Carnival Splendor Returns - As Good As New

And I was on it, when it was new, so I should know.

Went yesterday to Carnival Cruise Lines' Splendorous Occasion.  From what I could see, a good time was had by all.

I got to the port real early, and had to sit around for a bit, but they finally let us on at 1:30.  After checking out my room, and dropping my bag, I took a walking tour, bottom to top.  While I didn't expect any changes, since the fire and damage were all down in the engineering spaces, I confirmed that, indeed, nothing has changed.  She looks exactly like she did last year.

Finishing the tour up on the Lido Deck, I went to the Deli and got a pastrami sandwich.  Then down to the lobby to see who all was with me, after a quick stop at the Coffee Bar.  Talked to a few agents I know.  Paul and his girlfriend Kelly showed up, and we all headed up to the Lido for some Mongolian BBQ and Indian stuff from the buffet.  Delicious.  Another stop at the Coffee Bar, then back to the room to change for dinner.  There was a cocktail party by the pool.  Gerry Cahill, Carnival CEO, said a few words, and I did get a chance, afterwards to talk to him and to John Heald.  When I told John that my friends and I were seriously hoping to see SPAM on the menu, at least as an appetizer, he got a chuckle, but stated flat out:  NO SPAM!  I really think Carnival missed an opportunity here.  With all the negative press they got back in November, including the "spam allegations" in the WSJ, I would totally have come up with a dish with Spam and some kind of garnish, maybe drizzle a Miracle Whip-based sauce around it, called it "SPAM a la Splendor" and shoved it down every reporters throat.  But that's just me....

Anyway, after the little cocktail party, dinner was served in the Gold Pearl main dining room.  Open seating, cattle call.  Me and my friends grabbed a table for 10, and then invited everyone who walked by to join us.  Filled the table, and it was a nice little group.  Dinner was a formal night menu.  Guess they didn't really have time to prepare anything special.  I had some of my favorite old stand-bys - the Roasted Pumpkin Soup, White Mushroom thingie, and two entrees, because I can never decide between the Roast Duck and the Lobster/Shrimp combo.

Skipped dessert and headed up for more Coffee from Yulya, the Belarussian Barista.  Stuck my head in the theater where VROOM was playing...seen it...didn't like it all that much...So I went down the hall, looked in the Disco, which was not happening, yet, and then, of course, to the Piano Bar.  A brand new Piano Man, on the first night of his first gig with Carnival.  In fact, until last week when he caught the Splendor in San Francisco, he'd never been on a cruise ship at all.  Chris Novak, from PA.  Good guy, affable, and a damn fine piano player, HOWEVER, he seriously needs to expand his repertoire.  I am not sure how you can be a Carnival Piano guy and NOT know a single Neil Diamond tune.  And only one Frank Sinatra.  I defend a piano players right to mostly play what he likes, and to ocassionally tell a customer he does not know a particular song, but it really does get annoying after a while to hear him respond to EVERY request with "I don't know that song" or "I can play it, but I don't have the lyrics" or whatever...again, once in a while, cool.  No one can know every song.  But we're talking some real "piano bar standards" here.  Anyway, I hung out, because, as always on a Carnival ship, the best bunch is at the piano bar.  Wandered over to Karaoke for a minute, and a couple times to the Disco, but kept ending up where I always do.

At about 12:45 someone reminded us that the Coffee/Dessert bar closed at 1am, so a few of us headed down.  Got my final coffee and a hunk of cheesecake the size of a small car.  Awesome!  Then back for one more round at the Piano Bar, and finally gave it up around 2 and headed back to the stateroom for a solid 4 hours sleep before heading home.

All in all, a nice evening of friends and food and fun.  THANKS, CARNIVAL!

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