Sail Date: March 2006
This is our fourth cruise, the second with Carnival. Our group consisted on two adult women and our two teenage daughters, both 15. We had two outside cabins on the lowest level. I have never stayed on such a low level but found it very ... Read More
This is our fourth cruise, the second with Carnival. Our group consisted on two adult women and our two teenage daughters, both 15. We had two outside cabins on the lowest level. I have never stayed on such a low level but found it very acceptable. Our cabin steward, Victor, was the best. We let our daughters have a cabin to themselves, and it became the place to hang out doing all nighters for four nights in a row, with many kids in there. Victor was very gracious and picked up after all these kids every day, and we gave him a generous tip at the end for all he did. I have always cruised the Caribbean, so this itinerary was very different for us. San Diego port was clean, much nicer than Carnival in Miami. The food was good, and dining was always a pleasure with our waitress taking very good care of us. As far as the excursions went they were just ok, but you have to remember it's Mexico. We did the Cliff Divers and dinner at night. The Cliff Divers were good, the dinner not so good. If I had to do it over again, I would have taken a taxi over to watch the divers and ate on the ship. We did hire a taxi driver for $40 in the afternoon to take us places to shop and to take us to Senor Frogs for lunch, he was great, carried our bags, bought us bottles of water, so we gave him and extra $20 for his service. Good way to see the city. Our girls did the jungle horseback riding, both girls are experienced riders, and had a good time, but never saw a jungle. While they rode, we did the Mexican Fiesta, now that was interesting, and I guess worth the cost. Last stop we did the shopping/beach excursion, hire a taxi to take you to a beach, save some money, beach was nothing too great. At sea days were the best! The comedian was good, and the hypnotist, especially the R rated show was awesome. The ship was overflowing with kids, oh yes, and a reminder to you in Mexico, they will serve anyone, any age Tequila, keep that in mind when you send your kids off on an excursion riding horses without you. We knew it was spring break, and the "Carnival" atmosphere, with kids everywhere was what we were looking for, for our kids. If kids bother you, don't book this one. My daughter made some very special friends, and says this was the best trip she has ever had, and ready to go back asap. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
We traveled as a group of 6 with 3 cabins 8103, 8107 and 4192. Everyone had a great time. After reading the last couple of reviews here it is hard to believe we were on the same ship. I found the Spirit to be a beautiful ship, I also ... Read More
We traveled as a group of 6 with 3 cabins 8103, 8107 and 4192. Everyone had a great time. After reading the last couple of reviews here it is hard to believe we were on the same ship. I found the Spirit to be a beautiful ship, I also enjoyed the fact that every area of the ship is decorated in a different style. Embarkation was a breeze, especially considering that the port in San Diego is not very well set-up for cruise ships (although I understand that the city plans to make some major changes this year). We arrived at the port at 11a.m. and were on the ship at about noon enjoying cocktails and lunch. The 1st day at sea was a little chilly but not impossible for sun bathing. By day 2 we were enjoying tropical warmth and that continued until the last day as we got closer to California. There is a lot to do on this ship. The Deco Lounge features a jazz trio nightly that I really enjoyed, the Shanghai Piano Bar is a good time as well. Later the disco really packs 'em in. I like having dinner in the dining room and did so each night on this trip the food is good but not great. The Supper Club on the other hand is a real treat. It will cost an extra 30 bucks per person and is worth every cent. It is intimate, elegant and if you want to feel pampered this is the place to be. As for the more casual fare I enjoyed the Taste of Nations and the Deli. We hired a taxi in Acapulco for $25.00 per person the driver took us everywhere we wanted to go all day and into the evening (the taxi was a very new Chevy Suburban with ample room for 6 passengers). The cliff divers are not to be missed. We saw the last show of the evening and it was amazing. Zihuatanejo was my favorite port, very relaxing I enjoyed the beautiful ocean front and several bottles of Corona and maybe a couple of bottles of Sol. We went deep sea fishing in Manzanillo and caught nothing, this was my first deep sea fishing experience and it was well worth the time and effort even coming up empty. Overall this was a great trip. The Captain of this ship, Pier Paolo Scala, is the most accessible captain I have ever seen. He is very witty and a lot of fun. The only thing to be cautious of is the Carnival Vacation Club, they sell it heavily on this ship and my research says rip-off. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
This was my 6th cruise with Carnival and my 2nd cruise on the Carnival Spirit. My first experience on the Spirit was so overwhelming, that I just didn't want to get off the ship and come home. That was in 2003, the ship was only 2 ... Read More
This was my 6th cruise with Carnival and my 2nd cruise on the Carnival Spirit. My first experience on the Spirit was so overwhelming, that I just didn't want to get off the ship and come home. That was in 2003, the ship was only 2 years old and everything was pristine. I can't quite say the same for this past year, I noticed that you can tell the ship has had quite a bit of wear and tear, some of the carpets were so worn, that they placed rubber mats over the bald spots. The food was a disappointment. In 2003 there was a wonderful choice of fish, which I thoroughly enjoy on cruise ships, this year the fish selection was almost non existent. The soups tasked like salty chicken broth with no consistency. The deserts were the same, they were pretty to look at, but they lacked any substantial taste. The shows were a repeat of shows that they had on their Western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Glory, during the summer of 2004, and to be quite honest the rest of the shows were quite a disappointment. One thing that I can boast about the Carnival Spirit is the layout of the ship, the flow through traffic is wonderfully designed, it is so easy to get from one end of the ship to the other, and I absolutely love the fact that you can walk all the way around the ship. The shops were totally updated and I really loved the great selection of items for purchase on board, they were quite the bargain. The staff on the Carnival Spirit is absolutely wonderful, they are friendly, and eager to help you any way they can. The casino staff are great as well, they encourage you to have a great time, even if you don't win the black jack or slot tournaments, they really make it a lot of fun. Overall I think that Carnival has the best cruise bargains in the business, but I would like to see them update their shows so that loyal customers can enjoy a great cruise every year without having to see the same "Broadway shows" for 3 years in a row!!! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2005
Our embarkation was seemingly painless, terminal was outdated, but from the time we arrived and were processed onto the ship, it took less than one hour. We have cruised Carnival before and it was the reason we decided to go back. This ... Read More
Our embarkation was seemingly painless, terminal was outdated, but from the time we arrived and were processed onto the ship, it took less than one hour. We have cruised Carnival before and it was the reason we decided to go back. This ship was decorated in Las Vegas Style colors, not very appealing to the naked eye--a lot of gold and wild colors. We found the ship to be in poor shape, the stairs were weathered, the carpeting was worn and dirt spots everywhere. The cabin had cigarette burns on the vanity, drapes, blankets and bed spreads. The other Carnival ship we sailed two years ago was spotless and clean and they were always cleaning it. This was not true on this ship. They seldom cleaned anything and the crew would walk by debris on the decks, like they were blind. We never saw anyone polishing anything. We originally thought that this ship was an older ship, only to find out it was several years newer than the previous ship we sailed on. The first day we registered our 9 year old in Camp Carnival and were told she could sign herself in and out. She went the next morning to a warm-up ice breaking event and one more time for a mini-sleepover from 10-1am and never went back. The counselors were over-run by rude and obnoxious children and my child didn't want any part of that fiasco. Carnival needs more counselors for the amount of children they supervise and some strict rules to make the children abide by. Luckily Carnival paired us up with another couple at our dinner table that had an 8 yr old daughter and the two of them hit it off and hung out together throughout the entire cruise. The water slide was broke and had been on the cruise prior to ours. Apparently we were told that they were waiting for a part to fix it and picked up the part in San Diego, but the engineer said he could not possibly fix it in time for the entire cruise--this was upsetting to many who had kids--here this water slide sits and no one can use it--but as I read in the review prior to mine, it didn't really matter as the slide goes no where--just abruptly ends on the deck below-very strange. We did have a great view from our balcony and really enjoyed having one to drink our morning coffee on and to leave open every night to hear the waves lapping--this was a great asset. The entertainment could have been better, the Vegas shows were okay and the comedians were so/so. The food was as good if not better than our first cruise in our opinion. Mario was our head waiter and was exceptional,especially with the kids. We were not so lucky when we went to the dining room for breakfast and on two occasions were served by a very rude waiter. After that we just asked for Mario every time we went in. We found breakfast better at the La Playa Grille than the dining room. Food was hotter and tasted better. Our daughter struck up a writing conversation with our room steward and after that she made our daughter any towel animal she requested. We tipped her and Mario well for their efforts. Our table mates ate at the Nouveau Supper Club and said it was very good and nice for a romantic dinner for two. We skipped the supper club and opted to spend our money elsewhere. The ports of call were very disappointing. Our last cruise went to PV, Mazatlan and Cabo and we enjoyed all three. In Ixtapa/Zihuo we splurged on the ship excursion dolphin swim, which was a once in a lifetime experience that I do not regret one iota--expensive, but well worth the experience. We followed it up with a visit to Charlies and Carlos next to the Dolphinarium and then took a taxi back to Zihuo for a little shopping. Acapulco was not as nice as we thought it would be, but met up with Roberto from ACA Port Authority, had a few beers, walked to the local beach and did some limited shopping at their marketplace. The vendors on the beach were pushy, but the local Policia were very friendly and made sure we weren't bothered too much. We ate lunch at Tacos/Beers on the beach-great seafood and cold brews. With only the 1pm show for the cliff divers, we decided not to go, but wished we had from what we heard back on the ship. Manzanillo was a very industrial port and very smoggy and not what you expect to sail into. We took a taxi to La Hadas Resort and paid $25 pp to enjoy the facilities, which they then gave us 250 pecos pp to spend on drinks,food, beach umbrella, etc. They had a very nice swim-up bar, nice pool and we had an enjoying day. There was no shopping at this port, so unfortunately we bought a lot of our gifts at the ship's gift shop. All in all, it's what you make of it and although our first cruise was much nicer, we still had a good time. We are ready to try a different cruise line next time. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2005
