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5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2015

We just came back from our 4 day cruise to Catalina and Ensenada. We had a blast...especially for the price! I read A LOT of reviews before going and I have to say it really is all in your attitude. If you go looking forward to the ... Read More

We just came back from our 4 day cruise to Catalina and Ensenada. We had a blast...especially for the price! I read A LOT of reviews before going and I have to say it really is all in your attitude. If you go looking forward to the adventure and fun you will find it. If you go looking to critique it you will find it.

We had fun from start to finish. The best piece of advice that we took was to bring a power strip and be prepared to eat!

We especially loved the hard working, kind, friendly staff...have never met such hard working, smiling people. We felt very pampered and well taken care of.

We did the wine country excursion in Ensenada and had a phenomenal tour guide. He was very knowledgeable, funny and engaging. I learned SO much about Mexican history and wine making. Well worth the cost.

Hope to try a different ship next year!

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6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014

My family of 4 had on Oceanview room on the Empress deck. We loved the location of the room, close to everything. Our room steward Henrid was excellent. He was pleasant every day and went out of his way for our family. Room really small ... Read More

My family of 4 had on Oceanview room on the Empress deck. We loved the location of the room, close to everything. Our room steward Henrid was excellent. He was pleasant every day and went out of his way for our family. Room really small compared to cruises I have done before.

Dinner- we had early seating. The food was just ok on some nights and good on other nights. We spent between 1.5-2 hours in the dining room. Too long for my taste, but we beared it. Our waitress seemed slow, unfriendly and she seemed to hate her job. In her defense, she seemed to have very little help. They changed the options having premium choices for an extra 20.00. I almost choice this because the choices I had that night were not good. The portions are also smaller from the cruise I took last time 6-2013. I often choice 2 entrees because I was afraid one would be horrible.

Buffet- was not very good. Some items were good, such as sandwich bar, Mongolian BBQ and inside Lido had a few good choices. But, the outside selection of hamburgers, hot dogs... Etc. was not the best. The hot dog I had was the cheapest dog I tasted. I couldn't even eat it. I have cruised Carnival several times and this was the worst food I had so far.

Late buffet closed at 9:30. I am used to midnight buffet, but they only had 1 late night Mexican buffet, with just ok food.

Camp Carnival- kids 7,8 loved it. Son wanted to play videos games all day. Most staff was friendly and cheerful. Some seemed over worked and tired.

Pool-good

Water works area- fun for the whole family!!!!

 

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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014

This was a free cruise given to me by the casino. I actually was offered 2, and I only can take the one, due to work schedule and health reasons.

I splurged and booked FTTF, as I am having a hard time with my knee (I am due to ... Read More

This was a free cruise given to me by the casino. I actually was offered 2, and I only can take the one, due to work schedule and health reasons.

I splurged and booked FTTF, as I am having a hard time with my knee (I am due to have total knee replacement in November of 2014). I figured if I could spend the $50, I would, and not have to ask for any special assistance if I didn't have to wait in line very long. We walked up to the building at the Long Beach port, and instead of check in being in the building, they had a FTTF line next to the regular check in. This was ok, as we were the ONLY ones in that line!! We no sooner walked up than an agent called us over to check us in. Check in was quick and painless, and we were given priority boarding. This meant, due to the time we arrived, I had time to make a restroom run and smoke a cigarette before they started boarding us!! Worked perfectly!!! I think it took all of 10 minutes from the time we checked in until our S & S cards were being swiped and we heard that magic "BOING!!"

Went down to our room, which, due to FTTF, was ready and waiting for us. We dropped off our carry ons, and went to have lunch. What a pleasant meal it was, not having to cart around our carry ons!! And there still weren't many on board, so no lines anywhere either!!!

After lunch, we went to our room, and relaxed until muster. It's been a stressful week for both my friend and I, so we planned on doing a lot of resting. We scheduled YOUR TIME DINING, and both Friday and Saturday, we went to the dining room about 630pm. We had NO wait for a table, were given a table for 2, and met some really nice people that were sitting next to us. It was their first cruise, and boy, they were CLUELESS!!! They didn't know they could eat before dinner, didn't know about food on the Lido, didn't know about room service... I explained everything to them!!!

