Carnival Splendor - Oct 30th - Nov. 14th, 2008

Carnival Splendor

Transatlantic Cruise
Civitavecchia, Rome; Barcelona, Spain; Palma De Mallorca, Spain; Malaga, Spain; Maderia (Funchal), Portugal; and St. Maarten, VI

Oct. 30th, 2008 - Nov. 14th, 2008

Bob & Debe
Diana & Mary
Helen & Mae Ruth

For those that have followed our blog, you have already read the first section of this trip. If not, it all started on Oct 25th, 2008 with a flight to Rome. After landing it was off for four days of sites and tours. We saw most of the sites in Rome and headed to Naples and Pompeii. Check out the November 2008 titled Rome, Naples & Pompeii blog for more details but for those that have already followed along - lets continue as we shuttle to the port in Rome. But first, lets get some details of what you can expect. After leaving the Port outside of Rome, we will head to Barcelona, Spain, then to the island of Palma Del Mallorca, Spain. Then on to Picasso's stomping grounds of Malaga, Spain. That will be followed by a stop in Maderia (Funchal) Portugal followed by a few days of relaxing and enjoying the ship while crossing the Atlantic Ocean. One stop in St. Maarten, Virgin Island and then to US soil - good ole Florida. This cruise was long, relaxing, fun and worth every minute of it. So come along for the ride!

First we must talk about the Carnival Splendor, a new larger Carnival ship that was just inaugurated in June 2008. We would be taking her voyage across the Atlantic for the first time. She is a beauty for sure and for someone that doesn't like a lot of color, especially pink, well she isn't for you. I have posted many photos of some places on her at the bottom of this blog but for now - on with the show!!

Above, you will see a picture of the port of Rome. Please go ahead and say Civitavecchia and if you can, say it five times. It is not a beautiful port and is about 1 1/2 hours out of Rome with its history and beauty. Below are photos once we embarked on the ship. Our cabin, yes an inside, was very nice, small as usual and very comfortable for the upcoming 16 days. We usually take an inside unless there is a special deal running for balconies and we are sometimes upgraded to an ocean view. If you look on the right photo you can see this ship has the updated flat screen tvs. But no dvd players, we brought that. lol And in the bottom two photos you will see that the flat screen is also set up where you can do anything by tv remote. Find out what is being served in the dining room, order tours or room service or spa treatments. Every thing right at the touch of our hand. And check out the picture of the hallways. Nice wide hallway with motif pictures on the wall. Beautiful for sure.

First stop would be Barcelona, Spain. Today would be Halloween but with the new luggage restrictions, well, we are lucky to pack just what we need for a 16 day cruise with extra days up front. So no costumes for us. In Barcelona, we took the hop on hop off bus. It started out a nice, cool day but later, the weather turned into London weather. Rain and fog. But when in Rome do as the Romans so when in Spain - do as the Spaniards. So we did. The hop on hop off gave us a little of all of Barcelona. Las Rambles, Gaudi's famous buildings and church, Barri Gothic area, Futbol Stadium, Olympic Pools & Stadium, Zoo, Tram via (like Trivoli Park in Copenhagen), Venetians Towers, among many other things. Below check out the photos of some of the things.

On the left, Paseo de Colón which is at the Port and the end of Las Ramblas. On the right, my favorite souvenir place for their yearly and/or local pin - Hard Rock Cafe.
Here you can see two of the buildings built by the famous Gaudi. On the left is the Casa Batllo. Built from 1904-1906 as a futurist work, with no single straight line at its front. Even the walls are curved and seem to be covered by leather. If you look close, the building looks as if the balconies are skulls and the columns are bones. In the right photo is Casa Mila - also another work by Gaudi. Built in (1906-1910) the irregularly curved walls of this building remind one of dunes in the desert. When it was made, this building was too futurist for most people, and gained the nickname La Pedrera, "the quarry". Today it is considered a landmark work of modern architecture. Its roof is a must see with chimneys that are so unique.

Here you can see a church, started by Gaudi and still is being built today. La Sagrada Familia was started 1883 and still continues. This great cathedral, inspired by Gothic style yet a landmark of modern architecture, is in reality not much more than a facade. Gaudí died before he could finish his biggest and most beloved project, with galleries that should have room for 1500 singers, 700 children and 5 organs. Will the city of Barcelona ever complete this monumental work?