Our stateroom was clean and well laid out, but the beds were very hard. The bathrooms were very conveniently arranged. The ship was attractive and well organized. The Dining Room was pretty but noisy. The food was good but did not have ... Read More
Our stateroom was clean and well laid out, but the beds were very hard. The bathrooms were very conveniently arranged. The ship was attractive and well organized. The Dining Room was pretty but noisy. The food was good but did not have that "Wow" effect we have come to expect on cruises. We enjoyed eating in the Grill, which is a lot like a "food court," although seating is somewhat limited at peak hours - and you have to pay extra for sodas. We were pleased with the service on this ship except at the Purser's Desk and Internet Library. The Blackjack Dealers in the Casino were delightful. The Maitre D' was helpful and pleasant when we needed to change our seating from late to early; our waiter in the Dining Room was great! The cabin steward was very efficient and pleasant. The internet services were a disappointment, however; connection was very expensive and the support person was almost never there. The Purser refused to replace our case of bottled water (which was never delivered with the rest of our luggage) until after the shore excursions were over. We felt there was an attempt to make us buy their water instead of using our own. The comedians in the shows were very funny; it was good to go to bed smiling. The Country/Western singer in the bar was terrific. The shore excursions were an efficient way to see as much as possible in the time available. Embarkation and Disembarkation went smoothly. Summary: Cruising around the islands is a good way to survey Hawaii on your first trip. This otherwise fine cruise was marred for us by Carnival's determination to have passengers pay exorbitant prices for sodas and bottled water. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2005
We met at the San Diego Cruise Terminal to be bussed to Ensenada. It was a nightmare for everyone: the wait at the terminal was long, the busses were not in top repair (ours had a toilet door that didn't close, no toilet paper, and no ... Read More
We met at the San Diego Cruise Terminal to be bussed to Ensenada. It was a nightmare for everyone: the wait at the terminal was long, the busses were not in top repair (ours had a toilet door that didn't close, no toilet paper, and no working light), and our driver spoke no English. Getting through Mexican customs was the least of our troubles. Once at the Ensenada pier, we sat in long lines (12 buses) and waited for hours for the ship to be ready for boarding. There was no dinner, no snacks, no water, no nothing--just hoards of hungry, tired people trapped in busses who were wanting to get onto the ship and into their rooms. Thank God for room service. We ate supper at 10:00 p.m. in our room rather than face the long lines our cabin steward told us had formed up at the Lido Deck buffet. Considering we were on the Fun Ship, no one I talked to was having fun. Most were ticked off. Some were downright angry. Our five days at sea were noteworthy. The ship is lovely, the weather (for the most part) was agreeable, and people cast off their dismay over the horrid bus-day and settled in to have a good time. It lasted until the third day--immigration day. Times to appear on the main deck to be checked for immigration papers was laid out well. Each deck had a time to appear. All were early in the a.m.; mine was at 8:05. Consider my horror when I found the lobby line went from one end of the ship to the other and twisted back on itself. Seems that no one wanted to wait until their allotted time to show up, so everyone went whenever the felt like it. Others just cut in front of whoever was already in line. My husband and I being disabled, were forced to stand in a LONG line of people from other decks who wouldn't wait until their appointed time to show up. No one on the crew seemed to care. It was a madhouse of everyone for himself. Once again, no one I saw was having fun on the Fun Ship. Now some asides: Our room was lovely; our cabin steward the best I've ever had assigned to my room. Room service personnel were friendly and polite. Our evening waiters were delightful and kept us entertained with their clever comments. The Lido Deck crew were friendly and kept the tables and floors tidy and well swept. The food in the dining room was delicious and well presented, though by the time the first week was over, I was wishing I had some "plain cooking" like spaghetti or tacos, for even on the Lido Deck, the offerings were pretty much standard ship food. The evening entertainment could definitely be upgraded. I've cruised Carnival before, and I know their shows are better than what we put up with. By the time the second week rolled around, the crowds in the lounge had dwindled to about half-filled. Seems that everyone was complaining about the quality of the entertainment. Too many comics that weren't funny--and musicals that weren't very well choreographed. The band itself was great. I think everyone would have been happy just to sit and listen to them play and skip the singers, dancers, and comedians. By the time the 12 day cruise was over, I had discovered two things about myself. I loved the sea; the ports were just something to put up with. Perhaps being from San Diego has tainted me, but Hawaii looked pretty much like southern CA and on Oahu and Maui, the traffic looked pretty much like Los Angeles. But those days at sea were magical--at least for me. The other thing I discovered was that I could get tired of eating fancy, five course meals. Surprised me too. I love eating out. Guess there was just too much of a good thing. Did I have a good time? You bet, despite the things that drove me up the wall. Would I ever debark from Ensenada again? Not in this lifetime. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2005
My cruise review from the Spirit, 3/1 to 3/9. Other reviews (by other people) are in these threads: ... Read More
My cruise review from the Spirit, 3/1 to 3/9. Other reviews (by other people) are in these threads: About us: Husband/wife, early 30s, 2 children ages 6 and 3. Live in San Diego. Wife was 23 weeks pregnant at embarkation. Previously cruised on the Pride (7-day in April 04) and Disney Magic (4-day in December '99). Day 1 -------- Original plan was to take the Coaster down from near our house and walk to the terminal but I chickened out and got a friend to drive us down using our SUV. Got there around 11:45 or so, no traffic issues, got checked in, got our number (5 or 6, I don't remember) and found some seats to wait to be called. First thing I noticed was that the average age of people waiting for this cruise was a lot higher than that of the Pride from last year. Got called, went through security, got on the ship, made reservations for the supper club, and by then it was about 12:40 so we ignored the 1PM rule and went to our room. The stateroom was available, a class 5A (obstructed outside, no balcony). We booked only a couple weeks prior and got a great price as it was an upgrade from the 1A rate. Dropped off our stuff and went to get something to eat. It's always fun hanging out on the ship while it's still relatively empty. Also, since San Diego is our home, we enjoyed the unusual viewpoint of things we're so familiar with. You don't normally get to be 12 stories up while out in the bay! Did a lot of walking around checking things out. Met our cabin steward.. We were lazy when it was time for muster drill. He actually had stuck the "evacuated" tag on our door before we got out. We learned last time that with the little ones, being late to the drill is a good thing as they get real antsy being smashed in with all those people and no one wants to have what's bad get worse due to crying kids. Cold and windy as we left port. Interesting sunset off of Point Loma. That evening we went to the "welcome aboard" party for Camp Carnival which was held in the disco. I was exhausted, so I took some ribbing from the counselors about the kids getting their dance moves from "mom", but I was too tired to barely move. The attendance at this event was really light, maybe 15 people total, including parents. Day 2 (1st day at sea) ---------------------- Honestly, Day 2 and 3 kind of blend together a bit. I didn't find myself having all that much fun yet. I went to the putting contest (just missed the cut), checked out some other things, let the kids do some swimming even though it was cold, etc. They were having a great time in camp carnival, of course. With the family all dressed up we got our picture taken, and the kids were taken to the "cocktail" party. We went on to the captain's party was what was to be expected. We sat in a bad spot, as we got one drink and then our server disappeared for the next half hour. In the meantime, the row right in front of us got served FIVE times. Near the end I flagged one of their servers over and mentioned that our server had been MIA and maybe he could give us something, so he put 2 glasses of champagne for myself and my wife, and then I asked about something else he had on his tray so he gave me one of those. Well, my wife won't drink more than 1 drink a day because of the pregnancy so they all went to me me me! Let me tell you, it's hard to drink that much champagne that fast. We went to dinner (table 314 I think) and I ordered a Bass Ale, so I'd put down 6 drinks in about 20 minutes. It didn't take long before I was starting to enjoy myself now! Unfortunately we weren't far into the show when the pager went off - my 3 year old had either been pushed or fell or something and hit his forehead on a table in the Lido lounge where camp carnival was having dinner. He had a knot on his head the size of a golf