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
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: 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: November 2009
We took the Carnival Spirit the day after Thanksgiving to avoid so many children. Time boarding at the port was fast and well handled. We were on board in less than 30 min. Cabins were not ready so if you have carry on you must take it ... Read More
We took the Carnival Spirit the day after Thanksgiving to avoid so many children. Time boarding at the port was fast and well handled. We were on board in less than 30 min. Cabins were not ready so if you have carry on you must take it with you and that makes the Lido deck crowded. We had an aft balcony for the first time and will not do this one again. Soot from the smokestacks is all over the chairs and if you aren't careful your clothes are covered too. Our wonderful cabin Steward Clemente put new robes out for us every day. These cabins are also a little hard to find too. We will not be on top cabin deck again as there is lots of noise from the Lido deck day and all night and it starts early in the AM. Our cabin steward and his assistant were the best we have had so far. If we needed it we had it. Room service was fast and done well. They had a laundry special and it is worth using if you are not going straight home. Food was very good on all dining options. We ate in the steakhouse one night and it is worth every bit of the extra money!!! Food and service were fantastic. Our dining room staff Svetlana and Anita were wonderful but at times has too many guests to give personal service. The ports are not ones we will visit again. Alcapolco port is far from most stuff so book a tour or pay for a taxi. City is very dirty. Zihuantanejo was a fun place to go.. Plenty of stuff to do close to pier and no fear walking around the area. Manzanillavery disappointing, You dock in a shipping port so to get anywhere to shop or sightsee is quite a walk and the shopping specialist does not even have a map of the area and they do not recommend wandering on your owm. Casino needs better supervision as children apx 6-7 yrs were playing the slots with their parents. Hot tubs had many unsupervised children even adult only. Capitan even announced one day that children were not to be unsupervised on Lido deck at any time.Over all we had a good time and the ship was SMOOTH. No rocking at all. We would do this ship again as we were treated well and made to feel very welcome. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
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: February 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: April 2010
This cruise allows you to see all of the major Hawaiian islands, which was the selling point for us for our honeymoon, and did not dissapoint. The islands are amazing. We left Philadelphia at 7:30 AM on April 17, 2010 and had a 6 hour ... Read More
This cruise allows you to see all of the major Hawaiian islands, which was the selling point for us for our honeymoon, and did not dissapoint. The islands are amazing. We left Philadelphia at 7:30 AM on April 17, 2010 and had a 6 hour flight to Seattle...a layover in Seattle...and then another 6 hour flight to Honolulu. Very long day of traveling was worth it. We started our vacation with 5 full days in Oahu before the start of the cruise. We are so happy that we did this, this was our favorite part of our entire trip. Oahu is amazing! It has so much more to offer than just Honolulu and Waikiki. I feel bad for the people who only flew into Oahu on 4/23 and only had the 2 ship days for Oahu. From 4/17 to 4/21 we stayed in a condo on the windward side of Oahu (the "country" side) that I found on vrbo.com. The condo was newly remodeled, with a wraparound balcony, full kitchen, bedroom, and RIGHT on a beach so secluded that we felt like it was our own! View of the ocean, beach and moutains. By far the most amazing view I have ever had on a vacation. SO different from the hussle and bussle of Waikiki. What we did while on this side--Kualoa Ranch Hummer tour to see Lost and movie filming locations. Amazing! So beautiful and scenic. Worth doing even if you are not a Lost fan (we aren't). Surf lesson on North Shore (hubby lost his ring for 3 hours in the Ocean but he didn't give up and we found it! True Story!), a lot of fun. Dinner at Ola at Turtle Bay resort, where Forgetting Sarah Marshall was filmed. Great food. A lot of just hanging out and relaxing at the condo and the beach that was there. We had a rental car and used one of our windward days to do the Pearl Harbor Home of the Brave tour (they weren't open the days we were staying on Honolulu side). Home of the Brave was a long day, but totally worth it. Got to see a lot of WWII sites, not just Pearl Harbor. On the 21st we checked out of our condo and went to stay in Waikiki for 2 nights at Hilton Hawaiian Village. Had an amazing view of the beach and Diamondhead. We wanted to experience both sides of the island. Waikiki is totally different in every way from windward and north shore. But we enjoyed it. Ate at Duke's and Yardhouse (both great) and went snorkeling in Hanauma Bay (awesome!). We loved our 5 days in Oahu before our cruise! On the 23rd we left the Hilton and went to the Aloha Tower cruise ship pier. About a 10 minute taxi ride (but avoid taxis in Hawaii if you can! very expensive and some of the cabbies will rip you off by keeping you in the car for a long time on purpose). Embarkation was EASY. Very organized and moved quickly. They even let us on early (got there before 1pm). We were on the ship in 30 minutes at most. Aloha Tower is a very nice pier (some of the other Hawaii piers look more industrialized and aren't as nice). Now I knew going in that we would be some of the only younger people on the ship, but I was even surprised that it seemed about 85% of the cruise were over 60 years old. I don't have a problem with older people—I love them! But by the end of the cruise we were wishing for some younger companions, and more activities geared toward our age group. We are in our mid 20s and it was very hard meeting people our own age. