2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2012
After reading posts on Cruise Critic we decided to get into Seattle a day early and stayed at the Westin in Downtown Seattle. The Westin is a perfect place to stay. It is centrally located for all the touristy things to do in Seattle. ... Read More
After reading posts on Cruise Critic we decided to get into Seattle a day early and stayed at the Westin in Downtown Seattle. The Westin is a perfect place to stay. It is centrally located for all the touristy things to do in Seattle. The roms are very confortable and with our room in the north tower, an excellent view of the Space Needle. The Carnival Spirit is a beautiful ship. All the staff was very friendly. Once we found out room we started to unpack and there was more than enough space to hand everything. ( You may need to bring a few extra hangers). We booked an 8K extended balcony which was mid ship in the starboard (right) side, which could not have been better. After the unpacking the exploring began, and believe me there is a lot to explore. Lido deck (9th) had the buffet and other eating areas which were very clean and also the Serenity area for adults only. We took the tour of the ship offered by the cruise lines with Cassie. She was very informative. The Empire room ( Main dining room ) was very elegant and the waiters were very friendly and seem to really enjoy meeting the new weekly group of people. The ship was very clean and since it was just recently remodeled, was very up to date, other than the ugly birds statue overlooking the pool. Overall we did mostly walking from deck to deck as the stairway was very beautiful with all the woodwork. The showroom was excellent and the two shows were equal to or above Las Vegas standards. The lights and music were excellent and any seat was good to vie the happenings. The punch liner comedy lounge, although a bit small, was excellent with good service. Overall I would take another cruise in a heartbeat on this ship and this line Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
My husband and I had a fabulous honeymoon aboard the Carnival Spirit on the August 7, 2012 sailing. It was my third cruise and first on Carnival, and his first cruise ever. After getting married on Saturday, we arrived in Seattle on ... Read More
My husband and I had a fabulous honeymoon aboard the Carnival Spirit on the August 7, 2012 sailing. It was my third cruise and first on Carnival, and his first cruise ever. After getting married on Saturday, we arrived in Seattle on Monday for a cruise that left on Tuesday. I highly recommend getting there a day or more early. First, it's far less stressful. Second, Seattle is an awesome city! We had so much fun exploring this city which was new to both of us. We had booked the cruise through Priceline and got a free night in a hotel. We chose the Pan Pacific Seattle, which was awesome. Great location, great room, and helpful staff. Some of the must-see attractions are Pike Place Market, the first Starbucks, Pioneer Village (but avoid at night), Space Needle, and the Troll Under the Bridge in Fremont. Honestly we could have spent the whole honeymoon in Seattle! But we were very excited to board the ship on Tuesday... We splurged on veranda room, and I'm glad we did. We didn't spend as much time out there as I had hoped, as it got extremely cold at times. The room was big enough and about what I expected. There were thick robes in the closet for our use which came in very handy on the chilly balcony. Our first full day was a Fun Day at Sea. We enjoyed exploring the ship, but a MAJOR strike against Carnival is the pushy sales. We went to a scheduled activity in the spa that was supposed to help with back pain, and that turned into a sales pitch for shoe insoles. We tried to go to a seminar in the theater that was supposed to tell about activities onshore that was nothing more than a sales pitch for diamonds and various other goods. The other activities were pretty lame for us. Lots of trivia, Bingo at $20/card, etc. They really could try to have some more exciting things to do, especially on at sea days. Tracy Arm is so amazingly beautiful. I was so happy to be able to view it from my own balcony, even if I occasionally had to go inside to warm up. I just could not get over the colors and beauty of the fjord. I'm glad that I did not do the excursion on the small boat that gets up close. While it would have been fun, it was also cold and wet, not to mention pricy. We missed our opportunity to see a bear when we went up for food. Should have gotten room service :( On that note, the buffet food is really not great. I had read reviews saying that and did not worry because I'm not really picky, but honestly I really couldn't find much. The International Station repeats constantly. On a 7 day cruise, they should be able to have food from 7 different nations. Instead, they just repeated Japanese, French, and Italian. I guess there are always chicken fingers and fries. The dining room did not disappoint, however. I never had a bad meal...in fact, most were delicious. And the best part is the daily chocolate melting cake! After the first couple of days, we stuck to the main dining room. It was a little disappointing that these were our only 2 options. First stop was Skagway. It was by far the longest port we stayed in at 14 hours. It was okay, but too long. Some people love the train ride. We did the zip lining adventure, which was fun but not the most challenging course. Still, we can say we zipped in an Alaskan rain forest. We walked around the historic town, but really there isn't much there. Again, I'm just not sure why we spent so long in this port. The next day we stopped in Juneau. I REALLY would have liked more time at this one. We walked around town, saw the governor's mansion, and shopped a bit. Then we did a dog sledding adventure (which was more like a demotorized golf cart pulled by the dogs since there was no snow). It was a great experience, but more expensive than it should have been. We did get to play with little puppies (but I felt bad for the little things being handled by so many people, including less-than-gentle children). And just like that, our time in Juneau was over. I would have loved to have seen the Mendenhall Glacier via busride, but there just wasn't time. Our time in Ketchikan the next day was even shorter!! We didn't plan any excursions so it wasn't such a big deal. All we did was walk around and shop some more. The same goods can be found in every port. Ketchikan was more commercialized than Skagway, though. Last was an evening stop in Victoria, BC. I really liked this port. Beautiful, clean city, but dark, cold, and windy at night (we arrived around 7pm). Most everything was closed when we got there, and you have to take a bus or taxi into the city. Still, I enjoyed walking around. Finally we found ourselves back in Seattle, where we had one more day to enjoy before heading home. My Complaints: *Again, I seriously hated being nickeled and dimed at every turn, especially since they were so pushy. On our last night, a waitress actually said to us "Don't you two drink? I've never seen you with one." Yes, we both drink occasionally, but not for $9 per drink. Not that it's any of her business...I found that to be a rude question. *People had warned us that we would be the youngest people on the ship by about 20 years. Not so. I do not have a problem with kids AT ALL, actually, I like them. But their parents need to stop them from cannonballing over people's heads in the hot tub and running into people carrying hot drinks. Not Carnival's fault, but be warned, there may be many children. TIPS: *If you want to see wildlife, your best bet is to take an excursion. The only things we saw were a bald eagle and some wild salmon. *Be sure to pay attention to the amount of time spent in ports. I was seriously disappointed with this. *Don't book your excursions through Carnival and save money. *Eat the chocolate melting cake every day. Overall, great trip on a decent ship (decorated in more of a Vegas style than an elegant one). I may or may not do Carnival again, but I am so very glad I got to sample what this great state has to offer with my new husband. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
I would suggest this particular cruise to anyone looking for adventure and ready to go with the flow, especially for those amateur photographers. We enjoyed every port. I have 2 suggestions: 1-If you do one of the first couple of ... Read More
I would suggest this particular cruise to anyone looking for adventure and ready to go with the flow, especially for those amateur photographers. We enjoyed every port. I have 2 suggestions: 1-If you do one of the first couple of Alaskan cruises in the season, bring lots of layers that are thin and easy to add or stash in a "port" bag 2-Plan ahead before you leave and excursion for each port. We did this and it made it so much easier to navigate the ports. Plus, we had the advantage of seeing more than the port itself. We did not book through the cruise line but small local businesses we found online. The Nouveau steakhouse was delicious. We went the first and last night of the cruise. We received a free bottle of wine with our dinner on the first night, which we asked our server NOT to open (which we enjoyed later in the cruise). The escargot, surf and turf, lamb chops, cowboy ribeye, lobster tail, and cheesecake were tasty. TIP: Ask your server for a cheese plate (with extra crackers) "to go" to take back to your room, yummy! The comedy shows, hypnotist shows and the big jazz show were all very entertaining. If you want to truly enjoy glacier bay, I would suggest getting a balcony for your room. Then on that day order room service for breakfast and lunch (45 mins before you actually want it). Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