On the left you can see the buildings in the Barric Gothic section of Barcelona. There is a famous Gothic church there that is one of the oldest around. Next time - we will check it out. lol On the right, a gate, also built by Gaudi is called the Finca Güell. This was built for his friend and sponsor, industrialist Eusebi Güell. I know you keep reading about things built by Gaudi. I have to admit, I was fascinated by his "Dr. Seuss" style. But I missed other buildings that are a must see next trip. Parc Guell is a fascinating scenario of gardens and over dimensional architectonic forms which seem to be born by the ground. Crypta Colonia Güell is a small chapel, wonderfully integrated in the landscape, which must be visited at some 15 km from the city. Palau Güell is another work for Eusebi Güell. With its cupola, stairways and impressive windows it seems of giant dimensions. Casa Calvet is perhaps the most traditional work of this master of extravagance. That might be the reason why Gaudí received for this building his one and only honorable mention by the city of Barcelona. Casa Vincens was Gaudí's first architectonic work, and a milestone in his career. The building reminds you of a palace of an Arabian prince, but was made for the owner of a tile factory - material of which Gaudí made ample use. Colegio Teresiano - when he built this school, Gaudí evidently was inspired by Gothic style and created a masterpiece of simple and clear lines. Bellesguard is a landmark of Catalonia. This Gothic building, former summer-residence of king Martí I. The portal of Finca Miralles is the only small work for another friend of his, in an interesting contrast to "Casa Calvet", which was made during that same period of time. My goal is to see as many of his places on the next trip and the ones I have posted photos of - to tour the inside of them. So watch out in 2009 for more of Gaudi.

Above, you can see what Bob and I (and Helen in the purple) looked like on the hop on hop off bus. At one point everyone headed to the lower level and I stayed on top to take photos, none which were good enough to post on here. lol Anyway with the rain and cool weather, it made for a kinda miserable afternoon. While the rest of the gang headed back to the ship early, Bob and I walked Las Ramblas, shopped and used the internet.

Since our day in Barcelona, Spain was Halloween, how could I not show some of the things going on around the ship. Above, the pumpkins were displayed and we even had an ice carving done for Halloween. While below, the dessert of the night was made festive while many people ate in their costumes.

In the below four photos you will see the display used for the on board photographers to take your picture for the occasion while many competed in the costume contest and/or participated in the parade. And lo and behold, one fellow cruiser, close to our cabin, even decorated his door.

Ok, enough with Halloween lets head to the next port. This port was Palma De Mallorca, Spain and was new for Bob and I (as Barcelona was also) We decided to book a tour on board called the Scenes of Mallorca that would take us to the highlights of the city. Mallorca was a beautiful island/port and we were excited about it. But this day was their Memorial day or ALL SAINTS DAY so many people were are the cemeteries laying flowers so many things were closed. .
Our first stop on the tour, Bellver Castle. This castle was no longer used except as a museum but it was closed today for the holiday.

From the Bellver Castle it was off to the town of Valldemossa passing through the city, beautiful windmills, cementeries filled with people laying flowers on graves and through the hillsides. Valldemossa was filled with stone houses, stone streets, and stone shops. Even the bell towers and churches were stone. Very neat and unique. Micheal Douglas also has Costa Nord Culture Center here along with a home.

After leaving Valledemossa, we headed back to the city and had the option of going back to the ship or staying around and doing some checking out. Bob and I chose to get off the bus and stay while the rest of the gang went back to the ship. We headed up their "Las Ramblas" which was filled with flowers for the holiday. Then it was off to the Cathedral.
After Las Ramblas, walking around the city, and taking in some of their wonderful pastries, it was back to the bus pick up. On the way we headed to the famous Sa Seu Cathedral which faces the old Royal Moorish Palace. The Moorish palace was later a summer palace for the Spainsh monarchy. Below is a photo of the Cathedral which was awesome. I took many pictures but here is my favorite. The Palace is not shown in this photo.
Below is a photo of the hop on hop off bus that is an option at this port of call. We did not know about it or we would have used it. I am posting it on here for others to know. Also, next time we head to the island of Palma de Mallorca I will review this and know what to do. lol

Next, it is off to Malaga Spain. We have been here before but the above picture shows the new cruise terminal that is built. It is still a long walk to town but doable. Below is our ship as it sits at the dock. As you can see there is still alot of construction going on.

As you walk from the ship to town, you will see the things in the below four photos. The lighthouse is where we picked up the hop on hop off bus. But you will also walk past the beach in route to the light house. Look close and you can see me standing by the anchor.

