Carnival Splendor...6/09

Okay, so, for my third trip on the Carnival Splendor since March, there is not much to report as far as the ship.

I did have a dead-center stateroom, two doors down from the mid-ship elevators. From here it was two floors up and there's the Dining Room, one more floor and there's the Casino, and a short walk to the piano bar and lounges on Deck 5, Aft. Four more floors and the Pool is on one side and the Buffet on the other, then one more floor and there's Camp Carnival....pretty much a perfect location.

Went with my sister and brother-in-law, and their three kids. The kids seemed to have a good time at Camp Carnival, but an even better time in the pool and the waterslide, where we spent most of our afternoons.

The itenerary changed from my previous cruise, three weeks ago, and instead of Seattle and San Francisco, we went to Astoria, Oregon and Vancouver, BC, as well as Victoria.

I have no idea why anyone thinks Astoria should be a cruise ship port...a rinky dink town of 10,000 with a completely lame Maritime Museum and some comic book stores....seriously, Astoria's "claim to fame" is that it was the location for "GOONIES"...since I don't think I ever saw the movie (and if I did I have completely forgotten it), I am not sure why that is significant (unless you just can't find anything else to say). Weather was, not quite cold, but certainly not warm, grey skies and just generally yucky.

Next day, however, Victoria was fabulous. When I was there three weeks ago it was 48 degrees and raining, and we never got off the boat. This time it was 85 degrees and pure golden sunshine. And it really is a neat little town. At the Inner Harbor is the busiest seaplane port in the world, and we sat and watched the planes landing and taking off for a while. The Empress Hotel, built in 1904, was quite impressive, the biggest Chateau style building I have ever seen, sprawling over an entire block. Also the Government House, done is a more Romanesque theme, with a statue of Queen Victoria out front was quite the landmark. There is also the British Columbia Museum, which we walked around, but did not go into, as the price was a bit steep. We did take a bus out to Butchart Gardens. The gardens were nice, worth the trip, but the drive out was almost as good. Along with all the evergreen pine and spruce everywhere there is an area of oak forest, which is probably the farthest north an oak tree will grow, and we spotted several deer, and I think I saw a black bear...I am not sure, as it was just a glimpse, but if it wasn't a black bear it was a REALLY big guy in a fur coat slipping into the trees. Back on the ship, they rolled back the glass over the pool (13 days onboard the Splendor at that point, and this is the first time they pulled the lid off).

Our final stop was in Vancouver, BC - and I really wish I had planned some type of excursion, as there are, I am sure, many opportunities in the area. But Vancouver, itself, is just another big city, and where the ships dock at Canada Place is right smack in the middle of office buildings and skyscrapers, with men in suits on their lunch breaks, and women in suits making "power calls" on their headsets....in other words, it could be LA or Houston or Boston. Nothing "touristy" in the immediate area, so we walked out for 10 minutes, then headed back to the ship, as it was, again, beautifully sunny, around 90 degrees, and too nice a day not to waterslide in....

Back on board for two days at sea. The weather and the seas cooperated, and it was truly beautiful sailing...the last day at sea I went out on deck early and I could actually see the reflection of the clouds on the water, it was so glassy.

I also took the opportunity of two days at sea to compete in the Slot tournament, and did so poorly, so many times that Amber Newport (the best Casino Hostess in the Carnival Fleet), gave me a t-shirt, just for trying, and then, lo and behold, my number was called in the second chance drawing and I got to compete in the Final, anyway...so I am now up two t-shirts. I then tried the blackjack tournament, did well enough to get on the board, and hung on UNTIL THE FINAL CARD OF THE FINAL HAND OF THE FINAL QUALIFIER. Unbelievable turn of events, although the blow was somewhat softened by the fact the guy who edged me out of the Final ended up winning the Tournament. Somhow it's easier to lose to the guy who wins it all...

And, finally, I have to say a word about the Piano Bar...Ron Pass, the best Piano Man in the Carnival Fleet, was there again, and "on" again. And just like last time, though there were a couple of slow nights, as the week went on, more and more people found the place and the crowd kept getting bigger and louder and more fun, until the last night, when Ron, always the trooper, played til 3am or so, well past his "quitting time". He really is a great entertainer, engaging the crowd, dealing with the obnoxious ones, and always appears to be having a good time, even when you know he isn't. GOOD JOB, RON!!!

Oh, and one more thing: (and this is one of the coolest parts of cruising, when serendipity strikes). One night, late, after closing the Piano Bar, a few of us headed up top to have one last smoke before bedtime. It was too windy, so we decided to head down to the Robusto cigar bar, which was closed, but there are always ashtrays out. As we walked in, Ken Byrnes, the Maitre d' of the Gold Pearl Dining room was at the piano, belting out Sinatra tunes, with the orchestras piano player....just having some fun! Now, Ken sings in the Dining room several nights a week, and has a good voice, but when he was down there on his off-time, just goofing around, you could see he has a real passion for singing, and loves those old Sinatra/Bennett/Martin tunes. So we sat and smoked and had a private concert. What a blast!!!

And that about wraps it up for me...if any of you are just dying to cruise on the Splendor (I think I am an expert by now), or any other great cruise, just look me up at http://www.daveholmantravel.com/ and I will get it done for you.....Thanks