Transfer to port from hotel/ airport: I strongly suggest you take Seattle Express shuttle service from your hotel to cruise port. Seattle Express is cost $12 per trip which is much cheaper compare to cruise shuttle service. Their website ... Read More
Transfer to port from hotel/ airport: I strongly suggest you take Seattle Express shuttle service from your hotel to cruise port. Seattle Express is cost $12 per trip which is much cheaper compare to cruise shuttle service. Their website is http://www.seattleexpress.com/. You also can take this service from port to airport. Cruise Cabin: Cabin in middle of ship is more convenience compare to cabin located in back or front ship. Middle of ship is near to Autrium which is more convenience to access to restaurant, lounges, disco, casino..... Food in cruise considered very good. There have buffet, restaurant, 24 hours room service, and some food also available 24 hours. Only steakhouse restaurant, you need to pay $30 per pax. For beverage, if you are interest to soda, you can buy soda card which is $6++ per day, unlimited. Their plain water, hot drinks all are free. Carnival Camp: Carnival Camp is a childcare service which are available in cruise. This is the only concern I feel no comfortable. Their childcare are not welcome baby who are under age 2. They are even not allowed baby who are under age two to use their childcare facilities. They allow a very limited of time for baby and parents to use their childcare facilities. When we were going to excursion, I handed my infant who are age 18 months in childcare. Carnival Camp's staffs seems very uncomfortable to my baby behaviour because she keep crying. One of staff even look fierce and she seems very unwilling to take care of her. Baby are unfamiliar to new environment and staffs, Carnival Camp staff should use their love and passion to comfort baby, such parents are able to go excursion. Staffs in Carnival Camp didn't try their best to comfort baby, they just want push back baby to parents. Juneau: If you only intend to visit Mendenhall Glacier and Visitor Center in Juneau, you no need to book excursion from cruise or any private tour. From cruise port, walking distance take about 5 minutes time, you can get a booth name MGT's Blue Glacier Express service. MGT website is http://mightygreattrips.com/. You can buy your ticket online as well. Round trip from cruise port/ dwontown to Mendenhall Glacier is just cost $16.00, 14 miles. Transportation run every 30 minutes. I also suggest you visit Mendenhall Glacier in early morning. Mendenhall Glacier is face to east, morning sun will made Glacier look very beautiful. You probably need 1.5 - 2.5 hours to visit glacier and visitor centre. Ketchikan: If you don't wish spent too much money on tour and excursion, you no need to buy any tours. Ketchikan has two area, downtown and new town. You can get a map of downtown, walk just need spent about 2.5 hours to see whole downtown. There is nothing in new town to see. Skagway: Skagway is just resemble a cowboy town you watch in film. There is a lot of shop in Skagway compare to Juneau and Ketchikan. There is a famous train depart from cruise port to WhitePass and Yukon. The round trip ticket is about $170+-, approximately time is 3 hours. I didn't take this train because price is too expensive. You can get some tours to go up summit by car/ van/ bus which price are much cheaper. Victoria: We arrived Victoria as our last port. There have many public transport service send you from port to Victoria downtown. It probably take 15 minutes time from cruise port to downtown. I suggest you take CVS bus service which cost USD/ CAD7.50 for round trip. Victoria is a pretty city, you can visit parliament building, harbour, Fairmont Express Hotel...... As cruise arrived Victoria already 7.30pm, most of the visitors place have closed. 2-3 hours should be enough to see all downtown. Unfortunately, we do not have enough time to go Butcher Garden and palace. 80% of passengers in cruise are senior, their age is around 45 to 80. Obviously, Alaska Cruise didn't attract much young people. This is because the price of Alaska Cruise is more expensive if compare to Carribean or Mexico Cruise. Additionally, children who are under age 2 absolutely no interest to see glacier, to visit an old and quiet town in Alaska. If you are really choose Alaska Cruise, go in May to July will be the best timing. Otherwise, weather in August and September might be cool and turn to raining season. You may miss the chance to see glacier in Tracy Arm. Conclusion, Alaska is suitable to couple without children. Romantic couple who prefer to see glacier. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
This was a 2nd wedding for both of us, and this time I wanted the dress and a 'real wedding'. Dinah at the Carnival Cruise Wedding Dept held my hand during the entire process. I read a review saying the Captain would marry a ... Read More
This was a 2nd wedding for both of us, and this time I wanted the dress and a 'real wedding'. Dinah at the Carnival Cruise Wedding Dept held my hand during the entire process. I read a review saying the Captain would marry a couple, but I was told he did not do that and we had to marry in Port and get a Seattle marriage license. No bigge. We received priority boarding with the officiant and her husband (Suzanne and Doug)escorting all 6 of us. Their expertise and experience was quite evident as everything came together seamlessly. The ceremony was lovely and we were encouraged to make changes to make it our own. The cake and champagne toast were in another area. It was interesting to walk through the ship and have people applaud and give us their congratulations! I would recommend Carnival's wedding department 200%. The Noveau Steakhouse is everything people say it is. If you sail on the Spirit, please do yourself a favor and go. It is probably the best RibEye I've ever had and certainly one of the nicest 5 star experiences. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
DH and I arrived into Seattle greeted by wonderfully blue skies the morning before our cruise. Our luggage secured, we were met by the Town Car service which we had prehired, Metropolis Town Cars for $45.00. The driver, while quiet, ... Read More
DH and I arrived into Seattle greeted by wonderfully blue skies the morning before our cruise. Our luggage secured, we were met by the Town Car service which we had prehired, Metropolis Town Cars for $45.00. The driver, while quiet, answered any questions we had about the area and the car was clean en route to our hotel for the evening; Inn at the Market. I cannot say enough fabulous things about this quaint hotel steps away from Pike Place Market. We arrived to be told that we had been upgraded to an water view room, however it was not quite ready which we had figured since it was only 11am. They offered refreshments and to store our luggage and told us they would call us as soon as it was ready. We first headed to the rooftop deck of the hotel and caught a glimpse of the Puget Sound with the ferries and other boats before heading into the hubbub of the market. Walking around Pike Place and seeing the sights was fabulous. We love to People Watch, and this was the place to do it. Stopping at one stand for some Fish & Chips, our phone rang and it was the hotel telling us our room was ready, so we headed back where we retrieved our keys. Entering our room, we were surprised by a complimentary cake from the hotel for our anniversary. It was chocolate wonderfulness which we discovered later that evening after dinner. We walked over to Pioneer Square and decided to do the Underground Tour. While very historical and funny at times, our guide was just okay. Following the tour, we went over to Smith Tower and went up to the Chinese Room to see the sights of the city. It offers the same heights as the Space Needle at 1/3 the cost and by doing the UT first, they further discounted the cost. After walking back to the hotel, we decided to freshen up before heading to dinner. DH had gotten a recommendation from a co-worker before our trip about Cutter's Bayhouse which is near the north end of Pike Place just past the park. While the views were spectacular, the food was just okay. We walked back to our room, stopping at the Original Starbucks. Waking the next morning early due to the time difference, we discovered that the sunny skies had been replaced by the typical Seattle grey gloom. We decided to walk to the Space Needle which was 1.5 miles or so away. I was a bit surprised that even at 6:30, there were not many coffee shops or restaurants open. Seeing a landmark in the distance and deciding to walk to it, took us up many streets that we probably wouldn't have picked, but we never felt unsafe. We walked back towards the waterfront and spoke to people who were carving a Memorial Totem for someone. After seeing jellyfish in the water and taking several pictures of the sights we climbed the stairs at Harbor Steps and headed back to the Market to see them open. I didn't realize that the non permanent vendors have to take their wares home each evening, and bid on a stall each morning prior to setting up-- it was very interesting to watch. Getting to Beecher's just as they were opening, we watched them pump the milk into the store from a truck and start a batch of cheese and ordered the perfect breakfast: Macaroni & Cheese which beat out Bobby Flay on his food challenge show. After stopping for a post card to mail to our kiddo back home, we walked back to the hotel to check out and head over to Smith Cove Terminal. Checking out of the hotel, they called a taxi for us to get to the terminal which cost $15.00 with tip. Taking our luggage into the building with us, we handed everything over to the porters who refused our tip, before going upstairs towards security which was a breeze at 11am. There was no line at all. Our carry on bags placed on the