In the above picture is the sign at any pick up spot on the hop on hop off (City Sightseeing) bus (15 euros per person). This bus will take you by the huge bull ring, Castillo De Gibralfaro, Picasso's home when he was a kid which is apartment #19, Alcazabra, the Cathedral, industrial area, and town among others places. After we completed the route without getting off, everyone went back to the ship and Bob and I headed into town. Again the Alcazabra was closed. It dates back to the 8th century and includes ruins of a Roman theatre. Maybe next year it will be open. lol Malaga is somewhat boring so we used the internet and headed back to the ship.

Above are photos of the Alcazabra ruins and Picasso's childhood apartment while the below photos are of the historical Alcazabra and the Cathedral.
Lets take a break here as I need to say that on Election Day, November 4th, 2008, we watched on the ship since we were at sea that day. The outcome wasn't what we hoped for but history was made and the first black President was elected. The many seats at the big screen by the pool was filled as the election results came in all through the day and night. And many celebrated the victory as they watched the returns. Now, back to the trip. Let's not let the election spoil out fun.
Next it is off to beautiful Maderia (Funchal), Portugal. Above is the ship sitting in the port while below is the sign you see as you walk into town.

Once in Maderia, we chose to walk off the ship, not book a tour and do it on our own. Bob and I had been here before so Diana and Marty trusted us that we could get them to the sites we had all chosen. Helen and Mae Ruth took a tour versus all the walking which would include huge hillsides. In the above photo you will see we made it to the Cable Car. The photo on the right is Diana and Marty in the cable car along with us, and the port of Maderia behind them. The view is awesome and the cost was 14.50 euros for round trip or 10 euros one way. We did one way as we wanted to do the basket tobaggons on the way down. Once at the top we headed over to the church, "Our Lady Of Monte" which includes climbing a few steps. Emperor Charles I of Austria is buried at this church and in front of the church is where the famous tobaggons can be caught.

Now for the most fun Madeira can offer. Yes, Madeira has mountainous areas that are beauitful and views from the cable car that are so extradinary, but doing a basket ride down a steep road that is still used by cars is great. The cost is 20 euros for a single, 23 euros for a double or 37.50 euros for a triple. Of course, your photo will be taken during the trip so be prepared to spend another 10 euros if you want this event captured.

Above are photos of Diana and Marty getting in their basket with their drivers behind them and on the right is while they headed down the steep street with us coming up from behind. Below are photos taken by Diana as Bob and I headed down the street. Our drivers also behind us. (oh and don't forget those drivers are expecting tips. lol) Everyone should experience this once in their life.
Once down the hillside, well, about halfway down the same hill that we rode the cable car up, you get off the baskets. You have the option of walking down or taking a cab. We chose to walk not knowing that it was so steep that the calves of our legs would ache just from the walk down. lol But we would do it all over again. It took us right into town where Christmas decorations had already started going up. I remember from our first trip to Maderia which was a little later in the year, how beautiful the decorations for the holidays were. And it was already looking great again. Once we used internet, walked around and was tired, we headed to the ship. In the right photo you can see that there are plenty of taxis available if you would need one.
Again, there is the option of hop on hop off buses if you want to choose that route. We will do that if ever in Madeira since we have had a tour there, done the cable car, and rode the baskets twice. If you choose a ship tour, be sure it includes the mountainous area of Madeira if you can take heights. It is so beautiful and has a great shopping area you will visit at the very top.
Before heading out of port, I noticed the crew painting the Carnival Splendor name, captain and Carnival logo on the port wall. The wall is covered with many ship logos and names. Seems the first time you go into this port, you then paint the date, captain and ship on the wall. So I hope to go back some day and find this painting on that wall and say, "we were there for their first stop in Madeira!" Below, another shot of the beautiful Carnival Splendor ship in the port of Madeira.

Time to dig out the shorts and swimsuits because we are now in the Caribbean. Beautiful St. Maarten!! Of course this has been six days since our last port so we are all ready to leave this ship. lol Today was a holiday in St. Maarten so everything was closed except the shops right at the dock. We walked away from the dock and rented some atvs. The island isn't that large so this would be a great way to see it all and take a dip if we wanted to. So we picked up the atvs and off we went. First we drove around taking in sites as we headed to Orient/Bikini/Coco/Nude Beach. Whatever you want to call it. We already needed some time to cool off so we parked the atvs, grabbed our bags, laid out the towels and into the water we went. Of course, we were on the end of the beach with clothes so only saw a few topless bathing. In the below photo you can see that the people who wear little or nothing are the ones that need their clothes on anyway. lol

From there it was time to check out Friars Beach - a favorite of the locals. We headed up into the hillside to a fort but it was also closed for the day. The view everywhere was just gorgeous. In one town a low flying plane (heading to an airport) about caused a heart attack when without me noticing it, it was right above me. Oh my gosh was I shaking. But from there, we headed down the coastline to the town of Marigot, The French Side, for some shopping. Of course it is local vendors with their ware so they were open for the ships.
We took a break in Marigot for some crepes before heading on around by the International Airport, Simpson Bay, and on to front street. (below right photo) It was still early so we headed by the salt ponds and back to another beach (photo of me and Bob on the left). Then it was back to turn in the atvs and back on the ship. What a great day and so much fun.

