Our 12 day cruise started in Honolulu, toured the Hawaiian islands for 7 days, 5 days at sea and ended in Ensenada, Mexico. We had cruised often before but not for 12 years, we had retired young and moved to Mexico so always seemed to be on holidays. Anyway after 10 years we decided to take a one month holiday, 2 weeks touring islands in Hawaii and end with this 12 day cruise on the Carnival ship called the Spirit. I can assure you we were both very excited about this trip and did a lot of planning for it. Unfortunately with the fond memories we had of past cruises, including Carnival, we automatically assumed the cruise would be fantastic. That was not the case and I honestly hope Carnival reads this.
I have always admired how cruise lines can get their passengers aboard and into their cabins as fast as they do and on this ship it was the same, quick and efficient. Once aboard we went touring the ship to get a feel for our next 12 day surroundings, sadly that was when we began to wonder about our choice. The Spirit at some point may have been wonderful but today the ship seemed dated and incredibly gaudy, the best description I can come up with is Caesars Palace gone plastic. It was a bit sad since we had decided in advance to use all 5 star hotels which had been fabulous and now this, oops. Now to be fair we did have a fantastic room on the Spirit, we had a stateroom with a balcony which had plenty of room for all our things. The only negative was the totally old and out of date TV.
The person we all see and hear from the most on any cruise would be the cruise director and always in the past I have found this person to be the individual who can truly make the cruise more fun and exciting with the planned events. I am sure everyone would agree this person and these events become so much more important when there are 5 sea days. Well on our cruise the events were almost non existent and very uninspiring and to us it seemed the cruise director had become this constant person on a loudspeaker trying to sell us drink specials, shore excursions, spa treatments, store merchandise, upgraded restaurant, bingo, photo's, etc. On previous trips we had always enjoyed the galley tour, well now there is a price for this, a high price with limited people.
In general we would say the food was a high lite, there were so many great tasting meals and deserts. We would also add that on at least 3 nights the selections were very limited and not to our liking. We enjoyed the fact there was a 5 bottle special where we could buy wine and have it with our meal each night, this seemed so out of character for Carnival. Food on the Lido deck was as usual plentiful buffet style and was a great place for lunch and breakfast. It is impossible to complain about this part of the service and it was obvious many people enjoyed this area a lot. The food high lite had to be the visit to their steak house. Sadly it also was an additional expense for the quality of food they used to serve 12 years ago. However since Carnival is so determined to get more of our money this is an area that must be visited.
Part of my fond memories of past cruises was the nightly entertainment which to me in those days seemed to rival the best Las Vegas shows and I can still remember laughing so hard it hurt when some of the comedians entertained us. Its not the same any more and even trying not to sound negative I have to say the singing and dancing was entertaining but amateur and the comedians weak. One comedian gave the same jokes 2 nights in a row. You have to give Carnival credit for one thing though, they found a way for us to supply the entertainment for them which eliminates their expense. Carnival uses the passengers as entertainment, one night karaoke and the other a passenger talent show. WOW that night we got to watch 3 amateurs, one danced, one sang and one related poetry to us.
If you are a person who likes to stay in shape or even plan to do a little exercise while on this trip be warned. The gym is free but the gym equipment is super old and worn out. Of 8 treadmills they had 4 were broken and out of service. The staff in this gym were invisible so it was hard to get music or TV while trying to work out. Being used to newer equipment we have at home and in the other 5 star resorts we never thought of bringing an Ipod as the newer machines have built in TVs. On the commercial Carnival shows for this ship they too show newer model gym equipment.
it is impossible not to notice how much effort is put into trying to get us to spend more money while on board the Carnival Spirit, the attempts come way too often. So with that in mind we have to mention the cost of using the Internet which is so out of line and computer users should be aware of. Its 75 cents a minute or a special with 250 minutes for $100 which then translates to 25 cents a minute. The service is satellite and there fore so slow this time will used up super fast. If Motel 6 or Starbucks can offer free Internet so can Carnival.
The staff is something that is easy to forget when writing a review so I wanted to make sure to mention them. We found almost everyone on our trip both on board and on the Hawaiian islands to be super friendly and helpful. I think constant sun must make people happier. Our cabin staff were great, the waiters and hostess's great, the front desk staff exceptional. Weak were the cruise director, his staff and the gym personel.
We did meet many people on board who loved Carnival, who loved the ship and had been on many Carnival ships and had plans for even more with the same cruise line. We saw people attend the future cruise meetings to plan more. So we know this is just our opinion and not every ones but in our opinion ONLY this cruise company is not for us and strongly suggest Carnival update their ship called The (Lost) Spirit. We also suggest Carnival uses their own slogan and tries to put the FUN back into these trips.
Next year we plan to cruise again, next time in the Mediterranean and with more port stops but for sure with a different cruise line. Next time we will use websites like this to plan better.