conveyor, we passed through the metal detector and headed to VIP to get our sign and sail cards. After answering the prerequisite health questions and confirming our cash account we were set. We chose to take the pre boarding photo which they had set up in the waiting area and after sitting for around 20 minutes while the wedding parties were boarded, we stepped up to get our mug shots to get on the ship. Once on board, we went to the Lido area where we ate lunch and mingled with a couple we had been talking to prior to boarding. Finishing our meal, we decided to explore the ship that we would call home for the next week. I've decided that whoever chose the ships decor was obviously on crack. Each of the elements were beautiful in their own right, but nothing ever went together. From the dark wood and leaded stain glass lighting with it's intricate iris' inlays in one area to the mummies in the lounge area or the villages in the comedy club. The lido was bright and a bit garish, but would fit in with the upbeat feel for a tropical cruise. The piano bar was decked out like an over the top Asian restaurant. The sushi bar area looked to be an afterthought as it was just a cart pushed in the corner near the casino. The shopping area was okay. I know that the ship depends on Duty Free sales, however I thought that the mega pack of cigarettes adorning the windows were tacky. Discovering that our room was ready at 1:00, we headed that way to check out our suite. The cabin was roomy, with a ton of closet space. The one outlet for the room is in the dressing area, so our plug extender came in handy. Though we didn't use the tub, it was nice it was there just in case. Our bags were delivered by 2:30 and we unpacked prior to sail away and we met Manuel, our room steward. There was a chocolate cake from Bon Voyage sent by our PVP along with anniversary decorations and chocolate covered strawberries and a bottle of champagne was on ice in the bucket... After heading to the Muster Drill, we went back to our own balcony to watch as we pulled away from the pier. The seas that night were a bit rough and continued into the next morning. We literally were like the balls in a pinball machine bumping into walls at times and I was thankful I was wearing the Scopolamine patch for motion sickness. We had chosen Your Time Dining and loved it. For the most part we had a table for two right by the window except one night(day 4) when we decided to eat with a group, which was a bit awkward since they were Mormon and we each had a drink, however we made the most of it and still had a good time. We got to see the dinner shows a couple times, so I guess we just planned it right. Being formal night, we took several pictures. It was our actual anniversary so the waiters sang to us which reminded me of the waiters in a Christmas Story movie at the end. Each night we headed for our nightly 5:00pm sushi appetizers before changing for dinner. After dinner we went and watched the karaoke and adult comedy each night. We caught the one "big" show, but I honestly fell asleep in it, so it wasn't not very memorable. Now for the Ports/Excursions: Tracy Arm Fjord~ after reading fabulous things about this excursion, I decided that we were going to do this and I am so glad that we did. We chose the afternoon excursion, but even if you choose to stay aboard the Spirit, the sights were truly breathtaking as we finagled our way towards Sawyer Glacier. The water is a milky jade color from the glacial silt. The mountains springing up from the water climbing towards the heavens... I just cannot say enough about it. We were able to see whales, seals and bald eagles from our balcony. After the morning group got back on board, we got on the catamaran and headed right up to the glaciers. The boat captain idled along the way in photographic areas and they even brought a bit of an iceberg on board for people to taste/feel. Hot chocolate was provided along with smoked salmon and on the way back to the ship, a humpback breached right in front of us which we managed to capture with the camera--yay!! Skagway~ We decided that we would horseback ride in the Dyea Valley. It was beautiful. This is a quaint town that doesn't even have a stop light. We were able to buy a charger for my camera here though since I packed the wrong one, which was great since our other camera had bit the dust. We walked through the local grocery store and was amazed at the prices of things-- hotdogs were over $6.00 a package and milk exceeded $5.00 a gallon. We were at this port the longest, even though it was the smallest. Juneau~ We chose the Guide's Choice Glacier Hike. It was marvelous. Our guide was very knowledgeable about the history, animals and plants of the area. While at a leisurely pace, this excursion is still not for the out of shape. At one point we had to climb 300 stairs. We went from sea level to 1000 feet in elevation seeing the moss draped woods, waterfalls, the Mendenhall Glacier along with salmon spawning. It was a warm day, we even went back to the ship and donned our swimsuits and laid out. Ketchikan~ At the last minute, we decided to do an excursion which was the Orca Beach boat ride/Hike combo. The beautiful weather the two ports prior had left and we were met with a foggy mist. Of all of the excursions, we liked this one the least. After getting in a van for 45 minutes, we boarded a blow up raft type boat, and while we did see two eagles nesting and a fur seal with her baby, the hike was lame. It was on an island where we had to stay on wooden planks that had roof shingles laid on them for traction. Our guide was a college student who had just come up literally two weeks prior and really didn't have much to offer. After walking the mile loop and seeing the trees that had fallen, we were escorted to their camp area where we were offered drinks and Ritz Crackers with salmon. Finally back on the little boat towards their pier we had to wait as someone else had parked in their slip. Thankfully, the van was waiting for us so we could go back towards the ship, since we were pushing time before our departure. Victoria~ Since we were here the least amount of time and it was our final night on board, we decided that we would not disembark and instead made reservations at the steakhouse. It was a good thing, too, since this port had been cancelled due to cross winds. We sat in Victoria Bay all night though before pulling away around 1:00 am. Disembarking & Final Thoughts: Be forewarned, the ports are 90% jewelry stores. We were told that they are owned by the cruise lines collectively, but we aren't sure if that's true, so if you aren't doing an excursion, it could be hard to just see the real towns. I felt that being in both Juneau & Ketchikan were rushed and they could do a better time of balancing the time in the ports. We were suckered into collecting the coin set and charms from the towns which meant that we had to go to 9 jewelry stores and try something on. If you have the will power to say no, you can get two souvenirs for free. The cost of pictures were shocking. The 8x10's are $21.95 and they don't offer other sizes to choose from, plus looking each day at the walls for the pictures is very very cumbersome. I think they would do much better if they did it like WDW, where you give your card to the camera guy and then everything is electronic and you can choose to print it and download it from a website. The naturalist Michelle came on the PA quite frequently and indicated when we would see sights. Instead of opening your door, constantly, you can tune your TV to channel 5 to hear her. Stu the Cruise Director wasn't too bad, however before disembarking the wake up call was pretty annoying, especially since he told us we were in Hawaii. I was looking for a luau and was greeted by Seattle fog :( Even though we were given group 1, we did self assist disembarking and were off the ship by 8:35. Customs was a breeze, I guess since we didn't actually make a foreign port. We gave our passports to the agent and literally walked on through. Our bags weren't checked, nor were we questioned. We took almost 800 pictures and had a great anniversary. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2010
We spent the night before our cruise in Seattle. We visited the Space Needle and Pike's Market Place and would like to have had more time to spend exploring the city. We sailed from Seattle on Tuesday afternoon, June 8, 2010. We ... Read More
We spent the night before our cruise in Seattle. We visited the Space Needle and Pike's Market Place and would like to have had more time to spend exploring the city. We sailed from Seattle on Tuesday afternoon, June 8, 2010. We arrived at the pier about 11:30 a.m. and breezed right through check in and boarded the ship. Our room was ready by 1:30 p.m. and our luggage was delivered by 3:00 p.m. So we were unpacked and ready to sail at 4:00 p.m. There was not alot to do this first night and Wednesday was our sea day. I think they had less activities on this cruise than on the 3 other Caribbean cruises I have been on. However, the nightly entertainment was very good. We ate in the dining room every evening and had terrific meals. We ate in the Steakhouse the 2nd "elegant" night and the food and service was superb. The buffet's at breakfast and lunch were good. The lines weren't long, and everything was hot and tasty. I know a lot of people complain about the food, but I really couldn't find anything to complain about. My husband especially liked the unlimited soft serve ice cream. The chocolate melting cake is to die for - YUMMY. I gained 5 pounds and he gained 6 1/2. So I guess you could say we liked the food. I wasn't too impressed with our head waiting in the Empire Dining Room. My husband had to ask twice for milk. The next night he had to ask again. The third night the assistant waitress brought him milk without his having to ask and remembered every other evening. She also remembered I wanted decaf tea after dinner with honey. We gave both a tip at the end, but hers was definitely more. She was attentive and friendly, where he always seemed rushed. They only had 4 booths which held 4 people, and not one of them had more than 2 people for dinner. So I don't know why he was rushed. Seas were calm most of the time except one evening where it rocked a lot. We weren't bothered by it, but a lot of people were. Disembarkation was a breeze as well. The ship was clean, our room was kept up without asking (and we had no complaints), the cruise director was great. The weather was about what you would expect in June (cloudy, sunny, showery, cool), but overall it was a FANTASTIC vacation. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2009
