Very impressed with the Alaska cruise I took with Carnival. The cruise left from Vancouver, cruising the inside passage of Vancouver Island. The cruise offered inside passage for the first full day (east of Vancouver Island), juneau, glacier bay, skagway & ketchikan. The full day was a return to Seattle in the open waters.
Embarkation was not great, and that was for me the low point of the whole cruise. We were all seated in Canada Place, little to no communication from Carnival or the cruise port employees. The one 30 second spiel from a port employee to inform us the reason for the delay consisted of saying the ship had been delayed getting into port due to bad weather (not true, someone from the roll call who was in Vancouver that AM saw the Spirit in port at 8AM) and to sit & wait our turn - don't try to sneak into the line to get on the ship ahead of time because "we'll be watching you. And if we catch you trying to cut the line you'll be sent to the very back of the group & have to wait even longer to get on the ship." That was it for communication, no further updates. We were delayed a couple hours getting on the ship, and sail away was 90 minutes late, which didn't help the informal m&g that was planned for our roll call.
But once we were on the ship, our cabins were ready so we immediately dropped off luggage. I loved my cabin, a 9A obstructed view balcony. The cabin was spacious & looked more like a suite than a regular cabin to me. There was a nice bar with granite, granite table & also the bathroom had a granite counter top & floor. It had a nice sitting area & the space was worth it to me to have the obstructed balcony. Cabin also had 3 closets, and a dresser to put clothes into. The one downside that surprised me - safe is basically on the floor in a cabinet underneath the tv. The balcony was big, but gosh yes it was more obstructed than I expected. The lifeboat sat not below the balcony, but more flush with it. So you could see out just fine, but despite having cruised before I forgot how BIG these lifeboats are. In my thinking I was expecting more of large rowboat than the huge roofed thing that could sleep 8 if we were talking private yachts. These boats are huge!
After dropping off luggage we had a quick lunch in the lido, stopped at the Italian station & had some really delicious fish, and grilled veggies. There was a baked eggplant & cheese dish that was really good too.
Our cabin steward & assistant were great, very helpful. For the most part we only had our cabin done once a day with son usually sleeping in too late. But they had their work cut out for them when they finally did get to the cabin, and always left it looking great with the best towel animals I've seen on any cruise so far. Great job Marcus and Arturo(?) sorry I trashed your name the whole cruise & still probably got it wrong now.
The food was good for the most part, dishes I've ordered on other carnival cruises were prepared the best I've had in recent years on the Spirit. Did notice a problem with the radish slices curling up like they weren't fresh on the first day - but in general the food was prepared well & I thought the kitchen did an amazingly good job of putting out so much so well. That was at dinner. I only had breakfast one day in the MDR, really disappointed with the poached eggs I got. Not overcooked but they were cold, yuck!
The desserts were quite good, in fact too good in the MDR after dinner. I did try some of the desserts in the lido buffet & was disappointed every time - except for the chocolate rum mousse offered on chocolate day. I was too impatient to stand in line for the chocolate buffet but was able to try the mousse at a line that was more reasonable. Really, really good.
The real star of the cruise was glacier bay. We lucked out with decent, albeit cold weather. Some crazy girls were in the hot tub & standing up getting their pictures taken in their bikinis. Don't know how they tolerated it, I hope they didn't catch their death. Ports of skagway & juneau & ketchikan were fun as well, even though the rain was pretty heavy in ketchikan. The naturalist Michelle was great I thought, always watching for wildlife & coming on to announce over the PA system when she saw something of note. Also park rangers came on the ship for Glacier Bay.
As far as activities - it seems Carnival is cutting back on what is offered. At least for what is of interest to me. In the past I would have 10 things highlighted a day to take part in. This cruise, there might only be 2 things a day I might want to do. Usually if I found one activity that appealed, like the naturalist giving a talk on the whales - that was also when tea was offered. I noticed that, being very little I wanted to do for activities in a day but if there was something good it was all offered at the same time so you had to choose. But maybe that's because I'm picky, no interest in bingo or the hairy whatever contest.
Also, I always try to take part in the fitness activities offered. I wish I were an early riser, because 7 or 8 is when the free fitness classes like stretching, etc, is offered. I did do a pilates class and also a stretching class at 5pm, and a circuit training class. Was surprised at how poorly attended the classes were I went to. The trainer for the pilates class was good & it was a tremendous workout. My abs HURT the next day. There was 1 other lady at the class, and someone who left half way through the class & claimed she did not know it was a pay activity. :( The circuit training class - I was the only one there. Trainer told me to congratulate myself on being the only one on board of 2,000+ cruisers who wanted to work out.
I did enjoy the production shows. They were very well done I thought, I was impressed with the quality of the singers & dancers. Also surprised one night the water was really rough, and they did not cancel the show. The dancers all looked great, and they had to have been not dancing full out but only maybe 70% (if that, i.e. holding back quite a bit) considering how bad the ship was pitching. Everyone landed their jumps & no one fell.
I was expecting rough water for the return to Seattle, and it was rough the night we left ketchikan. I thought the water was fairly calm the next day though, and there was a fantastic show put on by a pod of Orcas who were swimming next to the ship.
All in all a very good cruise for a very cheap price. Also the green thunder waterslide looked awesome, I'm envious of the Aussies who will soon get the Spirit.