So, we decided to try miniature golf this time around. Unlike with Elation, which had the functional rectangles associated with Putt-Putt, Splendor's miniature golf was lightly themed in a pirate style. Nine holes, par usually around 2 or 3.
Up on Deck 13, though, it was too windy for words. Literally. And as many times as I knotted my hair out of the way, the wind demanded a more Medusa look. (That Poseidon. He never gets over anything.) As for game play, we had to keep moving our balls back into position as they were knocked around by the elements.
The deck between the top (Sports?) deck and ours (Spa) is the Sun deck, home of the adults-only Serenity area.
See? Through the clever placement of two walls, the kiddos are kept out.
(Usually. I've decided not to dwell on that one night.)
On Elation, the Serenity area was smaller, on the aft end of the ship (here we are near the bow), and overlooked by Lido deck diners above. Here, the Serenity area runs both port and starboard, with special relaxing chair and table sets (those in the shade not pictured) as well as the usual sunbathing.
One marked difference is that there are no hot tubs in Splendid's Serenity area as there are on Elation. But! Splendid does have two enormous hot tubs and a pool in an adults-only area on the back end of the Lido deck. So, everyone can be happy. Those grownups who wants a diaper-less water experience get one end of the ship, and those grownups who just want a diaper-less experience, period, get the other end.
People are often curious about the water slides on Carnival's Fun Ships.
Splendor's genuinely looked fun, but I have a bad history with water slides. Too many times, even when I was a slender young thing at the water parls, I would just stop in the middle when going down a slide. Then I'd have to crab-crawl my way down the rest while everyone felt bad for me. WOO HOO!
Most of the time this didn't happen, and I was still hitting the Disney World water parks even into my thirtysomething fattie years, but it happened enough to put me off any single-rider water slide where everyone is watching who comes down next. Position? Suit fabric? Proof of aliens in the family tree? I don't know.
The Lido deck is sort of the heart of the ship, with the buffet, the main pool, the minigolf supplies, the water slide pool, several hot tubs, and the big screen. Above, you can see the screen at night, sort of in "screensaver" mode. A different movie is shown every night, usually something that is currently on pay-per-view. (Usually also something that will be shown in your cabin later during the week.)
The nearby bar sells popcorn on movie nights, but here we see Mike putting his soda card to use.
Often there are events by the big screen, like Hairy Chest contests, Ice Sculpting, and live music. A couple of afternoons also featured karaoke. If you were to participate in poolside karaoke, this would be your view of the audience:
Except, given the popularity of the karaoke, those chairs would be full of people, and next to them would be buckets of beer. If I had to face that, I'd have a bucket of beer, too.
The guy who oversaw the karaoke was very good, and I'm not just saying that because of the time two guys performed "Ice, Ice, Baby," and after they left the stage the host seamlessly segued into "Under Pressure." Or because he lightly mentioned Blondie's "Rapture" when someone claimed to be singing "the first rap song." (I know Rapture isn't technically the first rap song, but we're talking to sweeping generalizations of mainstream radio here.) Or because he lightly made personal disclaimers against a song with a bunch of (muted out) n-words and f-bombs, but did so without being preachy, and in the end he still played it. (Let the losers hang themselves.)
Those are all fine reasons, but another reason was Pip. (Not his real name.) Our introduction to Pip came early on in the cruise, when Mike and I went "clubbing." Meaning, we sort of wandered from bar to bar, sticking our heads in, then continuing on to the next sight. We stopped, though, when we came to the Red Carpet Lounge.
See the mannequins waiting to get in? That's how elite it is.
There were only about a dozen or so other people inside, and no one was on the disco fever-lit dance floor. No one, except Pip.
"We've got our own Star Wars Kid, here," Mike said.
That was Pip. But, unlike the SWK, Pip was great at what he was doing, which was dancing to the music, oblivious of the world. He was so fun to watch, so clearly having a great time, that it took me a few minutes before I realized that he had Down's Syndrome. (Also, he was moving fast!)
Fast-forward to afternoon karaoke. We have our four guys with their gangsta rap. A Steve Dallas-lookalike singing "Brandy." A disappointingly scarf-less chick with "Rhiannon." And then... Pip!
Pip started out with two friends, who sort of faded away back to their seats once things got going. His song? "Lean on Me."
Yes, picture it: a passionate young man with Down's Syndrome singing "Lean on Me," which he just dedicated to his two best friends. I dare you not to mist up.
Unfortunately, Pip's singing ability was not on the same level as his dance moves, and I could see passers-by stopping to look over the rail (we were on Deck 10, above the pool) and see what all the caterwauling was about. Luckily everyone quickly realized what was up and didn't say anything cruel that would have required an Incident from me. (Like Pip, I am passionate but not always effective, and although I can be decently savage on paper, caustic remarks in person just come out kind of unsure and peevish.)