My wife and Myself just returned from our 6th cruise and do enjoy the convenience of many different cities on a single vacation. This is our 2nd time aboard the Carnival Spirit and First visit to Alaska. Let me say that Alaska is a ... Read More
My wife and Myself just returned from our 6th cruise and do enjoy the convenience of many different cities on a single vacation. This is our 2nd time aboard the Carnival Spirit and First visit to Alaska. Let me say that Alaska is a beautiful place and the views are amazing, the cities we visited are very cute and each has is own history that dates back for hundreds of years. Carnival did a good job of providing History Channel programing the was Alaska specific. We did not eat a the buffet,Only in the main dinning room and the Steak House. The buffet just did not seem attractive to us and the lines were pretty long. We had late seating for dinner, No need to arrive on time as every night the doors were opened at least 15 minutes late and from there the line went all the way back, past 2 bars and almost to the casino, No problem as we just adjusted our arrival time to 20 minutes later. The ports were fantastic, great seafood mostly halibut, Crab and Salmon but all very good, a little expensive but worth it overall. They do try to serve some seafood dishes at dinner billed as fresh Alaskan, but just not the same. Don't get too excited about the food on Board. Alaska beer is fresh and good, We like the Alaskan Brewery beers the best, I the White, My wife the amber. Much better than the same beer on the ship as I think it must sit for a while in a war warehouse before Carnival brings it on board,(the Dos XX was the same, a little stale). No problem though as we just confined our beer drinking to the time in port. Pre-cruise and Embarkation- They asked us 3 times what time our Flight home from Anchorage was, Once on the "fun pass registration", once again when I purchased transfers directly from Carnival. and once again on the ship on a form that they leave in your Cabin. I had a flight time Change due to the Airlines from 2:00PM to 11:20 AM, I called my trusty Sales Rep and he did not return my call. I called Customer Service, the first time The lady was of no help and could give me no information about transfers in anchorage, she said that it was handled through a vendor and did not know what time they start embarkation. So I called again, The Rep. this time was very nice and looked up my cruise and told me that they could accommodate airport transfers as early as 11:00 AM, no problem so I booked the Carnival Transfer from Whittier to Anchorage. Sure enough when it came time to Dis-embark that Had us assigned in one of the last groups to get off the ship. They started at 7:00 AM at 8:40, they still had not called my group So I took it upon myself to get off the ship not waiting for them to call our "ZONE#", At the bottom of the ramp the Carnival agent began to question me and I said "look if I don't get on the next shuttle I will miss my flight", She was kind enough to let us board. When the buss arrived at the Airport, We walked strait from the bus and boarded the plane, Not 1 minute to spare. Carnival has gone down hill from the last few times we cruised with them. Service,Food guest relations, just the overall experiance Next year, we are already planning another cruise, This Time we are going to try another cruise line, probably spend a little more but we will see, maybe free style cruising is more our cup of tea. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
 My wife is 63 and I'm 66.  We have cruised several times before - the last time on the Glory in 2008.  We've cruised the Inside Passage twice (NCL Spirit and NCL Star) and enjoyed both of these.  We booked several months in ... Read More
 My wife is 63 and I'm 66.  We have cruised several times before - the last time on the Glory in 2008.  We've cruised the Inside Passage twice (NCL Spirit and NCL Star) and enjoyed both of these.  We booked several months in advance with Ashley at MOAA, and booked our excursions with CCL after comparing prices and finding very little significant difference. We flew Delta from Atlanta to Salt Lake City to Anchorage on Monday  the 15th.  We used FF miles and booked Business Class the whole way.  A good breakfast on one flight and a decent lunch on the other.  We arrived in Anchorage at about 2:15 pm, and the view from the plane was gorgeous as we approached.  The sky was nearly clear of clouds, and my wife got beautiful phone pictures of the glaciers. We got a cab and proceeded to the Westmark downtown (it's where the Delta flight crews stay).  The cost of the taxi with 20% tip was $23.00.  We have a friend who lives in Anchorage, so we took her to dinner, and she drove us to several of the sites around the city.  On the drive we saw 4 doll sheep (two within 30 feet) and a cow moose less than 100 feet away in a bog area.  We finally got to sleep about  4:00 am Atlanta time (midnight). On Tuesday, we rented a car from Avis - pickup point was 4 blocks from the hotel.  The Camry was comfortable and roomy for our planned trip to Seward.  The drive was beautiful along the Turnagain Arm and through the mountains.  We stopped at Portage Glacier and Exit Glacier before arriving in Seward.  We had lunch in town - we had never had rockfish before and it was great.  At 3:30 pm we boarded a boat with Renown Tours for a 3-hr nature watching tour.  We got beautiful pictures of the Bear Glacier (mammoth), whales, puffins, sea otters, sea lions.  We've never seen so many birds in one place.  The captain was very informative and funny on the trip.  We picked up some wine at the Safeway there for onboard, and then drove back to Anchorage and crashed for the night. Wednesday morning, we had breakfast in the hotel and walked around downtown Anchorage, hitting all the souvenir shops.  Alaska Cruise Transfers and Tours picked us up at 12:30 pm for the drive to Whittier - the cost was $45/person and had a wonderful narrative along the way.  We had a 30 minute wait at the tunnel, and arrived at the pier at 3:15 pm.  It took us about 20 minutes to get onboard, and our luggage arrived at the door 15 minutes after we did.  We had a balcony cabin midship on the port side Upper Deck.  We went to dinner at about 7:00 pm and were seated immediately (anytime dining).  They asked if we would mind sharing a table, so we sat at a table for six - no one sat with us and I had definitely showered that day.  The meal was good, and the service was excellent (each meal in the dining room we asked to share a table - it was a wonderful way to meet new people each time we dined).  We went back to the room and sat on the balcony relaxing.  The tunnel was closed for 1.5 hours due to a motorcycle wreck and there were delayed arrivals, so the ship didn't sail until about 10:15 pm. Thursday was College Fjord and a sea day.  Beautiful scenery.  Dinner that night was cruise elegant, so I wore a coat and tie and my wife dressed fittingly and beautifully.  We noted  that many men wore just dress shirt and tie - some wore jeans.  Also, cowboy hats in the dining room really turn me off. Friday we arrived in Sitka.  We had not been there before.  The tenders seemed to take forever to get from ship to dock.  It was an interesting town.  We walked the town and saw the major attractions in town, and then decided to walk to the Raptor Center.  On the way, we went in a beautiful little church (St Peter's by the Sea),  had beautiful views of the Spirit through the harbor, stopped at the fish hatchery, viewed the totem poles, walked through the National Forest, and arrived at the Raptor Center.  Worth the price of admission.  What these people do for injured raptors is truly amazing with the ultimate goal of releasing them back to the wild.  Up close with eagles (bald and golden), hawks, peregrine falcon, owls, etc is a rewarding experience.   We walked back to town, and had a late lunch (halibut) at the Westmark hotel restaurant.  No excursion there - just a nice walkable town. Juneau was on Saturday.  We walked around town seeing all the jewelers and had a mandatory drink in the famous Saloon.  We walked back to the dock and boarded a bus to take us to our 1:00 pm whale watching excursion and salmon feast we had booked through CCL.  The boat was a two-level craft with lots of open space.  Within 40 minutes, we saw a mother humpback and her calf cavorting in the waters.  They were surface feeding and breaching for the full 30 minutes we were allowed to stay with them.  Interestingly, Capt Larry was there at the same time.  I believe the considerably higher boat we were on allowed a better angle for much better viewing and photography with no noticeable crowding at the rails.  We photographed two other humpbacks, sea lions, eagles, and awesome views of Herbert and Mendenhall glaciers.  We went back to Juneau for the salmon eat and were not disappointed.  Salmon and chicken grilled perfectly with all the side dishes you could want.  The area was picturesque with a beautiful waterfall - reminded us of Liarsville in Skagway. Sunday morning we arrived in Skagway.   