbing tracks - outdoors on the aft wall of the funnel. For golfers, there’s 18-hole mini-golf, a 6,000-sq-ft (557-sq-m) miniature course, and lighting to enable play at night; the holes are 155 to 230 sq ft (14 to 21 sq m).