ball, it was huge. They staff at camp carnival was a bit freaked out - I think they were worried I was going to tear them a new one because it did look really bad. He's a tough kid though, so I checked him out and took him down to dinner with us. By the end of dinner he wanted to go back. I think this may have been the "Standing Room Only" show night. We weren't impressed. Perhaps we've been spoiled by having season tickets one year for "Broadway San Diego", which is all the major touring shows. I thought the male singer in particular had a very flat, boring voice. The female was a bit better but she wasn't always pitch perfect. The dancers were ok, but surprisingly not in great shape for dancers.. I saw people that were more fit in the workout room.. As someone else mentioned, there was an emergency stop at Cabo on the way down. I actually woke up when this happened as I guess my body "noticed" that we had stopped. I contemplated getting up and seeing what Cabo looked like at night (it was 3 AM) but I just couldn't do it and went back to sleep. :) Day 3 (2nd day at sea) ---------------------- A little warmer, did more of the kids swimming, hanging out thing. Had the 3 year old take a nap mid afternoon because we'd decided to do the slumber party for the kids so that we could stay out a little late. They did the survivor thing this day. I again managed to miss the "shipbuilding" info just like last year, although this year I was smart enough to go to the Pursors where they had the rules (I ended up not participating). This is the night we scheduled for the supper club. We were given a table for two along the starboard side, meaning we could catch the end of the sunset. Unfortunately we couldn't see much else, I think a table where we could see the dance floor and the musical duet would've been better. The food was fantastic, I had the new york strip as the main course, and the other courses were very good as well. Everything about the place was top notch and we highly recommend spending an evening there. Be sure you get the peach glaze somethin-or-other for dessert, it was unbelievably good. I was so stuffed by we did some dancing and hung out long enough I was able to enjoy the entire thing. yummmmmm. I was as full that night as the past two Thanksgivings put together! I think this was the night they had the comedians and the late-night comedy show, which was much better than I expected it to be and we were glad we'd put the kids in the slumber party so that we could see it (at a $10/hr cost after 10 PM for the 2). Day 4 (Acapulco) ---------------- Now it was warm, but not hot. Great weather. Upper 70s/low 80s I'd say. At this point I'm getting excited because for me, the ship is nice, I enjoy the food and stuff, but what I really enjoy is the adventure of the ports of call. I love seeing new places, experiencing new things. We got off the ship, went through the terminal, and ran into the government approved taxi people. I asked for a taxi for 2 hours, how much? He said "$50 but you have to rent 4 hours so it's $100". I was like uhhhhh, no. So I walked about 20 feet and another guy asked if I needed a taxi (working for the same company). I said the same thing "We want a 2 hour tour and a drop off at Caleta beach - how much?" He said "$25 an hour, $50 total". I asked what kind of vehicle, he said Chevy Suburban. Does the A/C work? Yes. These were the right answers since to me, I'll pay more for the big vehicle because we've got the little kids with no car seats. They made a radio call and up pulled a suburban and a guy hops out to load us up. I was a little surprised because I thought the guy I talked to would be the driver. So I asked the driver if he speaks english and he said that yes, he does, and it was understandable so away we went. Our driver's name was Ismael, he had 2-tone hair, was in his 40s, and I would recommend him. He drove us around the bay to the south up to Senior Frog's to take in the view, then drove us back down and up through the old streets and the marketplace (think 3rd world street fair), then up to another lookout, and then eventually to Caleta beach. He took the 2 hours as discussed and knew a lot about Acapulco (born and raised there). His uncle is a cliff diver, so he pushed that we should take the time to see the cliff divers (we didn't). His driving was "safe and sane" and he recommended that we eat at "La Cabana" at Caleta beach and we scheduled a time for him to pick us up and take us back to the ship. I think the return trip was $15. When we got to Caleta Beach we talked to one of the street "barkers" because we wanted the glass bottom boat over to La Roqueta Island. At this point we were definitely on our own because suddenly no one spoke english, as Caleta Beach is known as more of a locals beach. He lead us to where we paid for the tickets and then where we would get on the boat. The cost was $5 per person round trip, the 3 year old was free. Unfortunately we sat there a loooong time as I suspect they just don't run the boat until they have enough people waiting. We finally all got on and went. We met another group of 3 from our ship and it was nice to share stories. They drove us all around in this boat giving a narrated tour of all the sights (speaking Spanish). Occasionally we'd make out certain things, about a particular house being where the president stays, that sort of thing. After about 30+ minutes of this we started heading back to Caleta beach, so I waved my hand and asked "La Roqueta?" and he pointed at his watch and shrugged his shoulders. The other guide actually spoke english and said that it was too late, they were all bringing people off La Roqueta. Bummer! So my advice is - if you want to see La Roqueta, go there first and arrange for the taxi driver to pick you up afterwards and THEN take you on the tour, not the other way around. Even though I was bummed, we were still in a beautiful setting, and the kids were going stir crazy since all day they've been on boats or in cars, and it was time to hit the beach, so we just went over to La Cabana and hit the beach. They reluctantly setup a table and umbrella once we told them we were going to stay for dinner. My wife hung out at the table while I went swimming with the kids. The water was colder than I expected it to be but still not bad, probably 76-78, which is warmer than it ever gets in San Diego. I had 2 Pacifico's delivered to the table (served in a bucket of ice) and my wife had a virgin pina colada. Pacifico tastes so much better in Mexico.. My wife thought she was reading the bill wrong when the total was $6. The vendors here were not very pushy other than one woman who seemed determined to give my wife a neck message or something. Perhaps if we spoke spanish we would've figured out why she was so determined (as in, she eventually just started doing it - being nice or trying to make her feel obligated to pay?). We eventually got cleaned up and had dinner at La Cabana. This whole time we had live mexican music going because someone was having a birthday party at the restaurant, so that was fun. Ismael said La Cabana was a "safe" place to eat, that it's a favorite of foreigners. Safe was good. Unfortunately, it's a favorite because their menu isn't mexican at all! Doh! It was things like seafood or beef shiskabobs! Oh well, dinner was actually quite good and my shishkabobs were delicious, and the sun went down and the temperature stayed in the 70s with a fantastic view. The food wasn't particularly cheap ($10-$15 per plate), just the drinks. Ismael was early picking us up so he had to wait for us, when we were done he took us back to the ship. I don't remember what we did that evening. I think it was Mexican cultural dance performance night, which we skipped since we see that all the time in San Diego. I do remember hanging out on lounge chairs on the sun deck hoping that there would be fireworks from Fort San Diego but they never happened while we were up there so we took the kids back to the cabin and hit the sack because we knew tomorrow was Ixtapa! Day 5 (Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo) -------------------------- Everyone's favorite port on this itinerary, and for a reason. Pulling into this bay how can you not be excited? The coast just looks lush, it looks luxurious, it looks.. like something from a movie. We got our tender sticker (#3 I believe) and eventually tendered over after a bit of a wait. We're glad we got the sticker instead of just waiting for open tendering, as that evening we saw someone still wearing their tender sticker and it was #12! At the end of the pier is where all the taxi drivers hang out. I walked up to a guy and asked if he knew Omar. He looked at me kind of blankly. I asked again if he knew Omar from Seattle. The guy next to him said "Are you from Seattle?" so I said "No, I'm just looking for Omar from Seattle, he was recommended to us". Of course, I'm thinking fat chance this is going to work since a lot of people have already got off the ship... He says "Do you need a taxi?" "Yes, but I'm hoping to find Omar." and he says, "I'm Omar." Of course, I'm thinking "yeaah, riiiight!". So I ask to see some ID and sure enough, he whips out a license and he's indeed Omar! So we agree on a price for 2 hours ($70 I think, which I felt was high.). We then proceeded to get stuck for 15 minutes in a traffic jam because a tow truck had decided to try to tow a car off the one street that goes past the pier, backing up EVERYONE (taxis, busses, everything!). Omar took us around Zihuatanejo, showed us so great views, pointed out Richard Gere's house, etc. His english was decent, not as good as I'd expected after reading favorable reviews on Cruise Critic. He then took us over to Ixtapa, stopped at a sort of roadsize crocodile pond which the kids loved, and drove us down a dirt road that he called a "typical Mexican town", where the bathrooms were outhouses, laundry was being done at the well, pigs running down the street, houses half-built and left that way, kids with no shoes, etc. He felt that a lot of what we saw on the dirt road was due to "lazy people", because he said he and his wife came from a similar situation but now they live in an apartment and own their own store where they sell things when there isn't enough business for taxi driving. From there he took us to the Barcelo resort, which was our requested destination, and we agreed upon a pickup time and price. My one negative about Omar is this: Our total time with him was only about 90 minutes and that included the time we spent sitting there going nowhere. We felt that we were a bit ripped-off. His driving was very careful for a taxi driver, which we liked, however it was still a Nissan Sentra with no seat belts. The A/C did work, at least. Compared to other ports $70 for 90 minutes is a bit much. I guess I have only myself to blame for not calling him on it, in general we did like the guy a lot and really appreciated his defensive driving style. I cannot say whether that was a lot compared to others in Ixtapa or not. I can simply say that I happily recommend him with the one caveat