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The Spirit overall is a nice ship. It always appeared clean and I didn't think it was falling apart (some other reviews have said this). It didn't seem dated to me (just the TVs!). We never had long waits getting on or off the ship, even when tendered. We had an aft extended balcony stateroom. The balcony was a nice size, and so was our room. I thought the bed was comfy, and the bathroom was a decent size. It looks like some child had scribbled on the couch in our room (or that is what it seemed like), the seat had pen scribble on it. That was kind of annoying. You would think Carnival would clean it up, replace the cushion. Oh well. The TV in the rooms are dated. They really should be upgrading to widescreen flat screens. The picture and sound quality was poor. We had better picture and sound quality on the mini-screens on our flights. Rented a movie off the TV for $8 and it wasn't worth it because of the quality of the TV. Channel selection was OK but not great. Overall, aside from the pen mess and the TV, we were pleased with our room. The cleaning staff was nice, and did a good job of taking care of our room (and of course the towel animals were great!). If anything, they were a little over eager to clean. We had to always have the Privacy sign outside our door whenever we were there, for fear that they would barge in (happened a couple of times early on in the cruise). DINING- Lido deck food was average. Some of it was pretty good, some of it wasn't very good. The pizza was horrible! We love 24 hour pizza and ice cream, but the pizza was never good..seemed like it was always under cooked. The Empire dining room was our favorite part of the entire cruise. We really looked forward to dinner each night. We did the Your Time dining, which was great...got to go to dinner whenever we wanted, had a different table each night, and didn't have to sit with strangers. Got to sit just the 2 of us, perfect for our honeymoon. Food was generally always very good. Servers and hosts were friendly and good at their jobs. We did the $30 a person Steakhouse one night and didn't think it was that great. We had better steak in the regular dining room. And the Steakhouse tried to be way too fancy in its presentation, kind of pretentious...I mean come on—it's Carnival...the Funships! Be fun! If I wanted a snobby cruise I wouldn't be on a Carnival ship! Steakhouse not worth it in my opinion—go to the regular dining room! We had different servers each night, but Martina was our favorite...she suspected it was our honeymoon (correct!) and brought us cake with candles and sang Happy Honeymoon to us! Common areas - Lots of lounges and places to relax. All kinds of different dEcor. Some of it was a bit too loud for my taste, but it's a cruise ship, what do you expect. Dancin' club was awesome. I like dance clubs and this one was great. Too bad it was empty most nights. We did have one fun night there. Pharoh's Palace, where the shows were, was nice. Internet in the library was slow most of the time. But the library was cozy. Casino was a fun time. Entertainment & Activities - this is where the age thing comes into play. We are sure that if we were over 50 we would have had an awesome time on this ship. Most of the activities in the Fun Times seemed to be geared toward the older crowd. We did see a few shows (just OK —the Carnival dancers are good) and played Bingo. One night later on in the cruise, at the first formal night, we finally managed to meet a few couples our own age and hung out with them in the dance club that night. That was a good time. DJ was great. Our 5 days at sea seemed like forever and by the end of the cruise we couldn't wait to go home. It would have been cool if Carnival had a social meet and greet for honeymooners or 20/30 somethings so that we could meet some more people our age. I understand that they are going to gear the cruise activities more for the older crowd since that is the majority, but we were kind of bored. We did a 4 night Bahama Carnival cruise a few years ago and had a blast on that ship. This was a bit dissapointing compared to that. HAWAII PORTS OF CALL We did not do any of the organized Carnival excursions. Most of them were too expensive, if you compare the price you pay for making your own arrangements. I also like the freedom of not being on an organized tour. Arranged our own days for Kauai, Hilo, and the first day in Maui. In hindsight, it would have been worth it to book an excursion in Kona, and maybe the 2nd day in Maui. HONOLULU - The 2nd day on the cruise, we were still in Honolulu, so we decided to do the historic walking tour on our own time. Saw Iolani Palace, and the other sites in the area. Nice day. When the Spirit left the Aloha Tower pier, got some amazing pictures of Honolulu and Waikiki, and Diamondhead. KAUAI - 3rd day of cruise. I booked with Wings Over Kauai Airplane tours. It is a small family run business, and my husband and I were able to go up in our own charter, just the 2 of us and the pilot, in a 4 passenger plane. And it was way cheaper than a helicopter tour! They even provided transportation to and from the airport, and took our picture and gave us a DVD of our tour. Kauai is so beautiful. We got to see a lot of parts of the island that are not accessable by car, including the Napali coastline. Truly breathtaking. I have unbelieveable pictures. Worth every