Went to the casino Friday night. Met another couple there also on a casino freebie, but the one that had you pay $100 and then Carnival gave you that $100 in OBC.

Saturday was the usual go into Ensenada and walk around, if nothing else, just to get off the ship for a while. At this time, we STILL had not even met our cabin steward!!!!!!!!!! Didn't end up meeting him until just before dinner on Saturday. And he took my blue pool towels and never returned clean ones!!! After leaving Ensenada, we had rough seas due to a storm off the Mexican Riviera. It's a good size tropical storm, and other than clouds, we just had rough seas. On Sunday, it made walking difficult around the ship, and it was slightly cool, but I didn't see anyone get motion sickness, so it obviously wasn't that bad. DID see a Mexican Coast Guard helicopter come in TWICE to take people off the ship. Don't know what happened, did not hear anything, not even any alarm code words!!

Other than that, it was the usual cruise stuff. My meals most of the time were either cold or lukewarm. Service in the main dining room for sea day brunch left MUCH to be desired, as not only was the food cold, it was dry and tasteless, and I had the pancakes! I couldn't even eat it, and ended up going to the buffet and getting a lukewarm burger. I was disappointed that a lot of activities were scheduled Friday and Saturday (port day) and less on Sunday (sea day). I thought there would be more to do on a sea day, but I was wrong..

Enjoyed the "Towel Animal Theatre" and Hasbro Game Show. First time I actually made it to a show after 12 cruises!!

PROS: Shows were fun, cabin was nice in location. It was free, besides port fees and taxes. And yes, IT WAS A CRUISE!!

CONS: Food lukewarm/cold. Cabin Steward rarely to be found, and only ONCE did I see him. Lack of activities on a sea day.

 

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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014

After reading a few blogs, our expectations for this cruise were very low. How pleasantly surprised we were! Our son & his fiancé chose this cruise to celebrate their wedding vows. Having never been on a cruise, I wasn't sure ... Read More

After reading a few blogs, our expectations for this cruise were very low. How pleasantly surprised we were! Our son & his fiancé chose this cruise to celebrate their wedding vows. Having never been on a cruise, I wasn't sure what to expect. We arrived at the dock around 10:00, dressed for the wedding, as we were told that our cabins would not be available until later in the day. The dock area for Carnival in Long Beach, CA is nicely shaded and very clean. Check-In was fast and simple. We were met by Annette, a lovely wedding coordinator, that provided us with an itinerary, so that we would know what and when to expect it. It would have been nice to have received the itinerary in advance. Our group was allowed to board first.

The ship was very clean. Everything on board sparkled. The wedding group assembled in an area with comfortable seating. Annette, our wedding coordinator, stayed nearby with last minute instructions. Everything went smoothly from start to finish. I was impressed. After the ceremony we relocated to a nearby lounge where a delicious buffet of hot and cold hors d'oeuvres was waiting and a server circulated with a variety of tropical drinks, preceded by champagne for the toasts. The next hour and a half flew by with laughter, conversation and dancing.

Dinner in the main dining room that we were assigned to was a surprise. I wii eat almost anything, and I thought the food and the selections were very good. Our head waiter, Gusti, and his team were excellent. They made the trip more fun. Request a table by a window if possible.

We did the breakfast buffet each morning. Just about anything you can think of as breakfast food is available. Everything was very good.

My only complaint about the cruise is that it was too short! This may have been our first cruise, but it won't be our last !

