Sailing Away for a Hawaiian Lei: Carnival Spirit Cruise Review by eltigre
Overall Member Rating
Sailing Away for a Hawaiian Lei
After 14 months of chatting on the CC boards our group finally met for the Vancouver to Hawaii Sept 14th 2010 Cruise.
Having done this cruise in 2006 I was had great expectations & felt more relaxed having some ideas of what to expect.
We headed out early & got to the Vancouver Port by 10:30 am. No worries on where to go as the Port Staff were there to direct you at every turn. It was so easy & the Porters were friendly & quick to deal with unloading the car & taking our luggage.
This part went so fast & efficient last time that I had suggested to my husband that we slow it down & enjoy it more this time. But before you know it we were in line being welcomed to our Carnival Cruise, getting the passports dealt with, going through security, getting pictures taken, & getting our sail and sign card set up, that we were hearing that distinctive sound of that card entering the reader More before we knew it.
As we had 1 bag more than we wanted to lug around we snuck off to our cabin (the same one as last time) & asked the cabin steward if we could leave it in the room. If something should happen to it we were prepared to say goodbye to it. He graciously allowed it & then we set off to the Lido deck for the Fun Ship Drink & some lunch. At 1:30 we went to our room & unpacked as well as decorated the door & window.
The safety drill was done on deck with no life jackets & didn't take that long. Most people paid heed and arrived in a timely fashion.
Soon after we set sail under the Lions Gate Bridge in rather breezy conditions, which was much better than the rain that started our last adventure.
We choose the late seating & many of the tables had only 1 or 2 couples at them. We did get a card asking us if we would mind changing tables & we said yes. Very glad we did too, as we had a very interesting group of tablemates.
Carnival had been especially helpful & gracious in getting us a room to hold our Meet n Greet on very short notice. They offered us a lounge where a group of about 50 met. Servers & bartenders were supplied & we had a great time meeting the people we had been chatting with for so long. The White Elephant gift exchange was a success as well.
The weather for the first day or 2 or even 3 is notoriously finicky as you come out of the protection of the Vancouver Harbour. So too this time as it stayed in the mid 60's or 17 Celsius & breezy until our 3rd sea day which warmed up & became sunny.
We had a cabin Poker Crawl with a turn out of about 18 people, which was a nice size. The age group on this cruise is mostly 40 & up but this time we did have some newly weds. There were not a lot children.
Although the decks were full I never noticed any chair issues. You could always find somewhere to sit.
The water slide was a hit.
We went to 3 shows, which were comedy & hypnosis. They were entertaining.
The food at the Lido deck was tasty & there was a large variety to suit anyone. From burgers & fries to pizza & deli sandwiches. The favourite ice cream bar & the Asian Buffet. There was a chocolate lunch as well as the more traditional fare.
The dining room menu was adequate. The waiters always offered more than one serving to those with larger appetites, whether it was appetizers or the main course. The only suggestion here would be to have drinks offered. Unless you had wine no one ever asked if you would like a cocktail or soda.
The shipboard activities were of the usual type, Hairy Man Contest, Bingo, Trivia, Towel Making etc.
The Past Guest Party was in Pharaoh's Lounge & there were plenty of waiters with drinks & food.
Another mention for improvement would be the number of times one is asked if they would like a drink. In the pool areas it became annoying. Too many servers asking the same people just minutes apart. Perhaps one or two servers to an area might help.
The last Sea Day was Hawaiian Elegant Night (the 2nd elegant night of the cruise) & there were free cocktails before dinner throughout the Atrium and all bars on that deck. I always enjoy the crowds & dancing & excitement at the Atrium on Elegant Nights.
Our Captain needs mention also. He was the same one we had previously & his sense of humour is infectious. The weather is "yucky" and we are "in the middle of nowhere" The Marine Biologist on board gave us daily ocean updates that were peppered by his humour. Good thing she couldn't be phased!.