penny. Wish we had more time to spend in Kauai. One day not enough! KONA - 4th day of cruise. We didn't plan anything for Kona, and I wish we had. We left the ship (which was tendered—but this was not a problem and the tendering process was well organized) and decided to just see where the day took us. Kona is like a cute little beach town. Had fun walking around and took a trolley ride down the coast. Pleasant day, but I feel like we should have done more with it. HILO - 5th day of cruise. Planned a full day in Hilo! We rented a car (which I planned in advance) and drove to Akaka Falls, Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, Rainforest Zoo, and the Black Sand Beach. A full day...we left around 9 and got back on the ship around 5. Everything we saw was beautiful! Decided to skip Volcano since my research said it takes an entire day to get the most out of the park, and I'm not all that interested that I wanted to use our entire day for it. If we are ever back on the Big Island, we'll check it out. MAUI, day 1. 6th day of cruise. Rented a car and drove to Lahaina Town. We had tickets for Old Lahaina Luau and went early to check out historic Lahaina. Loved it! Wish that the ship had docked on this side. Great day! Luau was great! We loved it! Everyone should do a luau in Hawaii. I almost cried at sunset because it was our last real night in the islands. MAUI, day 2. 7th day of cruise. We took a taxi to the nearest beach, which ended up costing us as much as a rental would have cost. Wish I had done another rental this day and went back to a beach in Lahaina. Or even maybe done some kind of whale watching excursion. I think we will be back to Maui because I feel like there is a lot that we would like to do there. 2 days not enough! The last 5 days of the cruise seemed very long. The ship rocked around a lot and sleeping was difficult sometimes. I don't get seasick ever but was sick one entire morning and afternoon. I'm not sure if it was something I ate or the ship rocking. My husband did not get sick, just me. As stated above, we loved the food in the dining room. Enjoyed relaxing, but 5 days at sea when the weather is cold outside and rainy was not fun. We were ready to come home. Loved the islands and the first 7 nights. 12 days just too long for us, with not enough people our age. In the future, we will stick to 7 night cruises. Side note...Vancouver was a sight compared to Hawaii! Beautiful in a whole new way...like Honolulu, only the mountains have snow on them! Kind of interesting to start off a cruise in Honolulu and end up in Vancouver. Disembarking was easy. We booked airport transfers through Carnival and were the 3rd or 4th zone called to get off the ship. Very organized and ran smoothly. Made it to the airport in plenty of time for our noon flight. Overall....it was a good cruise. We did have a good time. I think cruises are what you make of them, and maybe we could have tried harder to be more involved in the various things going on in the ship, but a lot of it didn't appeal to us. We like to hang by the pool, do activities during the day, and party at night and the weather and age range wasn't the best atmosphere for that. Of course I knew it would get colder on the way to Vancouver, but sea day #2 it was already freezing outside! I still love Carnival and cruising, just will not do such a long one in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: April 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: 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: November 2010
Sailed aboard the Carnival Spirit, departed San Diego on Sunday, 28 November, 2010. We had Cabin 5133, standard balcony on the upper deck. This was our second cruise, the first being on the Elation in July of 2008. Arrived at the ... Read More
Sailed aboard the Carnival Spirit, departed San Diego on Sunday, 28 November, 2010. We had Cabin 5133, standard balcony on the upper deck. This was our second cruise, the first being on the Elation in July of 2008. Arrived at the terminal at 1300 (1 PM), joined the cattle call into the "loading chutes" and waited. Each "chute" has parallel rows of bench seats facing each other, and there are 6 or 7 chutes in total. They would "unload" one chute at a time, in sequential order, into the queue for customs/security. All things considered, our total wait time until we were walking up the brow (gangway) and boarding the ship was about an hour! Pretty efficient. Once aboard, headed to the elevators and to our deck and cabin. I had already printed out the plans to the ship and so knew where to go. Our cabin was ready and waiting for us! Enjoyed the view from the balcony of San Diego and the action on the terminal below. The ship was supposed to get underway at 1700 (5 PM), but it was 90 minutes late. Found out later that this seems to be a frequent issue with the Spirit, for some reason or other. So, I missed getting some sunset pictures of the city as we sailed out of the bay. :-( About our cabin: I use a CPAP machine, which came with a rather short power cord (36 inches). Fortunately I had the foresight to bring along an extension cord, as the AC power outlet was on the opposite side of the room, away from the head of our bed. This could have made for a bad situation, as I don't know if I would have been unable to obtain a loaner from the room steward. Second item: I am a former smoker, and am extremely sensitive to the smell of cigarette smoke in my proximity. Unfortunately, the folks in the cabin forward of us were smokers, and every time they lit up on their balcony, I was "smoked" off of mine. NOTE TO CARNIVAL: As I realize that non-smoking cruise ships are money losers, how about limiting the smokers to specific cabins and/or decks, so that those "downwind" from their cabins can enjoy the