that you may be overpaying. It's up to you to decide if seeking out someone who speaks English and drives in a sane manner is worth the extra expense. We went into the Barcelo and spoke with a hostess, said we were from the Pride and wanted to use their pools in exchange for us eating at their restaurants and drinking their drinks. She smiled and said of course. We spent the rest of the day here, about 3 hours worth, some of it at the pools, some of it at the beach. The beach here is beautiful, with very few vendors compared to most resort beaches in Mexico I've seen. The activity of choice seemed to be parasailing as there were never enough people asking for the banana boat for us to do that (would've been $5 a person). They rented jet skis cheap ($35/half hour, $50/hour) but I was short on funds because lunch at the Barcelo and the taxi had been more than expected. My daughter got some hair braiding done - the lady said $20 but I thought that was too much and I didn't know what my wife wanted for my daughter's hair, so I found my wife and sent her back out with $10, and she got what she wanted for $10. I can also confirm that they do have a massage tent on the beach there where they do a 1-hour massage for $20, although we didn't partake. Now this is the interesting part. Several people said it was ok to go to the Barcelo and use their chairs and umbrellas on the beach, but no one talked about the pools. Well, just as we started to pack up, a security guard comes over and starts grilling us - in Spanish. Basically, the people who are staying at the Barcelo all have wrist bands they wear. We didn't, so in his mind, he needed to do something. I tried to explain that a lady said it was ok, etc. He wanted to know if we'd come in via the beach. I pointed towards the front of the place and he told us to wait (all in spanish, so we only understood certain words of course). He went and grabbed a life guard and they had an animated discussion for a while, he came back, and then he just stood there glaring at us as we finished packing up and left. My advice: Barcelo was nice, but don't go there for the pools as you run the risk of having a run-in with security. We were fortunate that ours happened when we were leaving anyway. Despite the obviousness of the fact we were leaving, the security guard seemed determined to do something. For a moment, we were worried, but ultimately nothing happened. Omar was right on time and whisked us back to the port for $10, and we had an hour before last tender so we shopped a little with the small amount of cash we had left and got back on board. This is the night they had the old-guy recording artist - Denny Brunk. We saw the exact same guy doing the exact same songs on the Pride a year before. The first time it was semi-entertaining, this time it was boring. This was also the night we first caught Peter playing at the piano bar. He kicked booty, and seeking him out became a theme for the rest of our evenings on the ship. He does requests and has a request list, but anything I came up with he seemed to know, and all off the top of his head. Extremely good piano player, don't miss him! Day 6 (Manzanillo) ------------------ For Manzanillo we'd decided we were going to do the snorkeling expedition with Dive Manzanillo. We'd exchanged email with them and got to the point where we felt comfortable bringing the 3 and 6 year old out, as they have rafts with plastic windows that the littlest ones can float on and see the fish. The tough part here was we needed to get to the dive shop early, so we got off the ship early and found a taxi, any old taxi. Our luck had run out, as this guy drove the taxi in that enduro style, weaving through traffic, riding bumpers, honking horns, doing 100 km/hour in a 40 km/hour zone, and all this in another little Nissan Sentra-esque car with no seatbelts. It was thrilling to an extent, but I feared for my kids lives and I wondered what my wife was thinking. He spoke not a bit of english but somehow still managed to get us to where we were going, and in one piece, thank god. If I was to label the stops, I'd call Acapulco "party city" because of the big hotels, lots of american eateries (Tony Romas, Hooters, etc), and monster Discoteques every 3 blocks. Ixtapa/Zihuatenejo would be "luxury resort". Manzanillo is "working Mexico". People seemed to have places to go or things to do, everything was pretty commercial or industrial, etc. The people at the dive shop were all very friendly and english was no problem since they were all from the states. However, this is one time I wish we'd paid for the ship's tour. First, we boarded vans that took us to the beach. Both vans had holes in the floor and one of them had no doors. Then, because we were the only snorkelers, we got in the same boat with the divers. I had no idea this was going to happen and was really unfortunate. I would say that if you choose to go snorkeling via this business, pay whatever the difference is to have your own snorkeling boat. We launched out to the first destination, my family got in the water, and we did our snorkeling. The water felt about the same as Acapulco to me, which was good, and we never felt cold at all. We saw a big, luxurious ship packed with people from the Spirit doing the ship's snorkeling tour. At this point we snickered about how they'd paid twice as much as us to go to the same spot and on a ship packed with people. Little did we know.... We took a lot of underwater pictures and entertained the kids. The divers never got in the water, nor did the two guides that were with us (despite emails saying there would be guides in the water to help with the kids). They didn't tell us to come in but we eventually got back in the boat ourselves because there was only so much to see and the kids were losing interest. They then cranked the engine up and we went out around the peninsula to the Pacific side of things where the divers dropped in. The scenery again was spectacular, however it was very choppy and the small boat (we're talking about a 20' boat here) was really rocking around. We declined the offer to get back in the water so the guide manning the boat did his best to entertain us by driving us down the coast a bit then back. The divers were down for much longer than had been suggested, and we spent a lot of time sitting in one spot bouncing around, breathing exhaust fumes from the outboard engine. My son got sick and so did my wife. Neither threw up (he dry heaved a couple times) but both turned a shade of green. Fortunately the bouncing around put him to sleep in my arms. My daughter was fine, I was a little nauseous. All 4 divers got back in finally and they were off to their next dive spot, which they said would be calmer and we could snorkel there. Of course, by now we're completely dry again, sick of being out on the water, just sick in general. So instead we had them take us back to the beach. They said they'd be 45 minutes and they'd be back at which point we'd all go back to the dive shop if we so chose. "Hah! right!" we said to ourselves, and indeed we were right because it was more like 90 minutes before they came back. Fortunately, the story doesn't end there. This was obviously another "locals" beach and is what you might picture for real mexico. Shack-type restaurants with bamboo poles holding up roofs, no floors, plastic chairs, etc, sitting along the beach. By now we're getting more comfortable that no one's going to steal something, especially here since we're really not in a city/resort area. The kids hit the water and have a blast playing on the beach. We start getting hungry so I go up to the restaurant there that the dive guide said had the best seafood ever. Unfortunately I don't like seafood. I try to decipher their spanish menu, and best I can tell, all they have is seafood seafood seafood! So I bring a menu down to my wife and we look it over and decide we're just going to have chips and salsa and something to drink. So we go grab a table and order chips, salsa, guacamole, Sol Cervesa, virgin pina colada, and soda for the kids. This is when a so-so day got really good. The temperature was perfect, the setting very relaxing, the kids having great fun, and the fresh-made corn chips they brought were easily the best I've ever had. Now mind you, I live in San Diego, next to Mexico, and I've had a lot of different chips at a lot of different restaurants! But these were thick, baked corn chips with a lot of salt, and they were just SOOOOO good. They also provided a bowl of cut-in-half limes which when squeezed on the chips made everything just that much better. We ordered up another round of those chips and my wife single handedly cleaned the big plate of guac and I took care of the big plate of fresh salsa, and while I was at it, picked up a margarita that was one of the strongest margaritas I've ever drank. Total cost - $14US + tip. You know how you get some memories, almost like a sensory snapshot, that you think will stay with you forever? I think this was one for me. For about 30 minutes I felt like I was in Mexican paradise. One thing that was very different and interesting - here in America restaurants are all about the turnover, get people in, feed them, get them out. There, it was obvious people came down and claimed a table for the entire day. There was one set of tables in the front row next to the beach where people had setup their porta-crib in-between the tables. Can you imagine what would happen if you brought a portacrib into a beach-side restaurant in the U.S. and set it up while laying claim to two tables with all your stuff? I really envied that part of things, because I could totally see spending an entire day there, although I guess I'd either have to learn to like seafood or find something other than chips to eat! Vendors here were more numerous but not pushy. We bought some cotton candy for the kids which was just nasty, tasted like corn syrup not sugar. The kids still liked it. They did have public restrooms, however the toilets had no seats... When the divers returned we packed up and headed back to the dive shop, where one of the owners flagged down a taxi and negotiated a price to take us back to the port ($10). The guy spoke decent english and told us how he had been in and out of the states and in just a few weeks is going back to trucker school to get his trucker license and move to America for good. He drove sanely and we wished him well with a $15 payment for our $10 taxi ride. Plus, I was still feeling really good from that Margarita! We were back on the ship by about 1 PM or so and grabbed some lunch up on Lido then spent the rest of the day at the ships pools. There were a lot of people on the ship so either many cut it short like us or didn't bother to get off. We were on our way to dinner when the ship was leaving port, and I say this - if you have the early seating, it's ok to be a little late. Get out on the promenade deck when leaving Manzanillo, as the locals stand along the shores and wave and shout as you go out, and you'll find Carnival staff out there waving back. This night was the stage hypnotist, Chuck Milligan. He was good. Very good. Perhaps the most fun stuff on ship. Without a doubt we decided that we would do the kids slumber party again tomorrow night so we could catch the midnight, R-rated version of the show. Day 7 (3rd Day at sea) ----------------------- Well, by now we've gotten into the swing of things a bit more. We started hitting dance lessons left and right and had a lot of fun learning how to dance the Carwash, and even better was how to dance like Austin Powers. The kids were with us for this stuff and they thought it was great as well. Typical day at sea stuff although it got chilly pretty quick. 