Boarding the Spirit in Vancouver was fast and efficient, then time to have something to eat and check out the ship. We had been told to go to our muster station at 3p.m. and there was another couple waiting there already with the same instructions. Waited 15 mins. and nothing happened and nobody else came so we took off to look at the ship only to be turned around by an employee at 5p.m.who sent us back; no explanation or apology was given and the 3p.m.couple were still waiting there! We then stood for ages waiting for them to get their act together and were pushed further back in the crowd as it developed with the result being the latecomers got the front row and we saw very little passed all their heads. By the time it was done we wondered why all the fuss; it was just a simple demo that could be done better on the tv and totally unlike our cruises with HAL where everyone had to actually put on their life jacket. Comparing the two I'd rather feel safe when travelling across the More
ocean but this way I didn't even try on my life jacket so don't know if I could even do it right in a panic situation. Also unlike HAL no roll call was taken therefore I know not all passengers had attended or would know what to do in case of an emergency.
Our dinner table mates were a good match; we had all been married for over 50 years and so wondered if this is how people are assigned? Also heard that 90% of the passengers were going on to Australia and will be onboard for 28 days but none of us were. I thought this may have also been a factor although when all was said and done we never met anyone who was going down under so was that 90% fact or fiction?
It was unfortunate I thought that our departure from Vancouver was during dinner and all those people missed the photo op of beautiful Stanley Park and sailing under the Lions Gate Bridge. Eventually our departure from ports of call happened during dinner again and again and we missed seeing the arrival or departure or a sunset until we left the ship in Honolulu. Maybe next time we'll take the later seating and see if that helps this budding photographer or perhaps go in a different season or is it possible to ask for a table at a window?
WiFi was lousy and a waste of money for me as my purchased time ran out before I even got online but then, maybe as a new Ipad user just didn't understand how to do it; the guy in the internet room was inaccessible because he had long lineups to deal with and I couldn't stand there long enough to hear what may have been a 10 second answer. Pictures were being taken a little too often and then finding those pics was a p.i.t.a. and way too expensive when you did find them. The art auctions were a bust because of the chandeliers glare of shiny lights on the glass of the artworks and crazy seating layouts making an early escape impossible and more often than not there was no air conditioning, no free art was given as advertised not to mention no event ever started on time during this cruise ever and the worst offenders were the bingo and art auctions.
The food on this cruise was not great. Once I ordered a vegetarian meal and was served what appeared to be some sort of canned mystery meat and an attempt had been made to disguise it by covering it with sour burned mushrooms. Whatever it was smelled disgusting and the waiter upon seeing me not eat it asked why and when I told him he denied it and insisted it was eggplant! I know my meat from my eggplant! Hubby prefers extra well done beef but it was served to him rare most of the time and sent back and I got a piece of rare chicken once as well. Dinnertime was the only time fresh ice water was available without charge and I was thirsty for much of this cruise as I didn't want to pay the steep price of their warm bottled water or the $74.Coke deal which was $18. On HAL just 2 yrs ago. Ice was not placed in our room as it was several times a day on HAL; of course I could drink tap water but it was never cold enough and not sure if it was safe from the bathroom tap as it smelled funny in there throughout the entire cruise. No way I'd pay so much for a necessity of life so I just went thirsty until dinnertime.
My biggest grievance is the smoking in the casino; the stench of it began well before even arriving in the casino and hey, I want to play the poker machines too and I'll feed them plenty so what about us non smokers? There wasn't even ONE day of no smoking out of 12 days! So very unhealthy and it gave me an instant headache and lung cancer maybe as well. When will cruise ships stop allowing the 3% of addicts to ruin it for the many who like us had maybe ditched that filthy habit a long time ago? With Canada being a smoke free country we are just not used to breathing in second hand smoke or dealing with third hand smoke in our hair and clothes and nor should we have to. The casinos in Canada are packed full of people happily playing whilst enjoying great air conditioning which keeps you alive, awake and alert and as a result they stay and play longer, therefore adding more money to Carnivals pot. Why would a ship not want to clean up and grab this added bonus? Everyone wants to play in the casino and the few smokers can easily leave the place and go to a smoking area outside to satisfy their addictions and that's how it should be to run a clean, healthy ship for the majority.
