33 Carnival Spirit Romantic Cruise Reviews

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 June 2010
Our only other Carnival cruise was 15 years ago, a 4 day to the Bahamas. Decided to "jump ship" from Royal Caribbean because of price and itinerary. We got 2 more days and one more port for abour $1000 less per person. ... Read More
Our only other Carnival cruise was 15 years ago, a 4 day to the Bahamas. Decided to "jump ship" from Royal Caribbean because of price and itinerary. We got 2 more days and one more port for abour $1000 less per person. Didn't know for sure if we would regret it or not. No regrets! The ship is smaller that what we are used to, and the decor seemed dark, but I quickly got used to it. Preferred it to the neon you see on some other Carnival ships. Embarkation was a breeze once we got past the long line outside the terminal where we had to schlep our own luggage along for about a half an hour. Didn't like that. Our cabin was clean and spacious with an extended balcony. The cabin smelled fresh, no odor of leftover smoke. There was the occasional smell of food being prepared ( We were under the La Playa buffet...no noise, though). We had numerous maintenance issues that were resolved by contacting our excellent steward, Michael, or guest services. Our A/C was not working the first night and one lamp was stuck on "on" On our first sea day night, we were awakened by a horrible smoke smell that was coming through the A/C vents in the middle of the night. It was contained to our deck(8) and the aft of the ship. After a fair amount of apprehension among ourselves and our neighbors, it was finally explained that no, there was no fire, and yes, the situation was under control. We were told that the garbage incinerator vent had become plugged and it backed up into the A/C system. I was concerned about the smoking issue, having been warned that Carnival attracts smokers because of their more lenient policies. I HATE smoke and am very sensitive to it. Other than the casino, which stunk worse than any ship casino I've been in, there were no problems. They REALLY should try to do something about the ventilation in there. There were some down times, though, when it wasn't too bad, so we could play and DH and I managed to walk out in the plus column for a change! The one thing I thought was sub-par was the food. We are not "foodies" by any means, but do have a certain expectation of cruise ship food. My biggest complaint is that the food was frequently cold, both in the main dining room and at the buffet. Our waiter, while friendly and hard working, seemed inexperienced. On many ships, you barely have to think about what you might need and it magically appears. Not here. Extra requests were always greeted with a positive attitude, but sometimes never happened. Like the extra scoop of stuffing that showed up with my dessert..... Loved the 24 hour ice cream and the 3pm banana splits on the Fantail Deck on sea days! Also loved the deli's reuben sandwiches! Entertainment was really fun, loved the Cruise Director Stu and the Ass't Cruise director Weezie. They had a morning show on TV that was really a hoot....so dorky you had to love it....think of Regis and Kelly in Mayberry. You could call in to win prizes...I think hardly anyone was watching because we came home with a picture frame, an under water camera, and a Carnival terry robe. The production shows were really good, the comedians were pretty good, and the show band was one of the best we've ever cruised with. Truly outstanding. We don't really pay much attention to the show band...they're kind of just "there", but they were really great. On board dance band "High Rise" was also really good..played a wide range of music and the lounge was non=smoking. Perfect! Internet was very slow, but what do you expect out in the middle of the Pacific. Used my Blackberry in ports so I don't know how it was then. Debarkation in Vancouver was super easy. MUCH more relaxing and easy than anything I have experienced on Royal. We could stay in our cabin until 9am, then we left and hung out in the buffet until they called us around 9:30. We were off the ship in no time, and luggage was very easy to find. Customs was a breeze and we were walking around checking out Vancouver by 10:30am. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
My husband and I cruised to Hawaii from Ensenada aboard the Carnival Spirit. We flew to San Diego the night before to insure getting to the pier on time. Little did we know we didn't need to hurry! We were fully aware that we would be ... Read More
My husband and I cruised to Hawaii from Ensenada aboard the Carnival Spirit. We flew to San Diego the night before to insure getting to the pier on time. Little did we know we didn't need to hurry! We were fully aware that we would be bussed from the SD pier to Ensenada but we didn't anticipate that they would not start bussing all 2000+ of us until 5 p.m, that we would have to wait hours to get on the bus, that the bus seats made an airline seat seem spacious,and that, after 3 hours of travel to Ensenada, we would have to sit on the bus another hour before we were hustled onto the ship!!! Okay, I'm done complaining now because the rest of the cruise was great!!! Well, at least the part of it after I spent 1 1/2 days in bed seasick!!! Yes, the cruise was quite rocky and I never had gotten seasick before on our other 2 cruises. We thought our cabin was lovely, enjoyed the balcony,and loved our room steward. We enjoyed dressing up every evening for a wonderful meal in the dining room. I loved getting the opportunity to have beautiful portraits