fresh sea air on their balcony's, instead of stepping out and smelling "a Camel!" :-) NOTE TO CARNIVAL: We could not hear the announcements from the cruise director or the Captain, in our cabin, without having to run to the door and hold it partway open, sometimes for some rather lengthy announcements. How about adding a speaker in the cabin, equipped with a volume/mute control? Another cabin note, had to ask to have the mini-bar unlocked. Also the beds did not seem as comfortable as those on the Elation. All other observations about the cabin are positive. Plenty of drawer and hanger space. The two at-sea days on the way to Acapulco were enjoyable. Had dinner the second night in the Nouveau Steak House. Paid $30 per person extra, but the steak was melt-in-your-mouth delicious! Worth a try. The view would be spectacular - if it weren't dark outside! Couldn't see a blessed thing. Pity they aren't open for lunch! :-) Maybe we should have booked for a night when we were in port??? The rest of the meals were consumed in the formal dining room (Empire room), or in the La Playa Grill. I grabbed burgers and hot dogs/fries a couple of times from the grill by the pool. NOTE TO CARNIVAL: Several times the wife and I got our food and went to find a place to sit (La Playa), only to discover that all of the tables were taken; however, many of the 6 and 8 person tables were being used by one or two people, thereby wasting the other seats. On one occasion we finally "invited" ourselves to join a couple sitting at a table for 6. On another occasion, we were so frustrated searching for a table that we ended up setting our trays down, food and all, and just leaving. We ended up going down to the Empire room and ordering lunch there. Perhaps the tables should be reconfigured to allow for more "couples" seating, thereby freeing up more seating room? At any rate, we figure that next time there is 'no room at the inn' we will just load our trays for traveling, and take our meals back down to our cabin! Yes, there is always room service, too! :-) On the second night, I found that the forward observation decks and the jogging track were closed due to high winds. Give me a break! Both of these decks are closed-in behind 6 foot high Plexiglas wind screens! At worst someone might loose their hat! I enjoy going to the forward part of the ship at night, away from the ship lights, to watch the stars! ACAPULCO: Late arriving, rushed to get off the ship and then waited for about an hour on the pier for everyone else on our tour to show up! What a zoo! The traffic in the city is crazy! And I thought traffic in the Philippines was bad! Fortunately, we booked a tour through Carnival to the Tehuacalco Archeological zone, and so our only exposure to Acapulco was driving through it! Rode in a 15 passenger van - a tight fit. The wife and I were unable to sit next to each other due to the layout of the seating, and other passengers boarding first. Also heard from the folks in the very back of the van that they had no air conditioning! It was a long drive there - about 70 minutes. The last section was on a narrow, winding road that buses would be unable to traverse (thus the need for the vans). Very enjoyable tour, our tour guide was very knowledgeable and friendly. Well worth the money. On the trip back, although we were within two blocks of the ship, we "had" to make the obligatory stop at the sponsored jewelry store, even though we were running late. Another couple on the tour had also booked the "Cliff divers at night" tour, and ended up missing their event. We heard later aboard the Spirit that Carnival has canceled further port visits to Acapulco, due to the increasing violence in the city. Not a city to wander around on your own! IXTAPA/ZIHUATANEJO: Took the city cultural tour. Air conditioned buses. Very pleasant, worth the money. MANZANILLO: Arrived about 0600 (6 AM). Kept waiting to hear that the gangway was open, but never did. Our tour was supposed to meet at 0815 on the pier, so finally about 0800, the wife and I made our way down to A deck and discovered that passengers were already leaving! If we had waited in our cabin for an announcement, we would have missed the tour! Took the tour into Colima, about a 90 minute bus ride in air conditioned comfort. Bus had a rest room aboard, which was nice. Excellent lunch at a restaurant in Colima. Visited the archeological ruins on the outskirts of the city. Long day, but again, a very nice tour and well worth the money! On a side note, on both our tour to Tehuacalco and our tour to Ixtapa, we noticed that there was a small pick-up truck loaded with five Federales, heavily armed with M-16 automatic rifles and side-arms. Rather, each day was a different truck. We were a little nervous at first, as they would appear at every stop we made, sometimes in the company of an ambulance. We asked our tour guide about them and were told that their presence was "just a coincidence" and not to worry. This worked for the first day, but when a new batch showed up on the second day, we knew something more was happening. They were stand-offish and never bothered us, and at one point later in the day, we began waving to them and they waved back. We finally figured out that they were "shadowing" us to keep us safe. This makes sense, as the tourist money coming in is very important to the local economies. A health note: We purchased metal water bottles aboard the ship, filled them with water (Spirit water :-)) and crushed ice, and took them with us on our tours. Did not want any troubles with Montezuma, and none occurred! The two at-sea days on our return to San Diego were pleasant. The first time I heard the cruise director on the loud speaker, I thought his voice sounded familiar. Later, we ran into the cruise director as we were