Some of the good things: our cabin location, the tons of storage and closet space, nice t.v. veranda, shower and linens, towel art, delicious cold soups and fruit plates at dinner, the "didya" and "everyday" menus but why serve inferior Atlantic salmon; we are on the Pacific so think they could serve B.C's. wild sockeye, self serve ice-cream and frozen yogurt was great, fabulous scary twisted water slide and other fun water toys, the serenity deck, old world golden atrium with it's grand staircases and glass elevators, always quick elevators to everywhere unlike HAL, our waiter Aloha Al, and the singing waiter who should be signed by a big company and become famous, totally awesome entertainment in Pharoahs Palace, the Bingo and pull tabs, Stu our cruise director, self dis-embarking, seeing Hawaii from a different point of view on the opposite side of where everyone wants to go thereby not being an ideal itinerary for first time to Hawaii visitors but ok for those who have been there before. I seriously doubt this experience will have anyone ever wanting to see Kauai again.
I saw a Cruise Critics decorated door on my search for the laundromat and was elated thinking maybe they'd know how to get my IPad working. The poster said to come join them at a meet and greet but no time or place was given (had to have WiFi to read it online?)so I left a note which was not responded to. If you don't want to meet anyone why put up a colourful artsy greeting on your door? I went back twice hoping to maybe get in on their cabin crawl or something but nada.
The most important thing I hope someone will learn from my experience is to research and choose your cruise by the ports you actually want to see and let them be tender-free otherwise you may end up out in the boonies somewhere at a cargo port watching the longshoremen and women wasting your time and not knowing the difference of where the hot spots are located or the time and effort it'll take for you to get there. This is of course for those who do not wish or cannot book expensive excursions. Having said that above all do not stay onboard while in port; there's absolutely nothing to do on a ship with no shopping, no show, no bingo, casino, spa, nothing but cold, quiet and lonely!
Overall this was an ok cruise mainly due to the great entertainment so will overlook the ugly and definitely cruise with Carnival again! Less
I chose room #4204 on the port side 8 mths in advance of the cruise for the easy access to the elevator. As a bonus it was an easy walk down the 2 flights of stairs to the Empire room for dinner which enabled us to break into the long lineup as it would be impossible and silly to try to walk to the end of the lineup through the 4 abreast crowded hallway. We had a slightly obstructed view with the last lifeboat partially preventing us seeing where we were going but a good view of from where we came and straight out. Our room was great and a very quiet location with tons of storage and closet space; i'd stay in it again except i'm now thinking the starboard side might be better. If you can figure out your cruise route it might be advantageous to know what side of the ship will face the land and what side the ocean will be on when arriving at an island.
Kauai was not prepared for us but had a good rustic old fashioned farmers market with interesting handmade items otherwise not a great place to spend the day with nowhere to sit and rest. It was long walk to get a cab but where's all the nice hotels, scenery and shopping?
Tenders were late and slow coming and going to drop us in Kona which used to be a favourite place but we were nowhere near that part of Kona and too far to walk without enough time to go for it. Been there done that to the volcano so didn't want to pay to see it again.
The only inexpensive thing to do was take the free shuttle to Hilo Hatties which was about a 30 - 40 min.bus ride each way and apparently $70 if you miss it and need to come back in a taxi.Less than an hour there was not enough time to check out the other stores in the shopping center and i was afraid to even wait in a lineup at Starbucks. Found out too late theres a nice beach within walking distance of the ship. Second day rented a car in order to go to Lahaina as that's the in place.Found out again too late that many people could share the taxi ride or rental car but at the time did not know the ropes. Live and learn; i still love Maui but not as much as my new favourite Oahu.
They really know what they're doing in Vancouver to make embarkation as easy and as painless as possible. Think i messed up by calling this the first port and now it's too much to redo it. Have to say the real last port was Honolulu and while it sucked our 2 days on our own after leaving the ship were excellent in Waikiki before flying home on the red eye.....don't do a late night flight; it's a killer after becoming so spoiled on a 12 day cruise!