"Lean on Me" is a surprisingly long song, or maybe it just seemed that way, once the "awww, that's beautiful, man" moment had passed. Pip seemed to know this, too, as he tried to get a few people from the audience to join him. No takers, but the karaoke host and his assistant came over on Pip's command. So then we had the three of them, arm in arm, singing I'll be your friend, I'll help you carry on...
When the aforementioned karaoke session started, we were standing in line at Camp Carnival, hoping they would sell us a Build-a-Buddy kit, even though we'd missed the sale by about 30 minutes. People on the boards had said you could show up anytime and just buy a kit to take back to your room.
Um, no. After queueing up for ten minutes with parents who seemed to be making reservations for later, we were told to come back at the end of the cruise, on the last sea day, for the next time the teddy bears (and such) were on sale. Oh. Okay.
We did make it back, and above you can see the closet where they keep all of the little outfits for the different plush toys. (We went with a crocodile and a sailor suit.) It's not really as exciting as Build-a-Bear - no huge fluff machines - but you get a birth certificate and a nice box, good for holding even more souvenirs, especially if you wait until you get home to stuff your crocodile.
(We still haven't stuffed ours. I don't know if we're waiting for an extra happy moment or a sad moment when we need a happy moment.)
Another cute moment was the Towel Animal Workshop. I came down to the "Spectacular, Spectacular" showroom (kind of seen above) on my own to join what they said was the biggest towel animal class ever.
They urged everyone on stage to spread their towels out, but we had so many people that many of us stayed in the booths, and some people worked in the aisles.
The first animal was, per audience suggestion, an elephant. Apparently elephants are difficult? I don't know because I wasn't watching the main presenter. Instead, we had another steward working our section, demonstrating the process of turning a hand towel and a bath towel into a little Babar. And by "demonstrating" I mean "doing it for us."
But, he was very eager that we should know these linen mysteries, so everyone just sort of went with it. He was the same way with the frog that followed. The couple in front of me kept taking theirs apart to try it on their own, but then our steward took that as the cue to go around individually and show everyone how to make even more animals. I got a bear, whereas the rest of the showroom was barely done with the frog when they had to clear the stage for "Win a Cruise" bingo. So, it worked out.
Mike had finished his shower and joined me by the time the Win a Cruise bingo game was about to start. Needless to say, we didn't win. Instead, there were two bingo winners, so they had a "draw the highest number" showdown.
I felt sorry for the family that lost, but then later that afternoon, in the Robusto cigar lounge, they sat near us at the General Knowledge Trivia. Again, we had two winners tie for first place, although "winner" is a bit of a fudge-word. All I'm saying is that the trivia host was absolutely wrong when he said the Isle of Man is part of the United Kingdom, and he was more or less wrong when he said that the black widow is the most poisonous spider in the world. (As far as I can tell, it all comes down to how you define "poisonous," and even then the black widow may not be number one.) Then he said we weren't allowed to challenge any of his answers, which turned all of the whispered grumbles around the room into much louder sighs. Mike and I both have experience with poorly run trivia games, so we just shrugged, figuring we'd lose on all of the sports questions, anyway.
So, this family sitting near us was very upset when the answer to the spider question wasn't Brown Recluse. What?! But that's what Google told them!
That's right, they were sitting there looking up answers on their smartphone. What joyless fucks, seriously. It's not like the game was timed; it was more like an oral quiz. The host read the questions, we wrote down the answers, then we went over the answers as a class, everyone on the honor system not to change their answers afterward.
Despite the spider debacle, the family still got 14 out of 20, along with another couple. (We were right behind them at 13 out of 20, honestly come by.) So, there was a tie-breaker question. "What were the names of the two Hardy Boys?" And, because I'm passive-aggressive and mean, I was there stage-whispering to Mike, "Well, the older one was Steve... what was the other one's name?" Just hoping these pathetic people who would use their phones to look up trivia answers in a game like this would now take the bait.
They didn't, but they also didn't know, nor did they use their phone this time. (Because everyone was watching now? Which just shows that they knew better. Ha.) So they lost again, and I laughed and laughed on the inside, sorry that I'd ever felt bad that they didn't win the cruise. Because, like I said, I'm mean.
(Still, I like to think that my Manx Euphrosyne smiled down from Kitty Heaven. Isle of Man part of the UK? Pft.)
To mention the karaoke again, it usually wasn't held on the Lido Deck, but nightly in "The Cool," a jazz lounge. We poked our heads in once, but never seemed to make it there again. That is a downside of the later (8:15 p.m.) dining, you do seem to miss more than the early dining (6:00 p.m.) folks. It will be so nice if they can pull off "anytime" dining on the Splendor (and if we can sail on her again when they do).