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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014

We recently took our kids on their first cruise. Me and my husband have cruised several times prior. First off I will start off by saying our room was on the 7th floor in room E171. As we boarded the ship and made our way to our room we ... Read More

We recently took our kids on their first cruise. Me and my husband have cruised several times prior. First off I will start off by saying our room was on the 7th floor in room E171. As we boarded the ship and made our way to our room we all smelled a strong odor of sewage. Ive read this is several reviews and thought it was strange, but we first hand experienced "the smell". Our room attendant's name was Agus. He was so friendly. We checked out our room, which was very small by the way but expected. There was four of us in a room. One bed was a fold out that was attached to the wall. The other was under it and our bed was two twins made into a queen which was situated by the window. Next time we will get two rooms or a suite because it did get cramped. Our room was very clean though. The next time we saw Agus greeted us all by name which was amazing considering how many people he meets. We ate in the spirit dining room for dinner. The food was very good and always hot. The service was wonderful. We checked out the buffets but only ate there once for breakfast which we were not impressed with and once for lunch and realized the meals in the Spirit or Pride Dining Areas were much better! The night we were Ensenada we had lobster tails for dinner. There is no limit on the tails! But they will only serve you one at a time. While on boarde there is many opportunities to have your picture taken. Be prepared to pay a pretty penny for pictures. I believed they averaged $14.95 per picture. They take multiple pictures of you and your group during each dinner and have the opportunity to take pictures throughout the ship with nice back drops. The comedy shows onboard were awesome. We also visited the piano bar one night. Boys had blast on the waterslides. One thing I was disappointed in was the condition of the miniature golf courses. There were two holes where the articificial turf was very torn and dated. I can say that the sewage smell and the worn out miniature golf course was a disappointment, but overall we all had a great time and i'm sure we will cruise Carnival again in the future!

Additional note: Bring a power strip, conditioner and a blow dryer. There is only one outlet in the cabin.

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9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2012
This was my 3 times cruise with Carnival cruise line only because they got the destinations i want and very affordable, the last cruise before this cruise from Miami to Jamaica was the most fun vacation i ever had in my life, yup in my ... Read More
This was my 3 times cruise with Carnival cruise line only because they got the destinations i want and very affordable, the last cruise before this cruise from Miami to Jamaica was the most fun vacation i ever had in my life, yup in my life...and im 56 yrs old man. OK, to this cruise from Long Beach to Ensenada, Mex. The Inspiration vessel is some what newer than the Glory from Miami?, im not sure but looks good...seems smaller, no long line on the buffet, the food was good for what we paid, i dont expect best food for the price that we booked for 256$/pp for a 4 nights. the staff was very polite, dress up clean and very helpful. We had an issue with the wet floor from the past passengers in our room, but the crew really tried their best to dry it, in the end they gave us a 20$ discount from it. the putput golf costs money to play, i think its 20$/hr. Not a lot of dancing clubs as the Glory line, but it was enough, i sang in the Karaoke club, which was a big club. i think i saw only 1 theater for shows, versus the Glory with 2 theaters. But i saw 2 formal dinning rooms, 1 in the front and 1 in the back of ship. I would go again, it was short enough cruise time... Ensenada, Mexico was fun but was not enough time, it was violent there in downtown, my friends saw a big fight between 2 gangs with no shirts and tattoo, military came and they were all disappear, but during the violent tourists were shatter every where... I would suggest 1st time tourists not to book the city tour, it was a ripped off, you dont need it, all you have to do is to walk 1/4 mile from the dock to the main street and then make a left turn onto the main street to another 1/2 mile and you are in the heart of downtown to walk around all day, or to rent a 4x4 ATV right there on the main st for 25$/hr to ride any where, and to the blow hole too. The city tours take you thru town in the bus no stopping and then take you outside of city on the highway to north for a beach house lunch then back for 26$/pp, but you will lose 3 hrs on land. I would definitely recommended the ATV rental and the Horse back riding. Dont forget to stop by the main sea food market in town for fresh caught fish for lunch. The cruise also stops at Catalina Island a very neat town, a must rent a golf cart to ride around town, plus fishing was good on the pier with tackle rental in town. I really enjoy the trip, strongly recommended to any one. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
We decided to take two back to back cruises on Carnivals' Spirit due to its unique Hawaii itinerary which included many nights in Maui and Honolulu. Hence, living on the Pacific coast, boarding in San Diego would be great. Much to our ... Read More
We decided to take two back to back cruises on Carnivals' Spirit due to its unique Hawaii itinerary which included many nights in Maui and Honolulu. Hence, living on the Pacific coast, boarding in San Diego would be great. Much to our dismay only check in was in San Diego while 2,300 guests were shipped by bus through the dreaded 2 1/2 hour drive to Ensenada to fulfill the obsolete Jones Act. While most cruise lines have worked around this legislation by including foreign ports prior to American port visits, Carnivals' failure was dreadful. The United States government and the cruise line should be considerate to fellow American taxpayers and cruise clients in helping avoid such ridiculous situations by adhering to moot legislation better suited in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Hence, check in was very poor and many guests reached the ship by midnight. What a start as you could imagine.