taken of us in our finery. We enjoyed the gym, the swimming pool and for the most part the entertainment. We didn't find ourselves bored at all on the 5 sea days. Arriving at the 4 different ports in Hawaii was fun because we enjoyed waking early to watch the ship sail into port and then we would stand on our balcony and take pictures of the scenery! Hilo, on the Big Island, was our first port. We did not book any tours with Carnival because we did not want to be tied to their schedule and the were expensive. So, on Hilo we hiked up to Akaka Falls which was beautiful, drove to Rainbow Falls, and then visited Coconut Island and Richardson Beach in search of a beautiful Hawaiian beach but did not find those 2 beaches beautiful. The 2nd port was Kona on the Big Island. After we went to church that Sun. morning we drove to Hapuna Beach, which was so beautiful!!! So we spent the afternoon there, swimming and sunning on the beach. The drive there was interesting because there was black lava rock on both sides of the rode all 30 miles there and it was covered with grafitti written with white rock the whole way! The 3rd port day was on Kauai. We drove up to Waimea Canyon which looks like a mimi Grand Canyon. It was beautuful and so worth the drive. The 4th port was Maui. We drove the road to Hana and it was fabulous!! The road is quite curvy but there is something beautiful around every curve! But, beware! You must drive all the way back the same way! But you do get to see everything again!! We spent the night there on Maui so we got a 2nd day there. We went snorkling at Molokini after taking a catamaran ride there.My husband got to snuba and that was his favorite part of the trip. Our last port was Oahua. We had been there before so we had seen most everything we cared to. We did spend the day at Wakiki beach. It is so lovely there, just a great beach.If you want another option for a beatiful beach on Oahua try Kailua Beach. It is wonderful too! Our last evening on the ship was fine. We had a wonderful dinner, as usual. Then we decided we better pack up our stuff so we returned to our cabin and found a letter telling us how the debarkation was to go. As the letter instructed we watched the debarkation show on our TV and we were told we would only be "allowed" to leave the ship when they called our assigned number and not before. So my husband went to the information counter and explained that we had to park our rental car at the one nearby lot and we had to pick up our car before 8:30 a.m. or they would charge us $50 instead of it being free. He was told we could not leave the ship when we wanted. We could not even carry our own luggage ourselves. We were being held hostage!! Well, there was another option! We could leave the ship before 4:00a.m. carrying our own luggage !! So that's what we did with a few other people who also had rental cars !! Not a good end to a wonderful cruise. So my opinion of Carnival Cruise Lines is they are good at the cruise part but their embarkation and debarkation is horrilbe!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Embarkation: We arrived at 11:00 AM and went through the embarkation process it took about 25 mins to get through the line and into the waiting area. We were presented with a number and began getting on the ship at 12:00 PM. It was a ... Read More
Embarkation: We arrived at 11:00 AM and went through the embarkation process it took about 25 mins to get through the line and into the waiting area. We were presented with a number and began getting on the ship at 12:00 PM. It was a smooth process and they had big screen TVs in the waiting areas showing the Super Bowl Pregame. On the ship they served a buffet lunch and our room was ready at about 1:30. Superbowl: On embarkation day we had the Super Bowl Party. There were great appetizer stations set up and the game was available all over the ship. Some people took sides but others just enjoyed the drink specials. It was a great atmosphere to watch the game. The nice thing is that we got to skip the mandatory safety meeting until the next morning so we didn't have to miss part of the game. After the game our luggage had already arrived and the sea out of San Diego became choppy. Food: People who complain about the food on cruises usually only show up for the first meal in the dinning room and then make other plans. The first day meal is always the worst it will be for the rest of the cruise. This dining service is fantastic the food is well prepared and tasty. The menu is broken into 3 categories (starters, main courses, and desserts). However, we had a 5 course meal every night (starter, salad, soup, entree, dessert) almost every night. You are not limited to just 3 items. The food was fantastic on this cruise. My advice is to eat in the dinning room whenever you can including lunch and breakfast. The buffet is okay, but the dinning room has better prepared food and it is easier to portion control. Sea Days: For people who are used to the calm relaxing motion of the Caribbean you might want to bring some sea sickness pills, bands, or patches. The Pacific Ocean has strong currents that can cause some rolling waves. Specifically near San Diego the waves are rollers and the ship moves to the point where everyone on the ship will notice. Neither my wife or I got sick but there were some times that we noticed others who did. One night out of Manzanillo we hit a storm that brought 45 mph + winds and the Lido Pool began to splash water out. On the way down to Acapulco the ship has to be close to max speed the duration of the trip. People with aft cabins will notice vibration from the