Monday, March 09, 2015

Farewell Splendour of the Seas

Royal Caribbean has recently announced that Splendour of the Seas, which debuted in 1996, will leave the fleet in April 2016. Despite my love for the Royal Promenade on Voyager-class ships, the distinct neighborhoods of the Oasis-class ships, and the glamour and technology of the Quantum of the Seas, Splendour will always and forever be my favorite! It is with great sadness, but warmhearted memories, that I will bid her farewell.

I have cruised aboard the Splendour of the Seas three times. The first time was in 2003; our first family trip to the Mediterranean.   My son was 10 and I planned family-friendly excursions that I hoped would be fun for both adult and child. We enjoyed biking along the 16th century wall that surrounds the city of Lucca, climbed to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, rode the cable car above Barcelona to Montju├»c Castle, and all agreed that visiting the catacombs in Rome was cool but a bit creepy.

Just as memorable was returning to the ship each afternoon for a round of family mini golf, and munching on the chocolate chip cookies and soft serve ice cream at the Windjammer, even if it might spoil our appetite for dinner. Every evening my husband and I watched our son head off to meet his new friends at Adventure Ocean (what a great group of counselors) leaving us on our own to sip wine while watching those beautiful Mediterranean sunsets!

My family returned to the Mediterranean and the Splendour of the Seas in the summer of 2oo6. This time we visited the Acropolis of Athens, wandered along the cobblestone streets of Mykonos, criss-crossed Venice via gondolas and water taxis and rented a car to tour the island of Rhodes.

Back onboard Royal Caribbean's Splendour we were pleasantly surprised that two crew members remembered us from our previous cruise. Maybe it’s the more intimate size of the ship, or maybe just a particularly warm and friendly staff, but for that week the Splendour felt very much like a home away from home! I remember one afternoon sitting at the pool deck when over the loud speaker an officer (or maybe it was the cruise director) called our attention to some smaller Greek islands we were passing, then read a short excerpt from Homer’s Odyssey. It was quite magical! That was the same cruise that my son won Jackpot Bingo…with a prize large enough to book our next cruise!

My final voyage on the Splendour of the Seas was in 2012, this time a “girlfriend trip”. We shopped till be dropped in Turkey, watched some women getting fish pedicures in Crete (too gross for me, thank you), and tasted the wine made from grapes grown in volcanic soil on the island of Santorini.

Onboard we shared a junior suite situated along the back of the ship that had a huge balcony, perfect for hosting sail away cocktail parties. We dined in the specialty restaurants including the Chef’s Table, which was one of the highlights of our trip! We lingered in the elegant Centrum, listening to music and watching the Ballroom dancers. On sea days we lounged in the lovely solarium, napping, reading and chatting the day away. Another magnificent cruise!

After such wonderful cruise vacations aboard the Splendour of the Sea, how can I not be sad to see her go? And while I know I’ll have other great experiences on other Royal Caribbean ships, the Splendour will always remain near and dear to my heart.

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