Carnival Spirit Cruise Review by supacoo: All Aboard the Dated Carnival Spirit
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All Aboard the Dated Carnival Spirit
After spending many hours researching our Alaskan cruise by reading other reviews, I knew I had to write my own review at the conclusion of the trip. So, here's my report which will focus on the ship and the excursions, none of which were booked through Carnival.
We overpaid for the airport transfer but only realized that after we'd booked and no refunds were allowed. Even though it was expensive, it worked flawlessly with minimal waiting at the airport and our bags showed up at our cabin, so not many complaints there.
Boarding the ship went pretty well. We got on around 2:00 (4:00 departure) and had printed all of our documents in advance. The entire process was about 30 minutes. Our cabin was a 7A type (#5175) and the view was considered partially blocked but it really wasn't bad at all. I would recommend this if someone is looking to save a few hundred bucks.
The first night we opted for dinner in the Nouveau steakhouse based on other reviews. It came with More a complimentary bottle of wine and was delicious. I also heard that dinner in the Empire room was great that night.
Carnival now offers "all you can drink" booze for a set fee per day. We did not opt for this but a few friends did. I don't believe they got their money worth (it equated to about 8 beers per day, and considering some days were spent at port, it was just not possible. Although they gave it a gallant effort!). We instead smuggled booze on using Rum Runners and then bought bottomless bubbles. None of us are soda drinkers so a full week of soda + hard liquor was definitely numbing. I do recommend the Rum Runners, though. Also, an added word of warning about the unlimited booze - every person in the cabin has to buy it. One of our friends doesn't drink and her husband wanted the bottomless booze but they wouldn't let him purchase unless she did too.
To start out with a full day at sea was a bit rough and I got cabin fever quickly. We started the day with a workout (check out the small track up near the mini golf/basketball - it was quiet and peaceful each morning and a nice alternative to the treadmills) followed by breakfast. We all got pretty sick of the food at La Playa grill on Lido deck 9 by the end. Otherwise, there was not much to do. We hunkered down and played cards in the game room and also gambled a little. Dinner in the Empire Room was delicious. We chose Your Time dining (billed as "Dine when you want, with whoever you want") and decided to try to dine with our friends who had a 7:45 set time. However, the billing should be "dine with who you want, when you want, as long as they have Your Time dining too" because we ended up having to change to the 7:45 dining at a reserved table for the rest of the week in order to join them.
The first port town was Juneau. It was cold and rainy. We went whale watching with Captain Larry and Orca Enterprises. I highly recommend this. Orca is the last privately owned tour. The guides on the boat were HIGHLY engaged and enthusiastic. We saw hundreds of orcas and a dozen or so humpbacks. We were cold and wet at the end and were happy to warm up with a Duck Fart from the Red Dog Saloon before re-boarding the boat. (We did see a bear downtown while we were wandering!) The walk back to the boat was FAR and my friend slipped and sprained her ankle near the gangway which was a bummer to happen so early in the trip. It was also a very slow embarkation process of about 45 minutes to get back on the boat. No fun standing around in the cold rain in that kind of weather!
The next day was Glacier Bay and that was pretty incredible. We took the recommendations of some others and spent about half the time in our room, snuggled under the comforter. We ordered room service and were underwhelmed - not many offerings (fruit, cold cereal) to be had on the menu.
The second port was in Skagway. We booked a private tour through Matt at Skagway Van Tours. It was nice and Matt was very accommodating and stopped for all of our many photo requests. We went to the Yukon, checked out the little village of Carcross, and headed back to town. Skagway is home to about 400 people according to Matt and lacks for entertainment. We had dinner back on the boat and it was good (the dinners all kind of blur together and all I really remember is the chocolate cake for dessert each night...)
The next day we docked in Ketchikan. This was the highlight of the trip. We checked out Creek Street (do NOT miss!) and then had a float plane. We booked it through Shore Excursions Group but I found you can save $55 by going directly to the aviation company. The company we used was Southeast Aviation. Check out their website and book directly with them. WHAT A GREAT TIME! Mark, our pilot, was super fun and kept flying us around for close-up wildlife sightings. He also landed us in a cove to search for a bear (which we didn't actually end up seeing). I can not say enough good things about Southeast Aviation - I'm even sporting my brand new t-shirt from them right now.
The final day was supposed to be a cruise of the Inside Passage but who knows if we actually cruised there or not. It was so foggy we couldn't even see the water from our balcony. Many times we noticed we weren't moving at all due to bad visibility. This made for another long day at sea.
Our final port was in Vancouver, docking at 7 a.m. We had a flight back out of SEA so had a one-way rental and then a drive back, and wanted to be first off the boat. We got up at 5, ate some breakfast, and then got in line a little after 6. Actually, we WERE the line. Debarking was a little chaotic - haven't they done this before??? - and we couldn't find anyone from Carnival who knew where to go. Finally at about 7:30 when there were dozens of people lined up, they ended up moving the entire line to another area of the ship to exit, merging with some people who were already there. We were off the ship and through customs by about 8. Since we were at the front there was no customs queue at all.
Overall, I can't say I would recommend this cruise completely. The ship is horribly dated in the common areas, and is very tacky/cheesy. Since we are about 30 years younger than the average Alaskan cruiser, maybe this is appealing to some. But the port towns were fun and I highly, HIGHLY recommend each of the excursions we did. I would not have done it differently if I did it all again! Less
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Cabin review: Carnival Spirit Balcony Upper 5175
Good location for those that are prone to sea sickness. The obstructed view was not bad as the boats were below us. Here's a picture from our room looking out: http://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/s720x720/384046_10151239182210917_904860507_n.jpg Just look out, not down. Only the antennae from the lifeboat got in the way of a handful of pictures. We had 3 people in the room and while not spacious was definitely adequate.