We just returned from a 15 day cruise on the Spirit to Hawaii and as expected, had a great time! Carnival continues to live up to its reputation by offering a great cruising experience at a reasonable price.
No complaints in this category. It is important to be patient and understanding because the cruise line is trying to load/unload over 2,100 passengers and their luggage in a short period of time. In addition, the ship is taking on fuel, water, food, supplies, etc. How this is all choreographed and completed in a relatively short timeframe is beyond comprehension. One observation and recommendation: During embarkation in San Diego it was raining. We noticed that some of the luggage was left on the pier in the rain without being covered. Some of the metal racks that held the luggage when being transported by forklifts were covered, however, the majority appeared to be left open to the elements. We commented to each other that since we had arrived early and that our luggage was placed on the pier (not covered) that it would probably be wet. We were right, when we got our luggage it was soaked as were the contents. Oh well, we laid out the clothes and they were dry by the next morning. Cannot control Mother Nature, however, the ground crew should have enough rain covers to cover all luggage being stored/transported in inclement weather.
This is a beautiful ship even though it is now 11 years old. It is easy to navigate through and has enough "common areas" so it never seemed to be crowded. We both commented on how "clean" the ship was. Maintenance staff were always cleaning/painting/varnishing, etc. something throughout the entire cruise. Carnival gets an A+ in this category.
I could write several pages about the wonderful staff members we met on this cruise. As we experienced on another Carnival cruise (Carnival Conquest to the Eastern Caribbean), the staff are very friendly and professional. However, I need to recognize a couple of people who really made the cruise a memorable experience. Captain Volpi did an excellent job in making you feel like part of the Carnival family. We enjoyed his daily noon "briefings" and his good sense of humor. The weather on this trip was somewhat less than perfect (large swells and high winds for several days) and we also had a couple of notable incidents during this cruise (successful rescue of a customer falling overboard and a medical emergency that required the ship to be diverted). Captain Volpi handled these emergencies in the most professional manner. I hope that Carnival Cruise Lines recognizes Captain Volpi for the successful rescue as I am sure that the outcome would have been different if it had not been for his experience and expertise as a ship captain. He is an exceptional communicator as he kept everyone informed about the weather and possible delays. Captain Volpi made it a point to meet as many people as possible and frequently was seeing walking the decks and common areas greeting people. He was always eager to answer questions. He is truly an exceptional person and we feel lucky to have met such a gracious and wonderful person on this trip. You could see the respect towards Captain Volpi that was exhibited by other crew and staff members. We understand that he will be retiring later this year. We are going to miss the way he signed off during his daily briefings with: "and as always, arrivederci".
We would also be remiss for not recognizing the cruise director "Stu". He is EXCELLENT and made the cruise a lot of fun. Carnival is known as the Funship cruise line, well, Stu certainly made this the case, especially when we were thrown so many poor weather days. Stu's energy is contagious. We are also going to miss the preface to every announcement he would make over the public address system with either "Aloha or g'day". The assistant cruise director (and we cannot remember his name, sorry) and Stu made a great pair and worked very well together. The assistant cruise director is also very energetic and funny and made the cruise enjoyable.
All of the staff were friendly and professional. We would like to especially recognize a couple of staff members who went above and beyond. Ivalina, our head room steward, went out of her way to make sure that my wife was OK during the first couple of days out to sea as she was suffering from seasickness. She showed genuine concern and frequently checked on her to make sure that she was OK. We don't know how Ivalina and her staff did it but they always kept our room and bathroom clean throughout the day. The ice container was never empty. We heard from other passengers nearby that they also received the same outstanding service.
Finally, I need to also recognize our Empire Dining Room Staff. They addressed us by our names from day one and made us feel welcome (Table 194). They possessed the skills of wait staff that you would expect to find in a 5 star restaurant. Their names are: Christian (team head waiter), Surintorn (team waitress) and Didiet (assistant team waiter). We hope we got their names and titles right, please accept our apologies if not.
Carnival Cruise Lines: We hope that you recognize these fine individuals.
We found the food in the main dining room to be excellent, contrary to some other reviews we have read. The selection/variety/quality/presentation was outstanding. We would not change anything.
The buffets were good and we did not have any complaints. We enjoyed the daily variety.
No complaints here. We had an extended balcony and used it frequently for "quiet time" (although we often had to wear jackets when sitting on the balcony). Everything worked well in the room and the climate control was excellent. Space was adequate for two (2) people. It is definitely worth the extra money to have your own personal balcony, especially on extended cruises. We were on Deck 8 and did not have too much noise from the Lido deck above us except for an occasional jogger or a heavy cart being moved, however, the sounds were muffled and not a problem.
Very good to outstanding! We heard a couple of complaints from people about there not being enough entertainment on this cruise. We disagree! There was always some type of live music being played around the ship in the evening. The main theatrical performances were excellent! Broadway quality. The band was outstanding! We particularly enjoyed the Jazz Band that played several times just outside the entrance to the Empire Dining Room. Because of the rough seas, some of the performances had to be modified and/or moved to different days. One night, the dancers were not able to perform due to large sea swells. Carnival quickly modified the performance to ensure the safety of the performers.....it was outstanding! Whoever was in charge of putting this together at the last minute should be recognized.
We did four (4) tours on this cruise, however, the one that stands out is the tour out of Hilo to Mauna Kea. This is an absolute must for anyone who visits Hawaii. The tour guide was very knowledgable and had an interest in astronomy which was appropriate since we visited the Keck Observatory on top of Mauna Kea in addition to seeing the numerous other obsevatories in the summit area. The view was awesome since as we were close to 13,800 feet above sea level. There was even a small amount of snow remaining on the north facing slopes near the summit area. The transition from a tropical environment to an alpine setting was incredible. The view over to Mauna Loa and the ocean were really cool. This is a must do tour!
None! (except for maybe our wet luggage, but we understand). As I have mentioned in another review, the photographers, drink waiters, bingo games, casino, arts and crafts, trivia games, etc.,etc. are there for you. If you do not want their services or want to participate in these activities, then don't! If you want to stay active there is certainly a lot for you to do. If you want to just relax and read a book, then you can do that also. If you want to eat 24/7 you can do that too!
Great cruise and a great value. We had a fantastic time and would do this cruise again. It was therapeutic to get away from work for a couple of weeks in addition to making several new friends. We booked another Carnival Cruise next March from New York to Long Beach via the Panama Canal and are counting the days.
Good job Carnival.......Overall Grade: A+ Please recognize Captain Volpi (especially for the rescue at sea) and the others we mentioned.