On our previous trips we had ridden the White Pass Railway up the mountains to Fisher in British Columbia (a must if you've never done it), so this time we rented a Camry from Avis and drove to the Yukon.  The drive is beyond awesome - nothing compares to the scenery you view.  We stopped in Carcross for ice cream at Matthew Watson's - an interesting store and good ice cream.   It was Aboriginal Day in Carcross,, so we were fortunate to see many people in Native attire and the Mounties were in full dress.  We drove on to Emerald Lake with a stop at the sand desert area along the way.  The drive back to Skagway was similarly stunning scenery.  If you do this drive, watch the speed limit.  We saw 4 Skagway police radar units on the descent from British Columbia to Skagway.  We got back to Skagway around 2:30 pm, walked the town, and easily got back on the ship with plenty of time to spare.  It was extremely windy on the walk back.  When we departed, the Captain said that the wind was 30 knots and we were travelling 20 knots directly into the wind, so the actual wind on the balcony was in the neighborhood of 50 knots.  Once again, great scenery and the naturalist Michelle had interesting tidbits of info along the way to Ketchikan. We arrived in Ketchikan at 11:00 am on Monday.  We really like Ketchikan in spite of all the souvenir and jewelry stores.  It's quaint.  We visited the downtown stores and picked up all the freebies from the merchants.  We walked back to the pier at 1:00 pm and boarded the bus to the George Inlet Lodge and Crab Feast excursion.  When we got to the Lodge, we donned wet weather gear and went on a boat to pull up some crab pots.  The first pot was filled with huge Dungeness crabs and a couple of starfish which we all handled before releasing them back in the water.  Our guide, Paul, was very interesting and knowledgeable.  When we returned to the lodge, they served all-you-can-eat crab.  Our table overflowed the shell waste container, and the crab just kept on coming.  On the return bus ride, we saw more bald eagles and huge salmon forcing their way up one of the creeks.   We walked to Creek Street, the old brothel street, and watched a young man catching crab off the bridge - he caught three keepers while we were there.  We then walked back to the ship, sort of dreading the fact that we would only have one more day aboard. The Inside Passage was on Tuesday.  Once again, the scenery was beautiful.  We passed quaint lumbering towns, lots of fishing and sail boats, and some gorgeous oceanview homes.  I did see two humpback whales from the balcony that were close enough to photograph. Vancouver, Wednesday, debarkation.  We had breakfast in the buffet, and departed our cabin reluctantly at 8:15 am.  The cabin stewardess had told us we could stay til 8:30 without causing her any delay.  Since we were staying in the city one night, we didn't need an early debarkation number.  Ours was 28, and we were off the ship and on our way to the Park Inn at 9:45.  We checked in and then walked to Granville Island in the light rain.  This was the first day that was rainy.  Granville Island is an interesting collection of fish and produce markets.  We had our last halibut fish and chips for lunch on Granville Island and a great Indian dinner near the hotel. Home on Thursday.  We took a cab to the airport for our return Delta flights to Atlanta.  It's nice to clear US Customs in the Vancouver airport.  We had a short flight to Salt Lake City and then, with a 40 minute turnaround, on to Atlanta, with a very good dinner and wine in Business Class. Service on the Spirit was very good.  The dining room wait staff was exceptional - seemed to have time to talk and give advice.  Our cabin stewardess was nearly invisible, but efficient; and, the towel animals were appreciated as always. Food on board was also very good.  We had breakfast in the room, at the buffet, and in the dining room - all very nice.  Surprisingly, we never saw a crowded buffet area and never waited for a table in the dining room using anytime dining.  Dinners at both the buffet and dining room were also good.  The prime rib in both was very good, cooked medium rare the way it's supposed to be done.  My wife thought the crème brulee was good, and she's a connoisseur when it comes to that dish. The Entertainment started off poorly but got better as the week progressed.  The first show routine was very poor - no energy, poor choreography.  Then we went to the Blues Brothers show.  Chris (the cruise director) and Mark (assistant) gave the best performance of the week - it was outstanding.  Then, the final dance show was much more memorable.  The comedians and so forth were average.  And, the Legends Show was a great topping on the cruise. Looking back, it was a great cruise - relaxing, fun, entertaining, and certainly memorable.  The weather was unbelievably beautiful.  We love Alaska, and the Carnival Spirit was a great way to visit. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
Background: We have cruised several times before, most recently on the Miracle in 2007.  My wife is 39 and I'm 38.  We left the kids at home for this trip.  We booked the cruise about 3 months out and used CC to plan all the ... Read More
Background: We have cruised several times before, most recently on the Miracle in 2007.  My wife is 39 and I'm 38.  We left the kids at home for this trip.  We booked the cruise about 3 months out and used CC to plan all the excursions.  Since we were cruising without kids this time, we didn't feel the need to use Carnival excursions and we also used credit card points to pay for most of the cruise, so we splurged a little on the excursions.  Inbound: We flew nonstop from Atlanta (7.5 hours) to Anchorage on Delta in coach using FF miles on Tuesday 6/16.  On the whole, it was not a bad flight considering the distance.  We did get a free hot meal (shocker!) and free movies on the seat-back on-demand screen.  We watched Benjamin Button (overrated) and Gran Torino (quite good).  Unfortunately, it was cloudy as we flew in, so we couldn't get a great view of the scenery on approach to Anchorage.  Anchorage: On arrival, we waited for our luggage, and waited, and waited.  The conveyor stuck so we had to wait about ½ hour, but we finally grabbed a cab and headed for the Marriott downtown (also using points).  On the way, we made a quick pit stop at a liquor/convenience store to grab some soda and a bottle of rum for the cruise.  The cab was around $25 with tip.  After checking in, we headed out to explore Anchorage.  We had a bite and a beer at Humpy's.  I highly recommend the salmon pizza and halibut tacos.  We finally got to bed around 11PM AK time (3AM at home).  Anchorage was OK with some nice galleries and stores, but a little seedy after 9PM.       The next morning we had breakfast at the concierge lounge (an unexpected bonus that our key worked in the door) and took a cab to the train station ($5).  Train to Whittier: After checking in our suitcases, we waited a while to board.  You could probably arrive at 9:45 for the 10:00 train and not have any problems.  The train was comfortable and they had plenty of snacks and drinks for sale - including some good coffee!  I spent much of the ride between the cars taking pictures.  We went through the tunnel and emerged in Whittier, in the pouring rain.  Pre-Cruise PWS Tour: We walked over to the 26 Glacier Tour boat and boarded fairly soon after we arrived.  We had to switch from the PWS tour at the last minute because our original tour was cancelled.  In the end, we were glad we took the faster boat.  We were seated at a table for 6 with only 2 other people, both independent travelers, not cruisers, so there was plenty of room.  I'd say the boat was about 2/3 full.  We quickly made it about ½ the way up College Fjord and saw a huge raft of otters.  We then were served a decent fried cod lunch while we went to the next set of glaciers (Surprise & Marjorie, I think).  We got extremely close and I got a great calving picture.  Because of the speed of the boat, it seemed like we spent a long time at the glaciers.  We went to another set of glaciers and stopped at the bird colony across from Whittier on the way back.  All in all, it was a fantastic way to get close to the glaciers.  As soon as we got a few miles away from Whittier, the rain stopped.  Of course, when we returned to Whittier, it was still pouring there. Cruise: I will break the review down into daily highlights, then specific reviews of food, service, activities, etc. Embarkation Night:  We were able to board immediately after we left the smaller boat and our luggage was waiting for us (direct from the train station in Anchorage).  We unpacked and met our steward, Gusti from Indonesia, who was very nice.  I removed all the minibar stuff to make room for our sodas.  We had a midship 7A cabin with an obstructed balcony, but the lifeboat was below the balcony rail and we had a clear view to the ocean from part of the balcony because we were between two lifeboats.  We had this same category on the Miracle so we knew what to expect.  We went to dinner around 8PM and we were using anytime dining.  This was only the second week on this ship for anytime, so I expected a few problems.  We had no problems at all, and only waited 5 minutes twice, otherwise we were seated immediately.  Anytime is set up on the left side of the Deck 3 dining room.  I'll discuss the food and service in more detail below.  We sailed late because (as I found out later), some flights were late causing buses to miss the tunnel opening.  I think we sailed around 10PM, but as we already knew, College Fjord is only a few miles from Whittier, so we basically spent all night going in circles between Whittier and College Fjord anyway. College Fjord/Sea Day:  We set up room service breakfast for 5:45AM so we wouldn't miss the glaciers.  