Our family of 4 (kids 13 and 19) began our trip by building in a few extra days in Seattle, which I would highly recommend. It's a beautiful, clean city with much to do and see. We were lucky with the weather - a bit overcast day one, but sunny and mid 70's the next days. We stayed at the Residence Inn on Lake Union and is was perfect for our family of 4. The separate bedroom and living room gave us plenty of space and included hot breakfast was nice. Restaurants in walking distance were also very good. There is street car line is right in front of the hotel to take you downtown, and then it's short walk anywhere you want to go. ($2.25/pp, under 17 $1.25) Pikes Place Market is a must see, and we ate at the touristy and pricey, but yummy, Crab Pot. We also took a segway tour with Seattle by Segway, and our guide, Marley, was fabulous. I highly recommend doing this.
We were at the cruise port by noon and on the ship by 12:40PM. Embarkation was easy and everyone was quite friendly. We had lunch on the Lido Deck and checked out the gorgeous ship. We sailed the Costa Atlantica, last year, which we found out is almost the identical ship to the Carnival Spirit, so getting around was pretty simple. I think the decor of the Spirit is much prettier than the Atlantica. Our rooms were ready by 1PM, and on our way into our cabins we were greeted, by name, by our cabin Steward Rigo. He was outstanding throughout the trip. Our boys room was a typical "boys' mess" regularly, but Rigo always made it right. I think I need him at my house!
We had dinner most nights in the main dining room, and our head waiter, "Coolman" from Thailand was outstanding. Again, he knew our names day one, and seemed genuinely happy to serve us each night. He was funny, and he could really dance! The food in the dining room was never bad, but it was never exceptionally great either. There was always plenty to choose from.
We had breakfast most mornings in the LaPlaya Grill. It was always busy, but we found seats eventually, and there were plenty of food choices here too. We did have room service one morning as we had an early excursion. This, too, was fine, but limited in choices. One morning we ate in the dinning room just so we could have our awesome waiter once more. This was very relaxed and the food was good.
Lunch was mostly in the LaPlaya Grill as well (if we even ate.) The choices changed daily, but there was always pizza, salad bar, burgers and hot dogs and a deli line. The burgers were downright awful, and the pizza was incredibly soggy. The salad bar was fresh and had plenty to offer. The reubens were really delicious.The guys loved the continuous flow of soft serve ice cream.
We had dinner in the Noveau Steak House one evening. The presentation and service were outstanding, but the food was really just so-so. The specialty coffee bar was definitely not worth it, and although the desserts there looked incredible, they tasted awful.
Entertainment on board... well, aside from the hysterical comedians, it was pretty goofy. I kept thinking of Simon Cowell's comments on American Idol "You should be a cruise ship singer." Well, yea, that's all about entertainment.
We did attend some of the daily events - trivia, name that tune, etc. on our sea days. Plenty of offerings for all ages. We were never bored!
We avoided the casino, as I just can't stand the smoke. Though there is a smoking section, it flows right into the rest of the casino. Not big gamblers anyway, so no big deal.
The bar tenders were all nice, except for one bored guy in the sport bar. He clearly did not love his job. I had a soda card, so I would get my diet cokes at the nearest bar, and he seemed rather annoyed by this.
We had a few drinks at various bars and the rest of the bartenders were very friendly.
There was one pool/hot tub that was enclosed the entire trip, which was perfect for an Alaskan cruise. We were in it a few times. The open pools and the slides did get used, but for us Floridians, it was way too cold.
My husband and I loved the big chairs on the Serenity deck, and it was a nice escape from the kids, though we never found kids loud or out of control anywhere on board. The adult hot tub was generally full, but we just wanted to have a drink and lounge, enjoying the beautiful scenery.
They had lots of kids activities for the various age groups, though out 13 year old opted not to participate. He found plenty to stay busy. The 19 year old was at an odd age as he's too old for kid groups but too young for the night clubs. He, too, was content to do his own thing though.
Our cabins (8141 - extended balcony, and 8137 - inside cabin) were great. Plenty of space and very comfy beds. The kids came to our room to sit on the balcony and watch the whales and seals and enjoy the scenery. We all had more than enough room for our ridiculous amount of luggage. A prior review mentions the noise from the lido deck at in the early hours of the morning... I did hear them putting the lounge chairs out around 5:30 AM, but it was such a small amount of noise and for a mere 5 minutes, it was certainly nothing to complain about. The neighboring balcony did have smokers, which was annoying at times, but it did not stop us from sitting on our balcony.
We did excursions in Skagway (4x4Mule Tour), Juneau (Salmon Fishing) and Ketchikan (Kayaking) and you can read further reviews of those below. We would have loved more time in Ketchikan and less time in Skagway. Not sure why it's scheduled how it is. We did get off the ship in Victoria and took a cab to the town. It was gorgeous and worth getting off the ship for. I certainly would not waste money on an excision here though. $9 each way for the cab sure beats $89.00 pp bus tour. It's a great place to walk around and take pictures, have a drink and shop a bit.
Leaving the ship back in Seattle was just a easy as getting on. As we were staying in Seattle on more night, and did not have a plane to catch, we had one of the last numbers for disembarking the ship. We left our luggage out the night before, and were able to stay in our cabins till 8:30AM. We then went up to the Lido deck, had a quick breakfast, and by 9AM we were called to get off the sip. There were no lines, no crowds... very easy!
Overall this was a FABULOUS trip and we would sail the Carnival Spirit again! Lovely ship, super itinerary and great staff.