This was our 7th cruise with Carnival and our most negatively eventful. It started with the embarkation process. All some 2300 passengers had to be bussed from San Diego and Los Angeles to Ensenda Mexico to embark on the Spirit. We booked the transfer from the San Diego Airport to the cruise port with Carnival. At the airport we were greeted by a Carnival employee who rounded us up and had us wait in a holding area until both our luggage transportation to Mexico and our bus to the terminal arrived. We were early and would be on the first bus from the airport to the terminal, this was both good and bad. At 11:00 a.m. the Carnival employee took us outside to drop off our luggage and meet our bus. After about almost an hour waiting in the sun for the baggage transport I noticed a Uhaul van circling the airport three times. Each time staring at us but never stopping. I went to the Carnival employee and asked if the Uhaul is what we were waiting for and he stated yes. The next time the van came around he hailed them and then they went around one more time and stopped by us. Two males got out and proceeded to put our luggage in the van. We then finally boarded the bus to the terminal. Once in the terminal they must of thought we were going to Alaska as the terminal was icy cold. I was just a little bit sensitive as I was getting over Pneumonia one week earlier. The check in went well but we had to wait three hours for the buses to arrive. First you should know that the Spirit was so close to us there that you could have hit it with a rock. But because of the Jones Act they could not board you or your luggage there. So we went down the street to a restaurant for lunch. We could see the Spirit leave San Diego from there at around 12:00, of course totally empty except food, drink and the crew.
The trip to Mexico in an also cold bus, took about 2.5 hours plus about 1.5 hours at the ship waiting for Mexico Customs. The trip there was escorted by Mexican Police for our safety the roads were mostly narrow and windy. When we got to Ensenada and got our it was very cold and extremely windy. We were greeted there by photographers from the ship and some ship personnel. Most people were so cold in the windy conditions, and from the bus, that they bypassed the photo-op. My wife opted out also, I think that at this stage she was so angry that if she got close enough she would have punched them.
For future travelers, possibly ourselves, I would recommend spending a few more bucks and board in Hawaii, definitely not in Ensenada as both the trip and the management of it were deplorable. Oh I almost forgot, one bus from the airport tried to go directly to Mexico and was stopped around the border and was sent back to San Diego to the cruise terminal. The ship gave them a token on ship voucher for their "Trouble". Very tacky of Carnival in their opinion.
Now the trip itself. Besides my pneumonia coming back for the first 5 days at sea our beds were terrible. We sailed on the Spirit to Acapulco about 5 years ago and they were exceptional. Talked to our steward and he said all the beds were the same, bad! One neighbor heard our conversation and came out of his room and complained of his bed also. When we came back the the room later the bed seemed more flat than before. Laid on it and it was even harder and more lumpy. Checked under the mattress and saw that they had used towels to try to fix the problem. Did not work!
On board the ship was as we expected it to be. Clean with a courteous staff from the top down. Service was good, food was acceptable with too much fish for me, I guess because we were going to Hawaii they decided to shift the menu to the fish side.
Shows seem to never change. They seem to think that everyone wants to see a Vegas type show from the forties and fifties. They need to get more current, at least get into the sixties and seventies. I love cruising with Carnival but on this our 7the cruise with them it has gotten very old. Also same theory here, older is better. I am 63 and have lost my parents but if they were alive the would also said to get your shows up to date, be more creative.
Hawaii. Took excursions (Roberts Tours) at each port. Lots and lots of volcanoes. Some tours were very interesting and some not so much. Scenery and history was fantastic. Took over 1000 picture which I have since edited down to just about 400. Best of course was Honolulu. Just was not enough time there. Only 1.5 days to see so much. Went to the Polynesian Cultural Center and it was fantastic. Food great, show at night fantastic. Problem it consumed an entire day. Started at 9:O a.m. and got back to the ship at 10:30 p.m. The remaining half day before going home we went on the early Carnival tour airport transfer. Saw the war memorial at the "Punch Bowl", Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial with the USS Missouri in the background. Biggest mistake was not planning a longer visit in Honolulu. At the minimum two days either before boarding or disembarking the ship there.
In summary we consider this Hawaiian Cruise a sampler only. You can find what you like and come back again and stay however long you choose. We plan no trips on the Spirit until the beds are fixed. Yes they were that Bad!