As it turned out, we woke up at 5:30 anyway because we were still mentally on Eastern Time.   We sat out on our balcony eating bagels and cereal while watching the glaciers go by.  We reached Harvard glacier around 6:15AM and we went up to Deck 9 and 10 to get a better look and take pictures.  We stayed in front of Harvard glacier for about an hour.  Michele, the ship naturalist, came over the PA with her sleepy NPR voice and gave some good info about the glaciers and the early explorations of the area.  We were out of College Fjord by around 9AM, but still saw plenty of beautiful scenery throughout the day until we moved into the Gulf of Alaska in the late afternoon.  That night was the first "cruise elegant" night, so no jeans or shorts in the dining room, although it didn't seem like too many people got super dressy, mostly business casual with a few suits and tuxes.  The ship started rolling a little when we got into the Gulf, so you may want to be aware of that if you are prone to seasickness.  We had no problems, but a few people were taking Dramamine and wearing patches, etc. Sitka: As we were pulling into Sitka, I stepped out on the balcony and a seal surfaced right next to the ship parallel to our balcony.  We arrived in Sitka around 8AM and after we anchored, the ship's tenders began to be lowered.  As usual, we were up earlier than expected.  I went to the specified lounge at 8:15 to get tender stickers and arrived just as the staff member came in with the stickers.  We got tender #2, with the first one reserved for early Carnival tours.  Our tender was called about 8:45, and it took about ½ hour to reach the dock. We tendered into the dock near the bridge, which is a couple of blocks from downtown.  Our tour with Captain Davey wasn't until 1:30PM, so we decided to explore the town and make our way to the Raptor Center.  We hiked through town and arrived at the Raptor Center around 10AM.  We were just in time for a presentation by one of the staff holding a huge eagle that had been kept by the center because it could not be released back into the wild for some reason (I forget why). Then, we explored the exhibits at the center and received a private (because we were the only ones there at the time) tour of the flight rehab facility where they allow wounded birds to learn how to fly again on their own without human interaction.  This allows the birds to be released back into the wild again once they have recovered.  The Raptor Center is very interesting and well worth the entrance fee. After leaving the center, we walked through the national park and saw some of the totems before heading back into town for lunch.  We ate at Two Chicks and a Kebab Stick, a little trailer next to Ludwigs.  The menu is basically great fresh fish on a stick or a sandwich, and it was delicious.  Ludwigs was also selling chowder at a stand in the same area, so you could choose either one and still sit together. We met Captain Davey at 1:30 at the main small boat harbor near downtown.  There were three couples on the excursion; all of us were from the Spirit.  The boat was small, but comfy.  Make sure you don't have to use the bathroom on the boat, because it is a camping toilet that sits on the open back deck.  We started off going toward the northern end of Sitka Sound and saw gray and humpback whales.  We then crossed over to another island and saw otters.  We made our way over to St. Lazaria Island, or "the center of the universe" as Davey calls it.  There were at least 10 different bird species visible in various nesting areas, including eagles, hawks, and many types of seabirds.  On the way back toward Sitka, we saw an otter sleeping in the water lying on his back.  We got within about 10 feet of it, before he woke up, saw us, and dived under.  We also saw seals and eagles on some rocks in the harbor.  Finally, Davey took us to a quiet cove near the town, where we could hear just how peaceful it is in Sitka.  We couldn't believe it was already 5:30, but since we were all returning to the ship, Davey brought us back to the fuel dock, which was closer to our tender dock than downtown.  We were able to get right on a tender and were back on board around 6:15PM. Juneau:  This was by far our most action-packed day.  We had a heli/dog-sled tour booked with Coastal for 11:15AM, but as usual, we were up early and off the ship by 7:30.  We walked around downtown and bought some good coffee at Heritage.  Some of the stores were open early, so we browsed a little before the crowds got there.  At 9AM, we went up the tram on one of the first trips of the day.  We had a wonderful hike at the top, although just a ½ mile because we didn't want to be late for our tour.  We took lots of pictures and although the distant views were a little misty, we could see a lot from up there.  We took the tram back down and thought we would have time later to come back up, although it wasn't to be. Coastal picked us up on time from the dock at 11:15AM.  We had a short ride over to the airport, where we found out that we were the only two scheduled for a dog sled ride at that time.  After putting on our snow boots and waterproof pants and jacket, we boarded a 5 passenger heli with just us, the pilot and a dog musher returning to camp.  The views of Mendenhall and then Herbert Glacier, where we landed, were unbelievable.  Just as it seemed there was nothing left to see, the dog camp appeared in the snow ahead of us.  We were taken on a 30-40 minute ride around the glacier with a team of 11 dogs.  All the dogs were friendly, although one was a little shy.  We were able to pose for pictures with the dogs and spend some time walking around the camp before we had to leave.  The mushers spend the summer living 5 days at a time on the glacier with 2 days off in Juneau and cannot leave anything up there at the end of the summer, so all dog mess, human mess and dog hair has to be picked up and heli'd out.  What an amazing tour.  Despite the price ($450/person), we both thought it was well worth it. We had lunch at a little seafood shack near the base of the tramway.  After lunch, I decided to go ziplining, but my wife had had enough and went back to the ship for a nap.  I had called both companies earlier and Alaska Ziplining had room on their 4PM tour.  They picked me up on time.  I was with a father and daughter traveling independently and eight dog-mushers from Mendenhall glacier, who were on their day off and had worked out a reciprocal arrangement with the ziplining company.  The bus took us over to Douglas Island and up to the ski area.  We had 5 zips and a canopy bridge.  The distances were huge - one zip was over 700 feet long.  The course was built about 100-200 feet above the ground in giant spruce trees.  The tour leaders were very safe and entertaining as we made our way around the course.  I was a little apprehensive on the first zip, but by the last one, I jumped off backwards.  I even got a free beer at the end of the tour because all of the dog-mushers got one as part of the deal between the tour companies.  The van dropped me off near the tram and I met my wife again.  We decided to eat dinner on the ship rather than in town, even though we were in port until 11:00PM.  It had been a long day in Juneau. Skagway: We had a car rented with Avis, so we got off the ship and walked over to the Avis office around 8:15AM.  They had promised to be open early on that Sunday when I called, and they did not disappoint.  I had booked a car using the special code seen on CC, but the rate I was shown was the standard rate.  I didn't complain, because after all, I'm not a travel agent.  It was $106 for the day + tax, still cheaper than a train trip for two.  We had a Corolla (which shouldn't really be a midsize), and left town on the Klondike highway.  We were careful to keep our speed below the limit, especially in Skagway.  Murrays Guide was very helpful, although I had read it prior to leaving, so I didn't use it as much on the road itself.  We stopped at the Yukon Suspension Bridge (which is actually in BC) and I got a private tour of the facility from a "ranger" (actually a retired Canadian veteran).  We were the first ones there after it opened at 9:30AM.  It's a little expensive (C$19) but very informative with some great views of the raging river. After the obligatory stop at the "Welcome to Yukon" sign, we made it to Carcross.  We had some great ice cream at Matthew Watson's and wandered around the town.  Not far past Carcross is Caribou Crossing, where we toured the museum and played with the husky puppies.  We passed Spirit Lake and stopped to take pictures of Emerald Lake. At that point, we turned around and stopped at Cinnamon Cache, where we ran into our tourmates from Captain Davey!  We split a great cinnamon bun and chatted with the owner for a while.  Apparently, she is selling the place and moving to Whitehorse.  Her husband died two years ago and it's just too lonely out there for her. We got back to Skagway around 2PM and returned the car after filling up at the one pump in town.  We walked around Skagway, but I was glad we didn't have too long there. It was very touristy on the main street and very quiet everywhere else.  We were back on board well before the 4:00PM deadline. Ketchikan: We waited until after lunch to go ashore, because we expected a long line at the gangplank for our 11:00AM arrival.  Our tour was not until 3:45PM, so we had time to explore.  We walked to Creek Street and then up to Totem Heritage Center.  We decided not to pay to enter the park and just walked around nearby instead.  We did some shopping using the free and reduced price coupons from the books we picked up in Whittier and then went to lunch at Burger Queen on the other side of the tunnel.  We had great halibut burgers and a shake.  We went back on board to drop off our purchases and then met our van at 3:45 at the rain gauge.  