The Carnival Spirit nearly cracks the 90000 tonnage barrier and is finely constructed using marble, granite and warm woods placed in a free flowing layout. Most staterooms are not inside and the ship never felt older. We had suites and Carnival leads the pack in this value quotient. Our suites measured from 345 to 450 square feet including a large balcony and were finely trimmed in wood, marble, granite, mirrors and recessed lighting all fit for a five star hotel. Our baths had whirlpool tubs and double sinks layered in granite. Such staterooms would cost thousands more in competitive cruise lines. Service and amenities were basic and nothing in addition to any standard staterooms, hence acceptable but not in line with the physical scale of the suites.

One huge Carnival failure is their past guest program. Any guest who travels a three day cruise in an inside stateroom would get the same point as a guest cruising in a penthouse suite even for a 18 day cruise. We have cruised over 150 days with Carnival in long segments mainly in suites but had the same points as guests who had cruised six three day segments in inside cabins. An 18 day cruiser had the same points as a 150 days cruiser!!! Ridiculous. A quick lesson from Celebrity cruise lines is in order!

Overall dining was good with no complaints. The Lido had a good selection of fish, meats, and breakfast items. Dinner was more scarce in the Lido but the formal dining was fine. The selection and polish of Celebrity Cruises or Holland America is not part of the equation but its really not expected. Two CAVEATS. Hygiene of fellow guests in the Lido was poor as coughs and sneezes in and on the buffet food/lines was horrible. Scarce sanitizers made matters worst. Celebrity staff would administer hand sanitizers to all guests entering the dining areas personally. Not so here. Once again, the overall refinement and hygiene of some guests both in the Lido and pools is a problem which has sadly plagued American society in general and may be a problem for picky cruisers. A huge hygiene issue involved the lack of toilet seat covers in public bathrooms, a health hazard primarily while cruising with children.

Another annoying caveat was the fact that many announcements were made each day at all times through ALL speakers in the ship (both near staterooms and on your head in Lido and the formal dining room) by the cruise director namely trying to sell you products or services. The announcements were so loud that I avoided going to the dining room! This is not in line with a vacation people expect. Once the cruise director spoke, forget napping in your room. This situation resembled an auction like atmosphere not in line with a cruise literally intruding on your quietude, sleep and calm dining.

Overall, entertainment was below average. One show throughout a 12 day cruise was good enough with special effects and live music. More such shows would be needed. Classical music was not existent on the ship; live music was limited to a duo (they were good) and another loud group trying to capture music of Hawaii with not much success. Couple of pianists were around which was a good touch.

The children's fun factory area was limited to a corner far away in the ship with not much outside light or ventilation. The ship pools were deep and not suitable for young children as well. Also, very young children had to share pools with overly confident individuals with very revealing swimming attire not appropriate in such very large sizes. It is perfectly normal for all people to swim and enjoy the sun. On the same token, attire and swimwear should be in good taste. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but one cannot impose it and proper good taste for all people cannot be redefined and should be observed in resort family settings. Again, it is not the cruise lines' fault what has become of social norms. Nevertheless, dedicated areas for young children is in order at the very least.

