Travelling with two teen boys we were looking forward to a great Springbreak vacation and the Carnival Spirit delivered.
Embarkation was fine, though a little chaotic as there was two ships preparing to leave at the same time and it seemed as though the port was barely able to handle the people. We arrived at about 11:15 and were on the ship at 12:30 - so all in all it was decent.
The ship was clean and well kept. The new Green Thunder slide was great and open regularly. My kids were too old for the waterworks area, but it looked new and shiny and was popular with the toddlers. The Lido deck is one area where we feel the ship sort of shows its age in terms of design. We enjoy the seaside theatre on the newer ships and the larger pool area that comes with that (personal preference). Also, there are three pools to sit around tables on the Lido deck. One of the pools is the new Serenity area for adults only (which is very well done)...the other two pools are 50% smoking around the tables. In other words, if you don't smoke and you have kids there are not a lot of poolside tables to eat/play cards or just hang out around on a busy cruise, particularly around lunch time. In fact, I think the entire starboard side of deck 9 and 10 are smoking.
The food was good, especially in the MDR. We had intended to have one meal in the Steakhouse but changed our minds because the dining room was great. The buffet was fine too.
The ports were surprisingly enjoyable considering this is the third time we've cruised Mexico. Manzanillo was clean and friendly. PV was the best I've ever seen it. They have really improved the Malecon there by shutting it off to cars. We found a great spot there and had dollar drinks. Cabo was the best as usual...we booked a whale watching excursion right on the boardwalk after we got off the tender for $35 per person. Ensenada was more or less a waste of time. I'm not a prude by any means, but some of those bars on the main drag were a little over the top if you have young kids in tow.
Things that I would improve: Drink prices are high...I expect that. My advise is don't bother buying the prepaid drink vouchers to offset the prices. They clearly say they can only be used on drinks $5.75 or less. That means only beer or a glass of wine essentially. They will make exceptions and take them quite often at their discretion, but we were also refused a few times. We ended up just giving the coupons to our kids for the virgin smoothies. Also as I alluded to earlier, we didn't love the smoking policies. We went to the casino a few times and twice saw unhappy people (one time a guy was hostile to a young female employee) giving the staff a hard time over the smoking boundaries. You expect smoking in a casino, but there should be a reasonable and clear structure for the benefit of everyone.
Lots of fun activities on the ship. All three comedians were great. There was a family friendly juggling act that was good. The hypnotist was fun too. The musical acts were our least favorite but not bad by any means. Lots of trivia and games that were good. Mini golf looked brand new. Two ping Pong tables...Lots of fun.
All in all Carnival delivered and we had a great time.