We bboked a floatplane tour with Island Wings.  We were driven to the floatplane dock (near Burger Queen!) and then Michelle and the plane arrived right at 4PM.  Of course, who gets off the plane - our tourmates from Captain Davey again.  I guess they read CC too. We had a group of three joining us, so Michelle invited her boyfriend and her dog to hop on for our tour as well.  We flew over the channel and out to the fjords.  The views were spectacular, and I got to sit in the co-pilot seat.  Michelle gave us the choice of landing on a fjord where bears had just been spotted or landing and going ashore on a lake. We voted for the bears, but unfortunately, they must have left by the time we got there.  It was still very peaceful standing out on the pontoon in the fjord.  She started to fly us back, but saw a possible bear on another shore, so we landed again, and this time saw a bear.  We couldn't get too close because of the tide, but we all saw it through binocs and zoom lenses.  She then flew us back (while eating her snack - so casual up there) and we were driven back to the ship around 6:30PM.  We did a little more browsing in the shops and then headed back onboard. Inside Passage: It was a cloudy and rainy for the first time since Whittier on the last day, so we didn't get too much great scenery.  We just relaxed on this day - went to the gym, read books on the balcony (when it was warm enough), won bingo ($140), ate, and ate some more at the chocolate buffet. Debarkation/Vancouver: We got room service breakfast so we didn't have to fight the early crowd in the dining room or buffet.  I had tried to use the direct luggage transfer process for $20 per person, but Delta did not participate.  We were in group 3 and called to disembark at 8:15AM.  We paid for the Carnival transfer since we had an early (11:50AM) flight.  We had a great bus driver, who gave us a narrated overview of Vancouver on the way to the airport.  We got to the airport around 9:15AM; our luggage was delivered to the airport around 9:30AM; we checked in and went through US customs by 10:00AM; and we were through security and at the gate by 10:15AM in plenty of time for the flight.  Our flight home was uneventful.  No free meal this time, although I did get to watch ESPN as the US beat Spain 2-0 (for all you soccer fans out there). Food: The food in the main dining room was OK, not as good as we remembered on the Miracle, even though the menu is essentially the same.  I still love the vegetarian Indian entrEe on the first night.  Maybe it's just good because the chefs are mostly Indian.  The melting chocolate cake is still as good as ever. We ate breakfast at the buffet (except the first and last day when we had room service).  The omelettes were very good and the chicken sausages were delicious.  We just wished Carnival would get some decent coffee on board. Lunch was also buffet (unless we were ashore). We did eat one day in the main DR, and it was quite good.  We enjoyed the daily Asian buffet and the Indian taste of the nation day, but the pizza was not great on this cruise.  That had been one of our favorite things we remembered from the Miracle. We ate at the Supper Club one night and it was as good as we remembered.  It was also the night we were leaving Sitka and we saw several whales from our bird's eye view at the top of the ship.  Definitely try to eat there one night if you can. Service: Our cabin steward was very friendly and accommodating.  We didn't have the same waiter any of the nights in the dining room because of Anytime Dining.  I actually didn't mind that as a I got to see some different service styles based on country of origin.  All of the waiters and assistants were good and some were excellent. Entertainment:  The cruise director and assistant cruise director were really funny.  They have a morning show on TV where they go through the daily caper and make jokes etc.  Definitely try to watch it when you are getting ready in the morning.  We tried our hand at karaoke on this cruise and had a blast.  In fact, it even lead to a spot for each of us in the Legends show (see below).  I went to one late night comedy show and it was funny.  We didn't attend any of the shows except the welcome aboard show and the hypnotist.  I did hear that The Big Easy is very good and worth attending. We went to the captain's cocktail party and the past guest party, mostly for the free drinks.  They put on an extra ½ hour show for us at the past guest party, with one of the comedian/magicians.  I thought that was a nice touch. Legends Show:  OK, for your patience in reading through this review, you get an inside peak at the Legends experience.  If you don't know, the Legends Show is the passenger talent show on the last night of the cruise.  After getting to know the karaoke host and some of the regulars, we were asked to try out for the Legends show.  Keep in mind that neither of us can sing in tune.  I think the karaoke host just needed some people who were entertaining and had a personality to balance out the good singers.  Since no one else tried out for our spots, we made it by default.  They gave us a package containing the lyrics and an MP3 player with our song pre-loaded. The dress rehearsal was on the last sea day at noon.  We reported to the Pharaoh's Palace and were introduced to the dancers who would be working with us.  We then went backstage and walked through the introductions in order.  I was playing Elton John and my wife was Madonna.  They made us sing through our songs once (I forgot half the words of course).  We were taken back to the dressing room and fitted for our costumes and then we were free until 9:15PM that night. We met at the karaoke lounge and were taken backstage.  I made sure to have a couple of drinks first, so I wouldn't care if I forgot the words again.  We got into our costumes and waited for the show to start.  There was an opening number and an intro by Chris, the cruise director.  I was third in the lineup, and wouldn't you guess, I forgot the second verse again, but it didn't matter, everyone laughed along with me (or at me maybe).  My wife was fifth and then we all went on stage again at the end to take our bows.  It was interesting to get a peek backstage at the cramped area where the dancers and singers have to get ready and make quick changes.  We were also given a DVD of the show and picture of the group as a gift for participating. Overall: What a fantastic, relaxing trip.  We saw so much in such a short time.  I will definitely return to Alaska someday and see some more of this beautiful state. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2008
Alaska Cruise September 3rd 2008 7 days southbound from Whittier to Vancouver BC on the Carnival Spirit.Ports included Sitka, Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan.We flew from Atlanta, non-stop, to Anchorage the day prior to our cruise leaving. ... Read More
Alaska Cruise September 3rd 2008 7 days southbound from Whittier to Vancouver BC on the Carnival Spirit.Ports included Sitka, Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan.We flew from Atlanta, non-stop, to Anchorage the day prior to our cruise leaving. We stayed at the Hampton Inn, which was a nice hotel with a good location. They have free wireless Internet, refrigerators, and nice size rooms. They also offer a free shuttle from the airport. There are several places to eat near the hotel that are in walking distance. We had booked the Magic Bus for our shuttle to Whittier the following day. The Hampton Inn also serves a free breakfast, which is typical of what you will find at these type hotels. The Magic Bus picked us up around 10am the next morning. We had a rainy drive to Whittier with two stops along the way to take some pictures. Our driver, Dot, gave a good narration throughout the trip. When we got to Whittier she drove us around the town and gave us a quick tour and info on the small local community. I highly recommend the Magic Bus, which is a good deal for around $50.Afterward we were dropped at the entrance to the Carnival terminal around 1pm. There was a long line when we entered the building due to the fact that their computers were down. However, the line moved very quickly and I would say that we had checked in within 15 minutes. We went through security and then entered the ship. We went to our stateroom 5128, port balcony, and dropped off our luggage. We then went to the Lido deck to have some lunch. I like the way the Spirit has different areas for different types of food. I had some of the Asian dishes, and also tried some chicken. It was pretty good. They had a nice variety of foods, including salads, fruit, deserts, and pizza. We went to our rooms after checking out the ship and found our luggage had been delivered. The balcony was awesome. You could really get great views just sitting there and watching the world go by. It was worth the extra money without a doubt. Our first day was at sea. They took us into College Fjord to experience the glaciers. When we got up around 6am, you could already seem them right off our balcony in the early morning light. We got dressed and went up on deck with most of the other passengers. It was a little cold and rainy, but we were able to get some great pictures. You could really see the blue in the glaciers due to the over cast weather. The Captain turned the boat several times so that we could get good views of everything. After about an hour we went into the Lido deck to eat breakfast while watching the beautiful scenery.Our first port was Sitka, which is the only tender port on the trip. It was cloudy in the morning, but the sun came out after lunch and it really warmed up. We had the Sea Otter Wildlife excursion, which picks you up right from the boat. We found this to be a wonderful trip, and I would highly recommend this if you want to see a variety of wildlife. We saw sea otters, sea lions, bald