Enough of the caveats, right. With these in mind, one cannot deny the positive. The Spirit is a nice ship with a good layout and quality finishes inside and out. On a nice day you can enjoy the sea both atop the ship or on your private balcony avoiding crowds. Staterooms are comfortable. Overall dining both casual and formal are pretty good both in quality and choice. In sum, what sets this cruise apart was the itinerary. Two back to back cruises gave great insight into the islands of Hawaii with overnights in Honolulu, Maui. Ample time was given to stroll these islands to spend time as you wish. We have cruised nearly 400 days with most lines for extended periods of time. I strongly feel that cruising is the best way to view our beautiful planet. Enjoy exotic ports and return to the comfort of your ship is the essence of fine cruising. People who love the sea would enjoy this cruise. Furthermore, extended time in Hawaii was a huge plus. On the same token, do not expect the polish and refinement of premium cruise lines. I have cruised 150 days with Celebrity ships and remain impressed by their careful blend of service, up to the minute quality and elegant ship beauty. The Carnival Spirit is not in the same league which is fine. For many, the Spirit is more than enough and still a unique departure from land based vacations packed with value. It is just that some cruise ships have managed to feel more like five star resorts and have given careful attention to detail even beyond land based resorts.

Leon J. Makasjian

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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2011
One picture says more than thousand words: Here in this thread you can also see pictures:

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1408567

We made many of our very best ... Read More

One picture says more than thousand words: Here in this thread you can also see pictures:

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1408567

We made many of our very best experiences:

cabin - space space space - we could have baggage for a world voyage with us and still would have space in our closets

rates - I think with the rate we payed we could only expect "pure transportation" and we got more than we expected

dining - I did not expect that it was much better than RCI or NCL (our favorite line): I had every day a changing lunch menu. The quality and quantity of food was much more higher. It was not so far away from the standard of HAL, Princess or Celebrity. Nouveau Steakhouse was an outstanding experience we made twice. And the Chef's Table was something like heaven on earth or better on water...

entertainment - 12 dancers and 4 singers for the production shows - the best singers and dancers I experienced on many many cruises... but too loud.

enrichment - total surprising: a naturalist who introduced Hawai'i like we normally would only expect on HAL.

value for money - the best we got for this little money we payed

The bad:

service - it was hard to find nice and attentive crew members who give you a service like we know from NCL. We mostly (with few exceptions) missed the cordiality we know from NCL or HAL. You could walk from the bow to the stern and say good morning and get no response - neither from anyone from housekeeping nor from the ship's management (incl. Captain and Hotel Director). You were persona non grata and totally ignored after complaint. Hotel Director was only interested to put himself in the focus and not interested why you as guest does not feel comfortable. Panum et circenses: Bread and Games - both were outstanding to ignore lack of service.

Many many times you have to wait in the restaurant because all waiters were just standing in the galley and wait... you can only see that there is a lack of organisation if you book the Chef's Table and you are surprised why so many waiters are always in the galley and you were surprised that you had no chance to get a 2nd cup of coffee because none of the waiters were around.

As the Hotel Director said: my expections as experienced cruisers were too high and they were still "excersing" after one year on flexible dining:

so they fill up all tables of one station before they start the service

while other escort you to different stations to make sure that you get as long as possible a full attentive service

You got breakfast beverages (like hot tea and juices) at the end fo the breakfast and only on request (if you caught someone whom you can tell):

when I told the Hotel Director and Guest Relation Manager if I should go to the coffee bar to buy a cup of tea before going to the Main Dining Room they just told: you do not need to buy: you can get a free cup of tea from the La Playa Grill and take it to the Empire Restaurant.

The best: the closed all restaurants before all guests had a chance to have a full meal on day of embarkation and you should just "forget" it.

The spa was a total desaster: steam bath no tube for cold water to clean and freshen up seats. Sauna you cannot add hot water to get steam: not hot enough and all water flows directly to the ground. 50% of machines in gym out of order or did not work. Even you go on open deck: they close open decks for cleaning at typical times people are doing their rounds. Totally not service orientated.

But to be honest: it was one of the best "transportation incl. hotel" you can have for Hawai'i and if you can ignore service you will have your greatest experience on water and a perfect way to paradise.

We did not regret to be on this cruise and would go Carnival again. But to be the largest cruise company you as guest must learn that they are not interested very much to satisfy you: you take it as it or you leave it. And Captain and Hotel Director will do their best that you feel as uncomfortable as possible that you do not return again.

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Sail Date: April 2011
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 ... Read More
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!

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