propellers. Bring Binoculars because you will see many dolphins and whales (especially near Cabo) on this trip. I would suggest getting a balcony or hanging out at the aft pool during the afternoons. There is lots to see if you are looking for sea-life. Entertainment: The dancers on the Carnival Spirit are okay but it would be tough to tell how good they are since difficult moves are an issue because the ship is moving. The singers are talented, especially the ladies. Stu isn't the best cruise director but he isn't bad either. There are many fun activities during sea days and the comedians will have you rolling during the late night sets. I was not impressed by the piano bar singer however. The disco was interesting to say the least on nights we went. It seemed like the crew utilized this space more as a private singles bar then it was for the guests to enjoy themselves. The Mexican night show in Acapulco is not to be missed. Ports: Acapulco has cleaned up in recent years. It is a really nice town to be at during the evening. Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo is absolutely beautiful. We were there during Carnival and the town and the people were dressed up and enjoying themselves. Manzanillo isn't too fun unless you take and excursion. We went deep sea fishing. The only guy on our boat to catch a fish was from San Diego and could go deep sea fishing any day. He caught a close to 100 lb sailfish. Even though we didn't catch a fish we enjoyed the day along the cliffs and shoals there are lots of dolphins, sea turtles, manta rays and even a whale made an appearance. Debarkation: This is a breeze. Eat breakfast in the Dining room or Lido Buffet and wait for Stu to call your number. You will be off the ship and with you luggage in about 15 minutes. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
Just as every other "first", our first cruise was magical. We just returned from our second cruise and the only thing missing was the magic of the first. Arriving in San Diego the day before was ideal. The only thing better ... Read More
Just as every other "first", our first cruise was magical. We just returned from our second cruise and the only thing missing was the magic of the first. Arriving in San Diego the day before was ideal. The only thing better could have been coming several days earlier and having more time to enjoy the city. We really liked what we saw in the short time we were there. We stayed at the Holiday Inn on the Bay just across the street from the terminal. The hotel kept our luggage after we checked out until we were ready to board the ship. Then they shuttled us right up to the terminal. The even shuttled us back to the airport on our return even though we did not stay over that night. What service! The Carnival Spirit was great. With our embarkation day also being Superbowl Sunday, the football game was shown on the movie screen in the Pharaoh's lounge (theater) with snacks resembling a tailgate party served along with helmets and buckets of beer. That was fun!! All the activities on the ship were well planned, although I am not sure there was as many music venues as on the other ship we had cruised on. There did not seem to be as many choices or as much going on in the evenings as on the other. But that did not tarnish our trip in any way. We enjoyed every minute. The Carnival Spirit crew members did a great job. Our cabin steward was very attentive (we had a balcony cabin which we loved) as were our waiters at dinner. The cruise director, Stu, was also a lot of fun. We struck up some very interesting conversations with other crew members. All were friendly and accommodating. The shows were entertaining and the talent impressive. Disembarkation is always a downer, but we used a program on the ship called "Luggage Express" and it helped some. You check your luggage the night before as usual, but you do not see it again until you arrive at your home airport. I was a little nervous about this, but it worked smoothly. It also allows you to disembark right after the early flight groups. With boarding passes issued from the ship, you skip that part of the airport process and go directly through security. Our flight left at 12:35 p.m., so this helped relieve some of the rush for us. I would recommend this cruise on Carnival Spirit to everyone. We thoroughly enjoyed it. I am not sure we would do it again, but I am glad we experienced it this time. We are definitely planning a longer visit to San Diego, California. We loved it there. We will be planning another cruise with Carnival as soon as possible. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
Just got back from the Spirit 2/14 - 2/23 trip. Any specific questions, leave them here and I'll be glad to answer what ever I can. We were in cabin 6260, a wraparound AFT cabin on the port corner of the Empress deck. Our neighbors ... Read More