re-boarding the ship from a tour. I asked him if he was the cruise director aboard the Elation in July of 2008, and he replied that he was. Stewart Dunn is his name - a very fun individual. I hope to run in to him again! Our room steward was named Heru, and he did an outstanding job for us. Really attentive. Loved the towel animals. The wife was hoping to keep them until the last night, when we could line them up and take a group photo! Alas, they were recycled each day! :-) NOTE TO CARNIVAL: You really need to get some pretzels or cocktail peanuts in the bars! They have salt, you know, and salt makes people thirsty. Thirsty people drink more, etc. etc.! Sure would be nice (and, they're cheap!) :-) Maybe I will just bring some myself next cruise! IN SUMMARY: We had a very enjoyable cruise. The ship is very clean and well maintained. I had to laugh when I read some reviews of the Spirit that noted that the ship was now 10 years old! They made it sound like the ship was a relic, ready for the breakers! On the contrary, the only damage we saw was done by some morons and cretins, who carved their names into the inside elevator doors in several places - hardly Carnivals fault! While larger than the Elation we sailed aboard previously, we found the size of the Spirit just right for us. Well planned layout, easy to get around. In fact, we decided to take advantage of the $200 ship-board credit offer and booked a 15 day voyage aboard her to Hawaii in April of 2012. We "upgraded" to an extended balcony on the 7th deck, in the middle of the ship. Really looking forward to the trip! So, THANK YOU, CARNIVAL for a very enjoyable 30th anniversary! :-) See you in 16 months! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
My wife and I are 49/52 and this was our 6th cruise, 2nd on Canival, and 1st to Mexican Riviera.We flew in and nearly missed the ship d/t bad weather in San Diego.Very quick shuttle to port. $5 pp,and we were quickly on board.So here ... Read More
My wife and I are 49/52 and this was our 6th cruise, 2nd on Canival, and 1st to Mexican Riviera.We flew in and nearly missed the ship d/t bad weather in San Diego.Very quick shuttle to port. $5 pp,and we were quickly on board.So here goes. EMBARKATION:very quick d/t late arrival.Ship left late d/t many late flts into airport.We were on the ship in about 15 min w/ no hassles. SHIP:easy to get around on.Only 1 main dining room.Generally well kept and maintained.Nice decor we thought.Spent alot of our time on fantail. CREW:very helpful,always smiling,waiters,cabin stewards were exceptional. CABIN:what we expected except for firm mattress and no thick luxurious comforters,pillows,mattress top like we had on the Valor.Bathroom plenty big enough for 2 and plenty of storage space.Only 1 110 v outlet. PUBLIC AREAS:nicely furnished and nice decor.No non-smoking sports bar to watch games.Would be nice to offer non-smoking area of casino as well. FOOD:very good w/ very good variety in main dining room.We did any-time dining and so had a window seat for 2 EVERY night.Buffet area had very good buffet style meals w/ very good variety as well.Ate at steakhouse 1 night and this was exceptional and well worth the extra fee.Sushi bar area is very tiny but had good sushi.Simply put: very good food we thought. ENTERTAINMENT:very good comedians.Theater shows some of the best we have seen.The 2 man live band at pool side we thought were good as well. DISEMBARKATION:sloooow and boring.There HAS to be a better way.2 1/2 hrs sitting around before we were off the ship.Another cheap quick shuttle to the airport though and we were headed home. COMPLAINTS:the ship did not stay in port in Cabo.We were forced to tender back by 5:30 so ship could open casino out to sea.Had we known, we would have booked room in town so we could have enjoyed/sampled the night life and not had to tender in the next morning again.My wife had cold showers 3 mornings in a row.Each day the plumber stated there was a problem and it was finally repaired on the 3rd day.But then the service desk called and informed my wife there had been no problem and it was her fault for not knowing how to use the faucet.Go figure?? SUMMARY:we are simple and easy to please people.We were both pleasantly surprised at how good a time we had that we plan to do same itinerary/ship again and this w/ my wife not caring for Carnival much. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
We were refugees from one of the canceled Splendor cruises and were happy to rebook on the Spirit 9 day!! This was our 2nd time on the Spirit and since we live in San Diego this embarkation port is especially nice for us!We DID start out ... Read More
We were refugees from one of the canceled Splendor cruises and were happy to rebook on the Spirit 9 day!! This was our 2nd time on the Spirit and since we live in San Diego this embarkation port is especially nice for us!We DID start out late because of the Tsunami but because we carryon our own luggage it was still easy to get onto the ship. We got to the port at about 12:30PM and were in group #7 to board. They didn't start boarding until about 1:45. So by the time we got to our cabin it was all ready for us!Our cabin steward was there to introduce herself and we found her very friendly and helpful throughout our trip!It is interesting to me how different folks rate things differently.WE think the decor of the Spirit is quite nice! We like looking at the glass sculptures on each deck and we really like the layout.We enjoy the walking track on deck 10and the easy way to avoid the smoke in the casino by crossing the ship on Deck3 and using the winding staircase down from the library to get back to Deck2. We also spend a lot of time in the adult only section at the aft pool/bar.We like the layout of the areas in the food