We arrived in Vancouver a day early. The weather was fantastic without a cloud in the sky. After about a 45 minute drive from the Airport we arrived at the Vancouver Downtown Delta Suites. The hotel was beautiful and the rooms very spacious. We choose this hotel because we often stay in Delta hotels and were able to use our privilege points for the stay. The Delta Hotel was within walking distance of not only the embarkation port but also many of the attractions around downtown Vancouver. We spent most of the day touring Vancouver's Stanley Park which is an adventure unto itself. A beautiful place that offers beautiful views of the harbour, beaches and majestic walks through huge Redwoods and forest. A perfect way to begin an Alaskan adventure.
What can one say about this. Canada Place was beautiful. We woke up early and went for a morning walk down around the port to get a feel for where we had to go. We walked back to the hotel and packed our bags then took a taxi (about 7 dollars) back to Canada Place because the taxi would take us right under ground. When we arrived the porters were there waiting and immediately took our bags and got them ready to be placed on the ship.
We went through the Embarkation process and at around 11:30 am. I was amazed at how organized and efficient this process was. We lined up for no more then ten minutes total including our wait time through customs. Once through Customs we headed to get our sail and sign cards and again waited maybe five minutes. We then were asked to sit and wait for our turn to embark. Why they asked us to sit I have no idea because we basically sat down and we were being called. All in all we were on the ship and with drink in hand within 45 minutes from the time we arrived. It was fantastic.
On this stay we had an ocean view room. We would have preferred a balcony but we had decided to book this trip at the last minute and thus all that was left. For us that was fine. We don't really spend that much time anyway in the room. We stayed on the Riviera deck and had easy access to all areas of the ship. I should also note that we were in our rooms and had our luggage with an hour and half of boarding the ship. The room was fine very well looked after and spacious.
The ship itself was beautiful. The interior design was unique and very different from what we have experienced on past cruises and ship. In particular the shopping lane was incredibly nice as the walkway curves left then right along the path.
Overall the ship is set up in a way that you never feel crowded and there always seems to be space to mingle and sit in every area. There were a number of bars on board some of which we never even got to.
The food in my opinion was fabulous. One always has to keep in mind that these chefs are preparing meals for 2500 -3000 people all day long. A tough go indeed. The buffet was great with lots of options and we never really had to line up. The main dining room was fabulous and the service even better. I am always of the belief that you need to make this what you want it to be. remember things often go a bit complicated at times but how we react is how we will benefit or not. After all, this is a vacation.... We had no complaints about the dining room. We needed some adjustments done to our seating and by the second night all was well. Our servers were not only attentive but they were also entertaining. We only ate dinner in the main dining room and had both breakfast and lunch on the lido deck at the Emile's grill. We also had the late seating which we preferred.
The entertainment was ok but not really spectacular. However, for us we do not always enjoy the the shows like others do. We did participate in some other activities and had an enjoyable time doing this and found the staff to be well organized and up beat. I also have to say that we enjoyed the Karaoke Lounge a few times and also the Legends show which I was the lucky draw to be James Brown. The legends show is always one of my favourite parts of a Carnival cruise and I have to admit being a part of it was a blast. I did not find the Cruise director to be all that friendly and seemed to be into himself a bit. But what the heck we are not there to visit the cruise director!
I need to give a special shout out to Delroy the Bar guy and his two partners who's names I cant recall right now. These three guys were fantastic and energetic. Once they got to know us they really took good care of us to the point where we would not even need to order a drink they would just bring it over. They were great and deserve some major kudos. We are on the Spirit again in April for Hawaii and I am hoping these guys will still be there.
Overall, we were very pleased with the ship and trip in general. I did not find Alaska to be the spectacular place i had always heard it was but it is very beautiful. coming from Canada we see a lot of snow for a good portion of the year so perhaps that was a bit of a block for me. However, we have no regrets and had a great time. The Inside Passage was beautiful however we did see quite a bit of rain
Lastly, The College Fjords were absolutely stunning. As we sailed through this area we were treated to many sightings of wildlife including Orca Whales, Otters, Sea lions and more not to mention close to 20 very visible large and small glaciers.
I guess as I write this I am realizing that Alaska truly was a beautiful spot to visit despite what I have said above.