Most new vessels hang their hats on one new experience. And Carnival Splendor, the fun ship line’s newest and biggest offering in Australia, is no exception.
So no point in hanging around, right? I headed straight for the much anticipated crowning glory – the Green and Gold waterpark named after its two centrepieces, the Green Lightning and the Twister Waterslide.
Ok, so here’s the hype: “Basking in the rays of sun is a gleaming symbol of fun, a monument to merriment… a sign of splashy-good times to come. Spot the spiralling Twister Waterslide atop your Carnival ship and you can be sure that your vacation comes complete with twists, turns and squeals of thrilled delight.
“Countless gallons of water rush through the entire length of this slide, so you’re by no means dry when you start, but by the time you reach the end — hundreds of feet later — you reach new levels of soaking, splashing down in that classic waterslide photo-finish: hands-up, eyes wide and nothing but exhilaration on your face.”
Er…not quite. The Twister Waterslide was so mild that my hair barely got wet.
I know the adrenaline junkies at Carnival are not going to like this, but the 104 metre long golden Twister Waterslide felt like an extended relaxing warm golden hug with plenty of twists and turns that gave my back just the stretch it needed.
As Aldi says: good, different.
The line’s first Cloud 9 spa in Australia was on the same deck and I’m pretty sure the slide is not one of their therapies. But when I looked over at the Green Lightning next to it, I start to see why the Twister was designed that way. If the Twister is mild mustard, The Green Lightning is the punchy pickle.
The Green Lightning took notes from the popular Green Thunder on the Carnival Spirit and amped it up a few notches. The 10 metre drop on the Thunder is now 11.3 metres on the Lightning. The slide’s drop trapdoor, which used to be opaque on Thunder, has also been replaced with one that is clear.
Vice President and General Manager of Carnival Cruise Line Australia Jennifer Vandekreeke, who was one of the first few to go down the Green Lightning, confirms that the clear trapdoor makes it all the more scary.
The Green Lightning also has another unique finale.
“Instead of finishing in a lane that leads to a pool of water, it actually finishes in a bowl where, depending on the guest, they might go around a few times before coming to a stop,” says Hampton Dixon, Carnival’s Project Manager for Hotel Refurbishment, unofficially the line’s Mr. Waterpark. He designs, builds the line’s waterparks and is always one of the first people down the slide to test them.
The record number of times during testing is four and a half – but it is quickly topped by the Cruise Director Lee Mason’s record of five times on her way to Sydney. Unfortunately, the Lightning was shut for maintenance, so I did not get my chance to break the record.
Mr Dixon reveals his three secrets to a hit waterslide: “Height, speed and excitement”. I think the Green Lightning might check all the boxes.
Splendor’s waterpark is also designed to be family friendly. The slides finish in the same area so parents can easily watch their kids come down the slide, either from the cool the wet area or the seating area right next to it, shares Mr Dixon.
While my hair stayed dry at the slides, I discovered the new waterpark created just for little ones, Splashy Cove, where there is no chance of preserving my hairdo. This area, which is created for younger children, is all about the spray toys and has water flying in every direction.
The 3,500-guest CarnivalSplendor also has plenty for those who, perhaps, don’t now need waterparks. From the popular adults only Serenity Pool area, to Australia’s first Cloud 9 spa which has an impressive total of five dry saunas and steam rooms and generous therapy pool. All of which are included when you book on the ship’s spa suites, another Australian first on board. The ship also has five new bars and 17 different dining options.
As Ms Vandekreeke rightly points out: “For an Australian ship, we’ve got to get the food right and coffee right.”
And there is plenty of new food to sample. The Splendor features Carnival’s first ever Masala Tiger, which offers Indian cuisine. It set in one corner of the Serenity Pool area and the occasional wafts of spicy Indian food is sure tempting and will be starting quite a few rumbling bellies.
Ms Vandekreeke reveals why they chose to launch Masala Tiger on Splendor: “Australians are more adventurous with their food compared to the Americans. And we chose Indian because many of our on board chefs are Indians and some of the food are actually made with their mum’s recipes.”
Seafood Shack, a Carnival favourite, arrives in Australia for the first time. While fan favourites like Pizzeria del Capitano and Guy’s Burger Joint is also on board along with more special food experiences like The Chef’s Table, where a thoughtfully crafted eight-course meal is topped with a dash of theatrics.
Carnival has also kept in mind Australia’s love affair with coffee and created three new coffee spots on board: Java Blue, Juice and Java and the Serenity Bar. The line also has a new partnership with Vittoria Coffee.
The bright and loud aesthetic of Splendor’s interior also made it is easy to forget that she was sitting in one of Sydney’s smoggiest days. The Spectacular Spectacular theatre is another dazzling corner of the ship and it debuts new aerial illusion show Airia to keep guests entertained with more show options on the longer itineraries that Splendor will begin sailing.
Airia is headlined by homegrown talent Aleisha Manion, the show is packed with illusions, aerial manoeuvres, special effects, dazzling costumes, and an infectious soundtrack.
“We’re excited to welcome Aussie families, couples and friends onboard Carnival Splendor – she’s three footy fields long, 14 decks high and packed with things to see, do, taste and try!” says Ms Vandekreeke.
Carnival Splendor will be home ported from Sydney as of 10 December 2019, offering 7 to 12-day cruises to destinations such as the South Pacific and shorter cruises around Australia, from Tasmania to Tangalooma, Moreton Island.