court but on this voyage we thought the selections in the buffet were less interesting than the last time.We really enjoyed the food in the Main Dining Room and even ate breakfast there a few times. We had Your Time Dining and usually got there early. By the 3rd night we found a wait staff group we liked and so continued to use them for the rest of the trip. We had fine service throughout!I think that besides the change in itinerary our main disappointment was with the entertainment. There were several nights that had NO entertainment! I don't count listening to fellow travelers sing, as entertainment!! The Comedy Club was only open on the first 2 nights and the last 2 nights. One of the comedians told folks not to bother coming to other shows the 2nd night because his act would be the same!!! I have never heard of a comic that had only 1 set to perform!!The weather was absolutely fantastic with temps in the 80s and water temps in the 70s!! We especially liked our time in La Paz on the Sea of Cortez! The town was charming and my excursion to kayak at Bandera Beach was delightful!!The only bad weather was the day we returned to San Diego when we managed to get in before a big storm!We are very sad that the Spirit will be leaving San Diego to go to Australia!!We will miss her very much!!!!!!! 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: 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: September 2011
We started our 12 days in Vancouver and it took forever to board the ship. I now how cattle must feel being hearded into a pasture. They had computer problems but didnt tell anyone what was going on until we had been sitting for over an ... Read More
We started our 12 days in Vancouver and it took forever to board the ship. I now how cattle must feel being hearded into a pasture. They had computer problems but didnt tell anyone what was going on until we had been sitting for over an hour and half. Finally three hours later we boarded and got settled. Our room was nice but it looks tired and dated. The balcony we had was amazing. It was super long and it was extended as well. Cabin # 7258. You could have fit a party of 10 on it easily! We dined alot at the formal dining room. It was good food and always great service. The buffet is okay we mostly had breakfast there. The sushi bar was great had that a few times. The shows are good but when we sailed NCL five years ago it was way better. We had good weather in Mexico but was disappointed that we lost a day in Cabo. Carnival said it was because of Hurricane Hilary but we easily could have had one more day there. Disney arrived in Cabo same time we did and they had two days there and arrived just after us in San Pedro?? I would like to know why they were so lucky? I feel like Carnival ripped us off in a sense!! We enjoyed Puerto Vallarta. We did a Tequila tasting tour and would say it was the highlight of our trip. The tour guide Pedro was hilarious and made the trip alot of fun. Ariba Mass Tequila!! Disembarking went okay. When we got off to find our shuttle we were easily directed to our bus. Over all the cruise was nice but they didnt Wow us. Will try something different next time. 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: December 2011
We can't blame the cruise line for the bad weather, however we have been on smother riding trains than this ship. In the MDR even in smooth seas there was always vibration including the silver and china (as if the screws were out of ... Read More
We can't blame the cruise line for the bad weather, however we have been on smother riding trains than this ship. In the MDR even in smooth seas there was always vibration including the silver and china (as if the screws were out of balance). We could even feel the vibration in our cabin at night (mid ship deck 6). It was obvious the staff has been cut as the dining service really suffered. Our cabin was fine and well maintained by our steward Gusti however the chairs on our balcony had dried paint all over them. Of course the minibar took up the whole refrig so we put the cans overpriced soda, water and beer in a cabinet so that WE could use the fridge. The food was the absolute worst we have ever experienced on a cruise!!!! Most of the MDR dishes were beautiful to look at, but horrible to eat. (Prime rib covered in a brown gravy that was NOT au jus; desserts that were for the most part tasteless.) Many of the same items were repeated several times. It's pretty telling when we looked forward to being in port so that we could get a descent meal (even fast food was better). Lack of entertainment and interesting things to do added to our displeasure. However, one of our biggest complaints besides the food was the MOB of photographers wanting to pose us to sell hundreds of VERY COSTLY pictures. (It reminded us of the gauntlet of booths at tourist spots trying to get you to buy their wares.) Longer stays in port would have been better as well; the short stop in Kona where passengers had to be tendered on the lifeboats was a real waste of time. Some overnight stays would be better and give you some real time to see these Beautiful Islands... Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
My husband and I took this cruise to avoid the holiday same ol same ol. We left the 23rd of December and returned January 1st. It worked! All in all we had a very good time. We were lucky to meet some new friends that I believe we will ... Read More
