>  Cruising   >  Carnival Splendor review

If you’re after reviews for Carnival Splendor, you’ve come to the right place. Australia’s newest Carnival Cruise Line ship is big, bold and a whole lot of fun. Based on my recent sailing, the Carnival Splendor experience is a winner whether you’re travelling as a family, a couple or enjoying a getaway with friends. While it’s true the décor is eye-wateringly bright, once you get over the initial shock of your surroundings, the colour scheme seems to fit right in. Even if you’re accustomed to sailing on more luxurious lines, it’s impossible not to be won over by the sheer exuberance and friendliness of this ship and its excellent and enthusiastic staff.

Carnival Splendor atrium
Carnival Splendor atrium

Your wallet will love Carnival Splendor too as it’s easy to have a great cruise holiday on this ship without spending any extra. Things like the adults-only Serenity Deck, waterslides, mini-golf and meals at dining spots like Pizzeria del Capitano, Guy’s Burger Joint, The Carnival Deli, and Indian standout Masala Tiger are included in the fare. If you do decide to spoil yourself with ‘extra cost’ experiences like fine diner Fahrenheit 555, you won’t be disappointed. These are well worth the money, especially the Chef’s Table.

Pizzeria del Capitano
Pizzeria del Capitano on Carnival Splendor
Fahrenheit 555 on Carnival Splendor
Fahrenheit 555 on Carnival Splendor

Available on all of Carnival’s ships, the Chef’s Table dining experience includes a multicourse dinner with wine matching, pre-dinner drinks and a tour of the galley which includes an entertaining tasting session. On Carnival Splendor, this dining option takes place in the 28-seat Pink Pearl private dining room. The experience can be booked onboard at the guest services desk and is only available for guests aged 12 and over, making it a good option for a kid free night out if you’re sailing during the school holidays. 

Tasting session
Tasting session in the ship’s galley
Slow cooked crispy lamb
Slow cooked crispy lamb at the Chef’s Table
Dessert at Carnival Splendor Chef's Table
Citrus cream with lime snow and elderflower caviar

If there is one disappointment on this ship it would be the cabins which are showing their age when it comes to décor. Think blue and salmon with hot pink ceiling cornices. However, the cabins are well maintained, spotlessly clean and quite roomy. Whether you stay in an interior, ocean-view, or balcony cabin, they’re all the same size although the latter comes with an extra three square metres of space thanks to the balcony.

Carnival Splendor balcony cabin
Carnival Splendor balcony cabin

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Carnival Splendor bathroom
Carnival Splendor balcony cabin bathroom

That said, with so much fun to be had onboard, you probably won’t spend much time in your room. Apart from some extra perks in suites and designated spa cabins, all of the staterooms are essentially the same so there is no feeling of ‘us’ and ‘them’ if you’re in one of the cheaper rooms. I really liked this aspect of sailing on Carnival Splendor. When it comes to choosing the right Carnival Splendor itinerary for you, it really comes down to what type of holiday you’re looking for.

Are you keen for a mini-getaway or would you like to explore further afield and experience a different culture? There are certainly plenty of choices with destinations including the South Pacific, New Zealand, Indonesia and the Top End of Australia. Carnival Splendor caters well for different types of cruisers so you don’t need to be a ‘party person’ to have a great time onboard. If you aren’t keen on the good music and good times atmosphere of the rockin’ Red Frog Pub, there is sure to be something else to keep you entertained like a classical duo, jazz band, or comedy at El Morocco.

El Morocco on Carnival Splendor
El Morocco on Carnival Splendor

With 20 lounges and bars to explore, there is little chance you’ll go thirsty on this ship. The secret to having a good time onboard Carnival Splendor comes down to embracing the onboard atmosphere and being willing to give things a go, whether it’s line dancing, an 80s Rock n’ Glow Party, or the fastest waterslide at sea.

80's Rock n' Glow Party on Carnival Splendor
80’s Rock n’ Glow Party on Carnival Splendor

I had a ball riding the Green Lightning waterslide which has an 11-metre free-fall drop at the start thanks to a trapdoor with a see-through floor, a slingshot curve, and a green bowl where the ride finishes. You swirl around this once or twice until you stop, then stand up and walk over to the ride’s exit. There’s also a tamer Twister Waterslide and a kids water play area with MiniRacer slides, splash toys, and a Power Drencher tipping bucket.

Carnival Splendor waterslides
Carnival Splendor waterslides

Other entertainment options include evening shows in the 1,400-seat Spectacular Spectacular theatre, belly flop competitions, interactive game show-style events such as “Hasbro, The Game Show”, cooking demonstrations, port talks, free fitness classes, bingo games and more. There’s also the excellent Cloud 9 spa which is so big that the treatment rooms and facilities are spread over multiple decks. Here you’ll find a thalassotherapy pool, a sauna, and a thermal suite with heated lounges. Even if you don’t book a treatment, it’s worth buying a spa pass so you can enjoy all these special areas for a full or half day.

Cloud 9 Spa
Heated lounges at the Cloud 9 Spa

There are two pools, five hot tubs and a big screen on the pool deck which shows concerts, sport, and movies throughout the day and into the night. It costs nothing to play the nine-hole mini-golf course, ping pong tables or the life-size chess set on the Lido Deck. Families are well catered for with a kids program that runs from 9am until around midnight depending on the day. Carnival is one of the few lines to accept children as young as two in its kids program and also offers babysitting for infants.

Carnival Splendor Lido Pool
Carnival Splendor Lido Pool

The free Carnival Hub app lets you plan your activities and make bookings without having to line up. It’s got the ship’s daily activity schedule and is free to download and use. For a small additional charge of $9 for the entire voyage, you can also use the chat feature to keep in touch with friends and family onboard. Carnival Splendor offers a great value cruise experience, with well-priced fares and plenty of inclusions. Whether you’re seeking an all out party vibe, a cruisy getaway with someone special or a fun holiday with the kids, this Aussie ship delivers an enjoyable cruise holiday at a bargain price.

Disclosure: The writer travelled as a guest of Carnival Cruises and would not hesitate to sail on this ship again with her family at her own expense.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.