eagles, and hump back whales. In addition we had a naturalist on the boat that elaborated on a all the wildlife. After the excursion, the boat dropped us at the dock in Sitka. We were hungry and stopped at a local place close to the water to eat. Afterwards we shopped around town. Shopping seemed to go well in every port. We were told that due to being late in the season there were a lot of discounts. Most places in all ports were from 30%-50% of everything in their store. We bought some "real" Ulu knives in Sitka and shipped them home. There is a post office right on the main street. On the Ulu knives, we were told you could bring them on board because they were considered a kitchen utensil. We did buy some larger ones later in the week and had no problems bringing them back onto the ship. They did tell you that no knife with a 4-inch blade could be brought onboard. Our second port was Juneau. The weather was nice and sunny most of the day. I think there were a few scattered showers in the morning, but it cleared up and was very nice. We shopped a little in the morning, and then did a gold panning and salmon bake excursion around noon. This was really fun. Our guide, Jack, took us on a narrated guide through town, and then up into the hills. They take you to a stream and give you detailed instructions on how to pan for gold. Everyone found some gold on our trip. Afterwards they took us to the outdoor salmon bake. This was a really nice area with covered eating tables and buffet style food. The salmon was great, as were the beans and corn bread. Afterward there is a nature trail you can take down to a waterfall area. During the salmons season they said you can also see salmon in the streams. After lunch, they shuttled us back to the shopping district in Juneau. We picked up a few souvenirs and my wife found a very nice ring for her anniversary. I will get into some comments on the Carnival shopping later.Our third port was Skagway. My wife and I both liked this town the best. It was just a nice place. We had a dogsled mushing camp excursion that morning. It was overcast most of the morning, but did not rain until after lunch. We both really liked this excursion. You travel about 30 minutes from town until you get to the camp. You get into a six-person cart, which is very comfortable, and a team of dogs pulls you for about a mile. It was a fast fun ride. Afterward they take you down to the camp, and you get to talk to a musher who owns the dogs. Our guy spoke about his experience on the Iditarod. We got to pet the dogs and spend some time in the camp. We also got to hold and pet the six-week-old pups that were soooo cute. After our excursion, we were dropped off in Sitka. We had lunch at a restaurant called Northern Lights, which is right off 3rd street. The food very good. Afterward we went shopping around town. They have a lot of locally owned shops with Alaskan goods. We didn't buy anything unless we knew it was make in Alaska. Again, lots of sales everywhere. It's a good little walk back to the ship from town. We opted to take the shuttle for $1.50. Our last port was Ketchikan. We had sunny skies for most of the day here with a few showers late in the afternoon. There seemed to be many more stores and more of a commercial feel than any of the other ports. We went on the Saxman Native Village and lumberjack show tour. The native village tour was interesting and the totems were impressive. You get background on the native people and also get to see how they make the totems, as well as the history on their meanings. Afterward they dropped us at the lumberjack show. They make this a really fun show and have all of the events just like you see on television. The seating area is covered and cushioned, and they have heaters blowing on the crowd as well. After the show we did some more shopping and then headed back to the boat. Our last day was at sea was cruising the inside passage. It was bright and sunny the entire day. The scenery was really nice. We did see some hump back whales and I believe there were porpoises. It was just a nice day to spend out on the deck looking at the scenery go by. We spent most of the day doing activities on the boat such as the galley tour, towel animal folding, and trivia contests. We were docked around 7am on the last day. We had booked transfers to Seattle airport through Carnival. I highly recommend this if you are flying out of Seattle and booking your own air, like we did. They preloaded all of our luggage onto the bus, so we didn't have to worry about that. They called our number to disembark, and we were on our bus within 15 minutes. The trip was 3-3.5 hours long including a 20-minute stop at the border crossing. When we arrived at SEATAC they unloaded our bags and we picked them up. We were actually flying out the following day so I called our hotel, Courtyard Marriot SeaTac, and they picked us up. This is a nice hotel, which offers free shuttles within 5 miles of the hotel. Now to some of the issues. We attended the shopping talk put on by the Carnival shopping specialist. This little dude just talked and talked about how jewelry was the best buy in Alaska. They made sure to give us plenty of maps and info on all their "recommended" jewelry stores. Now we were told they gave best prices to Carnival Spirit customers and gave us a discount card to take into the store. We went into Tanzanite International in Juneau right after we got off the boat. My wife found a nice ring and we told the sales lady that we were on the Carnival Spirit. She mentioned our sales specialist by name and said she would give us the best price. She offered us about 50% off retail from, $2,200 down to $1,100 for the ring. I told her thank you and this was our first store we had been in, so we would keep looking. She calls her manager over, who then offers me another price of $850. I again told him no, and proceeded to head out the door. He then came back with a lower price of $695 for the ring. Well this kind of got me upset. One thing I hate dealing with used car salesmen (no offense), and I felt like the whole processed was tainted. I mean if you are to give me this good price because of my Carnival sales specialist and go to a recommended store I expect to get a good price up front and not have to haggle with people like this. I did leave the store at that time without purchasing the ring. We looked at several other stores, as well as the Diamonds International store. It was actually worse than the first store. The guy tried to put a guilt trip on me for not buying my wife a ring at his store. Every time he quoted me a price on a piece of jewelry he would say, "but I can do better". Well dude then give me your better price to begin with. We did get her a ring for her anniversary, so all is well that ends well. I just wanted others to know that they need to be careful about these recommended stores and never ever take the first price offered as their "best price". It had been ten years since our last Carnival experience, so I would have to say that things have changed a little. The first night was open seating in the Empire dinning room. You just went in and sat wherever you wanted. We had early seating and found this to fit our schedule much better. I guess they did open seating the first night because the ship departs so late, around 10pm. The next night we went to our assigned seats and met a couple from North Carolina. They were really good tablemates and we had a good discussion every night about the days activities. Our waiter was nice, but not very personal. We saw the Matride one time the entire trip when he stopped by to say hello. The food was good, not great in the main dinning room. My wife ate steak most of the nights. I tried to adventure out with fish and some other dishes. One night I ordered pan fried red snapper and was served some type of broiled white fish in a lemon sauce. I asked the waiter what it was, because it was not what I had ordered. He just looked at me and said that's what I got and make no apologies. The warm chocolate melting cake was wonderful, and I found that I had to have it every night. We did eat in the Noveau Supper Club one night for our anniversary. I will have to say that it was an exceptional meal and service, and well worth the $30 cost. The service and attention to detail was outstanding.I think we went to every show and late night show. They were all very good. I liked the Spirit Dancers, and thought they did very well. The music was top notch with a nice live band. The comedians were pretty good also. There was a guy who did magic and comedy who I really liked. The cruise director, Chris, was energetic and really added to the experience on the ship. Kirk was the assistant director, and I thought did an outstanding job as well. You could really tell everyone got along well and things flowed nicely. There were always activities, trivia contests, ice carving, bingo, etc on the ship. We did go in the casinos a few times to play slots. I also highly recommend the coffee bar right outside of the Pharos on the 2nd floor. They have ice cream, shakes, sweets, coffee, etc., at a low price. If you like beer, the Alaskan Amber is served on the ship. It was very smooth with a nice taste. Here's a link to some of the pictures that we took. Once you enter the album if you click on the detail view it gives a description of each image. http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=0CZsmLhszZsXTw&emid=sharshar&linkid=link5darin2@windstream.net Read Less
Carnival Spirit Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.4
Dining 4.5 4.0
Entertainment 4.5 3.6
Public Rooms 3.5 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.0
Family 5.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.7
Enrichment 3.0 3.5
Service 5.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.5 4.1
Rates 4.0 4.2

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