2nd formal night, we got a couple more pictures taken. The knot on my son's head was basically gone. We brought the kids to this formal dinner and all went well. This night we saw the "High Spirits" show, which I thought was much better than the Standing Room Only show. The sets were much more elaborate, the music better, the dancing better, and I thought even the singing was better. Much more creative. I felt bad for the performers, though, because it was like they were performing for a bunch of corpses. I guess if I was 65 years old I wouldn't get excited about the Timewarp from Rocky Horror Picture Show either, so I'm not trying to insult the crowd, but the crowd was really just dead. Perhaps 3 port days + an older demographic will do that. We spent some more time with Pete the piano master as well as seeing some of the same people in the Karoake lounge that were always in there (is it like a drug to people who do it?). Then the midnight, R-rated hypnotism show with Chuck Milligan. Much of it was the same to start, but the show just got better and better. Very fun. I was amazed at how many people really race up to the stage when he takes volunteers, and he must have had at least another dozen that went under out in the audience. Day 8 (4th Day at Sea) ----------------------- It was getting real cold by now, and the ship was getting pretty dead. There were not a lot of activities scheduled, another dance class, art auction, bingo - standard stuff but it just seemed like less than usual. The disembarkation talk was today and they had a real nice talk with the captain including giving him a big laminated certificate with the signatures of many of crew. With the ship soon changing itineraries, this was the captain's last cruise before a one month vacation, and we got the impression from talking to the crew that many were going to be done with their service or getting reassigned before the captain came back. So it was interesting because you got to see a bit of the "family" on a cruise ship that I don't think you normally see (or that normally feels contrived). Otherwise, not much to remark on here, we did most of our packing pretty early so we could hang out at night. Unfortunately, not much going on in the evening until late, it seemed. They should move the nightlife up in time (ie lounge music starts earlier, etc) on the last night since there isn't much to do and people need to get to bed earlier for debarkation. We managed to catch another half hour of Piano requests and I got Peter to play Great Balls of Fire, which he did with flair, including lifting his heel up on banging on the high keys just like Jerry Lee Lewis. Day 9 (San Diego) ----------------- Debarkation was smooth once it started but they had some issue that kept them from unloading passengers as early as they had claimed they would start. We'd decided to try taking the Coaster to north county and calling a friend or neighbor to get us the last 3 miles (or I could jog it if I had to and come back with a car). Unfortunately the Coaster literally started pulling out of the train station as we walked up and it was the last morning train - 3 hours until the next departure, so I called a friend, who got stuck in a meeting, so we ended up hanging out at the train depot for about 90 minutes. The kids didn't seem to mind too much, though. Summary of Observations ----------------------- I thought the shows ranged from good(comedy/hypnotist/High Spirits) to poor(Standing Room Only/Denny Brunk). The demographic of passengers was much older than on the Pride, however, as weird as this sounds, it got "younger" as the cruise went on. I suspect the first day or two the younger crowd just didn't know what to do and spent more time in their rooms and stuff, but by the end of the cruise were out and about and much more involved. Peter (piano player) pointed out that with the Pride being a 1 week, Sunday to Sunday cruise, you will get more students, more professionals, etc because it's much more compartmentalized, where the Spirit has a lot more retirees because of the midweek to midweek style sailing schedule than effectively impacts two calendar weeks of time. Our Sail and Sign card was $785 - $320 for tips, about $100 for drinks, and the rest was supper club, souvenirs, and late-night babysitting. We spent between $500 and $600 in cash at our 3 ports of call, which includes taxis, food, drink, snorkeling, and very few souvenirs ($50 total probably). Remember that we did no Carnival ship excursions. The snorkeling ran $45/adult and $25/child, if I remember correctly. The ship's snorkeling cruise was $85/$75 but may have included lunch. Like I said before, as far as the snorkeling trip went, this time you get what you paid for since it all fell apart. However, if it hadn't all fallen apart, we wouldn't have had that perfect hour+ on La Bouquita Beach. Funny how sometimes things work out, isn't it? Overall - a great vacation. I thought the Spirit was not full - the typical problems of not being able to find a deck chair never materialized, and it seemed the showroom was never truly full, and I can't say I ever saw any of the lounges really hopping. Again, this may be due as much to the average passenger age as it was the total number of passengers on board. This may have brought the energy and fun level down some for us. Truthfully, we enjoyed the Pride more last year. We have good memories from all ports of call the Spirit visited. For years we've debated taking our family to Ixtapa for a vacation, and I'd say this trip convinced us there is no reason not to, and will likely be our first choice for a Mexican air/land vacation out of the 6 ports we've seen in the past 2 years. So if the choice is between the Pride and the Spirit, choose the Pride. However, we definitely recommend the Spirit Mexican Riviera cruise. For younger families, embarking on a Friday or Saturday, which would limit the cruise to more of a 1 calendar week situation, may result in a group you'll have more in common with, while older couples may prefer to target the mid-week to mid-week schedule. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2005
We (Husband, myself, sons ages 11, 17 and 20) flew to San Diego on 3/24 and spent the night at the Best Western Bayside. We were kept up most of the night by the train blowing! But, it was nice to see the Spirit in port already at 6:30 AM ... Read More
We (Husband, myself, sons ages 11, 17 and 20) flew to San Diego on 3/24 and spent the night at the Best Western Bayside. We were kept up most of the night by the train blowing! But, it was nice to see the Spirit in port already at 6:30 AM on 3/25. Embarkation was very easy, we arrived at 10:45 AM and were on the ship before noon! We had some confusion with our room assignments but were able to get it all straightened out. We booked an extended balcony for ourselves and an inside room for our boys. Carnival put our boys quite a ways from us, we were surprised! But it worked out and I obtained a key to their room to do surprise checks! Entering the Atrium upon embarkation was nice, a beautiful ship. We found the ship easy to navigate and since we take the stairs never had a problem waiting for an elevator. Our room was nice and the balcony wonderful. Plenty of storage and closet space. Our only complaint was the mattress, way to hard and uncomfortable. We loved the Dining room and our waiter and his assistant! Somehow Carnival put us (family of 5) at 2 separate tables! Because the ship was full they could not fix this but our waiter accommodated us by bringing a chair to put at the end of our 4 person table. This made it more difficult for them serving but they were so gracious about it. We found all the staff and everyone on board who worked for Carnival to be wonderful, friendly and helpful. We loved our room stewards! Camp Carnival did not live up to its reputation. We took a cruise 4 years ago and could not get our youngest out of Camp Carnival. This time he spent one half day there and refused to go back. He is almost 12 and they would not let him move up to the next age group. He was very disappointed and so were we. He did enjoy the arcade and he hung out with his parents. Acapulco was nice and we hired a derived for 6 hours to see the city sights. We loved the cliff divers and would love to return to stay at the Fairmont Acapulco Princess! Beautiful city and very friendly. We also enjoyed Ixtapa/Zih. We went to Ixtapa Island, felt very dirty but we still enjoyed ourselves. Unfortunately our 17 year came down with the 24 hour stomach flu, along with other people! Next stop Manzinillo. It is very industrial and the air smelled awful. We tried to walk to town since a cab would not take the 5 of us and we did not know about the shuttle! Never did find the town but found the shuttle to return later. Husband said the town was really nice, by that time I was really sick. We did hear that Las Hadas was great and was sorry to have missed it. We enjoyed the final at sea days and spent a lot of time reading and relaxing. We all spent a lot of time in the gym. It is quite large but crowded in the mornings, we went at off times. We took their spinning classes and enjoyed them. We tended to avoid the pools because all the crowds and the chairs were saved. So we found quiet spots on other parts of the ship. There were a lot of kids and for the most part no problems. The biggest problems were the college aged kids, running down the hallways in the middle of the night banging on doors and screaming. It would have been nice to have a hot tub for adults only, if there was one I never saw it because of all the kids! Our 17 year old became a bit bored as you had to be 18 to get into the Disco. He said there was not enough to do. The water slide was not open the entire trip and that was disappointing. The Super Club was wonderful and well worth the money! Overall we had a great time and loved the crew and staff of the Spirit. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2005
We booked our cruise through Carnival's office in Colorado (the 1-888 number). We booked our airfare through Jet vacations in Winnipeg and our excursions on the Carnival website as well as the Drink Tickets in the gifts area. We left ... Read More
