From embarkation to debarkation, the 15-night Los Angeles-Hawaii-Los Angeles cruise on CARNIVAL Spirit was our most disappointing cruise to date on CARNIVAL.
EMBARKATION: Spirit arrived late from her previous cruise due to weather conditions. The late arrival caused all of the embarkation and departure routines to be delayed at least two hours; two hours of sitting in the embarkation lounge while passengers grew impatient; many becoming downright obnoxious. Even under ideal conditions the Los Angeles World Cruise Port leaves much to be desired - under a delay it is nearly unbearable.
SEA DAYS: Cruise lines cannot control the weather, but they can plan for contingencies when weather conditions prevent most of the topside activities those of us who cruise regularly have come to expect. Sea days with high winds (some gusts over 50 kt) was the norm on this cruise. For the first two days of the cruise the ship seemed to be a ghost ship there were so few passengers visible in the public areas. Even with the dome on the Lido Deck partially closed, the wind made being on deck unbearable.
FOOD: Where has CARNIVAL gone wrong? Until this cruise, food in the MDR was always something to look forward to. While not gourmet by any standards, the quality of the food offered and service provided was akin to any good shore-side restaurant. On this cruise all of that went away. Whoever came up with the new menu in the MDR needs to re-think it and perhaps consider returning to the old menu. Having sailed in June 2011 on PARADISE, we were totally surprised and disappointed with the quality of food and service on this cruise.
OVERALL SERVICE: This too was a disappoint on this cruise with the sole exception of our Cabin Stewart Marlon and his assistants. Room service couldn't get a simple Continental Breakfast order correct on 12 out of the 15 days. Bartenders couldn't even make a Rob Roy correctly (how hard can scotch and sweet vermouth be to mix?). The crew in general did not seem as friendly and caring as on past cruises (the weather may have been a factor but "if you can't handle the movement, don't go to sea").
DINING ROOM SERVICE: Way back in 1991 we sailed on JUBILEE. Our waiter was Burt; the assistant waiter was Angel. In December 2011 our waiter was Vincente; don't remember his assistant's names. Twenty years apart but each will be long remembered for much different reasons. Burt and Angel because they were so good; Vincente and his assistants because they were so bad.
In fairness, CARNIVAL has been and is likely to remain our favorite cruise line. Our judgment of this cruise is harsh because of the great experiences we have had on all of our other CARNIVAL cruises. 10 days at sea is a lot of time to fill with activities - Spirit gets a D-minus in this regard when compared to the 14-day re-positioning cruise on Pride in 2009. On Pride I had wondered how the staff would fill the entertainment needs of the passengers on such a long cruise - they did fill the time beyond our wildest expectations; perhaps Spirit could learn from Pride.