Intro - My girlfriend and I were feeling the need for a vacation back at Christmas time. Got on good old Travelocity and saw a decent deal for the Feb 4 sailing to Mexico on the Spirit. Carnival is the only line I've ever been on and I've done her sister ship, The Pride, a couple of times. I really do like the layout of the ship compared to others I've been on.
So we bided our time and finally the day came! We got in our car and drove 5 hours to San Diego and checked in at the Best Western on Ash St., walking distance from the pier. They have a decent deal for staying the night and leaving your car with them.
We explored the pier area and walked around Seaport Village for some shopping.
Had dinner that night at a fabulous place in Little Italy called Bon Appetito. I was getting my stomach prepared to be perpetually full for 8 straight days! :)
The next morning we had some time to kill, so we headed over to Balboa Park and wandered around there for a couple of hours. Still with more time to kill, we then drove over the Coronado bridge into Coronado and headed to SilverStrand Beach and walked it for a while. Beautiful weather which basically followed us the whole trip except for the last couple of days.
Embarkation - this was our first cruise out of San Diego and the porters were a bit backlogged with handling the luggage so that slowed us down a bit. From the time we got there to the time we were on the ship was a bit over an hour. From other horror stories I've heard, I count myself lucky I guess.
We found our room on the 5th deck on the very back of the ship, an Aft cabin with a decent sized balcony looking out the back of the ship. Speaking of ships, the HAL Oosterdam was parked next to us and those passengers used the same facilities to board the ship as we did. Boy, am I glad I wasn't on that ship! No offense to our dearly beloved senior citizens, but the average age of their passengers had to be around 70!
We set sail about an hour late and were presented with a wonderful view of the nighttime San Diego skyline as we left the harbor. We sat on our balcony with a bottle of champagne and admired the view with our new neighbors. Very beautiful!
Ship - As anyone who's been on a Spirit class ship can attest, the layout and design are well thought out, no encumbrances on any deck, you can virtually walk one end to the other unobstructed. If you like to jog, don't bother with that short jogging track on the Sport deck, you can jog around the whole ship on the Sun deck. 3 1/2 laps is a mile. Did that most mornings until the bloat of food and alcohol set in! :)
Being in the aft cabin, our dining facilities were directly above and below us. Very convenient. Walking around, I felt like I was back on the Pride.
The ship had a recent makeover and the Serenity deck was pretty, but you better get up early to get the good chairs though. And the area could have been more serene with some softer music. But at least it does drown out the sound of the smoke stacks. There is only one small hottub in Serenity and it was always filled with folks throughout the day. This cruise was mostly middle aged folks so the area never turned rowdy and drunken. We found quiet time in it during the evening under the stars though. Very cool and quiet.
The gym has brand new exercise equipment and we utilized it every other day. A nice big hot tub is in there as well. My favorite part of the gym though was in the locker room. They have both Steam and Sauna rooms and I found these great places to sit and sweat out all the liquor I had the night before! :) Very cool showers too, with 5 different faucets hitting you from all angles. We did not utilize the spa, too pricey, especially when massages in Mexico can be had dirt cheap.
Activities - On sea days we were either on the Serenity deck with our books during the day or relaxing in our cabin with a hangover. Did not hang out by the main pools at all and have to listen to that dammed calypso band or noisy kids all day. As a matter of fact, there were not that many children on this cruise at all. Nice break for us!
I like to sing and this ship does not fail in giving opportunities to do so. I participated regularly at Karaoke as well as Superstar Live. That was a real kick, singing with a live band. I was also selected to be Elton John for the Legends show on the last evening. That was a blast as well! Laaaa, la la la la laaaa, la la la la laaaaa, la la la la laaaaaa!
What I also like about Carnival is they have pianos all over the place. I brought my classical sheet music with me and was able to entertain some folks over in the Artist's Lounge area a couple of times.
Food - I'm no food snob so I found the food everywhere just fine. The Lido buffet was where we did breakfast every morning and they had just about anything you could ask for in a breakfast. The MDR food was great most nights. We had Anytime Dining, and we NEVER waited to be seated, most nights we had the option to dine alone or with others, we went both ways throughout the week. Service in the MDR was prompt and courteous.
We signed up for Chef's Table as well. That was the most fantastic meal I've ever had in my life. Well worth the $75 per person, especially if you like wine like we do. They never let our glasses go empty for the whole 4 hours we were dining.
Ports - Cabo for 2 days. First day we tendered in and walked over to a resort all the crew goes to called La Finesterra. Really nice place on the ocean side of Los Arcos and we hung out there for a few hours before walking back to the marina to get on a Pez Gato catamarran snorkel tour. That was one hell of a workout on the ole liver, drinks at the swimup bar, drinks on the catamarran, followed by Chef's table that night. We were so zonked the next day, we didn't go to Cabo for day 2.
In PV, we walked to the Krystal resort and hung out for a while and got 90 minute massages for $40 each. Awesome deal and a first class massage! After that we decided to be adventurous and walked the beach all the way to the Malecon! Probably a good 3 miles but it was a beautiful day for it. Found a hole in the wall joint that served authentic Mexican comida and had the required ice cold Pacificos to wash it down with. Yumm!
Originally, I had planned to grab a taxi in Manzanillo and head over to the Tesoro resort for the day but seeing how early the ship was leaving that day, 3pm, we decided not to do that and instead walked around the downtown for an hour and got back on the ship.
Ride home - After Manzanillo, the ship makes a frantic course to get back home to San Diego in time. Unfortunately, we found ourself heading into a 30 knot headwind the whole way home from the Baja tip, which caused some steady ocean motion. Myself, I love a rocking ship, and I slept like a baby, but the last 2 days were tough for those hoping to sun themselves topside.
We got back into SD on Sunday morning and since we did the self assist debark, we were off the boat by 8:30am.
All in all, a very successful and very fun cruise for us.