We booked our cruise through Carnival's office in Colorado (the 1-888 number). We booked our airfare through Jet vacations in Winnipeg and our excursions on the Carnival website as well as the Drink Tickets in the gifts area. We left Wpg where it was a balmy-29 degrees Celsius. We had to be de-iced on the tarmac before we left. We finally dept. at about 6:30 am. and arrived in Minneapolis 50 minutes later. Departed for San Diego in about an hour. Arrived in San Diego and was accosted by the Carnival shuttle people as soon as they saw our tags for the ship. We were told it was 16.00 for the trip and was better then taking a taxi. He didn't tell us it was 16.00 pp but he really lost out when we got a 2 for special!! We found out on the way back that it was still less to take a cab (8.20). We got to the terminal( could have thrown the bags there it is so close) and went to bay 1 to get in line. Took about 5 min or less and we were in chairs for 45 min. then got called to board. ** This is the second time we have been on this ship in a year. Last year it was the Southern Caribbean. We got a 20% off this cruise, 100.00pp on board credit and a welcome aboard gift, (we chose the photos). We also got a second welcome aboard gift letter for a phone call to Carnival's HQ complimenting our PVP for her friendly service. There were lots of problems on our last time on this cruise line but we thought they deserved one last chance. On arrival on the ship we went up to the Lido to have lunch while our room was being cleaned and what we thought was decorated (our second welcome aboard letter). After we ate I went to the spa  to see if they needed any volunteers for the spa displays. They did..I got the isothermie detox (a treatment that cost 145.00 for 1/2 hour). I was laid down on a bed of seaweed and creamy stuff then had electrodes put on me where I was tingled and Zapped for 45 min. When I was done I was in more hips, no more pooch, no more flabby belly. Almost as good as my Judo workout. It was only short lived, it was one by day 2. We had some time to walk around before we left port and get refamiliarized with the ship we were on last year. Not much has changed really. That night we went for dinner and met Jay and Joey our servers who were great the whole time (table 219). Missing was Manuel the maitre d' we had last year, Joseph took his spot. After dinner we received our photo coupons from the first letter we got from Carnival's HQ but no drink tickets and decorations in the cabin. When I asked they had NO record of it. I told the purser that we had paid for the drink tickets on-line and we had been told 45 days ago that we were getting a welcome aboard gift that I wanted the room decorated. She had no idea. After telling her that I would be sent a letter to Bob Dickinson in the office she seemed to take a little more interest in this and asked for a copy of the letter. I gave her both letters to photocopy. Day 2 at sea...No drink tickets and no decorations. Very cold on deck not good for sun tanning. Made a med-evac in Cabo San Lucas but had no delay actually made up time arrived in Acapulco 2 hrs early. This is the first formal night and the Captain's night. You don't have to drink what is on the tray you can order anything you want. I had chocolate martin's. For dinner it is lobster night. My DH had 7 tails and freaked Joey our server out a bit. He had never seen anyone do that before. He said he had bragging rights. Day 3 at sea... a bit warmer. No drink tickets, no decorations. Las Vegas style show was a repeat of last year. According the cruise director Michael l(same one as last cruise) they do not change the shows but once every five years, so if you are going on the same ship within that time ask before you book. Got our drink tickets after dinner. Day 4 Acapulco...we did the beach break excursions through the ship. This was our favorite port of call. Free bar!!! We bought a parasail ride from Edwardo (guy just to the right of the green tape, pink parasail), for 25.00. I also got to go on a jet ski for 45 min for only 30.00 others get 1/2 hour for the same price). Lots of people selling their wares, best advice..BARTER, BARTER, BARTER you can get some great deals. There are Mexican militia members there for your safety and security. We had a Blast!! That night is open seating in the Empire dining room so we went to the Nouveax cafe for dinner, there were maybe six couples in there with us and the service was great. Try the flourless cake when you go there. Day 5 Ixtapa..we did the Ixtapa Island getaway. On the Carnival website they use the word romantic to describe this place.. We did not find that at all. We were really bored. No swimming, no snorkeling, only two drinks for 2 hrs. Not worth money. Stopped to see the crocodiles in the ravine under the road we were on. Good photo opportunity. Nothing really special here. Day 6 Manzinillo...we went on the Elephant rock and snorkel. This was a nice excursion. Lots of sea life without the jellyfish. The water is not as nice as the Caribbean but there was lots to see. Free bar on the catamaran. This is the night they have the hypnotist, this is a must see, he is so funny. Day 7 back at sea in colder waters again. Las Vegas style show the same as last year. Second formal night and the night they have the Gala buffet at midnight. Compared to last year this one was really small. Last year it took up both sides of the dining room and this year it took up one isle. Not a good showing. Way too much bingo and trivia contests. Try Fear Factor next time!! Day 8 another cold day at sea. The last two days are what they call the Baha bash due to the rough seas. The waves were around 4 meters high and were killer for land sickness when we got back home. Day 9 back home day. Got to the airport by taxi -- they are right outside the door waiting to help you. The company we got was Easyride 2.10 hire and then 20 cents a mile after that. After trying Carnival for the last 3 cruises we have decided to end our relationship with them. Even with the discount letters and the other offers the problems are still there. This time it just seemed it was not the crew's fault it was the H.Q's. Other things that need to be said are... Watch the expire dates on the milk and yogurt in the Lido. We got expired milk. Lots of flies on the fruit. A pop card is great idea if you drink a lot of pop or if you smuggle rye in a ginger-ale bottle(saves money on drinks). Don't forget to tip your servers some of these people only make 10.00 a day and you tips are the money their families live off of back home. The gym is lacking in equipment and abdominal space. Do not get your nails French manicured on board it will cost you 15.00 US and is not airbrushed on and will come off really easy. Drink like a fish at the captain's party and the past guest party the drinks are free. Take in the art auctions for the free champagne. Extended balconies are the way to go if you like space. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
This was our second cruise with Carnival. We sailed the Carnival Pride last year for our honeymoon and wanted to sail the Carnival Spirit for our anniversary. Embarkation -- San Diego port was very small. There was another ship in port ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Carnival. We sailed the Carnival Pride last year for our honeymoon and wanted to sail the Carnival Spirit for our anniversary. Embarkation -- San Diego port was very small. There was another ship in port with the Carnival Spirit that day so the traffic getting into and out of the pier was congested. We parked our car at a Park & Ride lot for $9 per day rate, and got free shuttle service to the pier. Since I had read recommendations from the various boards about arriving to the San Diego port really early or really late to avoid the crowd, we did not drive into San Diego until 1 p.m. and got to the pier around 2 p.m. It took us less than 30 minutes to get on board. Ship -- The Carnival Spirit was clean and easy to navigate. All the dEcor was nice and not too gaudy. The public rooms were all laid out nicely. The gym facilities were good. I really liked the steam room and the showers in the gym. Room -- Our room was on the Panorama deck, 9th floor, just below the Lido deck so it was a short walk up for food. The balcony room was clean, spacious and nicely decorated with lots of storage space. The only complaints I have are that the bathroom has a moldy smell when first entering but then it goes away, and the bed was sagging and needed to be replaced. However, maybe because of the gentle rocking of the ship, we slept very well. Foods -- We ate breakfast and lunch at the buffet on the Lido deck and had dinners in the Empire dining room. The breakfast buffet was good but repetitive: eggs, ham, etc. There were omelet cook-to-order stations but lines were always long. Lunch was much better with many choices ranging from hamburgers and hot dogs to daily specials of roasted leg of lamb and pork loins. There was a station that offered deli sandwiches. And there were food stations offering Chinese and Japanese foods every day. There was a nice salad bar for those who wanted to be healthy. The 24-hour pizzeria was excellent with piping hot slices available right away, or within 7 minutes. We really enjoyed eating dinners in the main dining room. Our waiter team of Ernesto and Lucas worked hard to bring the foods to the table in a timely manner. The menu selections were diverse and we were able to find selections to order and enjoyed every night. All the waiters in the Empire dining room entertained the guests by dancing every night. These people worked very hard to make the dining experience very pleasant. We also enjoy the Super Club. The food and service was good. However, the reservation process was not up to par. We got on board and tried to make our reservation right way since we knew the ship was full due to the holiday and we wanted to celebrate our anniversary there. We were able to contact the reservation desk around 6 p.m. and were told that they're all booked up for the rest of the cruise. We were told that we would be placed on a waiting list. Later we found out that our tablemates were able to get dinner reservation for three nights because they got on board by 1 p.m. We suspected that theirs was not an isolated case. We thought Carnival's policy was to allow everyone a chance to experience the Super Club and limit reservations to one dinner when the ship is full. Whichever the case, I followed up on the last night of the cruise to see if they had any cancellations and was told that our names and room number were not on the waiting list and there were people ahead of us. We gave up and decided to celebrate our anniversary dinner at the Empire instead. But the Super Club did contact us and "allow" us to have our anniversary dinner there. Entertainment -- We went to one big show on the second night and didn't find it very good. The music selections on this trip were lacking. We visited a couple of bars on board to check out the different bands but could not find anything we liked. In our opinions, most of the musicians on board were not very good on this cruise. Since this was a New Year's cruise, there was a big party on deck to welcome in the New Year. Carnival offered free champagne but it was difficult to get to so we ended up buying a bottle for ourselves. The casino was very large with many table games and many slots machines. Ports -- We do not like to book ship's excursions, preferring to explore on our own instead. Acapulco -- We got into port around noon. Got off the ship and walked to the downtown (Zocalo) area to see the Nuestra Senora de la Soledad church. From there we walked back toward the Fort of San Diego and spent a couple hours there. The humidity and the heat zapped our energy so we walked back to the ship to beat the heat and rest before going out again. Around 7 p.m. we hailed a cab ($15) to Zorrito's in the Golden Zone area for dinner. This restaurant served authentic Mexican dishes and seafood, and is very popular with locals. The line was long but the foods were worth the wait. We had shrimp and red snapper sautE with garlic butter and they were delicious. After dinner, we hailed a taxi ($7) to La Quebrada to see the cliff divers. The cost was $18 per person, with two drinks, to see the divers at the La Perla restaurant. I had to "tip" the person at the restaurant to get seats on the terrace since everything was "reserved" or "sold out" when asked. Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo -- We took the tender to the pier, walked around the town of Zihuatanejo a bit and got a water taxi ($3 per person) to Las Gatas (?) beach. Spent the day swimming, eating and relaxing. There were many restaurants on this beach that allow you to use their lounge chairs and shades if you buy drinks and food. It cost us a total of $33 for drinks and a delicious grilled shrimp/mahi mahi lunch for two. I highly recommend this beach. Manzanillo -- There was nothing open at the port since it was New Year's Day so we hired a taxi ($12) to take us to Las Hadas. This hotel charged us $25 per person to use their facilities but gave coupons worth $250 pesos per person to be used for drinks and food in the hotel's restaurants and facilities. However, since the hotel was crowded with Mexican tourists there for their holiday breaks, Las Hadas did not allow day visitors to rent the tents and chairs on the beach. We used the coupon for drinks and food but could not get the waiters to bring anything to us at the poolside. They wanted us to go get our own food and drinks at the restaurants and bars since it was too busy for them. They claimed that they have to serve their own guests first. I felt like a second class citizen on this property. I would not recommend this resort to other cruisers. If you are not their guests, do not expect any services. Worst, we almost missed the boat since we could not get a taxi back. Las Hadas was 20 minutes from the dock and I was surprised that a major resort like this does not have taxis waiting in front. We had to wait for the front desk to call in taxis for those who needed to get back to the pier. There were a group of us from the ship who just barely made it back to pier with minutes to spare. Disembarkation -- On the morning of arrival there was some delay due to immigration, whatever that means. The disembarkation process was an hour late but went smoothly. We were lucky; our tag color was the second group to be called. This cruise did not live up to our expectations. We did have good times on board despite some hiccups with the Super Club reservation and the port of Manzanillo. We met some wonderful people and were able to get some rest and relaxation. I would recommend the Spirit to others. However, for the higher prices we paid for this cruise, the ship did not offer good returns. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
We have been taking two cruises a year on various lines but had never cruised Carnival. I'd heard it was great but I was not expecting a "Celebrity" level of service. Funny how so many lines offer huge discounts but not ... Read More
We have been taking two cruises a year on various lines but had never cruised Carnival. I'd heard it was great but I was not expecting a "Celebrity" level of service. Funny how so many lines offer huge discounts but not Carnival. I'd first booked nearly the same cruise on Princess at 1/2 book price. Carnival on the other hand seems to price fairly and offer slight upgrades. We got to San Diego early. Good thing. The port is small and with security, hard to get into. We were there at 1 p.m. and no lines, easy in. Our cabin was on the very back of the ship. I have always requested the back of the ship. We love the wake. The room was nice and very clean. Our friend was right below us in 5270. This was my second West Coast Mexico cruise and you have to like being on board. It's really three days down and back. That brings up my first WARNING. YOU ARE NOT IN Acapulco for two days. We booked and many others I talked to read it as arrive at 1 p.m., spend the night and leave the next day at 2 a.m. WRONG! You will be getting off the boat after 2 p.m. (3 p.m. local time...dark at six) and leaving that night after midnight. Three quick hours of Acapulco sun! Many like us almost booked a hotel room for the night. Read carefully the days. $20.00 round trip (he waited) taxi ride to the cliff divers. Go to the restaurant. Two drinks, table and show for $12.00 ea. Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo it rained but we took a taxi to Ixtapa. No real opinion. Manzanillo, Mexico, we took a taxi ($12.00) to Kalima Palace hotel and had a wonderful day in the sun. Watch those margaritas! Good and potent! A great hotel and day. Ocean warm and my son loved the water slide. The food was okay to good. Forget the beef. The head of the food is from India. All the tough ole' bulls died of old age. Avoid the beef. Everything else was fine. The buffet was the best on any ship. Fresh omelets at the many different food stations. At the gourmet room with the $25.00 surcharge, they were able to change my favorite items (snails, French onion soup, etc) just enough so I didn't like them. Now for my main WARNING! The back of this ship has horrible vibration! (Do the props need balancing?) That included the back of the dining room. My room was in a constant 5.5 to 6.7 earthquake at night. My buddy below couldn't sleep either...everything rattled! Bring earplugs! More about the good. Great kids program. My son loved it all. Soft ice cream and yogurt at the back of the ship 24 hours a day. Great pizza! I might go back just for it! Half the showroom entertainment was great, half poor. No one can make every one at every age happy. I'll be on Carnival again...Not at the back of the boat and I'll order anything but beef. Getting off was also easy. All in all, a wonderful trip. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2004
Make sure you get a flight in early enough to get on your ship even if there is a delay. Our airline overbooked by 13 seats and 8 of us subsequently did not make the ship in Vancouver. We were allowed on at the first port in Ketchikan for ... Read More
Make sure you get a flight in early enough to get on your ship even if there is a delay. Our airline overbooked by 13 seats and 8 of us subsequently did not make the ship in Vancouver. We were allowed on at the first port in Ketchikan for a $300 per person penalty. Ketchikan may bill itself as a fishing, mining and timber town, but the first few blocks are pure tourism and not very attractive at that. One of the duck operators joked that there were 60 jewelry stores in this town of 32 miles and I'm not sure he was far off. They receive under 30 days of sunshine so plan on rain here. Duck tour was okay. Flightseeing was awesome according to several people. You will see bald eagles as frequently as we in the Midwest see robins. Juneau was more to our liking. Mt. Roberts tram is great including the native gift shop and show. Wildlife plentiful along the nature trail. They also have a injured eagle that will not be able to be released due to extensive wing damage. She is absolutely stunning. Everyone enjoyed their excursions here. Whale watchers found humpbacks within the first ten minutes of tour. Skagway also has lots to do. We took the Yukon train up the mountain then bus back down with a stop at Liarsville. The views are amazing. Liarsville was less than I expected, but our 11 year old really enjoyed their show and the panning for gold. Take bug repellent if you go there. Sitka is the most peaceful of the cities with some nice gift shops. You tender in here so the ship is far enough away from where you land that you can get great pictures of it. Overall the food, the ship and the entertainment was very average. However I was surprisingly pleased with the level of service in both the stateroom and the dining areas. Wildlife watching was also pretty good. We saw whales, porpoises, sea otters, eagles, and sea lions from the ship. The glacier views are spectacular right from your stateroom balconies and we were amazed at how close the captain could pilot that ship into the glacier face! Rest up before debarkation as the process really does start at 6am and everyone is expected to be off shortly after. We really wish we had either received an earlier flight out of Anchorage or had spent an extra night there as we were all just exhausted by the time we reached home early the following day. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
We had so much fun that we are still recovering! This was a short cruise roundtrip from San Diego to Ensenada for 4 days and three nights. Embarkation was slow, we stood for over an hour and a half and waited for what I guess was the San ... Read More
