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- The Avid Cruiser
Carnival is one of the most popular cruise lines in the world. Founded in 1972 by Ted Arison, few could have imagined the success the line would achieve over the next thirty-nine years. The quirky and irreverent design of their ships, coupled with their wide variety of itineraries leaving from multiple North American homeports has earned them accolades from passengers around the world.
I’ve had the opportunity to sail on numerous lines and tour many ships, but embarrassingly, I’ve never sailed on or even set foot aboard a Carnival ship. In an attempt to rectify that, I took the opportunity to visit Carnival Splendor recently at her home port of Long Beach, California; the result of which is this special three-part photo-tour.
Built in 2008 by Italian master yard Fincantieri, the 952-foot long Carnival Splendor ushered in a number of firsts for Carnival, including the introduction of their highly-popular Cloud 9 Spa Staterooms along with the largest spa in the fleet; a double-height lido pool deck complete with hot tubs situated along two-story windows, and numerous other little enhancements throughout. A one-off ship with no direct sisters (except for sister-brand Costa’s Concordia-class ships), Carnival Splendor is the latest evolution of the design that began with the 1996 Carnival Destiny.
So let’s walk up the gangway and begin!
LOBBY DECK 3
The Splendor Atrium
The first thing embarking guests will see is the ship’s impressive Atrium lobby. Spanning Decks 3, 4, and 5, a bank of glass elevators whisks guests all the way up to Deck 10.
Guest Services is located here on Deck 3, along with the Splendor Lobby Bar.
Done in shades of pink, I grew to think of Carnival Splendor’s interior design as an almost Rose Champagne motif. Carnival’s legendary in-house designer Joe Farcus has been creating whimsical, unique interior designs for Carnival for over twenty years now. If the effect looks rather jarring in photographs, the actual interior design flows much better in-person, and it’s easy to see the theme given to each room and how it relates to the rest of the ship.
Don’t expect understated elegance here; each public room is designed to instantly invade your senses – and it works. In fact, their fun, no-holds styling is one of the things that makes a Carnival ship so unique, and differentiates them from their competitors.
Let’s walk forward on Deck 3 and explore…
All the way forward on Decks 3, 4 and 5 is Spectacular, Spectacular, Carnival Splendor’s main show lounge. With seating for apprximately 1400 guests on three different levels, this impressive room hosts a variety of shows, activities and events. One of the few public areas to not employ a pink color scheme, Spectacular Spectacular’s cool blue stylings are sure to take your breath away. Unlike show rooms aboard many ships, full windows let in daylight when appropriate – a welcome feature.
The Black Pearl Restaurant
Backtracking a bit on Deck 3 is one of Carnival Splendor’s main dining venues, the Black Pearl Restaurant. One of two main dining rooms aboard, the Black Pearl has no fixed seating; instead, guests are welcome to come enjoy their meals when and with whomever they choose.
Interior designer Joe Farcus has worked his magic in this room, creating a space that works incredibly well, and no doubt looks beautiful at night. Black Pearl chandeliers adorn the wave-like ceiling, and wall accents keep the fun sea theme going.
The Gold Pearl Restaurant
Although you have to ascend to Deck 4 and then down again to reach the Gold Pearl Restaurant (in order to clear the midship galley), the Gold Pearl Restaurant is done in much the same style as its Black Pearl cousin, with the exception of the stern-facing windows that give this room excellent 180-degree views.
Dinner here is served in traditional fixed-seating dining for those guests who still prefer dining at a set time and with a set table, and it’s great to see that Carnival still offers both choices.
ATLANTIC DECK 4
Moving up to Deck 4 and heading forward, we come to the Robusto Bar, Carnival Splendor’s dedicated Cigar bar. With its high-backed crimson seats and plush leather chairs, the Robusto Bar resembles a futuristic throwback to the art deco clubs of the 1930’s, and it’s not hard to immediately fall in love with this room.
Tucked away in the port side corner of the bar is the ship’s Internet Café, featuring workstations and a laser printer for those passengers who want to keep in touch with home.
The Board Room
Carnival Splendor’s Board Room is available for hire for onboard functions or, as we saw on our tour, wedding services. We managed to duck in and snap this photo just minutes before the wedding party was set to arrive.
Forward of the Black Pearl Restaurant on Atlantic Deck 4 is Circle “C”, Carnival’s onboard teen’s club. Utilized by teens age 12 to 14, Circle “C” is smaller than similar offerings for younger age groups, but other activites are designed to take place in the ship’s public areas.
Still, the PlayStation game consoles here are likely to be a big hit on any voyage.
The Alexandria Library
Just off the atrium on Atlantic Deck 4 is the Alexandria Library. Egyptian in theme, the library holds a small collection of books and an assortment of board and puzzle games, and makes a great spot to relax and read. Libraries are becoming increasingly rare on mainstream ships, and it’s nice to see that Carnival still includes one on its ships. Large windows also let in plenty of light from the nearby boat deck.
The Photo Gallery
Adjacent to the Alexandria Library is the ship’s photo gallery, where casual and formal portraits taken throughout your voyage can be found.
Our photo tour of Carnival Splendor will continue tomorrow!
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