Just got back from the Spirit 2/14 - 2/23 trip. Any specific questions, leave them here and I'll be glad to answer what ever I can. We were in cabin 6260, a wraparound AFT cabin on the port corner of the Empress deck. Our neighbors must have been cruise critics, because both of them complained that we got that cabin before they did. One even commented that it was a shame we couldn't enjoy it because there were only two of us. Boy, was she wrong. We arrived at the port at 11:30AM. Because we had a suite, we got VIP embarkation which was great. We had no wait from the time the hotel shuttle droped us of until we were on the boat. We were among the first 20 people to board the ship. We both loved the Spirit and would go back in a heartbeat. Lines were never bad, except for tendering in Zihu.... We had Anytime Dinning, and usually got up to the dining room around 8:30-9:00PM. Never a wait for a table for two. Service always quick, although we tended to be among the few people left when the dining room closed. We got to watch the waiters count the silverware and set the tables for breakfast, but nobody ever rushed us. We had breakfast in the MDR most days, except when we had room service. My only criticism of breakfast was I never got my eggs benedict without hardened hollandaise sauce, blackened from sitting under the heat lamp. No big deal - I can live with it. Lunch was usually at the Lido buffet, which I thought was pretty good. I've been on quite a few cruises and the allure of eating like a glutton is worn off, so I'm picky. We loved the Turkey wraps from the deli station and the hamburgers from the grill. They had chocolate melting cake on the dessert section at the Lido dinner buffet, which I don't recall ever seeing before. The chocolate chip cookies on the lunch buffet were outstanding as well. The late afternoon Sundae bar was visited a few times. We ate on the beach in Zihu and Manzanillo, and had some pretty good local fish (I think it was local). Salsa and guacamole was good as well. Cabin 6260 was fantastic. My first suite and I don't think I'll ever be able to cruise in anything less. The best part was on the last two sea days, when it was windy and you couldn't sit at the pool without a sweatshirt. We were lying in the sun on our balcony, the ship blocking all the wind. We didn't attend to many of the shows - we watched the late night "R-rated" comedian one night, and a few minutes of the "Legends" show which I could swear was the exact same show we saw on the Triumph last February. The live band "Heat" was pretty good - they played lots of older rock which we like. We visited the Piano bar a few times and enjoyed the selection he played. We tried to attend the "Dancing under the Stars" but it was too cold and windy up there for us. I guess I'm getting old. There were hundreds of people enjoying themselves, though. We never got around to playing bingo, casino or any of the other activities they offer - it's just not our thing. I would have liked to do the ship's background tour, but thought it was too expensive for what you got. The shopping on the ship doesn't seem any different than any other Carnival ship I've ever been on. $10 watches, gold by the inch, Duty free liquor, Carnival T-shirts. We purchased a future cruise voucher for $100. It was supposed to be charged to my sail & sign card, but they never got around to it. I guess the charge will show up eventually, because the certificate showed up the next day. We went ot the art Auction for the free champagne, but they're getting cheap. Only one waitress and she never made it around to us. Since they didn't get me drunk, I didn't buy anything. :) We didn't attend the Captain's night, the Past Guest Party or the Farewell party, so we didn't get much in the way of free drinks on this trip. Oh well, that's not what we cruise for anyway. I was surprised at the condition of the ship. Large stains on the carpets by the AFT elevators on decks 5 & 6. We always knew which deck we were on by the shape of the stains. Since we walked past those spots ten times a day, they were very noticeable. There was a lot of rust on the railings on our balcony. I'm sure keeping steel white in the ocean's an ongoing job, and it didn't change my enjoyment of the cruise, but it's time for someone to grab a can of paint. Debarkation didn't begin until 9:30. They announcement kept saying they were waiting for customs to clear the ship. We left our cabin at 10AM and I think we were the last one's on our floor, but it gave us a good opportunity to look into the other cabins and see the difference in room layout. The worst part of the trip: We're on the plane, leaving San Diego. It's a little after 5:00 PM, and as the plane is lifting off, I look out the window and see the Carnival Spirit chugging out of San Diego harbor. And I'm heading back to work. What a downer. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
We booked the Dec. 5th sailing of the Carnival Spirit to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. We had sailed this exact same itinerary in 2005 and enjoyed it very much. Living in southern California, San Diego is a very convenient ... Read More
We booked the Dec. 5th sailing of the Carnival Spirit to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. We had sailed this exact same itinerary in 2005 and enjoyed it very much. Living in southern California, San Diego is a very convenient departure port and we like that it is an 8-day cruise - it's always nice to have one more day on a cruise! Because this was a special celebration, we decided to splurge and booked one of the corner aft suites with the wrap-around balcony. We decided to stay at a hotel in Oceanside, California on Friday evening. It was not as long a drive for us, since we didn't leave until after work that day, and yet was close enough that the drive to the San Diego port the next day was a quick one. We pulled into the port around noon and unloaded our luggage and hubby stayed there to arrange a porter while I parked the car. There is a long-term parking lot directly across the street from the port, very convenient. There were plenty of spaces available; I parked and walked across the street and joined my husband. Going through security was normal. Once past security we found the check-in room for Carnival. Since we are Platinum, we went into the VIP check-in line (I believe that