We had so much fun that we are still recovering! This was a short cruise roundtrip from San Diego to Ensenada for 4 days and three nights. Embarkation was slow, we stood for over an hour and a half and waited for what I guess was the San Diego port authority to allow access thru the gates into the security area of the cruise terminal and embarkation desks at high noon. We actually got a sunburn standing there, unfortunately for me, I had selected to wear a new pair of shoes (heels). No rhyme or reason here - one long line with late arrivals allowed to drive into the secure area later and simply join into the center of the line. Comforting thoughts escaped my husband and myself as the derelict Port Authority personnel made jokes as to whether they were actually port authority employees or whether they simply had the blue coveralls/aprons and intended to steal your luggage. After hesitantly surrendering luggage and walking inside, a short line awaited those who had previously registered online! Lucky break No.1 for us. The employee from Carnival at the registration desk was obviously new, but did a quick job of getting us along our way, lucky break number two was when my husband asked for the credit card back that we had provided - perhaps she was collecting them? :O Public areas are lavishly decorated on this relatively newer ship and are a mix between Las Vegas meets Main Street at Disneyland and Indiana Jones crosses King Tut. No, I am not kidding! Color schemes are identified by saying that they were shades for Fiesta Ware and reminiscent of popular colors during the fifties and sixties. Louis the XIVth inspired Casino and is touted as one of the largest shipboard casinos afloat. Evening Seating is mixed bag as booths and tables are available in the elegant dining areas. Buffet area is confusing to say the least with a roundabout style of design. Restrooms could be better marked, a pair of lips here and there noted the ladies room. Blower style hand driers in the restrooms are the obvious eco-friendly choice, if you don't have to use them often. Restrooms were clean and well-tended. Shops a plenty and good prices. Traditional deals on duty free purchases of cartons of cigarettes, bottles of alcohol etc, but the purchase of the week has to have been the Empress (I think) length strand of cultured pearls that had a fabulous pricetag to match their luster! Cabin 5209 (Starboard) was well-appointed with the usual acutrement of a good sized color TV, wall safe, blow dryer, fridge, phone, 40 square foot balcony and was very spacious with the bed and couch etc. Closet space was ample and included shelves. The bedspread had seen **many** better days and was actually two twins that had been haphazardly thrown over the two mattresses. I have never seen a bed "made" in this fashion and it didn't improve with days during the voyage. I'm guessing it was an international thing. Beds were turned down nightly and chocolates were strategically placed on the pillows. With the nightly turndown service, what else but specially made towel/origami animals - a surprise one night - a monkey seemingly flying among the window treatment! A bulldog another night was quite cute! Shore Excursions - N/A - we walked ashore at mid-day and didn't see a photographer or greeter. Made our way to the shuttle busses, which charged a $3.00 roundtrip fee. Dining was hit or miss. The first evening in the main dining room a choice was catch of the day. I ordered it and had the BEST White Sea Bass of my entire life! Service was excellent, but on the last night we found that too slipped somewhat. Most meals in the main dining room were excellent. Wines were good and prices were decent. O Sole Mio was sung by the wait staff one night and views were incredible as we sailed away at dinner on two separate nights. Desserts were excellent, appetizers either extremely good or nothing to write home about. Chateaubriand was not tasty at all, and I do not recommend it! Prime rib and lobster were excellent. Repeated requests to tip the Maitre' D fell on deaf ears - we never saw him once and dined alone at a booth each evening. Breakfast at the buffet is just as good as the dining room and much, much faster. Room service would be the way to go and what we plan to do on our October voyage. A few quick items: Our overall cruise was excellent. The trip was extremely short. There were many families (KIDS) aboard. The clientele was not what we had experienced on the Tahitian Princess and what we had placed the mark at. Bars do not open until 9 am. We did take a tour of the spa and although the facilities seemed adequate, prices were outrageous --even compared to luxury casino/5 star resort rates elsewhere, but would be a welcome luxury aboard one of the longer cruises. Fitness center was well appointed and staffed with knowledgeable personnel. Cruise Value for price was good. I would go again and would recommend it, and expect a longer voyage to be somewhat better - at the risk of sounding aloof - because cost would likely prevent many from passage. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
After much research and based on the itinerary we desired, my wife and I booked the 3/6 sailing on the Carnival Spirit. The ship leaves from Miami and the ports included St. Martin, Barbados and Martinique. Our five previous cruises were ... Read More
After much research and based on the itinerary we desired, my wife and I booked the 3/6 sailing on the Carnival Spirit. The ship leaves from Miami and the ports included St. Martin, Barbados and Martinique. Our five previous cruises were all on Royal Caribbean and we wanted to try something different. Embarkation and disembarkation were the best we have ever experienced. We arrived at the dock about noon for the Saturday departure and we were in our cabin within a half hour; it was amazing. Leaving the ship was also painless as passengers are allowed to remain in their cabins or in many large designated public areas until their turn to leave. On previous cruises, passengers were herded into small public areas and the whole process seemed crowded, hot and frustrating; major kudos to Carnival for a job well done in this area. Our cabin on the Panorama Deck was typical of a balcony suite on many newer ships and it was clean, comfortable and ready for us when we boarded early. Naturally the cabin service is luck of the draw and completely dependant upon the person assigned to your section. We were fortunate and our cabin person was attentive, friendly and always there if we needed something; he also respected our privacy if we wanted it. We were very pleased with this aspect of our first experience with Carnival. On this ship, the service for the cabin and dinning attendants is added to your bill but in no way was the service compromised by this feature. I did sense however, that the attendants were looking for extra money at the end of the cruise and I suspect that within a few years, an extra payment will become customary. We enjoy casino activity and once again the Spirit deserves some complimentary comments. The casino staff is professional and very friendly; they were also patient with those guests that needed help with some of the table games. The slots were relatively loose for a cruise ship and between my wife and I, we won about $1,000, which I unfortunately donated back at the craps table throughout the week. We were also pleased with the mix of passengers on this sailing, which included mostly Americans, Canadians and English. Because of the sailing dates and the 8 day length of the cruise, there were few children, teenagers and spring breakers. The entertainment was a mixed bag. A few of the production shows featured the ship's dancers and were fairly good. On one night however, the main show consisted of the best of the Karaoke performers and this didn't seem to be the type of entertainment one would expect to pay for on a cruise. The "fly in" acts were also decent, as were the lounge performers. Overall however, entertainment on the RCL ships was much better. My final comment is on the food service, which falls into two main categories. For the most part, the stand in line, "cafeteria style" restaurant called La Playa Grill, was actually quite good and much better than RCL. The food was fresh, tasty and the menu varied daily; the coffee was a 1000% better than the reconstituted stuff RCL serves. Unfortunately, dinner in the evening was a much different experience. This ship served the absolute worst food we have ever had on any cruise. The food was poorly presented, of inferior quality and completely tasteless. The meat was loaded with either tenderizers or MSG (or both) and the fish entrEes had no taste and several definitely did not seem fresh. The most disappointing part of the dinner experience was the disparity between the description of the food on the menus and what you actually received. One appetizer was described as "topped with caviar" and when it arrived, there were only two microscopic caviar eggs on it. The food and service of the alternative dinning option at $25 per person were both excellent; had I known how bad the food was going to be, I would have reserved a table for each evening of the cruise. As far as port excursions are concerned, with a very few exceptions where safety could be an issue, you are far better off negotiating a sightseeing tour with a local taxi driver. Not only is this a less expensive alternative to the ship's excursions, but you will get to enjoy the exact same sites at your own pace. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2003
It was a very nice ship - better than expected. Food was very good. The 10th deck restaurant was worth every penny ($25/person). The cabin with balcony was great. Spacious with a great bathroom and plenty of closet space. There were 3 ... Read More
It was a very nice ship - better than expected. Food was very good. The 10th deck restaurant was worth every penny ($25/person). The cabin with balcony was great. Spacious with a great bathroom and plenty of closet space. There were 3 ports of call, Barbados, St. Martin, and Martinique. Martinique was by far the prettiest island but lacked in shopping bargains. Barbados was nice and the caves were interesting. Great shopping in St. Martin for jewelry but not necessarily for diamonds. I did not find the prices for diamonds any cheaper than here in the U.S. At Marinique we went on the 4 hour island cruise and saw many interesting sites including their rain forest. Back to the ship. We had 4 solid days of sea time. In light of this, and unfortunately, the ships itinerary was lacking during the daytime from Noon to five. I went with my wife and children and was hoping for interesting family activities, but there were few. They still do the same old tiring games of knobby knee contests and men's hairy chest contests. Carnival cruise directors really need to get creative here. The pools were small and the several Jacuzzis always had people in them - as you would expect (yes, even the one in the gym). The entertainment was good, but not great. The cruise director, Michael Mullane was good, plenty of energy, and will remind you a lot of Jay Leno. His wife Jenny was good. Some of the shows were good and some were not. The "R" rated late night comedian should have been rated "X". We walked out on him. His "humor" was not appropriate for a family ship and Carnival really disappointed me here. The Village Idiots comedy show was very funny and appropriate for the entire family. I lost a lot on their bingo games. The cards (3 of them) cost $20. I think it is only worth playing the last bingo game on the last day of the cruise. That game gives you a chance to win a free cruise. By the way, the arcade room for the kids was boring - they told me. There was very little structured activities for the older teenagers. They seem to have been forgotten. My oldest son is a bit of an introvert and would have benefited from activities for his age group. The only time the ship felt crowded is when we looked to lounge on the deck. Good luck finding a place to lay down if you get there after 10 AM. This was a pleasant cruise, overall. I will look for another cruise line with better daytime itineraries for families and better entertainment. Read Less
Carnival Spirit Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 0.0
Dining 4.5 0.0
Entertainment 4.5 0.0
Public Rooms 3.5 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family 5.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.0 0.0
Service 5.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.5 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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