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Sail Date: October 2005
Returning to a ship for a second cruise is a strong reaffirmation that the first voyage went swimmingly--as in great snorkeling, wonderfully prepared fish, and a smooth voyage by an Italian captain who never takes himself too seriously and ... Read More
Returning to a ship for a second cruise is a strong reaffirmation that the first voyage went swimmingly--as in great snorkeling, wonderfully prepared fish, and a smooth voyage by an Italian captain who never takes himself too seriously and mingles freely with guests. The Hawaiian itinerary is unbeatable if you've taken your family to other places where the land portion of the trip leaves you wondering if you want to go ashore again. But the Spirit, due to refurbishing this January, remains a favorite after 15 voyages, though I'd concede that RCL's Explorer of the Seas remains the singular best ship afloat--until I climb aboard one of the newer ships that keep the cruise business competitive and aglow with the latest diversions. The Spirit won high praise for it's flawless dining service, something not traditionally noted of Carnival ships in my experience. The Indian chef aboard the Spirit prepared marlin, ahi, ono, catfish and even salmon that left me licking my lips and wondering how this could possibly happen to mass produced meals. I hate salmon, it's vile and awful to me, because we ate it from a tin nearly every Friday when that practice was part of being Catholic. But the salmon I ate aboard the Spirit after hearing fellow passengers go on and on about it turned out to be manna from heaven, reversing five decades of revulsion to this very healthy and I thought, inedible fish. The marlin was the best I've eaten at a half dozen venues with high price entrees and I had roast duck two nights that seemed inordinately rich, but satisfying beyond words. Yes, the Carnival Spirit, a beautiful ship, but who comes aboard for the food? From now on, I do, and I'll be looking for the Thai tomato lemongrass soup, the plethora of fresh fruit morning, noon and night, the wonderful deli where a pastrami on light rye with mustard will make you forget the fat content. And if you haven't cruised the isles of Hawaii, you've missed one of the best itineraries on the planet for my money. Arriving a few days early in Honolulu lets you sample the fare of Waikiki Beach, world class in every respect and lots of fine restaurants to sample, though hanging out at the Duke's Canoe Club or the Sheraton Moana Surfrider Beach Bar are musts if you want to gaze at the ocean while eating fresh seafood and watching the human parade, most of them friendly souls eager to strike up a conversation. Sound too over the top? Yes, and the experience is just that. And the Spirit is a painless way to move on to other palm-fringed place such as Ka'anapali Beach on Maui and Keauhou Bay near Kona. I'd recommend that you forget the seven day sailings that circle the islands and go aboard the Spirit for great jazz, wonderful cuisine, and a well-kept and captained ship. Read Less

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