My husband and I took this cruise to avoid the holiday same ol same ol. We left the 23rd of December and returned January 1st. It worked! All in all we had a very good time. We were lucky to meet some new friends that I believe we will have for years to come. In fact we have all booked another adventure together on Holland America. Having said all this let me move on to the problems Carnival is having with their ship the Spirt. Leaving San Pedro went very well, coming back into San Pedro again no problems. Luggage was handled (6 pieces) without issue coming and going. Loved our balcony room. Took advise from another review and brought a small nylon rope to hold the door open so we could hear the ocean all night. Our #1 problem was food. Where to start.....If you enjoy your coffee as we do you will be spending lots of ship $$ at the coffee stands. The coffee they serve is vile and cold. We even tried ordering it in room still cold and horrible. First morning we stood in one of the omelet lines to watch them pour eggs from previously frozen then, defrosted milk like containers . I tried to tell the man that was making the omelet that I did not want the outside crispy but to no avail. Each and every omelet was served crispy and over cooked. Day 2 I grabbed oatmeal I mean how can that be wrong. If was 7:30 and the oatmeal was room temp. My husbands sausage and potatoes were the same. This is something that went on 9 days. Food on the buffet is not held at a proper temperature. The only hope of hot food from the buffet was the Asian food line where they cook in a wok right in front of you. Which from the length of the line each day at lunch was the conclusion many of the other guests felt too. I asked one of the buffet servers why the steam tables they were serving from were not hot he just looked at me and shrugged. I ate the very stale ½ a bagel the rest of the trip for breakfast it was the least of the evils. We looked forward to leaving ship to get a meal! We did open seating for dinner and loved it. You have the opportunity to meet so many interesting and fun people. Food here was better. 50/50 chance of it being eatable. We found food here to be better than a Denny's and not as good as chilies. Trying to give a comparison I don't eat at either but gives you an idea. I asked others at our table if this food was served in a restaurant in your town would you go back. The answer was usually no. We did not purchase any tours with Carnival since reading others on here pointed out you pay 50% more than waiting till you get to port and buy them on the dock. By the way there is a great little hole in the wall cafe in Puerta Vallarta called Joe & Jacks it is yummy! It is located in the old part of the city over the bridge. My only negative was the last port in Manzanillo. What were you thinking Carnival? This is a toilet! The town is dirty and the whole place smells of urine. We ran back to the ship. I had read on here other people saying this was a must miss, but I thought they were being cranky no, they were being nice! I had no problem with smoke. I know many people have posted that they did. I went to all the public rooms, clubs and Bars and never had any problem. We are both non smokers. Our room never smelled like smoke so I was really happy about that. We saw a couple of the comedy shows for adults they were good. I thought Carnival handled the Xmas very well. It was not in your face. They decorated with a winter land kind of theme so that all people could enjoy the season. I would have liked them to change the music tapes after December 25th . We had another week or so of Xmas theme music playing in the background. The employees seemed mega stressed. They work very hard. With the exception of the buffet all were very kind and curtous. The buffet area you can get run over, pushed , shoved etc. Its a war zone of guest verses employees. This area has a huge problem with language verses communication . All in all again we had fun. I don't know if I would choose carnival again. The up side is I came home with a only 2 lb weight gain for 9 days! Yippie Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
We have been on the Spirit before. It has always been mediocre, but traveled where and when our lives permitted. The ship just returned from a two week drydock and it showed. The gym has been totally reconfigured and outfitted with state ... Read More
We have been on the Spirit before. It has always been mediocre, but traveled where and when our lives permitted. The ship just returned from a two week drydock and it showed. The gym has been totally reconfigured and outfitted with state of the art Life Fitness equipment. There is a new 21 and over pool and sun area that is just wonderful. Quiet (means no kids) and pretty at the back of the ship. These new improvements are wonderful and great additions to the ship. The rest of the ship is the same old mediocre Carnival product. The food is a disgrace. Folks in prison eat better quality and variety than Carnival offers. They don't even have enough good ingredients to make a good salad. Having been on other lines this is is normally a simple task, not on Carnival. Healthy choices are just plain bad. IF all you are looking for is fried food, burgers, chicken fingers and pizza you will be in heaven. There is a reason many guests exceed 300 pounds and keep cruising. If good healthy food is your goal, forget it on Carnival. The shows were ok, but nothing special. The Cruise Director "Stu" is from Australia and screams on the intercom all the time. The problem is that you can't understand most of what he says due to this thick accent. As a result, we just "tuned out" Stu. Carnival staff is totally indifferent to guests and guest requests. Carnival now assesses tips to guests. The employees essentially get the same tips whether they kill themselves or perform the bare minimum to keep their jobs. The bare minimum is the best effort you ever get. Any special request is usually followed by rolled eyes and a 50-50 chance it will actually happen. Kind of like socialized tipping. Everyone gets the same regardless of the output or effort. Because Carnival wants to sell drinks and each on commands a 15% automatic tip, drink service is amazing! Carnival is cheap and mediocre. Nothing bad, but certainly nothing above average at any level. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
