Just as every other "first", our first cruise was magical. We just returned from our second cruise and the only thing missing was the magic of the first.
Arriving in San Diego the day before was ideal. The only thing better could have been coming several days earlier and having more time to enjoy the city. We really liked what we saw in the short time we were there. We stayed at the Holiday Inn on the Bay just across the street from the terminal. The hotel kept our luggage after we checked out until we were ready to board the ship. Then they shuttled us right up to the terminal. The even shuttled us back to the airport on our return even though we did not stay over that night. What service!
The Carnival Spirit was great. With our embarkation day also being Superbowl Sunday, the football game was shown on the movie screen in the Pharaoh's lounge (theater) with snacks resembling a tailgate party served along with helmets and buckets of beer. That was fun!! All the activities on the ship were well planned, although I am not sure there was as many music venues as on the other ship we had cruised on. There did not seem to be as many choices or as much going on in the evenings as on the other. But that did not tarnish our trip in any way. We enjoyed every minute.
The Carnival Spirit crew members did a great job. Our cabin steward was very attentive (we had a balcony cabin which we loved) as were our waiters at dinner. The cruise director, Stu, was also a lot of fun. We struck up some very interesting conversations with other crew members. All were friendly and accommodating. The shows were entertaining and the talent impressive.
Disembarkation is always a downer, but we used a program on the ship called "Luggage Express" and it helped some. You check your luggage the night before as usual, but you do not see it again until you arrive at your home airport. I was a little nervous about this, but it worked smoothly. It also allows you to disembark right after the early flight groups. With boarding passes issued from the ship, you skip that part of the airport process and go directly through security. Our flight left at 12:35 p.m., so this helped relieve some of the rush for us.
I would recommend this cruise on Carnival Spirit to everyone. We thoroughly enjoyed it. I am not sure we would do it again, but I am glad we experienced it this time. We are definitely planning a longer visit to San Diego, California. We loved it there.
We will be planning another cruise with Carnival as soon as possible.