I do wish Carnival had not changed the route for this cruise. We did not pass by the lava fields of the Big Island at night. It was of huge interest to everyone in 2006 & the captain made a 2nd pass so that both sides of the ship could view them. Considering the 6,000+ miles to get there, it seems a waste not to go around the bottom of the island of Hawaii to view the lava flowing into the ocean.
Our cabin steward was terrific. There was always ice in the fridge for the medication that needed to be kept cold. She was considerate & helpful. She offered information on places to visit & she had a sense of humour as well as a caring attitude.
Our Ports were Kona Hawaii, Nawiliwili Kauai, Hilo Hawaii, Kahului, Maui overnight & Honolulu Oahu overnight making up the 12 day cruise.
We did not do any ship excursions or tours. We did rent a car at each port. There were issues with getting the car rental shuttles in a timely fashion on 2 occasions.
We did the self assist debarkation & if it is at all possible I highly recommend it. You can leave with your luggage at the time of your choice. We left at 7:30 am before the rush. Our rental car was parked close by & off we went.
Would I cruise Carnival again? Yes, keeping in mind it is the itinerary as well as the length of the cruise & the time of the year that determines the type of people, the age group & the overall expectations of each cruise. Less
Cabin review: 7A5244 Balcony (obstructed views)
Love this cabin...It is close to the elevators but not too close for noise. Laundry is just down the hall & it also brings you to the Lido Deck Food area without much walking. It is towards the stern & halfway up so very balanced for those rougher sea days. Spacious & has a nice balcony with a good view.Read All Balcony (obstructed views) (7A) Reviews >>
Port and Shore Excursions
Kalapana is a wonder to view. This is where the volcano took out a subdivision in 1990. One road ends at a ranger station saying no traffic only walking to the vents. This is the road the locals who still live there, with no water or electricity use. The next road farther down ends at a Hawaiian rest stop. They have made a path of red crushed rock that takes you through a newly planted coconut grove to a forming black beach. You can see the steam from the vents in the distance. For me this was a highlight.
Hilo is a smaller laid back town along the water & a great relaxing stroll.
Lanakai Beach is soft white sand, turtles & snorkeling. Kailua Beach is where to rent kayaks & paddle to the islands.
The International Market a fun outdoor market with tons of touristy shops & it also has Puka Dogs! Waikiki has beaches & parks all along the one side & shops or restaurants along the other. Paradise Cove Luau is a very pretty location with an amazing sunset.
This time we did the drive from the Port to Kee Beach the farthest one can drive north. The short .25 mile hike was well worth the view of the beach. Swimming here is good but not the snorkeling.
Beaches were all along the way with charming one lane bridges. One bridge even has a corner in it. My favourite Beach was Lumahai.The swimmable stream flowing into the ocean & the sand that never stops makes this perfect!
Poipu Beach to the south is great for snorkeling or swimming.
Kona for me is the coffee plantations, St. Benedict's Painted Church, Ali Dr markets, snorkeling at Puuhonua Honaunau National Park & at Kahaluu Beach Park. Car rentals & driving here is no problem.
Day 1 we did the Road to Hana & found it a pleasant drive. Pick & choose your stops as you can't do everything the guide books recommend. My list would definitely include a stop at Pia for the lunch basket, Keanae is a favourite as was Waianapanapa State Park. You can lunch here, swim at a black sand beach, there is a sea arch, a cemetery or take a hike or 2. An amazing place.Oheo Gulch National Park was another #1 for us. Waterfalls included the 3 bears, Waiilua & Kipahulu.These are dependant on the amount of rainfall as to their beauty..
Lahina was some shopping in a cute walkable seaside town & a visit to Bubba Gumps which is right on the water. Also a stop Po'olenalena Beach in the south...no crowds here! Kanapali beaches in the north are busier but nice & Whaler's Village is an assortment of outdoor upscale shopping & restaurants fronted on a beach.
For visitors there is so much to see & do from the famous Stanley Park, Gas Town to Cloud Nine Restaurant & shopping on Robson St. Transit includes buses, skytrain,water taxi & good old fashion walking.