This was mine and my husbands 5th cruise, 4th with carnival. We have only been to Mexico due to us living in Utah, it is more fees-able. This was our second balcony room, though this one was a surprise for my husbands birthday. It was hard ... Read More
This was mine and my husbands 5th cruise, 4th with carnival. We have only been to Mexico due to us living in Utah, it is more fees-able. This was our second balcony room, though this one was a surprise for my husbands birthday. It was hard to keep it a surprise though since he tries to be involved. I had been planning this vacation since about September of 2011 with two days prior in San Diego. We were road tripping from Utah to San Diego, about a 800 mile trip. We stopped about half way in Vegas. We have been to Vegas many times and have stayed in just about every hotel on the strip. This time was strictly business however since we were on a mission to sunny California! So i decided to book an off the strip hotel, South Point. It was FABULOUS! My first taste of steak n shake, umm hello deliciouness. We arrived the following day into San Diego and had a 2 night reservation at the Best Western Island Palms. OK just a preface: i am a research fanatic. I devote a TON of time into researching everything that goes into a cruise including pre and post. Let me just say that the Best Western Island palms exceeded our expectation 10 fold and definitely held up to their great reputation on Trip Adviser. We reserved the snooze and cruise package since we needed parking. This is one of the only hotel that will allow you to park more than 7 nights with no additional charges. I had the Marina King view in rm 530. LOVED IT!!!! We did the typical touristy things in san diego including sea world. Before we knew it it was 3/2..... EMBARKATION: I only have long beach cruise terminal to compare to but I cannot imagine another cruise terminal being more dis organized and hectic. Everything was rush, rush, rush. People yelling at you to go one way while other tell you the opposite. VERY chaotic however fast enough that it was to big of a bother. We arrived at 10am and were on the ship by 11:30am. SHIP: I have read numerous reviews on the spirit class ships and all have the same common opinion of the layout, wonderful. Well I will probably be one of the first reviews to say that I did not care for the layout one bit. It is so choppy. the lido is in two sections, the corridors in the cabins are chopped up rather than long hallways ( like a maze), and the atrium is not in view from every floor like most ships but rather only from a couple decks above. Other than that though, the ship is the most GORGEOUS I have ever been on. So ornate and rich in decor. Serenity was also a great place when you could find a chair. We snagged a clam shell chair for sail away and it was perfect. STATEROOM: I had room 7241, a balcony on deck 7 directly by the elevators and stairs. Let me just lay to rest those rumors of extra noise or foot traffic. It was so conveniently located and so quiet. I am a very light sleeper also. This sailing was sold out too so i know it was lack of people either. I would book this same room again. PORTS OF CALL: Manzanillo we decided to take a taxi to Las Hadas resort. We used their facilities for free and just paid as we went. BEAUTIFUL!!! highly recommended. Puerto Vallarta we had the Las Caletas excursion booked through the ship. It was just mediocre honestly. they said open bar on the boat ride to and from and while at las caletas. what they fail to mention is HOW OFTEN a server will fulfill your drink order or come by period. The sand there is very rocky and not the easiest to walk on. also if you have any mobility issues this is not for you. It is a little bit of a hike to get to the beach from the boat but what i never read in a review was the hike if you had to use the restroom. no fun. Plus the "mexican buffet" was not very mexican, very limited options for a picky eater. Cabo was GREAT!!!! We got off the ship and went straight off the dock and bought an excursion. We went snorkeling and whale watching for 4 hours, a REAL open bar on the boat, GREAT service, for 35pp on the Oceanus. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. After 2 days in Cabo we had a stop in Ensenada but we just did some shopping. As far as activities on sea days go we often found ourselves with nothing to do. For us though that was ok because we spent that open time simply relaxing. I didn't feel rushed or like I had 5000 things I wanted to do. The service on the ship was ok, not above and beyond any other cruise. Stu, the cruise director got on my last nerve. He just has an arrogance about him that I couldn't get around. Also most of the lounge singers were pretty bad. and the revues were mediocre. FOOD: I am a picky eater and most of the food even in the buffet has a gourmet flare to it. I never went hungry though so they were doing something right! We had anytime dining which was great but you just don't get the same attention or personalization. The best food we have every eaten was had in the Nouveau steakhouse. So worth the money! All in all after 9 nights we got used to the layout and the ship itself and had THE BEST CRUISE YET. There are positives and negatives to all in life but the pros heavily out weighed the cons. This was such a memorable cruise and i would recommend the Carnival spirit to all. 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
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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