My 3rd cruise, female 39, my aunt 65 and 6 year old son. My son and I live in San Diego and my aunt flew into town a couple of days early. We were dropped off at the cruise ship pier. Note to drop-offs: Enter cruise ship drop off from the back by coming down Broadway and then turning in left, a lot less traffic. Porters were right there to take baggage.
Embarkation: We arrived a half hour after scheduled check-in time. There was a wedding on board the ship and they wouldn't let anyone board until they were ready for the wedding party. It would have been o.k. if they had just said it will be a couple of hours and come back, but they told us 15mins, then 15 more mins, etc... Hard to keep an exited six year old from going stir crazy. Once they began boarding, it went smoothly and our cabin was made up and my luggage was at the door. My aunt's showed up a couple of hours later.
Cabin: We booked a 4a and the rates dropped, so I called for OBC, instead they gave us an upgrade to a 6a which was o.k. Room was clean, bathroom functioned well. I tipped our stewart when we first met him to empty the mini-bar so we could put the wine and cocktails we brought on board in. He had the mini-bar emptied within two hours and my champaign chilling on ice. We received excellent service and great towel animals my son loved every night.
Food: Overall the quality was good. We ate in the main dining room for dinner and usually the lido buffet for breakfast and lunch. My son loved the 24hour pizza and I have to admit that after they finally kicked us out of the casino around 3:00am it tasted really great. Try the one with the goat cheese and garlic, yummmy. Our dining room servers were from Indonesia. They were polite and the service was excellent. They took good care of us and were very helpful when my son ate with us. Most items were good, with a few exceptions, the lobster was awful. Surprisingly the best tasting thing I had on the cruise was the pumpkin soup. It was delicious. Deserts were o.k. We brought our own root beer aboard so that my son could make himself root beer floats at the 24 hour ice cream. He loved it.
Ports: Because the Spirit has just come in from Hawaii, we had a different port schedule and went to Manzanilla first and had to leave Acapulco by 3:30. In Manzanilla I put my son in camp carnival and my aunt and I took the bus to town and walked around and shopped. We found a great little jewelry store on the main street going up from the plaza about a two blocks on the left side. No, this is not silver, but a bead shop, crystal, glass, gems, etc... The girl who worked there was great and when I said I liked one necklace, but wished it was a different color, she said she could make them however we liked. So we spent the next hour their designing customer jewelry sets, necklaces, earrings and bracelets. They ended up costing about $20 a set, but I couldn't even buy the beads for that back home. They are beautiful and we got many compliments on them when we wore them the rest of the cruise. Also in Manzanilla, there is a little pharmacy right next to the ice cream shop on the corner. He has little plastic white tables in front. He sold us 64 oz, yes 64 oz Coronas for $2.00 each and brought us out lime and salt. The best bargain of the whole trip.
In Zihantanejo we tendered to the pier. Once on the pier if you walk to the end on the right hand side, you can buy a round trip boat ticket to take you to beach on the other side of the bay. There, you can walk down the beach and decide which restaurant's lounge chair looks best and plop yourself down. You can use them as long as you buy some food or drink. Beers were on $1.20 each and large waters $2.00. If you snorkel, make sure you go to the end of reef on either side. I tried to go over the reef and have some lovely scrapes for my efforts. Also, I got bit by a small eel while snorkeling. It didn't hurt much. The water is gentle and safe for children.
In Acapulco, we took a taxi $10.00 to the glass bottom boat ride to Isla De Las Rocas, we could have taken the bus easily for .50 each but with my aunt, a taxi was better. The first drivers at the pier wanted $20.00 and I'm sure we could have got it for less as it was only a 3 mile drive but I didn't want to haggle. There you can take the glass bottom boat over for $5.00 r/t or the regular boat for $3.00. We didn't want to wait for any more americans, so we got on the local tour. It was pretty funny being the only gringos on the packed boat, but the Mexican people were friendly and we had fun laughing at ourselves. Their was a boat that pulled up along side us and sold the best fresh fruit. I had the mangos with chili sauce and my aunt had the coconut, plain. Yummy and since we were on the locals trip, it was cheap. No lounge chairs on this beach, only sit down chairs and the drinks and food were a bit more. The snorkeling was great (for the pacific side, not by Caribbean standards) if you head out to the right and go out along the rocks to the point. I saw a lot of fish and a couple of spotted stingray.
Entertainment: The only real disappointment on the ship. The best performances were actually by the guests themselves on the final night karaoke performance.
Casino: Once I found the hold-em table I didn't go back to the main casino. There were enough players to have a full table and then after late-night seating let out enough for two tables. The other cruisers were great and we had fun ribbing each other. Only problem, or should I say blessing, is the later it got, the worse the cocktail service got. It got so bad it was faster for me to get up, go to my room, mix up a couple of drinks and bring them back the share with my table mates. The dealers kept calling for service, but it was SLOWWWW.
Camp Carnival: As always, was great. My son loved the counselors and I loved being able to eat dinner without having to tell him to sit still. The only complaint I have is this. When you sign up the first night, they ask you to fill out a form on who can drop off or pick up your child. I asked that since it was just me and my Aunt, we both be able to do this, they said fine as long as we both signed the initial release forms, which we did. The during the cruise, when my Aunt went to drop him off, they wouldn't let her and said she was only allowed to pick him up. This makes no sense as it would be more of a risk as to who you released the child to, not who brought him in. Anyway, they stuck by their guns and put a wrinkle into daytime activities, because I would have to leave to check him in. When at camp,he loved it and always wanted to go back. Bless you carnival.