And a downside of dining in the Black Pearl, lower section, is that you have to pass the art gallery. Maybe I'm just annoyed because they delivered personalized junk mail to our cabin every day (but did I remember to get a picture of the mailbox outside our cabin? no...), but this "gallery" was just a small room that looked like it came from the back end of a Hobby Lobby store, except not that nice. Compare to Elation's half-a-deck-length corridor of art, and this was just a boggle. (Not really a "downside," but it sounded good to say that. Black Pearl dining is the best because maitre d' Miguel is fantastic!)
And another downside of dining in general (not really, just still enjoying the repetition of that word) is that some of us (me) can't eat without spilling stuff on ourselves. Oh, for a removable boob shelf. Or for better fine motor skills. Something.
For us, there is the laundry room, which Mike is modeling above. Except, despite good intentions and even packing some liquid Tide in a trial bottle, we never got around to visiting except this one time, right before 10 p.m. closing. I ended up with just enough blouses and just enough blotting skills to avoid this room or the $15/bag laundry "special." (It was $10 on Elation, and I could buy a new shirt for less than the $15 to clean one. My stuff, it ain't fancy.)
Or I could use that money to gamble instead, winning enough for ten more shirts! (Or I could not gamble at all, since the odds are surely not as good as here in my adopted hometown, and maybe the only reason I even mentioned gambling is so I'd have an excuse to include a picture of the casino.)
I mentioned "The Cool," the jazz lounge on Deck 5 (also home of the casino, O2 - the teen hangout, the Piano Bar, and the Red Carpet disco), but I didn't mention its next-door neighbour, the El Morocco Lounge, sort of seen above.
We managed to grab a table for two here one night when they ran a game show, followed by an "adults only, as seen on Showtime" comedian. (Who went on to do jokes everyone tells, then would berate audience members if they left, even if it was just to nip up to the bar, claiming he was too "edgy" for people. Yeah, as edgy as a 12-year-old boy who's never met the Internet.)
The game show, for lack of a better word, was great. Everyone got into teams (unless they were spoilsport voyeurs like us, and there were a few of us). Goose, the Cruise Director, would name something the team had to present to him, and the first five or so teams that ran to wherever Goose was would get the most points, and everyone after that would get a point, until Goose and those in the seats yelled, "This quest is CLOSED!"
It started off easy. "I want to see three Sail & Sign Cards." "I want to see someone with a tattoo." Then it got, um, more interesting. "I want to see women doing 'the worm' on the floor." "I want to see a birth control device." "I want someone from each team to kiss this bald guy on the head." Eventually we built up to a dizzying level of commands that I don't think anyone would have fallen for at the beginning, but the spirit of competition (or just spirits) had taken hold, and in the end men were leaping over tables to be the first to the stage in bras, lipstick, heels, and purses. By the time the parade of men in drag started, they may as well have been passing out Depends, so many people were surely wetting themselves in laughter.
Another hilarious competition earlier in the week was the Newlywed-style game. I was ready to buy the onboard DVD for that alone, but - clever Carnival - they sold the video of that one separately: 25 bucks. Uh, no thanks. (Short version: we had a funny, personable couple that had been married 70ish years, and on the other end we had a young, cleancut couple from Utah that had just married two days before. Let your imagination sketch in the rest.)
The Lido may be the heart of the ship, but the Atrium is a close second. (There are technically two atriums - atria? - but the other one, outside the Gold Pearl dining room and pretty enough, is not the atrium.)
The Atrium has a grand piano (which should not be confused with the Piano Bar when reading the Capers), a bar, the Purser's desk, the Shore Expeditions desk, and the four lovely glass elevators running up and down.
If you're lucky, it also has Mike leaning over the rail.
And if you haven't noticed yet, it has a lot of PINK.
When we first stepped onboard, I thought, ice cream parlour? Then I thought, okay, everyone was right about the pink. I couldn't imagine getting used to it. Mike, manly man that he is, didn't think he could get used to it. Lotsa pink. Lotsa circles. Lots and lots of pink and circles.
But, just like everyone said, you do get used to it. Not only did I get used to it, but I ended being glad that the ship had such an original (albeit incredibly risky) sense of style. There's so much pink that, after a day or two, you stop seeing the pink and start noticing all of the greens and blues... as if the pink is so omnipresent that it might as well be blank, neutral canvas, Interesting.
What's also interesting is that I never once got a photo of our cabin from the outside. In fact, this is one of the few exterior views of the ship that I grabbed. (Taken from a tender boat in Cabo San Lucas.)
Maybe I'm wrong and something will show up when I put up photos from the ports, which is all that's left. That, the moon, the sun, and the souvenirs. All coming up... later!
(There are more photos than what I'm posting here. See my Carnival Splendor Flickr set for everything I've uploaded so far. Like I said, the port and a few other pictures are still yet to come.)