In the above photo on the left you can see the shopping right at the port. The photo on the right shows our ship in port with the huge RCCL ship - Liberty of the Seas. Our ship is a whopping 120,000 tons but the RCCL towered above us making us look like a tugboat with its 160,000 tons. It was weird to see this since in Europe we had towered above all the other ships.
I felt I needed to share some photos of the ship with everyone. Between the beauty of the ship and the unbelievably great shows, it made for a memorable cruise. Above is a photo of the fun staff at the Purser's desk. Below on the left is me, at one of the casino entrances while on the right is Bob playing texas holdem at the poker pro machine. This was the first ship that had the viewing on the wall so people could watch the game. The poker pro machines are "new" on most ships and everyone loves them.
In these photos you can get a feel of the ship. The photo on the left is the atrium area while on the right is me, in the H20 disco. Off limits for the adults as they have their own.

Next you will find me sitting in the El Morroco lounge while on the bottom right is the entrance into the Adult disco called The Red Carpet.

Another lounge you could sit for drinks while listening to the piano player was at The Grand Piano. Not in a photo was also The Cool for karoke which we did frequent. It was close to the El Morroco Lounger and The Grand Piano Bar. On the right above is the beautiful theatre where all the great shows happened.

One of Bob's favorite places on the ship was watching a movie under the Dome on the Big Screen. (photo above) In the next few pictures below, you will see just a few of the activites around the ship. Pools, hot tubs, water slides, mini golf, tennis, basketball, small water park, among other things.

We ate all our dinners right here in the Gold Pearl Dining room - upper level. We were entertained by the staff after dinner while they danced on the small tables.

And the best thing on any Carnival Ship is their warm chocolate melting cake. Oh my gosh - to die for. I had this literally every single night on the ship and sometimes two of them. lol Now you know why they call me a yoyo dieter. Below is the best waitress we have ever had. Bianca was great and got us literally what ever we wanted. Bob missed the baked Alaska one night so she made him one. If only we had her for every cruise. So if you are cruising on the Carnival Splendor, I suggest you beg for her
There were many places to eat and you can see them in the following pictures so I will just list them. Besides the dining room they had the Buffet or The Lido. They had Pizza/Grille, Deli/Grille, Rotisseire, California Roll and those were all free. The Coffee Club, Pinnacle, and it seems like another one were pay restaurants and you could also buy candy at the candy store.

This cruise we enjoyed some great shows. The first las vegas show was called "Cat." It was not our favorite but was still great. Fiesta Latino was the second dancer/singer show and the picture below is from that show.
But our favorite show was called, "Varoom!" The many photos below are from that show and I added lots of them to give a feel of how the show was. The show was a "rock n rock" show and was loud. So if you wouldn't like loud rock and roll music with great singing and dancing, this isn't your cup of tea. For me, it was GREAT! The show highlights people from the past and present with their songs. See how many of the following photos you would recognize the song that would go with it. Or even the group/singer! And by the way, when the Varoom sign comes up onstage (from the below photo) the singer will sing and the sign starts as black and white and changes to color as she sings - along with coming alive. Fascinating. Again, all the following pictures are from that show.

A reminder to you before I sign off from this journey. If you find a photo and you can't tell what it is, remember that if you click on the photo it will become large. So no big deal - enlarge all or any that you want to. I know this journey has been long but what can I say. Sixteen days, in wonderful ports and a beautiful new ship. Well, no way to shorten it. The shows were as fabulous as the ports and the ship was as great as the tours we did. Everything about it was just awesome. To take a cruise that would have some of your favorite foods, favorite waitress ever, favorite show ever, and some remarkable things to see. Now you know why I separated the Rome part of this trip from the cruise. lol But hope you have enjoyed this amazing trip. I hope it makes you not only want to go to Europe but also makes you want to find traveling in cruising. There are great specials out there in everyones price range. So never say never. Again, thanks to all of you who love to follow our blog and take these journeys with us. I hope you have again, enjoyed it all.

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