An Alaskan Cruise Experience

I booked a 7-day Alaskan cruise on the Carnival Splendor starting from Seattle. The Carnival cruises leave from the Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91. 

Booking the cruise

Booking the cruise was fairly easy but subsequently, there were a number of steps to be completed especially because of Covid protocols. We had to download the Carnival app. It is a very handy tool since you can get all cruise details, itinerary, daily programs, menus, spending, and account details through the app. 

You have to give a credit card number. They will hold a certain $$ amount for incidental expenses. All your purchases on the ship will be through this credit card once you board the ship. This is linked to your room key card so that the key card acts as both ID and payment source on the ship.

We also had to download VeriFly for uploading identification, vaccination details etc. Since the cruise was stopping at Victoria in Canada, we also had to download ArriveCAN app for uploading details for Canada. 

Once all the details are given, you get the pdf formats of the boarding pass and baggage tag that you can print out. 

Internet connection on Cruise

There are internet packages available for purchase either online (till the day before boarding) or once on ship (but will be more expensive). Depending on your usage you can buy the package. You cannot buy it for a day. It is for the entire cruise duration.

The Carnival app is accessed through the Carnival HUB. This can be done even if you haven’t taken a net connection. But in case you want to access social media or make phone calls you would need to buy the net connection. The highest package allows to access video calls etc. 

Boarding the cruise

The ship was timed to leave at 4 pm. Boarding started at 12. We had to pick a time slot online and reached the dock according to that time. There was a designated space for handing over the luggage. I handed them the luggage and the baggage tag that I had printed out. They stapled it and scanned it and I was done. I stood in line. 

Smith Cove Cruise Terminal, Seattle, Pier 91. Cruise Luggage check-in area.
Smith Cove Cruise Terminal, Seattle, Pier 91. Cruise passengers to stand in line here.

You would definitely need the passport (or passport card). The line led to a cruise member looking over our vaccination details and covid test results taken in the last 72 hours. Thereafter, we filed to stand for a check where we presented our passport and got our boarding pass stamped. 

Smith Cove Cruise Terminal, Seattle, Pier 91. Cruise check-in

Then it was off the building and out through the ramps to board the ship. There was security at the entrance where the boarding pass was scanned and their system pulls up all our details with pictures. They have to identify who gets in and who leaves the ship at every port. 

You have to reach the muster station number mentioned on your pass. Here they will go through safety points and what to do in case of emergencies. Then we proceed to our rooms. The room key cards are available in an envelope outside the room. This card, as mentioned above, is the only thing you need to carry around the ship. It is scanned for ID, for payment as well as to enter your cabin. 

The room was small (I had opted for an ordinary cabin) but neat. The bathroom was clean. The toilet on the ship flushes like it’s sucking the life out of everything. Ergo, it is very effective. The in-house stand-up comedians have much to say about these too. 

Deck 1 cabin, Carnival Cruise


Each cabin has its assigned steward who will come and introduce himself/herself. He takes your preferred time for room cleaning. The hospitality is exemplary. We were left with nothing lacking. 

The Splendor is a large ship. It can carry over 3000 passengers apart from the army of crew and staff.

Carnival Splendor, Alaska

On the third floor was the lobby where the Guest Services and the Adventure Desk are located. The 3rd, 4th and 5th floors also have entrances to the Splendor auditorium called ‘Spectacular.’ This is where some of the shows take place. 

Spectacular Auditorium, Carnival Splendor Cruise ship

The lobby is cozy with a bar and ample seating with a stage space where musicians perform. This is also where we entered the ship and this is where we will exit from at the end of the cruise. 

Lobby and bar, Carnival Splendor
Lobby and bar, Carnival Splendor

The fifth floor has the shopping, arcade, casinos, and bars, teen (15 -17) hangout/disc – Club O2, piano bar, stand-up comedy stage, pub etc. 

Shopping on Carnival Splendor

The 9th floor called Lido, has a buffet, deli, pizza, burger joint, and an Indian restaurant that serves only lunch called Masala Tiger. It also has the main center deck with a pool and stage with a large screen where apart from events, movies are run. There’s a hot tub on the 10th floor too. The Splendor has an adults-only retreat called ‘Serenity’ with a pool and spacious hot tub. The Spa and fitness facilities are on the 11th floor. 

Masala Tiger, Indian restaurant, Carnival Splendor
Serenity. Adult retreat, Splendor
Stand-up comedy stage, Splendor
Buffet/restaurant seating, Carnival Splendor

The Lido deck, Carnival Splendor
Buffet, Carnival Splendor
Gold Pearl Restaurant

The Carnival App is your lifeline while on the ship. You can make excursion purchases as well on the app and the ticket gets delivered to your room. With just a single click you can buy it (remember the credit card you have saved in their system!). The App also tells you “What’s Happening” so that you can hope from activity to show to dinner to bingo to musical to violin performance and what have you. 

The Gold Pearl Restaurant on the third floor is where the sit-down dining takes place. Based on your room you are assigned a table and that will stay the same till the end of the cruise. Your servers will be the same. The service is professional and servers know you by name. They actually go out of their way to cater to your requests. The food is excellent. Especially the dessert. In fact one of the days there was “Bitter and Blank” on the dessert menu. We loved it. The next day we were reminiscing about the “Bitter and Blank” and our server told us he will try to arrange for more the next day. Come next day, dinner time, there’s “Bitter and Blank” ready for us – though technically it was not on the menu that day. I give a ten to the service and food at Carnival Splendor’s Gold Pearl Restaurant.

Gold Pearl Restaurant (for dinner and breakfast), Carnival Splendor

The dining experience is taken a notch up because of the view of the sea. The windows are large and most seatings have a sea view. It is especially gorgeous during sunsets. Having desserts and drinks with friends and family in this ambiance is definitely memorable.

Bitter and Blank!
Creme Brûlée
Cheese sampler
Lava cake

What’s for children and teens on the Carnival Splendor? Well, they have Camp Ocean where parents can sign up their kids based on age. The kids have supervised activities and playtime at the splash pads and water park on the upper deck. The teens have their own programs and places – Circle C for ages 12 -14 and Club O2 for ages 15-17.

The casino is a welcome distraction, especially on the ‘day at sea’ day when the ship does not dock anywhere. It usually is a smoking zone – don’t know if they had a non-smoking part in the casino. 

Drink packages on the Cruise are available for purchase. So, if you are planning on having a few each day, opting for the drinks package might be more prudent. 

The 7-day cruise entailed – 

Day 1 – Sail from Seattle at 4 PM

Day 2 – Day at Sea

Day 3 – Scenic cruise of Tracy Arm Fjord

Day 4 – Icy Strait Point/Hoonah

Day 5 – Juneau

Day 6 – Ketchikan

Day 7 – Victoria, Canada

Day 8 – Arrive in Seattle at 7 AM