we'd have been in that line even if we weren't Platinum because we were booked in a suite), which was super short. I think it might have taken 5 minutes total, even with their computers down! We were on the ship as fast as we could walk! We like the Carnival Spirit. This was our third cruise on her (in 2008 we made the Vancouver/Hawaiian Islands cruise). The staterooms were not open, yet, so we made our way up to the Lido Deck for a bite to eat and then explored the ship again in order to re-familiarize ourselves with the layout. By that time we checked to see if the hallway that led to our stateroom was open yet, and it was. Woot! We would finally get to see our suite! We loved it. It had a separate living room and bedroom, each with its own TV. Hint for those planning to book one of these suites: if you have any VHS tapes you especially enjoy, the TV's have built-in tape players...but there is no library of tapes available on the ship. There was also a separate vanity area, and a large bathroom, with double sinks, and a Jacuzzi bathtub with shower doors. The bathroom may have been the biggest luxury - it was so wonderful not to have the little corner shower with the shower curtain that sticks to you! There was also a walk-in closet. In fact, there was so much storage space there were actually a few drawers and shelves that we never even used and, as usual, we over-packed! We really enjoyed our balcony, which was an extended width - room for two chaise lounge chairs, as well as two chairs and a small table. There were also floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the living room and bedroom, looking out toward the aft and side of the ship. We initially had booked late, assigned dining, and we loved our tablemates immediately! But we found that by the time we were finished with dinner, we had missed the first half hour of karaoke, which is one of our favorite evening activities on ship. We decided to try Carnival's "Your Choice Dining." We've always enjoyed assigned dining, and were unsure if we would like this, but it worked our perfectly for us. We were generally seated in the same area, so we often had the same wait team, and met many wonderful tablemates! We will probably choose this dining option again. The food was good. I thought it was a little bit better than on the same ship the year before. We did not get off the ship in Acapulco. Having sailed this itinerary before, we didn't care to disembark. I think this is the first time we have stayed on the ship while in port, and it was very nice! It is very quiet, and you feel as though you have the ship to yourselves! We enjoy both Zihuatanejo and Manzanillo. On this trip, we took a taxi to Ixtapa from Zihuatanejo. We went to one of the large hotels there, and were welcome to use their beach chairs and umbrella. There was a lifeguard station right there, but we did not go into the surf, as the black flag warning signs were out. There were a number of parasail vendors out (I don't know what else to call them). For $20, you could get a short flight. I used to say that I wanted to do this, but over the years had developed something of a fear of heights. But...I have reached an age where I feel that I should occasionally go beyond my comfort zone and just "go for it" before I die! Bucket list, and all that! And, it was only $20, so.....I did it. I'm very glad I did it, but I will never do it again! We had lunch at the hotel restaurant....not particularly good, overall, although their salsa was good! In Manzanillo, we shared a taxi with another couple from the ship and went to the long stretch of beach north of the port. This beach also had lifeguards, but the flags showed that it was safe, so we enjoyed swimming in the surf. The water is as warm as the Caribbean, but not as blue! We thought that the service and crew were something of a "mixed bag" this trip. We really enjoyed the karaoke host, Vinz Brown. We thought he was as funny as the comic that appeared at the Pharaoh's Lounge! We loved the assistant maitre 'd, Ekaterina, and the wait staff we encountered in the dining room. We thought that the cruise director, Stu was good when he was not dealing with passengers one-on-one. However, every time we encountered him or witnessed him in a one-on-one capacity we both got the impression that he was too busy to bother with the passengers, at best, and, in fact, was inappropriately harsh during debarkation. Granted, we realize that debarkation day is stressful and that he has to deal with passengers acting inappropriately, but we both felt that he could have acted in a more professional manner than we witnessed. He was at his best either on stage or making announcements over the PA system - and at that he was absolutely marvelous. Debarkation is always somewhat chaotic. As Platinum cruisers, we met in the Club Cool lounge and were to be escorted to the debarkation point. It didn't quite work as planned, but, still, it did not take an inordinate amount of time to disembark. Once we gathered our luggage, I left to get the car and my husband arranged a porter to assist him getting the luggage to the pick-up point. I paid the parking fee (note: they did not take American Express, so have either cash or MasterCard or Visa with you), and zipped around the block and into the port area. We loaded the luggage and we were headed home. All in all, it was a very nice cruise, and we are still fans of the Carnival experience! Read Less
Sail Date December 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 June 2009
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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